If Chapter 9 of Legion created confusion for confusion’s sake, Chapter 10 is a straight-ahead, no-nonsense episode, relatively speaking. Picking up just after the premiere, season 2’s second episode finds its way to explaining some plot points and clarifying some character motivations, all while formally introducing David to the villain he hasn’t stopped meeting since infancy. Fear not, though. More coherent narrative motion doesn’t mean it’s any less of a trip; the episode opens with a journey through a kaleidoscopic lollypop being eaten by a mental projection of a dead drug addict who is riding a telepathically manufactured carousel. Yep.
David, fresh from his vivid recollection of his orb abduction and ready to place his full, blind trust in the mute Future Syd he met there, has arranged a mental meeting with Farouk’s puppet emissaries, Lenny and Oliver. The plan they arrange on the aforementioned carousel is for David to create a diversion that will allow Farouk to enter Division 3 to search for something.
And enter Division 3 Farouk does. While David leads Ptonomy, Syd and a few of the Vermilion (those countless mustached androids who make up a part of whatever Admiral Fukuyama is) into the desert on a wild goose chase, Farouk brings Oliver and Lenny to D3 headquarters. Despite David’s stipulation that no one should get hurt, Farouk wreaks considerable havoc in the compound. At least it’s a light-hearted and goreless killing spree compared to the one the Shadow King committed when he raided Division 3 as David in season 1.
Oliver and Lenny dance down the halls of D3 to the tune of “Swinging On a Star,” disintegrating all the adult guards they see, with the exception of a pair of musically-mandated transmogrifications. (Would you rather be a pig? Would you rather be a fish?) Interestingly, in his first real act of mercy of the series, Farouk doesn’t obliterate Division 3’s child soldiers, instead convincing them to run away. This could be a result of some kind of intervention on Oliver’s part, or it could be proof that Farouk isn’t actually evil all the way to the core, which would be a promising sign given the importance Future Syd has placed on recruiting him as an ally.
Also of interest during the attack on D3 is Farouk’s interaction with Cary and Kerry. First, he separates the two, and then using a flick of the spoon Cary pulls to defend himself, Farouk disrupts the resonance between them so they can’t properly recombine. When Kerry tries to go home after Farouk’s invasion, the process is reversed, and Cary winds up, after a little bit of an extra-limb mishap, inside Kerry.
Later on, Cary manages to get out of Kerry by convincing her to sing the tra-la-la theme song from The Banana Splits, (because they need to split, get it?) and Kerry undergoes some premature hair whitening. Before that separation, though, Kerry has to guide David through a very dangerous exercise in “multi-dimensional perception.”
In the aftermath of all the destruction, David is desperate to find out what Farouk was after and why Future Syd asked him to help Farouk in the first place. These may have been good questions to ask before opening the gates of his headquarters to his lifelong arch-nemesis, but David, it seems, is still learning what it means to make his own decisions.
Oliver managed to telepathically let Melanie know that Farouk was searching for a person at Division 3: a monk of the eradicated order that had been charged with hiding the Shadow King’s body after it was separated from his mind.
To find out why helping Farouk find this monk is a good idea, David asks Cary, who is still trapped in Kerry, to devise a way for him to perceive the world outside of space and time, ostensibly to continue hunting Farouk, but really so he can pay Future Syd another visit.
This episode continues to make clear that most of Division 3 distrusts David, including David himself. His own voice badgers him inside his head as he attempts to conceal his intentions regarding Future Syd and Farouk from Cary and Kerry. Part of the reason he can’t bring himself to explain why he is or isn’t helping the Shadow King is because he doesn’t know any better than they do.
Without understanding the real reason for David’s interest in seeing the future, Cary agrees to help, but he warns that the modifications to his machine will be dangerous and that David “could explode.” It’s a risk David is wiling to take to find out why he just let a bunch of people die.
David gets a little bent out of shape by the force of the machine, but he manages to stave off total explosion and reach a glitchy room where the haggard, one-armed Syd of the future is pulled in to meet him. This time, luckily, she can speak.
The most important thing Future Syd tells David is that something far worse than the Shadow King is coming, and that the only chance they have to stop it is to leave Farouk alive and hope for his help. To console David over the lives he has allowed Farouk to take at D3, Future Syd explains that whatever it is that’s coming “kills everyone” in her timeline. By her logic, the handful of deaths and livestock transformations that come from giving Farouk what he wants are an easy price to pay for preserving all life around the world. She also mentions that in her timeline, in about a week from David’s present, he kills Farouk by smashing his head out in the desert. What she can’t say is whether or not David manages to survive.
“It’s complicated,” Future Syd says on the topic, in what could be construed as something of an understatement.
Armed with this new information, David is ready, once again, to meet with Farouk to arrange the terms of his assistance. After a quick diner date in which Clark tells David that he’s on to him, David gives himself a little pep talk to prepare for a confrontation with Farouk.
Sending his mind to a fortune teller’s stand in the desert, David expects to meet Farouk in the form of Oliver, but Farouk takes the opportunity to drop the pretense of disguise. For the first time, David sees the slick, multi-lingual Amahl Farouk, face to astral-projected face. David is there to reiterate his demand that no one else gets hurt in their scheme, but Farouk is looking for a sparring partner.
Farouk’s first line of attack is philosophical. He tries to convince David that the two of them are like gods, because they have the ability to create reality. This argument harkens back to an aside in which a narrator explains that reality, for humans, must be agreed upon, rather than simply experienced through the senses. Since David and Farouk have the power to control people’s perception, they, by extension, control their collective reality.
From there, the battle of wits between the two takes a more literal turn, beginning as a wrestling match and evolving into a battle of katanas, tanks, and other, less easily-defined things. Eventually, after a few rounds of this bout, the two come to an agreement that Farouk won’t kill anyone else during the search for his body and that he will be in David’s debt if they succeed.
Once David leaves, Farouk has one more scene with Lenny. It remains to be seen what will become of her now that her body’s been destroyed and her mental presence is no longer necessary as cover for Farouk, but her real consciousness still exists within the Shadow King, and she’s eager for a way out. The only thing that stops her from begging Farouk for a new body is his rather existential line of questioning about what will happen to her if she’s given a new body and that body eventually dies.
David’s next step, after gathering the information he needs from Farouk and Future Syd, is to bring present Syd up to speed. Melanie, still struggling with her sense of purpose and self-worth, advises David to just run off with Syd. She tells him that the world doesn’t need him to save it, and that even if people die, “the real tragedy is forgetting to live.”
With this in mind, David goes up to the roof to find Syd practicing body swapping with her cat. Future Syd asked David not to tell anyone about her, but David reasons that since it’s one Syd’s secret, it isn’t really breaking his promise to tell the other Syd. It takes about as much coaxing to get present Syd on David’s side as it did to get David on Future Syd’s side. The two of them trust each other unquestioningly, and Syd, at least, seems to trust herself just as much. David and Syd are now co-conspirators in tracking down the monk, who is revealed in the episode’s final shot to be in Division 3’s giant storage room full of people who are infected with the teeth-chattering malady.
Legion is constantly juggling the competing impulses for exposition and counter-exposition. One episode will give the information necessary to bring the story into focus, and the next will introduce new elements to obfuscate the truth. In that balancing act, Chapter 10 falls on the side of the former impulse, giving the plot a sense of direction and momentum before the next wave of uncertainty capsizes everything David thinks he knows. As a counterbalance to the season premiere’s upheaval and as a foundation for the perception-bending madness that’s sure to come, Chapter 10 serves its purpose well.