Melanie's history with Farouk and Oliver is revealed. Kerry, Cary and Lenny get into position.
With so many extra-linear explorations of time and forays through alternate dimensions, it’s easy to overlook that the main through line of Legion season 2 has taken place over just 13 days. “Chapter 17,” an almost entirely David-free episode, continues the wild yet stilted pace that’s been this season’s greatest asset and deepest detriment. Rather than picking up with David and Syd in their storm-sieged tent or with Oliver and Farouk in their rickshaw ride across Le Désolé, “Chapter 17” hones in on a few members of the supporting cast as they get into position for a climactic showdown.
First up, seemingly on Farouk’s side of the board as things currently stand, is Melanie. Throughout most of the season, Melanie has been wallowing in a drug-induced stupor, lamenting the agency she lost while trapped in an unhealthy relationship with an unreliable man. Melanie resents Oliver for leaving her, but she can’t bring herself to fully move past him. In her case, however, the already precarious navigation of a failing long-term relationship is compounded by the psychic influence of the Shadow King.
The segment of the episode dedicated to Melanie begins with a revisit of her scene with Syd from the season premiere, in which Melanie airs her grievances over Oliver’s absence. Shortly after, Melanie gets a late-night visit from her missing man, which she does not respond to kindly. But some combination of Oliver’s oddball charisma and Farouk’s mental manipulation is enough to convince Melanie to put away the gun she’s pulled and regress back to the woman she was before Oliver left her behind.
As a younger woman, Melanie is drawn into the same poolside hangout where Farouk has kept Oliver and Lenny hostage. She doesn’t seem nearly as unhappy to be there as Lenny was, but Farouk gives her an assignment to leave and track down the monk in Division 3.
The following scenes detail Melanie’s collapse into delusion, beginning with a dream in which she acknowledges that she’s no longer content to be a follower, taken along wherever Oliver’s whims dictate. Although, by the time Kerry comes in for a one-on-one chat, Melanie has lost her grasp on reality entirely. Referencing back to the most dangerous delusion of all, as outlined in “Chapter 16,” Melanie tells Kerry that other people may not even exist.
“There is no world to save,” Melanie explains to Kerry. “It’s all in my head.”
Kerry, for the most part, is not having Melanie’s “senior moment” logic, but some of what Melanie says does seem to stick with her. Melanie posits that either Kerry is Cary’s delusion, rooted in a desire to be a “strong, sensual young woman,” or that Cary is Kerry’s delusion, rooted in a “desire for authority.”
When Kerry and Cary set out on their mission, Kerry, who is usually happier to ride along inside Cary, takes some measure of control by sitting in the literal driver’s seat. A running theme this season has been that it can be dangerous for people to allow themselves to be defined by their romantic relationships. Melanie regrets giving up her own dreams to “tag along” with Oliver’s, and Syd is adamant that love, while worth saving, is not the answer to the world’s ills. Kerry and Cary aren’t the same type of couple, but they do represent the idea of surrendering individuality to be part of a pair. The fact that this season has played so much with giving Kerry more autonomy is an interesting move, but it could bode ominously for Cary.
Cary and Kerry’s assignment from David is to deliver a weapon from D3 to a shabby parking lot with a neon octopus sign. Once they’ve completed that task, the two have a chat about mortality. Cary abruptly reminds Kerry that someday, he’s going to die, but Kerry isn’t quite emotionally mature enough to grapple with that reality. Instead, she says that when death comes for Cary, she’ll just stab it in the heart. It would be a shame if Cary were on his way out of Legion, since he’s one of the show’s most fun characters, but it would certainly give Kerry some room to grow if she lost him.
The weapon that Cary and Kerry deliver to the parking lot, it turns out, is for Lenny. With a relatively fresh body and newly granted freedom from D3 headquarters, Lenny returns immediately to her old drug den domain. During a night of partying and consorting with a strung-out blonde, Lenny starts catching glimpses of Amy, and when she wakes up the following morning, those glimpses give way to a full-blown haunting situation.
Apparently Amy wasn’t totally killed in the body swap, and she appears to Lenny just like Lenny used to appear to David. There’s no guarantee that this Amy is really herself and not some agent of the Shadow King attempting to sabotage David’s plan, but she is able to convince Lenny to go and try to help David.
“You love him,” Amy says to Lenny, “like the flower loves the bee.”
As soon as Lenny gets in the car with the weapon, she’s teleported to the desert, leaving Cary and Kerry behind in the parking lot. Cary notes that he has a tracking device that will lead them to the weapon.
This week’s episode moves a few plots forward while leaving a few major mysteries intact for the final chapters of the season. The biggest mystery being built up is David’s plan. What does he intend to do to get out of the desert, and how is Lenny’s weapon involved? Related is the mystery of what happened to Clark. Is he still alive? What will happen to David’s plan with him out of commission?
A third and potentially more interesting unknown is Oliver’s role in all of this. It’s unclear how much of the manipulation on Melanie came from the Shadow King and how much came from Oliver himself. From the start, Oliver has seemed to have more control than Lenny or even David had while trapped by Farouk, but there’s still plenty of ambiguity about what he’s trying to accomplish, who he cares about, and how he plans to kill Farouk. With only two episodes left, Legion still has plenty to sort out, but there should be enough time to work up to a satisfying conclusion if the show starts playing the game instead of adding more pieces to the gameboard.