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Legion proves David’s mind is the most treacherous ground

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Photo: Michelle Kaye/FX Networks
Photo: Michelle Kaye/FX Networks
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Legion

"Chapter Six"

Season 1 , Episode 6

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For most of us, retreating into our thoughts or daydream is a way of coping with something bad or unpleasant. We can briefly pull away to recall something more pleasant, or mentally deliver the snappy retort or withering dismissal we’ve only just come up with. Some of us linger longer than others, but we always come back. But it’s been made abundantly clear that David Haller is not like any of us, and one of the ways that’s been demonstrated is by the fact that he’s always been reluctant to go his “headspace.” That’s because he’s probably always known that there’s something even worse there—yes, something more disturbing or dangerous than Division 3, or The Eye and not-Rudy’s bullets.

Another reason why hanging out in the nooks and crannies of David’s mind was to be avoided is because it implies a withdrawal, or surrender. Look at what happened to Oliver: he ended up preferring the reality of his own making, and now his body sits on ice while Melanie figures out a way to get him back. He’s sidelined himself—stuck his head in the sand, where all he hears is the bossa nova bass. No battle is going to be won that way, let alone a war.

The concept of war has been bandied about in Legion, though the sides, goals, and/or acts of aggression haven’t been made entirely clear. It returns in “Chapter 6,” and not just because someone’s fired upon the group. Melanie and Ptonomy have alluded to it, and Division 3 certainly lived up to being a group of bad guys. Though the central conflict remains elusive (well, it’s less so now), preparations for battle have commenced. There’s David’s training which, despite not going quite as Melanie hoped, was designed to make him useful to the Summerland group. Melanie’s objectives turned out to be as selfish as they were altruistic; she recognized David’s psychic abilities matched her comatose husband’s. But she was honest about her ulterior motives, even if she didn’t disclose exactly what they were. And she really did want to help David.

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David’s memory work and previous time in therapy yielded less than desirable results, but they also provided important clues. And while Cary’s big revelation might have come after watching the security and MRI footage, they’re not going to save David with machines. (Well, probably not—maybe there’s some alternate universe where Cary’s collar would have worked.) So although the risk is considerably higher for everyone, Legion seems to be suggesting that this time of reflection or journey through David’s consciousness or whatever you want to call it is necessary. It’s why, when the demon with the yellow eyes invaded the White Room last week, David drew them in and took them all back to Clockworks.

Following that warp, “Chapter Six” gradually reorients viewers, examining the Summerland crew’s motivations and abilities through the psychiatric lens of Dr. Lenny Busker, who is obviously not interested in healing any of her patients. It’s telling that David took refuge at Clockworks. He could have gone back to his childhood, before his powers manifested (assuming there was such a time) or just anywhere but a psychiatric institution. And when confronted the parasite that’s always been with him, David didn’t go to Summerland, where everyone assured him there was nothing wrong with him. He wasn’t getting the help he needed, but he did meet Syd there, so that could be why he wanted to go back. But the way David throws himself into his therapy, and begins rewriting his own memories—his diagnosis changes from paranoid schizophrenic to manic depressive—suggests he’s taking a cue from Oliver and altering things to suit himself. David’s reveling in the sense of control echoes that of his “I’m the magic man” power trip, though, so maybe the parasitic demon wants him to think he’s better so that they can just live in mind-shredding harmony.

But what to make of the way the rest of the Summerland crew fares in David’s mind? Even though they’re in the setting of David’s choosing, they’re far from safe. Syd’s forced to endure possessed nurse Amy’s touching; Kerry and Cary are separated, and the Eye is chasing the former; Ptonomy’s total recall-like abilities mean he’s forced to relive his mother’s death, which he witnessed as a child. Lenny shares David’s mind, so is all of that her doing, or is she limiting herself to dismissing her patients maladies and concerns? Because she openly mocks Melanie’s devotion, grows bored with Ptonomy’s traumatic memories, and belittles The Eye (who is even creepier than we thought). But she recognizes that Syd is more resistant, and therefore, poses a threat. Though Syd has already crossed Lenny once—when she, uh, fused her with the wall, if that is what happened—the real offense she’s given is coming in between Lenny and David. Syd couldn’t cure David, but she made him want to get better and be better. That just doesn’t jibe with Lenny’s plans for David, which we learn have been decades in the making.

David’s famous parentage will probably never be fully revealed, but whoever his dad was, he was someone that Lenny also wanted to infest. The scratched-out face in the family picture was Lenny’s doing, which again, just reminds us of how long she/it has been with David. What’s more, Lenny isn’t so much a parasitic mutant/demon as a fungus—she usually “poisons” an entity and then just moves on. But David’s unrivaled power made her want to make “cohabitation” work. She appears to have always had the power to just shut David’s brain down and take over his body, which raises the question of why she hadn’t. She seemed to be trying to establish something more symbiotic for the first time; do parasitic mutants get lonely?

The wardrobe people continue to do a great job of crafting distinctive looks to match each of Aubrey Plaza’s new characters. Her menswear-inspired look last week recalled a ventriloquist, with David for the dummy. This week, Plaza sports sleek silhouettes that reflect just how in control the parasitic mutant she’s really playing is feeling. But when it comes time to kick up her heels in victory, she switches to fishnets and a garter for a Bond opening credits-inspired dance number. These scenes are as disturbing as they are amusing; Lenny’s rule over David seems undisputed, and he’s rendered his companions helpless. Things are dire. But, as Cary and Oliver have previously proven, there’s always time to dance it out.

Speaking of the beat poet, David and Lenny aren’t the only people moving around his mind with autonomy. The diver returned, and it looked like he was trying to help spare Syd’s life in the present/real life, but then he swapped places with Cary, who is now trying to help Syd in David Land.

Stray observations

  • Hiro Murai directed this episode, bringing his Atlanta and Childish Gambino sensibilities, and just crushed it. The interlude worked as seamlessly as the Bollywood number from the premiere.
  • So, was Clockworks David’s doing, or the demon’s?
  • Which laboratory dance number did you prefer: Cary’s “Chapter 4” empathy dance or Lenny’s Nina Simone-scored frolicking?
  • Did I just answer my own question?
  • “Be careful, I bite.” “Me too.” The Eye is such a creep.
  • Their Halloween-like chase scene—Kerry limping and gasping, and the Eye just plodding along—was damn scary.
  • Well, Legion finally got around to it: pondering the meaning of life
  • I’ve been lurking in the comments, but there are so many I couldn’t find a reference to this, so help me out: was there ever a real Lenny? Syd seemed to interact with her, and it was David-in-Syd’s-body who saw her in the wall, which suggests there was outside confirmation. But with this show, I just don’t know.
  • The red paint on David’s shirt looked like blood, and Syd was acting as a human shield. But if the present is altered, will it end up being her blood, or his?
  • Between this and The Matrix, I really think we’re going to learn one day that deja vu was a tear in the spacetime continuum.
  • Is the bedroom door just a way back into the White Room? Or will Noah Hawley really pull the rug out from under us and reveal this has been a morality tale all along, and sex equals death, ergo, Syd and David doomed themselves? (I kid. Mostly.)
  • If Lenny is based on the Shadow King, then maybe she is just old/lonely to give companionship a shot.
  • Don’t worry, Alex McLevy will be back next week. But thanks for having me!