Legion: How Does That Make You Feel?

In the comics, Legion is the clinically insane, unpredictably powerful antihero son of Professor X. He absorbs people’s minds into his own, and over the years, has become the vessel of multiple mutant personalities, each of them with distinct powers.

The Wikipedia entry on the  character reads like the most lurid mutant saga ever, and indeed, Legion’s narrative is like a metaphor for how screwed up the X-Men mythos has become. He’s essentially a one-man telekinetic, telepathic, pyrokinetic, time-traveling, reality-warping, omega-level plot device that can be adjusted by writers to be as powerful or as helpless as the storyline requires.

How creator Noah Hawley (of Fargo fame) was going to build a show around such an unbounded character was the question on everyone’s minds when FX first announced the show back in 2016. The approach that Hawley has taken is an interesting one: instead of curbing Legion’s abilities, he embraces it so completely that it influences every aspect of the show. Legion is the ultimate unreliable narrator — not only is his perception suspect, but the reality around him can be bent to his will unintentionally.

Because of this, the pilot feels like a trippy 60-minute hallucination, and the audience is left more perplexed than truly excited. There’s no doubt in your mind that you’re watching a master storyteller at work, but the mechanics of the story make it hard to ever be fully engaged; you’re constantly waiting for the rug to get pulled out from under you.

And it does, over and over again.

Rating: 4 out of 5 mutant voices in your head

FX – Premiered February 2017

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