‘Legends’ Pilot Recap: “Make the Lie as Close as Possible to the Truth”

Sean Bean’s track record for getting killed off in every movie and TV show he makes has become such a running joke that the TNT network is actually promoting its new series ‘Legends’ with promises that the actor will live this time. That’s kind of funny, but doesn’t it also ruin any suspense in what is supposedly an edge-of-your-seat thriller?

Bean stars as FBI Covert Operations agent Martin Odum. Or does he? Oooh, there’s a twist coming. But I’m getting ahead of myself. We’ll come back to that.

If it strikes you as odd that an American FBI agent would have a British accent, that’s hand-waved aside with a throwaway line of dialogue indicating that Martin grew up as an Air Force brat whose father was stationed in England, where the kid picked up the accent. Uh huh. Right. Whatever.

For the past six months, Martin has been working deep cover in a domestic terrorist group called the Citizen’s Army of Virginia. His cover identity (or “legend”) is Lincoln Dittmann, a socially awkward loser who’s itching for “a chance to blow some shit up.” For the Lincoln character, Sean Bean puts on an American accent. I guess that was just too much for him to keep up for an entire episode.

During the main plot of the ‘Pilot’ episode, Martin/Lincoln has to repeatedly dodge having his cover blown so that he can work his way into the good graces of the mysterious “Founding Father” (Zeljko Ivanek, whose accent is decidedly not Virginian at any point) and prevent the Citizen’s Army from bombing an International Monetary Fund summit. Keeping his cover will entail that his grumpy FBI handler/ex-girlfriend Crystal (no last name, just Crystal) disguise herself as a stripper to pass him a message during a lap dance. Because once you’ve cast Ali Larter in a TV show, you apparently make any excuse you can to put her in skimpy lingerie.

Whenever anyone questions the Lincoln character, FBI super-hacker-tech-nerd Tina Majorino uses computer magic to plant a supporting back story into whatever computer systems it needs to go. “I’m inventing 30 years of medical and arrest records and back-dated internet chat room posts involving dozens of back-and-forth participants completely from scratch off the top of my head and simultaneously layering them into hundreds of databases in real time as I explain this to you” is not precisely the line of dialogue she delivers, but it’s damn close. Hey, it’s TV. Let’s move on.

By the end of the episode, Martin stops the bombing plot and captures the Founding Father, who totally pusses out on a threat to blow himself up rather than be arrested. So, I guess that means that this case is over. Will each episode take place months or years after the previous one so that Martin can spend the time to develop unique undercover identities every time? Something tells me not.

The episode repeatedly emphasizes to us that Martin sometimes goes so deep into his cover that he can lose himself in the character. This ties into a separate storyline where he finds himself stalked by a homeless-looking dude who knows way too much about him, and tells him that there is no Martin Odum. He claims that “Martin Odum” is just another legend, that Martin doesn’t know who he really is, and that powerful invisible forces are manipulating him.

Hmmm… perhaps we’ll get a more convincing explanation for his British accent eventually.

Martin asks another FBI tech nerd (not Tina Majorino – we like her) to find out who the homeless dude is. Tech Nerd gets killed when he tries, and Homeless Dude gets shanked on a subway platform too. Conspiracy!

If I sound dismissive in this recap, that’s because the show’s plot is pretty silly and ridiculous. However, I kind of want to know more about this he’s-not-who-he-thinks-he-is twist, even if it seems awfully reminiscent of that dumb Liam Neeson movie ‘Unknown‘.

I will watch the show again, but I don’t know how long I can stick with it. That will entirely depend on how the next couple of episodes fare.


  1. Bryan

    How’d you manage to do the entire recap without mentioning the all-important detail that Ai Larter (playing his boss) had to give him a lap dance at a strip club … :).

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