This week was supposed to be the Legion season finale, at least until an extra episode was tacked on last month. I'd heard rumours this meant they were ending the series, but given how FX just renewed Legion for a third season (a while after all the other networks made their decisions), clearly that isn't the case. So I'm guessing this episode was the bonus content - or at least it helped stretch out the season finale into a two-parter. The result is a deeper character dive without a lot of action. And a clip show to boot.
Love how the crystal ball reflects the "X" shape. Image: FX
Legion showrunner Noah Hawley has been teasing David's (Dan Stevens) possible transformation into his comic book counterpart - Legion, The World Eater - for most of season two. This week's episode, "Chapter 18", even gazes into the crystal ball to show us what that would be like, classic Marvel getup and all.
While it's certainly tempting, and not out of the ordinary for a superhero series (like we recently saw with Fox's The Gifted), I'm still on the fence about it.
Much of the episode focuses on Syd (Rachel Keller). After being dragged down a giant hole sitting next to a drain stopper by a Farouk-controlled Melanie Bird - don't ask, it's Legion - she's confronted with the harsh truth about David, or at least a version of it.
Melanie, putting on this weird "kill all men" front (Jean Smart is still acting her arse off), shows Syd that her boyfriend may be becoming a villain. Not only has David been lying to her, but he relishes in the torment of others, with or without Farouk's influence. For instance, David spends most of his time in this episode torturing Oliver with a drill. It isn't pretty.
Melanie-Farouk (Jean Smart) is basically an anti-feminist crafted stereotype at this point. Image: FX
Syd is emotionally destroyed, journeying through the stages of grief until she settles at a mixture of acceptance and anger. It's decided: She's going to stop David before he eats the world. I like that she's able to come to that decision, but there's still something unsettling about how.
Last week's episode showed how badly the series' female characters get screwed over, placing them at the mercy of the men in their lives. I've been hoping the series has been building to something that would subvert the trope, but this episode only reinforced it. If Syd stops David, it's because a man-controlling-a-woman told her to. If she chooses love instead, it's because of another man.
The series has written her into a box where her relationship dominates her choices, and I don't see what kind of choice Syd could make that would be truly independent. Who is she outside of her relationship with David? That said, Hawley did suggest that Syd could become the villain, which would definitely be a welcome surprise.
Speaking of the man in her life, let's talk about David. Before season two premiered, Hawley said much of the season would focus on David's possible transformation into a supervillain, but that it isn't clear whether he chooses the side of good or evil.
Right now, Legion is leaning heavily into David's journey to the dark side. He tortures Oliver, lording over his broken body while lounging on a throne. Plus, he's obsessed with getting revenge - not only for what Farouk did to him, but also his father. In the final moments of the episode, David recites The World's Angriest Boy in the World as he gets ready for a final showdown with Farouk. He is ready to pounce.
But, as we've seen in this episode, time may not be set in stone. In earlier episodes, Future Syd warns that the world would be destroyed if Farouk wasn't reunited with his body, paving the way for David to become Legion. But as we see here, Farouk has been reunited with his body, meaning time has already been changed.
Not only that, but the impression I got was the monastery desert area of Le Désolé is fluid, and could contains multiple realities and possibilities. Remember when David and Syd discovered their skeletons? It could be tricks of the mind or we could find out that literally none of this week's episode even happened.
Regardless, we have a week to find out whether this season leaves us with a World Eater, or the David we know and love. I don't think David's going to go full villain, at least not this season, but I'm keen to see what happens next!