A Look at Legion- Season 2, Episode 8: “Chapter 16”

And now, the most alarming delusion of them all on this week’s Legion.

Chapter 16- To create fear, hold up a mirror- Legion FX Marvel

The episode begins in a desolate land filled with no life. To create fear, a caption reads, hold up a mirror, so says the Mi-Go Monk Adage.

Chapter 16- Syd asks David if they're helping Farouk- Legion FX Marvel

Syd and David discuss the Monk’s death and how they’ll find Farouk’s body. Well, Syd discusses it, but David is too focused on thinking. Syd figures that someone else must know the location, like her future self, but David doesn’t agree. He didn’t ask her, as he’s done. Syd asks if David got in a fight with future Syd, and that’s not the case- she and David just aren’t seeing eye-to-eye.

Syd presses the question, but David wants to find the body and finish this thing. She asks David if they’re helping Farouk. For this, David doesn’t answer. As for the end of the world, let’s focus on one thing at a time.

Chapter 16- Ptonomy in the mainframe when a faceless individual grabs him- Legion FX Marvel

Ptonomy, still in the mainframe, watches this all play out. He approaches the nearby masked individual, who grabs his wrist.

Chapter 16- Brubaker talks to the young admiral- Legion FX Marvel

As information flies by, we join the Admiral, who is watching flashbacks of himself as a young man. As he reads Freud, he’s approached by a man who turns out to be Brubaker from Season One, with David Selby reprising his role. Brubaker asks the young admiral if they can talk in private.

Brubaker was a student at this institution once. The world wasn’t innocent, but more so, their thoughts were their own. That’s not the case now. There are listeners and watchers, creatures from science fiction who can read their minds. People and their secrets are vulnerable.

So the plan is to create a mind that can’t be read- a secret keeper. The young admiral asks why he’s being told this, and it’s because of his parents- he’s the boy who has never been sick and heals. He has a gift. Hell, he is the gift. On his application, he wrote that he’d do anything for his country. So he should do this and keep secrets. And so, the young man undergoes experimentation at the age of 17.

Chapter 16- Experimenting on the young admiral- Legion FX Marvel

Sometime later, as the man rests after he’s been operated on and his skull is exposed, a woman reads a story to him. Nobody anywhere can be really happy, and it’s the same thing as knowledge. When you learn something new, the world becomes richer, she reads.

Chapter 16- Ptonomy finds the monk inside the mainframe- Legion FX Marvel

Ptonomy, following a loose cable, goes through the mainframe and finds the monk who had previously hacked the Admiral. When the monk speaks, he sounds like a horrid dial-up connection, so Ptonomy unplugs him. He then receives a glimpse of the desolate land and then notices that the Vermillion are heading down the halls of Division Three. He presses his hands to the walls and one of the Vermillion malfunctions.

Chapter 16- Ptonomy speaks through the Vermillion to David- Legion FX Marvel

She heads to the dining hall to speak with David. The Vermillion states that this is Ptonomy and doesn’t know how long he can keep control. He states that his mind has been preserved. The monk hacked the admiral’s mind and Ptonomy saw him in the computer. Ptonomy now knows where to find Farouk’s body. But before Ptonomy can state the name, the Vermillion malfunctions. So where is the body? Le Desole.

Chapter 16- Farouk tells the old woman that the professor isn't here- Legion FX Marvel

Then we rejoin Oliver on the road as he heads to a retirement home to speak with a particular woman, who looks to be the same woman from the mainframe. Via telepathy, he asks if the woman can see her in his true form, and she does indeed recognize him as Amahl Farouk. How? A little bird from the future told him where to find her.

She then asks about the professor, but Farouk informs her that the professor isn’t here. Farouk wants the woman to show him where his body is located, and she will, as long as she gets her endless dream.

Chapter 16- Farouk and the old woman go for a drive- Legion FX Marvel

They go on a colorful drive down a psychedelic lane. And up ahead is where the dream begins. With what he needs, Farouk departs, leaving the woman in her endless dream.

Chapter 16- David thinks about Le Desole and whether to tell the others about Farouk's body- Legion FX Marvel

Back at Division Three, David heads back inside the chamber and thinks about the words Le Desole. The voices in David’s mind discuss whether to tell the others about Farouk’s body, but if David does that, then Farouk can read their minds. So who does David tell?

Chapter 16- David strategizes- Legion FX Marvel- Legion FX Marvel

So David weighs his options in a nicely assembled looking tabletop strategy game as everyone goes on the hunt for Farouk’s body.

Chapter 16- David asks Lenny if there's any of Amy left inside of her- Legion FX Marvel

Except for Lenny, who remains in her cell and continues to snap as she conjures up old memories. Time passes until she awakens to find David outside her cell. He joins her, but she doesn’t want him looking at her like she’s in a zoo. David admits that he’s always cared about Lenny, but can’t explain why.

He picks up on Lenny imitating one of Amy’s nervous tics and asks if there’s any bit of his sister left in there. However, Lenny asks David if she’s really here. If she wakes up back with Farouk, that’d be too much to bear. But David assures Lenny that she’s here and he won’t let anything bad happen to her. He then kisses her forehead. When Lenny opens her eyes, David is gone.

Chapter 16- David promises Clark and Cary that this won't hurt- Legion FX Marvel

Following this, he approaches Clark and Cary and snaps his fingers, telling them that this won’t hurt a bit. After a brilliant flash and getting a glimpse of a shiny tuning fork, David is once again gone.

Chapter 16- Syd reads David's goodbye note- Legion FX Marvel

Syd, meanwhile, brews some tea when she goes to open a note at her door- it’s from David, who has gone to kill the monster. As the tea pot screams, Syd checks the compass that David gave her.

Chapter 16- David in the desert while Farouk and Oliver go for a drive- Legion FX Marvel

David then appears in the desolate location and begins walking toward a location far in the distance. At the same time, Oliver shares a poem to Farouk- it’s Allen Ginsberg’s “America.” When will we end the human war, he asks. Perhaps he should ask Magneto, if you ask me. But you didn’t, so let’s move on, shall we?

Chapter 16- Clark and Syd discuss David- Legion FX Marvel

Later that evening, Syd meets Clark and wonders if this is somehow her fault, like maybe she pushed David away. Or the universe has a sick sense of humor. Either way, she’s going after him, though Clark asks if David has done this before. Clark then shares a tale of a man in combat who he loved until his parachute didn’t open.

To Syd, it was romantic to meet David at Clockworks. She needed that to be seen, and then they escaped and went to Summerland. She knows that David is a good person and she doesn’t get what Clark means when he says that David is unwell. Maybe, she believes, David doesn’t know the difference between things real and not real. But not delusional.

Chapter 16- Clark reminds Syd that David could destroy the world if he wanted- Legion FX Marvel

She asks if Clark has ever seen David lie. Neither of them has, but Syd believes that David lies about what he does, what he knows, and yet, she asks what she said before last season, who teaches us to be normal when we’re one of a kind. She loves what she had with David and doesn’t believe that exists anymore.

Clark, resting hand on Syd’s wrist, reminds Syd that David is a powerful mutant who could destroy the world if he wanted to or if someone hurt his feelings. Syd takes that to heart, but she’s still going after David. Not because of what Clark just said, but because love is what they have to save if they’re going to save the world. She’s just not sure that’s what David is doing.

Chapter 16- Melanie overhears Clark and Syd's conversation- Legion FX Marvel

Neither is aware that Melanie is listening just right outside the door…

Chapter 16- Lenny leaves Division Three- Legion FX Marvel

While David continues his journey in the desert, he readies a mark. At the sound of go, Lenny’s cell opens and she’s suddenly free. She leaves the facility and hops onto a motorcycle. When she’s all set, she rides away from Division Three.

Chapter 16- Farouk and Oliver are close- Legion FX Marvel

In the desert, Farouk tells Oliver, now being transported via rickshaw, that David is following, but he’s a day behind. Farouk recognizes this place from before- his body is here. Time and space are relative here. It’s part of the trick to keep Farouk from himself. As for David, a lost boy like him will wander for the rest of his life unless he figures out the secret.

Chapter 16- Syd catches up to David- Legion FX Marvel

David approaches a water pump and tries to get himself a drink. After getting a few drops, a plane passes overhead and someone drops out of it via parachute- it’s Syd. And she’s furious. She demands to know if this is something that future Syd said. She beats on David for a bit and reminds him that she’s on his side, regardless of what future Syd said.

As for this place, it’s Le Desole, and David believes that the monastery they’re searching for is moving. How can a building move? Who knows? Their journey stretches onward and onward with seemingly no end in sight.

Chapter 16- Oliver and Farouk are close- Legion FX Marvel

Farouk and Oliver, meanwhile, are almost at their destination.

Chapter 16- Cave dwellers watch the world- Legion FX Marvel

And now Jon Hamm brings us to the most alarming delusion- the idea that other people and their feelings and needs don’t matter. Imagine a cave where those inside never see the outside world. They just see shadows of said world projected onto the cave’s walls. The world they see in the shadows is not the real world, but it’s real to them. If you showed them the world as it actually is, they would reject it as incomprehensible.

Chapter 16- Chicken or duck- Legion FX Marvel

But what if instead of being in a cave, you’re in the world, but can’t see it because you’re not looking. You trusted that the world you saw through the prism was the real world. So when the girl takes a photo of what is actually a chicken, she thinks that it’s a duck. Instead of the cave allegory, where the shadows are false and the people are real- here, the other people are shadows.

This is the delusion of the narcissism where people believe that they themselves are the only real ones. Their feelings are the only ones that matter because the others are shadows and shadows don’t feel. Because they aren’t real. But what if everyone lived in caves?

Chapter 16- The real world is a scary place- Legion FX Marvel

Then no one would be real, not even you. Unless you woke up one day and left the cave. How strange would the world look after a lifetime of staring at shadows? It is to the now adult woman.

Chapter 16- David and Syd see themselves as skeletons- Legion FX Marvel

Okay, back to reality. Thunder rages as Syd and David continue in the desert. They approach a convenient tent and head inside, where they find a pair of skeletons. Okay, bad choice. So they try again. Still skeletons, but they realize that the pair is actually them. Nothing good could come from this, and Syd realizes that it’s a geographical disorder, which could mean a multitude of things.

David promises that they’ll go home when this is all over- they’ll get a quiet place in the country where they can grow old- and die, as Syd reminds him. David doesn’t believe the story will end like that, though. Syd asks David to do something for him: when the time comes, prove her wrong. As the storm rages, Syd hopes to high heaven that David has a plan.

Chapter 16- Melanie attacks Clark- Legion FX Marvel

Back at Division Three, Clark remembers the search for Farouk’s body in the woods and David snapping his fingers. As he walks the halls, he doesn’t get far before Melanie knocks him out. But let’s rewind a bit as we catch up with Melanie overhearing Oliver/Farouk telling her to bring the body to him.

Chapter 16- Oliver tells Farouk that Melanie is theirs- Legion FX Marvel

Still in the desert, Oliver tells Farouk that Melanie is theirs…well, Farouk’s. It’s almost time.

Chapter 16- The minotaur returns- Legion FX Marvel

Remember that minotaur from Melanie’s high dream? It reappears as the episode comes to a close.

You know, Legion has a habit of inserting creepy imagery and searing it into the brains of its viewers. This happened a lot in the first season and while I don’t think it’s happened as much this time around, when it does happen, it’s freaky. That minotaur being the last thing I saw in the episode meant it would be the thing that haunted me that night. Which it did.

We’ve gotten some strong, character-based episodes this season, but starting with last week’s horror-filled episode and continuing here, Legion ramps the plot up as the hunt for Amahl Farouk’s body hastens. It boggles the mind, this season, how so many plot points and beats that could be written off as irrelevant or filler do indeed end up playing a larger part in the grand scheme of things.

Chapter 16- Farouk tells the old woman that the professor isn't here- Legion FX Marvel

But speaking of payoffs, because I’ll no doubt be all over the place here, let’s talk about ‘The Professor.’ Again, Legion continues to tease and hint at Charles Xavier without saying his name, but I think it works better here than it does for some who wonder why The Gifted doesn’t just say Magneto. The Gifted isn’t your typical comic adaptation or even X-Men adaptation compared to the films.

It’s a world where mutants exist, but the greater themes and displays of power are underplayed for a story squarely focused on David and company. Longtime fans of this material would know what’s meant when the woman and Farouk discuss the Professor, who isn’t here. Given how Legion has painted him as a villain, I’m curious just how Charles would appear on this show.

Still, the mention is nice and it shows that there’s someone else on this show who is familiar with Charles Xavier, which is nice. Even if we don’t see him, I like the hints of and acknowledgement of David’s father.

Chapter 16- David about to eat Farouk's flag- Legion FX Marvel

So much in this episode centered around the idea of control. Whether it’s remaining in, taking, or commanding it, both David and Farouk are trying to remain in control of this race to find the body, more so Farouk having the advantage of staying one step ahead of David and having wider influence with his powers.

Chapter 16- Oliver asks Farouk if David is following them- Legion FX Marvel

Between future Syd leading him to the woman who drove the vehicle with his body, maintaining control over Oliver, presumably having a long-term plan at play with Lenny, and now Melanie, it’s child’s play that Farouk is even entertaining David. He already sent him to the kids’ table, but he’s also not writing David off altogether because he recognizes his potential.

Chapter 16- Melanie under Farouk's control- Legion FX Marvel

In the meantime, he can still exert his influence over Oliver and now Melanie, who has been out of the picture for some time not just in this season, but for the past few episodes in particular. Perhaps she’s just been getting high this entire time, but I like to think she’s been kept out of the spotlight to hide the fact that Farouk’s been taking control of her and she’s just now making a move.

Melanie was the mentor figure and pretty much the main voice for the Summerland folks, but they’re not in the position of needing a mentor while working with Division Three. And with how disillusioned she’s been over losing Oliver yet again, it makes sense that she’d be a tad more withdrawn while Farouk waited for the right moment to strike.

Chapter 16- Melanie attacks Clark- Legion FX Marvel

It makes sense that he’d go after her of all people, not just because of her relationship with Oliver, but of all the people from Division Three or Summerland, I doubt anyone would suspect Melanie of falling under Farouk’s influence. After all, Ptonomy didn’t go after her last week, so perhaps Farouk was already planting the seeds of influence in her mind. It’s all speculation, but interesting to consider.

Chapter 16- David to Syd, one thing at a time- Legion FX Marvel

And using Melanie to transition to the man of the hour, in last season’s finale, Melanie referred to David as a world breaker, and that’s still evident here when, as Clark tells Syd, you have to keep in mind that a powerful mutant like David could destroy the world just if he had a bad day. David is on a mission and he’s already being driven partially by anger at Farouk and at the loss of Amy.

Chapter 16- David and Syd in the tent- Legion FX Marvel

While David has always been the show’s unreliable narrator, it’s very evident to the others now more than ever that he’s hiding something. Now David’s not doing this out of narcissism or because he feels that everyone else’s feelings and needs don’t matter. He acknowledges their abilities and usefulness, but in the end probably believes it best that he do this with as little help as possible.

Chapter 16- David and Syd in the desert- Legion FX Marvel

Like Farouk, David is all about remaining in control of a situation, and he’s not above receiving help from others when it helps his mission. Sure, he left Syd with nothing more than a note, but he still provided her with a compass to find him. Admittedly, he probably wouldn’t have done that had he known that she would come after him in a fit of rage.

Chapter 16- David talks with Lenny- Legion FX Marvel

And he does still free Lenny from Division Three while also admitting that he cares for her. Strange as this may sound, I wonder if David ever considers Lenny, Shadow King or otherwise, his one true friend. He clicks with her on a level that he doesn’t and can’t reach with Syd. Plus, she’s just doing Farouk’s bidding and would love to be free of him if David can help her.

It remains to be seen just what either Farouk or David has in store for Lenny, but the fact that she’s free will be a huge problem for Division Three. Seriously, no one saw her just walk out of the facility?

Chapter 16- Syd tells Clark about her romance with David- Legion FX Marvel

Back to David. There’s a growing rift between him and the others, Syd most of all, and there’s a growing possibility that he could be the villain of this story, given that he’s apparently the one responsible for the apocalypse in future Syd’s time. He could, as Clark believes, burn the whole thing down if he wanted, but Syd refuses to buy into that. Right now, anyway.

Chapter 5- Syd and David touch- Legion FX Marvel

She’s nostalgic for the romance of the mind they had back in Season One, and it’s nice on both her and the show’s part to remember how their bond started and how it’s developed, rather than not acknowledging how this romance began. Syd still loves David, but she recognizes that he’s not the same man he once was and he’s distancing himself from her.

Chapter 16- Syd hits David- Legion FX Marvel

It’s no surprise, then, that she’d go after him the way that she did and remind him that she’s on his side. Though I wonder if Syd held back on just not kicking David’s ass altogether. They are in the desert. No point in wearing yourself out when you have no idea how long you’ll be walking after this moving building. I’m curious how she got the jet, though. Did she steal the Blackbird jet from the X-Men?

Anyway, Syd is more cynical than David, who would have every reason to be pessimistic. Like her mother before her, she believes that she pushes a good man away. More than that, she doesn’t see a happy ending to all of this. She wants David to prove her and everybody else wrong. That he isn’t the villain of this story and has a real plan to rid the world of Farouk for good. She can only hope that David comes through.

Like before, I like how proactive Syd is here. She’s not resting on her laurels while David chases after Farouk. She got a damn jet, caught up to him in no time, and gave him a light pounding to remind him that, despite all his efforts to push people away, they want the same thing, albeit with different methods. Either way, she pushes things forward rather than waiting for them to happen. Good for Syd.

Chapter 16- Seeing the world through the prism- Legion FX Marvel

I do want to talk about Jon Hamm’s lesson of the week, because it’s very timely in our modern, social-media driven world. One could look at this as being preachy, indulgent, and an indictment on our obsession with media, but I don’t see it that way, in particular because that’s just one part of the lesson. It’s about how we overlook or outright don’t acknowledge the feelings or needs of others.

If you’ve spent your life holed up in one location, seeing things through your particular prism, then you can’t fathom the notion of life being anything other than how you perceive it. That is, as Jon Hamm says, the delusion of narcissism. Everything that we believe is real must be the real scenario and nothing else. Who would willingly accept another point of view after being confident for so long in the reality that they’ve created?

Chapter 16- David tells Lenny that she's really at Division Three, not with Farouk- Legion FX Marvel

I don’t entirely believe that David falls into this category, but do believe that he’d have trouble accepting a reality where he’s the villain of the story, instead of fighting against that notion. Granted, future Syd never indicated that to him, but he’s aware how much people believe him to be a threat.

And with the race still on and Syd wanting him to prove her wrong, he has even more of a motivation to prevent Farouk from finding his body. The race continues, but with Melanie now under Farouk’s control, the mutants and folks at Division Three will soon have more problems on their hands. Either way, the hunt continues. See you next week and thanks for reading.

Here’s the preview for next week’s episode. Has more Lenny, so that’s always a good thing:

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