Episode Title: Chapter 1
Originally Aired: February 8th 2017
It may not have a tie in to the movies but the first X-men related TV show in 20 years premiered tonight on FX. If you are like me you watched the trailers online or saw a commercial on TV, and you felt intrigued, even though you had no idea what was going on. I’m not sure a lot has changed now that I’ve seen the pilot episode. I’m excited about Chapter 2, but I have very little idea of what’s going to happen next. The show has a very interesting visual feel that made it hard for me to nail down the time period it was taking place. In the mental hospital, the characters looked like they were wearing 80’s style tracksuits. Some of the technology looked like it was from the 60’s or earlier, while there was also a device that looked like an iPad a generation or two ahead of what we currently have. If you are not a fan of quirky independent films, this is may not be the comic book show for you. The way people act feels like a different world than the one we inhabit, it made me think of the movie The Lobster staring Joaquin Phoenix. Government agents wear overalls with pink knitted beanies, characters dream in big Bollywood style dance numbers, and there is mention of an ominous demon with the yellow eyes. Between the body hopping, jumping locations and points in time, the story line gets a little lost but I feel I might catch a lot more on a second watching. The psychedelic look of the show is great and unlike any current TV show that I can think of. However, the show may want to stick to the smaller visual effects, there is one major action scene in this episode and it looks horrible.
David Heller (Dan Stevens) is a paranoid schizophrenic who has been in a mental institution for the last six years after he tried to hang himself. David’s issues don’t end their however, he is finally becoming aware of a power that has been hiding underneath the surface and may even be the cause of his illness. We see multiple examples of his telekinetic abilities, from the mundane of making a breadbox door fall open, to shattering a table while tossing four grown men as if they were weightless. Every time his powers begin to manifest he is drugged by the orderlies and has his normal dosage increased to keep him under control. If it is solely an issue of control, he may turn out to be the man everyone is looking for, the world’s most powerful mutant in a world that does not know mutants exist. If he is as crazy as he is powerful, he could be unreliable, uncontrollable and capable of destroying everything.
Syd Barrett (Rachel Keller) is a complicated character, was she in the mental hospital because of something that happened or was she there to track down people with abilities like David. One thing the show did poorly was convey the passage of time, in about 45 minutes or less of air time she and David had the opposite of a meet cute, then started dating in the first group session they attended together. A few scenes later, she is leaving the hospital and they have to say goodbye, and at the end of the episode, they are saying they love each other. Was Syd there just for the weekend or did many months go by that we were unaware of? Not only is she David’s love interest she also reminds me of 1980’s Elisabeth Shue, my first celebrity crush.
In the middle of the episode, Syd equates mental illness with misunderstood genius, a major theme in the recently released movie Split. Will David be the chosen one, who gives up his medication and begins to unlock his true powers and morals? Alternatively, will the show’s creators skew from the norm and give us a mentally ill hero? Marvel has shown us characters dealing with PTSD in Tony Stark and Jessica Jones, showing David not only being capable of performing everyday tasks but being a hero could be a good thing for that community as well as being comic accurate.
Fan favorite Aubrey Plaza is playing Lenny, David’s best friend. I’m not sure how large her role will be considering she died in the first episode. She did show up as a vision or hallucination after her death, so she may be a recurring character throughout the season. She seems to be playing the logical side of his mind that isn’t always in control, warning him about the dangers he may face.
What is real, what is just in David’s mind and will he or the audience be able to tell hallucination from reality. I am looking forward to taking the trip with them and those of you reading this and seeing just what this new world has to show us.