Spoilers for the "Chapter 17" episode of Legion. Jean Smart finally gets something to do in Season 2 of FX's X-Men series, and it's about time. With only three episodes left in the show's sophomore season, the three-time Emmy-winner had been oddly underserved so far. But where is Melanie on Legion after that May 29 episode? Naturally, the character gets her biggest episode of the season to date — and then gets brainwashed and transported… somewhere, where she reunites with her long lost love, Oliver.
What's going on here? In a season where characters continue to get stuck inside illusions, delusions, alternate realities, and mental mazes, it can often be hard to tell where exactly any one character actually is at any given time. Is Melanie transported to an actual physical location? Has she been trapped inside her own mind? Oliver's mind? Amahl Farouk's mind? The astral plane? My brain hurts just thinking about all the possibilities.
The location where Melanie ends up at the end of "Chapter 17" has been seen once before: at the end of the previous episode, "Chapter 16." As the camera panned through a winding path between tall walls of stone, Farouk could be heard saying, "Come to me." And then the frightening minotaur that has been haunting the periphery of Season 2 made an appearance, limping into view in an inverted shot that made it look like the hideous creature was hanging from the ceiling.
Although the minotaur can be glimpsed in the background of several shots throughout Legion Season 2 if you know where to look, its two most notable prior appearances both also involved Melanie: traipsing through her room while she was smoking in the season premiere, and haunting the dark corners of her "maze" when David ventured into her mind to snap her out of the Mi-Go monk's infectious "Catalyst."
Of course, in Greek mythology, the minotaur was the beast that lay within the fabled labyrinth, hungry and ready to devour anyone who got lost in its twisting passageways. Therefore, the minotaur's presence during the cliffhanger of "Chapter 16" implies that the stony corridor is part of a labyrinth — one that Melanie now finds herself trapped in at the end of "Chapter 17." But instead of coming face-to-face with the drooling monster, she encounters… Oliver? Melanie tenderly places her hand on her missing husband's cheek, and seems content despite her dubious surroundings and apparent brainwashing.
Is Oliver the minotaur? He was the presence waiting for Melanie inside the labyrinth, after all. If so, what does that mean? And why is the same creature haunting both Melanie's Catalyst-induced maze and the mental prison that Amahl Farouk has apparently trapped Melanie in? Does the monster somehow exist independently from either of them — perhaps some outside force drawn to feed off the minds of those who find themselves lost in insanity?
Just as importantly, what are Oliver and Melanie going to do now that they're reunited (mentally, if not physically)? While the resolution of "Chapter 17" feels like a loss — the erstwhile leader of Summerland has been manipulated into turning spy for Farouk due to her grief — perhaps the Shadow King has played right into Oliver's hands. After all, the mutant scientist did say earlier this season that he had discovered Farouk's weakness. His only clue was that one-plus-one does not always equal one.
Could the "one-plus-one" in this scenario be married couple Oliver and Melanie? Might they be more powerful now that they're together? Can Melanie's presence somehow help to break Oliver free from Farouk's control? Whatever they do, the Birds better be sure to watch their backs for creepy crawly minotaurs… or they may never escape Farouk's labyrinth.