Legion delights in manipulating the way reality is perceived both by its characters and its audience. There are truths and falsehoods woven throughout the series’ interconnected narratives, and the show actively wants it to be difficult to differentiate between the two.
Lenny Busker (Aubrey Plaza) in an interesting Division 3 interrogation room. Image: FX
Though Division 3 is still reeling from the mysterious attack that left most of Legion‘s power players trapped in mazes within their own minds, the organisation’s presented with an even more inexplicable turn of events which serve as a reminder of just how dangerous the Shadow King is. Lenny Busker’s back in the flesh, and as we see in “Chapter 13”, her corporeal resurrection reveals a number of grim truths about just what David Haller’s up against. Then again, maybe it’s all lies.
In Marvel’s comics, it’s fairly common for “dead” people whose consciousnesses have been separated from their bodies to return to the world of the living, with the help of a new body that’s either stolen from someone else or fashioned out of the raw materials that comprise the human form.
In the world of Legion, however, that sort of thing is (understandably) considered to be beyond the realm of possibility – but that’s exactly the story Lenny leads with in a roundabout way as she’s being investigated by Division 3’s interrogator, Clark.
Though Lenny’s jonesing for a fix of literally anything is all she wants to talk about, she does tell Clark she managed to escape the Shadow King’s psychic prison which, to be fair, is the sort of thing that happens in Legion, but Clark is unconvinced of her story given the sheer absurdity of it all.
Despite all of the mind-bending and awesome powers that Legion‘s mutants have demonstrated, recreating a body such as Lenny’s – which was fused into a wall in Clockworks last season – isn’t something that Clark, David or anyone at Division 3 can explain, and so they endeavour to learn more from her.
Clark interrogating Lenny at Division 3. Image: FX
Legion‘s first season ultimately revealed that the Lenny that David knew during his time at Clockworks was actually a guise the Shadow King used to stay close and take advantage of his telepathic rival. By rewriting David’s memories of his friend Benny, a middle-aged man, Farouk was able to convince him that he’d known Lenny for years, which makes the story Lenny tells in “Chapter 13” so curious.
During her interrogation with Clark, Lenny shares details of her supposed past from long before she became the Shadow King’s “puppet”, and describes growing up in a broken home where her grandmother forced her to drink alcohol as a child.
Though Clark doesn’t initially buy Lenny’s tale and accurately susses out that she’s merely biding her time until she can speak with David, her warning that the end of the world is near gives him pause. You get the feeling that in that particular moment, he’s considering whether she’s telling the truth.
Given Lenny’s past (and perhaps present) mental connection to the Shadow King, one imagines that people would know better than to just go mucking about in her mind. But bad ideas are what drive plots forward, so Ptonomy takes a crack at deciphering the drug addict’s riddles through her memories and has a horrifying lapse of his own memory in the process – Lenny had brown eyes, but this new Lenny-shaped body is sporting blue peepers.
The glimpses of her past Ptonomy witnesses align with her story, but something about her mindscape is off and, for a moment, Legion gives us the first look at just what Admiral Fukuyama’s been hiding under that basket of his, and it looks kind of familiar.
A, perhaps, grownup version of that tiny, horrifying bird that walked into Ptonomy’s ear? Image: FX
Ironically, the subplot of “Chapter 13” corroborates Lenny’s story in a rather straightforward way, but no one but Farouk himself and Oliver are present for it, emphasising the episode’s overarching theme about the ways that our ideas about the truth are shaped by our perceptions of reality. What Farouk and Oliver’s mission lacks in complexity, it makes up for in pure horror.
Though we’ve been led to believe that Farouk’s been searching for his own body this season, it turns out that before he locates his own corpse, he needs Lenny’s remains in order to, from the looks of it, send David a very specific message.
When David finally sits down to talk with Lenny, he’s confused to discover that she might not be the Shadow King’s plant the way that everyone at Division 3 initially assumed. She’s very much her own person who can be shielded from Farouk, but her very existence is a threatening message from him that she spells out for David.
Armed with a piece of Lenny’s flesh from her old, decaying body and a gun that can rewrite the genetic composition of a living person, the Shadow King and Farouk break into David’s sister’s house (she’s been living under guard in a secret location since last season), murder her husband, and proceed to use the weapon on her to transform her body into a copy of Lenny’s. The process is agonising and monstrous and, while Oliver wants no part of it, Farouk delights in the torture.
There’s definitely more involved in the Shadow King’s plan, but “Chapter 13”, a relatively small and self-contained episode compared to the rest of the season, is really all about the villain letting David know that he can and will tear through his life and destroy the people he loves. Bringing Lenny back is a long, convoluted, awful way to tell your enemy that you’re coming for them, but to be fair, that’s exactly the kind of game the Shadow King likes to play.
The Shadow King admiring his work. Image: FX
- Seriously, what the actual hell is that weird chicken thing under the basket supposed to be really? How wild would it be if, in the end, it turns out that Legion‘s biggest bad is Beak or Sauron?
- Lenny describing how the Shadow King keeps his puppets like herself and Oliver in drawers he can send them to at will is interesting because it suggests that he’s the one with legions of psyches in his mind, not David. It’s a significant swapping of character traits from Marvel’s comics, but it definitely works within the context of the show.
- What I’m really confused about, though, is whether the original Lenny’s body was “real” or if it was another one of the Shadow King’s creations.
- Towards the end of the episode when the camera zooms in on Oliver’s face, you can see that there’s something in his eyes. The image is incredibly small, but it’s clearly a man’s face. The question is whose face it is. It could very well be Farouk, but if you squint it kind of looks like a bald, middle aged white guy in a suit. A Charles Xavier type, if you will.
Earlier in the episode, Oliver mentions that he thinks he’s figured out Farouk’s weakness, and while it’d be quite the twist if Legion full-on brought Xavier back as Oliver’s co-pilot, there’s definitely precedent for that sort of thing happening with the X-Men’s leader.