LEGION: CHAPTER 1 [Review]

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LEGION, ‘Chapter 1’/ Written by NOAH HAWLEY/ Directed by NOAH HAWLEY/ Created by NOAH HAWLEY/ Based on Legion by CHRIS CLAREMONT & BILL SIENKIEWICZ/ Starring DAN STEVENS, RACHEL KELLER, AUBREY PLAZA, AMBER MIDTHUNDER and HAMISH LINKLATER/ Produced by FX PRODUCTIONS, MARVEL TELEVISION & 26 KEY PRODUCTIONS/ Distributed by 20th TELEVISION

It’s finally here: Legion, the highly-anticipated FX series about one of the most crucial (yet not very popular) mutants of the Marvel Comics universe. Created by Noah Hawley (FX’s Fargo), the series stars Dan Stevens as David Haller — a paranoid schizophrenic and most powerful mutant in existence.

The first, movie-length episode, ‘Chapter 1’ — written and directed by Hawley — introduces audiences to David and his insanity. What begins as a simple story about a man questioning his own mental health while in a hospital for the mentally unstable, quickly becomes a deep-rooted mystery that pulls viewers into the mind of a powerful lunatic. So much happens in just the first episode and it includes basically everything that was featured heavily in its promotional material. That’s pretty major being that there are seven episodes left to go. Already, we’ve gone on such a journey and have no idea what to expect.

The structure and movement of this episode is flawless, throwing us for a loop and challenging viewers to keep up as things are unveiled. Every twist and turn of the narrative is so monumental it’s easy to put yourself in David’s shoes as he tries to determine what’s real and what’s just in his head. Legion will definitely be a show that warrants a lot of fan theories as I already found myself drawing up my own during commercial breaks.

Personally, David Haller is not only one of my favorite mutants but one of my favorite Marvel characters in general. I wanted to clarify so that my praise is fully understood. Dan Stevens immediately earns my respect. He completely dives in to one of the most complex comic book characters ever created. I appreciate every little smirk, tick, and tweak — he even looks shockingly close to David’s comic book appearance (other than his hair). Similarly to Charlie Cox in Netflix’s Daredevil, this performance is very much his own and speaks right to my comic-loving heart.

fx legion chapter 1 review

Not just Stevens, but the entire cast delivers on every front — and it’s not a small cast. Rachel Keller is mysterious and brilliant with what I imagine is a script that wasn’t the easiest thing in the world to comprehend at first, handling Sydney “Syd” Barrett in a delicate and confident fashion.

As far as visuals go, ‘Chapter 1’ is an absolute triumph. The level of craft and execution is similar to that of Fargo, Hawley’s other FX masterpiece. There are so many shots and sequences that are mind games within themselves, forcing the audience to uncomfortably decipher what they’re seeing right along with David. This series has all the elements of a masterful puzzle that everyone can solve each week where every subtle detail holds major significance. A mind trip unlike any other in the genre, Legion pulls no punches and is even terrifying at times.

legion chapter 1 review

The score and soundtrack are also a crucial tool in creating the show’s atmosphere, making this a complete package. For the record, ‘Chapter 1’ features the single greatest use of Jane’s Addiction music in history, and having “Happy Jack” by The Who paired with the opening montage immediately draws in viewers. From there the brilliant score creeps up your spine and into your ears and never leaves you.

I went into this experience leading the Legion hype train, proudly blowing the whistle as loud as possible and it still exceeded my expectations. Even after two viewings, there is so much to unpack. One thing is for sure, though, we’re all in for a hell of a ride. Series premieres don’t get any better than this.

Legion airs Wednesdays nights on FX at 10pm.

About Brandon Griffin

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