Episode 9: Legion And Leather

Television Man | by Aidan Morgan

“And I think it’s going to be a long long night/ Binging all three seasons of Forever Knight/ I’m not the man you think has any taste, oh no no no/ I’m a television man (television maaan)/ Racking up my streaming bills out here.” —Unknown

In my last column we looked at the modern television ecosystem and how it allows some shows to slumber for decades, only to revive like cultural tardigrades when sprinkled with a little bit of attention. But endings do happen, and they’re still just as painful (or welcome). Let’s pour out some attention for a couple of series winking out into darkness. Until someone revives them in 2030 or whenever.

Not Royal, Not Canadian

Legion (FX) came to an end Monday night after three seasons of visual splendour, insane musical interludes (Jemaine Clemens and Jason Mantzoukis engaging in a rap battle on the astral plane for the soul of a drug addict may be my favourite) and occasionally questionable story choices. When the series debuted in 2017, it’s safe to say no one had ever seen anything quite like it. They gave Noah Hawley (Fargo) the keys to the X-Men universe, and apparently nobody bothered to check in and see what he was doing with the franchise.

Legion is the story of David Haller (a very non-Downton Dan Stevens), the mentally unstable child of Charles Xavier who discovers that his mental illness is actually a superpower (and for those who would say this is a slightly tacky and ableist take on schizophrenia, it kind of is? See my “questionable story choices” mention).

Season one walks a difficult line between narrative experimentation and straightforward storytelling, as David grapples with powers, negotiates a love affair with a woman who cannot be physically touched, and attempts to fight off a powerful enemy played by a mesmerizing Aubrey Plaza. Plaza’s manic performance may be the best reason to catch up on Legion.

While season two descended into muddled and overly stylized episodes — not to mention the hero’s heel-turn into villainy — season three regained its focus and wrapped up David’s story about as conclusively as possible. The show might not have worked as a whole, and it made several choices it was not prepared to deal with, but when it delivered, it really delivered.

Right Down In My Heart (Or Elsewhere)

Legion has left the building, but Killjoys (Space) is still unzipping its fifth and final season for your viewing pleasure. Breezy, quippy, faintly perverse; Killjoys is the leather-in-space science fiction adventure show you didn’t know you needed. If you miss the fast-paced patter of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the skewed family dynamics of Firefly, give Killjoys a try. The early episodes are a bit awkward but once they shake off the exposition, the fun begins.