Premiered February 8 at 10pm
Now this is an inventive and original pilot. Legion is actually an important character in my favorite X-Men comic plotline, the Age of Apocalypse, in which Charles Xavier’s son goes back in time to kill Magneto and accidentally kills his own father, Xavier’s Professor X, when he jumps in front of his best friend to save his life. We’re a long way off from that in this opener, but the identifiable X that adorns the O in the title hints that there’s a crucial connection to the X-Men that’s sure to be explored later. What was really cool about this dizzying debut is that it’s really hard to tell what’s real and what’s not, and David Heller is completely aware of his inability to distinguish between the two. The way in which he sees the world is pretty incredible, but I found the scenes in which his powers were triggered even more impressive. Making everything in the room move was intense, and the execution of those two scenes, the one in his apartment and the other in interrogation, was very strong. Switching bodies with the object of his affection was equally mesmerizing, and her showing up in his memory was pretty damn cool. I especially loved the escape sequence at the end of the episode, and the way in which the mutants rescuing him used their powers without any explanation, just as part of the getaway. I’m happy to see the terrific Dan Stevens of “Downton Abbey” in the lead role, with Aubrey Plaza of “Parks and Recreation” and Rachel Keller of “Fargo” perfectly cast and providing tremendous support. Hamish Linklater was also great in what may be a one-off appearance, and I’m eager to see what part Jean Smart’s Melanie Bird has to play in all this. Color me extremely interested, and definitely up for a second round.
How will it work as a series? We still don’t really know what’s real and what’s not, but I think that’s going to be part of the appeal of this enormously captivating show. Keeping the X-Men universe at bay seems to be an easy task, and this show should be able to develop a feel all its own as it tells this extremely involving and interesting story.
How long will it last? Reviews for this show has been extremely positive, and the fact that it comes from “Fargo” creator Noah Hawley, a respected name at FX, is sure to convince the network to give this one a chance. It has definitely been received better than a few of FX’s recent efforts, and I’m sure that a second season is going to be in the works given critical response.
Pilot grade: A-