If you’re ready for schizophrenia brought to your TV screen, it’s time to check out FX’s new series “Legion.” Not only has the series quickly emerged as one of the best shows on television, but the slow burn method it has used to deliver narrative will surely benefit the show in the long term. After all, series like “Breaking Bad” and “Mad Men” thrived because of their slow burn approaches to storytelling. With the god Noah Hawley running the show, it is far from a surprise that the show has absolutely taken off.
So far the show has been anchored by unique storytelling, awesome visuals, and a penchant for absurdity. The characters in “Legion” hail from the X-Men universe, and most specifically, David is Professor Xavier’s son. At this point, Hawley has all but officially confirmed that Xavier won’t actually appear on the show, but he’s already made a shadowed appearance in the show. He is the son of Charles Xavier, but his powers are far more deadly. This has already manifested itself violently on the show, clearing the way for another distinction that only the MCU shows on Netflix have been able to duplicate.
To say that the show is only being held up by its schizophrenic storytelling and impeccable cinematography would be a disservice to the cast. Leading the way is Dan Stevens, who seems like he’s game for anything that Hawley and crew ask him to do. If he needs to act high as a kite, he’s there. If needs to portray stressed while underwater and hoping he doesn’t get shot, he’s there for it. It’s really an extremely well-rounded and layered performance that suggests that there are real problems just below the surface. What’s perhaps most understated about Stevens in this role is that he sells whatever reality he currently inhabits so hard, that it is frankly impossible to tell which reality we are currently watching.
There are plenty of other actors and actresses that are making the most of their screentime. Jean Smart is shaping up to be the Jessica Lange of the Hawley-verse, returning to bring balance to a nuanced role. We are still very much in the dark about Dr. Melinda Bird’s ultimate goals, but “Chapter 4” gives us a glimpse into her motivations. While I believe she cares what happens to her husband, it all begins and ends with David.
Speaking of husbands, “Episode 4” highlight just how outside the box and weird “Legion” can become when it wants to. The show has embraced the weirdness of its subject matter in ways that other sci-fi shows only wish they could accomplish, but this differentiation also establishes works to establish the uniqueness of this world. When news broke that Jermaine Clement would be added to the series, I doubt anyone expected he would cold open an episode. However, Clement immediately showcases why they brought him into the series. Frankly, Clement fits in with weird, and when you have someone as talented and uniquely suited for this kind of world, you need to go get them. Clement’s vocals work to deliver an awesome monologue and hook the audience immediately. It is his charisma and ability to craft a persona that allows Hawley to put Clement in an ice cube, and have the ice cube actually make sense within the context of the show.
The rest of the show is rounded out by a pretty stellar cast. There are obvious talents on display, namely Bill Irwin and Aubrey Plaza, but there are several other actors worth mentioning. Mackenzie Grey is absolutely chilling as the zombiesque “The Eye.” Jeremie Harris seems like he could break out in the near future, and considering his charisma so far, he’s one of the actors on this show to watch for. However, a betting man would give Rachel Keller a strong headstart on being the #2 breakout star of the show behind Stevens. Her role continues to grow each week, and as the de facto female lead of the show, she looks like she’ll be a mainstay for the series moving forward. She wins this battle by simply having more material than anyone not named Stevens or Smart, so keep an eye out for Keller to continue to move upwards due to the show.
Overall, a deep cast, incredible cinematography, and killer storytelling are going to continue to make this one of the best shows on TV. The crown is heavy, but without a doubt “Legion” is on its way to being the best superhero show on right now. Move over Marvel, it looks like “Iron Fist” is about to get splattered on the wall.