Future Syd reveals the nature of the world-ending threat she hinted at early in the season, and Ptonomy's delusion spreads throughout D3.
Anyway, back to the story. After three weeks of hit-or-miss diversions, “Chapter 15” of Legion finds the season’s lost plot, to the extent that anyone could, and gets things moving with some shifting alliances and long-gestating revelations. By the way, it’s time to reset the numbers on the “days without large-scale telepathic assault” ticker at Division 3.
But first, another quick aside on humanity’s psychological constructs. Part eight of season 2’s narrated explanations focuses on the notion of “moral panic.” As defined by the narrator, moral panic is “public anxiety or alarm in response to a perceived threat to the moral standards of society.” Traversing examples ranging from parental concern over the content of comic books to literal witch hunts, the narrator arrives at a question: “What’s more terrifying, fear or the frightened?” This idea, and the other ideas that have been presented in previous narrations, finally become relevant in a non-figurative way later in the episode during the latest attack on D3 headquarters.
The action of the episode proper begins with Farouk doing some work on an old car, vacuuming spectral purple sludge from under the hood with a coin-operated pump. Before it becomes clear what he’s doing with the car, he’s psychically called out by David in the immediate aftermath of the Amy revelation.
Sitting across from Farouk in a decadent dining room, David is so angry he can’t speak, instead roaring like a lion. Farouk, unperturbed, responds to David as if he were a child throwing a tantrum. Farouk’s condescending “use your words” does little to soothe David’s mood, nor does his dismissal of David’s anger over Amy’s death.
Farouk, who has spent the last few decades camped out in David’s mind, knows that David has fantasized about hurting Amy before, when he was angry about having been placed in an asylum. David’s response to this is that his ideas about harming Amy in terrible ways were “just thoughts.” But that argument doesn’t carry much weight with Farouk, who has been relentlessly clear all season in his assertion that thoughts, particularly those of the powerful, are indistinguishable from reality.
Disappointed in David’s reluctance to accept his godlike status among mere humans, Farouk sends him back to the “kiddie table,” effectively ending their alliance and sounding the starting shot on the race to find his body. Before parting, Farouk tells David that he’ll miss him, but that he’ll find him again once he has his body. David, before returning to his own physical body, has an encounter with an unresponsive vision of Amy who laughs maniacally at David’s attempts to apologize until he loses his composure.
The following scene begins with David having an internal argument about both the morality and the logistics of torturing someone who doesn’t have a body, but this train of thought is interrupted by Syd. When David is reluctant to talk to her about Amy, Syd suggests that David go and talk to Future Syd to get some clarity about what to do next. David is concerned that present Syd will be jealous if he spends more time with Future Syd, and Syd, initially confused by the prospect of being jealous of herself, quickly comes around to his point of view.
Neither of them are quite sure how to handle this particular love triangle, since it’s never happened to anyone else.
“It’s not like there’s a handbook,” David says.
This interaction recalls a question Syd posed in season 1: “Who teaches us to be normal when we’re one of a kind?” Legion is often at its best when it tackles these kinds of wild hypotheticals but still manages to ground them in real human emotion. In this case, David agrees to some ground rules for interacting with Future Syd, even though present Syd is fully aware that her concerns don’t entirely make sense. That’s the nature of love, even in a world of infinite realities and time-travel paradoxes.
Those rules, and the multi-dimensionally unique love connection they represent, are immediately put to the test, however, at David’s next meeting with Future Syd. As it turns out, Farouk’s classic car project was a device akin to Cary’s dome that would allow him to project through time and commune with Future Syd.
Donning some old-timey aviator gear and filling his car with psychic exhaust, Farouk travels to the same chamber where David has held his Future Syd conversations. Having gone out of his way to alienate David, Farouk is looking for a new partner in crime, or as he views it, heroism. He wants to know why Future Syd wants him to live, and her response is the episode’s biggest reveal. It turns out (not entirely unexpectedly) that the world-ending threat Future Syd referenced in her first conversation with David is David himself, and she needs Farouk to help stop him.
Farouk goes on a tirade condemning all the heroes “with their blue eyes and white skin” who had tried to kill him to save the world, and notes the irony that he is now being called on to save the world from one of them. The explanations of racial scapegoating and colonialism that Farouk gives for his negative image would be more compelling if he hadn’t been made so demonstrably evil throughout the series. It’s not clear yet whether those complaints are meant to add some sort of depth or sympathy to the character’s arc, but for now, the exaggerated claims of racially-motivated persecution make him seem like even more of a mustache-twirling egomaniac.
Farouk believes that Syd’s request inverts the usual dynamic, making him the hero and David the villain, but Syd puts forward an alternate theory: “Maybe we’re all villains.” David destroys the world, Syd betrays her true love, and Farouk is Farouk. By the end of their conversation, it seems like Farouk and Future Syd have entered into an agreement, but the extent of Future Syd’s involvement remains a mystery.
Meanwhile, present Syd goes to have a conversation with Lenny. Syd tells Lenny that she’s just a distraction, and whatever she’s trying to do for the Shadow King won’t work.
“You’re the song they play outside a hostage crisis to keep criminals from thinking clearly,” Syd tells Lenny.
Lenny, who seems to still be having some trouble reconciling her mind and her new body, overenthusiastically agrees with everything Syd says, but in a quick heel-turn, she tells Syd about how Farouk would rape her when he had her stored in the “basement” of his mind. Syd doesn’t seem quite sure what to do with that information, and the scene ends on a note of uncertainty.
Speaking of uncertainty, Ptonomy’s delusion is finally mature enough to spread. The demon chicken that crawled into his ear a few episodes ago was more than just a visual representation of an intangible phenomenon, it seems. A nightmare about Admiral Fukuyama and the Vermillion wakes Ptonomy up, and he then wanders around D3 like the Easter bunny. He leaves delusion eggs by the beds of key characters like Syd, Clark and Kerry, and whispers in their ears in a distorted voice not unlike that of the Mi-Go monk.
David is luckily away from his bed while the delusion is hatching in D3. He’s in the tank having a conversation with Future Syd, and that talk doesn’t go especially well. David doesn’t want to help Farouk, and Future Syd passive-aggressively tells him that he should quit. He tells her that she’s not his Syd. Despite all this, Future Syd is still able to seduce David into moving beyond the ground rules he and present Syd had established before, requesting a proper “goodbye.”
It’s entirely possible that this Future Syd is actually Farouk in disguise. David is convinced that this Future Syd isn’t his Syd, and the way she tells him that she’ll miss him is strikingly reminiscent of the way Farouk said the same thing earlier in the episode. The implications of David being literally seduced by Farouk would add an interesting new angle to the cat-and-mouse-and-wrestler-and-samurai-and-tank game he’s been playing with him all season, particularly since David has been convinced to break his promise to present Syd.
At D3, the delusion eggs have hatched and Ptonomy and Clark are conspiring against Fukuyama, who they are now convinced is a predator, ready to lure them all to their deaths. After “rescuing” Syd, Kerry and Ptonomy fight their way through a hallway full of Vermillion to get to Fukuyama’s chamber, and Clark pulls a gun on the admiral. Without his basket at last, Fukuyama appears to be an unimposing middle-aged man in a neck brace, but those under the influence of the delusion see a human-sized version of one of the black chicken monsters.
Just before Clark puts a bullet in Fukuyama’s head, David appears and freezes the scene. He plucks physical manifestations of the demon chickens out of the foreheads of Syd and Clark, and when the Vermillion ask what they are, David’s response is that they are “insanity.” As is often the case on Legion thought has become reality in a major way, particularly for Ptonomy. After its spawn in Syd and Clark are found out, the chicken monster inside Ptonomy decides to make a break for it.
Having had a much longer period of time to mature, Ptonomy’s chicken is monstrously large, erupting in a bloody display of body horror from his spine before taking off down the hallway. David pursues the demon chicken down to the kitchen and tries to reason with it, but there’s no reasoning with insanity, so he’s forced to trap it in a jar and squish it.
Ptonomy, who was left dying on the floor in a puddle of blood and tarry black chicken juice, is whisked away by the Vermillion into the “mainframe.” Among the trees of the screen behind Fukuyama’s seat, the Vermillion hook Ptonomy up via vine-cables that transfer his mind into a digital space. Inside that manufactured world, he’s shushed by a knitting old woman in a rocking chair.
“So what have we learned?” asks the narrator toward the end of the episode. This week revealed Fukuyama’s true face, that David is the force that destroys the world in Future Syd’s timeline, and that the fear of a perceived threat can become a greater threat to reality than the focus of that fear.