Legion has always been a show about ideas in addition to its surreal images and the occasional spectacle. One could be forgiven for forgetting that this is a superhero show, even over the course of episodes that featured body swapping and psychic battles. Unfortunately, while Jon Hamm's Narrator may intone about how perception of the universe is unique to humans and illustrate that with a story of a child learning a Bad Idea, underlining this episode's theme of childhood, the show has fallen back on familiar beats of superhero genre storytelling. This in and of itself isn't bad, but I can't help but wonder if the show has become less compelling despite its abundance of new mysteries.
We begin with a carousel superimposed on a child's giant lollipop. Lenny is licking the lollipop and riding the carousel with David and Oliver, and we learn that the three of them are working together. This leads to a trip to the desert, and I had hope that I was going to be proven wrong last week. Even though the characters had just spelled out how this was a distraction for a raid on Division 3 for Oliver and Lenny, I’ll admit that I expected them to find Farouk's body, ending the idea that this season would be about a hunt or race or chase.
That raid does provide some genuine horror, with more of Division 3's soldiers reduced to ash and Carey/Kerry losing their powers in a way that adds David Cronenberg to the list of directors who influence Legion. It also leads to more exposition, as the Vermillions explain that a monk of the Mi-Go order would know the location of Farouk's body and something about Miser Sunday, and I do not look forward to having friends put forth their theories to me about who those might be in the comics.
Carey and Kerry eventually fix their predicament with a song from childhood, a memory that seems to inspire joy in them while lit only with the glow from a television screen. This is in contrast to the brightly-lit memory Syd has in the desert when confronted with an old music box she used to own. It clearly dredges up something painful, and hopefully we’ll learn more about that.
The big set piece this episode is the confrontation between David and Farouk himself, appearing as a dapper multilingual gentleman instead of a hideous creature. Last week's dance battle is replaced with a "homoerotic" wrestling match with the same music and a tank brought to a sword fight, and it looks like David might have to grapple with the ideas that Farouk places in his head about how they are gods among men more than anything else. After David leaves, the Shadow King literally unzips reality for Lenny who is pining to return to life, and asks her an ominous question.
I didn't mention Melanie last week, mostly because I felt she was still being treated like the fragile damsel type she became towards the end of last season. There's still some of that, but she asserts herself nicely in this episode towards Admiral Fukyama. She also gives David a third option to whether or not he should help Farouk: quitting. She encourages him to run away with Syd, "find a mountaintop," and look at the sky. David certainly appears to consider it, if only momentarily.
He also manages to talk to Future Syd again, who is missing an arm and sounding suspiciously like one of the Vermillions while displaying their immunity to his powers. Is that because she's from the future, as she suggests? I'm sure we'll find out. She warns again of a greater threat, and we end the episode with who that ostensibly is: the bald man with the smeared forehead and the moving eyes we glimpsed in the nightclub. I was relieved that it wasn't Apocalypse.