Legions Premiere Was a Surreal Confusing Wonderful Nightmare

Legions Premiere Was a Surreal Confusing Wonderful Nightmare

first_img Let’s talk about just what the hell we saw last night. By now, there are enough superhero shows on TV that we’ve become used to a certain structure for pilot episodes. We see the hero’s origin story, they assemble some kind of support structure, fight and defeat a bad guy, introduce the season’s big bad, credits. Legion didn’t do any of that. Instead, we got something wholly unexpected and unlike any superhero TV show or movie that’s come before. It’s about time someone shook things up like this.From the moment it begins, Legion lets you know exactly what kind of show it’s going to be. It opens with a montage of David Haller’s life. As a young kid, he plays sports and starts a fire at a science fair. As a teenager, he gets arrested and blows out all the windows of a squad car. He gets prescribed medication and then tries to hang himself with a power cord. The montage abruptly ends with that image, and we see that he’s been admitted to Clockworks Psychiatric Facility. His sister has come to visit, and she’s brought a cupcake for his birthday. But she’s not allowed to give it to him. Over the course of their conversation, she absentmindedly eats the frosting. Rude.From here on, the show is presented out of order, mimicking the way David perceives the events. He’s been diagnosed with schizophrenia, seeing and hearing things that aren’t there. One consistent delusion is The Demon with Yellow Eyes, a creepy blob-like figure that looks like an evil Doctor Who character. The Demon appears to show up whenever David is having an especially bad episode. At this point, everyone involved thinks the Demon is a delusion. I wouldn’t be surprised if he turns out to be more real than anyone suspects.Dan Stevens as David Haller, Rachel Keller as Syd Barrett, Aubrey Plaza as Lenny “Cornflakes” Busker. (Photo via FX)David has a dull routine at Clockworks that involves therapy, taking his meds and hanging out with Lenny “Cornflakes” Busker, another, very talkative patient at Clockworks. His routine is interrupted by the appearance of Syd Barrett, a patient who does not like to be touched. We’ll find out the reason for that later. She immediately agrees to become David’s girlfriend as long as he doesn’t touch her. He’s OK with that, and they start hanging out. Things move quickly on this show.The pilot jumps back and forth between the events at Clockworks and an interrogation. Some sort of incident went down at the facility, and this government official is trying to get to the bottom of it. Even stranger, Clockworks appears to have no records of a patient named Syd. Or at least, that’s what he’s telling David. After he exits the room, we see David is actually being held in a paramilitary facility, being monitored. They say he could be the most powerful mutant they’ve ever encountered.After the questioning resumes, we see the incident play out. Syd has been released from Clockworks but comes back to visit David. He gets excited and kisses her. It turns out she doesn’t want to be touched because skin-to-skin contact causes her to switch bodies with the other person. There’s screaming and struggle, and David (now in Syd’s body) is carried away to safety. When he and the doctor investigate a strange tremor, they find that Syd (in David’s body with his powers) accidentally walled up all the patients in their rooms. Worse yet, Cornflakes was cut in half by the sudden appearance of one of these walls.Syd (Rachel Keller) and David (Dan Stevens) switch places for a while. (Photo via FX)David, still in Syd’s body, is led outside where he sees a car pull up. In the present, he remembers that the man currently interrogating him was at the hospital. Growing suspicious and angry, David causes everything around him to fly around the room, and the official gets a pen through the cheek. Once David calms down, he remembers the day differently. It wasn’t the interrogator. Now, he remembers seeing an older woman getting out of the car.Before long, we learn the reason behind that sudden change. David is walking down the street when he sees Syd’s face on the back of a bald man’s head. She suddenly appears and explains she’s not physically there. She’s being projected into his memories. She gives him some instructions for how she’ll help him escape the interrogator. Now, David is being held in a pool filled with power cords. The interrogator threatens to electrocute him if he doesn’t tell him where Syd is. As David slides underwater, the guards are all thrown in and electrocuted. Once it’s safe, David surfaces and is rescued by Syd and her crew.What follows is the most straightforward superhero action scene of the show. David is escaping the facility with a crew of mutants. We see glimpses of each of their powers as they throw guards out of the way and dodge gunfire. It’s an exciting, well-directed sequence that proves the series can deliver great character-driven superhero action when it wants. It’s also exactly how this episode needed to end. After an out-of-order psychedelic trip, a sequence like this grounds the series in something familiar. It lets the audience know that moment-to-moment, it’s OK to be confused by this crazy, beautiful, surreal show. Things will make at least a little sense in the end.Jean Smart plays Melanie Bird, leader of the mutants who rescue David. (Photo via FX)Legion is also absolutely beautiful. Just like he did with Fargo, showrunner Noah Hawley has given us a series that looks unlike anything else on TV. The shots are jaw-droppingly gorgeous, and the cinematography is absolutely engrossing. When this show is on, it’s impossible to pay attention to anything else. Even the relatively straightforward action sequence at the end had beautiful, dynamic camerawork you don’t normally see in superhero fare. If the entire series looks like that (and by all accounts it only gets more surreal from here), I am on board for this whole thing. Don’t Hold Your Breath For Noah Hawley’s ‘Doctor Doom&…How ‘Legion’ Uses Superpowers to Explore Mental Illness Stay on targetlast_img


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