FX’s kinda/sorta Marvel mutant mind-fuck Legion, created by Fargo’s Noah Hawley, returns for a second season on April 3rd. But look — a lot went down in season one, and it feels like it happened forever ago. If you don’t have time to re-watch all 8 episodes to prepare yourself, or if you’re interested in just diving straight in and seeing what all of the fuss is about for the first time, we’ve got your covered. Here’s all the important stuff to know in preparation for season two:
What’s a “Legion” anyway?
Legion is the superhero name of a character named David Haller, an Omega-level mutant who has multiple personalities with their own individual superpowers. Get it? He’s many in one! The question of healing his mind, and giving him control over all of his powers, is a big part of his appearances in the comics. He can be a serious threat, but can also be an incredible asset.
Oh, and he’s Professor Charles Xavier’s son.
The show is a little different than the comics. In Legion, David Haller is played by Dan Stevens. He believes he’s schizophrenic, but it turns out that he might just be a mutant with superpowers (telekinesis, telepathy, who knows what else). Or maybe he’s both! Brains are funny. David has to determine whether the voices he hears and visions he sees are real, and where they come from. Oh, and complicating matters is that he may ALSO be possessed by a psychic parasite which has been manipulating him his whole life. DRAMA!
So wait, is he still Xavier’s son?
Probably. Toward the end of the season David begins to piece together his own past: that he was adopted, and that his real father (bald, British, powerful psychic) did battle against the mysterious parasite and defeated it. Here’s a clip to give you the backstory:
But the X-Men don’t really factor into the show.
They don’t? But he’s a mutant, right?
Oh yeah — he’s a mutant, and he’s not alone! While in Clockworks Psychiatric Hospital he falls in love with a fellow patient named Syd (Rachel Keller). At first she seems withdrawn and afraid of human contact, but it turns out that’s because her mutant power is to trade consciousness with anyone she touches. It’s not a permanent mind-swap, but it can be rather inconvenient. Like, say, if she accidentally swaps bodies with a powerful mutant whose powers she can’t control…
David eventually meets a whole group of mutants, led by a non-powered woman named Melanie Bird (Jean Smart), a therapist who attempts to help David control his powers. Other friends he meets include Ptonomy (Jeremie Harris), a memory artist, and Cary Loudermilk (Bill Irwin), a scientist who shares his body with Kerry Loudermilk (Amber Midthunder), a gifted fighter.
Who does Aubrey Plaza play?
Great question! She plays Lenny, a friend of David’s who dies gruesomely in the first episode… and then comes back as a figment of David’s mind. Kind of. She’s really just the parasite, masquerading as David’s friend Lenny inside his own mind, for the rest of the season. Sort of. Look, shit gets weird, ok? But it doesn’t matter, because she does this:
Ok, so WTF is this parasite thing you keep mentioning?
An ancient psychic mutant named Amahl Farouk, also known as the Shadow King. He’s a longtime X-Men foe from the comics, who has been possessing David since he was a baby in the series, hoping to use David’s enormous powers for himself. He often manipulates David by taking the form of people (or even dogs) in David’s memories
So how’d that shake out?
Well, by the end of the series he’s been ejected from David and taken over Jemaine Clement.
Oh yeah, did I forget to mention that Jemaine Clement is in this? He is. He plays Oliver Bird, Melanie’s husband, who founded the mutant safe haven called Summerland which his wife now runs. He disappeared into the astral plane a long time ago and just kinda… hangs out in an ice cube. He’s into jazz and beat poetry. He’s hip AF.
Is Summerland kinda like Xavier’s School For Gifted Youngsters?
Yup! Only it’s not really for youngsters, and it’s not really a school. It is, however, a training facility to help mutants understand their powers. And the group helps protect mutants from a government agency called Division 3. In fact, they rescue David from Division 3, which is how he meets Melanie and the others. And naturally Division 3 has it out for the Summerland crew.
Division 3 is another big threat in the show — though to them, David and his dangerous powers are the real threat, and in fact David horrifically scars a main D3 operative named Clark (Hamish Linklater).
Of course, the real threat is the Shadow King. And maybe whoever sent that little metal ball that abducted David at the very end of the last episode…
This is kind of a lot to take in. Is it even worth it?
I think so! Look, you don’t really need to be up on the comics to enjoy the show. The series tackles mental health, and alienation, and the nature of reality in interesting ways. And even when the plot is confusing, it’s always beautiful to watch. The visuals in the show are mind-blowing:
And the use of music is fantastic:
And from the glimpses we gotten of season two, we can expect another trippy ride. So feel free to dive right in, and know that even if you’re confused about what’s going on, it’s OK. The characters probably don’t know what’s happening either. It’s all in our minds anyway.