Legion recap: 'Chapter 13'
David and Division 3 interrogate Lenny to solve a grisly mystery.
Like so much of Legion, “Chapter 13” is structured as a mystery, and there’s a singular question on everyone’s mind. Another moderately-paced episode, “Chapter 13” eschews last week’s character development angle to instead build up to a thriller-esque reveal. The twist may not quite warrant a full episode, but it will likely have a profound effect on David’s decision about what he’ll do if he finds Farouk’s body. Spanning two sets of characters, two timelines, and a series of interrogations, the question of the hour boils down to the following: “Whose body is this?”
After being hauled into Division 3 under guard at the end of “Chapter 12,” Lenny is now being held in an upside-down skyscraper of a questioning room. Text on the walls warning against physical contact is inverted, the floor looks like a ceiling, and the ceiling opens to a bird’s eye view of a skyline below. Lenny mentions the tripped-out physics of the chamber in passing, but never gets a straight answer about the logistics of it all.
In any case, the first to question the freshly physically-manifested Lenny is Clark. Back in the Division 3 interrogator’s chair with a victim of the Shadow King for the first time since he was stabbed through the face with a pen and partially incinerated in the pilot, Clark seems admirably at ease. He takes a sample of Lenny’s blood and asks her directly if she is, in fact, the Shadow King. Lenny, who’s more interested in scoring drugs and explaining her toxic upbringing by her alcoholic grandmother than answering Clark’s questions, is adamant that she’s not still under Farouk’s control. Clark isn’t convinced, but as he moves for the upside-down door, Lenny grabs his attention by letting him know that Farouk has found his body out in the desert.
As it turns out, Lenny is partly right. In a flashback to the recent past, Farouk has found a body, but it’s not his own. At Farouk’s command, Oliver, clad in his crisp, cream-colored cashmere flannel suit, digs up some rotting remains. It’s not immediately made clear who those remains belonged to, but eventually the episode reveals that the body is what used to be Lenny. Instead of reanimating what must be a pretty grody pile of parts (thankfully it remains mostly off-camera), Farouk takes a sample of Lenny’s old husk using a device he stole from Division 3. With it, he sets out to fulfill, in the most nefarious way, Lenny’s wish to once again become corporeal. (Recap continues on next page)
The second interrogator to ask Lenny whose body she has, in what for simplicity’s sake could be referred to as the “present” timeline, is Ptonomy. Although, Ptonomy opens his questioning with a theory that the present doesn’t exist. By the time our eyes and brains can process what’s happening, he argues, it’s already technically the past.
As someone who remembers everything and can view the memories of others, Ptonomy should be an unparalleled interrogator, but whatever Farouk has done to Lenny is enough to throw him off. First she asks Ptonomy what color her eyes are. He says they’re brown, which up until this episode has been true. Since Lenny has been back at Division 3, however, her eyes have been blaringly, unmistakably blue. It’s a shift in reality, and as the D3 PA system so often reminds, “Any shift in reality may signal an attack.” Visibly shaken by the realization that he has misremembered Lenny’s new eye color, Ptonomy cuts the idle chatter and goes to read Lenny’s memories.
Inside Lenny’s head, Ptonomy is able to see a distorted version of one of the scenes Lenny described to Clark: a young girl drinking vodka out of a Rondo Citrus Soda can with her grandmother. But he also sees some images that don’t seem to fit. Sunflowers fall to the floor amid a shower of blood. Unable to reconcile the two sets of memories, Ptonomy falls victim to delusion. The same demon chicken that crawled into his ear a few episodes ago manifests as a vision of a glowing nightmare Fukuyama. When Ptonomy comes to from the vision, he has Lenny pressed against the wall with his hands around her neck. It’s possible that Farouk booby trapped Lenny’s mind before sending her in to Division 3, or that Ptonomy was just experiencing a mental break as he struggled in vain to spot a pattern in the two disparate sets of memories he was experiencing.
The title card interlude on conspiracy that follows Ptonomy’s interrogation scene explains how the human mind is trained to search for order, and it will automatically reject information that does not fit a desired pattern.
The next step in the flashback timeline for Farouk and Oliver, after retrieving a bit of Lenny meat, is to track a submarine-shaped donut food cart. The submarine is labeled Dead Sea Donuts, but the desert in which it makes its rounds looks more the American Southwest than the Middle East.
An interaction between Oliver and Farouk at this stage of the episode is the most intriguing segment of “Chapter 13,” and “intriguing” in the context of this show translates to “cryptic.” Despite this being a fairly straightforward installment, by Legion standards, Oliver has been a tough nut to crack since his introduction in his floating free-jazz ice-cube prison bachelor pad in season 1. His recent hijacking by Farouk compounding his decades-incubating detachment from reality in the Astral Plane makes his motivation especially difficult to gauge.
In the span of a single conversation, Oliver pivots from total ambivalence toward all life and death — at first he calls the concepts “obscene,” but revises that sentiment to simply “irrelevant” — to a vow that he personally will kill Farouk. Farouk explains his willingness to kill humans by introducing the term “homo superior” for mutants like himself and Oliver and claiming that he is above humanity the way a lion is above its prey. The extent to which Oliver disagrees with this sentiment isn’t entirely clear, but he does have a brief vision of Melanie as he’s mulling over the concept of morality. As to how he will kill Farouk, Oliver is true to inscrutable form, giving the hint that 1+1 does not equal 2. (Recap continues on next page)
Back in the “present,” Lenny and David finally come face to face, and the truth behind what has happened begins to come into focus: Lenny coming to Division 3 is part of Farouk’s plan of attack. She knows she’s still working for Farouk, but not in what capacity. David, reading Lenny’s mind, sees flashes of himself and his sister, Amy, as children, before witnessing a very naked Lenny waking up disoriented in the desert. A shot of the sparkler that Amy brought David in the pilot transitions the scene to another flashback segment that shows definitively where Lenny got her new body and how her very presence at D3 is a personal attack on David.
Farouk and Oliver have followed the donut submarine home, where Amy is living with her husband in D3 protective custody. Farouk turns Amy’s husband to ash and, using the device filled with Lenny’s old body, he performs grisly surgery on Amy. “Finding the sculpture in the stone,” Farouk transforms Amy into the new Lenny. In a world where bodies are interchangeable and consciousness equates to personhood, it’s not clear whether Amy has been killed or just moved, but the fact that there are vestiges of her memories trapped inside the new Lenny is an ominous sign. When David realizes what’s been done, he vows to go after Farouk.
Instead of the TV standard “previously on,” the recap at the start of this episode begins with a rather telling “apparently on Legion.” This implies right from the start that despite being relatively self-contained, there’s more to “Chapter 13” than may initially meet the eye. The episode largely devotes its runtime to posing and answering one question, but there are other, potentially larger questions brought into play. Most notable among these questions: What role does Fukuyama fill in the overall story arc? It seems that both Ptonomy and Amy have some connection to Fukuyama and the Vermillion via Farouk and his delusions, but the physical Fukuyama has been absent since the encounter with the monk in “Chapter 11.” This week’s episode rests in an unusual space between last week’s meticulous character analysis and previous episodes’ breakneck exposition, but it once again radically redirects the narrative of the show and changes the shape of the tenuous alliance between David and Farouk.