When I watched the season one finale of Legion, I must have forgotten the Marvel golden rule: keep watching until the end. Watching season two promos was a little confusing as people kept referring to “the orb” that David was stuck inside. So, I did a little digging and discovered the mid-credits stinger (well duh, it’s Marvel!) where David is sucked into a small metal orb and spirited away from Syd. Not that knowing that has cleared up all that much about Legion. It’s still a deeply confusing show, but in such a way that it never lets the confusion interfere with your enjoyment of it.
That’s a nifty trick and something that sets Legion above other headscratchers. No matter how weird it gets, there’s never any doubt that Noah Hawley and his team know exactly where they’re going. When you have that kind of confidence in the people in the driving seat, it becomes much easier to sit back and enjoy the ride.
So, apart from David being kidnapped by an orb, the other important takeaways from season one were:
1) David discovered he’s a mutant with telepathic powers, inherited from his father.
2) Lenny Busker (Aubrey Plaza), David’s childhood dog, the world’s angriest boy and the terrifying devil with the yellow eyes were all forms taken by The Shadow King (aka Amahl Farouk), a mutant enemy of David’s father.
3) Farouk’s consciousness escaped his body when he was killed and attached itself to David when he was only a baby, causing the visions that convinced him he was insane.
4) When David’s allies tried to remove Farouk from his mind, he attached himself to David’s friend Oliver (Jermaine Clement) and escaped.
So far, so relatively clear. But once season two kicks into gear, the confusion goes into overdrive. It’s been 362 days since David was sucked into the orb (he thinks it was yesterday) and he claims to have no memory of where he was or what happened while he was there. In the meantime, the mutants from Summerland have teamed up with Division 3. The head of Division 3, Admiral Fukuyama – who I’ll resist calling Basket Case – has been convinced by Melanie and Syd that mutants aren’t a threat and instead is now working with them to try and find Oliver (and Farouk). Also, wherever Oliver goes, he leaves behind people in a catatonic state, save for the incredibly unsettling chattering of teeth.
Chapter 9 crams a lot of oddness into one episode. There’s Admiral Fukuyama’s wicker basket for a head, his assistants’ Anton Chigurh haircuts, feminine bodies, moustaches and high-pitched computer voices, Jon Hamm narrating tales of madness, the eccentric design of Division 3’s headquarters and an elaborate dance routine involving David, Lenny and Oliver (Aubrey Plaza has moves!). Most unsettling though is the weirdly moving final scene between David and Syd that throws into question everything that’s gone before.
As I said earlier, Hawley earned our trust after expertly merging all the psychedelic confusion of season one into a thrilling finale. With such a disorientating start to season two, that trust is tested but not broken. It’s going to be fascinating seeing where the next seven episodes take us, but ‘Chapter 9’ has one clear message: this is not going to be straightforward.