As the evolving landscape of television embraces the weird side of comic book adaptations with shows like the Umbrella Academy and Doom Patrol, FX’s Legion remains a class all by itself in creating one of the most fascinating, exciting television series ever put to screen. Rather than the source material being the focus of the story, Legion is more interesting because it is filtered through the singular vision of Noah Hawley. He bombards the viewer with multi-layered narratives, characters switching their consciousnesses, animated sequences, multiple people playing the same character, and many musical dance numbers along with bold and striking color palettes which all combine to disorient and dizzy the audience into understanding how it feels to be the central character David Haller.
At Wondercon 2019, over 10 minutes of the third and final season of Legion was shown, which introduced Switch played by newcomer Lauren Tsai to the ensemble cast. She was joined by Amber Midthunder (Kerry Loudermilk), Jeremie Harris (Ptonomy Wallace), Navid Negahban (Amahl Farouk), Aubrey Plaza (Lenny Busker), Rachel Keller (Syd Barrett), Dan Stevens (David Haller), Jeph Loeb (Head of Marvel TV), Lauren Schuler Donner (Executive Producer) and the do-everything showrunner Noah Hawley to discuss what’s to come in the final season but also look back on arguably the best thing associated with Marvel TV. NPR’s TV critic David Bianculli moderated.
To say that the clip was cryptic is par for the course at Legion, as Switch appears wearing red over-the-head headphones as she takes in messages about time travel, eats breakfast with a man on a television, and is led away from her college classroom by strange messages.
Switch ends up in what could be best described as a floating dry cleaners or department store with racks of yellow, orange, and green clothes shifting all around her until a dance number begins with a song that is retro and futuristic at the same time. She is led to crawling through a never-ending hexagonal tube that spans the rises into the skyscrapers, to a yacht and over flower fields, and Switch doesn’t utter a single word the entire clip. There’s no point to make any sense of it without the context of the rest of the episode, but every one in attendance was treated to sensory overload and is surely a taste of the weirdness to come.
Some other details gathered about Season 3 included that Charles Xavier will finally make an appearance on the show, played by Harry Lloyd (The Theory of Everything, Game of Thrones). The season will be eight episodes long and will premiere this June. Also the shooting schedule was arranged so that the final scene filmed of the series had as many characters that he could pack.
Hawley was then asked about finding a good ending for the series.
“As you get closer to the end of the story, the stakes are higher and we all have a sense of time running out and this season has been really compelling for all of us,” he replied. “The middle season, as middle seasons tend to do, felt expansive. We invented a lot, we played a lot and told an adult story in a very whimsical way and we’re on a path to the end and it makes things more dramatic and exciting as time runs out.”
“In looking at a story about a character who is mentally ill, there as a sense of a path of illness and recovery that he goes on. We meet him at the hospital, at his lowest point, meets a girl, who is real medication and makes him happy. Everything gets great and he stops taking his meds, and things starts to spiral. Where we left him in the second season, again in his lowest point. He could only go in one of two ways."
"Once we decided which of the two he was going to do, that felt like that was going to be the end of the story because otherwise, you start to loop over again. The story has no meaning without its ending. The old paradigm in television is that major corporations don’t do a mic drop after success. You have to keep going and going. There’s something about being allowed to tell a complete story where the length of the show is dictated by the length of the story, which makes television better.”
It was interesting to see Loeb, who is normally the resident know-it-all for all matters related to Marvel TV, defer to Hawley, especially when it was confirmed that Season 3 would only be eight episodes, down from 11 in Season 2. If Hawley wanted 20 more episodes, or use any character, Loeb would likely give it to him and be grateful because he was a genuine fan of what Hawley has done with Legion. He, like the audience, hopes Hawley will return to do something with Marvel again, if not more Legion.
“Every page is a surprise. I echo everyone’s sentiment (about wanting to be involved with Hawley on board). Every scene is a work of magic.”
When asked where Legion fits within the Marvel TV landscape in terms of quality, not continuity, Loeb stammered a bit, probably not wanting to offend any other production, before saying that series living on FX have a tendency to be better than others.
“When you have the murderer’s row of talent, you hope it kills and when it does, and it did, and will continue to, (you feel) it’s the kind of show that’s going to be on forever, it’ll be one of those shows that people are going to be talking about a year from now, 10 years from now, and 20 years from now. I don’t think anyone would argue with that.”