Clark is right to be afraid of David Haller. His fear of David’s powers may have been misplaced, but his fear of David is not. David’s prodigious power is untethered from any sense of proportion. His resting state is tunnel vision: David sees only what he wants and what he needs to do to get it. He sees no reason why he shouldn’t get exactly everything he wants. And right now what David wants is revenge and victory.
This week’s opening shot suggests that David gets his wish: He perches on a throne, his eyes glittering with mad triumph. Scattered across his throne room are Lenny-as-supervillain-consort and a ring of charred bones. Syd looks out from the crystal ball in his hand. It hardly seems to matter whether this David is present or future, real or imagined, suppressed or ascendant. This David is real to himself. This David is unequivocal.
Then it’s back to the David we’ve been watching so far. He’s asleep, but Syd is not. She reflects on her last conversation with Clark. Even as she insisted on saving love, Syd conceded that that may not be David’s mission. The question of what he is doing instead hangs in the air and reverberates into the desert morning. To shake off the memory, Syd explores the patch of desert around their tent. Soon she comes upon a giant pink drain plug next to a pit. As she approaches the edge, a white rabbit on a hook is tossed out. Syd frees the rabbit, only to be snared by her own compassion and dragged into blackness.
The hook pulls Syd down through a familiar labyrinth. When she is finally able to free her hand and look up, she sees Melanie. Melanie’s hair is neater than it has been all season, and she has traded her flowing neutrals for a trim black suit. Even her features look sharper in the blue glow of the luminescent toadstool-like tables scattered throughout the room.
Melanie declares that love is insanity: an action repeated with the expectation of a different result. Love will not change the beloved, because men like David are incapable of loving anything or anyone that is not themselves. To support her argument, Melanie activates the tables, daring Syd to reconcile David’s competing presentations.
Meanwhile, David has awakened alone and traced Syd to the pit. Instead of going after her, he strikes out across the desert. David tells himself he’s looking for Farouk, for Oliver, for Syd, but all he really wants is revenge. This time, the dusty winds cannot beat David back, and in short order he reaches the empty rickshaw at the foot of the monastery hill.
He enters the palatial building we have glimpsed only in flashbacks and memories, following the strains of Oliver singing “Swing on a Star.” Assuming he’s facing Farouk!Oliver, David attacks physically and then telepathically, demanding Syd’s whereabouts. When Oliver refuses to comply, David torments him with a power drill. He strikes again and again, each time repeating the question and each time expecting a different result.
It’s said we are who we are when no one is watching. And this, Melanie says with some relish, is who David is. When he thinks no one can see, he’s a monster with a drill. Eventually Syd must look away. “You don’t seem like you,” Syd protests weakly. “I’ve changed.” Melanie answers. “My eyes are clear now.” She does seem transformed: Her steeliness is harder, colder, almost predatory. She closes in as Syd collapses under the evidence of David’s myriad betrayals: broken empathy, broken promises, and finally, a broken future. The coup de grace is Future!Syd’s admission to Farouk that she needs him to save the world from David. “How does he turn?” Melanie muses. “I don’t know. All I know is he does: into something magnificent, something terrible. Legion, the world-killer.”
The future may not be written, but the past is, and Melanie claims David has too much power and too much trauma to become anything but monstrous. The strength at his broken places is unwholesome. It is dark and perverse and dangerous, the strength of scar tissue callused against ordinary human feeling. Damaged beyond hurt, David hurts others. He is cruel, and unfaithful, and – most troubling – indifferent to the suffering he causes.
Perhaps it is this nihilistic indifference that makes David so attractive to Lenny, who has arrived in the desert with an insouciant smirk and a fully assembled rifle. She encounters a circle of figures meditating around the lip of the pit under the baking sun. As they regard her from the safe-like metal boxes on their heads, Lenny asks for – and receives – directions to the monastery.
Thanks to the tracker Cary placed in the weapon case, Cary, Kerry, and D3 are close behind. They arrive at the pit in time to find Lenny’s scent and a trail of abandoned safe-helmets. While D3 considers their next move, the sinister blue man group emerges from the pit, spinning bolas that emit a debilitating whine. This is Kerry’s cue to kick a whole lot of ass. After she dispatches them in an immensely satisfying superhero fight scene, a second and apparently identical wave spills up from the pit: Le Désolé is a fan of the Eternal Return of the Same.
Back at the monastery, David hauls his victim back to reality, tendering his question one last time. Oliver – just Oliver – collapses onto the floor, bloodied and broken. “She’s with Farouk. I’m sorry. He made me.” Of course Farouk was never there. Oliver was just a red herring, a song played to keep David – and Syd – from thinking clearly.
“Melanie” has broken so far into Syd’s guard that she is stroking her hair, seeming to console her: It’s not her fault, after all. David is as irretrievable as a serial killer. Once Syd has succumbed to this line of reasoning, the wheelbound minotaur creaks through the doorway with a sound that is like an animal’s growl but also like a child’s cry. Syd does not hear its entrance or Melanie’s departure.
Clark is setting up The Choke – a device whose tone deactivates mutant powers – but D3 is too late. They have always been too late. Deep underground, Farouk!Melanie has gained her destination. She restores the minotaur and dispatches it to “Kill the weak.” Then she flings open the egg-like coffin and faces the body the mind inside her has hunted for so long. Melanie collapses and Farouk’s eyes open for the first time in a generation.
With no further need for delaying tactics, the waves of blue men finally taper off. Kerry has almost finished them off (with a last-minute assist from Lenny) when the last one manages to trap Cary and drag him downward. Lenny hangs out by the pit to “wait there for the big payback” while Kerry leaps in to retrieve her counterpart.
The blue man pulling Cary through the tunnels finds his journey cut short by the minotaur, its eye sockets aflame. Cary escapes and warns two Vermilion droids before fleeing up the tunnel to the monastery, where David presides over a near-dead Oliver. When David admits his crime, Cary stutters out an attempt to talk him down, but both the attempt and the anxiety are inconsequential: All David can think about is killing Farouk.
Kerry tracks Cary to the tunnels, but instead finds Syd, who announces that they need to stop David. That he is the monster now. Before she can explain further, the minotaur appears in the doorway. In the ensuing scuffle the minotaur grabs Syd by the throat – and she, in turns, grabs its arm. I hope Kerry saw that, because she’s swinging a goddamn sickle.
Back on the surface, Farouk has emerged. After neutralizing D3 and The Choke, he turns to face the sunrise. Perhaps this is the sunrise he promised Oliver. Now he hears a voice reciting stanzas from The World’s Angriest Boy in the World. Farouk turns from the sun, utterly unsurprised: David has found him, and the final battle can begin.
Before this week’s final shot, I’d forgotten I’d been waiting for this showdown. Now that it’s finally happening, it’s hard to know which character to root for. After all, who is more dangerous: someone who has embraced the cruelty within his power, or someone who really, really wants to? Farouk didn’t relegate David to the “children’s table” because he is a good person. Farouk dismissed him because David still thinks he can square his outsize powers – and desires – with a human-sized life. He wants to believe it is possible to be a good person – that it’s possible to be a person at all – when you never have to take no for an answer. David’s been through a lot, and I feel for him, but he’s going to have to choose between being the person he tends to be and the person he wants to be. Based on that opening shot, I’m not sure he doesn’t make the same choice as Farouk. We damn well better find out in next week’s season finale.
- “Here we are, addicted to this delusion, love.”
- “What he really loves, what they all love, is that feeling of power and knowing that you’ve been chosen by God. That you’re special, that you’ve been chosen by destiny. No piece of ass can ever compete with that.”
- “You’re not making any sense. How can you kill me? I’m part of you.”
- “I’m the lunatic you turned me into, and I’m ready for my revenge.”
- “The greatest monsters are the ones in human clothes.”
- “He wore his madness like a coat.”
- “This is their power, the mind readers. They read our minds and then they show us what we want to see.”
- “He’s not dead. He should be, but he’s not.”
- “Conflict imminent. Chance of victory 0%. Retreat.”
ODDS & ENDS
- The TV toadstools look like larger versions of the portholes through which Future!Syd is observing “current” events.
- There’s a little plinky side effect after Oliver zips his lips and throws away the key.
- That drain plug was very reminiscent of Claes Oldenburg’s work.
FAN THEORIES, OR WHAT THE HELL I THINK IS GOING ON
- That’s not lightning we’ve been seeing; it’s electrical impulses in a brain.
- I’m beginning to think David’s just with Syd because he thinks she’s the kind of girl a good guy would be with. Dark David’s consort of choice is Lenny.
- We mainly saw Lenny provoking David, but what if Farouk’s presence was keeping David’s more destructive tendencies in check?