Season 2 Episodes 4 & 5
Syd takes center stage in ‘Chapter 12’ as David is lead on a psychic journey through his girlfriend’s own maze of memories, in one of the shows most emotional and genuinely moving episodes yet. Following last week’s dive into Ptonomy and Melanie’s mazes after they were infected by the monk, writers Noah Hawley and Nathaniel Halpern throw the current overarching plot out of the window to focus entirely on Syd’s history and origin.
In this episode, it seems as though the writers are directly addressing criticisms about David and Syd’s perceived ‘shallow’ relationship, as well as the lack of Syd’s background, by using a looped narrative to show us the key events in her childhood. In some beautifully shot montages we see her mum comforting her as a child by using a pillow between them, a young Syd dressing up in other’s peoples clothes, trying to guess their identities cutting to a teenage Syd fighting off bullies and trying to feel something by cutting herself with a dull blade, set to the sounds of Bon Iver, The National, Tame Impala and a cover of Cream’s ‘White Room.’ The episode highlights how her mutant powers have affected her connections by stripping her of one of the most basic human experiences – physical contact.
David originally traveled into Syd’s mind to try and save her from her maze, but everyone who was infected has now woken – in an interesting twist Syd won’t let him leave until he works out what he’s trying to tell her. David repeatedly travels further and further into her darkest and most painful memories to try and decipher the message, but can’t seem to look deep enough, each time he guesses incorrectly he ends up returning to a museum exhibit of Egon Schiele’s artwork. That’s until he focuses on the book that young Syd is reading throughout the flashbacks, ‘The Ring of Brightest Angels Around Heaven’.
“God loves the sinners best because our fire burns bright,” she tells David. This whole entire time Syd has been trying to show David that the trauma and pain in her life have shaped her and made her become a stronger person, a survivor. Love isn’t how they’re going to win this upcoming battle, she explains, he must take his pain and suffering and use it as a shield, to become a warrior. David and Syd then awaken to the worrying return of Lenny in her physical body being taken into Division 3 custody. Just what is Amahl Farouk planning?
‘Chapter 12’ is a truly moving journey about pain and trauma and how these experiences can shape and strengthen you – huge credit to Noah Hawley and Nathaniel Halpern for the bold move to halt the current narrative in favor of a much needed standalone episode focusing on Syd’s character development. Legion continues to the boldest and most creative show on television, and I’m truly hooked!
Following the surprise ending of ‘Chapter 12’ Lenny Busker is back IRL, seemingly resurrected by the Shadow King, leading David and Division 3 to become worried, very worried. Just what are Amahl Farouk’s motives for releasing Lenny and giving her a body? And whose body really is it? This episode is a masterclass in building tension and intrigue; Hawley slyly moves the key pieces into place, hitting us with a final revelation that will no doubt have huge implications in the battle to come.
In one of the most disorientating camera sequences ever, ‘Chapter 12’ kicks off with Lenny locked in an intriguing upside-down room in the Division 3 headquarters, and is interrogated by Clark, Ptonomy, and eventually David. Lenny tries to convince them that she’s now on their side and blames the whole ‘evil Lenny’ act on trying to appease the Shadow King. She tries to paint herself as the victim to Clark and David as she recounts her traumatic past; the time spent with her alcoholic grandmother, her parents’ divorce and her father’s obsession with preteen porn. The thing about Lenny though is that she’s just as unreliable as David, is she really telling the truth about her past, or simply making up an alternate identity? It really doesn’t help that her eyes constantly dart around the room and she’s shifting the entire time she’s talking to her interrogator.
Whilst speaking with Ptonomy she finally reveals that she was sent to deliver a message – that the Shadow King knows where his body is and once he gets it, he’s coming after them. Ptonomy is the first person to realize that her eye color has changed, noting that they were originally brown, and asks just whose body is she in?! Whilst trying to access Lenny’s memories, in a nightmarish scene Ptonomy sees that behind Admiral Fukuyama’s basket is a giant freakish chicken creature! Things get even weirder as David talks to his old friend, trying to decipher with both his questions and powers who she really is, but captures a flash of his own childhood memories with his dog King. This glimpse into his past sends David’s World tumbling as he connects the dots and realizes the body infant of him is his sisters, and that the Shadow King has killed her to replace her consciousness with Lenny’s. Amy’s death signals that the truce between the Shadow King and David is well and truly over, will this be the catalyst that sends David over the edge, creating the apocalyptic future that Syd has warned him about?
Meanwhile, Oliver and Farouk discuss morality and reality like two old friends whilst driving to Lenny’s burial site, but Oliver quickly makes it clear to Farouk that he plans on killing him for what he’s done. We discover that Oliver’s attack on Division 3’s headquarters was orchestrated to acquire a device that would transform Amy’s body and replace her consciousness with Lenny. This horrific body horror scene was pretty chilling as Oliver embraces Farouk’s power and seems so calm about what he’s doing. There’s a real stillness to this event, it’s only Amy’s screams that really break the silence. Surely there would have been more emotional weight to the scene if we’d have checked in with Amy earlier on the in the episode though?
‘Chapter 12’is another emotional gut punch as David suffers one more blow thanks to Farouk and Oliver. I can’t praise Aubrey Plaza enough in this show, she really is a scene stealer, and it’s so good to see her back in this universe. This episode has raised a number of questions though, most importantly why has Farouk now turned on David? Also when and how did he find out where his original body is located?! I really hope we find out some answers soon as there definitely has been a lack of narrative momentum over the past couple of episodes!