Right out of the gate, FX’s Legion wants us to know it’s not screwing around (even as it screws with us). The pilot jumps between multiple places in time, and between temporal spaces in our troubled main character David Haller’s (Dan Stevens) head, so it’s difficult to tell which characters are real. The viewer assumes, for instance, that David’s group therapy leader and his ‘70s-style sister Amy (Katie Aselton) are real, but strung out fellow patient Lenny Busker (Aubrey Plaza) exists in a weirder, more confusing, space. We see her skulking around David from room to room in flashbacks, but before the end of the episode, we realize that David accidentally used his telepathy to fuse her into a wall back when they were still in the hospital, killing her. The Lenny we see in scenes set in the present lives only inside David’s mind.
Before David kills Lenny during an incident with his crush, another patient named Sydney Barrett (Rachel Keller), it’s pretty clear that Lenny’s as real as David himself. The fact that she’s the only person who seems to understand David fully makes the reveal of her death all the more stunning.
There’s a strange energy to Lenny before and after her death; Plaza plays the nail-biting, recovering junkie in a captivating way, and her wild eyes glow right back into Dan Stevens’s as they whisper in dark corners of the psychiatric hospital. Lenny, as Plaza told Screener, was originally written as a man in his 60s, though the role was changed for her after she auditioned. “I didn’t read the script thinking, ‘That’s the character I’ll end up playing on the show,’” Plaza says.
David certainly didn’t mean to kill Lenny, and he’s not even entirely sure how he did it. His exact powers aren’t clear yet, but the repeated visual of him having a panic attack in his kitchen, his telepathy sending every free object in the room flying, suggests some of what he’s able to do. In Marvel comics, of course, David Haller unwittingly absorbs the entire psyches of others into his own brain, carrying them around inside him for the rest of his life. It’s not clear if FX and Marvel will make Lenny his first “victim,” but given the events of the pilot, that’s possible.
Though Lenny is dead in the real world, Plaza will continue on as a series regular, taunting David from the grave.
Legion airs on FX on Wednesdays at 10 p.m.