Legion S02E03 "Chapter 11"

As a critic, I enjoy being proven wrong. If I make a false prediction, I am pleased to see how I faltered, as long as the twist makes narrative sense. While I probably should have seen it coming that the man from the end of the last episode was the sought-after monk from the Mi-Go Order and not the world-ending villain predicted by Future Syd, it was nice to see Legion surprise me. Besides, I was sort of right that he’s the cause of the Catalyst. I'm still hoping against hope that Future Syd wasn't talking about Apocalypse.

★ SPOILERS ★

This episode had plenty to like about it, and at times it felt like the series had recaptured some of its old spark. The Narrator opens with a description of "the nocebo effect," which leads to some philosophizing about how the mind shapes reality and the likening of societal disorders to mass hysteria. We barely have time to ponder this or make the obvious connection to the disease afflicting everyone with chattering teeth before being given views of humanity from unfamiliar perspectives as Kerry adjusts to life "outside" Cary, and Syd talks to David about what it's like to be a cat.

David confronts Farouk on the astral plane, while Lenny is going insane from being stuck there. She attempts suicide multiple times while David and Farouk talk about the plans to reunite the latter with his body. Farouk provides some perspective to the fight with David's father, masterfully revisited this episode as the chalkboard exposition from last season reflected in his sunglasses; he describes himself as a king, but more of a strong and just ruler deposed by a self-appointed white savior and transformed into a refugee. This provides some depth and shades of gray to the show's chief antagonist, but, given the current political climate, I'm hoping the word refugee wasn't used carelessly; this is a character that has been an actual monster for most of the show's run.

Farouk describes Future Syd as suicidal, since her timeline will be erased if he and David are successful in preventing whatever Future she represents. He also explains that the monk is actually the one responsible for people disappearing into their own minds, and compares him to Typhoid Mary. (Not that one. Don't get your hopes up.) When David returns, the monk has run roughshod over Division 3 and infected almost everyone inside. Cary finds Kerry and nearly crumples to the ground before trying to reconnect with her in a way that is heartbreaking, funny, and sad.

The sequences from the monk's perspective feel like a return to form for Legion. While they make narrative sense, they are wordless and dreamlike. Full of egg and puzzle imagery in keeping with the show’s motifs, the surreal elements are integrated smoothly and reflect the entire series, far more than the inexplicable cow that shows up towards the end of the episode or Future Syd literally spelling out an objective for David.

Gardens and mazes provide the settings for Ptonomy's and Melanie's mindscapes, respectively, as David frees them. When the monk is found, he eventually kills himself to avoid giving up the location of Farouk’s body. David finds Syd and enters her mind only to find a blizzard. His longing to find her, like Cary finding Kerry earlier, is what makes this show one of the best on television. For all of the flourishes, it makes us care about the characters.

Devin Whitlock's picture
on April 18, 2018

I've enjoyed comics since I was ten years old, but won't reveal how long ago that was. I'm a freelance writer and editor based in Chicago, and can usually be found at a local bar with a book in one hand and a drink in the other. I'm so happy to be contributing to Geeks OUT!