Tuesday, March 14, 2017

It's Name Is

Legion has already aired five times, but I gave up after the second episode.  Based on a Marvel comic I haven't read, I decided to check it out because it's from Noah Hawley, who does the television version of Fargo.

Legion is about a man who's been in psychiatric hospitals since he was a kid.  He's diagnosed as schizophrenic though actually he's not crazy, but has all sorts of powers emanating from his mind.  The government has been watching him, trying to exploit his abilities, while a secret society rescues him to try to help him and harness his powers for good.

Or something like that.  The story, shooting back and forth through time, and fantasy versus reality, is so intricate I could barely follow it.  That's why I stopped.

Of course, if I cared more about the characters, I'd have stuck with it. Instead, it plays as yet another X-Men tale, but with lots of flashy, alienating technique when I could have used quieter scenes of people just acting like regular people.

The first season will be over by the end of the month.  Maybe if I hear enough good things, I'll give it another chance, but for now, no thanks.


Anonymous Denver Guy said...

Well, I don't know if our endorsement will count for too much, but we are hooked on Legion at Denver Guy's house. Some spoilers follow, but generally we find it much more engaging than the typical super-hero TV series. We gave up on Secret Agents of Shield - too much of a soap opera. Supergirl was just silly. Legion presents its story more like a mystery - maybe more comparable to the film "Watchmen."

After 5 episodes, it's not even clear if the hero is a hero. He may have killed people, even as a child. He may have been a thief and drug pusher. And once relieved of his neuroses, he may be extremely dangerous. This is a story with no reliable narrator - David's memories are inaccurate, and may have been rewritten by himself, or another player (possibly a second personality, or possibly an outside force). This element reminds me of "Memento," another favorite film. But all the other characters have conflicting motivations as well, so we don't know where the true narrative is (yet).

My most direct comparison is to Twin Peaks, which employed (created?) many of the techniques used in Legion. Flashbacks, visual metaphors, nearly subliminal imaging - these provide clues to where the story is headed. The use of suspense is perhaps not as great as with Twin Peaks, which moved more slowly through its first season, but that may be a concession to the idea that this is a superhero story that has to have action.

In our opinion, the other element that the series needs to maintain is a sense of humor, or at least weirdness. This element is what makes Twin Peaks stand out for us, and Legion took a step toward improving its humor with the introduction in the 4th episode of a new character (Oliver), played by former Flight of the Conchords actor Jemaine Clement. He lives in an ice cube, on the astral plane, and is funny in the way Agent Cooper brought us many a smile. We hope we will be seeing more of him.

The show could still go wrong. It could become a soap opera. It could become internally inconsistent. But so far we are looking forward to more episodes.

6:30 AM, March 15, 2017  
Blogger LAGuy said...

Most of your description convinces me I made the right decision. The only thing you said that makes me want to watch more is that they've got Jemaine Clement.

11:20 AM, March 15, 2017  
Anonymous Denver Guy said...

I thought that might be the case.

9:19 PM, March 15, 2017  

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