Super Television

With the perfect mix of fun and intrigue, FX’s new stylized psychological drama, “Legion” is a fantastic new addition to the competitive realm of superhero entertainment.

Written and directed by Noah Hawley, “Legion” stars Dan Stevens as David Haller, the protagonist and mutant who faces great difficulty separating his dreams from reality. Based on the Marvel Comics superhero Legion, this show wastes no time introducing us to David, showing us the incredibly complex inner workings of his brain and his journey towards self-discovery.

Set in 1970s America, the ambiance and visuals of this show are spectacular, with bright psychedelic colors and kaleidoscopic aesthetics seemingly inspired by Stanley Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange.” From the opening credits, “Legion” starts with a montage of David from his birth to the present, where he is now a young adult diagnosed with schizophrenia living alone in a psychiatric hospital. We learn David relies on his memories and dreams, which drive his psychological journey and make this show so interesting. “Legion” focuses not on the superpowers, but the mental underpinnings of David as a person in society.

We learn that throughout his life, David has heard voices and suffered from hallucinations and when upset, objects around him tend to levitate and explode. His telekinetic outbursts are presented by other people to be only imagined in his head, but we, like David, don’t know the real truth of his story. Since this show is told entirely from his subjective point of view, we are left trying to piece together the complete truth as the series progresses, which adds greatly to the fun.

Thus, we find him highly medicated at the start, with a visit from his sister, Amy, wishing him a happy birthday. He responds by describing his birthday as, “my 260th Thursday as a passenger on the cruise ship Mental Health,” showing the eccentric nature of his mind. We meet some of his other friends in the mental ward, mainly Lenny (Aubrey Plaza) and a new patient, Syd Barrett (Rachel Keller), who each have their own distinct characteristics.

Lenny adds a lot of humor to the show through her easy-going attitude toward mental illness, while Syd sticks out through her anxiety about touching other people. David and Syd start a comical hands-off relationship, which shows us that Syd is quite different too, and her complete set of powers is a mystery to be explored later in the series.

David finds himself fighting not only his mental demons, but also many physical dangers. In true superhero fashion, “Legion” has some great villains from the opening, who come from the government and seem to want to weaponize David’s psychic abilities for sinister reasons. Watching David react to these threats is very entertaining, as his wits and skills are put to the test, with his quirky mind on display.

Since the pilot episode merely introduces us to David and the bizarre world he lives in, there are many questions left to be answered. However, the open-ended nature of “Legion” works, since David is such an electric character to watch as he journeys to discover his true nature and reality around him.

What I really love about “Legion” is its emphasis on his psychological condition, not his great superpowers that we know exist because of the comics. Focusing on his mental struggles makes him both grounded in humanity and more relatable to the audience, leaving us begging for many more of the captivating twists sure to come.