The last episode of FX’s superhero series of the obscure Xmen character Legion, has wrapped up and left us with a cliffhanger and a clear plot for the next one. In the line-up of live action comic book stories, this psychedelic depiction of a fractured mind stands out as simultaneously more poetic, more visually celebratory of its roots and a lot less concerned with coating the comic pill for general viewer consumption.
Here’s a great video from GameSpot Universe to get you quickly up to speed on who and what Legion is in the Xmen universe: 7 Things You Need To Know About Legion.
As a TV series, Legion was what Twin Peaks could have been if Lynch had adhered to a coherent plotline. It’s absurd, it’s insane, it’s drugged out of its own gourd.
This is a minimum spoiler video only if you have watched zero episodes of Legion, in which case it will mean zip to you other than for the purposes of demonstrating the series otherness. If you are half way through the show, however, do not click this video. OK? Great.
The above scene is also an example of how much this story feels like a theater play rather than a cookie-cutter TV show. Showrunner Noah Hawley just set the bar for his following projects mile high. I expect great things of you, man. Great things. Of course, Fargo fans are probably smug hipsters about long since acknowledging his genius.
Dan Stevens steals almost (scroll down for Aubrey Plaza fan-gurling) every scene with that manic stare. I’ll admit I had a bit of a crush on the fellow in Downton Abbey but I had no idea he harbored such acting skill beneath the charming exterior. I want to see this guy do something with Alexander Skarsgaard and Mads Mikkelsen. That’s about the trifecta of craziness that would blow the front of your screen into the shambling pieces your libido would already find itself in.
Theater, psychological poetry and almost every scene truly looks like a frame from a comic book.
If I have one point of sadness for this show it’s that it would have functioned a lot better on Netflix or Amazon. Somewhere where you could binge episodes together without losing the thread from week to week. It’s not that its plot was as convoluted and dopey as Twin Peaks, to go back to that example, but there was still enough weirdness going on to lose your focus from week to week.
The story did have a couple of weak characters. Melanie and Ptonomy Wallace were both a little washed out. Melanie was supposed to be the group’s leader, yet nobody actually does what she says and she spends most of the season moping around pining for her lost pimp boyfriend who, oh tragedy, doesn’t remember her when he wakes up. As for the character of Ptonomy Wallace, he morphed from erudite mental pathfinder into ‘let’s kill ’em all’ – meathead? That was a bit jarring and bleh but I supposed someone had to make the suggestion of going to all out war with the rest of the world because… ? Well, I’m sure that makes sense to someone. He’s played by Jeremie Harris who gives off a vibe of can do so much more so I hope next season he gets to flex some actor muscles.
“None of the other characters that I’ve surrounded him with are from the comics. It’s sort of an invented world”
~ Noah Hawley in an interview with Variety
While that is undoubtedly true, Hawley hasn’t completely ignored the source material in the story as the composite made by Comicbook.com shows:
Jemaine Clement who you might recall as one half of the comedy duo Flight of the Conchords, plays Oliver Bird the hubby in the fridge who is stuck on the astral plane while his body is being kept artificially alive in top of the line 1970s cryo tech. From the get go Oliver came across to me as somewhat creepy and slimy but that may also tie in with the early 70s look and feel of the show. Or maybe with where that character was going the whole time. Don’t worry, not touching on that suffice to say it was a pretty cool outcome and I expect him to be a lot less sticky in the next season.
It has been argued to me that part of Jemaine’s charm and comedy is a certain well… used-car dealer, come into my virgin-van flavoring. I don’t know what they’re talking about:
I’d like to also touch on the fact that Legion follows in Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage‘s footsteps with amazing and surprising villains. I’d get more into that but that really would spoil things for you if you haven’t watched.
But can we talk about Aubrey Plaza for a minute? This video isn’t too spoilerish either except to blow the surprise effect that this scene has, showing up out of the blue in the series. But watch it anyway. I promise you, you will still love it when it turns up in the series and it doesn’t really tell you anything about the plot.
If Dan Stevens steals the picture with his intense blue eyes and David Haller’s occasional dips into charming sociopathy, Aubrey steals everything else including your breath and your last M&Ms no matter if she’s oozing and broken, insane, insidious, indelicate, in or out of her clothes. And she’s never, ever not in charge of what’s going on. Well almost never. The point is she’s so damn forceful I just want to roll over and say please. There isn’t an inch of Lenny Busker, or I suspect, of Aubrey Plaza, that’s a millimeter less than herself. /deep breath. Yes, I’m a fan. As a matter of fact, allow me to get out my own hipster glasses here and declare, I was a fan of Aubrey Plaza years before I knew anything about her. Maybe so were you:
If FX isn’t on your channel list then you need to do yourself the favor and pick this series up in a box. Do it.
5 bouncy brown curls out of 5!