When watching Legion, it’s important to keep in mind the concept of the unreliable narrator. Jon Hamm is an unreliable narrator, no matter how much he sounds like the epitome of trustworthy patriarchy. David Haller is also an unreliable narrator, even though the audience finds him attractive and likable, and Farouk is supposedly no longer inhabiting his psyche. That means that we can’t trust much that we’re told in Legion.
This paranoid episode tries to determine if there’s anyone the characters and the audience can trust. Unlike season 1, when the sides and main conflicts became clearly established, in this episode it feels like everyone is gearing up for a war they don’t know is coming yet. Uniting Farouk and his body have become a means to an end rather than the end game itself. Jon Hamm’s discussion about perception vs reality vs paying attention to what’s in front of your face seems like it could be the theme of the season.
Of course, there is a 63% chance that I’m lying about all of this, and a 27% chance that this recap will blow up in our faces. But Melanie Bird has awoken from her stupor and is talking back to Fukyama, so something 100% good has already come out of David’s partnership with Farouk. Who am I certain we can trust? Melanie.
The episode opens with a giant multicolored lollipop swirling like a kaleidoscope as Lenny eats it while riding a merry-go-round. David and Oliver are riding as well, while they discuss David providing a diversion for Lenny and Oliver, so that they can get in somewhere. David will provide the diversion and help Farouk find his body, but Farouk has to give him back his friends and no one gets hurt.
Farouk and Lenny look at each other but stay silent, which David takes for agreement to his terms. Still so innocent. After David leaves, Farouk/Oliver meets another version of himself in a huge field of dry grasses to tell himself that David agreed and they’ll go tonight. He reassures his other self that they’ll find “it”.
David, Syd and Ptonomy ride out to a site in the country with some of the Vermillions. David asks Ptonomy what they are, what he should call them, and how many there are. Ptonomy says he thinks they’re androids, because they don’t have any memories for him to read, just data. He finds it soothing. They’re called the Vermillions in universe, and no one knows how many of them there are. (There have been at least 6 listed in the show’s credits.)
He also tells Ptonomy that Fukyama said the plan is to kill Oliver along with Farouk. Ptonomy says, “Let’s make sure we find him first.” David bangs on the roof of the truck for them to stop like it’s urgent, but it’s just because they’ve reached their destination.
They’re in another field, similar to the one Farouk met himself in. The fortune teller’s booth is there. A red music box is sitting on top. A Vermillion says it has a 27% chance of exploding, just as Syd goes to the box and opens it. It’s the kind with a small spinning plastic ballerina inside. Syd remembers watching one like it as a girl. David asks what’s going on, and Syd says it’s just Farouk messing with her mind. Since Farouk isn’t there, they also realize that it was a trick to get them out of Division 3.
Oliver/Farouk and Lenny are storming Division 3 in their own unique way, singing Swinging on a Star and dancing their way down a corridor as they disintegrate the strike teams sent to capture them into black granules. One lucky soul gets turned into a pig instead, per the lyrics of the song. Farouk uses a processed voice on the child guards and tells them to run away. They do, and are spared.
Cary is examining the remains of the orb in his lab and talking to Kerry, so he doesn’t notice the commotion. He says, “It’s advanced, but not Shi’ar. That was my first guess as well. No, I can’t shake the feeling that somehow I constructed it, this orb.”
After stopping by the Catalyst victim storage room, Oliver/Farouk runs into Cary in the corridor. Kerry jumps out to take over defense. Cary falls through the floor into the apartment below, where Lenny finds him. Cary is still holding the spoon from the cup of tea he was stirring when Farouk found him. Lenny taps it so that a bell tone sounds. Cary and especially Kerry freeze like statues. Oliver stares into Kerry’s eyes and she collapses.
David, Syd and Ptonomy find Kerry moments later. They rush to find Cary, who seems okay. When Kerry tries to go back inside of Cary, it doesn’t work. After a minute, he’s absorbed into her, except for an arm that’s left sticking straight out of her chest.
Syd asks David if he can feel whether Farouk and Lenny are gone. He hesitates, then mentally listens for them, and says they’re gone.
Melanie has another session with her blue vapo drug and bejeweled elephant. The drug triggers the memory that Farouk stopped in to talk to her. He wanted to know if the monk from the Mi-go order is in Division 3. When Melanie tells this to Fukyama, they say that’s impossible, because all of the monks were wiped out by The Miser Sunday. David asks about The Miser Sunday, but Melanie says it was before his time.
Melanie: But you’ve heard the same rumors I have.
Fukyama: When Amahl Farouk was defeated, his mind was separated from his body.
Melanie: And his body was then hidden away with the monks.
David: So if Farouk was looking for his body…
Fukyama: A Mi-go monk would know it’s location.
David: So is the monk here or not?
Then the camera flashes between David and Fukyama several times, showing different angles of their heads than we’re used to, and putting both David and Fukyama in front of the forest (green).
The Vermillions announce that there’s a 63% chance that David’s been lying to them about everything, especially taking them out of the building when Farouk came in. Melanie and Syd defend David.
That was some effective deflection on the part of Fukyama/The Vermillions. There is a good chance they know the monk is there and are hiding it from David and friends.
David goes back to the scene of the strike team killings and telepathically watches what happened. Farouk telepathically watches everything currently happening in the facility through his basket.
The Carries are in the lab adjusting to the change in their status. David asks them to put him back in the tank so that he can try to find Farouk by looking for him in a different way, outside of Space/Time, maybe in the past or future. The other voices in David’s head argue with him and call him a liar. Some demand that he tell the Carries the truth.
Cary is worried that David will explode if he tries multidimensional perception, but David trusts Cary to keep him safe. Cary stays on the inside while Kerry searches for the right conditions to enhance David’s perception. Yellow 40 is the correct frequency, combined with flipping the switch with the lightning bolt. David goes through intense sensory distortions, including a pink and purple laser light show and having his body pulled out of proportion. He doesn’t explode, as far as I can tell.
He arrives someplace with a low machine hum in the background, purple neon lights, and time glitching, skipping visual jumps. There’s a porthole showing white bioluminescent jellyfish swimming by, suggesting that they’re deep underwater. He yells “hello” and a door rises to reveal Future Syd, who looks even more bedraggled than the last time.
David asks if she’s real. Syd says, “Possible. Not possible to be here. For you to be here.” David isn’t hearing it, because Syd is his blind spot, but she speaks in riddles and contradictions, letting him fill in the blanks. Her voice also sounds like The Vermillions. She said that it’s possible she’s real, and it’s not possible for him to be there. I don’t think this is the same Syd as the one who came to him in the orb.
David: Well, I’m here. We’re here. I had to see you again. To understand. They killed people. I let them, I helped them, because you said… What?
(Syd hasn’t been letting him near her but has been staring at him.)
Syd: I never though I’d see you again. Like this.
David: Am I dead in the future? Wait, am I dead?
Syd: It’s complicated.
David: Good complicated?
He clutches his head and yelps in pain.
Syd: What? What? What is it?
David: I tried to read your mind.
Syd: I don’t think that works. (There’s a half laugh in her voice.) Because I’m from the…
David: Future, yeah, I got that. Look, I don’t know what happens to me, to us, what disaster or monster, but you came to me because of love. What we have- You trust me. And I trust you. But what you’re asking? To help this thing? I gotta know why.
Syd: It started like any other idea, as an egg. And then the few of us who are left went into hiding. But we don’t have long. It’s coming.
David: What’s coming? Farouk?
Syd: No, he’s dead in my timeline. You killed him.
Syd: About a week from now. In the desert. You bashed his brains in.
David: Huh. Well then, who?
Syd: It doesn’t matter. We need him when things turn.
David: He killed…
Syd: He killed a few. This thing kills everyone. Kills everyone.
David: You’re so…different.
Syd: Time does that to people.
Syd: You’re how you were. In the past, before. Sweet.
David: Can I see you again?
Syd: You brought me. It isn’t my decision.
Syd’s door reopens and she begins to back out of it.
David: Well, if it was your decision, would you like to see me again, like this?
Syd gives a tiny nod “yes”, then the door slides closed in front of her and David returns to consciousness in the tank.
David finished sentences for Syd and made some assumptions there that are surely going to be important in his present day future. She’s not who/what he thinks she is, and she could have been much more helpful. She might be a hostage or a robot, with someone stopping her from speaking freely. One thing is for sure, David is a terrible spy.
It’s parable time again!
A wise man once said, “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.”
For the tick, reality is a product of temperature and butyric acid. Its perception of the world is its reality. The bloodhound has 200 million scent receptors. Its perception of the world is based, fundamentally, on smell. A dog doesn’t reason. A tick never thinks about the universe in any way separate from its biological interactions with the universe. Human beings, on the other hand…
Imagine a boy. From a young age he is taught wrong. (Oliver teaches the boy that green is red and red is green.) Human beings are the only animal that forms ideas about their world. We perceive it, not through our bodies, but through our minds. (Oliver says to the boy-“Remember, Red means stop, green means go.”) We must agree on what is real. (The boy walks out into traffic on a red light because he thinks it means go, and gets hits by a car.) Because of this, we are the only animal on earth that goes mad.
Okay, kids, remember that bit about unreliable narrators at the top of the recap? This is what I’m talking about. The narrator takes a couple of scientific facts and twists them into some kind of outrageous BS that I could rant about for days. Let’s just say that other animals most definitely do go mad and use reason.
I think that each little parable has a key message that we are supposed to take more literally than we realize, and the rest is trash. It’s like a message with a secret code embedded.
The first message has to do with trust and alliances. It’s all about trustworthiness and reliability this season. That’s the reality we need to pay attention to. Who remains trustworthy no matter what, whether the others believe in their loyalty or not?
The second message is the color scheme. Oliver said, “Red means stop, green means go”, but he actually meant green means stop and red means go, since he’d reversed the colors to delude the boy. It’s convoluted, but they’re telling us that red has flipped from being evil to being good. Now green is the color of the enemy. Red is Farouk’s color, as we know. Green is Fukyama’s color, if that bright green forest behind his head is anything to go by. Fukyama needs to be stopped. He may or may not be connected to the one who kills everyone, but he’s a problem.
Back to reality, such as it is.
David runs into Clark outside of Division 3. Clark asks him if he has a minute to talk, and brings him to “their spot” in the restaurant. Clark quickly turns the chat into a hostile interrogation. He knows everything that David’s done and said since the episode began, so he’s either mindlinked with Fukyama or being given extensively detailed reports. He mocks David for selling the Carries a line about what he wanted to do in the tank. Fukyama knows David was lying about what he was going to do in there, but he doesn’t know what David did. He can’t read David’s mind any more than David can read his, even though he’s a telepath. He can, however, follow David and listen to every conversation. David doesn’t pick up on this, and thinks he still has privacy at Division 3.
Clark asks if David found Farouk while he was in the tank. David explains that Farouk hides from him. He’s got other minds inside Oliver with him- Lenny, maybe more. When he feels David looking for him, Farouk brings another mind to the front and hides behind it. Clark interrupts and says that means that David’s either useless or colluding with Farouk.
David: You’re starting to make me mad.
Clark: Oh, are you going to put more office supplies in my face? Burn me alive?
David; That’s…You were the bad guy.
Clark: That’s funny. I thought you were the bad guy.
There it is. I knew Clark was being too nice last week. Telepathically, he says he knows David’s lying, he just doesn’t know why David’s helping Farouk. David telepathically says Clark’s being paranoid.
Clark: Why’d you take us to the desert?
Was Clark himself there? If so, I didn’t notice him. Or is he using the royal “we” and speaking for Fukyama now?
David: I told you. I saw him there. Amahl Farouk. The Shadow King.
Clark: I thought you didn’t know what he looked like.
David: Oliver. He’s in Oliver. That’s who I saw.
Clark: That’s not what you said.
David starts to leave, asking to be left alone to do his job. Clark says okay, but just remember, “We see everything.”
There’s the royal “we” again. David may be sounding a bit too familiar as he discusses Farouk, but Clark is talking like he is Fukyama. How many minds can Fukyama inhabit and control at the same time? Clark was speaking and arguing the way an intelligent child would, as if Fukyama’s brain development was arrested when the machine was implanted.
David goes back to his and Syd’s rooms. There’s an oily delusion trail on the floor as he enters. Syd isn’t there. David sits on the couch where we first saw Syd, then tells himself to remain in control. He tries to contact Farouk/Oliver. David wakes up on the astral plane, represented as the grassy field with the fortune teller booth. David sits at the booth. After a moment, Farouk appears, wearing his own face, asking why David is so sad.
David is disoriented to meet Farouk without any masks, and that Farouk is admitting how much he’s seen and knows. Farouk advises David that he needs to use his powers more, and challenge himself. He tells David, “You decide what is real and what is not. You. Your will. You are the creator of reality.” He continues, saying that the two of them are like gods, bigger than Jesus. David needs to stop sitting at the kiddie table.
Farouk wonders again why David is sad. David tells Farouk to read his mind. Farouk figures out that David feels used and is angry. But who is he angry with, himself or Farouk?
Whatever the answer, his anger is taken out on Farouk, as the scene switches to a wrestling ring and the two men switch to wearing wrestling singlets. They wrestle, then try to outdo each other physically and verbally, talking trash and transforming into successively more powerful fighters. Then they go back to wrestling. David pins Farouk, and says he’ll keep working with Farouk, “But no more violence.” Farouk answers, “Or what? More violence?”
They snap back to the field. David says he doesn’t trust Farouk. Farouk doesn’t need to be trusted, but he demands respect. If David helps him, he’ll be in David’s debt, and he honors his debts. David makes him promise no more killing. He finally agrees. David says he’ll search for the monk at Division 3, then signal Farouk.
Once David leaves, Lenny appears in the field with Farouk. She wants to be released now that Farouk is talking directly to David again. He can keep Oliver and make her a new body. Farouk asks what she’d do with a new body? She’d live hard, then die. Farouk asks, and then what?
Kerry is having a hard time adjusting to being outside all the time. The Carries can’t figure out how to let Cary out. Cary convinces Kerry to sing a favorite song from childhood, and the memory draws him out. Kerry desperately wants Cary to fix them, because she doesn’t want to be out in the world dealing with the routine aspects of life. Cary notices that Kerry’s hair is turning white.
David visits Melanie. She tells him that she always followed Oliver’s dream, since she didn’t have a dream of her own. When Oliver got stuck in the astral plane, she spent her life keeping his dream alive instead of finding a dream of her own. Now she’s older, the dream has died, and there are no more dreams for her.
Melanie: I was wrong, son. When I told you that your ability was a gift. It’s not. It’s an obstacle.
David; An obstacle to what?
Melanie: Happiness. Intimacy. You want my advice? Leave. Now. Take Syd, and find a nice quiet hilltop somewhere. Settle down. Look at the clouds. Live.
David: But what about…
Melanie: What? What about what? Saving the world? The world will be just fine. It always is. I mean things might get worse for a while. maybe people will die. We all die eventually. The real tragedy is forgetting to live. Save yourself, while you still can.
When Melanie begins talking, David still has Farouk’s voice ringing in his ears, telling him that he’s a god. Though Melanie’s words do have an impact, he’s also sitting facing a mirror, seeing a looking glass version of himself. Which version comes to see himself as a god, and which decides to live as a humble man with his woman? Syd said she believed in him because he’s her man. Does he stop being a man and become something more, but not something you’d want to keep around the house?
David finds Syd on the rooftop so that he can tell her about what been going on with him. There have been giant green balloons in the sky in the shape of hands with pointing fingers since last episode. In this scene, they point at David’s head.
Syd is crouched in front of a bird. When David tries to talk to her, her cat telepathically calls him over. Syd and the cat have body swapped again.
David tells her that she’s the one who took him in the orb. After she’s confused and thinks the cat version of her kidnapped him, he asks her to switch back to her own body. Once she’s switched back, he explains that it was future her in the orb and she wanted him to help Farouk. Syd asks practical questions, like how far in the future is her future self from, and why would she do that, and why didn’t he tell her sooner.
David tells her that he’s confused about the whole thing. He thinks there was a plague. (Future Syd never said that.) He has no idea how far in the future. He’s not sure exactly who it’s okay to tell and who it needs to be kept secret from, but he figured multiple versions of her were probably okay to tell.
Syd tells David that the music box was hers as a kid. David says Farouk left that there for her, not David. She says she didn’t like seeing it again, or that Farouk did that to her. David says Future Syd told him to help Farouk, not like him.
Syd agrees that they should help Farouk. David is a bit surprised.
Syd: Don’t you trust me?
David: Her? I mean, you? Yeah. But-
Syd: Like you said, reality’s a choice. How do we start?
David: We find the monk.
The Mi-Go monk is currently hiding in plain sight with the teeth chatterers in Division 3.
Umwelt: the environmental factors, collectively, that are capable of affecting the behaviour of an animal or individual
This episode was directed by Iranian filmmaker Ana Lily Amirpour. Indiewire interviewed her about the episode.
This article on Caffeinegaming.com has a unique, Lovecraftian take on the Mi-go monks and this season’s potential big bad.
I might actually pay to watch a show where Syd playfully f*cks with David’s mind while she’s a cat. Cat Syd is a hoot, and should definitely be her superhero alter ego.
We have at least 5 competing versions of reality in this episode: Melanie’s reality where the only thing that matters is to save yourself and remember to live a normal life, because otherwise your dreams will die; Fukyama and Clark’s version where David is a bad guy, traitor and colluder; Farouk’s opinion that he and David are gods who create reality and who need answer to no one; the narrator’s odd assertion that humans agree on cultural reality, but physical reality is immutable; and Syd’s confusing realities where she and David are committed to each other, so they believe in each other’s realities, no matter what.
David says that all of his memories of Lenny from before the hospital are fake, inserted memories because he didn’t meet her until the hospital.
Syd’s music box played the song Oliver and Lenny were singing, Swinging on a Star. Her room and the box were also very red, Farouk’s color. She also likes cherry pie now, which is red. Has she been collaborating with Farouk? For how long? Was she a plant in the hospital? Are David’s memories of the beginning of his relationship with Syd implanted, too?
Both David and Syd have withheld information- He doesn’t know she’s frequently a cat, while she doesn’t know that her future self was in the orb. They’re still working on reconnecting.
Does Farouk consider Lenny dead? He’s reluctant to let her go, maybe because he enjoys having company? She would’ve been his friend as much as she was David’s, when Farouk was in his mind. Could he end up collecting more minds to keep him company, while arguing that their minds are alive so they aren’t dead?
Lenny and Oliver/Farouk only kill the strike teams at Division 3, who are controlled by Fukyama/Clark (Clark refers to them as his men). They are the only ones with weapons and wearing masks, who directly threaten Farouk and Lenny. The kids and the Summerland people aren’t harmed. Maybe Kerry needs to be on the outside right now because the *ss-kicker needs to be available for protection at all times. Melanie definitely needed something to change. Lenny and Farouk were singing a song about being a better, more moral person as they made their way through the facility. This visit might have only appeared to be an attack.
A drive by visit from Oliver/Farouk puts Melanie in an even worse mood, but brings out a bit of her old passion. Fukyama’s response to it gives Melanie a purpose again. I just want her to realize that it’s not too late for her to create a life for herself, that Oliver didn’t leave of his own free will, and that he could still come back. She should stop building her life around waiting for him, but she also doesn’t have to give up all hope. Farouk seemed to have a soft spot for her.
Was there something different about the person who was changed into a pig, or were Lenny and Farouk just being whimsical to fit the song?
Fukyama sees everything in the facility through his basket filter. Clark says, “We see everything”, suggesting that it’s Fukyama who’s controlling the mutants’ brains, not Farouk. We see Clark from the right, scarred side this week, and there’s no cry for help, just suspicion of collusion. Clark has given up fighting Fukyama. Ptonomy is exhausted, expressing difficulty with people’s memories and preferring to be with robots instead. That was never an issue before. It sounds like something Fukyama, who surrounds himself with robots, would say, but Ptonomy appears to still be himself at least some of the time.
Syd and David continue to trust and be honest with each other, no matter what. That’s been a hallmark of their relationship since its first moments, when he asked her to be his girlfriend and she said yes without hesitation, but said they couldn’t touch, and he agreed without hesitation.
I’m relieved that they’re communicating again, because he was collecting too much important information and really needed someone else to help him process it. He doesn’t do that well on his own. He needs to do a full information dump with Syd and Melanie, about 100 miles from Division 3.
Unless Fukyama has David or the others mentally tagged in some way and distance doesn’t matter. Then they need to use some inside communication method left over from Summerland that Fukyama wouldn’t understand. Melanie needs to remember that she’s the mother and valuable, darn it, and get her act together.
What does the cat symbolize? 9 lives in multiple timelines? Independent thinking without outside interference? (Beware of ideas that are not your own.) Cary has a cat mug in his hand when he meets Oliver. Both Syd and Cary are the practical, organized, grounded thinkers in their partnerships, while their partners are more impulsive and action oriented.
There will be a catastrophic event in about a week in the Legion world, thematically connecting Legion to the MCU. Planet Earth is having a tough month in every corner of the Marvel universe.
Mixed up identities continue to abound. Farouk as Oliver turns a man into a pig. Syd could be either Future Syd, Now Syd, or Cat Syd, and it’s hard to tell which one to listen to. Fukuyama has a honeypot basket on his head and could be anyone, but says he’s part machine. The Vermillions look like people but don’t project memories in the normal way, which suggests they’re machines. David isn’t sure which side he’s on any more, or if there are sides. Kerry and Cary are reversed.
The monk is with the teeth chatterers, but isn’t affected. Why not? Is he the carrier who’s infecting everyone? It’s good to see the IV bags hanging next to the victims. I was wondering how they were being cared for. We’ve seen many of the characters hovering near the door to the victims’ storage room: Melanie, Syd, David, Farouk/Oliver, Ptonomy. Who is helping the monk hide? Fukyama’s clothing looks like it could also be monk’s clothing.
It feels like this season is moving slowly for an 8 episode season. We’re 25% of the way through, and only know a little more than we did last week. Most of this week was confirming clues from last week, without much action.
Is Future David’s mind creating the future underwater habitat somehow, but he can’t maintain it alone, so they need Farouk’s added power? Future Syd didn’t say that David was dead. She implied he’s very different in the future. He could be evil and holding everyone hostage who remains alive, or they could be hiding from their enemies deep under the ocean.
Yellow seems to be Syd’s color, while orange is Melanie’s color. Both colors are related to trustworthiness and reality. If yellow or orange is involved the person is probably telling the truth/we’re probably looking at reality/they are probably trustworthy. Melanie is the voice of hard truths and reason. As noted before, green, especially grass green, is Fukyama’s color. It can have neutral connotations or it can be negative. We learned just how invasive Fukyama’s presence is this week. Fukyama stopped trusting David after the ruse in the desert, and started watching him. Starting with David’s trip to the tank, where the prominent cables were yellow and green, there were yellow/orange and green almost all the time, with David wearing a green shirt, and Syd wearing her yellow shirt.
Fukyama was finding a way to watch everything, which he told David he’d be doing, but David ignored. What we were seeing through David’s eyes was reliable. The delusions were that he could get away with keeping secrets; that Division 3, other than Melanie, Syd, and the Carries, is benign; and that David and Syd’s relationship won’t be affected by whatever is coming.
Those are mundane sounding delusions, but they could have huge ramifications. David and Syd have used the word trust between them too many times and are too sure that nothing can come between them. David ignores too many signs that there are things very wrong at Division 3, including outright warnings. David is already too sure of his powers. Now he has Farouk whispering in his ear that he’s unstoppable, leading him to make even more mistakes.
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