2017

March 19, 2017
 

‘Legion’ is Hypnotically Intense

David zoned in

Have you ever had that feeling that you’re experiencing a dream? Only to realize you were actually just watching FX newest hit show ‘Legion’? Maybe not? Well that has been my experience for the first six weeks of its premiere season, and it is now safe to say my mind grapes have been stretched and twisted in ways I never thought could be so engaging. Each new chapter in the show feels as if I’m given a cosmically charged LSD trip littered with foreshadowing of oncoming information revelations, reminders of past events that tie into current events, and easter eggs for future plot twists. It is bold in its very nature, a show about a mutant who has potentially hundreds of personalities existing within him, and each personality comes equipped with its own characteristics and more interestingly their very own super powers. It is also bold in its storytelling and production. Scenes seemingly end and begin traveling between planes of reality and time periods. The creators expect you to be sharp enough to keep up, forcing you to earn the right to understand David Haller’s gift. You can never truly be sure what you are seeing exists. Is it reality? Or is part of David’s mind? These sorts of questions are answered while at the same time compounded upon in a way that is both satisfying and challenging.

Without hesitation I can say this show is very heavy and needs to be given your maximum focus and attention while viewing. This may be a drawback for people looking for a casual experience, but I can attest to the fun and excitement of trying to play detective, picking apart every detail to form your own interpretation of what’s to come. Noah Hawley (Fargo) beautifully demonstrates that he is not scared of testing your understanding of reality within the “Legion” universe. Drawing heavy on flashbacks, dream sequences, astral planes as well as times in which characters have changed bodies or are figments of the imagination, you may easily begin to think you have lost your own mind trying to keep pace with the storytelling. Eventually the scale tips the other way, providing important information revealing momentary clarity while simultaneously creating new questions. Patience will pay off in a well crafted and well designed story such as this. Those who need instant gratification may be frustrated by the lack of answers initially given. Same for those who expect non-stop action, just because it’s a Marvel title. But who needs those people anyway, I mean I’m sure there is a new Transformers movie right around the corner for them to stare blankly at.

A unique quality about “Legion” is its overall ambiguous tone (which seems to be purposefully done to mirror David’s character). This show feels like a drama with some action but has a tendency to dance with elements of psychological horror. As we explore some memories of David’s they glow with an aura of creepiness through the tone and set pieces. The character design in the baddies are simple yet effectively terrifying, striking a nerve we all have within us that reaches to the roots of our childhood. Its setting and timeline seem to draw heavy influence from late 60’s to mid 70’s culture and is executed it in a way that feels real but also dreamlike. The sound design is supremely handled. I can recall many moments where the music was effectively altered in a way that communicated the tone change of the scene and heightened the tension. This show successfully aims to draw on your senses as it guides you through the characters psyches in a hypnotic fashion.

Among the multitude of recurring themes within “Legion” I have noticed a large one revolves around control, more specifically having none of it. David struggles to grip his own thoughts and actions at times constantly at war within himself. Spotlight characters have had traumatic pasts and dwell over having no way of changing it, becoming victim to its outcome. This motif of no control is masterfully reflected in the environments they find themselves in. Whether confined to a psych ward or trapped within a memory their restrictions become haunting. It is layered to the point where the characters feel completely helpless adding depth to the unsettling tone set all throughout. Even between romantic partners we see the ongoing clash of control. Resisting urges, regret over past choices, not knowing the truth about intentions… The theme of control creeps through the narrative like a parasite feeding on the conscious of the characters.

Legion” is not afraid to spread its wings narratively and challenge its audience to unfold the wrinkles of their own brains along the way. It has quickly became one of my staple shows and I look forward to continuing my journey through David’s mindscape. The fact that it has already been renewed for a second season proves that i’m not the only one invested in this journey.



About the Author

Joseph Belgrade




 
 

 
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