CBS Dramedy “Limitless” Makes its Debut

Pilot Review

Sana Hameed, Co-Editor-in-Chief

A hybrid channeling the hyperactivity of the CBS dramedy “Limitless” and the psychedelia and spontaneity of BBC’s “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency”, the newest FX action series “Legion” bites off more than it can chew. The trailer appeared promising, doused with the familiar humor and uncertainty commonly perpetuated in the Marvel comic movie adaptations, so the incohesive television series pilot which premiered on Feb. 8 came off as lackluster in comparison.

David Haller (Dan Stevens), after being diagnosed a paranoid schizophrenic, genuinely confuses his telekinetic abilities for illness. With his sandy loam disheveled ‘do and endearing nervous antics, Stevens himself is a likable leading man, equal parts charismatic and crazy in his portrayal of his character. As the show continues, David’s power is further unveiled with immense uncontrollable displays ranging from when he levitates his bed in his sleep to when his distress causes all of the utensils in his kitchen to fly into a frenzy.

At the start of the pilot, it is shown that David has befriended Lenny Busker (Aubrey Plaza), an unyielding optimist and fellow patient recovering from drug and alcohol addiction at the mental institution where he resides. For Plaza’s first notable television gig since her long-term stint as April Ludgate on “Parks and Recreation,”  she embodied the appearance and body language of her character perfectly with her roughly chopped bob, nonchalant slouch and fidgety mannerisms. However, although she was given plenty of exuberant and humorous one-liners to work with, at times her delivery was underwhelming. Plaza’s time alive is short-lived, but even as a ghost or apparition resident in David’s mind, her presence is a source of relief from the seemingly perpetual perplexment and pandemonium.

When David meets Syd Barrett (Rachel Keller), the relatively strong opening devolves into unfettered chaos. David, glassy-eyed and rendered speechless at the first sight of Syd, shares an odd, inexplicable romantic connection with her, born to little chemistry. This infatuation is especially awkward as Syd shies away from skin-on-skin contact as unassuming as a simple hug, let alone the standards of interaction prescribed to typical relationships. Syd comes to accidentally expose her extrasensory abilities, which pose a stark contrast to David’s metaphysical strength. The Interrogator (Hamish Linklater), a government official with salt-and-pepper hair keen on keeping David deluded, recognizes him as possibly the most powerful mutant of all time. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that moving items with his mind is not the full extent of his capabilities, leaving much to be explored.

Aside from Syd’s “look but do not touch” policy, many other facets were introduced as staples in the episode and potentially the entire series. The “Devil with the Yellow Eyes” becomes a recurring motif, an ominous enigma harkening back to the “Demon with the Yellow Eyes” introduced in the first season of the CW’s “Supernatural.” It quickly became clear that the makers of the show are fond of bright flashes of color (especially red), millisecond-long montages of seemingly random images (including that of a pudgy Jabba the Hutt impersonator) and quirky, unpredictable behavior. Using these devices, the show paints an entirely different, more grim picture than previously construed from the trailer; it alludes to how although the David and Syd are gifted with superhuman abilities and not truly subject to the diseases with which they have been diagnosed, even they suffer from negative impacts on their psyche.

The episode becomes more fragmented and frantic as it progresses, which is not uncommon for a series premiere trying to find a suitable pace. However, considering the sheer length of the pilot (a whopping hour and a half), it is unfortunate that more of the plot was not adequately explained or developed so viewers would know for sure whether or not this show suits their specific tastes.

The concluding scene, consisting of an unintentional homage to the budget-friendly special effects from Marvel’s “Agents of Shield,” a united front not unlike that of the Power Rangers (complete with matching outfits and bursting explosions) and the handshake to end all handshakes did however ensure that viewers were confused enough by the sudden turn of events to want to see exactly what is in store for the follow-up.