Insanity Takes A Monstrous Form On ‘Legion’


A review of tonight’s Legion coming up just as soon as I’m back at the kiddie table…

Late in “Chapter 15,” David confronts the insanity monster that has been plaguing his friends all episode (and infected Ptonomy back in the premiere), and bluntly suggests, “You picked a really shitty time to attack us. The timing, it’s not good. I’m dealing with a lot here.”

This is a funny line(*), both in-character and as a meta comment about where things stand late in Legion season two. David is dealing with a lot, and now doesn’t seem the ideal time for him or the show — which has been spinning its wheels on the Farouk arc for the last few weeks — to have to face this creature.

(*) There are times where Dan Stevens’ performance seems at odds with what’s been written for this character, but his dry comic delivery often serves the show well in moments like this.

That said, I found “Chapter 15” more effective and interesting than the last couple of episodes. Part of this is simply that it does advance the Farouk plot at least a bit, with both David and Farouk visiting Future Syd (who has either learned how to touch people without swapping bodies with them, or else doesn’t swap with time travelers who aren’t quite present), with David confronting Farouk about Amy’s murder and calling off their deal, and with the suggestion that David himself could be the man responsible for the apocalypse in Future Syd’s timeline, and that Farouk may be, as he insists, the hero of this story. (Farouk’s frustration at being perceived as a villain because he’s not white spoke well to how often pop culture uses the exoticized other as shorthand for villainy, even if the Shadow King has done so many monstrous things.)

But it was also a much more entertaining bit of wheel-spinning than the last couple of episodes. Telling occasional standalone stories in the midst of mostly serialized seasons can be a very effective choice, and the flaws in the Lenny interrogation episode and last week’s parallel timeline journey were more about individual execution than about deviating from Farouk.

The attack of the shit beetle, or whatever we’re meant to call it, wasn’t exactly self-contained, since Jon Hamm has been warning us about it for the whole season. But it’s been largely confined to those white room segments until now, and its attack on Division 3 and defeat by David all played out over the course of an hour with enough action (particularly our first extended glimpse of Kerry in combat in a while) and enough of Legion‘s stylistic panache — in particular the way that the Vermillion became nightmare creatures to Ptonomy (crawling up from between his legs), Clark(*), and the others — to be lively and fun in that trippy way this show can be.

(*) Though the gimmick of the Vermillion only being able to move when Clark wasn’t looking at them has been done before, most famously with the Weeping Angels from Doctor Who.

In terms of the larger arc of this season, insanity taking on a physical form and attacking David’s friends wasn’t great timing. But in terms of the series bouncing back after a couple of off episodes, its timing was very welcome indeed.

What did everybody else think?

Alan Sepinwall may be reached at He discusses television weekly on the TV Avalanche podcast. His new book, Breaking Bad 101, is on sale now.