One of the many mysteries that sits at the heart of Legion’s first season is the real identity of the villain that’s been plaguing David Haller from the beginning. That identity has finally been revealed, and we’re here to help explain its big connections to the wider X-Men comic universe.
A new promo for the show’s next episode, “Chapter 7,” sees the brainy half of the Loudermilk duo, Cary, confirm that Amahl Farouk—better known as the Shadow King—is the villain that’s been plaguing David as the yellow-eyed demon throughout the show.
It’s not exactly a huge surprise that Yellow-Eyed Demon, or Y.E.D., is actually the Shadow King. This has been hinted at for weeks. Over the course of the first season, Y.E.D. has been lurking in David’s mind, changing David’s memories and making him forget about every encounter they’ve had to keep his identity secret. Lately, Y.E.D. has taken on the form of Lenny (Aubrey Plaza), David’s friend from the mental hospital who was killed in the first episode—but when David was a child he pretended to be his dog, not-so-subtly named King. The Shadow King has actually been inside David for decades. David’s father (Professor X?) sent him away when he was a baby to protect him, but Farouk couldn’t be stopped.
So, who is Farouk in the comics? First introduced in Uncanny X-Men #117 by Chris Claremont and John Byrne, Farouk is the latest human host of the pure psychic energy being known as the Shadow King. The Shadow King has existed for centuries, feeding on the enslaved bodies of telepathic hosts from the dawn of humanity. Farouk has spent his life working in the shadows, first as a Nazi ally and later a crime boss in Egypt, before encountering Charles Xavier in ‘70s Cairo.
Xavier’s brief telepathic meeting with Farouk—which became a fight after Xavier refused to join Farouk’s criminal empire, culminating in Xavier destroying Farouk’s body but leaving his mind in the astral plane—also became the first time Xavier had encountered a mutant with the intent to use his or her powers for evil rather than good, inspiring him to form the X-Men. And it wouldn’t be the last time the telepaths were at odds with each other. Notably, Farouk kidnapped and assumed control over one of the first New Mutant team members, Karma, for a period. But more importantly, he also has direct ties to David Haller in the comics.
During an attempt to finish off the X-Men and Xavier during an event series across the X-Men books in the early ‘90s called “The Muir Island Saga,” Farouk possessed David after his manipulation of the staff at the Muir Island facility failed to capture the X-Men and Xavier. After using Legion’s vast psychic powers to destroy most of Muir Island, the Shadow King, in David’s form, did battle with Xavier, nearly killing him, before Charles managed to regroup, routing the Shadow King from David and seemingly destroying him in the astral plane once and for all (at the cost of Xavier’s regained use of his legs, paralyzing the X-Men leader again). Being possessed by the Shadow King took an equally heavy toll on David, sending him into a deep coma from the stress on his fractured mind. He was believed to be sequentially braindead by his father for several years.
Now that we’ve discovered the Shadow King’s true identity, it’s more likely that he’s going to be foiled by the end of the season. At this point in the FX show, with three episodes left, the Shadow King has trapped David within a corner of his mind, leaving Syd and the others to rescue him. Farouk has knowingly (and gleefully) invaded David’s mind like a fungus, instead of destroying him from the inside out like his other victims, so he’s definitely not going down without a fight. Right now, Farouk might be the King of David’s Brain, but that reign is probably coming to an end.