The madness continues.
This review contains spoilers for the Season 2 premiere of Legion, “Chapter 9.” To refresh your memory, check out what we thought of Season 1 here.
When we last saw Legion, David and the mutants of Summerland had only narrowly managed to survive an encounter with Farouk, the Shadow King, who escaped in the body of Oliver Bird (with Lenny along for the ride). David’s respite didn’t last long, however, as he was unexpectedly sucked up and trapped by a strange orb-shaped drone and flown off to who knows where, ending the season on one hell of a cliffhanger.
Season 2 picks up shortly after this… for David at least. Despite feeling like he had only left Syd moments ago, he’s actually been missing for an entire year, and has only recently been found by the agents of Division 3.
That’s not actually bad news anymore though. In the interim, Summerland has joined forces with Division 3, despite the organization’s ruthless penchant for mutant hunting last season. Now however, both teams have a shared goal: finding and eliminating the Shadow King, who is out and about in the world in search of his original body.
If he can find it, he’ll apparently become more powerful than anyone can contend with, even David. To make matters worse, the Shadow King is leaving a trail of broken minds behind him, infecting people with a psychological “virus” that traps them within their subconscious and leaves their teeth chattering in an eerie death rattle.
This positions all of our characters in a race for the fate of the world itself, and sets up what feels like the season’s driving force, as old enemies become allies (for now at least). Despite their past differences, the Summerland mutants seem to have become well-integrated into Division 3 in David’s absence. Cary now works on Division 3’s research team, while Kerry works in tactical. Syd and Melanie head up the strategy division, representing the mutants’ interests, and Ptonomy is seen accompanying Clark’s team out in the field.
As you can probably sense, this episode goes heavy on the world-building, setting up both the central plot threads of the season, but also diving much deeper into the nature of Division 3 and its many mysteries.
As it turns out, Division 3 is way, way weirder than we might’ve have assumed from their appearances in the first season. They’re not just a shadowy government organization, they’re a shadowy government organization that’s led by a guy who wears a wicker basket on his head (perhaps a cheeky little pun on “basket case”) named Admiral Fukyama. The Admiral communicates through three mustachioed women who speak with robotic voices, and commands a small army of helmeted children (apparently people under a certain age are immune to the influence of the Shadow King).
If you’re already feeling a little overwhelmed by all of this new information, buckle up, because this is one dense episode. Not only is David contending with the new Division 3 status quo, he’s also struggling to figure out what’s real and what’s not as he pieces his missing memories back together.
Apparently, before his return, David was seen in the company of the Shadow King… dancing with him (in one of the show’s most ambitious and spectacular sequences to date). Not only that, but he’s had a vision of what seems to be a version of Syd from the future (now missing one arm and unable to speak out loud), revealing that she was the one who sent the drone that abducted him, and that David must actually help the Shadow King find his body for some reason. Poor David’s relationship with reality has not improved much, apparently.
If you had any trepidation that the second season wouldn’t be able to match the first’s level of strangeness, this re-introduction to Legion should put those fears to rest.
Despite a big connection to the comics last season when David’s father was revealed to be none other than Charles Xavier, the Season 2 premiere seems to be forging ahead on its own path. Fukyama and the oddball dynamics of Division 3 don’t appear to have any significant roots in the comics, which so far is a point in the show’s favor. Even diehard Marvel fans are going to find themselves very disoriented in the world of Legion, which feels like exactly what the show is going for.
That being said, the episode is still frustratingly difficult to parse, as was the case with much of Season 1. At this point, it’s difficult to say which elements are important, and how much is weirdness for the sake of weirdness. Given the way the first season was able to tie it all together in the final two installments, though, I’m more than willing to go along for the ride.