Holy shit I am never sleeping again.
Legion’s third chapter might best be described as a series of night terrors punctuated by waking horror, as David flips between anxious memory work and eavesdropping on his sister’s captivity. With the exception of two very brief interludes with Syd, David spends most of this episode facing down twin specters of inhuman malevolence and human cruelty, and feeling personally responsible for both.
Chapter 3 picks up the morning after Chapter 2: Amy’s first morning in captivity, and David’s second or third day of memory work. With Amy at risk, Dr. Bird and Ptonomy don’t have time for the usual detailed investigation and opt to zero in on the most troubling events of David’s life. While Syd keeps watch, David, Ptonomy, and Dr. Bird approach the kitchen-poltergeist that followed his final argument with Philly. Before he can enjoy or even assimilate confirmation of his telekinesis, the Devil with Yellow Eyes peers around the door frame, invisible to Ptonomy and Dr. Bird. Terrified, David teleports the three of them – himself, Ptonomy, and Dr. Bird – from the memory cube back into the main building.
With yet another power revealed, David finds himself back in Cary’s lab. Prompted to remember something stressful, he flashes back to Halloween, when King (the family beagle) runs off after being denied a cut of David and Amy’s candy haul. Young David follows the dog to an empty yard only to encounter The World’s Angriest Boy in the World. When Cary checks up on him, David doesn’t respond – that is, he does, but not physically. Locked in some kind of trance, David (thinks he) answers that he’s fine just before Lenny materializes to taunt him with Amy’s misery. The room begins to tremble, and Syd rushes in, probably to see whether she can talk him down. David emerges from the trance long enough to see her and takes her with him as he astrally projects to wherever D3 is holding Amy. They “arrive” in time to witness Brubaker’s threat to turn David “off” as Amy insists that her brother just needs his medication. While David struggles to speak, The Eye looks straight at him and Syd – and reaches out.
Once they’ve pulled themselves out of the Summerland lake (his astral projection/teleportation return skills need some fine-tuning), Syd and David report to Dr. Bird, who warns them that further forays into D3 could put everyone at Summerland at risk. Confronted about The Eye, Dr. Bird sketches a brief history of Summerland: Built by Cary and her (late?) husband Oliver over 30 years ago, the institute predates the Divisions, and may have been the first organization to recognize human mutation. The Eye, then known as Walter, was an early pupil until they discovered his appetite for inflicting pain. Dr. Bird also admits that as much as she wants to help David for his own sake, she’s also hoping he can be the secret weapon who turns the tide of the war between Summerland and the Divisions.
Now fearful that their previous attempts at memory work may be doing more harm than good, Dr. Bird suggests sedation to disable David’s more damaging defense mechanisms. Desperate to get a grasp on his power and save Amy, he agrees, and the next day Bird, Ptonomy, and now Sydney set out to uncover what precipitated David’s admission to Clockworks. The sedation plan backfires spectacularly, precipitating a series of increasingly chilling scenes as The World’s Angriest Boy and the Devil with Yellow Eyes hunt down the interlopers in David’s mind. Owing to residual effects of their body-switch, Syd can see the Devil, who remains invisible to Ptonomy and Dr. Bird. Syd manages to wake herself – although whether from sheer terror, or because something happened, is not revealed – and then Ptonomy. Dr. Bird doesn’t wake up until the Angriest Boy picture book snaps viselike over her hand and the Devil looms hungrily behind her. Wherever David has retreated – or been driven back to – they can’t reach or wake him.
During Chapter 3’s first memory trip, Dr. Bird observes that David’s power seems to explode when he feels trapped and helpless, and now the traps are converging from all sides: He’s wracked with guilt about his sister, who was taken solely as a means of getting to him. Troubled by his powers and doubting his sanity, he’s begun to realize that it may not be possible to disentangle the former from the latter. And the Devil flickers into view every time he closes his eyes. Syd’s love might ground him for now, but relief is not escape, and I’m not sure how much more of this David can take.
- “Shall we begin?”
- “’Control’ may be an overstatement.”
- “Unhand the reptile, Space Captain!”
- “Could you maybe not break everything this time?”
“I’m not gonna promise that.”
- “That bitch’s secrets have secrets.”
- “Hey, if you learn to control that, you’re gonna be a world-class badass.”
- “Who rescued who from who from a pool surrounded by commandos with guns?”
- “Everyone in here keeps saying I’m sane. What if they’re wrong?”
ODDS & ENDS
- As of this episode, “mutant” is officially in play.
- Syd and David’s courtship continues its awkward and chaste trajectory. Their experiences of the body switch highlights a key difference: Having tracked her consciousness across several different bodies, Sydney maintains a clear sense of self and thinks of her body as a transient vehicle for her mind. David sets a greater premium on knowing where his personal mass begins and ends, because it’s the only thing he can be sure of; his mind, unbound by physical constraints, eludes any kind of grasp. Opposites really do attract. Their dynamic is sweet, but a little bit of Gambit/Rogue energy might be fun later on.
- Clockworks treated David’s abilities as illness, and Summerland insists his illness was his abilities. Both of these approaches may do David a disservice, as there’s been no evidence to suggest mutant powers and mental illness are mutually exclusive.
- The Summerland therapy/meeting room where most of this episode happens has a window in the same X-shape as the “O” in the series logo.
- Summerland’s outdoor classroom bears an uncanny but probably unintentional resemblance to the Institute River Tam attends in Serenity.
- Everyone has started wearing a neat little wristband device – a communicator? A tracker?
- Poor Amy! She’s Exhibit A in no good deed going unpunished, and she’s so normal she never even considered the existence of mutants. I hope D3 got that bit of conversation from Amy by spying, because it would be really upsetting if her husband turned out to be a D3 agent.
- Brubaker, the D3 agent interrogating Amy, sounds like a fanatic – my money’s on him being this universe’s Senator Kelly. He’s played by David Selby, probably best known as Quentin Collins in Dark Shadows.
- The elevator and coffee machine speak in her husband’s voice, but Dr. Bird refuses to say what happened to Oliver.
- The soundtrack continues to kick ass and take names: This week’s arresting selection is Robert Plant’s “Monkey,” which played over the trick-or-treating scene and which you should go listen to right now.
FAN THEORIES, or WHAT THE HELL I THINK IS GOING ON
- It’s beginning to look more and more like Lenny might be one of David’s personalities. The main piece of evidence against this theory is her death, which is witnessed by Dr. Kissinger and David-as-Syd AND referenced by the interrogator, but that could just mean the entire world is a pocket universe or a delusion.
- The Devil with Yellow Eyes and the The World’s Angriest Boy in the World are the same creature/being/malevolent consciousness. Even if they were once only metaphors for David’s anger or fear, the nature of his mind has given them real being.
- Ptonomy’s powers are impaired in the presence of the Devil with Yellow Eyes, even when David is sedated. That fact, and the way it moves through David’s mind with something like intent, strongly suggests to me that it has some independent existence, it definitely wants something, and David’s fear of it is not entirely irrational.
- While she’s walking through the house, David’s parents see Dr. Bird. In addition to being creepy as hell, this points to his memory being self-aware.
- So what’s the over/under on Walter being Melanie and Oliver’s kid?
- I’m trying to figure out whether the book slamming shut on Dr. Bird’s hand was a trap sprung by the Devil with Yellow Eyes or a safety switch David’s mind flipped to wake her up.
- Noah Hawley loves to reference significant stories or concepts in-show, perhaps most famously in the “Buridan’s Ass” episode of Fargo, so it’s no accident that he slipped in the story of the woodcutter and the crane. In almost every version of the story, the relationship with the crane starts with an act of kindness but ends with a breach of trust motivated by curiosity or greed. David may be the crane helped but ultimately alienated (and potentially damaged) by Summerland’s well-meaning prying.
- Colorwatch: David’s pants are gray (the color he wears when he loses control) but his t-shirt is orange and black (Syd’s colors). The meeting/therapy room is primarily yellow with red accents. The soothing greens of the forest feature much less prominently in this episode. Brubaker wears the same neutrals as Dr. Bird; whether this indicates some shared motive or just a shared interest in mutants is currently unclear. Everyone else continues to wear their trademark colors and/or show up in previously viewed outfits (e.g. Lenny and past-David).
Feeling like a gibbering pile of fear? Here, have a beagle.