A complex, mind-boggling superhero tale like no other.
David Haller (Dan Stevens) was diagnosed with schizophrenia at a young age. He suffers with his illness, and has been taken in to an institute in order to cater for him. However, it’s unveiled that he’s in fact a mutant with special powers ,alongside a parasite living within him. David and his fellow mutants must do everything he can to prevent the dangerous and powerful parasite from taking over, and unleashing himself on the world.
Legion sets itself apart from the superhero genre right from the start. With it’s pop-art, psychedelic colour scheme and niche 70s aesthetic, it’s a stark difference to the gritty worlds of Daredevil and Jessica Jones. There’s also an ambiguity with the time period, as there’s certainly splashes of modernity in mannerisms and structure. This is due to the series being shot from the distorted view of David, a somewhat unreliable narrator due to his mental state and mutant ability.
Throughout the first few episodes we’re never quite sure what is exactly happening. We’re left in the dark as to what’s actually going on with David, but we do know that there’s much more to it than meets the eye due to glimpses of absurdity. Although it’s confusing, it’s intriguing more than anything else. The mysteries and ambiguity of the series carry an enigma that certainly draws you in, and the engaging writing, characters and performances build on this perfectly.
The narrative unravels gradually, allowing more information to be seeped out to the audience as they build a picture as to what’s going on. But the series isn’t afraid to completely alter this either. This provides an unpredictable and entirely creative plot in which you’re never quite sure of what is reality and what isn’t, using a mixture of dreams, memories and fabricated worlds in order to do so.
Despite this, the series never feels so confusing or bizarre that it loses interest. Noah Hawley (creator of the series) has structured the series in such a way that the underlying narrative is always present, but always evolving and becoming more complex yet more simple and revealing as the series progresses. All is revealed through time, particularly in episodes 6 and 7, which even provides a very simple explanation of the series events, which also makes sense within the continuity of the narrative.
This series is a writer’s/creator’s dream as it expertly shows how to use a variety of techniques to create something so unique. Legion makes excellent use of complex narrative structures, flashbacks, memories, black and white, music, sound and even silent movie mechanics in order to portray different emotions, intensities and plot points. Each episode comes as it’s own little masterpiece, whilst also building toward something bigger.
The whole cast are brilliant in their roles, but in particular Dan Stevens and Aubrey Plaza (Lenny) portray their characters excellently. David’s schizophrenia is portrayed very convincingly by Dan, as well as his varying mental states which show the character’s roller coaster of emotions as he’s dragged through this complex and emotionally destructive story.
Aubrey provides a stellar performance as Lenny who’s sadistic, disturbed and all round intimidating nature feels very real and powerful. Not only this, but her polarising character traits are also executed well, including her comic ability and sarcastic attitude.
Despite the darkness and more serious topics of mental stability, death and power that are discussed in the series, there’s also an excellent comic tone provided throughout. The dry wit and humour allows for some excellent comic relief, meaning the series never feels overwhelming.
In general, the series is truly excellent. It’s one of (if not the) best series of the year so far, let alone best comic/superhero series (it’s easily in the top one).
What makes Legion standout is not just it’s creativity in content, but also in structure, technique and execution. Twisting structural elements, time, reality and creating such a complex, yet simple narrative whilst also providing such a fresh take on an over utilised genre. It’s example of stellar performances and great writing to boot blow other series of all genres out the water.