Legion, the first live action TV show set in the X-Men universe in 20 years, debuted on FX on Wednesday, February 8th. At 70 minutes (if you watched it without commercials, as you can if you stream it currently for free from iTunes), it was nothing if not a trip. Reviews have generally been positive, and the only truly negative ones so far seemed to lack an understanding of what the X-Men are and why this show is such a significant development in comics-related pop culture. In other words, some people coming to the show cold might not find it not to their taste.
I myself am not well versed in the original comics that have influenced the show, though I have recently picked up a trade edition of X-Men Legacy: Prodigal, written by the great Simon Spurrier, and drawn by Tan Eng Huat, Jorge Molina, and Craig Yeung, which I had heard by word of mouth is one of the influences on the show. Indeed, Spurrier is credited at the end of the first episode, which seems to confirm this. Another volume to look out for, if you’re interested in source material, is the thrice great Bill Sienkiewicz’s work with Chris Claremont basically inventing Legion as a character in the pages of New Mutants, issues #25, 26, and 27, I believe. You can find those in a collection called New Mutants Classic: Volume 2.
The first episode was an aethetic tour-de-force, far beyond what I was expecting in a first X-Men show, reminding me of the elements I found compelling in the X-Men: Days of Future Past and X-Men: First Class films. The way in which the colors and geometry of the mental hospital are used to unsettle the viewer and make them even less certain of what reality means in the show is a real achievement.
Having said that, there were moments in the first episode when I felt confused. Rather than this putting me off, I’ve chalked that up to the purpose of the show, to take you as close as possible to an experience of David’s state of mind while still maintaining an arguably solid narrative. If newcomers find that too much to stick with, that’s understandable, but given the previews for the season and even for episode 2 suggest a wider narrative more clearly defined as “external” to David’s mind, I’d recommend giving another episode or two a chance to prove themselves. In other words, we’re going to get a little more bedrock to the reality of the show for viewers to hold onto, it seems.
But judge for yourself. Here is, firstly, the trailer to the entire first season of Legion, released this week by FX:
And here is the promo for episode 2, which I have to say, has plenty of the attitude that makes the show immediately stylish in the first place:
Or, if you’re still bored waiting for episode 2 to air on Wednesday, February 15th, you can watch this trippy Instagram meme from Legion for the next few hours: