Sunday, February 12, 2017

Legion - Chapter 1

Imagine the most powerful person on the planet might be an escaped mental patient. Taking a far different tact to introduce us to mutant than any of the X-Men films (which were very quick to introduce and explain the abilities of each character), "Chapter 1" of Legion is more methodical as we witness David Haller (Dan Stevens) interviewed about recent events which led to the diagnosed schizophrenic leaving the mental institution. The episode slowly reveals to us, and eventually David, that the government agents are lying to him and know and understand more about David than he does himself. In the scenes of the institution we meet David's best friend Lenny (Aubrey Plaza) and his girlfriend Syd (Rachel Keller), both of whom it appears will continue to play important roles for him outside of the institution.

Shows with an unreliable narrator are problematic. Unlike a film, where your investment is likely only a couple hours of your time, a television series is asking for a much larger commitment. If you can't accept anything you see on-screen without questioning it, does it really even matter if you keep watching? It can certainly be done, and done well, but it can prove to be a greater challenge both for the writers and audience. Eventually it's revealed that both Syd and David are mutants and that there's a war brewing between sides who would like David on their side. While "Chapter 1" lets us in on just what Syd's power is, David's is far less obvious (other than his uncontrollable telekinesis when agitated). Theoretically the series takes place in the same universe as the X-Men films, but that doesn't mean I expect Hugh Jackman or Patrick Stewart to make an appearance any time soon. I'm not quite sold on the show's premise after a single episode, but there's enough here to bring me back for another week.

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