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Another year, another comic book series. It’s easy to write them off based purely on abundance, but “Legion”- FX’s latest take on the “X-Men” lore with “Fargo’s” Noah Hawley on board- may just prove that comic book shows can be just as daring, if not more so, as the best shows on air right now.
“Legion’s” 90 minute pilot, “Chapter 1,” delivers so much visual flair, restriction-free storytelling and general brain melting that it’s damn near impossible to walk away and not want more. Whereas the fantastic “Daredevil” took comic book tropes and put them in the shell of a crime drama, “Legion” is very much a new genre in and of itself.
The show immediately grabs your attention with an arresting opening sequence depicting David Haller’s life in slow motion flashes, before an adult David (Dan Stevens) attempts to hang himself. Then- boom! David’s cooped up in a mental hospital with the cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs Lenny (Aubrey Plaza, perfectly cast against type), drugged up to the point that his delusions are no longer a problem.
In comes Syd Barrett (Rachel Keller) a gorgeous, yet enigmatic woman with a phobia of being touched. She and David fall in love, but little does David know that he is the most powerful mutant on the face of the planet.
Immediately apparent from “Legion’s” pilot is the fact that there literally is nothing like it on television. From the always-gorgeous visuals, looking like Wes Anderson on crack, to the constant mind games and insane tricks the show uses to its storytelling advantage, nothing in “Legion” is predictable. If you’re like me, your jaw will drop about a dozen times during the pilot and it’s rare that a show pulls that off.
But it’s the little things that make this show so great. Hawley, who directed the pilot, puts in great stuff like David and Syd holding hands via a cloth connecting their separate hands and a killer long take escape sequence, reminiscent of “Children of Men.” This is the kind of show that you could watch again and again and find new things each time. And this is only the first episode, mind you.
“Chapter 1” is one of the most memorable openers for a mainstream television show in a long time. While the trippy visuals and risky story may turn off some people, those who can look beyond the conventions will find a truly one-of-a-kind series that hopefully will sustain this momentum.
“Legion” airs Wednesdays at 10pm on FX.