TV Review: Legion – Season 1, Episode 1 – “Chapter 1”

Last Updated on October 5, 2021



In the series premiere, a troubled young man battling mental illness wonders if the visions he experiences are real following a strange encounter with a fellow patient.


Ahhh, do you feel that? It’s the sensation of something new and exciting washing over you as Noah Hawley’s LEGION takes a hold of your brain, shakes it, and gives you a comic book-related program that feels vastly different than any other on television. Just so we understand each other, I pushed for this show to be reviewed on the site. Ever since I saw an extended version of the pilot episode at New York City Comic Con 2016, I wanted a platform in which to share my thoughts about this bold, bizarre, and unquestionably unique show. In my estimation, LEGION is already a cut above shows like Fox’s GOTHAM, or The CW’s ARROW, THE FLASH, and even SUPERGIRL (which I positively adore). I mean this in terms of presentation and polish.

Fargo showrunner Noah Hawley clearly went into the making of this show with his own ideas in mind, and isn’t concerned about making the next commercial-friendly superhero adventure. That’s possibly the best thing about LEGION, that even though it’s tethered to the Marvel and X-Men universe, there’s more than enough room for it to breathe and tell a meaningful story using an entire pill cabinet’s worth of sci-fi fantasy elements and themes.

I love the way LEGION feels: visually, cinematically, and tonally. Hawley delivers the beginnings of David Haller’s twisted tale of love, madness, and uncertainty using what feels to me like a combination of Stanley Kubrick and Wes Anderson kind of vibes. The hospital grounds are pristine, yet there’s this overwhelming sense of disarray buzzing within the walls of its eerily lit meeting rooms that are littered by counter-intuitive feng shui arrangements.

I feel like I might be getting away from myself here. I’m just so stoked about this show that, like David, I feel as if I’m getting lost in the mystery of this mutant-born psychiatric hospital love story. For those of you who are unfamiliar, LEGION centers around the son of Professor Charles Xavier and Omega-level mutant, David Haller (Dan Stevens). Though the limit (if any) to David’s powers are unknown at this point in the story, it appears as if he’s able to bend reality to his desire – be it voluntary or no. As a child, David was involved in a series of strange events triggered by his condition, which ultimately lead to his being placed under observation in the facility where the show takes place.

The doctors try to explain David’s condition by suggesting that he has a severe case of schizophrenia, which would explain why he often hears a cacophony of voices in his head, experiences intense hallucinations, and from time to time, memory loss. That being said, we as an audience know better, and although there are times where he’d like for his diagnosis to be that of a textbook variety, David certainly has his suspicions. Eventually, it’s revealed that not only in David being monitored for his condition, he’s also being played.

You see, there’s a shadowy government agency who are monitoring and manipulating David’s care – as well as the other super powered residents around him like Aubrey Plaza’s Lenny Buskar and Rachel Keller’s Syd Barrett. Along with trying to understand the nature of David’s powers, the agency is also aiming to weaponize him, because of course they are. Due to this act of deception, the show opens up in a big way, allowing themes of paranoia, conspiracy, and instances of cloak and dagger-style manipulation to create an overwhelming sense of unease with every revalation.

Okay, so I’ve talked about the visual splendor and overt uniqueness of LEGION, but I’d also like to take a moment to speak on the show’s romantic elements as well. While undergoing a series of day-to-day evaluations on the hospital grounds, David meets Syd, a love interest whose powers remain a mystery to everyone, including David. What we do know about Syd, is that whatever her condition, she doesn’t like to be physically touched. Because of this, David and Syd hold hands by way of a bit of cloth stretched between them, walking the halls, side-by-side, in this truly endearing manner. By the end of the episode we’re left to wonder if Syd is a live and in-the-flesh resident of the psychiatric center, or simply a figure of David’s overactive and imaginative power set. Of course, this is where the conspiracy theories start to surface, and another aspect of the fun begins.

Overall, I think the premiere episode of LEGION is hands-down one of the best efforts I’ve seen from the arena of comic book-related programming. The show feels significant and cinematic. It takes an insightful and creative look at mental illness and uses it as a device that’s informative while still coming off as thoroughly engaging in every regard. I’m really excited to see how each character develops as the show marches ever forward into insanity and uncertainty, and dammit, I’m just so stoked to have what feels like an otherworldly comics-to-television thrill ride to look forward to each week. Seriously, Marvel, Noah Hawley, FX, bring it the f*ck on and make my head spin!


STINGER:“Chapter 2” (Airs February 15, 10:00 pm e/p) – David reflects on his past with the help of new friends. Written by Noah Hawley; directed by Michael Uppendahl.




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About the Author

Born and raised in New York, then immigrated to Canada, Steve Seigh has been a editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. He started with Ink & Pixel, a column celebrating the magic and evolution of animation, before launching the companion YouTube series Animation Movies Revisited. He's also the host of the Talking Comics Podcast, a personality-driven audio show focusing on comic books, film, music, and more. You'll rarely catch him without headphones on his head and pancakes on his breath.