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Legion: What's Real and Not Real in That Trippy Season 2 Premiere?

Focus on the morality, not the delusions

Megan Vick

Legion is back and so is the weekly inescapable feeling of "What the hell did I just watch?" for its viewers.

Here's what we know to be true: Season 2 of the X-Men tangential series picks up 362 days after last season's finale when David (Dan Stevens) was abducted from the Summerland ranch by a mysterious floating orb. His mutant friends, who have now all joined the government agency Division 3, find David sitting alone in a nightclub filled with patrons infected with what Division 3 is calling "The Catalyst." It's a psychological virus they believe that Oliver (Jemaine Clement) and The Shadow King/Farouk (Aubrey Plaza) are spreading as they search for Farouk's missing body -- which would make the demon unstoppable.

According to David, he's only been missing for a few hours, maybe a day. He alleges he has no idea that it's been close to a year since he last saw his friends or his girl, Syd (Rachel Keller).

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These facts are complicated by a mid-episode explanation of delusions, which are embodied in the series as a black-ooze-covered baby chicken skeleton. When delusions feed on healthy ideas they grow into a full-on psychosis (enter Aubrey Plaza as David's vision of The Shadow King). This introduction of this idea puts the reality of everything into question -- but it shouldn't, just yet.

"Having that delusion creature break out of its own section of the show into the show, you know, hasn't paid off yet," Legion creator Noah Hawley tells TV Guide. "I wouldn't say that seeing that creature in the show necessarily means that it has brought the delusions with it yet."

So David isn't having delusions just yet. However, a dance battle between David, Oliver and The Shadow King reveals that David wasn't just trapped in the orb for over 10 months and he's lying to Division 3 and Syd.

How to Watch Legion

"I do think that I'm asking so much of the audience, that I try to be clear about the things that I don't want you to be confused about," Legion creator Noah Hawley tells TV Guide. "Because it's important to go 'All right, there's a complex thing that's happening that first hour when he comes back and a year's gone by, and he says I don't know. I was just in that orb, and I don't know what happened.' But he's lying, right? Then to say all right he was in that club and he had this dance off with these people. What is that about? That was a fight? What was that?"

It turns out it wasn't a fight. A flashback later in the episode reveals that the orb was sent by Future Syd with a message that David should actually help Oliver and Farouk find the body. Moments later, David entered the club, but now with an entirely different perspective.

"It wasn't a dance battle. It was more of a courtship day. Something like that," Hawley explains. "If the audience is going 'Well, was any of that actually real?' Then, you know, I think that's overthinking it."

According to Hawley, the central query of the series has moved away from what's real and what's imagined and transitioned more to a question of morality. If Future Syd wants David to help Farouk find his body, which we've been told by Division 3 would be the Worst Case Scenario, does that mean that the Shadow King is actually evil, or have we just misunderstood him?

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"I think the two things can be true at the same time, certainly in the X-men universe," Hawley says. "It's not morally black and white. There's this gray area in the middle. The idea that Farouk is not a good person doesn't necessarily mean that we have to hunt him down and kill him... He has a role to play. You might not like it necessarily, but you know, we'll see what happens."

The same goes for David. He's been positioned as our hero, but he's operated for the past two decades with a demon in his head. The demon has been removed, but can David be trusted, especially after that final scene of him kissing the Shadow King? Discovering what David has been up to since he was taken by the orb and the true effects of having Farouk be a part of him for so long will bring up a lot of moral dilemmas to dive into over the course of Season 2.

"I think what we're trying to explore is you take this person, [David], who has never been very clear and you give him some clarity and then you put him under a lot of stress -- does he make good decisions now?" Hawley poses. "Does he make bad decisions? Then you add in this weird demon he had in his head. Now we've removed that, but does that mean it came out all good? Was that demon responsible for every bad thing he ever did? Now he's a good person?...There's a lot that I'm playing with with him that's really fun to explore."

Legion continues Tuesdays at 10/9c on FX.