Legion is a show that literally tells you to question your sanity. There are the less-than-subtle ways, like entire Jon Hamm-voiced narrations about delusions and madness, along with quiet, cloying ones, like announcing you might have that weird new season 2 teeth-chattering infection if you hear recurring sounds. Once Legion alerts you of that symptom, it immediately repeats the warning. Did that really happen, or is your mind already betraying you?
No moment from the FX drama’s season 2 premiere, “Chapter 9,” will force you into side-eyeing reality more than the series’ latest dance sequence. As someone who has been thinking about the dance battle between David Haller (Dan Stevens), Lenny Busker (Aubrey Plaza), and Oliver Bird (Jemaine Clement) for at minimum three hours straight, I can confirm there’s more to the moment than slick music video-style visuals. The dance number clarifies a lot of questions peppered throughout the season opener, while also hinting towards the future of Legion.
The first thing to understand about the sequence is it actually happened in the real world of the superhero show, which is never a sure thing here. We know this is true thanks to David’s first conversation with Ptonomy Wallace (Jeremie Harris) following the mutant’s orb-led abduction in the season 1 finale, “Chapter 8.” While recounting what he remembers from his missing year, David reveals one of his very few memories was “dancing.” He’s baffled by this fact, and in a short flashback, we see the very beginning of the dance sequence to come. Later in the episode, right before the full dance flashback, Ptonomy, who can see people’s memories, confirms David was physically in the nightclub the day Division 3 almost caught Oliver, who has been possessed by Farouk (Navid Negahban), the true identity of The Night King. And, they were in fact dancing. David was then found by Division 3 at that same club some time later.
Now we know David definitely wasn’t trapped in an orb for his entire year away.
A scene towards the end of the episode suggests the actual sequence of events that led David away from Summerland and into that nightclub for the first time. In a flashback, we see David’s orb capture from the perspective of his girlfriend Syd Barrett (Rachel Keller), then the camera turns immediately around, and there’s David, inside of the orb. Viewers are supposed to believe this was David’s first stop after his disappearing act. He walks through the orb, because time and space are flimsy constructs in Legion, and finds a version of Syd, who says she’s from the future. She has a number of gray hairs — Syd had none at the end of season 1 and just one in “Chapter 9” — and a missing arm, hinting this is the young woman years in the future. Future Syd tells David he has to help Farouk find his body if he wants to save their love, despite the fact such an action will essentially turn the villain into a god.
It’s unclear if David followed this advice after getting out of the orb, but, some way or another it led him to his nightclub confrontation with Oliver and Lenny, who in this situation seems to be reviving her season 1 role as an avatar for Farouk.
As Legion creator Noah Hawley has confirmed, the dance battle takes the place of a traditional superhero throwdown. Considering the fact David and Oliver, who were once allies, square off on the dance floor first, it seems like the latter telepath has both fully been taken over by the Shadow King and will continue to serve as more of an adversary than a “hostage,” as David calls him. After seeing David’s extremely strong moves compared to Oliver’s more lax style, it looks like our hero should have the advantage in this competition of mutant wills.
Yet, the same can’t be said for David’s coming confrontation with Farouk, who does not show up in this reality-bending moment in his own form. Instead, it appears he uses Lenny, who shows up as a figment of Oliver’s imagination throughout the episode, and it’s clear she’s not even playing the same game as the men. While David and Oliver dance to some fairly harmless, beep-filled techno with their basic clothing, Lenny appears in a button-down bodysuit that’s both ready for Cabaret and a nod toward her “Feeling Good” sequence last year. Lenny gets a sultry, tango-ready rhythm put over the guy’s regular old music and the kind of backup dancers who will pick her up and spin her around. Clearly, this is supposed to be the show-stopping number of the fight and very in line with the Shadow King’s signature theatrics.
Oliver’s choreography during Lenny’s performance adds to the likelihood he’s going to support Farouk, as he eventually joins Lenny-As-Farouk’s crew. At least we can hope David stands a fighting chance against his paired-up adversaries, as he gets in the last “hit,” or in this case powerful, wind-blowing eight-count, before the sequence fades to black.
While we now understand what the full dance sequence means, the starring trio’s second, episode-closing meet-up at the nightclub, complete with the exact same reveling club goers as before, is far more obscure. Since David, who now remembers his “help Farouk” orb conversation with Syd, is wearing his pajamas, it’s likely he, Oliver, and Lenny-As-Farouk are now in the astral plane. Although viewers probably won't get another dance breakdown, this repeat image suggests David doesn’t have as strong of a grip on his Shadow King-free sanity as he suspects.
Remember, recurring sensory experiences are one of the first symptoms you've been infected by Farouk.
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