Directed by Ana Lily Amirpour
Written by Noah Hawley & Nathaniel Halpern
* For a recap & review of Chapter 9, click here.
* For a recap & review of Chapter 11, click here.
David (Dan Stevens) still has the Shadow King in his head, also populated by Lenny (Aubrey Plaza) and Oliver Bird (Jermaine Clement). There’s a “distraction” now required for David to help Amahl Farouk (Navid Negahban) find his body. What that means, who knows – David only asks that nobody gets hurt, he wants to help and protect his friends.
Meanwhile, somewhere else on the astral plane, Oliver speaks to a double of himself; a man looking through a crystal ball. He reports on their plans, and the doppelganger assures they’ll find what they’re looking for, so this begs the question: what’s actually going to happen when they DO find it?
So, off David, Ptonomy (Jeremie Harris), Syd (Rachel Keller) and the rest go off with Admiral Fukuyama’s (Marc Oka) crew, including the Vermillion – the numerous, near identical, “synthetic, artificial” moustached women. At the same time, Oliver and Lenny – both controlled by Amahl – are on their own journey to Division 3, vaporising almost everybody in their path. They’ve come for Cary Loudermilk (Bill Irwin) in his laboratory, where Amahl gets a glimpse of his Catalyst work, up close and personal.
Soon enough, Kerry (Amber Midthunder) comes out to fight. But it isn’t easy. The Shadow King is as powerful as he is terrifying, and he employs all the psychological tricks in the book to subdue both sides of Loudermilk. This is when David and the others arrive. Amahl is gone. And he’s left trouble. When Kerry and Cary try to amalgamate into one, as usual, they’re caught halfway: Cary’s arm juts out from Kerry’s chest.
Dr. Melanie Bird (Jean Smart) discovers Oliver/Farouk are searching for the Mi-Go monks. When Farouk’s mind died, his body was possibly taken with the monks. Regardless, it’s believed a specific monk knows the location, and so, Oliver and Lenny under Amahl’s spell are trying to find him.
Warring with his mind, and the control Farouk still holds to a degree over him, David goes back to get in the tank Cary rigged up. Kerry has to do the technical work, which goes… okay. David just wants to go back and talk to “future Syd.” The more secrets he keeps from his friends, the more dangerous their situation could become. He has an Altered States-type moment after getting into the sensory deprivation tank, after which he’s transported elsewhere in his unconscious on the astral plane. In that place, he meets Syd again. Although it’s not quite right, and it’s entirely possible David’s dead in the future. He also can’t read Syd’s mind because she’s part of the future. Not to mention he’s struggling with being part of helping Farouk, he wants to trust future Syd. So, she tells him about how things are in her timeline. Farouk is dead there. Yet there’s still major destruction when some event “kills everyone.”
Jon Hamm narrates more for us, about reality and perception. He talks about how certain insects and animals only think about the world as “biological interactions,” whereas humans are capable of perceiving reality entirely different via their minds. Particularly if they’re taught wrong. There must be a consensus amongst human beings as to what exactly constitutes reality.
David’s continuously under the impression he can rein in Farouk/Oliver. He heads into the astral plane for a chat. He wakes in the field where we earlier saw Oliver and his doppelganger. A bell rings, drawing David to the fortune teller stand where the crystal ball sits. Eventually, Amahl appears in his true form. He tells David to get up from the “kiddy table” to come sit with the big boys, at the gods’ table. Some mutant superiority on the part of the Shadow King, and David isn’t buying it.
This begins a fantastic astral plane sequence of David and Amahl as two Greco-Roman wrestlers in the middle of a circular ring. They grapple, fighting against one another. Although the Shadow King taunts quite a bit, because he’s an immense power. He becomes a samurai, challenging David to another fight. David one-ups, turning into a tank. They continue on with the wrestling until they’re back at the crystal ball making a deal, striking a tenuous truce.
Even though David’s away from Farouk, back at Division 3, the words of the Shadow King continue ringing in his ears. Melanie tells David she sees his powers, like that of her husband’s, as an “obstacle” to “happiness” and “intimacy” and all the best things in life. So, she tells him to leave with Syd, find a quiet corner of the world where they can build a life together. She’s experienced and suffered the destruction of having to live with these kinds of powers in her life, she’s all but been ruined by her connection to Oliver. Much like what could someday become of Syd, like in the future timeline.
On the roof, David finds Syd – she’s in a cat. This is a great little conversation, seeing him with the cat, and Syd acting like a cat in human form. David tells her about future Syd and her request for him to help Farouk. No matter her reluctance, she urges David to follow her future self. Now, they have to locate the Mi-Go monk. Looks like the guy is hanging out in the midst of those people who’ve been struck with the Catalyst.
Ana Lily Amirpour is one of my favourite new directors of the past several years, so to see her tackling Legion was enormously satisfying! She got to get into some trippy visuals, which she borders on in her own right in her films. Just a really solid episode, plus it adds more layers to the Farouk debacle, as well as pushes forward more of the themes that are starting to bloom for Season 2.
Chapter 11 is next week.