Have you been re-watching the original episodes of “Twin
Peaks” that aired on abc from 1990-1991 in anticipation for its return to
Showtime on May 21, 2017?
I haven’t and probably should, but I did just watch a show
so “Twin Peaks” inspired that at times I swore the credits would reveal David
Although bizarre visionary David Lynch had nothing to do
with F/X’s “Legion,” the show was in the fully capable hands of writer/director/producer
Noah Hawley. Hawley has already brought even more critical acclaim to F/X thanks
to his outstanding interpretation of “Fargo,” which is about to return for a
third season on April 19. With “Legion,” Hawley stunned audiences yet again,
making his success rate two for two on F/X.
Previously, Hawley had quick cancellations with his abc
shows “The Unusual” (2009) and “My Generation” (2010) so obviously his work
fares far better on cable than broadcast television. Just as he based his
version of “Fargo” from someone else’s work (the Coen brothers’ 1996 film of
the same name), “Legion” is derived from a Marvel Comics character.
I’ve been burnt-out on comic book adaptations for quite some
time now and only checked out “Legion” due to Hawley’s involvement. I do love
the Christopher Nolan Batman films, the first “Iron Man,” and found “Deadpool”
hilariously entertaining, but the way Hollywood constantly churns out formulaic
comic book adaptations (I have not seen “Logan” so am not including it in my sentiment)
has left me completely jaded by the genre.
However, as expected, Hawley totally reinvented the tired
“Legion” is unlike anything you’ve ever seen on television
unless you have seen “Twin Peaks.” Nonetheless, it’s still unlike any comic
book show/movie you’ve seen because the whole superhero aspect takes a backseat
to a gripping mystery.
The series, which premiered February 8, 2017 and just
wrapped its first 8-episode season on March 29, is what you would categorize as
a mindfudge and that is the clean way to describe it. Like “Memento,” “Donnie
Darko,” and “Inception,” you aren’t 100% sure what is going on in “Legion” and
what you think you know could change at any second. For example, I still can’t
definitively tell you what time period “Legion” is set. While most of the
environments and fashion scream the 70s, the weaponry and technology makes me
assume its present-day or even the future.
It takes commitment to watch a puzzling show that can pull
the rug out from under you without warning. While watching “Legion,” I would
ask myself and text others “what the heck is going on?” despite the fact I was
still enjoying what was unfolding. I would read episode recaps to make sure I
wasn’t missing anything and hoped that by the finale everything would be
Clearly “Legion” knew they were throwing a tremendous amount
of information at fans because in the penultimate episode the show uniquely
went out of its way to spell everything out. The method was as engaging as it
was informative and to go into too much detail would spoil its brilliance.
However, depending on how closely you were paying attention, it was possible to
piece the show together even before the disclosure.
Wow, I am reaching word count and I haven’t even explained
the plot of “Legion.” That actually says a lot about the show – its ambiguous
nature is what makes “Legion” so rewarding.
“Legion” revolves around David Haller (marvelously played by
Dan Stevens), a young adult that has battled living with schizophrenia ever
since he was diagnosed at a young age. While residing in a psychiatric
hospital, his world is turned upside down when he meets the beautiful Sydney
“Syd” Barrett (Rachel Keller of Hawley’s “Fargo”). Hawley purposely chose her
name as a reference to Pink Floyd’s Syd Barrett who suffered from mental
illness. The series includes even more Floyd thanks to a mind-altering scene
that utilizes the band’s “Speak to Me” and “Breathe” so profoundly it caused
the hair on the back of my neck to stand up. Hawley also splendidly injected T.
Rex in a pivotal moment.
Meeting Syd sends Haller down a rabbit hole that reveals he
may not suffer from a mental illness at all, but might actually be one of the
strongest mutants in existence. A government agency that views mutants as a
threat wants to control Haller, while a mutant-friendly group, led by Melanie
Bird (Jean Smart, also of Hawley’s “Fargo”), wishes to protect him.
Aside from the perplexing plot, intoxicating cinematography,
and dark humor, “Legion” boasts remarkable performances. Dan Stevens, who is
most famous for playing Matthew in “Downton Abbey” but first popped up on my
radar in the awesome film “The Guest,” is destined to receive nominations for
his strenuous performance. I also think Aubrey Plaza, known for her quirky
comedic character in “Parks & Rec,” is a shoo-in for an Emmy for her
diabolical role. And, wait until you see what “Flight of the Conchords” star Jemaine
Clement does with his charismatic character.
Season 1 of “Legion” was an education for both the
characters and the audience and now that we’re all on the same page Season 2
(coming in 2018) is going to be one wild ride.
The season one finale and season 2 premiere of The West Wing never fails to give me chills
That last line of “Who’s been hit?!” Such desperation in what I assume was Ron Butterfield’s voice. Ron’s utter terror upon realizing the President has been hit. The way the limousine violently veers off half a second after Ron gives the order to drive to George Washington on code blue.
And then CJ in the season 2 premiere, asking if Jed had been killed with tears in her eyes, not knowing if, in the chaos, her best friends had been shot and killed. The fear in her voice when Sam finds her and asks if she’s alright, and her first concern is the President. The way she breathes - as if every inhale and exhale are causing her unimaginable anguish - as he tells her Jed, Leo, and Zoey are alive and, as far as they know, unharmed.
Gina’s frustration and shame when she can’t remember what kind of cap the kid on the ground was wearing.
Sam’s confusion shifting to deep concern and then fear when Toby tells him that Josh was not in the car with Leo.
Toby’s face when he finds Josh, after calling for him. His confusion, shifting into disbelief, settling on devastation as he sees the blood staining his friend’s hands and the terror in Josh’s eyes. The way he yells for a doctor, for help, for anyone, the way he catches Josh as he passes out and lays his head gently on the concrete.
The way CJ and Sam both turn on their heels and come running at the sound of Toby’s voice, filled with the impotent rage and heartwrenching grief of someone witnessing a loved one’s pain and being powerless to stop it.
Jed’s stubborn insistence that he speaks to Zoey and Leo before he is put under. Mrs. Landingham and Margaret learning of the incident on the news, and the very same senior citizen Jed was arguing with that very same day running out of the West Wing to be there for her President, because for all she knows, she’s about to lose another son and she’ll be damned straight to hell if she isn’t as close to his side as she possibly can be every moment of that uncertainty.
Jed pulling Leo in close to kiss him on the cheek and reassure him. Abbey confiding in the anesthesiologist that Jed has MS.
Leo, Sam, CJ, and Toby all running after Josh as he’s wheeled in on a gurney, oxygen mask stained with the blood on his hands as his friends, his father figure yell his name, making sure he knows they’re there with him. Leo demanding to be told what was happening with his boy, the son he’d never had, all the while Josh babbling about New Hampshire.
Abbey informing everyone that Jed will be fine and the palpable relief that floods through the room.
Nancy freaking McNally.
And of course, Donna’s disbelief when Toby first tells her Josh had been shot. Her heartbreaking devastation when she learns Josh, the man she won’t admit she’s in love with, has been critically wounded and is fighting for his life with every ounce of strength he’s got left.
Toby comforting Ginger, hugging her gently, telling her it’salright, it’sokay, because she turned on the news and she’s shaking. Toby asking Ginger if she’s ready to go to work in that soft tone that brooks no argument but uses no force.
Jed begging to see Josh, never mind the fact that he had just gotten out of surgery himself, never mind that he had just cheated death, because his son had been shot.
Mrs. Landingham and Donna holding hands, keeping silent vigil in the waiting room.
Jed telling Leo to look what happened, all because they got a good man elected President.
All the flashbacks, to how it all started. To the very roots of Bartlet for America. To Nashua. To how Josh started to realize that Josiah Bartlet, Governor of New Hampshire, was in fact the real thing. To how these beautiful misfits all came together to form a family no one could have seen coming.
And all the while, you’re on the edge of your seat, tears in your eyes because these characters, these people you’ve come to love are in pain now and all you can do is watch. And wait.
So I recently watched season 4 of Downton Abbey. (I also doodled, pretty much spoiler free.) Definitely not my favorite season, for a number of reasons. One of which was the normally wicked and fabulous Thomas Barrow was the most woefully underused character in the whole affair and pretty much spent the entire season being a shady creeper for basically no damn reason.
It was just funny to me that Barrow’s entire character arc was to intimidate the new maid for secrets that are neither divulged or discussed throughout the entirety of the season.