“You ever have that feeling, that something’s happened before, except … differently?”
— Syd Barrett
After the frenetic pace of last week’s episode, packed as it was with revelations (not to mention the bodies of Division 3 operatives) and capped off by a head-turning cliffhanger, this week’s installment of “Legion” comes as a welcome breather. With the season finale only two episodes away, all the pieces need to move into the place, and move they do.
The characters have, for the most part, settled into their new reality at Clockworks Psychiatric Hospital, though none more than David. Comfortable in his spacious, well-appointed quarters, which contrast starkly with the almost-spartan rooms of his fellow patients, he paints, listens to music and marvels at how much better he is under the care of Dr. Lenny Busker. The others also seem to benefit from her expertise and insight, as Melanie Bird struggles still, after 20 years, to come to terms with the loss of her husband — “But you see it, right?” Lenny observes. “That you’re the one that’s frozen.” — Ptonomy relives every moment, every detail, of his mother’s death when he was just 5 years old, and Cary and Kerry address their emotional attachment to one another. “I know we’re not literally the same, like sharing a body,” Cary confesses. “We’re not crazy.”
Even Walter, aka The Eye, begins to work through his deep-seated hostility, which appears rooted in his undergoing puberty after the rest of his classmates, and the associated insecurities about masculinity. That probably explains a lot. But while Clockworks appears as the status quo for everyone else, Syd senses that something’s not quite right. As Dr. Busker probes Syd’s aversion to being touched, and her self-imposed isolation, her patient is focused on larger issues. “Something’s wrong, like a dream, y’know, but not an interesting one,” Syd says. “More like the one where you’re folding laundry or eating. Everything seems normal, but somehow you know.”
However, Syd is the only one who seems to notice that, or the “bedroom door” that appears intermittently appears at the end of a hall a Clockworks. It’s the most obvious sign that one reality (perhaps even the “real” world, whatever that might be) is bleeding into this one, but there are still other indications. The Summerland crew is dreaming — Cary about “a very large ice cube,” Kerry about something like “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” (presumably someone in a vintage diving suit), and Melanie about “love.” All point to Oliver Bird trying to make contact, despite previously having little memory of his life before becoming lost on the astral plane.
If David dreams, it’s undoubtedly about his future at this version of Clockworks, which he hopes might eventually include a shared room with Syd. “Maybe we belong here,” he tells his girlfriend, even as he ignores her misgivings about this existence. It’s not all rosy for David, though. He tells Dr. Busker he’s happy and much more clear-minded than before, but admits he worries about the manic aspect of his manic depression, a new diagnosis that David accepts as long-established fact. David also doesn’t seem to recognize those “deja vu”-style moments that nag at Syd, like the reenactment of the exchange about the drooling patient, only this time with Ptonomy in place of Lenny, or the nighttime rendezvous, only this time with David paying a visit to Syd’s room.
Far more difficult to overlook is Clockworks’ own Nurse Ratched (actually David’s sister Amy), whose presence seems intended to distract the patients’ attention — on separate occasions she diverts Syd and David from the mysterious door — and to cause suffering, or at least discomfort. She delights in patting down Syd, who doesn’t like to be touched, and in taking away David’s beloved cherry pie, for no apparent reason. She later berates David, giving voice to his own lifelong insecurities: “Nobody wants you here. I said, you’re unwanted. […] You’re a freak, you’re disgusting. We adopt you because we have to. But deep down it’s all we can do to keep from puking when you’re around.” Why she’d seek to torment David in this reality is unclear; after all, most everything else seems designed to keep him, if not exactly happy, then pliant.
Syd, on the other hand, is a thorn in Lenny’s side. Not only does she see the cracks in this carefully constructed facade, she distracts David with — in Lenny’s words — “all this love bullshit.” After a frustrating exchange in which David tells her she’s the diagnosed schizophrenic, Syd heads back toward her room, only to spy an oozing spot on the hallway wall. When she touches the wound, where she saw Lenny trapped halway in the wall, all the memories come flashing back, from her kiss with David to his rescue from Division 3 to her confrontation with the Devil With Yellow Eyes. Her realization is interrupted by a smiling Dr. Busker, who offers Syd headphones and suggests she try music therapy. Seemingly sedated by the sound of crickets, Syd is transported back to bed, oblivious to her concerns and the rest of the world.
However, Syd may be the least of Lenny’s problems. When Cary and Kerry retire to their respective bedrooms (neighboring, of course, so Kerry can knock on the wall if she gets frightened), Cary no sooner closes his eyes than “the very large ice cube” appears and transports him to the astral plane, where a diver (Oliver, presumably) awaits. The diver then materializes in Melanie’s room, beckoning her through the wall and down a dark corridor to David’s childhood bedroom, or at least the re-creation of it where all hell broke loose in last week’s episode. There she finds the scene frozen as we left it, except for the bullet from The Eye’s gun, which moves millimeter by millimeter closer to David and Syd. Unable to move them or the bullet, she looks to Oliver for guidance but finds none. But her actions don’t escape the attention of Lenny, whose enormous eyes appear in the wall.
Perhaps that’s what spurs Dr. Busker to abandon all pretense when David comes to her office search of his girlfriend. After first questioning whether Syd is right for him, Lenny regales him with the story of Ophiocordyceps unilateralis, a fungus that infects ants and compels them to crawl to a high point, where the sporocarp grows from the insect’s head and erupts, spreading its spores. It’s a chilling lesson that positions Lenny as the fungus and David as the poor ant. If that weren’t enough, she goes on to taunt David, saying, “I knew your father, did you know that? Your real father, the guy that gave you away. I know, boo-hoo. Talk about an asshole; always acting so holy, and then gives away his only son. He thought he could hide you from me, but he was wrong. I found you. Such a sweet little baby, and me, your very own walking, talking fungus.”
(With that, we get the first tentative clues about David’s biological father, and his relationship to Lenny/the Devil With Yellow Eyes. If we assume he is Charles Xavier, as in the comic books, then this might lend even more credence to the theory that the Devil With Yellow Eyes is the Shadow King: Amahl Farouk was the first evil mutant Xavier met, so it would make sense that he’d try to keep David from the Shadow King.)
Always manipulative, Lenny insists she’s only trying to help David. “Man, you have so much potential. You’re much more powerful than I ever imagined,” she says, later adding, “Man, we could give God a run for his money, right?” But then “all this love bullshit” had to go and ruin everything. “I’m beginning to think I’ll have to go it alone.” With that, she locks David away … somewhere. Somewhere dark.
However, we can imagine it won’t be for long, as Syd is awakened from her blissful slumber by none other than Cary in Oliver’s diving suit. Presumably Oliver won’t be far behind.
Odds and Ends
- David, who has vivid childhood memories of his beagle King, reveals to Ptonomy that he doesn’t love dogs. (Perhaps it’s because King was merely a manifestation of the Devil With Yellow Eyes.)
- Lenny’s “Feeling Good” dance number moves from seductive to manic to frightening in a matter of moments. Aubrey Plaza is a national treasure.
- The relationship between Cary and Kerry continues to be one of the most endearing elements of “Legion.” Finishing each other’s sentences? Knocking in code on the shared wall? Come on.
- That only serves to make Walter’s stalking of Kerry more unsettling.