Melanie Bird (Jean Smart) realises she may have made an oopsie.Image: FX
It’s unclear if the latest episode of Legion is positioning itself as social commentary, a “come to Jesus” moment, or just another hour of prep for that final battle we’ve been waiting for all season. But after almost two seasons of this show, what is clear is that Legion‘s female characters are trapped. By love, by “our men.” And I’m ready for them to break free.
“Chapter 14” was supposed to be the penultimate episode of Legion‘s second season before they added a bonus episode. Meaning this was the set-up for that big showdown over Farouk’s body that, honestly, should have happened well before now (I can’t be the only one who’s a little bored of this tug o’ war game they have got going on over a corpse.) But despite being the last hurrah before the final battle, the episode is surprisingly small. It follows the side characters we’ve gotten far-too-little time with this season as they carry out Farouk’s or David’s orders — or, in Lenny’s case, seriously procrastinate before carrying them out.
The episode is designed to show all the pieces coming into place, but it serves another purpose: To show how little agency the women of Legion have over their own lives. Kerry and Cary Loudermilk carry out their first objective, with Cary realising that the psychic orders are from David, and him verbally consenting to help out. Kerry doesn’t consent but is coerced into helping anyway — meaning she’s at the mercy of not one but two men in her life. Meanwhile, Lenny shirks her orders by partying and fucking, leading to a series of confrontations with the ghost of her body’s predecessor, Amy, who says she has to go help David. It’s hard to tell whether this projection is really Amy, a vision from David, or one of Farouk’s tricks. But no matter where you stack the deck, it leads to the same result: Help this man achieve his goals.
Melanie usually sits or smokes — often both at the same time. Image: FX
Of course, the biggest storyline in the episode belongs to Melanie Bird, something that was long overdue. She’s been in the background for most of the season, enveloped in a perpetual cloud of Vapour. Now that she had something to do, she didn’t disappoint. We learn what’s been happening with Melanie through a two-week flashback, which shows how she was slowly taken over by Oliver/Farouk — seduced by love, nostalgia, and a yearning for a relationship that was more imaginary than real. You can tell that part of Melanie hates it. As we saw in her Mind Maze, all she wants is a life and identity outside of her husband’s, and she doesn’t like how she and Syd have to “tag along” or be seen as bitches standing in the way. But drugs aren’t the only addiction out there; love and security can be addictive, too.
This season has focused on loss of control — not just with the female characters, but with everyone in David’s life. For example, Ptonomy didn’t consent to be added to the mainframe. However, there is a distinct way it’s happening to Syd, Melanie, Kerry, and Lenny (who we find out is in love with David). Their loss of control isn’t just chattering teeth and psychic visions: It’s directly tied to the love for the men in their lives. On its face, this is a tired, sexist trope, forcing women to take a backseat for the sake of their men and relationships. But I think — or at least I hope — that Legion knows that.
The final battle over Farouk’s body isn’t the only cliffhanger hanging in the balance here. This story, about women being coerced into the service of their men, comes with its own cliffhanger of sorts — one that will have to be resolved by the end of the season in order to subvert the trope, instead of fall victim to it. A reckoning is on the horizon, and I want to have faith that Legion is ready for it. Will Syd learn from Melanie’s mistakes and do what Melanie’s been unable to, or will she continue to play the supportive girlfriend as David comes out the other side as a hero or a villain? I really hope it’s the former, because, let’s be honest: Sometimes love isn’t enough.