LEGION — Pictured: (l-r) Rachel Keller as Syd Barrett, Dan Stevens as David Haller. CR: Chris Large/FX

‘Legion’ brings us to arguably the best origin in the Marvel TV universe.

If you’ve paid attention to FX programing after Atlanta and The People vs O.J. Simpson concluded, you knew the edgy network was working on Legion. The Marvel TV show is the latest in Marvel’s attempt to dominate network television, this time focusing on the X-Men universe. The gamble for Legion is a rather simple one: can they make what worked for Daredevil, Luke Cage & Jessica Jones for a TV platform?

Can they do for a show based around X-Men comic books that aren’t focused on the mutants we normally see. No Professor X, Magneto, Wolverine, Jean Grey, Cyclops, etc. These comics focus on Charles Xavier’s son, David Haller (Dan Stevens). That’s right, the son of Professor X.

Last night, we got our first dose of Haller in the series premiere. “Chapter 1” starts off with a run down of young David’s childhood. Soccer games, science fairs, riots, and police car rides, all under the filter of slow and warped images. As a child, David was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic. He’s living in a mental hospital, trying to figure things out. One bad night resulted in college put David here but he’s been in and out as if he has seasonal residency.

From the initial moments in the hospital on his birthday to the continued flashbacks, it’s a pretty shitty day in his world. Hearing voices, seeing things in a distorted, slow reality, he’s more Donnie Darko than typical tormented kid. In a way, he causes him to have very little control of his powers, similar to that of his father. FX brilliantly teases all of this until the very end, to the point when we get the actual reveal of David’s powers, it comes off as an understated shock.

“Thing is, when you’re the son of Charles Xavier, people want to weaponize you.”

What Legion decides to focus upon for “Chapter 1” isn’t just David’s personal pain in regards to controlling his powers but the moment everything changes.

Two characters, Sydney Barnett (Rachel Keller) & Lenny Busker (Aubrey Plaza) become the crux of what the show wants to accomplish, at least on night one. Sydney carries a mutant trait similar to that of Rogue, in that you can’t touch her or problems ensue. That, and she’s also a body snatcher in the most literal sense of the word. David & Sydney date. Sydney swapped bodies with David and inherited his powers. Destructive shit happened. At least Aubrey Plaza’s Lenny is as close to a friend as David’s going to get. Candy fetishes and Aubrey Plaza doing things should bring in anyone just for 15 minutes, much less a 48 minute show. Thing is, you don’t know how crazy Lenny actually is – well, until things end badly for her too.

Thing is, when you’re the son of Charles Xavier, people want to weaponize you. After going over “the accident”, David gets captured by the government, even if he doesn’t remember enough to retell the story. Soon Syd and a squad of other mutants come and save the day, even if they know they’re harboring a schizophrenic who can’t control his powers one iota.

Now, the time period of the show throws me off a bit. It has to be somewhere in the 1980s or ‘90s. Charles has been paralyzed for quite sometime. His lower extremities in regards to his legs … haven’t worked. The so-called “Legion” here is in his early 30s. Either somehow someway Charles Xavier got his busy on and the government still has a hard-on for figuring out the powers of mutants or something else.

“Chapter 1” has a feeling of a mixture of the X-Men and Donnie Darko. The cinematic elements of Legion are beautiful. The colors are dim and edgy and make you feel like you’re in a mental hospital and you’re trying to figure out how. I felt trapped in the show, and it was amazing. I’m definitely looking forward to this season, and hopefully finally getting what we deserve out of the X-Men.

About The Author

Brandon Caldwell is the founder & editor-in-chief of Day & A Dream. His work has appeared in VIBE, UPROXX, Complex, EBONY, the Village Voice, the Houston Press, Houston Style Magazine, DJBooth, The Sports Fans Journal, and more. Follow him on Twitter: @_brandoc

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