This week’s Legion was like a walk to the edge of a cliff: Viewers crept along by inches until suddenly plummeting into a horror that was as shocking as it was inevitable. Farouk seems to be moving into his endgame, and the setup is confirming my initial suspicions that David never had a chance. I came out of this episode thinking not so much about what had just happened, as what to expect as Season 2 slides into its second half. My short guess: David’s going to do something stupid and get everyone killed. My longer guess: The dark horse day-saving hero will turn out to be Oliver, in spite of his inability (or refusal) to make a proper martini. And then to top it all off, we’ll find out what seriously shady shit D3 is up to. (You know that is not a question of IF, only of WHAT.)
But first, your regularly scheduled recap, which will follow our heroes and villains, respectively, in their misadventures at a D3 holding cell and out in the desert.
Last week Lenny Busker returned – in the flesh, quite some time after that flesh suffered an untimely and gruesome demise. Everyone is understandably anxious to find out how this is possible and how this gambit fits into Farouk’s plan to recover his body. D3 dispatches Clark, who manages to extract a blood sample and Lenny’s given name (Lenore Busker, after her alcoholic gran-gran), but not much more. All Lenny will say is that she needs to talk to David.
While she waits, the view cuts back to Farouk and Oliver. They are joyriding in the desert and quibbling about the criteria for judging gods. Farouk concludes gods should be judged “not on their math, but on their poetry.” Of course, he fancies himself a god, so he’s complimenting himself on the elegance of his own machinations. “When you become my age, you realize it is not about the thing done. It is about the beauty of the plan.” This plan, he promises Oliver, is even more beautiful than its outcome, which will be a sunrise the likes of which humankind has never seen.
Stanza 1: Farouk has found something in the desert. He sets Oliver to digging, and they unearth a coffin from a plot of unmarked earth. From the body inside they detach a small piece of flesh into a device they stole when they invaded D3.
Now Ptonomy is interrogating Lenny. He muses on the impossibility of experiencing the present when all stimuli must be mediated – and hence delayed – by human senses. “There is no present. There is only past and future…the past and future of what?” He remembers everything, but only as the wake of an intangible temporal arrow. In response, Lenny draws his attention to her eyes, which are not the same color as they were in her original body. He enters her memories, confident he can unearth the truth – and his power goes sideways. There are flashes of her childhood, and then of falling sunflowers, and then he’s facing Fukuyama and the Vermilion. Fukuyama’s basket glows, but the thing inside wears the same inhuman face as the thing that crept into his ear while he slept. While the creature hisses he snaps back to reality to find himself strangling Lenny.
Cut to this week’s regularly scheduled white box sequence: Chapter Six | CONSPIRACY. “Humans are pattern-seeking animals,” the disembodied voice declaims. “When we encounter coincidence, we see conspiracy.” But this narrator may not be entirely trustworthy. The last time we saw that “classroom” Oliver was priming his student to die jaywalking. Jesus might not be in your breakfast, but any time this show asks “Could there be a conspiracy?” the safe bet is Team Pessimist. These people don’t need a Professor X. They need a fucking Yossarian.
Stanza 2: And now we return to the conspirators, who are surveilling workmen in the middle of nowhere breaking for lunch. Farouk makes idle stakeout conversation with Oliver, probing his morality (like you do). Oliver answers with bait of his own, speculating that the concepts of life and death are obscene, or at least irrelevant. Then Melanie flashes in his mind and Oliver announces that he’s lost his train of thought. “I’m going to kill you, you know.” Farouk smiles like a parent indulging a child. Of course you are, dear. The lunch truck pulls onto the road, and Oliver follows.
The ancient Greeks envisioned fate as a vast tapestry woven by three immortals. Instead of extracting a pattern from life, they superimposed one they recognized. It was easier to believe that someone waited to snip the thread of your life than it was to accept that there was no thread, that there is only one moment in which you are there and another in which you are not. Legion has been pulling at loose threads from previous episodes, tugging them into the warp and weft of the current moment, building to a tragedy whose conclusion was written before any of the players arrived.
Lenny finally gets her meeting with David. They exchange pleasantries with all the familiar awkwardness you would expect between a telepath and the person his parasite used to manipulate him. Lenny defends her role in the lie by arguing that Farouk manipulated her perceptions too. She’s not sure which of her own memories are real, or hers. Exasperated, David goes into her mind – and sees something familiar: two children running along a beach. One of the children is him. The other is his sister Amy. David falls back, horrified. All that remains is to show us how it happened.
Lenny claims she awoke in the desert, startled, naked, and amnesiac. This much is true; that is all Lenny remembers. But her body remembers more than that, harboring in its cells images Lenny cannot summon. The body she’s in previously belonged to – who else? –David’s chronically unfortunate sister Amy.
This reveal would have been more impactful if Legion hadn’t all but declared in Season 1 that Amy existed only to be victimized in ways that motivated David to act. After several episodes of this season passed without her, I dared to hope Hawley & Co. weren’t just keeping her on ice for – well, this.
It was Amy’s husband Farouk!Oliver tailed home to a seriously questionable witness protection program. Amy greets her husband and shares a recurring dream, marveling at her dream-self’s mustache and singsong voice: We are the machine that bleeds. Neither Amy nor her husband seem to know about the Vermilion, but her husband calls the dream a premonition. “Dread,” he says, just as the turbines stop turning, the doorbell rings, and a reedy wind blows into their dismal kitchen.
As though she already knows what is coming, Amy grabs a kitchen knife as the front door swings against the ashes that had been her husband. She recognizes Oliver but not the thing inside him, the thing that immobilizes her in midair and lays her out on her kitchen table. Farouk!Oliver, frowning with distaste or regret, fires up the D3 device that contains a shred of Lenny’s decaying flesh.
Words can’t do justice to the horror that follows. Amy screams with pain and terror as Oliver downloads Lenny’s consciousness into her, and then again as her body is rewritten into someone else’s. Lenny doesn’t see this, but David does, and this vision of torment sends him over the edge. It’s on now. He’s coming for Farouk, just as soon as he can get out of Lenny’s cell.
- “Apparently, on Legion….”
- “Any shift in reality may signal an attack. If you feel something, say something.”
- “Let’s just say she was a real salty broad and leave it at that.”
- “Nothing’s felt real to me for a very long time.”
ODDS & ENDS
- So many callbacks to previous episodes in this one. That sparkler is the one Amy lit for David on the saddest birthday cupcake of all time.
- Fukuyama is what the Japanese call Mt. Fuji. It means “mountain of wind.” It remains to be seen what winds blow in Admiral Fukuyama’s mind, and what will fall in their wake.
- Clark asks Lenny without any preamble whose body she’s in, as though he already knows which device Farouk!Oliver used on her.
- By delivering Lenny to them, Farouk is thumbing his nose at D3 as well as David: He’s telegraphing which device he stole and warning them their efforts to stop him will be futile.
- Ptonomy’s trouble with his power could be the thing in his head, or it could be a reaction to encountering a use of D3’s secret tech in the wild.
FAN THEORIES, OR WHAT THE HELL I THINK IS GOING ON
- David is hopelessly outclassed and he’s the only one who doesn’t know it yet. He’s bought into Farouk’s framing this as a question of strength, but he doesn’t just have to overpower Farouk; he has to outwit him. So…yeah, that timeline is doomed.
- Farouk’s endgame is to recover his body and then hijack David’s body with that body terraforming gun.
- The sunrise Farouk promised Oliver is David’s apotheosis. It will be a big bang fueled by grief and guilt and rage. In other words, David will scope his powers the same way he has been since Season 1, reacting unthinkingly to an injury inflicted upon someone he loves. He will charge blindly into a situation he has not measured and cannot control, just like when he tried to rescue Amy from D3 and Syd from the lighthouse. He will react exactly as Farouk has conditioned him to: Faced with a red flag, David will charge into the breach without checking for oncoming traffic.
- This is why Oliver will be the one to take Farouk down, possibly by following him into his new body and pulling a Devil with Yellow Eyes on him. Their verbal sparring shows he’s much closer than David to understanding how Farouk’s mind works. If life and death are obscene, what is Farouk’s refusal to submit to the normal course of either? Farouk’s weakness is not in his power (which is vast) or his plotting (which is exquisite), but in his determination to cling to life at any cost. And Oliver’s hint – one plus one – undercuts the false binary Farouk drew earlier in the episode between a god’s math and a god’s poetry. “one plus one” is the opening line to a beat poem:
one plus one is two
two plus two is four
four is no more
(singular of mores)
- If Oliver takes down Farouk instead of David, the reversal will almost redeem Amy’s final and ultimate fridging. Almost. All this poor woman wanted was to help her brother and live her life, and all she ever got to do was suffer in the service of advancing David’s plot until she was reduced to a palimpsest for a reincarnated Lenny. RIP, Amy. We hardly knew ye.
- The dismal palette of Amy’s new house telegraphed pretty heavily that nothing good would happen there.