Cameron Lee ’20 / Emertainment Monthly contributor
Spoiler Alert: This recap contains spoilers for the pilot of Legion
We live in the age of the superhero. Besides a few exceptions such as Deadpool and the Marvel shows on Netflix; the superhero genre is starting to feel stale. Noah Hawley has already proven himself with two amazing seasons of Fargo, but Legion may just be his best effort yet. With one of the best pilots in recent memory; Legion has shown itself to be the most unique superhero show ever created.
We start with a slow motion montage of the life of David set to the music of the Who’s Happy Jack. We watch as a cute young boy transform into a psychotic young man who hears voices in his head and tries to commit suicide by hanging (What an intro). David, played by the always amazing Dan Stevens, is in a mental institution for his Schizophrenia. In the Clockwork hospital (nice reference) David finds himself falling head over heals for Sydney (Rachel Keller) who doesn’t like to be touched. What follows is a romance straight out of a hipster YA novel; Mr. Hawley makes life at this insane place look like something out a of a Wes Anderson picture, David’s romance with Rachel is charming, off-kilter, and endearing. Their relationship serves as the focal point for the entire pilot because, soon after their relationship starts, Rachel sneaks into David’s room and tells him that she’s leaving. We then cut to David being interrogated by an unnamed man in black ops facility. The interrogator (Hamish Linklater) is trying to figure out what the hell is going on with David’s power.
We also find out that Rachel isn’t in the institution’s database, which really confuses David and us as the viewer. We also find out that something really bad has happened at the hospital. So this is a flash forward. Has the last half an hour all been inside David’s head? How crazy is David? We get a flashback to David first discovering the extent of his powers. He’s in his dorm’s kitchen arguing with his sister when suddenly all the cabinets and items start exploding out all around him. David is screaming and trying to ignore the voices in his head. The whole sequence is shot like a scene from Inception and is marvelous to look at. We cut back to David asking for a break from all the questions. The interrogator agrees and, in a beautiful long take, walks back to the command center. The interrogator tells the officials in charge that David might be the most powerful mutant they have ever encountered; oh right, this show is based off an X-Men comic. The thought of this being a superhero show doesn’t cross the audience’s mind until this moment.
David then explains to the interrogator what he remembers: When Rachel was leaving the hospital David ran up to her and kissed her. This sent a shockwave through the building and caused Rachel to go into David’s body and David into Rachel’s body. Then Rachel in David’s body starts to freak out and causes everyone to become trapped in the walls of the building. So Rachel also has special powers. No wonder she doesn’t like to be touched. David in Rachel’s body is being followed by a man and a woman. After somehow switching back to their original bodies, David finishes telling his story to the interrogator. He then gets very angry when the interrogator starts to hook up machines to his body and asking him questions he has no memory of. So David sends a pen through the interrogator’s check and blows up the whole room; he then shortly gets gassed and blacks out.
He then dreams he’s back in the hospital performing a Bollywood dance number with Rachel and his friends (um). David wakes up to find himself in a swimming pool surrounded by electrical wire. The integrator is threatening to kill David unless he answers the questions. David flashes back to trying to find Rachel in a crowded university. He sees the same people following him and he runs into a mental projection of Rachel who tells him to slowly get out of the chair. He wakes up and plunges straight into the pool just as Rachel and her team burst in and kills everyone. We then get a epic tracking shot straight out of an X-Men movie. Everything is exploding and people are sending people into the sky with just their hands. They reach the shore where they get picked up by Melanie Bird (Jean Smart) who asks David to take her hand. David asks Rachel if all this is real. Rachel responds by telling David “I love you.” And, with that, we cut to the main title and end what is the greatest pilot for a comic book show ever.