Legion: To Be The Bad Man

Title: Legion Season 2 Episode 11: “Chapter 19”
Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Superhero
Platform: TV – FX
Director: Keith Gordon 
Writer: Noah Hawley 
Rating: TV-MA
Release: June 12, 2018
Cast: Dan Stevens, Rachel Keller, Aubrey Plaza, Bill Irwin, Jean Smart, Jeremie Harris, Amber Midthunder, Jemaine Clement, Hamish Linklater, Navid Negahban
Feature image: Source


“Because she showed him his future.” Melanie Bird – Legion

The two combatants David Haller (Dan Stevens) and Amahl Farouk (Navid Negahban) are on the hill ready to fight. Their fight consists of David and Farouk fighting to and singing Behind Blue Eyes. David’s avatars are green while Farouk’s are red. When it looks like Farouk has gained the upper hand, Lenny Busker (Aubrey Plaza) shoots the Choke. Its vibrations damper the mutants powers. To reward herself for her great shot, Lenny gets high. David begins to beat the crap out of his nemesis.

Three years later, Oliver (Jemaine Clement) and Melanie Bird (Jean Smart) are in the astral plane in Oliver’s old ice cube. Melanie: “Cube sweet cube.” They have hidden their bodies and withdrawn from the world. Oliver thinks the world ended, but Melanie corrects him, it still exists, but they aren’t in the fight any longer. They start dancing to big band music and Oliver starts reading poetry. They are beginning to forget their old friends. Melanie remembers that David portrayed Syd. Oliver: “Why did he turn again, this David person?” Melanie: “Because she showed him his future.”

“What if you’re just another villain, the real villain?” Syd Barrett – Legion

David picks up a rock to bash in Farouk’s head but he changes his mind and decides to continue hitting him. Syd Barrett (Rachel Keller) walks up with a gun. Syd: “We need to talk.”  David: “Sure, after I kill this asshole.” Syd tells him when your girlfriend says we need to talk; you need to talk. David looks up and sees the gun pointed at him. David: “Syd, I’m the good guy. He’s the monster.” Syd: “No. You’re not that…It hit me, what if you’re not the hero. What if you’re just another villain, the real villain?” Syd tells him about seeing who he really is, all the lies he’s told her and his enjoyment of the violence he’s done. Syd: “I’ve seen your true face. You hid it so well.” David tries to deny it, telling her that it’s a Farouk trick. He reminds her he’s being hard and tough, just as she told him he’d have to be for this war. She asks David why does he think Future Syd asked him to find Farouk’s body. David doesn’t know. She tells him because they are going to need Farouk to stop David when he changes and tries to destroy the world. He can’t believe it. Syd: “Guess what you’re not the hero.” David: “Then who is?” Syd: “Me!” Syd fires.

“Don’t listen to him. There’s no God, except you.” DVD – Legion

David wakes up in his childhood bedroom. On the TV is the Narrator (Jon Hamm) talking about a delusion starting as an egg. One of his personalities, Divad, tells him he is delusional. Divad: “You see it now don’t you? You’re the chicken man.” David says he’s not, people told him he had a mental illness but he doesn’t. David: “I know I’m special. A mutant. Omega.” He does good things because of Syd. We see the clip of the first time David sees Syd at Clockwork. Divad: “You know what your delusion is? There you see it. The egg cracked just then.” Divad questions whether Syd makes him good, isn’t he good on his own? Does David think that he’s nothing? Divad: “Do you think God loves you?” DVD: “Don’t listen to him. There’s no God, except you.” His other personality DVD tells him he doesn’t owe the world anything. They are scared of him because they realize he is a god. DVD questions Syd’s value to David, “She is the delusion. The parasite.” He reminds David that she tried to shoot him, Divad agrees with that. Back at the hill, Lenny snaps out of her revelry and sees Syd shooting at David, Lenny is able to shoot the bullet before it hits David. The two bullets colliding together knock both Syd and David out. Before she can finish celebrating her great shot, Division III shows up and surrounds her. Admiral Fukyama (Marc Oka) gets out of his vehicle.

“It’s uh straight to the electric chair for me kid.” Lenny Busker – Legion

Divad and DVD ask David if he knows what he has to do. David: “I know what I have to do.” David gets up and checks on Syd. He takes away her memory of the past few days. When Farouk wakes up, Division III troops, Admiral Fukyama and Cary Loudermilk (Bill Irwin) surround him. Cary [to Farouk]: “This is going to hurt.” He puts a device on his head to neutralize his powers. When he turns it on, it hurts. David wakes up Syd. Syd: “What happened?” David: “You had a bad dream.” Lenny and Farouk are in handcuffs. A Vermillion tells David they will need him to testify against Farouk. David: “Just remember you can’t believe anything he says.” David checks in on Lenny in the van. Lenny: “It’s uh straight to the electric chair for me kid.” David: “God has plans for you.” Lenny: “I don’t believe in God.” David: “I think you do.” Everyone arrives back to Division III headquarters. Syd is tired, David wants to join her but she asks to be alone. Cary reminds him where his room is. We get a montage of Syd and David in their separate rooms. Divad and DVD want David to kill Farouk and end it with Syd. David thinks he can fix things with Syd. He projects a version of himself into her room. David explains that he is a projection and they don’t need the white room now. He kisses her and asks her to run away with him right now. Syd: “You seem different. Maybe it’s me.” She asks what about Farouk’s trial. David says they can leave right after it. David: “Don’t you see it’s over. We won.” They begin having sex. We find out later it’s much more than that.

“It’s really sick what you’re doing to her, don’t you think.” Amahl Farouk – Legion

Another projection of David leaves his body to taunt Farouk in his cell, chained up with the device on his head. David: “How’s it feel, knowing I beat you.” David taunts Farouk about his execution. Farouk: “Oh no they won’t kill me. I am too…valuable.” Division III will want to use him as a weapon. David explains why that won’t happen, “Because, if they don’t kill you tomorrow, I will.” David says goodbye and is fading out when Farouk points out that David is trying to control Syd by making her forget so she will still love him. Farouk: “It’s really sick what you’re doing to her, don’t you think.” David disagrees; this is different. Farouk tells David he tried to do the same thing, David asks sarcastically with one of his toadies; Farouk says no, it was David, since he was a baby. He warns him that she will look at David as he looks at him. After David leaves, Farouk short-circuits the device enough to allow him to talk to a mouse. The mouse scampers over to Syd’s room and tells her what happened to her. Fukyama is surveying the rooms, he sees what is going on in Farouk’s cell and he sees Syd humping air. The Vermillion look alarmed. Cary is in his lab looking at video of the aftermath of the big fight while talking to Kerry (Amber Midthunder). She is describing how Minotaur blood smells. He sees David taking Syd’s memory. Cary: “It’s treachery.”

“You know what, I’m done. You had your chance.” David Haller – Legion

It appears the trial of the Shadow King is about to begin. David is in a good mood dressed in white. When he walks into the trial chamber, Syd is whispering to Cary. Clark (Hamish Linklater) walks up to David to thank him, which David happily accepts and Clark asks him to stand there so they can ask him a few questions. David begins to recognize that something is wrong but before he can do anything, Cary traps him into a force field bubble. The trial is for him. Farouk walks into the chamber in a nice suit as a free man. David tries to break out of the bubble but fails. Syd: “David I know you don’t want to believe me but we want to help you.” The Vermillion report that David is on trial for the future crime of ending the world. David: “This is a mistake; future crimes; things I might do.” Syd explains how sick he is. Melanie had thought that David only appeared mentally ill because of his powers. It turns out that Melanie was wrong; he has both powers and mental illness. He has done many bad things lately. Farouk:  “Seeing you like this…what you have become…a sweet boy undone by revenge. It fills my heart with such sorrow.” David’s voices tell him he should have left earlier and he doesn’t need these people, he’s a god. Syd: “We can help with medicine and therapy.” David: “You want to turn me into something clean, something easy.” David doesn’t think anything is wrong with him and he hasn’t done anything. Syd:  “David, you drugged me and had sex with me.” This sets David into a tailspin. He begins sadly repeating, “I’m a good person. I deserve love.” The Vermillion announce, “You will allow treatment, or we will be forced to terminate.” David’s personality changes after that: “You know what, I’m done. You had your chance.” He now taps into his powers and breaks out of the force field. He rises to the ceiling bathed in light. He shows up in Lenny’s cell. David: “I’m going. Right now. You coming?” Lenny: “Shit yeah. What about blondie?”  David: “There ain’t no Blondie no more.” Division III troops show up at her cell and start firing. The bullets bounce off them. They disappear. Syd and Clark run into the cell. Syd: “What do we do now?” Clark: “Now, we pray.”

The whole season has led to David becoming Legion…the World Killer. The main question is did they do a good job making David the villain. The series was laying down clues, they spent a great deal of time on the concept of delusion, and it paid off with David being completely delusional at the end of the season. They had things happen to him that pushed him in this direction, beginning with Future Syd kidnapping him at the end of last season, and her asking David to help Farouk find his body. Future Syd helped set what happened into motion, by having David keep secrets from the others, creating a divide between him and Syd, and eventually aligning herself with Farouk to stop David. Through her machinations, she helped create the monster she hoped to stop. Farouk killing Amy and transferring her body to Lenny, this intensified David’s quest for revenge, pushing him beyond all moral considerations. The sweet David we’ve known most of the past few seasons would not have tortured Oliver like he did, but his quest for revenge and Syd’s instruction for him to be hard against the apocalypse opened him up to his darker instincts. David like all of us is responsible for his actions, but he had a great deal of help getting there. Therefore, they did set up David becoming a villain.

One of the things they had David do to cement his villainy was rape Syd. It is never out of the realm for any man, even ones we think are good, to rape a woman. We’ve seen this too many times lately, men whom we thought were good actually using their image for being good upstanding men as camouflage for their actions. A sick David using his power to mind control a woman he loved for sex is real to life. [As real as mind control can be.] That doesn’t mean it worked for this show. Legion is one of the most creative shows on TV, one thing it isn’t is grounded. When a superhero show such as Jessica Jones dealt with rape, it felt truthful for the show because the show and its characters feel grounded. The characters on Legion aren’t grounded, most feel shallow, with only the performances of the cast giving them any depth. It is hard to accept the rape scene as ‘real’ when the episode begins with David and Farouk’s fight choreographed to Behind Blue Eyes while they sing and become different animated avatars. The rape scene didn’t fit the tone of this show. Looking at my notes, I didn’t realize there was a rape scene until Syd told David he raped her. It feels like they added the rape scene to make sure we know David is a bad man. Once he’s a rapist, there is no longer any nuance to his character. I don’t know what they are going to do with David next season, but they’ve put him and the show in a spot they might not be able to handle. Is the show going to reflect this new reality, or just do offbeat surreal stuff that doesn’t adequately address what David did?

The music for this episode was varied and in sync with the mood of the scene. David and Farouk engage in a telepathic musical battle to a cover of Behind Blue Eyes by Jeff Russo, Dan Stevens and Navid Negahban. Here’s the original Behind Blue Eyes by The Who. Oliver and Melanie dance to Topsy by Count Basie and his Orchestra. The montage of David and Syd alone in their rooms was covered by Nothin’ In the World Can Stop Me Worryin’ Bout That Girl by The Kinks. When David breaks out Lenny, a cover of Cornflake Girl by Noah Hawley and Jeff Russo plays. Here’s the original Cornflake Girl by Tori Amos.

The season itself was as visually creative as last season. The music underlined and enhanced its scenes. The big weakness for the season were the characters. They did a better job fleshing out Syd, giving Syd her own episode to explore her backstory. For everyone else, you know as much about them now as you did last season. Some characters such as Cary, Kerry, and Clark were not hurt by it. I hope we see more of them next season because their scenes were consistently good. The two characters who were hurt the most were Melanie and Ptonomy. They had Melanie sidelined most of the season in a drug haze, with her only concern being Oliver is gone again and I wasted my life. She only took an active part in the show when she was under Farouk’s control. She had no agency, no purpose the entire season. She was one of the best characters last season, and they made her a nonentity this season. Ptonomy wasn’t in the last three episodes of the season; did anyone miss him? That is the problem, I’m sure no one did. There wasn’t a lot to the character last season, and there was less to him this one. He was under the control of the delusion creature, he physically died, and they hooked him up to the mainframe. He did something in the mainframe for one episode, and we haven’t seen him since. If they don’t know what to do with the character, just write him off the show, it feels like they’ve already done it. Last season was a tight eight episodes, even though they only had three additional episodes this season, they took so many detours in their storylines, that the season lacked momentum. Some of the detours were great; unfortunately, some of the storylines did not lead to anything. The Vermillion, interesting but pointless.

I’m looking forward to David being the big bad, especially with Lenny by his side. I hope that his pursuers in Division III led by Syd are as interesting. How will the show look with Syd being the hero? The show is so centered on David that I worry that the people who aren’t interacting with David won’t have anything interesting to do. See you next year.

Episode: B+

Season: B




Anthony (Kbear!) Nichols | Editor-in-Chief
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