Mind Over Matter: A look into the psychosis of David Haller

An adaptation on the X-Men antihero, Legion brings the psychotic fantasies of David Haller to unseen places. The sci-fi brain child of producer Noah Hawley aired early February of this year on FX with eager anticipation from fans of the series. The show is set to air eight episodes this year with a second season renewed by the network as a result of high ratings from critics and fans. Dan Stevens, Aubrey Plaza, and Rachel Keller work as the show’s main protagonists but are not limited to supporting roles from Bill Irwin and other well driven performances for an all-encompassing cast. For an hour of run time Legion runs the risk of over stretching its means on a network focused primarily on shorter segmented shows with half the CGI budget. To this the show’s creators nodded and went on to produce one of the best superhero shows to date.

  (Images from the character’s Marvel comic book origins, Chris Claremount (Writer) Bill Sienkiewics (Artist))

   An Omega Level mutant, David is regarded as one of the most powerful beings in the universe and doesn’t even know it. His story is that of a paranoid schizophrenic who believes he can manipulate objects around him through way of his thoughts. Little behold that David isn’t lying, and his “mental disability” is a response to years of repressing his abilities for fear of worsening his condition. A plot point that brings David’s psychotic tendencies and the pressing issues of mental disorder into bright light. We follow him through his days at a mental institution where he meets Sydney Barrett, an equally unstable woman refusing to come in contact with anyone. In one of the strangest televised romances to date the two begin dating and soon after find themselves faced with federal persecution, altering realities, and a kiss so intense that it brings viewers to question their own romantics.

The times when Legion preforms best are the moments when it learns to get lost in its own madness. Attached is a link to Hawley’s explanation of the visually confusing first episode. While the visually stunning use of perspective and camera angle give it an immeasurable quality, the genius of the show lies in the layer upon layer of subplots, tacked on subplot, that spread over jumps in the show’s continuity. When we think we are reliving a memory in David’s mind, we’re actually in the present, and when we’re in the present we’re actually seeing David’s immense telekinetic powers project him into a memory he’s physically experiencing. Simple, right? And we believe every second without falter as a result of the growing fear expressed by all characters during one of David’s “episodes”. The only time Legion shows weakness, literally as David is immensely powerful, is in its ability to sustain all of these plot layers. The show is it is set to reveal small pieces of a larger picture steadily throughout its episodes so by the end we have a good understanding of what’s going on. For this reason the show can be frustrating in the first few episodes but rest assured the writers have made sure to recap form time to time so we’re all ready to experience Legion’s battle with…Well, you’ll have to catch up for that.

Legion is stunning. This may sound like an exaggeration and most likely will be regardless of how well I explain its components; the show is probably best described as speechless. Slowly deciphering the way the show maneuvers its characters and story is half the enjoyment, so I implore you enter this show with an open mind and prepare to have it defy expectations.

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