With an effortless toss of Clark’s rendered useless Choke, “Chapter 19” kicks off with the long awaited face-off between good and evil evil and good evil and evil Legion and the Shadow King, the former lamenting his status as a blue-eyed bad man to no sympathetic ear. Punctuated by striking animations that ebb and flow through the surrealistic astral arena, the rock opera battle rages until temporarily bested, a bloodied Farouk falls to the ground; a quick three years later aside (Chapter 10) provides amusing intermission. Corporeal bodies … somewhere … (“It’s so much more romantic, now”) a reunited Melanie and Oliver hazily recount past events.
As Syd breaks up the party Farouk’s death-by-head-smashing to explain why she’s about to shoot the love of her life, David does his best to defend, refusing to believe he’s the World Killer, or that Syd — “I saw what you did to Oliver, to the soldiers at Division 3. I saw your face. You liked it.” — believes it. Narrated egg story and other selves (“You’re the chicken, man”) in his head, David fights to comprehend reality; viewers aren’t much better off. When exactly the delusion was born is as mysterious as where his mantra (“I’m a good person; I deserve love”) began.
Lenny steps in(to David’s reality) to block (“Oops”) Syd’s bullet, Division swoops down and scoops up … everyone, returning to base where nothing goes according to plan, least of all David’s attempt to sway Syd. Seemingly trapped, forced to face the truth of himself (“David, you drugged me, and had sex with me”), he’s offered medication and therapy — or extermination — rather, the sweet boy undone by revenge breaks free, rescues Lenny … disappears. “This is not real.” With that final wrench thrown into what anyone’s guess is the truth, Hawley and Co. slam the door on another round of episodes, leaving us to our own insufficient devices until Clockworks strikes Season 3.
Well, now that’s all cleared up, right? There are those who didn’t care for the ever-increasing non-linear and fantastical way the writers have handled this season, but I’m not one of them. I truly enjoy Noah Hawley’s distinct and different approach; to be challenged to interpret the madness, so to speak. He’s said he wanted to impart the experience of mental illness, of not knowing for certain what is real, and we’ve had not just one but pretty much all unreliable narrators, this season, so yeah. I have the feeling that nothing we’ve seen this season is true, per se; it’s all skewed through David’s lens …
… Meaning, I’m still of the mind that just about every character we see as separate could, in fact, only exist in David’s mind. Since Haller’s abilities mean he absorbs others, it’s possible they all existed at one point, but I believe the majority no longer do. That said, I’d venture to guess that at least one, maybe a few, could still be out there fighting the good fight (Clark? Cary/Kerry? Syd?). And of course, since we have a third season on the way, we’ll one day find out what’s really happening.
I do believe there exists in David a part of him, or a separate him, that truly loves Syd, and wants to not be Legion the World Killer. Meanwhile, I’m very glad that Syd and Farouk both called out David for what he’s been doing to Syd (manipulation, mind control and yes, rape).
Reading what people are saying about the season finale has left me wondering whether people know the Legion character at all. He’s a mutant with Dissociative Identity Disorder, and he’s not a good guy; he’s a villain. One of his superpowers is to absorb other people’s powers and their psyches. If Legion is actually Legion, he’s already absorbed the other characters, so what we see happening to them, his manipulation, his killing, his raping, is all in his head. We’ve seen David killing and torturing, and enjoying killing and torturing; Syd’s rape is hardly plot device. The unreality of the situation is quite possibly that nothing we’ve seen has occurred outside of David’s head, and that Syd doesn’t exist any longer, because he’s already absorbed her. And, every person that David has absorbed has effectively been raped.
Reminiscent of David’s Chapter 7 drawings, the full-color explosions of Farouk and Haller’s astral battle was a breathtaking sight to behold. I could easily watch a whole episode done this way.
I’m still confused by the alternate chapters, thrown in out of order amongst episodes; this round we had “Three Years Later, Chapter Ten“, and “Chapter Twelve, The Trial of the Shadow King“, which featured these placarded thoughts:
In the end what is the sound of truth?
Waves on a beach, the laugh of a child.
Or perhaps there are competing truths.
The truth of the mind, the truth of the heart.
If all the apples are bruised, it is the unbruised apple that is bad,
the sane man who’s crazy.
For what is normal is that upon which nine wise men can agree,
leaving the tenth to swing from a hangman’s rope.
Cary’s story: In the old days, not so long ago, madmen were packed onto boats and shipped off to sea. They were said to be searching for their lost sanity. They called these boats Ship of Fools, and for a long time we thought we were the sane ones, left behind on dry land. But, what if we’re not? What if so much time has passed, that we’ve forgotten the truth? That we are in fact, the fools, afloat on an endless sea, pretending to be normal.”
Whatever plane they’re on, Oliver and Melanie are delightful, and I loved their When Harry Met Sally couch couple chat.
Oliver read Vachel Lindsay’s The Dandelion:
O dandelion, rich and haughty,
King of village flowers!
Each day is coronation time,
You have no humble hours.
I like to see you bring a troop
To beat the blue-grass spears,
To scorn the lawn-mower that would be
Like fate’s triumphant shears.
Your yellow heads are cut away,
It seems your reign is o’er.
By noon you raise a sea of stars
More golden than before.
Here’s the eye shot for the week:
Amahl Farouk is simply one of the best characters on television, and most of that credit goes to the fantastic actor, Navid Negahban. His seamless transitioning from language to language is only one of the reasons, but it’s a powerful one — I can’t think of many who could carry this role.
As with the first season, my biggest criticism is dropping Ptonomy’s story. Jeremie Harris deserves better.
Music This Hour:
Dan Stevens, Behind Blue Eyes (covering The Who)
Jeff Russo, Nothing in This World Can Stop Me Worryin‘ ‘Bout That Girl (covering The Kinks)
Count Basie and His Orchestra, Topsy
Aad Aalberts, Focus
Jeff Russo, Future Syd
Oliver: “Good versus evil, that sort of thing …”
Melanie: “We just don’t do that sort of thing anymore.”
Oliver: “We were losing too much hair.”
Melanie: “Our bodies, they’re somewhere …
…It’s so much more romantic now.”
Oliver: “There was a great battle with what’s his face …”
David to Syd as she arrives on the plane: “Sure, let me just finish killing this asshole.”
Syd: “You haven’t had a lot of girlfriends, or you’d know when a woman wants to talk, you talk.
… They have to know, the wives, deep down, at least a feeling, something’s wrong.”
David: “Syd, I’m the good guy. He’s the monster.”
Syd: “No, you’re not that. The good guy.
… But every time he pulled the trigger, he pulled the trigger.”
David: “Baby, please, I’m your man.”
Syd: “Maybe I just trust myself more. And guess what, maybe you’re not the hero.”
David: “And who is?”
David to himself: “You’re the chicken, man.
She said I killed all those people in the future.
They said I was schizophrenic …
And Syd came, and now I know I’m …
Farouk, he’s the devil.
No, I’m not saying that.
I try to help people.”
Cary to Farouk: “This is gonna hurt.”
Lenny to David: “It’s straight to the electric chair for me, kid.”
Kerry to Syd: “Yeah, we fought a minotaur.”
David to Syd: “We should go right now. And get a dog, some chickens, start a farm.”
Farouk to David: “You know what I missed the most being locked in that grave for thirty years? Coffee.”
Kerry to Cary: “You look ridiculous. Did I tell you I cut off the head of a minotaur?
… You know what it smelled like? You know those beef bouillon cubes from when we were kids?”
Vermillion to David: “You will allow treatment, or we will be forced to terminate.”