Read my look at Noah Hawley here.


Fox is facing an impending buyout from either Disney or Comcast. Both companies are said to be preparing cash offers to absorb it. This decision will affect a huge number of variables in the entertainment industry. For one thing Disney is nearing a monopoly on the comic genre, perhaps finally melding together all of Marvel's properties once and for all. While that may seem like an enthralling prospect, Disney being able to combine X-Men and the Avengers, doubling their arsenal of characters, worries me. Fox arguably started the comic book renaissance but as their competition grew the X-Men films became more convoluted.

However, recently we have seen them move away from Disney's territory and out of the shared universe structure. Projects such as Logan and Deadpool have aimed to create original, stand alone films. These could have been huge risks, marketing comic book movies to older audiences, trying out new tones, but they were incredibly successful. This doesn't seem like a short-lived idea either, as the upcoming film The New Mutants seems to be taking a horror approach to the genre. If bought by one of these titans, we could see an end of this experimentation in favour of shoving Wolverine into the crowd pleasing MCU. Perhaps the greatest loss however would be the extremely unique series Legion, which is a showcase of just how much trust Fox will put in an auteur.

Legion season 1 gave us a fractured look into the psyche of David Haller (played by Dan Stevens), a deadbeat with mental health issues. The series really played with the concept, showing us the story through broken-up memories, dream sequences and the occasional musical number. It blurred the lines of what reality to the lead character was, making us question whether he was in fact insane, a mutant, or whether some other worldly curse lived in his head. Showrunner Noah Hawley injected style into every episode, focusing less on telling a straight-forward narrative and more on showing us an intense character study. While the series did have some of the usual superhero clichés, it was rolled into a mixing pot with concepts that haven't ever been done on television. It's a bold statement but if Twin Peaks didn't exist, Legion would be pushing the most boundaries in television period.

Season 2 just wrapped up last week and seemed to have divided audiences on whether the show is still holding its own or just pretentious shlock. I can see why the second season would turn people off. It’s campier, cheesier, but through and through Legion season 2 is one of the most fascinating pieces of art committed to the small screen. Season 2 feels a lot more precise than season 1, perhaps a problematic choice of words for a show which will cut from a vaudeville dance number to intense fight scene in the space of 2 minutes, but there is a real sense of purpose. Whereas season 1 became more straight forward in its climax, the most akin to the superhero genre of the entire 2 seasons, but season 2 never shies away from its goal. This is a season about a Hero realising they are a villain. Whether that is a fact or not is irrelevant. Season 2 is about David coming to terms with the evil in himself and how the others perceive that evil. Dan Stevens gives the performance of his career. The depth and ambiguity he brings to the character is laced into in every scene. You cannot tell what his intentions are and whether he knows them either. Nowhere is this seen more than in the self-contained "Episode 6."

Episode 6 showed how defined David is as a character as he is placed in multiple scenarios in separate universes, showing the many possibilities of the character's life. It shows us heart-wrenching scene after scene and tells us that there is no world where it ends peacefully for David. Its credit is to the range of Stevens as he plays subdued and tyrannical, equally as convincing. It has no plot connection to the rest of the season but manages to convey so much importance as well as show a deep connection between David and his Sister. This episode acts as a microcosm of what is so exciting about the shows structure. It can convey incredible emotion, character arcs and exposition through non-sequiturs better than most superhero films can through straight forward dialogue and action.

The rest of the cast, though never given as much as Stevens, still does an incredible job. Jean Smart is given the smallest role in season 2 but sells every scene with the intensity of a woman broken by her absence and loneliness. Rachel Keller could have easily played victim to David's insanity, but becomes the hero of the season and overcomes her ties. In the final episode she beheads the Minotaur (played by Dirk Rogers) that had stalked Eleanor's mind, metaphorically showing she will not become another woman broken by a man's will. The addition of Jon Hamm as a narrator added more structure to show as well as providing some incredible questions about the human condition. But the real star of the show is Noah Hawley himself.

Hawley has been able to show yet again, that he is one of TV's best. The show feels like a singular vision, despite its fractured insanity. It is clearly the work of an auteur uniting a team of truly talented minds. Bringing talented directors like Charlie McDowell and Ana Lily Amirpour on board to tackle episodes, both experimental artists in their own right. Though at times messy, cheesy and full of song and dance, this all adds to the charm of Legion and its uncategorizable nature. Though at points one of the darkest concepts on television, it also has moments of levity and humour.

Legion season 2 truly shows that this was not a fluke, that a huge studio like Fox is willing to take risks. This risk will hopefully introduce an entirely new way of storytelling and filmmaking to the mainstream – and could be stripped away from the genre if bought by Disney or Comcast. At this point Legion is renewed for a season 3, so at least we will get one more voyage into one of modern TV's finest moments.