This is definitely NOT your Dad's Marvel TV show. And that's a very good thing.
Visually dazzling, whipsaw smart, subversive, yet with surprisingly wacky comedic elements, Legion Season 1 Episode 1 is one of the most innovative takes on the somewhat overdone superhero genre in many a year.
What really makes this one so good is the work of actor Dan Stevens, who plays our troubled hero David Haller.
Seems that David has been diagnosed with mental illness since childhood, which was hilariously depicted to the old Who tune "Happy Jack."
The whole look and feel of this show is just different, almost as if it takes place in the mod London 1960's.
David: It's just Thursday. Like the 260th Thursday as a passenger on the cruise ship "Mental Health." On the plus side I've mastered eating with a spoon.
Amy: You're getting better. The voices - you're not seeing things that aren't there?
David is resigned to his fate, but that all changes when Syd shows up.
David has an almost child-like quality, so it's very cute the way he falls almost instantly for Syd, the girl who won't be touched.
Reminds me of Pushing Daisies, both in the style and the tone. Hopefully it will last longer than that cult hit.
Syd: Please keep talking, so we can pretend that our problems are all in our heads.
David: What does that mean?
Syd: It means that you're in here because somebody said you're not normal.
Lenny: Oooh, I like her! I like you. You've got what the kids these days call moxie.
Syd: All I'm saying is, what if your problems aren't in your head. What if they aren't even problems?
David: Do you wanna be my girlfriend?
Syd: OK. But DON'T touch me.
Syd: OK. Find me at dinner.
Hey, they've got nothing better to do, right? I love how everything is just plain weird, like that's the norm. It is for them, I suppose.
This show has a definite point of view, and much like the X Men comics, it is really just a metaphor for how we treat those who don't conform to what is considered "normal."
The hints of his powers are doled out piecemeal, but we definitely know that David has something major going on.
I'm fine, I'm fine. I'm calm. I just had a bad dream. Violence is not necessary, needles are NOT necessary.David
I love the little Easter eggs that the creators have dropped in, too. The nut hut is named "Clockworks", and all the patients wear orange. Too funny.
Syd Barrett is obviously a nod to the mentally ill founder of Pink Floyd, even down to David calling as her dad Max, whose name was the same as the father of the real life Syd.
Those little details really make a show more interesting for me.
Lenny is a delight, so I'm kinda bummed that she's already dead. But hopefully she will hang out as the dead friend for a while longer. And who knows, maybe a mutant can bring her back.
Lenny: Stop looking at me like that, man. I know- I'm dead - you killed me. And I gotta say, not cool, man.
David: I didn't.
Lenny: Yeah, you did. Don't blame her. Don't blame her - she was just a passenger, riding around in your body. Don't give a newbie a bazooka and then be surprised when she blows shit up.
Maybe she will be the little voice on his shoulder that will keep him out of trouble.
Lenny: Don't worry about me. It's you that's got problems. They're coming for you, babe.
Lenny: They know about the hospital - what you did.
David: I didn't.
Lenny: What she did when she was you. Had your powers. They're coming and they're gonna kill you.
The David/Syd (is is too early to dub it Syvid or Dasyd?) love story might be the central element here. I hope it doesn't bog down the plot.
David: I have to know. Are you real?
Syd: I'm real. This is real, OK? I'm here. I came back for you. I love you. Are you gonna say it, too?
David: I love you.
The overall story of the factions vying for the mutants is a well oiled trope, but I have a feeling that will be turned on its ear, too.
If the readings are right, he may be the most powerful mutant that we've ever encountered.The Interrogator
I was kinda disappointed that the Interrogator got dead so soon. He was really creepy, but not half as weird as the Tom Waits lookalike who was doing all the woodcarving, right?
The quick shifts between reality and what was going on inside David's mind was a real kick, but sometimes it made the action a little hard to follow.
If the intent was to show us what it's like inside David's addled brain, then it worked.
The whole "Freaky Friday" switcheroo when Syd and David kissed was very cool. I knew Syd wasn't going to have a Rogue-like power, so I liked the twist there.
It also gives more room for some comedic elements going forward.
The Interrogator: Stop. Would you say that again?
David: I said I looked in the mirror and I was her.
The Interrogator: Who?
The Interrogator: She was there with you?
David: No, somehow we - she took my place and I took hers when we kissed. But it wasn't me - I didn't do - it was her power - I think.
That's what I love about a Noah Hawley show: he has fantastic, off the wall comic moments, usually right in the middle of the most intense scene imaginable.
He does it amazingly well in Fargo, and so far he's upped his game here.
I mean, who else would drop a Bollywood dance number right in the middle of a hallucination? Crazy!
And the scene where his sister Amy takes away all the sharp garden tools out of the basement after David destroyed a lamp was just deliciously funny.
Just when you thought the show was going one way, it whips back in another.
The action packed breakout scene was a pleasant surprise, with some major mutant powers shown off to great effect.
As of now the assumption is that Melanie Bird's group are the good guys, and the shadowy government agency are the baddies, but I wouldn't take anything for granted.
There is something about the look in Melanie's eyes that might not bode well for our heroes.
I came into this with moderate expectations. I didn't know what to make of it based on the promotion. But I am VERY pleased with the pilot.
It's a bold, innovative story in a genre that badly needs a new, fresh approach. Love it!
Your turn! Tell me what you thought of the pilot. Are you excited to see where the story is headed? Let me know in the comments section.
And remember that you can always watch Legion online on TV Fanatic.