This Legion review contains spoilers.
Legion Season 2 Episode 8
In the opening moments of “Chapter 16,” Syd reminds David that the monk is dead, and it’s a good thing she did, because if David is anything like the most of the audience, they’ve likely long forgotten that the monk of Mi-go jumped off the top of Division 3 headquarters a couple weeks back. We’ve been away from the main plot, the race for Amhal Farouk’s body, for what feels like ages, and thankfully, getting back to the story brings out the best in Legion. Regaining focus after fun detours and head-scratching turns, “Chapter 16” offers truly new developments that look to dramatically reshape our characters as we know them.
Right away, things are messy between David and Syd, setting the tone for the emotional journey that Syd goes on throughout the episode. Yet again, David’s visits with Future Syd are complicating their current relationship. Syd asks about David’s arguments with Future Syd as if they’re conflicts that she can’t remember getting into. Most importantly, she trusts her future-self more than she trusts David. Later in the episode, Syd and David are eerily confronted with their own future, as corpses laying arm and arm, and what may seem like a sweet end for two lovers deeply turns Syd off.
In the episode’s best scene, Syd relays her feelings about the status of her relationship to Clark. Once again, Legion impresses the most at its smallest, not its most bombastic. Syd openly mourns the loss of the relationship that she and David had throughout season one, expressing that things just feel different. It’s a beautiful character moment that helps explain Syd’s detachment and cat-inhabiting habit. However, Clark puts a pin in their little therapy session by reminding Syd that if David were to become upset about the dissolution of their relationship, he could end the world. The pressure that puts on Syd, to endure being with a man for the sake of his feelings at the sake of her own, is dehumanizing, unfair and poignantly uncomfortable in the #MeToo era and while teenage boys are currently mowing down classmates who didn’t reciprocate their feelings.
Similar to Syd and Clark’s one-on-one, I was also fond of the scene between David and Lenny. Needed for David’s plan to win the race to the Shadow King’s body, David plans on going into Lenny’s cell to work his mind-controlling magic, but he’s somewhat disarmed by Lenny. Cautious, David gazes at Lenny just searching for a piece of Amy inside of Lenny. When Lenny fearfully asks David to tell her if this is just another one of Farouk’s tricks, David’s brotherly tenderness comes out to comfort Lenny and she officially becomes a pawn for David. Still, there’s no telling if Lenny’s wide-eyed routine is just an ongoing part of Farouk’s plan.
Speaking of pawns, David using the Division 3 gang as pieces in his plan reeks of his future villainy. David is controlling them unknowingly as to not give away the location of Farouk’s body, but Farouk has already found the location and this is a complete invasion of his allies’ trust, even if it does give us the cool sequence of David planning his attack while we simultaneously watch a simulation play out. I groaned when I realized we were getting another Hamm monologue, but it drove home the fact that David better not stop treating those around him as people.
One more pawn is used in the episode, but its Farouk who’s pulling the strings. David is stranded with an unhappy Syd and is relying on Clark to kick his plan into gear when Melanie comes out of nowhere to knock Clark out. It’s revealed that Oliver is manipulating Melanie, and suddenly Melanie’s lethargic lack of action appears as if it was the plan all along, like they were just saving her for the endgame. Oh, and while we’re talking about characters controlling other characters, Ptonomy now can control Vermilion through the mainframe, where’s he’s also learning things about Admiral Fukuyama’s past. I expect more will come with both of these developments, but I’m excited to see are most underutilized characters put to good use.
“Chapter 16” is successful because of all of these character developments, but it’s as always bolstered by Legion’s impeccable sense of style. Those dissected frames, pushing each other in and out are immediately alluring, as are the vast desert shots of Farouk and Oliver raising toward the body and the binary-obscured view from inside the mainframe. Legion has been more uneven than its first season, but when its working, it’s still the most arresting show on television.