Enter prepared to do battle with your sanity. Weaklings and amateur television viewers need not apply.
Season One of FX/Marvel series ‘Legion‘ was a mind-blowing exercise in how a superhero show could be without needless creative restraint. Season Two evolves that premise going even deeper into the madness. A visual tour-de-force that dares to alienate those who venture into this psychedelic alternate reality world.
David Haller (Dan Stevens in a grandiose, elastic performance) isn’t just a schizo mental patient, he’s also a powerful mutant with psychic and telekinetic abilities. After coming to terms with his “origins” last season he now fully embraces all that lays before. Unfortunately, this revelation has consequences. His allies now view him as a potential threat, leaving him even more isolated as a “free man” than he ever was as an imprisoned mental patient.
With dance numbers, singing duels, crazed pencil sketch animatronics, comic book panel frames, acid-trip visuals, and a general sense of drug induced hallucinogenic unease this season is not a casual television experience. And many of the episodes lack purposefulness, until things (mostly) gel together at the season’s end. A terribly uneven flow that perhaps works best when binged.
Many of last year’s characters return with their own expanded narratives, most only reserved for an episode or two. The heavy lifting comes from David, his girlfriend Syd (Rachel Keller), and a newly minted “big bad” the Shadow King/Amahl Farouk (devilishly portrayed by Navid Negahban). While David’s once only friend Lenny (an off the rails Aubrey Plaza) emerges midseason with an equally powerful arch that must be seen to be believed (or not?).
Basically, everyone is searching to recover the Shadow King’s lost body before he himself finds it and emerges at full strength to rule the world. Only, what appears a simple Good vs Evil battle of wills morphs quickly into something ambiguously sinister leaving identifying heroes and villains nearly impossible. After all, every villain is the hero of their own story.
This often seemingly go nowhere plotting acts as mere framework for David’s dramatic evolution. It doesn’t really matter why everything happens as it does, only that it all helps direct David toward his chrysalis moment during the epic season finale. If you’re someone who values story over character, you need not apply.
It’s hard to argue with the finale’s lasting impact on future seasons. That this season felt, at times, stalled out in self-indulgent David Lynchian creative explosions is of little consequence when the end result is this fulfilling. And, Wow! What creativity. There is simply nothing else like this on TV. Pretentiousness be damned.
Forgot any notions of “superhero” stories you might hold and enter ‘Legion‘ Season Two with an open mind. It won’t often make much sense as it goes along. However, this crazy-train adventure is by far the best mindf*ck television of 2018.