TV: Legion (Season One Episode One) - Reviewed

Noah Hawley is a damn genius.

Best known for creating Fargo (based on the Cohen brothers film of the same name), Hawley continues his impressive streak of projects with Legion, an adaptation of sorts of the Marvel comic book character of the same name.

Legion is unlike anything on television. A bit Stanley Kubrick, a bit Terry Gilliam in form and style, but completely unique in storytelling. I’ve admired Hawley for many years. I first came to know who he was in 2010 when his short-lived series The Unusuals originally aired. I was a big fan of the show and learned after it was cancelled that Hawley was also a novelist. (His fifth novel, Before the Fall, was released in 2016.)

I read his new book at the time, The Punch (his third novel), and I knew then that his writing was beyond stellar. It takes a very specific kind of person to pull off being a good novelist as well as screenplays, and Hawley goes back and forth between the two effortlessly.

Fargo itself unfolds like a series of chapters in a novel, each season its own story, but each a part of what Hawley has affectionately called, The History of True Crime in the Mid West. I should also mention that Fargo is one of the best shows on television and Legion may prove to be a close second.

A description of Legion’s plot would be far too much to explain in this review, plus I fear it would take away from the overall experience and enjoyment one will most assuredly have watching the pilot. Suffice it to say, the show stars Dan Stevens as David Haller, aka Legion, who may or may not be crazy. And when you’re watching this hour and a half of sheer brilliance, you may wonder if you yourself are losing your mind.

That’s a compliment, by the way. Hawley’s storytelling comes from character, and through those characters, he builds worlds. So it’s no surprise that if David is questioning his sanity, we wonder if what we’re seeing is real or imagined. Hawley is a master when it comes to writing, and is just as good as a director, using the visual medium to its fullest potential in the premiere episode of Legion. (One of the finest sequences I’ve ever seen on television involves David “losing it” in the kitchen and every item in the room erupting and spinning around him. Hawley has said that the objects are not CGI, which only furthers my point about his mastery as a visual storyteller.)

I’m beyond grateful that the powers that be at FX saw the greatness in Hawley’s writing and asked him to adapt Fargo into a show. I’m even more grateful that they wanted his take on Legion, because we need more writers like Hawley working in showbiz. He has more than proven himself as a guy who knows what he’s doing and can jump from one medium to another flawlessly. Avail yourself of Hawley’s work, both his novels and his other shows. And add Legion to your must-watch list right away. You’d be crazy not to.

Share this review.

-Matt Giles