“Legion” has made a splash on television in recent weeks, both captivating and confusing audiences alike. FX partnered with the Marvel comic book series of the same name to create one of the freshest superhero shows to date, with a team behind it willing to take risks and respect its audience.
“Legion” comes from the mind of Noah Hawley, the brilliant writer, director and showrunner behind “Fargo,” another hit FX show. Hawley brings his style to his new series, breathing life into the mind-bending world of “Legion.” The show tells the story of David Haller, a man who’s been in and out of psychiatric hospitals his whole life. His mundane routine is upended when a new patient, Syd, arrives, and the pair are drawn to each other. It soon becomes clear the two may share special powers.
“Legion” stars Dan Stevens (“Downtown Abbey,” “The Guest”) as David. He fully embodies his character’s idiosyncratic tics and minute mannerisms. and has already shown his acting range through the two episodes that have aired. Starring alongside him is Rachel Keller, a breakout talent that Hawley found during his work on “Fargo,” and she continues to impress in “Legion.” Supporting these two leads is a solid cast, including Jean Smart (“Fargo,” “Designing Women”) and Aubrey Plaza (“Parks and Recreation,” “Dirty Grandpa”).
The acting is strong across the board, and the characters are wacky and fun. A lot of the show’s success can be attributed to the cast, but Hawley cannot be given enough credit for his writing and directing. Since “Fargo,” he’s been on the shortlist of the next great TV writers, and he solidifies the hype with “Legion.” The writing is excellent — intelligent, complex and unpredictable.
The show even borders on a David Lynch-style surrealism. The pilot in particular is quite ambitious and mind-boggling upon first watch. The narrative plays around with time, and viewers are never quite sure what’s real and what’s not. This is certainly intentional, and it worked for me. Near the end of the pilot, the story becomes clearer, and the following episode grounds the plot further, making the nonlinear narrative easier to digest.
Overall, “Legion” is a success. At only two episodes in, it looks to rank among the best superhero shows. It takes bold risks and trusts its audience, treating them like viewers capable of putting pieces of the puzzle together themselves. This trust is something I always commend with writers, and Hawley knows what he’s doing. New episodes of “Legion” premiere every Wednesday at 10 p.m. on FX.