REVIEW: Legion: The Complete Season One
Fox and FX have taken entirely divergent paths in exploring the mutant mythos apart from the X-Men feature films. In Gifted, they make it personal and about family in a paranoid America, that has taken mutant hysteria to new heights. On the far more dramatic and intense FX network, they go for the individual in Legion, focusing on David Haller (Dan Stevens), illegitimate son of Charles Xavier.
Showrunner Noah Hawley has created something edgier and much of the praise heaped on the first season has more to do with hallucinatory imagery than actual clever storytelling. Obviously, Haller is a mutant but is considered insane, heavily drugged, and locked away in the Clockworks Psychiatric Hospital. The series sees the world from David’s point of view giving it a unique look and feel, which fans fell in love with. With season two starting this week, 20 Century Fox Home Entertainment has released the first season on Blu-ray.
While in Clockworks, during brief periods of lucidity, he seems to have forged bonds with Lenny Busker (Aubrey Plaza) and new arrival Syd Barrett (Rachel Keller). The latter agrees to be his girlfriend but since she doesn’t like to be touched, it’s platonic, until she’s released and he kisses her. At that point, they seemingly switch bodies (revealing her mutant ability), also allowing us to switch point of view, which happens a lot.
We’re taken into David’s mind, which allows the mutant metaphor about the human experience to dwell on the nature of mental illness. But it’s also based on a comic book franchise so there is plenty of action and a big bad that must be dealt with, in this case the threat from the Shadow King, even though we never really know what he’s after (that’s coming this season we’re promised).
His confinement is ended when he’s recused by Division III (ooh, a mysterious op) and brought to Summerland, a mutant refuge outfit where he’s cared for by therapist Melanie Bird (Jean Smart). She’s trying to figure out the root causes of his issues and we relive his past traumas with David with much harrowing imagery. In time, we all learn that the entity David dubbed the “Devil with Yellow Eyes” was actually Amahl Farouk, who lost a psychic duel with Xavier and has been lodged in his psyche, feeding like a parasite, biding its time before it can be free.
However, Melanie also wants David to help free her husband Oliver (Jermaine Clement), trapped on some astral plane and when he does, Lenny wants to run off with him. Yeah, it’s complicated.
There series has a lot of style and flash, unreliable narrators, some experimental storytelling but in the end, we have a tortured man seeking sanity in an insane world, paying for the sins of the father.
Legion: The Complete Season One a fine AVC encoded 1080p transfer largely in 1.78:1 (some interstitial sequences in 2.38:1), nicely matched with the effective DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track.
For a lauded series with a fervent fan base, the extras prove disappointing. We get Deleted Scenes (26:50), Fractured Reality: A Different Kind of Hero (10:35), Uncanny Romance (3:09); Production Design (2:38); Powers (2:39); Make Up (Making the Devil with the Yellow Eyes) (3:00); Visual Effects (2:34); Costume Design (2:58); and, Locations (2:24). All perfectly fine background but nowhere near as engaging as the series it supports.