Major spoilers ahead for Episode 1 of FX's 'Legion.' Read on only if you've finished the episode already and would now like to try and make sense of just what in the fresh hell was going on there...
So. #Legion. Quite good, right? Maybe that's an understatement. As premiere episodes go, this one was a wild ride, a journey into the mind of a man who doesn't have the slightest clue what's real and what's imagined. It goes without saying, then, that reality is an equally elusive concept to the audience as it is to David Haller.
Only in the last ten minutes did creator Noah Hawley start to allow us a feel of where this show is headed, with a closing sequence which introduced that one constant in the world of X-Men — mutants on the run from the government. Even that raised far more questions than it answered.
Let's take a deeper dive into the most mind-bending mysteries stirred up by Episode 1 of Legion. Disclaimer: There's so much packed into this 65-minute pilot that some of the speculation below will inevitably be disproven within a week or two. That's part of the fun. Hopefully I'm on the right track with some of it.
1. Can David Trust Syd?
By the time Sydney Barrett pops up in Clockworks Psychiatric Hospital, we're already well aware that David is a wildly unreliable narrator. Because of this, the manner of her arrival — a slo-mo moment in which she locks eyes with David, looking every inch the girl who might save him from the monotony of this hell he's imprisoned in — instantly raises alarms about whether what we're seeing is too perfect to be real.
That suspicion is amplified by the unlikely "body swap" on the day of her discharge and the fact that she inserts herself into his memories thereafter. However, in the final scene of the episode, she explicitly states that David can trust his mind. She's not imagined. She's here. And, apparently, she's a mutant of considerable power.
But, though he doesn't seem to have realized it yet, Sydney being real has bigger repercussions for David — namely the question of whether her feelings for him were genuine, or simply an integral part of her mission to extract him from Clockworks. Once David begins to question that, Syd may not feel like much of an ally at all.
2. Is 'Legion' Set In The Future?
At first, the browns and reds and greens which make up the majority of Legion's color palette feel like an obvious indicator that this show is set in the late '60s or early '70s. The hairstyles of Syd and David's sister Amy also hark back to the fashion of that era.
And yet when David is being questioned after his escape from the unit, the nameless character known only as The Interrogator (Hamish Linklater) has in his hand a very advanced "file" which seems to be comprised entirely of digital screens.
Hawley hasn't specified exactly when Legion is set, but the stylistic elements definitely have the feel of a misnomer designed to keep us guessing at the more conspiratorial aspect of things. It could be that its time period is ultimately not relevant to the story, but right now I'd guess that the exact opposite is true.
3. Will We Meet The Interrogator Again?
By the close of Episode 1, it's apparent that there are two groups tracking mutants — the government-sanctioned unit for whom The Interrogator works, and the covert ops/freedom fighters unit headed up by Melanie Bird (Jean Smart), who are ultimately successful in extracting David.
The idea that they're a binary, the bad guys and the good guys, feels too basic for a series this sophisticated, so we might expect to find some moral grey areas in the motivations of both groups in future episodes. As for The Interrogator — he should be dead, but why keep him anonymous if his real identity doesn't have a bigger part to play down the line?
4. Who The Hell Is The Devil's Blob?
During several of his misdiagnosed "schizophrenic" moments, David catches a glimpse of a pretty gross blob-like creature who presumably is not the actual Blob. He calls it "the devil with the yellow eyes." Even at the end, as David boards the board with Melanie, he's right there on the beach. What does it all mean?
I have quite literally no idea. Sorry about that.
5. How Much Of The Psych Unit Was Real?
One of the big surprises of the first episode is that Legion seems to have a lot in common with Inception. We know that Sydney can be projected into David's mind at crucial moments in order to plant an idea which will manifest itself in the "real" world later. If that raises the question of whether she was ever physically in the psych unit at all, it also creates doubt about whether anybody was actually in there with David.
If Lenny (Aubrey Plaza) really did die a gruesome death trapped inside an open doorway, whose matter was altered into a concrete wall, that needn't be the last we've seen of her. In fact, there's every chance Lenny could become one of David's alternate personas. But even what happened in the unit is wildly unclear — was it the physical work of one of David's alters, a demonstration of Syd's powers (in which case she murdered David's friend), or just another construct of David's mind?
Check out the trailer for Legion Season 1, Episode 2, airing February 15 on FX, and share any theories in the comments (go wild!).
What did you think of the premiere episode — a refreshingly different approach to the genre, or just a mindfuck?