Tuesday, April 10, 2018

REVIEW: 'Legion' - David Meets Farouk's True Face as They Battle Once More in 'Chapter 10'

FX's Legion - Episode 2.02 "Chapter 10"

David meets his oldest enemy.

Legion has offered a number of really effective musings on the nature of identity and reality. David Haller has always been questioning who he really is and if the events he is experiencing are actually real. The show has always put in the effort to explain things to the audience so that they do make sense despite how fantastical some of the production elements can be. The show wants the audience to understand what's real and what's fake even though it still must always be asked. And now, the show is asking whether or not the memories Farouk implanted in David's mind of his past relationship with Lenny are real. They are a complete fabrication. And yet, they are still memories that David holds. He knows that they didn't actually happen. But they are just as real and confusing as so many other aspects of his life. As Narrator Jon Hamm talks about, humanity is the only living organism whose mind is trained to think and examine the world around it. It has built this complex world of understanding what things mean and the acceptance that the rest of the world will agree on that understanding. It features yet another self-contained sequence highlighting just how toxic things would be if anyone decided to step out of that reality. But that doesn't make it any less real to the person at the heart of that story. To him, it's simply the way he sees the world. Right now, David is just trying to make sense of everything. He wants to understand why future Syd asked him to help Farouk find his body. He wants to know that helping Farouk won't ultimately come back to hurt his friends. This is a very complex story that is boiled down to a wonderful action sequence that reminds everyone that Legion is still a superhero show even though it also wants to ask these very profound questions.

And yes, it is a huge risk for David to be working with Farouk. He doesn't know the true devastation he is capable of if he is reunited with his body. Division 3 offers ominous hints about the horror that lies in his wake. But it's all still an abstract idea for David and the audience. Right now, David is willing to help because future Syd told him to. He is able to go off and have these conversations with Lenny and Oliver on the astral plane. It ultimately doesn't matter what's real and what's not. What is important is whether or not David will go along with the plan. He is willing to distract his friends at Division 3 so that Oliver can break in and find the monk who can possibly lead him to Farouk's body. But it's also an action that sets off a lot of red flags about David and whether or not he can be trusted in this war. Division 3 clearly sees Farouk as the enemy. They perceive him as the greatest threat to humanity. If he is reunited with his body, it would be the end of the world. That must be avoided at all costs. And yet, the director and Clark truly believe that David is lying to them. Melanie has the very diplomatic approach of saying it's best not to piss off the one person strong enough to defeat Farouk. But Melanie is also just cautioning David to leave this entire life behind. Reality is only real if there is a life that's worth living. He can go on all of these crazy adventures to save the world. But if there isn't a meaning behind it all, then it's just completely empty.

Of course, David also feels a personal connection to this mission because he wishes to help future Syd in her apocalyptic world. He is able to convince Cary to help him see into the future. All it takes is one more trip into the sensory deprivation tank for David to meet with future Syd again. That's such a cryptic exchange of information as well. This time she can actually communicate to him through words. The amount of time they have together is still short. But it's vital for David to catch up on everything that has happened to this version of Syd. She can share that in a week David will succeed in killing Farouk. He will actually smash his brains in. But in doing so, it will release an even greater threat. An evil that will wipe out most of humanity. An evil that apparently takes future Syd's arm and changes her as a person. David notes that this version of the woman he loves is so different. She can simply say that time changes a person. Time is clearly a big driver of this season. David was missing for a year. And yet, he wants every personal dynamic to be as if he never left. Syd probably changed during that missing time. She had to harden herself in order to cope with David's disappearance. He still wants to place all of his trust in this bond. That's why he's willing to go along with everything this future version of Syd is saying. But he can also sense that something has changed in their dynamic. He may not be dead but he's also not the same as he is now. That's an ominous tease as well - further compounded by the idea that there's the black streak on David's floor as he goes to talk with Farouk again.

It was also inevitable that Farouk wouldn't uphold his end of the bargain in refusing to kill people in exchange for David's help in finding his body. It was a deal made under mistrust and deception. Farouk was still appearing as Lenny and Oliver when he came to Farouk. Now, it's still a lot of fun to see Lenny and Oliver team up to casually turn the soldiers of Division 3 into dust - or a pig or fish. That's such an exciting piece of action/dance choreography at the top of the episode. It's certainly one of the most entertaining sequences of "Chapter 10." There's no real personal cost to Lenny and Oliver making this attack. They don't walk away with any new information about the location of Farouk's body. It just shows the tenuous nature of this deal that David has made. It also serves as some severe reversal of roles with Cary and Kerry. Now, Kerry is the vessel that holds Cary. It's a significant change that has the potential of completely altering their relationship. Kerry is afraid to be outside in the real world for this long. And yet, that's the fate that both of them now have to accept. Their love for each other will probably be strong enough to overcome this serious issue. But it's also completely terrifying to think what might happen to Kerry now that she appears to be aging rapidly. That too is a major change. She has always aged normally while outside of Cary's body. But now that she's the one carrying two souls, it appears to be having a more severe impact on her. That could put everything she cares about into jeopardy while still allowing some stronger personal bonds to flourish amongst the rest of the team. This is a story worth being invested in and intrigued by moving forward.

The other significant sequence of "Chapter 10" comes when David meets Farouk's true face. It's a moment played for its sincerity. Farouk didn't uphold his end of the arrangement. And now, he needs to show his true self in order to form a new relationship with David. Of course, it's still so clear that Farouk understands David so well at this point because of the amount of time he spent in his head. He's the one who knows how to wield his powers even though he recognizes that David is more powerful than he is at the moment. Farouk is still weakened. But that's what makes it so powerful to see just how confident he is in this first interaction. He is smooth and relaxed because he knows this conversation can only be beneficial to what he ultimately wants. However, it still leads to a battle of the minds between the two telepaths. That's such a fun moment. It's ridiculous to see David and Farouk in wrestling singlets. It's a physical fight that David opts for as he thinks that's the only way they can fight. It soon delves into a battle of samurai versus tank and then tank versus smoke before landing on wrestlers again. Farouk being able to pull David out of this projection shows just how much control Farouk has on his own abilities while David is still learning. He sees the two of them as gods who can rule the world together because reality is whatever they create it to be. The world can change based on what they deem to be important. This field in which they meet at the fortune teller booth exists in the real world. Syd and Ptonomy visit it with David as part of the initial distraction. But it's also just a projection for David and Farouk to meet later on - with Farouk easily being able to just pull the zipper out of this world. All of those twists and turns with the mental projections and shady interactions could be a lot for David and the audience to handle. As such, it's important that he comes clean to Syd about what's going on and why he's doing it. She accepts it completely as well. She too has so much trust and faith in their love. Only time will tell if that investment is actually beneficial to all of humanity though.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Chapter 10" was written by Noah Hawley & Nathaniel Halpern and directed by Ana Lily Amirpour.
  • It's fascinating to see that Lenny still exists as an independent character whose mind is still present with Farouk. Her body died at the asylum in the series premiere. Farouk took ahold of that identity to appear to David. But now, he is willing to show his own face. That would make Lenny seem unnecessary. She's desperate for Farouk to build her a new body so she could live again. And yet, that only comes with the realization that that story would still only end in death.
  • It's also important to note that the diversion ultimately feels like a trap because of how personal it gets for Syd. She recognizes the music box at the fortune teller booth. She mentions that it's a reminder of the past that she doesn't like very much. As such, it could be seen as cruel for David to inflict this pain on the woman he loves. Or he was too blind to see what Farouk was actually up to during this exchange.
  • The mustachioed women who speak for Director Fukuyama are given a name by Ptonomy this week - the Vermillion. He also notes that they are actually synthetic androids. As such, there's no telling how many of them there actually are. They just allow the director to see everything. That means he appears to be an all-knowing but extremely mysterious new boss at Division 3.
  • Cary is deconstructing the orb that kidnapped David at the end of last season. He notes that it's "not Shi'ar." For those X-Men fans out there, that's a reference to an alien species. For those people not aware of the full mythology of the comics, it's more important that Cary notes that the device seems like something he built. That makes it seem likely that he still exists in some form in the future with Syd.
  • Future Syd leaves David a little worried about his fate in her reality. If he succeeds in this mission, then this timeline will cease to exist. Instead, things would be operating from a new reality. And yet, her not talking about what happened to him while also admiring what he is like now should probably fuel speculation that David is perhaps responsible for the mass destruction of humanity.