It isn’t the sort of thing you should watch casually.
There’s so much visual wonder on display — picture David Lynch, Spike Jonze, Wes Anderson and Boots Riley collaborating on a Bjork music video — it really isn’t even something you should binge.
The episodes work best when you can linger in their wake, taking the time to process and unpack them.
That’s probably why the upcoming third season of “Legion” (10 p.m. Monday, FX) will be its last.
For his second FX drama, “Fargo” creator Noah Hawley turned to the Marvel Comics deep cut by Chris Claremont and Bill Sienkiewicz that follows David Haller, the son of powerful telepath Professor Charles Xavier. By staying true to the character’s mutant code name, Legion, the series sounds anything but remarkable. The title doesn’t connote much of anything — certainly not a drama that’s so resplendently trippy, Hawley could’ve just named it “Ayahuasca X-Men” and called it a day.
David (Dan Stevens) was treated for schizophrenia for much of his life and eventually institutionalized. Then he came to realize he was the victim of an ancient parasite known alternately as The Shadow King and Amahl Farouk (Navid Negahban). As David explains to a newcomer in Monday’s season premiere, “When I was a baby, a monster snuck into my head and haunted me for 33 years. But I’m better now.”
After the cataclysmic events of Season 2 that unleashed his most extreme mutant powers yet, David is being hunted by his former allies: ex-lover Syd Barrett (Rachel Keller), geneticist Cary Loudermilk (Bill Irwin) and warrior Kerry Loudermilk (Amber Midthunder), who spends most of her time living inside Cary, the fight to his flight.
When he isn’t busy getting his Charlie Manson on with his new cult, David is simply searching for a time traveler who can help him revisit the past in hopes of setting things right.
In short, he’s attempting to save the world while everyone else is trying to stop him from destroying it. But “Legion” has never had a terribly trustworthy point of view. Viewers can never be entirely certain what, if anything, they’re watching is real. The rare recap of scenes from earlier episodes doesn’t begin with “previously on ‘Legion.’ ” Instead, it’s “ostensibly on ‘Legion.’ ”
That’s as good a reason as any to help explain the gobsmackingly cinematic drama’s ability to fold in on itself like the cityscapes in “Inception” or “Doctor Strange.”
One minute, “Legion” is exploring astral planes, multidimensional perception and the nature of delusions. The next, it’s tapping into the song-and-dance talents of co-star Aubrey Plaza while letting her inner sociopath come out to play.
It’s also certainly the only series to ever offer nods to the impact of the music of Charlie Brown and prepubescent, backward-dressing rappers Kriss Kross in a single episode.
In a more just world, “Legion” would be the stuff of conversations at water coolers, or wherever people gather to discuss the amazing these days.
But it does prove that, even after “Dark Phoenix” crashed and burned, there’s still plenty of mojo left in the X-Men universe.