[Editor’s Note: The following review contains spoilers for the “Legion” Season 1 finale, Episode 8, “Chapter 8.”]
In the aftermath of the Season 1 finale of “Legion,” fans can rejoice because showrunner Noah Hawley already has a premiere date planned for Season 2 of the surrealist superhero show. Currently, Hawley’s goal is to have 10 episodes for Season 2, with the same 2018 premiere date as Season 1.
With a surprise ending, and an even more surprising mid-credits scene (props to the Marvel fans who stuck it out), a lot of questions were left to delve into in the second season. In a joint call with showrunner Noah Hawley and other reporters, a few things were cleared up looking back on Season 1, with exciting ruminations on what to look for in the not-so-far-off Season 2.
Division 3’s Secret Weapon
When asked about the supposed “peacemaker” Division 3 has on hand during the finale, Hawley alluded to its relevancy to the orb we see in the mid-credits scene. This muddles the relationship between the mutants of Summerland and the government even more, with the finale’s focus on The Interrogator’s (Hamish Linklater) perspective and personal life, and subsequent promise to work together to fight the Shadow King.
Ultimately though, according to Hawley, the purpose of bringing perspective to the Interrogator comes from “changing the way we look at the people we thought we knew.” From the Interrogator’s perspective, “David (Dan Stevens) is the villain, and Melanie (Jean Smart) is the villain.”
“Legion” Within the Larger X-Men Universe
While it’s canon in the comics that David’s father is Professor X (and it’s basically canon within the show), Hawley could only hint at the possibility of bringing that character to life within the series. Ultimately, “it’s a corporate decision” to bring either incarnation of Professor X from the films to the show, or even acquiring the character for an appearance.
It’s a definite possibility, though, especially because Hawley is relatively unperturbed by the struggle of fitting the character into the timeline. In the same vein of the films utilizing a variety of timelines, Hawley maintained that “there’s certainly many universes where Professor X could be David’s father. I don’t really feel like I’ve limited myself to present day America.”
In general, Hawley is not tied down to the comics, using them as more of an opportunity for the fans to catch little Easter eggs and enjoy the thematically similar elements. “I don’t think you’ll see the show suddenly look to the comics for storylines, but you may see ideas or characters or images that are familiar to you,” Hawley said.
The Shadow King
Looking back on this past Season, our primary villain has been the Devil with the Yellow Eyes, also known as the Shadow King, and also revealed to be taking the form of Lenny Busker (Aubrey Plaza) within David’s mind. According to Hawley, he modeled the character design of the Shadow King off of the Sigmund Freud essay on “The Uncanny,” an idea that Hawley sums up as “the thing that really scares us the most is when familiar things act in really unfamiliar ways.”
The goal of the Shadow King for this season was to create the groundwork for the fight between it and David. For David, the Shadow King is so much more than a one-off monster. For Hawley, “It’s like a phantom limb now. It’s part of him. So that really complicates it emotionally and morally. It makes for a potential showdown that we’re really invested in as an audience, as opposed to doing a ‘villain-of-the-year’ kind of approach.”
Continuing his interesting takes on villains, the team-up of the Shadow King and fan-favorite Oliver (Jemaine Clement) makes for a fascinating duo, and Hawley spoke on his decision to cast comedic actors in roles that aren’t fully comedic. Hawley described “a certain energy that an actor who’s used to playing things for comedy can bring to more dramatic roles. Usually those more comedic actors are spontaneous.”
The Downside of David’s Newfound Clarity
The core structure of Season 1 centered on David’s growing understanding of this strange world and his powers. So while “Legion” enjoys dipping into surrealism, it was not without purpose.
Hawley emphasized that “the season was constructed, so at the beginning, as David didn’t really know what anything meant, we were seeing objectively a lot of imagery that’s divorced from information. And then of course, the more he learns, the more we learn. So that in the end, now that he’s very clear on everything that’s going on, we are as well.”
This newfound clarity for David may not be quite as good as it seems, though. Living with the voices in his head for 10 years and spending six years in a psychiatric hospital leave its marks on him, even if he seems more “adjusted” now.
“There’s this sort of blur between the power and the psychology,” Hawley said. “It’s gonna be very odd for him now, to have more clarity. […] He’s never interacted with this world in this solitary way before.”
For Hawley, the ideal recovery for David finally regaining control of his body would be to “go on a retreat for a year and just kind of be one with nature, eat three meals a day, take walks in the woods, and learn how to be a person. He’s not gonna have that luxury because he’s onto the next crisis.”
Hawley teased that physically losing control of his body almost immediately after gaining freedom “could be very destructive.”
I guess we’ll know more come this time next year.