By Ryan Keating-Lambert

★★★★☆

SPOILERS included.

Legion is a new FX series that premiered last week and has met with some interesting praise. From executive producer Noah Hawley (Fargo) and veteran X-Men director Bryan Singer, there’s an eclectic crew behind this one that’s going to stand it out from all these other sci-fi series. Legion provides an alternative and slightly more insane perspective of the X-Men universe; a perspective from inside the padded walls of a mental institution.

Episode 1 introduces us to our main character David (Dan Stevens), a troubled young man with paranoid schizophrenia. David is plagued by voices and apocalyptic visions involving one very creepy obese man with yellow eyes – seriously like something out of an Aphex Twin music video. He soon befriends new resident Syd (Rachel Keller) who has a fear of being touched. The two bond over their unfortunate illnesses until an unexplainable and catastrophic event causes Daniel to believe that perhaps he’s got more than your average schizophrenic.

This pilot episode thrives on its storytelling genius. In what seems like a tribute to Chris Nolan’s Inception or psychological thrillers like Identity or M. Night. Shyamalan’s latest film Split, Legion throws you all over the timeline in a confusing, yet fluid way. The mental hospital is the perfect not too distant future surrounding to play out the relationship of Syd and David.

Gorgeous work has gone into the cinematography and set design here. This episode is littered with dream sequences including a dance routine in the colourful recreation room of the facility. Then there’s the retro rock soundtrack that reminds me of Watchmen. This show is quirk to the max. Definitely Noah Hawley material.

So let’s cut to the chase. We learn a lot about David’s past and struggle with a power that seems to be telepathic and telekinetic – Jean Grey if you will. Syd’s power appears to be switching bodies with people which is certainly going to come in handy in later episodes when needing to escape this mysterious group that David just made a narrow escape from. And finally towards the end of the episode we were introduced to Miss Bird (Jean Smart), a strong female leader who seems to be a Professor X type figure.

Episode 2 looks to bring more answers to the current situation of mutants in the world, as well as give us a proper introduction to their hideout, motives, and the crew that rescued David. Who on earth caused that kick-ass firestorm? Then there’s Lenny Busker played by Parks and Recreation’s Aubrey Plaza. Back from the dead? Is she a figment of David’s personality or another mutant waiting to be discovered?

The X-Men franchise has seen its fair share of ups and downs. More recently the unbelievably terrible X-Men Apocalypse, and with Hugh Jackman bringing Wolverine to an end with Logan, the series is in dire need of a makeover. Will Legion be what this brand needs to get back on its feet? It just may be. Other X-Men films are in the works, but this is just so original and fresh. And don’t worry if you haven’t seen any of the films. There’s no direct connection and I doubt there will be in the future, even if David was originally Professor X’s son in the comics… let’s wait and and see!

New episodes will air Wednesday evenings in the U.S. Check it out online.

Photo: Screen Rant

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