WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for this week's episode of Legion, "Chapter 25," which aired Monday on FX.
Amid the drastically changing lives and relationships in this season of FX’s Legion, two characters have been conspicuously absent, barely even mentioned since their last appearance at the end of Season 2. Oliver and Melanie Bird (Jemaine Clement and Jean Smart), at that time, were discussing the end of the world from within their ice cube refuge on the astral plane, comfortable enough but without any apparent thought -- or means -- of returning to assist their earthbound friends.
The latest episode opens on the couple, still in their self-imposed exile, but the ice cube has expanded into an entire world: a peaceful, pastoral land resembling pre-industrial Europe. Of course, there are some hidden dangers and certain elements that don’t quite line up to reality; in short, it all comes together as a living fairy tale.
It’s the kind of place where a man walking in the woods can find a baby in a basket and bring her home to his wife to be raised as their own, but it also harbors its own Big Bad Wolf -- also known as Jerome (Jason Mantzoukas). The baby is soon identified as Sydney Barrett (Rachel Keller), although Oliver and Melanie don’t yet remember they knew her, and she begins to grow with few shadows over her happy childhood.
One is the Wolf, or rather, the mundane evils and suffering that he represents. While Syd’s adoptive parents attempt to shield her from the “real world,” Jerome waits for opportunities to inform her about things like the Holocaust and chlamydia. The same night that baby Sydney is found, he shows up at the family’s door with one of his victims, a young woman whose route to the astral plane was through personal trauma and drug addiction. “This is Cynthia,” he introduces her. “She’s given up all hope. Isn’t that great?”
While it doesn’t appear that there’s any way to vanquish or defeat the Wolf, Oliver and Melanie hold their own against him with their agenda of relentless love and kindness. They invite Cynthia into their home, and she stays long enough to regain hope, and to become a friend and older sister to Sydney. Sadly, temptation wins her over and she eventually returns to the Wolf and his destructive lifestyle.
Meanwhile, Syd has begun having nightmares about her former life, and asking questions about the real world. When she’s sixteen (played by Pearl Amanda Dickson, the same young actress who portrayed her in other peeks into the character’s teen years), she has a disturbing encounter with Cynthia, and her parents stop deflecting her inquiries.
Although it’s not clear when or how they realized that their pasts were intertwined with Syd’s, they’re now very conscious of what their role should be in her life. “The real world needs you,” Melanie explains, and then reveals the endgame to both her daughter and the audience, tying this arc back to the hopeless battleground where the show was left in the previous episode: “We’re not trying to protect you from the real world. We’re helping you be the person the world needs...so you can save it.”
Sydney makes a courageous effort to rescue Cynthia, backed by Oliver, who scores a hit by pointing out that the Wolf’s wicked ways don’t make him happy. Cynthia takes the Wolf’s side anyway, leading Oliver to remark, “Not everyone wants to be saved.” Sydney, however, has ascended to adulthood, and her parents deem her ready to return to the real world.
Back on the airship where David attacked Division 3, Syd awakens a mere twenty minutes after she was stunned by her mental battle with him. She’s gained nothing from her second life except for a new perspective, but it’s enough to make a difference.
She finds Cary (Bill Irwin) and Kerry (Amber Midthunder) and rallies them to help her get through the time travel portal that’s still open on the ship. The two of them -- recently reunited after Cary’s kidnapping -- together choose to make a sacrifice so that they can both be ready to help and support Syd on her mission. Kerry is severely hurt from her last fight, and Cary, despite his lower tolerance for pain, absorbs her wounds into himself and drops into a wheelchair to accompany her and Syd.
It’s an understated moment, but one that reinforces the lessons that Syd took from Oliver and Melanie. The love between Cary and Kerry echoes the compassionate, practical kind of love that the Bird family shared in their astral plane life, rather than the selfish passions that have been driving David.
Kerry ends the episode telling Syd, “We’re gonna win,” and it’s no longer quite so hard to believe.
Airing Mondays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on FX, Legion stars Dan Stevens, Rachel Keller, Jean Smart, Bill Irwin, Amber Midthunder, Jeremie Harris, Aubrey Plaza, Jemaine Clement, Hamish Linklater, Navid Negahban and Lauren Tsai.