WHERE WE LEFT OFF
Season 2 of Legion began attempting to answer the question: Where was David Haller, and why? (Fans will remember Haller being abducted by a tiny orb at the end of the first season.) David’s return challenges the trust of everyone, including Sydney Barrett, the love of his life.
However there are other problems dogging the protagonists. The mutants have moved their base from Summerland to Division 3, only to be greeted by Melanie Bird’s mental breakdown. Oliver Bird has been taken over by Farouk and is still on the run; Kerry and Cary Loudermilk find themselves separated and unable to merge back together. Division 3 is currently being lead by Clark, along with Admiral Fukuyama, assisted by clever, androgynous beings known as “Vermillion,” who are all, respectively, suspicious of David and his motives.
Initially, the series manages to keep up with the ingenuity of the first season, with contrasting color and patterns for each scene, an impressive score and dizzying camera angles. Here in the second season, it’s the plot that takes a hit.
BACK TO THE FUTURE
In the midst of all this, it is revealed that Future!Syd is the one who took David. She asks David to help Amahl Farouk/Shadow King find his body. What she does not reveal to Haller, is that he is the one who endangers the world in the future, not Farouk. This is where things get messy. Syd is already suffering from a distrust of David, as he spirals further down toward becoming Legion. It’s confusing why this subplot (which does very little to distract David from his pursuit of killing Farouk) is necessary. To make matters worse, Syd is constantly given the responsibility of managing David somehow. The others look to her to explain him; Ptonomy and Melanie questions her trust; Clark flat-out states that if she merely upsets David the world could end. Syd is forced to bear an emotional burden from which she finds no relief in the future or the present.
THE MYTH OF CUPID AND PSYCHE
TW: Contains mention of sexual assault.
One of the promotional images features David and Sydney posing as Cupid and Psyche, who are characters from Greek Myth portrayed in the sculpturePsyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss (Antonio Canova, 1787). The romance between David and Syd appears to follow the myth to letter. In the first season, David falls in love with Sydney as soon as he sees her. Cupid falls in love with Psyche upon seeing her. Psyche is ‘untouchable’ in the sense that she is the most beautiful woman in the world, but she remains unmarried. Syd is literally untouchable because of her power. On and on it goes: until Sydney finds herself underground (like Psyche, in Hades, pursuing Cupid).
Here the divergence is struck: David/Cupid hides his true face from Syd/Psyche. Instead of the eventual revival portrayed in the sculpture, Hawley insists that Psyche’s deception by Cupid is immoral, and pronounces his critique in the most horrific way: Syd is mind-wiped and raped by David, who fears that she will leave him, having seen him for what he really is. This framed as the catalyst for David choosing the path of Legion, while Syd is now liberated from her burden. But for whom is this liberation? Sydney now carries the trauma in her body, while David carries the guilt of committing the unforgivable against the woman he claimed to love.
The work to build up David Haller as a mutant suffering from mental illness, a man who holds infinite worlds inside himself, has been undermined by his assault on Sydney. Out of all the possible scenarios in which to uplift Syd and curse David to his future as Legion, this is certainly the cheapest.
Ultimately, this season served as a cautionary tale regarding trust and delusion. Each lesson (voiced by Jon Hamm) portrays the stages of an idea burgeoning into destruction. “A delusion starts like any other idea, as an egg.” The delusions of everyone are subtly revealed over time: Lenny’s delusion is that she is her own person, having found a new home in Amy’s body, but unable to escape Amy’s ghost. Ptonomy’s physical demise, where he is able to see everything as it is from inside “the unreadable mind,” proving that he has never been able to see everything as clearly as he thought. Kerry and Cary’s separation confronts a future in which the elder Loudermilk twin will eventually succumb to the greatest peril of old age: death. Melanie is never able to let go of her dream of a life with Oliver, leaving her mind and psychic powers vulnerable to the Shadow King.
It is only Farouk who seems to never be under the delusion that he is the villain, claiming himself as the one in the right from the very beginning. His taunting of David as a “boy and not a man” ring true as David accepts his characterization as the “Angriest Boy in the World” and does what he always does in the end- runs from his problems (with Lenny in tow! It’s if nothing can happen without Lenny moving the plot along for everyone else this season).
So many questions remain about the future of Legion, including the now-disembodied Ptonomy, Melanie and Oliver. Is Farouk still the one manipulating everyone and pulling the strings? What will Syd’s role be now this betrayal exists between her and David?
To quote Syd, “What do we do now?”