Legion 1.06 Review – ‘Chapter 6’
I’ll warn everyone now, I loved this episode like warm buttery toast. So you’ll have to pardon me if my fannish glee gets out of hand. But wow, seriously, wow. Chapter 6 began with hard hitting mental illness talk, went on to define the major stumbling block of the entire central cast, then blew our minds by dropping maddening clues about what’s really going on. This week’s Legion gave us scenes we’ve already seen, but different. That’s what they call an “alternate reality.” Expect spoilers for Legion: Chapter 6 to follow.
We begin where Chapter 5 left off, with everyone back at Clockworks and Lenny Busker as the therapist. Of course this isn’t possible, not in real life. We already know that Lenny was a dude, an obnoxious drug-addled one at that. This Dr Busker is in session with Melanie. She’s chastising Mel because she’s still holding out for Oliver to come back. Watch for metaphors about being “frozen in place,” that are especially apt since Oliver lives in a giant ice cube of the mind.
Lenny later speaks with Ptonomy, Walter “The Eye,” Cary and Kerry, and Syd. Each of these characters speak of what we’ve seen (or that David sees) is their emotional arc or most dominant quality. Ptonomy losing his mother, Cary and Kerry sharing a body, Walter’s hostility, Melanie’s obsession with Oliver coming home—all get the Lenny snark. We learned in Chapter 5 that David can create realities that other people can walk around in. Like the Matrix, but less imitated.
So why is this happening? Why did David put everyone into this conjured reality? Syd suspects that something is wrong—a boring dream that just seems off, the kind you don’t remember when you wake up. Does this mean that all this is Syd’s vision? Like an implanted memory? There’s a big door at the end of the hall. When Syd gets near it, she’s interrupted by either Dr Busker or the cruel nurse, Amy Haller. Remember, David now thinks Amy is secretly cruel. We know how angry he was that she didn’t tell him he was adopted, so that manifests here. The scene where Amy gives Syd a pat-down is highly disturbing even as it suggests that men (or maybe just David) don’t really understand sexual harassment.
I loved when Ptonomy (or “Paul” in this milieu) and David replaced the original scene that took place between David and Lenny. Their discussion covers the fact that David doesn’t like dogs (what else might that say about King—the dog David remembers but that never existed). David’s statements on mania versus depression—that depression slows you down but mania is what really screws up your life. Mania is dangerous, while depression just makes you want to call off from work and go back to bed—if you don’t have a cool job like TV reviewer.
David loves pie, so we hope he had a good pi day. He probably didn’t though, because mean Nurse Amy took his slice of cherry pie. Watch for Kerry and Cary to feed each other, hilariously. When Syd sees bugs in her pie, we have to wonder what that might mean. Seeing bugs that aren’t there is a textbook sign of psychosis. As if to keep us wondering what the hell is going on—we’re treated to Aubrey Plaza in a seductive dance number. She’s a delight. Is Dr Busker dealing with repressed feelings for Syd? How can she be? She’s just an illusion, isn’t she? As she kicks and smashes her way around David’s memories, we begin to wonder if she isn’t something else entirely.
Syd is dreaming…of a bullet. Of the Devil with Yellow Eyes, of David, of the last time we saw them together in real life. Someone was firing at them. That’s when I realized that this was all of David’s making, to give Syd someplace nice to go while she…well, this is TV, so I’ll say while she survived being shot. If you all figured that out already, I’ll apologize for being slow on the draw.
I did speculate in an earlier review that Syd dying would be a vital turning point for David. But I don’t actually know that she dies. I only know that the more I get to know her, the less I want her to die a horrible death. In the alt-reality, this much saner David wants to stay in the hospital forever. Living is too scary, outside is too loud and people-y. Besides, Doctor Busker says it’s okay to stay in the hospital forever—that “not everyone is cut out for real life.” We later learn why that is. Syd won’t stay locked up just for David. Maybe that’s her own mind peeking through, or maybe it’s David’s own fear manifesting.
Cary mentions alternate dimensions while trying to figure out Syd’s claim of a disappearing door. Later, he sees an alt-reality block of otherworldly ice and starts to figure it out. Cary and Kerry are so cute together. I love how these two could so easily descend into psychosexual creepiness, but they don’t. Like siblings, they both seem to entertain and delight the other, so it’s extra creepy when Walter, The Eye, starts messing with her. What is he—some kind of cannibal? I could see how David’s mind would portray him that way, given that he once switched bodies with Syd, and is generally a grasping prick. I wonder how many languages Cary speaks. He tries a fair few when attempting to communicate with the guy in the deep sea dive suit. Ah, people can travel with that suit on.
The scene where Syd tries to discuss her uncertain feeling with an annoyingly sane David is hard to watch. His mansplaining makes so much sense, and his painting of her is so cool. The onset of mania does feel good, kind of like jumping off a tall building. Before the crash, with the wind and all. The next thing you know, there’s a pulsating hole in the wall that bleeds when touched. Dr Busker gives Syd crickets to listen to and sends her back to bed. I presumed she’d wake up in a hospital bed, but Noah Hawley is never that obvious.
The last act of the episode is even more intense than what preceded it. Mean Nurse Amy taunts David about his adoption. Melanie gardens outside, seemingly unaware that she’s being watched by someone badly blended into the background. Melanie sees the deep sea dive suit, and believing it to be Oliver, she follows it. For a minute, we wonder if maybe she’s going to kill herself. But this isn’t real…whatever “real” turns out to be. Mel walks into the minutes after the gun was fired but before bullets reached anything. She tries to move the bullets, then to move David and Syd. She can’t. It’s darker than it was, and slow. But Melanie suddenly looks put together—like her usual self. Not dowdy unkempt mental hospital Melanie. She doesn’t know what to do. Was “Oliver” telling her to take the bullet herself? While we think about it, two giant eyes appear. Scene.
The last segment of Chapter 6 has David asking Lenny if she’d seen Syd. Lenny uses this opportunity to question David about the nature of love, of life, of why anyone does anything. The nihilism is strong in this one. The ant analogy is already discomfiting. But when Lenny starts talking about babies and how she knows his real father, it gets way worse. Sane David seems less equipped to deal with what Lenny is laying down, and it hits him exactly like a boot in the groin. Really. Lenny seems to embrace Walter’s hostility, which makes us worry when we see Kerry stumbling down the hall, holding her side. Was David’s father trying to hide David from…whoever Lenny is? The Devil with Yellow Eyes?
Regular readers know that my prediction for the Devil with Yellow Eyes is that he would turn out to be Fiend. This was supported for a few eps. But now, not so much. Lenny wants to join up with David, combine their power and rule like Gods. That’s really more of a villain thing, rather than someone who lives inside David like Fiend. At the same time, this is all happening inside David’s mind and projections—so do we actually know that Lenny is an outside entity? It seems like she is, but do we know? She says they’ve known each other “since the womb.” This unsettling scene ends with David locked in a coffin, easily one of the most feared and terrifying human predicaments in the developed world.
Chapter 6 ends with our friend in the deep sea dive suit. It’s Cary! And he’s come to get Syd, still in bed. This must mean that she’s waking up—that she’ll be okay next week. I won’t be discussing anything in next week’s previews, but they’re mad revealing.
Everything about tonight’s episode was amazing. The visuals manage to strike familiar chords while our minds race with everything being implied. Outstanding sound design—but that’s nothing new. Everything Legion does well came together beautifully this week. This show had better win a crapload of Emmys next year, for reals. Two episodes remain in this first season. Props to FX for not skipping weeks. Here’s hoping that the penultimate episode isn’t a letdown after the wild insanity that was Chapter 6. As for me, I’ll be filling in this Sunday to cover The Walking Dead. As they say on the internets—if Carol dies, we riot!
See you’s next week!