Last night’s episode on Legion revealed more of what David has planned for the Shadow King and built towards the arch-rivals’ final confrontation this season. It did so by focusing on the supporting characters that were only seen sparingly in ‘Chapter 16’, in a slow-paced story that both moves the plot forward and allows for significant character development.
The bulk of the first half of the episode focused on Melanie Bird. Opening with a despondent Melanie, who has taken to repeatedly questioning the existence of those around her and the extent of Farouk’s abilities, ‘Chapter 17’ starts on a dark note. Ever since her husband became possessed by the Shadow King, Mrs. Bird has been on a downward spiral that has culminated with her aiding the Farouk in his bid to regain possession of his corporeal form. Melanie’s support of his plan is due to his manipulation of her mind, as Farouk weakened her mental defenses by having Oliver appear to her in a dream. This was a powerful way to begin the episode and explained the character’s action in the previous chapter, when she assaulted Clark when he was walking through the compound’s lower levels. The song and dance routine that occurred around this time was haunting and perfectly frames her state if mind. Her difficulty in discerning what in her immediate environment is truly real mirrors the affect the Shadow King had on David in the first season.
David’s plan of revenge against Farouk is expanded upon, as the psychic suggestions he left in the minds of his allies are starting to come to fruition. Cary and Kerry were instructed by David to bring a weapon to a specific location as part of the larger scheme. The pair’s reaction to this was funny and added some levity to a generally dark episode.
This weapon was ultimately retrieved by Lenny, as David left a mental suggestion in her mind as well. Between excellent scripts and Plaza’s impeccable performance, Lenny is one of the most entertaining characters in Legion season 2. In an attempt to fall back into her hedonistic ways from times past, Lenny was confronted by both Amy and David’s mental suggestion. Having Amy remain in their shared body should make for some interesting story telling opportunities considering how different the two are from each other. Faced with her feelings for David and the growth she’s experienced over the last year, Lenny ultimately chooses to help him. This completed another part of David’s plan, the full scope of which is not known as of yet.
Considering that David and Syd spent much of ‘Chapter 16’ solidifying their bond, the writers are clearly setting up a love triangle of sorts by revealing that Lenny has feelings for David in the very next episode. It seems that any progress they made as a couple will be challenged by Lenny, and hopefully Legion takes an imaginative approach to this story idea to avoid the cliche soap opera approach many other shows seem to take.
Lenny’s night if partying and debauchery makes for the most visually creative part of the episode, with kaleidoscope imagery and a sensual haze created by the cinematography. The episode’s direction perfectly conveys the atmosphere of the scene and Lenny’s state of mind at that moment.
The non-linear approach to the episode builds suspense, as the viewer is shown the successful results of David’s mental suggestions before any of the characters involved take action. Bridging these moments in time made for an engaging narrative that pulled the reader in my crafting mysteries out of this non-transitional approach to the story.
A complex episode filled with great performances and beautiful imagery.