Every episode of 'Legion' Season One made me constantly think "This totally changes what live-action superhero stories can do." It was so glorious beyond measure. Here was a show that came out swinging with bold unorthodox storytelling that worked so well in getting into the main characters fractured psyche and worldview. Dan Stevens was a phenomenal lead for the program, Aubrey Plaza as an unpredictable enchanting devil mutant was the very definition of fun, the sets and costumes were beautifully idiosyncratic. Eight episodes. They packed it all into eight episodes!
However, let me voice an unpopular opinion.
Am I the only person in the Western Hemisphere who felt the second half of 'Legion Season One' (everything in episodes 5-8) was not quite as impeccable as the first? As I was marveling at the (seemingly effortless) narrative juggling of those remarkable first four episodes, at one point I couldn’t help wondering, Can even Noah Hawley maintain such a truly daring storytelling approach for an entire season...? And, for my money, he couldn’t quite.
I have to say my heart sank a little when I realized (“Chapter 6") that the Legion writers were gonna go ahead and dive right into one of the most popular (read: obvious) tropes of this particular genre: the “Cuckoo Nest” narrative detour (thank you, TV Tropes), beloved by every single writer of every single movie/TV series that comes with the tag “mind-bending.” Sorry, but in the post-Buffy 21st century, this particular move...The now we’ll really mess with the viewer by transplanting the hero/antihero to a supremely creepy location— yes, it’s gonna be a mental ward— and dropping the soon-to-be-dismissed speculation that all the action so far has been a deranged mental fantasy. Again, the 21st-century writer’s-room answer to It-Was-All-A-Dream-Or-Was-It? has become such a cliché. As soon as the Oliver Bird character was introduced/developed (and the campiness of his persona seemed a little odd tone-wise, even for a show that will dare to make Pink Floyd awe-some again), it began to feel to me like maybe a few too many narrative threads were getting dangled, even as I continued to trust Hawley to bring it all together into a seamless whole. Oh, and the finale final-credits twist/teaser for the second season? Didn’t love it. Didn’t really (forgive this) fly for me. Take away the budget/production values/effects, and that kind of Tune-In-Next-Time anti-deus ex machina is pretty much what you’d expect from 'The Batman' 1966 television series.
Do not get me wrong. That first half had me truly riveted like nothing since 'Fargo' S2. Yes, the cast is uniformly stellar. Yes, Lenny is the supervillain role the one and only Aubrey Plaza was born to play. Yes, I love a seemingly-random-yet-stylistically-appropriate dance sequence as much as the next person. Even as I’m wrapping up this rant, I know damn well I’ll be recording tonight’s premiere (and obsessing over it well into the AM hours). But I do think a mind bender show deserves viewers with a critical mind. Keep it tight, Noah. Ambition is great, until it isn’t.
Legion Season 2 begins airing tonight on FX
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