Legion: S1E1: “Chapter 1”

Legion FX
9.1 Overall Score

The first episode of Legion starts with a montage of David Charles Haller’s (Dan Stevens) childhood while The Who‘s “Happy Jack” plays in the background. We see a tranquil, civil childhood of Haller that devolves into chaos and a suicide attempt. Everything is about perspective – the one way that you see the world could be completely different from someone else. Legion challenges the notion of perception not only within the X-Men universe, but in general.

The starting narrative of the show does not give the viewer any lead way to get comfortable in a particular setting. You are continually calling events into question almost like you are within the brain of David Haller. David has a very fragmented way of dealing with reality – both questioning any semblance of consciousness that takes place and not having a handle on the powers that he has. Lenny “Cornflakes” Busker (Aubrey Plaza) as she’s alive is the optimist counterpoint. Once she dies, she becomes the pessimist giving David a warning. Depending on David’s setting, a lot of these characters take on a whole new personality.

Noah Hawley (Fargo) does a good job in providing the backstory in the non-contemporary way. This is not a coming-of-age story that leads up to a clean conclusion. Once we are in the interrogation room and recanting the events of David’s time in the psych ward, there are little things that lead us to believe that the visuals are deceiving us. A person who David initially sees in one shot of a story may actually be a different person the next time it gets revisited. It’s this slight of hand that keeps the viewer engaged, but it’s not at the expense of the overall story itself.

The introduction of Sydney “Syd” Barrett (Rachel Keller) is where the heart of the episode comes into play. With Rogue-like powers of touch, Sydney becomes the point of David’s affection and the place marker of whatever you attribute normal being. There’s this theme that comes up with Magneto which is touched on in the group therapy session. Perhaps what humans deem as ailments or mental disorders are in fact what makes you whole. Once they switch bodies, he starts to understand what he is and Syd is a key factor. She’s both his sense of home and from what it looks like in future episodes, his sense of power. Still, is the relationship with Sydney just a figment of David’s imagination?

Legion will both appeal to fans of the X-Men franchise and just as a regular show – that’s the key to the show being a success. They could very well tie this in to the loosely augmented X-Men universe, but as seen in the first episode, there is enough depth to not rely on the foundation that’s already been done. At the end of the episode, the backdrop is widened and you see that there is a bigger fight to be had between the government and those with special abilities (“whispers mutants”). With so many ways to venture into the rabbit holes of David Haller’s mind, the show gives viewers something to want to see.

Main Photo Credit: Chris Large/FX

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Author: Murjani Rawls View all posts by
Writer | Photographer | Beast

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