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Previously on Legion, boy meets girl. Boy touches girl. Girl temporarily swaps bodies with boy. Girl as boy accidentally uses boy's latent superpowers to put boy's best friend inside of a concrete wall. It's a familiar start to many a love story, and also one of the least oddest things about this surrealist, Xmen spinoff TV series.
I liked Legion a lot in the first series for its fantastic visuals and compelling take on superheroes. We're presented with a pack of mutants that all have mind and body expanding powers, working in a weird universe that is simultaneously the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and the future. Leading the mutants is David, a former inmate at a mental health facility. In the previous series his perspective (and ours) was far more fragmented. This time around, he's healthier than he's ever been, but it doesn't do him a fat lot of good because the visuals of Legion Season 2 have only gotten stranger. In the first episode, for instance, we are introduced to a mysterious plague that makes people's teeth chatter, and also to a mutant with a basket on his head who can only see via the eyes of his army of GlaDOS sounding, mustachioed, lady androids.
I don't think Legion is for everyone. Sometimes its even not for me, with some scenes being a bit up their own arse in terms of indulgent visual abstraction and pop psychology wankery. One scene plays out with all the characters talking via interpretive dance - for no reason at all - and that's just going to annoy a lot of people. In terms of story, Legion has a forgivingly simple premise: the villain from the last season, "The Shadow King", who currently exists as a parasite that leaps from brain to brain, is trying to locate his own body. He'll be nigh unstoppable if he finds it, so the heroes have to find it first.
I think the story is a little padded, with episodes really taking their time to stretch scenes out when it could have gotten away with being 8 episodes or so long. That said, if people liked the last one, they are going to like this season. This isn't a show you can jump into the second season of, even with the generous recaps and exposition of the first episode, so if you are at all interested, go watch the first season, I guess.
Having just finished watching two seasons of Hannibal, a surrealist drama in which mentally ill people act like they have superheroes, I`ve finally gotten around to finish watching Legion, which is a surrealist drama in which mentally ill people have superpowers. Legion depicts David, a paranoid schizophrenic who happens to also be an extremely powerful mutant with mind powers. His road to recovery at an asylum is a particularly long and complicated one, especially as his reality now includes superhumans, black ops teams, and a bunch of other crazy sounding things.
To be clear, it has taken me about six months to watch this entire show, despite it being only eight episodes long. The reason is that for a show as short as it is, it is a particularly unaccommodating and off putting one. We view much of the story from Davidís perspective, and as he has a lot of issues, that perspective is heavily fragmented, involving lots of time skipping, imaginary scenes, sudden perspective shifts and vibrant dreams. That this is happening right as a bunch of crazy things are happening in his life, and we are introduced to a bunch of reality bending superheroes on top of that, means the viewer is bombarded with a lot of conflicting, jagged information. I like Legion for a lot of reasons that I will get into, but at the same time its story telling approach is really frustrating to the point that I kept putting off watching the second half of it. That was a bad decision, as it turns out the second half does quickly starts to make sense of it all. Characters start sitting down to lay the situation out clearly to one another, and once they do that you see a fairly focused, straightforward plot takes shape behind the dazzling imagery. Be patient, is what Iím basically saying.
On to the things I like, I can start by saying this is the most gorgeous looking thing Marvel has ever made. Legion has a vague retro aesthetic to the costumes and architecture, mixed and matched from every decade. Then there are lots of clever details, like how there are usually only six or seven distinct colours on screen at any one time. The show takes advantage of the reality bending premise by chopping and changing the medium at will. Then there is Aubrey Plaza. She David's mercurial buddy, following him wherever he goes. She serves as a brilliant deconstruction of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope that was practically invented for troubled young men narratives.
Despite its rocky midpoint, I came away from Legion satisfied and would love to see what follows next. If you have the patience for excessive non-linear narratives and indulgent cinematography, you will have a good time with this show.
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