I don’t do reviews because I don’t think I’m good at them. I watch/read/whatever things because I just want to be entertained. When I talk about things I enjoy I just gush rainbows and sugar. I would liken it to The Simpsons episode where Homer was a food critic and he loved everything but nobody took him seriously because of that. That’s me reviewing things I like, “OMG IT WAS THE BEST EVAR!!!”
But in an exercise of practice I thought I would try and at least write about one of my favorite shows. Top 2 at least, that are still currently running. That show would be Legion.
Legion combines my love of great writing and superhero-y type settings, the only difference is that the show really isn’t about being a superhero. The main character, David Haller, is a telepath (and so much more) but there is a catch; he’s mentally ill. Or at least that is what he is made to believe through most of the first season. We are slowly brought to realize that there is a parasite living inside of his brain that is making him see things. It’s been there since he was a child and has slowly microwaves his brain causing him to become a drug addicted mess who eventually winds up in a mental institution.
This is where some superhero stuff comes into play. He’s broken out by people with cool powers, yada yada yada. It’s a very short development that gets right back into the meat of the show, David and his fight with the parasite. Or, as its better known throughout the first season, The Devil with the Yellow Eyes (which is an amazing name) and later to be known as the Shadow King.
There is a back story that is told regarding the Shadow King and how he got inside David’s head but i’m not looking to give a recap of the entire show, just hitting on a few of the main points that make me love it so much. Mainly the writing and how it leaves me in a state of awe. I really enjoy the characters and the bizarre nature of the story. The concept of a powerful mutant superhero type who hears voices and sees monsters and doesn’t realize he has all of these abilities and because of this he thinks he’s insane.
My favorite episode of the first season was towards the end. They were slowly closing in on the Shadow King and trying to pry him from David’s mind. The protagonists of the show trace him back to David’s childhood home, the Shadow King having control over David at this time. Once the group enters the yard of the house all of the sound cuts out. It’s complete silence. It’s tense. You’re watching the characters slowly creep through a dark house looking for a person you’ve come to care about but is being controlled by a monster with insane capabilities. It’s like a horror movie.
The confrontation finally happens with David being found, a member of another group trying to stop the mutants slipping in from the side and opening fire with a gun, chaos happening all around and then the entire scene freezes and cuts to black. It reappears back in the mental institution with the Shadow King taking form of a delusion in David’s head that had been his friend throughout the show. This person is now a therapist and the protagonist group are all patients at the mental institution. The camera pans around and shows all of the people in jumpsuits and smocks as if they’re in a therapy session and then cuts to the credits with no sound. Just the credits rolling.
I stared with my mouth open wondering, “WHAT?!”
It was one of the most enjoyable hours of TV I had ever watched because it kept me so off balance. The rest of the season lived up to every moment. Aside from the main character, David Haller played by Dan Stevens, I was thrilled every time Aubrey Plaza was on screen playing Lenny Busker. Her performance was enthralling.
However me gushing over the show as not the reason I thought of writing this post. The reason was more in regards to the second season, which I was anticipating with the highest regards. It was definitely up and down and didn’t have the same slow build the first season had. There was a great episode and it’d be followed by one or two that were okay. There would be an every other week type of scatter graph in regards to how good it was, however there were some amazing episodes as well.
One in particular involved David losing someone close to him. It was probably my favorite episode of the entire show. He tried to project himself through different timelines. Alternate realities. It was an homage to this person and how he cared about them and how he was trying to find a reality where they had lived.
Each timeline had its own depressing theme. Each one ends in tragedy. The entire episode ends with David in the current reality balled up in the fetal position not wanting to face the truth. It was touching and sad. It felt pure. It was beautiful.
The second season ended on Tuesday night. The first 25 minutes of the show was intense. It was fun. It was eventful. It had all of the action and moving parts come to a close right at the start instead of dragging it out towards the end. I loved it. By the first commercial break I was on the edge of my seat.
The remainder of the show slowly built to the climax of the season though. It didn’t end the way most people would have thought when starting out even at season 2. The up and down and bizarre season was on purpose. It kept us off balance and sometimes shoved us to the floor with our expectations. It didn’t want to be a comfortable ride. It’s a show about a man with god-like powers who might be insane. It isn’t going to have the happy ending people want.
After watching the episode I was thrilled. I like to read a recap to read about things I missed so I logged right in and started reading and was a little angry to read that the finale had received a “C” for over all content from a site that I usually was pretty even with in my assessments.
The review, to me, seemed to focus on a specific point of the show and right from there gave it the grade and refused to consider the overall theme and scope of it. The reviewers point was valid to a degree, however I don’t think it was worthy of him downgrading the entire episode and also taking the entirety of the show down a notch or three because of what was done. Of course this is just me gushing over one of my favorite shows so maybe I’m the unreasonable one?
The point the reviewer was trying to make felt flawed to me. He seemed put off that the show was turning David into something that we shouldn’t have expected, if at least so soon. However I think it was right on par. I think everything he did was exactly as it should have been for someone in his state. Even down to the little bit of him repeating the lines, “I’m a good person, I deserve love.”
These hit for me. They hit hard. It didn’t take away from what David did but it showed what kind of lengths he would go to to get what he wanted. He is a sad person trying to find his way. He’s a sick person as well. He’s not going to do what we all thought he would. He’s not going to be the normal hero. He’s going to be a sick person with god-like abilities. That combination doesn’t come out like roses.
I love the show. The review miffed me a little because it felt disingenuous in what it was doing. Of course that’s the fun thing about art, we can all interpret it how we like.