The Greatest Race for Farouk’s corpse has begun, but Legion still has time to turn its chair backwards and have a (Jon) Hamm-fisted lecture about the dangers of the internet. Don’t worry, it matters to the plot. Sort of.
“Chapter 16” amps up the action leading into the final episodes of the season... and possibly the series. David has put into motion a secret attack to likely-maybe-probably destroy Farouk’s body for good, after Ptonomy (now part of the mainframe) tells him where to find it. We technically don’t know what David is planning because he’s not telling anyone, including the audience, because he thinks anything he reveals will find its way back to Farouk. So instead, he telepathically sends “sleeper cell” commands to everybody he wants involved, putting them under his control. On one hand, it’s a means to an end. On the other, it’s really fucked up. David’s becoming kind of a bad guy.
The episode takes a break near the end to have another Jon Hamm monologue, this one about cellphones. It argues that narcissism happens when we create a reality around ourselves that turns the outside world (or, in the case of the internet, other people) into concepts we can accept or reject. According to Hamm’s narration, this is what’s happening to an entire generation of people thanks to smartphones and the internet. There is some truth to be found in this statement, though it’s also pretty regressive. The same argument has been made about many technological innovations throughout history—primarily those involving the exchange of information—and will likely be made for whatever comes next as well
This whole segment felt out of place, especially because I thought we were done with these after the gooey mind chicken died, but there is a connection to the story. Writer Shani Chabansky once said narcissism includes “an inability to practice consent,” and that’s exactly what’s happening here. David has created a reality around himself, and is treating everyone else like they don’t matter. Did we need to get schooled on how cellphones are just as bad as “2+2=5” in order to get that point across? Not really. But Legion’s gonna Legion.
On that note, David’s actions are not unlike what Farouk and Oliver are doing to Melanie, as we see they’ve taken over her mind, too. Biggest letdown of the episode, to be honest. Can I just say how shitty this season has treated Melanie, and Jean Smart deserves better? I really hope next week’s episode actually gives her a purpose—something beyond “I’ve been hopped up on drugs until the plot needed me to be my husband’s unwilling lackey.”
The only other thing I want to get into here is what’s going on with Syd and Ptonomy. After last week’s disappointment of an episode—where Syd was pushed into a series of love triangles and Ptonomy was sentenced to an eternity inside the mainframe—we’re starting to see the endgame behind those less-than-ideal choices. Some of them make sense, others not so much. I’m still mad they chose to kill Ptonomy, and this episode didn’t soften my frustration. Ptonomy never consented to his fate, and he’s becoming a plot device instead of a character. It seems his only purpose here was to help David locate Farouk’s body, a revelation that could’ve happened any other way. And having Ptonomy learn about the admiral’s origins made it worse. The admiral was given a choice; Ptonomy was not.
On the hand, for Syd it actually works (somewhat). It feels more like Syd was grasping at straws last week, trying to find a scapegoat (in this case, another woman) to justify why she and David are growing apart. But in truth, the problem is bigger than that. The best scene of the episode features Syd having some “girl talk” with Clarke about how toxic her relationship has become. She and David have grown apart. She doesn’t trust him. She knows he’s lying to her. And she doesn’t see things getting any better. But still, she follows him, to Le Désolé and back.
It’s a little heartbreaking to see her cling to her “love,” even through his abusive behavior, but I did like seeing her kick him in the shins. The stage is set for a final showdown between David and Farouk, but the question remains whether we can consider either of them a savior at this point.