FX announced the renewal of Legion for Season 3 back in June this year, much to the relief of fans who worried that the show’s ratings decline could force FX to cancel it.
The viewership had steadily declined since Season 1 premiered on February 8, 2018. The Season 1 premiere, for instance, pulled in an estimated 1.622 million U.S. viewers, compared with the finale which pulled in only 812, 000 viewers. The Season 2 premiere pulled in 669,000 viewers, while the finale, which aired on June 12, only managed to scrape together a measly 315,000 viewers.
The confirmation of Legion for Season 3 came as a surprise to some fans who had feared that FX’s decision to add a bonus 11th episode to Season 2 was intended to signal the imminent cancellation of the series.
Legion Season 2 started off with 10 episodes, but FX unexpectedly announced mid-season that an extra episode was being added to raise the season’s episode order to 11, after Season 1 received only eight episodes.
Fans had assumed that FX granted Legion Season 2 an extra one hour of air time to allow showrunner Noah Hawley wrap up the series in preparation for canceling. But instead of canceling the series, FX treated fans to good news on June 1 by officially confirming Legion for Season 3, ahead of the penultimate episode of Season 2 which aired on June 5.
Fans, who had been hoping to see the conclusion of David Haller’s struggle against the Shadow King, were elated when Legion was confirmed for Season 3.
FX’s decision to stand by the series despite declining ratings might have informed the elaborate statement in defense of the series by Eric Schrier, co-president of original programming for FX Networks and FX Productions.
“Legion has redefined the superhero drama and exceeded all expectations as the intensity and revelation build through the second season,” Schrier said after FX confirmed Legion for Season 3. “We are incredibly proud of Noah Hawley’s achievement and are honored to continue the series as it pushes the boundaries of conventional television storytelling.”
While fans await the announcement of an official premiere date for Legion Season 3, we bring you everything we know so far about the upcoming season, including likely premiere date, cast and plot.
Legion Season 3 release date
FX has confirmed Season 3, but the network has not announced an official premiere date for the upcoming season. Although fans expect Legion Season 3 to premiere sometime in 2019, the past pattern of season premieres don’t give any clues about the likely premiere date.
The first season of the series premiered in February 2017, while Season 2 premiered in April 2018.
Although some fans and analysts have suggested that Legion Season 3 could premiere between April and June next year, it might take even longer, depending on Hawley’s packed schedule.
We will update when FX announces an official premiere date.
Legion Season 3: Overview
FX’s Legion is based on the eponymous character from Marvel Comics’ X-Men universe. The series is a stand-alone and not part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).
Legion TV series is not your conventional MCU superhero movie. Most of Season 1, for instance, takes place in the mind of David Haller, with the movie action proceeding without carefully drawn boundaries between memories, reality, hallucination and vision.
Legion was originally created in the 1980s by Marvel Comics writer Chris Claremont and artist Bill Sienkiewicz. Claremont was the writer behind some of the most iconic X-Men tales, such as the Dark Phoenix saga and Days of Future Past.
Legion first appeared in New Mutants #25 as the son of X-Men founder Professor Charles Xavier and Gabrielle Haller. But Xavier was unaware of David’s existence until many years after he was born.
Powers ascribed to Legion in the comics including shape-shifting, time-travel, teleportation and telekinesis. Each power is exercised by a different persona composing Legion.
Haller’s multiple personalities probably explain his name Legion, which is apparently in reference to the demon from the New Testament who introduced himself to Jesus, saying “My name is Legion, for we are many.”
In the TV series, we see Haller arguing with two of the other personalities in his head.
FX and Marvel Television first announced that they were collaborating to create a new TV series based on the X-Men character Legion in October 2015, and signed on Fargo creator Noah Hawley to write and direct the pilot series.
Legion Season 1 premiered on February 8, 2017, and the season finale aired on March 29. The 11-episode Season 2 premiered on April 3, 2018, while the finale aired on June 12, 2018.
FX renewed Legion for Season 3 in June 2018.
Legion is produced by FX Productions in association with Marvel Television. The series is created for FX by Noah Hawley, who also serves as showrunner and executive producer of the series, alongside John Cameron, Lauren Shuler Donner, Simon Kinberg, Jeph Loeb, Jim Chory, Alan Fine, Joe Quesada, Bryan Singer, Steve Blackman, and Karim Zreik.
Hawley and Cameron are both known for having executive produced the widely acclaimed anthology Fargo (TV series 2014- ).
Hawley’s screen adaptation is unconventional, being characterized by complex and sometimes confusing visuals which present the world from Haller’s perspective. The complex visuals reflect Haller’s distorted view of reality which is influenced by his emotional and mental states.
Showrunner Hawley has had a busy year. Earlier in the year, he directed his first-ever feature film, the sci-fi drama Pale Blue Dot, starring Natalie Portman, Jon Hamm, Dan Stevens, and Ellen Burstyn. He is also filming Fargo 4 with Chris Rock.
Even amid declining viewership, Legion attracted a dedicated audience of X-Men universe enthusiasts who were captivated by Hawley’s portrayal of the unconventional Marvel character. The brilliant cast of the series also helped it to win critical acclaim.
FX’s Legion is essentially a mutant origin story that follows the troubled youngster David Haller, the son of the legendary X-Men founder, Professor Charles Xavier. Haller was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and dissociative identity disorder at a young age. He was moved from one psychiatric hospital to the other during his early life until he was brought to Clockworks Psychiatric Hospital where he met and fell in love with fellow patient Sydney Barrett (Rachel Keller).
Through Syd, David met other mutants at Summerland who helped him to gradually accept that he might not be mentally ill and that his symptoms might be due to powers that make him probably the most powerful mutant alive. He also came to accept that the voices he hears, including the visions, dreams, memories and other hallucinations might be real.
Under the care and direction of the team of therapists at Summerland, David also began to discover and harness his special mutant powers and abilities. He later learned that his mind was host to a malicious entity, Amahl Farouk, aka the Shadow King, who wanted to use him to gain infinite world-ending power.
Legion Season 1 starred Rachel Keller, Aubrey Plaza, Bill Irwin, Jermaine Harris, Amber Midthunder, Jean Smart and Katie Aselton. Navid Negahban, Jemaine Clement, and Hamish Linklater, joined the main cast of Legion Season 2.
Negahban played Amahl Farouk, aka The Shadow King, who possessed Legion’s body.
Legion Season 3 teasers and trailers
An official trailer hasn’t been released for Legion Season 3. We will update fans as soon as FX drops one.
Meanwhile, enjoy the trailer for Season 2.
FX released a teaser image (see below) of David during the San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) back in July.
Legion Season 3 cast
The entire main cast of Legion is expected to return for Season 3.
The series stars Dan Stevens as David Haller, aka Legion, the son of the legendary X-Men founder Professor Charles Xavier. David was diagnosed with schizophrenia at a young age but later came to realize that he might after all be the most powerful mutant alive.
Other members of the main cast include Rachel Kelly, who plays Sydney Barrette, the “girl of (Haller’s) dreams.” David met Syd at the Clockworks Psychiatric Hospital. She is a mutant who is able to switch bodies with people she touches. Kelly appeared in Hollidsaysburg (2014) as Tori.
Aubrey Plaza portrays Lenore “Lenny” Busker, David’s friend, who has a history of drug and alcohol abuse. She died in Legion Season 1 but returned as one of the multiple manifestations of David’s foe Amahl Farouk. Farouk later gave Lenny a new body. Plaza appeared in Parks and Recreation (TV series 2009-2015) as April Ludgate.
Bill Irwin portrays the brilliant mutant scientist Cary Loudermilk, who is one of the founders of Summerland. Irwin previously appeared as TARS in Interstellar (2014).
Amber Midthunder plays Kerry Loudermilk, who lives inside the body of Cary. The special mutant powers of Cary and Kerry allow them to live in one body, but they are also able to live as separate physical beings.Fans will recall Midthunder from Hell or High Water (2016) in which she portrayed Vernon Teller.
Jeremie Harris plays the memory manipulating mutant Ptonomy Wallace. Harris played Bina’s boyfriend in Pariah (2011).
Katie Aselton plays Haller’s older sister Amy Haller.
Fargo star Jean Smart plays Melanie Bird, a psychiatric therapist. Bird is a mutant with telepathic powers who helped David to manage his powers. She played Floyd Gerhadt in Fargo.
Navid Negahban appears as Amahl Farouk, aka The Shadow King.
Jemaine Clement plays Melanie’s husband Oliver Bird, while Hamish Linklater plays Clark Debussy, an agent of Division 3.
Legion Season 3 plot
Legion Season 1 introduced Haller living at the Clockworks Psychiatric Hospital with his friend Lenny Busker (Aubrey Plaza). A new patient Sydney Barrett (Rachel Keller) arrives. David enters into a romantic relationship with her although he has to keep his hands off her because she is able to swap bodies with anyone she touches.
The pair end up under the care of an unconventional therapist Melanie Bird (Jean Smart) and his team of specialists who are determined to help them discover and harness their powers.
Bird’s team at the Summerland Institute, founded by her husband Oliver (Jemaine Clement), includes Ptonomy Wallace (Jeremie Harris), whose mutant powers allow him to explore David’s past. Others include Cary Loudermilk (Bill Irwin) and Kerry Loudermilk (Amber Midthunder).
Cary and Kerry are two different personalities inhabiting the same body, but are also able to exist independently.
We soon learn that Bird and his team are not the only ones interested in Haller’s unusual powers. A clandestine mutant hunting government agency, Division 3, is also interested in Haller.
Haller soon realizes that he is not the only one inhabiting his body and that his consciousnesses is host to a powerful parasitic entity called Amahl Farouk, The Shadow King. The Shadow King appears in the series under different guises, including in the form of David’s friend Lenny (Aubrey Plaza). The Shadow King also took over the body of Bird’s husband, Oliver.
Legion Season 1 focuses on David’s struggle to come to self knowledge and mastery. In Legion Season 2, we see him meet and battle the sinister Amahl Farouk (Navid Negahban) in the desert. He also falls out with his closest associates, including Syd and Amy.
The second season ends with David taking a dark turn and abandoning his cooperation with Melanie and Division 3 to fight Farouk. He is no more the “good guy” trying to save the world from the villain. He runs away with Lenny after a confrontation with Syd during which she tries to shoot him.
Syd pulls a gun on David when she finds out that a future version of David will threaten the world. But David wipes Syd’s mind of the memory that he is a danger to the world and makes love with her. David is then accused of subverting Syd’s will by erasing her memory, manipulating her mind and raping her. He must take his medication and undergo therapy to make amends.
David rejects the notion that he is a rapist and villain. He insists that he is a good person deserving of love. He escapes from Summerland with Lenny. Syd and the others must find him before he gets the chance to destroy the world.
We are still largely in the dark about what to expect of Legion Season 3 after Legion Season 2 ended with the surprising plot twist suggesting that Haller is in fact the villain of the series.
“I think we always knew it was kind of a superhero Breaking Bad story,” FX CEO John Landgraf said. “We always knew we were going to get to this moment in time. I’m excited because I’ve known all along this was the destination. I’m not really thrilled to see what that is.”
“It’s about the complexity and nuance of good and evil,” Landgraf continued, “and the fact that by the end of the second season, he’s been betrayed by everyone he loves who all think they have a good reason for doing it which is David can destroy the world and they better contain him.”
Although the showrunners have remained tight-lipped about what to expect of Legion Season 3, they have dropped some hints.
Legion Season 3 is expected to pick up from where Season 2 left off. So it is likely that Haller will continue to follow the dark path he’s chosen and that Syd will increasingly play the central role as hero in the storyline and plot.
“If you go back to the original conception of the show, all the way back to Legion, the character as created before Noah got his hands on Legion, he was a very dark character,” Landgraf said. “He was not explicitly a hero within that universe.”
Hawley described Legion as a tragedy in an interview with The Wrap. He gives the impression that David is doomed, but we don’t know yet whether his tragic end will come in Legion Season 3. A tragic ending might be a way to wrap up Legion in Season 3 in the circumstances of persistent ratings decline.
During FX’s official panel in Hal H at the San Diego Comic-Con last July, the showrunners shared tidbits of information about the possible direction of the storyline for Legion Season 3 .
— Legion (@LegionFX) July 23, 2018
Actress Rachel Keller shared that Syd will likely emerge as “the hero” of Legion Season 3.
“I am so excited to see where we go from here with Syd the hero of [Legion Season 3],” Keller said. “The most important thing is how Syd will react if [things don’t go as planned]…. when what she loves and wants do not necessarily coincide. How she reacts will show who she is as a hero.”
In August, fans also learned from Landgraf, during an FX reception for the Television Critics Association (TCA), that Hawley already had four scripts prepared for Legion Season 3. Hawley also revealed in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that Syd will be the hero in Legion Season 3 and Haller the villain.
Keller and Hawley’s comments have raised questions whether Legion Season 3 will focus more on Syd than Haller. Hawley appeared to agree in the interview with EW.
“… it’s their story, I think she (Syd) should always be front and center,” he said.
Responding to questions about Haller’s identity as the son of X-Men founder Professor Charles Xavier, Hawley hinted that the series will eventually address the issue.
“He was adopted and not only that but this monster came into him when he was a baby, and he’s got a lot of questions about his dad and I would imagine that will be important,” Hawley said in an interview with Observer. “We don’t get there specifically this year but it feels like we’re moving in that direction… It’s a three or four or five act story where each season is another chapter in that story.”