This Legion review contains spoilers.
Legion Season 2 Episode 5
It’s not inconceivable that Lenny Busker would have been a one-and-done character if it weren’t for the outstanding work of Aubrey Plaza. There’s really no established reason as to why the character’s spirit would exist inside of the Shadow King alongside Oliver, who is actively possessed, but lots of things are puzzling on Legion, so I shouldn’t think about it too hard. Still if I had to put my money on it, I’d bet Lenny’s inclusion in Season 2 is a direct response to the audience’s reaction.
Critics and fans of Legion’s first season almost uniformly fell hardest for Plaza’s performance. Plaza played Lenny as distinct different characters based on the version that David would need for a given scene, be it the enabling, burn out buddy, the terrifying enforcer, the intelligent doctor, or the nightmarish monster. As the physical manifestation of David’s parasite, Lenny was ostensibly the villain, but a clear fan favorite. Having her back for Season 2 may have been in the cards all along, but who knows if she’d be getting this much screen time. “Chapter 13” is essentially a spotlight for the character, and as expected, Plaza steps up to the plate and delivers.
Locked up in some upside-down room inside of Division 3 headquarters, Lenny twitches and begs as her eyes, certainly not “her” eyes, dart around the room. Visited by Clark, Ptonomy, and finally David, Plaza is given time to monologue about Lenny’s childhood with her namesake, an alcoholic grandmother, while dropping other hints about her junkie past. Back in the fidgeting flesh, Lenny is here to deliver the message that Farouk knows where his body is. How he’s learned this is left unclear, and the fact that he now knows where it’s located is the only bit of advancement that we’ve had on the plot that was introduced in the season premiere. Luckily, watching Plaza act opposite any of our characters one-on-one is the best distraction from the lack of narrative momentum yet. (Today they added an episode to Legion‘s Season 2 order. Clearly we were spinning our wheels too much to wrap it up with five more, eh?)
Lenny’s scenes with David prove to be the most interesting. David wants to slip back into the easy familiarity that he thought he had with his “friend,” but he knows not to trust Lenny completely. Probing both with questions and his powers, David deduces that Lenny is still working for the Shadow King, but that she’s being honest when she says that she’s unsure how she’s back in a body and just who’s body it is. A flash of a memory of David’s childhood almost led me to believe that Lenny was never real and just a separate personality that he had invented, now come to life, but the memory of David’s dog king has a much more sinister meaning.
We come to learn that, using some sort of device lifted during their assault on Division 3, Oliver and Farouk dug up Lenny’s body, retrieved some of her DNA, and then used their device to transform David’s sister Amy into a body for Lenny. The whole scene harkens back to the slasher-inspired horror that permeated much of Season 1, yet is somehow more unsettling with its dream-like stillness that’s only broken by Amy’s screams. Amy’s death, if that’s what you want to call it, seems to mean that the truce is over between the Shadow King and David, but how will Future Syd be able to overpower David’s thirst for revenge?
Elsewhere, we spend time with Oliver and Farouk as they carry out their mission of creating a body for Lenny. The pair have gentlemanly conversations on morality and reality and you could almost mistake the two for friends before Oliver makes it clear he plans on killing Farouk. Jemaine Clement and Navid Negahban ooze charisma in these scenes, but between the Jon Hamm voiceover interludes, Ptonomy’s monologue, and Oliver’s musings on atoms and how they relate to morality, I’m sort of tired of all the philosophizing. The chapter interludes in particular have yet to work for me and I dread the idea of sitting through one every episode.
There’s plenty left in this episode to scratch your head at, like the fact that ol’basket head may be a giant chicken creature (?) or that Oliver plans on bringing down the Shadow King with something as simple as “1 +1.” The creature in Ptonomy’s ear appears to finally start doing some damage too. Regardless, when you strip away all of the signature Legion-oddness, you’re left with an episode absolutely anchored by a knockout Aubrey Plaza performance, and that’s worth watching in any context.