The Return of Legion, TV’s Strangest Show
Noah Hawley’s Legion is unlike anything else on television. Filled with mutants, musical numbers, and mindfucks, the series follows David Haller (Dan Stevens), who’s either the most powerful psychic on the planet or completely insane (possibly both). The show runs “parallel” to Fox’s X-Men properties, but you’d never know it outside of a handful of sly references. There’s no traditional superheroics, and definitely no threat of spandex here. It’s a far cry from even Marvel’s capeless efforts on Netflix. Legion is more surreal than super; it’s more Eugène Ionesco than Stan Lee. David doesn’t fight for Truth, Justice, and the American Way™. He fights for his own sanity.
Last season, Legion left viewers hanging. A brief respite from the mystery and madness of David’s battle for his own mind ended with twists and new questions. The premiere episode, “Chapter 9,” picks up one year after David’s surprise abduction and the escape of Lenny/Amahl Farouk/Shadow King (Aubrey Plaza, in a career highlight). The latest trailer’s short on answers—in fact, it raises even more questions—but promises to keep things just as mind-bending as before.
Legion’s known for its striking visuals and tricky narrative, and season two looks to continue that trend. Dark, distinct, and often disorienting, Legion one-ups Hawley’s other series Fargo by embracing the inherent absurdity (and insanity) of the comics that came before it. Nothing’s ever as it seems in Haller’s world, and that’s reflected in the camerawork and editing. What we see isn’t reality, but David’s perception of reality. This lets Hawley and company play with the setting, blurring retro styles with the hyperfuturistic. It’s visually vivid and arresting; you’ll scarcely want to look away.
The team from the secretive Summerland returns: the literally untouchable Syd Barrett (Fargo’s Rachel Keller) is still holding out for her man, the body swapping Loudermilks (Bill Irwin as Cary, Amber Midthunder as Kerry) will continue to confuse, Melanie Bird (Jean Smart) will mourn, and hopefully “mind artist” Ptonomy (Jeremie Harris) will get more to do. On the other side of the coin, Aubrey Plaza’s mental parasite will continue to dance through heads, and Navid Negahban joins the cast as presumably another of the Shadow King’s hosts; if not the original. No one knows what fate has in store for Oliver Bird (the perfectly cast Jemaine Clement), but it looks like some intense choreography is involved.
Legion returns to FX on Tuesday, April 3rd. Season one is available to stream through Hulu and FX NOW.