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LEGION Showrunner Noah Hawley Teases Season 2’s Wildest Moments

Venturing onto the set of the sophomore season of Legion, one thing was evident: they really, really, really don’t want you to know what’s going on. Not for real. Which isn’t surprising—mystery and confusion were major hallmarks of the FX series’ adaptation of the story of David Haller, son of Professor X. The most powerful mutant in all the world went on quite a wild ride in season one, and is set to continue that obfuscating, dreamy, chaotic turn in season two, according to the 11 crazy tidbits we got straight from the lips of showrunner Noah Hawley (he of Fargo fame) late last year.

Curious to know what will happen in season two, premiering on April 3 on FX? Check out our 11 spoilerrific reveals below!

Mental Illness Still Plays a Part

“The first season was based around ‘is he mentally ill or does he have these super powers or both?’,” Hawley explained to the group on journalists on set. “So I couldn’t leave that question behind. It’s also an idea that’s very interesting to me, this idea of ‘what is normal? What is reality if not simply an agreement that we make?’ I thought that was really interesting.”

But Hawley won’t, of course, let that stay the course for long. Now his questions are more akin to, “How can I undermine that in interesting ways?”

But It’s Gonna Get Weirder

It should go without saying, but lest you need confirmation: Legion is only going to get weirder. (Would you expect anything less from something so audaciously subversive?) Though Hawley and his team won’t be revisiting old tropes and methods previously used, he added, “That’s part of the fun and the challenge of making the show. It’s a very ambitious show.”

That means more playing around with different, even more specific genres and storytelling moments in order to elevate the narrative. “The ways in which we can use the genre to solve the characters,” Hawley noted, is one of his favorite parts of writing the show. Because to him, “it’s not about making a genre show,” it’s about using “this genre with all of its creativity and whimsy … to explore the characters and stories that you couldn’t in a straight drama, because [with straight dramas] you can’t play with the structure of the show, you don’t have these elements available to you.”

Perhaps the most dizzying thing about the show—the astral planes and mental spaces—will be back and bigger than before. “When you’re playing with the idea of what’s real—we’re in a lot of mental spaces this year that aren’t necessarily the real world—then you need a clear spine that the audience can hold onto.”

David Will Return—But A LOT Has Changed

At the end of last season, Hawley explained, “We saw that David had been kidnapped by this orb of unknown origin and disappeared.” Now, as we find ourselves in season two, don’t expect a whole season of “where’s David?” because that is not the case. “We find David and [he] returns to us. He thinks he’s been gone for a few hours, but he’s actually been gone for a year and a lot has changed. A lot of the group are now at Division 3 headquarters working with them.”

Which certainly sets things up differently than what we’d expected. “We thought it would be the plucky band of outsiders against the empire,” Hawley joked.

David’s mind will still be the central focus. “If season one was about examining an insane man in a sane world, this year I wanted to flip it. Maybe David is the sane man in the insane world,” Hawley mused before adding, ominously, “If you take away all those voices, what is his mind filled with? It’s his own inner struggle this time.”

It’s Not Just David’s Show

While it would be easy to assume Legion is The David Haller show, Hawley doesn’t see it that way. In fact in his mind, it’s a two-hander between David (Dan Stevens) and Syd (Rachel Keller)–a duo that seems destined to parallel the story of the Birds, Melanie (Jean Smart) and Oliver (Jemaine Clement).

“It really is a two-hander for me between the two of them,” Hawley said. “There’s a journey they’re going on.” He added, “[Syd] was kinda put in the same position that Melanie was put in.”

“The show isn’t really an information delivery device, it’s an experience delivery device,” Hawley remarked. “I think as long as you care about David and Syd, then you’ll go wherever they go. If you believe that this love is real and you’re invested in it, the rest of the show is kinda flexible since we’re obviously making something sorta surreal.”

And Our Good Guys May Go Bad

For as not straightforward as the series was last season, its morality was certainly pretty clear: David was the lost little boy at the story’s heart, and rescuing him from the gaslighting monster-mutant in his mind was what needed to be done. The mystery of what Amahl Farouk was may be solved this season, but in season two, that clarity may give way to something far more nefarious.

“I was never interested in mystery for mystery’s sake,” Hawley explained. “As David gets more clarity, we get more clarity. But going into this season, I didn’t want to just live in clarity, so part of this year’s jump is to reset the table to allow us to figure it out again—that sense of what’s real and what’s important and what’s his own baggage getting in his way.”

“Who’s a hero and who’s a villain, it’s not that—there’s a sense that David’s story [that] he could be heading towards becoming a supervillain—or maybe Syd is. You have to put a lot of energy into building the challenges and seminal moments these characters go through.”

And if that sounds similar to Magneto, that’s likely on purpose, as Hawley has noted his appreciation for the gray area X-character in the past.

X-Men Cometh

That’s right, there will be more X-references. (In fact, we saw a few on the set that we cannot mention by name.) “There were a few things that were interesting me to incorporate about the X-Men universe—[I love] its very gray approach to morality and how characters can cross that line, like Magneto.”

The Magneto love feels relevant to what’s happening with David, mostly because Magneto’s own strength meant he vacillated between different moral holds—something uniquely X-Menian. “It’s not the same kinda black and white universe that you get in other comic franchises, and so I really wanted to play with that.”

Who’s Your Daddy?

Of course, the biggest X-question of all: will we ever see David’s very famous father? And if so, will it be a James McAvoy or Sir Patrick Stewart? Naturally, Hawley was VERY cagey to answer that one directly. “The one thing about David that can’t change is his origin story and who his father is: We continue to address it in our second year, which the audience might like, but I still believe this show has to stand on its own and be its own story. I don’t want, too quickly, to start incorporating elements from the movies because I feel like it’s cheating on some level.”

This Time the Enemy Gets External—And A New Face

In season one, Aubrey Plaza’s Lenny was taken over by Amahl Farouk, a.k.a. the Shadow King. Now, he’s out of David’s mind and freshly implanted into the newly-released-from-the-astral-plane Oliver Bird (Clement), and he’s on a mission: to find his old body. “If the first season was about the enemy within, the second season is about the enemy without, and so it would appear our mission is to find Farouk and put an end to him, so that’s, on some level, the basic structure of what we’re doing in this second year.”

“He’s a very patient guy, obviously, but his patience is kinda at the end,” explained Hawley. “[Farouk]’s a very manipulative guy, very confident and powerful, and doesn’t say more than what he has to say, but he’s also the snake in the garden. He can talk you into anything.”

So: are Lenny and Oliver going to be helping Farouk (played this season by Navid Negahban who was recently recast in the role after Wonder Woman‘s Said Taghmaoui) find his original body?

Sure seems that way.

…We’re Headed Towards an Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Sorta)

According to Hawley, the key to unlocking all of Farouk’s powers lies in his corporeal self. “We introduce this idea that what Farouk is doing is out there looking for his own body,” said Hawley. “If you think about a mutant as someone with a genetic mutation, that’s mostly found in their physical genetic material. So we play with this idea that his mind is very strong but if he was reunited with his body, he’d be even stronger.”

Hawley found Farouk hard to write for this season, explaining, “It’s been really interesting … I had to find his voice [since] he wore a lot of masks.”

“How is that going to circle back, if he’s truly interested in revenge [against Professor X]?”

“And that’s the framework of the season — who’s going to find it first? If last season we revealed that there was this entity inside David … but we never saw his real face. He was hidden metaphorically behind many faces [including] Aubrey Plaza and the Devil with the Yellow Eyes and the Angry Boy. This year we’re going to remove the mask and Amahl Farouk becomes a major character on the show.”

But What About Lenny?

Arguably the strongest part of season one was the incredible performance of Aubrey Plaza as Lenny, the host body the Shadow King took over in order to mess with David all the more. And now that the Shadow King/Amahl is living inside Olivier, “It leaves young Aubrey Plaza in a curious position. She started out as Lenny … and then she appeared to be killed physically, but her mind was taken by the Shadow King to wear as a mask.”

He went on: “So now that the mask has come off, Lenny is in a position—she’s still, on some level, a puppet that’s being used by Farouk—and yet she’s like ‘hey man, if you’re done with me can I go back to my life?’ So we have this journey for Aubrey as someone who was really used and victimized in this traumatic experience. David was, really, her only friend, and now she has to make a choice: is she going to help her friend or is she going to be a tool of the Shadow King?”

It’s a huge departure from the Lenny we saw before, but Hawley always wants to make sure he’s subverting your expectations. “She did such a phenomenal job last year that I didn’t want her reward to be a mustache twirling eternity of being a villainous creature,” Hawley explained. “I think it’s much more interesting to take a very weak moral character and put them into a position of ‘well, you’re not a tool anymore, so what are you going to do?'”

Oh, and We’re Probably Being Lied To

“Obviously there are a lot of things I’m not telling you,” Hawley casually chirped, eliciting plenty of laughs from the knowing journalists. “There is a certain sense of play I have with this material [though], and that allows me to challenge those preconceptions about what the show was in season one.”

Obviously, Noah. Obviously.

Images: FX

Alicia Lutes is the Managing Editor, creator/host of Fangirling, and resident Khaleesi of House Nerdist. Find her on Twitter!

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