- Dan Stevens, Rachel Keller, Aubrey Plaza, Bill Irwin, Jeremie Harris, Amber Midthunder, Katie Aselton, Jean Smart
- Satellite Television
I have previously lamented over the issues I have with Fox and Marvel and the material they churn out. Admittedly, I act a little like the title character in the series under focus today (that joke will make sense in a moment or two –ooh foreshadowing!) as I have also argued strongly for the Merits of the Fox cinematic universe. Yes, I know that “that’s” not a thing, but I couldn’t come up with a better way to describe it. Move along…
Suffice to say I approached this particular offering by Fox with a little trepidation.
I mean, Legion is a pretty deep character to being with so with everything that has gone wrong with characterisations of the last few years across ALL the networks and studios, who can blame me for being a little concerned?For the uninitiated, Legion is the son of Xavier Francis Xavier. Yes, that Xavier.No, not that Francis.
Ahem, as I was saying; like his father before him Legion is an alpha level mutant. Unfortunately for the rest of us, that’s as far as the similarity goes, since Legion is also a few sandwiches short of a picnic basket.To spare him the weight of his father’s legacy, young David Haller bears his mother’s maiden name and his parentage is unknown to him. Alas, this proves to be an exercise in futility as the trauma of his childhood shatters his psyche making his entire sense of being fragmented at best.
With each fragmented piece of his psyche developing its own personality, and each personality manifesting its own power, he is Legion.To paraphrase the monster himself, “I am Legion, for I am Many”
While the series is a slight departure from the comics, what you really need to know is that in the canon, David always blamed his dad’s dream of peace between mutants and humans for his mental condition. He harbours the belief that if Xavier wasn’t so invested in saving mutant-kind he would have had time for him. Who knows, with enough time, perhaps Xavier might have cured him.
Overwhelmed by his mania and madness, both fuelled by his jealous rage, David uses one of his vast arrays of powers to travel back in time to kill Magneto. The logic being that if Erik wasn’t around to challenge Xavier as Magneto, the professor would have no opposing force to his quest for peace.
The vision of human/mutant coexistence would come to pass sooner and his father would be his.
Alas, and as is to be expected, everything goes awry in spectacular fashion.
As Legion is about to push his psionic blade into Magneto’s skull, Xavier leaps in his path sacrificing himself as only a true hero can. As a result Legion kills his father before he is even sired.The result is catastrophic and results in a paradox so huge that time and reality itself shatters. The result is the Age of Apocalypse, the greatest X-Men story ever told (IMO).
(Read Legions Quest 1-4 and Age of Apocalypse saga available at any affiliated comic book store)
The little aunt down memory lane there was my attempt to highlight the importance of Legion in the Marvel mythos.
This, in turn, brings us to the series itself.
The surprisingly short first season is an ideal “bingefest” for the rest of the week or this coming weekend. That being said, while the series is fast paced, it does not by any means feel rushed as it peels back the layers of David’s psyche as it explores whether his condition is real or not.
Legion is a masterfully edited, highly stylised offering that fully immerses the viewer into the universe that is David’ psyche and his quest to cure himself of his madness.The clever editing and camera trickery has even the viewer questioning the sanity of the lead character, and what is real and what is not. The special effects are perfectly rendered, especially when depicting his telekinetic powers.
I was also impressed by the manner in which the series introduced and rendered other concepts such as the Astral Plane. You may be familiar with this from last year’s Doctor Strange, but this is an equally well-known concept in the X-men universe. I found it strange (hah! Pun) that the concept was ignored in the X-Men movies. This is another credit to the series as we are treated to the weird and wonderful Astral Plane scenes that ring true to the canon.
Yes, David’s powers and the Astral Plane are two examples of the beautiful and interesting visuals that are often used as symbols for real world issues or David’s emotions as the story progresses.
The show’s creators were adamant in interviews that the series is not set in the movie universe. They went further stating that no other X-Men characters would be featured. I was concerned that this was going to hurt the series. As entertaining as severe mental illness may be (sarcasm just FYI) there was no way that concept could carry an entire season of a series.
I stand corrected!
I found that as the series progressed it was apparent that another source character would probably draw attention away from the gravitas of the story. David is a thoroughly engaging character. Unlike most “heroes” on other shows, he has no intention of becoming a hero. He isn’t avenging a parent and has no city to save. He is just a really troubled man who realises his sickness is dangerous and wants to be cured.Not of his powers mind you-just of his madness.
I suppose that’s what makes the story so engaging. David is so relatable, that even while we are sane (hopefully, and mostly) you can’t help but identify with his quest. I mean you know that he is literally the harbinger of the (Age of) Apocalypse, but you want him to succeed in his quest.
As if this wasn’t engaging enough, Legion flips the “impending battle with the season’s big bad” trope on its head. What if the enemy isn’t some unseen bogeyman, but rather… Yourself?
We know that David has a fractured psyche, but does he? Moreover, what if one (or more) of David’s personalities has turned evil? What if the evil that he needs to destroy lies within him? Once again the show has you questioning, whether or not its reality itself or David’s moral compass.
This is a spectacular series that had me gripped from start to finish. It has everything, from great visuals and engaging dialogue to subtle but dark humour. While the series may only span 8 episodes, there is enough plot twists and surprises to keep you on the edge of your seat.
I liked that while the series does deal with issues like mental illness and other social issues, these are not trivialised and are treated with tact and delicacy.At the same time, the series never forgets its roots and offers just enough fan service to keep you satisfied, yet itching for more.
I have fallen head over heels in love with this series and its madness. If this is the type of quality programming that Fox has planned for its X-Men TV offerings then I am already on board for Gifted.Legion breaks the mould and forges something new. The producers seem to understand that the toll road might get you there faster, but the scenic route is so much more fun. Well done to this new partnership between FOX and MARVEL.
Oh, and just so that you don’t miss it – FINALLY someone decided to bring that little piece of movie magic that is “the after credit scene” to the small screen.
Yes, there is one and it’s MARVELous.
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