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FX's 'Legion' Returns: Better, Bolder and Stranger than Ever
April 3, 2018  | By David Bianculli  | 5 comments

In my entire career as a TV critic, I’ve been stunned by a drama series’ outrageous originality on only three occasions. First was Dennis Potter’s The Singing Detective. Next was David Lynch’s original – very original – Twin Peaks. And now, as it launches Season 2, comes Noah Hawley’s Legion on FX…

Maybe it’s no coincidence that with all three of these groundbreaking TV masterworks – Singing Detective, Twin Peaks and Legion – music plays an integral, unforgettable role, and so does sound. Most TV shows, and TV auteurs, ignore the level of sound that emanates from a television set, but used artistically and imaginatively, it can be an amazingly effective part of a show’s arsenal.

With Singing Detective, the sound, and the way it weaved in and out and under and through the show’s various complicated narrative threads, almost became its own character. In Twin Peaks, with the reverse talking, the eerie soundtrack, and all the heightened and dreamlike sound, the aural part of the experience was crucial to the program’s overall uniqueness.

And with Legion, as Hawley picks up his series and story Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET on FX, the sound is amazing, the music arresting. And the visuals? This might end up being television’s most audaciously image-filled TV series in history.

The music and sound have my subwoofer giving me chills, and the dreamlike visuals stay with me long, long after I turn off my TV set. For three straight seasons, what Noah Hawley has done with his FX version of Fargo has delighted and impressed me to no end. But now, as he’s diving into Season 2 of Legion, I’m nothing short of astounded.

Ostensibly, Legion is but another entry in the ever-expanding canon of the  Marvel Comics superhero universe. Dan Stevens plays David, who in Season 1 was introduced to us as a disturbed patient in a mental institution, all but driven mad by the visions and voices inside his head, and the occasional physical manifestations of distress and anger.

It turns out that David isn’t crazy – just imbued with special abilities that allow him to read, project into, and perhaps even influence people’s minds. As a narrator, David, telling and trying to understand his own story, is completely unreliable. His reality may be nothing but illusion. And his illusions? They may be the clue to the only part of his life that’s real.

Describing Legion – like trying to explain the plot of Singing Detective or Twin Peaks – not only doesn’t do it justice, it makes it sound much less impressive and intelligent than it really is. All I can say, or all I want to say, is that when I got to episode three of this season of Legion (which you’ll be able to watch in two weeks), I had the same thrill I got when watching Singing Detective and Twin Peaks.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. Or ears.

And couldn’t believe that what I was watching, and hearing, was being shown on television. Welcome back, Legion. And Bravo, Noah Hawley…

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Feb 23, 2023   |  Reply
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Feb 6, 2023   |  Reply
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Apr 28, 2022   |  Reply
now that the show has aired, was there a particular moment in the show that stood out?
Apr 21, 2018   |  Reply
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