Three episodes in and I can already with confidence that there will be no show in 2017 better than Legion. The latest dramatic effort by FX and Noah Hawley of Fargo fame, combines the comic book lore of Netflix’s multiple Marvel series, the mystery and uneasiness of Mr. Robot, the cinematography and visual allure of Westworld, jump scares to rival American Horror Story, and the vision and direction of Hawley. And that hasn’t even touched on the love story (featuring a twist that’s reminiscent of the gone-too-soon Pushing Daisies) that has done more in three episodes than most shows do in three seasons.
Without spoiling it too much for those who have yet to take the dive, Legion follows David (Dan Stevens), a diagnosed schizophrenic who hears voices inside his head and can never really be sure what is real and what is only a manifestation of his supposed illness. What David soon finds out though, is that he may not be quite as crazy as he has been told throughout his life and instead may be harboring extremely powerful mutant abilities.
Like Robot, much of the series takes place inside David’s mind, which goes without saying, is not a pleasant place to reside. While similarities to the Sam Esmail thriller may spring thoughts of the “unreliable narrator” syndrome that some critics got fed up with in Mr. Robot’s 2nd season, Legion is so engrossing from episode to episode and shot to shot that the occasional “..wait was that real?” moments feel more like a fun little mystery box that needs solving than an unfollowable head-scratcher.
The plot and background of the show is what brings people in (if you haven’t made the connection by now, Legion was originally an X-Men character and is in fact the son of Professor X in the comics, although no such relationship has been confirmed in the show just yet), but it’s Hawley’s vision and direction that will keep them there. In addition to being downright terrifying in parts, Legion is also incredibly tender and character driven.
As a former junkie who was locked up and told he was crazy his whole life, having someone (in this case his love interest, Syd (Rachel Keller)) believe that he could be something more is changing David’s entire world view, but he’s not without his hesitations and he is never sure who he can trust. With tremendous performances by Stevens, Keller, Jean Smart, and Aubrey Plaza, Legion has the horses to keep up with its weirdness, and if you allow yourself not to ask too much too quickly and just go for the ride, you might be surprised at all the different places the show will take you.
Hawley, who’s shot and music selections are once again sublime, presents the show in a way that is not only visually stunning, but forces you to stay glued to your television. Blink or look at Twitter for a few seconds and you may miss a clue, a split-second frame switch, or maybe just a frog smoking a bowl that manifests itself in David’s brain.
That’s not to say, of course, that Legion is a perfect show. There are (minor) problems (for instance, our protagonist has a thinly written sister that underutilizes the talented Katie Astleton) but, barring a Heroes Season 2-like fall from grace, and even with shows like Robot, Fargo, The Americans, and Better Call Saul coming back with new seasons in the near future, Legion stands alone for its vision and freshness even in the era of Peak TV.
Saying much more would spoil the plot, so the only thing left I can is just watch the damn thing. I can absolutely guarantee you won’t regret it.
Now for some random shit.
Best Performance of the Week
The Path has strayed off the uh…path a little bit in season two, but Michelle Monaghan continues to do impressive work and is worth keeping up with for her alone.
Monaghan’s Sarah is in a rough spot, being questioned by the Myerist followers, passive-aggressively bitched at by Mary, tested by Cal, and underappreciated by Haw, and that’s not even touching on whatever is going on with her and Eddie. Still, Monaghan plays the part with raw vulnerability and she has becoming the most engaging part of the show as other characters (and the plot) have stalled.
Christine Baskets is the best character on TV scene of the week
Christine got to hang out with her mom this week and we got some more heavy lifting from Louie Anderson as we learned it’s been 25 years since Christine’s husband (and Chip and Dale’s father) passed away, during which time she has not been intimate. After Chip and Dale’s latest round of bullshit destroyed the entire house, Christine finally decided to take the leap and visit the carpet guy she fell for a few episodes ago in Denver. You got this gurl.
This week’s plot of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia but every character is replaced by characters from Mad Men.
It’s Valentine’s day and after an influx of single customers crash the bar, Don Draper is trying to get the gang to actually care about doing their jobs for once. However, Betty, Roger, Duck, and Pete are more concerned with a mysterious crate outside.
While Don continues to give his best efforts at the bar to please the new customers, Roger is jealous that Duck is becoming friends with a parasite on his body that he has named Jerry, and he tricks him into getting rid of it. Later, Betty fools Roger into singing him a love song by threatening him with anthrax.
It is finally revealed that Don was just pretending to give a shit about work because he never got a valentine from his friends. Pete then surprises Don by telling him that what was actually in the mysterious crate all along was a Rocket Launcher the gang had bought for him as a surprise for the holiday.
John Oliver taught me this week about…
Obamacare! Aka the only topic your Uncle has been talking about on Facebook the last 8 years. Without divulging too much into politics, the far and away best part about this segment was watching footage from the town hall meetings in which people just booed the ever loving hell out of their congressmen and women when they tried to speak at town halls.
Booing is an underutilized tool in society and should be much more acceptable in everyday situations, imo. I should able to boo at the top of my lungs whenever the person in front of me at the grocery store pulls out a wad of coupons without anyone batting an eye.
Least Realistic Riverdale Plot Point of the Week
Archie continues to be the least interesting character on the show, but let’s dive into all of the incorrect ways Riverdale writers think high school football works. Also, this is a good time to note that the straight up stole one of the main plot points on this show from fucking High School Musical.
- As far as I’ve ever experienced in my life of playing and watching sports, captains are not selected via a weeklong tryout between two players and are almost always either selected before the season by the coach or voted on by the rest of the players. Even if that were somehow the case, the coach would definitely never ever bring the two players he’s considering into a room and draw out the tension about who he picked like he’s Ryan Seacrest announcing the winner of American Idol.
- Furthermore, in football, there would normally be an offensive AND defensive captain meaning Archie and his rival (Mason? Melvin? Who cares) could both be picked since they play on different sides of the ball.
- High school football may have tackling in practice, but it would seem unlikely that one of the best players on the team would be jacked up by a defensive player during a scrimmage, and it’s even less likely that player would then get rewarded for it by being named the captain.
- Sure, it’s possible I guess for a 10th grader to be picked as varsity football captain, but considering Archie supposedly barely made the team, how in the hell is he all of the sudden being considered to be the leader?
Riverdale writers: please consult Friday Night Lights.
Random Media Recommendation of the Week: Missing Richard Simmons (Podcast)
Fitness guru Richard Simmons basically disappeared from the world without a trace in February of 2014, going cold turkey from public appearances, teaching his weekly classes, and perhaps most frighteningly of all, completely cutting off his friends and fans who he communicated with on a daily basis (although suspiciously, his social media accounts remain active).
Simmons isn’t missing (he just hasn’t left his house). but documentary filmmaker and friend of Simmons Dan Taberski wants to know what the fuck is up. No one could have possibly expected that a show about Richard freaking Simmons could be the next Serial, but here we are. This show is totally engaging and will have you hooked after the first episode. Even if you don’t give a single shit about Simmons (which frankly, I did not before this podcast) it’s worth a listen just based off the pure weirdness of the whole situation.
Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty revisionist history of the week
“And the 2012 Academy Award for Best Picture goes to….Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close!”
Out of context Rick and Morty quote of the week
“Is your intention to abandon Rick, using his own portal gun? In Bird culture, this is considered a dick move.”
See you next week, everybody.