I like to call Legion a “mood piece.” It’s not so much about the story, which is pretty simple when you get down to it, but how it’s telling that story. The show wants to make you feel. It wants to challenge your mood. And it takes a lot of risks to do so. However, the latest episode—which retreaded old plot lines, used sexist tropes, and screwed over an underserved character—gave me a feeling I haven’t had since the series started: A desire to change the channel.
“Chapter 15" focuses on the complicated web that’s growing between David, Farouk, and Syd (both her present and future versions). David is rightfully pissed that Farouk murdered his sister, Amy, and tells the Shadow King they’re never ever ever getting back together, and he’s totally going to kill him. Come on, we’ve heard all this before—besides, Farouk doesn’t really care. In his mind, he’s never needed help recovering his body. He was doing David a favor, helping his former host achieve his full potential. And Farouk’s got another card up his sleeve: Future Syd.
We then get these bizarre relationship triangles, which come out of nowhere and do more harm than good, especially for Syd. As she and David lie in bed together, talking about Amy’s death, everything grinds to a halt when we learn Syd is jealous of David’s relationship with her future self—to the point where she asks David to promise he’ll never be intimate with her. It felt petty, at a time (both in the story and in her life) where Syd wouldn’t be like that. Granted, the themes this season are how bad ideas can sprout from fear, and Syd has struggled with insecurity before. But let’s give her more credit than “I’m jealous my boyfriend is spending time with another woman... who’s also me.”
Plus, we haven’t gotten any indication that Future Syd and David are anything more than strangers in the night, exchanging post-apocalyptic advice. Until now, anyway. Farouk and Future Syd agree to work together to stop David, as we learn that he’s the thing that destroys humanity. This makes sense, but then it becomes this weird dance of seduction: First between Farouk and Syd, and then Syd and David (possibly as a distraction, the “hostage crisis song” meant to confuse). It’s all so unpleasant. And, frankly, sexist. I don’t get why this is where we’re taking Syd right now. It’s small-minded and boring.
But let’s move on, because I want to talk about the bigger injustice this episode, and that’s Ptonomy. What a fucking waste. For the past several episodes, Ptonomy has been incubating “insanity” in the form of that creepy gooey chicken thing that crawled in his ear earlier in the season. This episode is where it all comes to fruition, as he spreads the disease to his colleagues and mounts a war against the admiral and his robots.
Throughout the season, we’ve been told this chicken thing is a metaphor for our own deep-seated internal fears, paranoia, and battles. So, we’ve been wondering: Why did it infect Ptonomy first? Is it a metaphor for something brewing inside him, a growing fear about the situation he and his teammates have found themselves in, or perhaps a fear that his gifts don’t have a place in the world?
No, it’s an actual creepy gooey chicken, which sprouts its baby wings and Alien: Covenant-s its way out of Ptonomy’s back. Yeah, he’s dead. Kind of.
This was a bad call because it was a solution to a conflict with no foundation. One of my biggest complaints about the show has been Ptonomy—not the character himself, but how little the show has cared about him. We’ve never gotten a Ptonomy-centered episode or even a good side plot that tells us more about his life and experiences. We know jack-all about this guy. Since we have nothing to go on, we have no way of knowing what insanity was festering inside Ptonomy, why it was growing, or how it was affecting him. For all we know, he was Venomed by a gooey chicken and that’s it.
To add insult to injury, Ptonomy’s mind is now inside the Mainframe. That means a man whose greatest desire was to have the ability to forget will now be trapped inside a machine where that can never happen. What’s worse, the insanity looks to be following him. They could turn this into something beneficial for Ptonomy later on, but right now all I feel is anger and sadness at the fate that was forced upon him without his consent. And Legion, I really wish you’d stopped and thought for a minute before having Ptonomy be the starting victim from your team. You killed off the black guy first.
Missteps are pretty rare in Legion, but this episode was one of them (I didn’t even get into that scene where Lenny tells Syd that Farouk raped her inside his mind, and how little I see that being explored in the future). I want to give Legion the benefit of the doubt here, that they’re playing this elaborate game of three-dimensional chess and you just don’t get it, man, but I can’t. Legion may be a story about David, but that doesn’t need come at the expense of others around him—season one was proof. After the episodes where David went into the minds of his colleagues, I thought we were coming to a place where the supporting characters would actually get some support. If this is any indication, they may keep being spectators at the David Show. Especially Ptonomy. Because he’s a computer ghost now.