In the second episode of “Legion” season two on FX, Dan Stevens’ troubled telepathic hero David Haller encounters, for the first time, the true face of the nemesis that haunted and hunted him through season one — the Shadow King, aka Amahl Farouk, played by Navid Negahban. It’s a critical scene for David and Farouk, as well as for Aubrey Plaza’s Lenny, who, up until this moment, had been the mask that Farouk wore when facing David.
The scene begins with David projecting himself into a sort-of psychic realm, where he wakes in a field and approaches a fortune-teller booth, when Farouk appears. After a tense exchange, David telepathically attacks Farouk, and the two take turns transforming into escalating threats — a samurai, a tank, a storm — each trying to one-up the other. Lenny later appears but can’t convince Farouk to return her to the real world.
Ana Lily Amirpour
“I was really excited that there was a scene out in a desert, grassland environment. That’s a very happy place for me. I shot both of my last two films out in the desert. And there’s nothing more epic than anamorphic lenses in the desert. It was one of those kinds of blessed moments where we had clouds and cool weather. It was this sprawling sequence that went from in his mind, out to the desert, then they go through the eyeball into this other space to wrestle, then back to the desert and Lenny’s there, then Farouk erases the desert. It was this snakelike sequence, kind of like a classic Western in a way. It’s super tense, and you’re just with these two characters facing off on a epic mythic scale. The camera can tell that, the dialogue can tell that, the way it’s structured and laid out. It’s mythic, like a Western. But it’s ‘Legion,’ so people turn into tanks and samurais, and it makes it more fun and unexpected.”
Director of photography
“The content of the scene describes how Farouk and David are basically these god-like creatures. So the approach to the scene is to introduce Farouk and to show him as the god-like figure that he is, but also to show that David was equally as powerful, using the close profile shots as a tennis match almost, moving backwards and forward between them as they’re almost riffing off each other, then using lower angle, wider, close shots to make them feel more heroic. We shot it with anamorphic lenses, as we do throughout the season, to signify different mental spaces or different moments in time.”
“It’s happened quite a few times on ‘Legion’ where something will happen that will put me in the mindset that is required for David in that moment. There’s something quite awe-inspiring and new about meeting Farouk. It’s this uncanny interaction. They wanted it to be epic and have this sort of epic scale, and I really felt that out there. Even from the first shot of that scene where I’m lying down in the grass — I had never been out there and I was convinced that there were rattlesnakes within inches of my face. … So I was sort of lying there in terror, which was appropriate.”
“The only Shadow King that we’ve seen has been Aubrey Plaza, who has really been a mask for Navid. So he needed a good introduction. And we need to realize that as far as he’s concerned, he has this real relationship with David and has been with David since he’s a baby. So there’s this kind of intimacy to it that David is not expecting and rejects. He is a sort of elder statesman. He knows how to use his powers. He’s a strategist. He doesn’t feel like David is his equal, but he makes this sort of Darth Vader offer of ‘take my hand and we’ll rule the universe together.’ We need to see that offer, and we need to see David reject it.”