Marvel's Legion The Final Season Review
A great start to the end
FX's hallucinogenic mind-warp of an X-Men spin-off, Legion, lands on Sky/NowTV for its third and final season..Hardly casual superhero viewing, Fox's Legion introduced Marvel fans to a whole new dimension of mutants, addressing some very serious cases of exceptional mental illness, and using them as a framework to afford a complex study of powers that were hitherto hard, if not impossible, to visualise on film. The mental powers displayed here take things to a whole new level - journey to X-Men favourite, Professor X's, preferred place of relaxation, the Astral Plane, in a way never before seen. The resultant journey was one hell of a mind-warp, a trippy psychological ride which boasts some absolutely stunning uses of superpowers across the episodes, often eschewing grandstanding setpieces in favour of cleverly intricate scenes that play out with unparalleled tension.
Season One's time-slowing episode was fabulous viewing, as was Season Two's multiple histories of the lead character of David, as he tried to put together all the various random factors that came together to bring him into the present. Season Three kick-starts with a stunning piece of time-play, circling around on the climactic events of the last season, bringing us right up to date and throwing a new superpowered character into the mix.
Season Three kick-starts with a stunning piece of time-play, circling around on the climactic events of the last season, bringing us up to date and throwing a new superpowered character into the mix
For those who have not dipped into Legion, now is not the place to start, as absolutely nothing will make sense; the two preceding seasons have played the characters back and forth - not least David - leaving enemies friends and friends enemies, with David himself undergoing perhaps the most dramatic journey of all of them.
Legion's answer to Professor X (the reasons for which should be clear by now, and certainly are for fans of the comics), the hugely powerful psychic mutant David was always teetering on the brink, spending years in and out of psych wards, battling internal demons since childhood - literally - but the end of Season 2 sees him finally step over the line, tearing him from his friends, and his love for Syd (which he literally savages), and revealing him to be the biggest threat of all.
Season Three kick-starts with a stunning opening episode, putting a startling twist on the Days of Future Past gambit that here sees new character Switch - who is capable of playing with time - following a path that ultimately leads her to David just as his former friends (and enemies) mount a well-staged mission to put a stop to his reign.
Fans of Legion should rest easy - it's as complex, assured, stylish and compelling as it ever was. If you struggled through the first 8-episode season and gave up as things got more trippy in the (admittedly marginally overlong) 11-episode second season then this opening gambit alone may be enough to tempt you back into the fold, innovatively messing with time in a thoroughly playful but wonderfully well-considered fashion (the guide to time travel is genius).
Fingers crossed it goes out with a suitably mind-blowing bang
Although it's only a single episode into the final run (Sky and NowTV are airing it weekly), it's clear that we're heading for something apocalyptic, with the stakes high right from the outset - anybody and everybody could die completing this mission and, despite all signs that it's the ultimate conclusion, it's still not 100% that David is irredeemable. Will Dan Stevens' neurotic, repressed superhero-turned unstoppable mega-villain find a way out of hell? How could he have drifted so far from his heritage? And will the Shadow King's seemingly 'good' turn to help them take him down turn out to be stage one in a much bigger plan once he has completed his mission?
Legion was reportedly only ever planned for three seasons, and so this is the planned conclusion, likely leaving most of these questions answered come the end of its eight episode run. It may be a challenging show that is more than prepared to take on some heady scientific ideas and depict them in fantastical, mind-blowing ways, but for those who run with it, it's richly rewarding and often unlike anything else on TV. Fingers crossed it goes out with a suitably mind-blowing bang.
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