A Look at Legion- Season 1, Episode 3: “Chapter 3”

Shall we begin?

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The episode begins with Dr. Bird receiving her morning coffee while the machine tells her a story about the poor woodcutter and his wife.  See, the woodcutter and his wife found and freed a crane caught in a trap.  Later, a young woman in white knocked on a door and asked for shelter from a raging snowstorm.  When the snow at last stopped, the woman asked if she could live with the couple.

They agreed and loved her like a daughter.  After asking for a loom, the woman offered to make clothes for the couple as long as the couple never saw her work.  The woman spun fine and beautiful cloth.  The woodcutter grew rich…but also curious.  So one day, while the woman was at her loom, the man and his wife peeked inside and saw that the woman was actually a crane.  The crane then flew off, never to be seen again.

First I’ve ever heard a coffee machine tell a story.

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While Amy is tortured, Syd brings David in so Dr. Bird can continue the memory work. Bird explains that normal memory work involves going step-by-step through a person’s life in order to discover their abilities. This is to show that each instance of David’s illness was actually his power manifesting.  Ordinarily, work would continue by finding David’s triggers, but due to Amy’s capture, there’s no time for that.

As such, Dr. Bird wants to focus on bigger things like fear.  Ptonomy dug around and found the memory from the kitchen that he couldn’t access yesterday, so it’s time to revisit that moment.

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Indeed, we travel back to the kitchen as David argues with Philly, played by Ellie Ariaza. After a freeze, David explains that he and Philly dated for 10 months and fought a lot, so he’s not sure which time this was.  The memory continues to play out until the kitchen again explodes around David.  I have to wonder how many times he’s doing to destroy this damn kitchen.

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Freeze.  Bird realizes that David isn’t just a telepath- he can control objects with his mind. Right now, we’re just seeing David’s raw power, but once David finds his triggers, Bird is confident that David can take full advantage of his abilities.  So she asks what happened right before this fight.

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We go further back with David and Lenny high off their asses.  David, all of a sudden, smells cake, and as if on cue, Philly enters with a cake and tells David that Peter and Vanessa are on their way.  Lenny, though, goes right for the box and starts devouring the cake.  Philly seizes the drugs, prompting Lenny to demand Space Captain Philly unhand the reptile.  Freeze again.  Yes, David was a junkie and felt trapped.

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As Ptonomy returns to the kitchen, he feels David resisting, but David insists that it’s not him.  He then spots the Devil with Yellow Eyes peeking around the corner, but neither Ptonomy nor Melanie can see it.  But then the door closes by itself.  Melanie tells Ptonomy to take them back so they can re-watch this from a further distance.  Ptonomy can do that when David stops fighting.

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However, we wind up back in the present, but not in the memory cube.  Somehow, David teleported the three of them 600 feet through two solid walls.

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Later, by the water, David asks an approaching Syd about her upbringing since he takes her for a city girl.  Turns out Syd was raised on the 31st floor with a mother and a couple of fathers who might’ve been intimidated by Mom, who was famously smart and wrote essays that people discussed.

David, though, lived in the country and read picture books.  Based on being in Syd’s body, he sometimes feels that he has long hair.  Sometimes he feels off-balance.  And because David is such an open guy, he tells Syd that he knew just what to do when he had to go to the bathroom in her body.  Syd is fine with this transparency.  She didn’t jack off while in David’s body, but says that she should have.  Still, it wasn’t her body.

It’s how Syd has come to think about it if anyone can just come and go.  She’s not sad about that, though.  She’s been a Chinese man, 300-pound man, and a five-year-old girl, just to name a few, but everywhere she’s been, she’s her.  Even still, David liked being able to hold Syd’s hand while in her body.

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We cut to Amy, who is still being held by The Eye and the old man from the pilot- I didn’t identify him the first time- Brubaker, played by David Selby.  Amy tells the two that David has to take his pills due to his schizophrenia, but Brubaker doesn’t believe her.

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Cary and Kerry hook up electrodes to David and inject him with a dye to monitor his brain activity again.  Oh, and Cary asks David not to break anything again.  No promises on that one.  Cary asks David to think of something stressful.  The worse, the better.

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With that, we flash back to David and Amy trick-or-treating on Halloween night with their dog, King.  King runs off and David chases after him until he ends up in a yard.  And then, in a creepy as hell moment, he spots a real life version of the boy from The World’s Angriest Boy in the World.  The figure charges at young David.

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In the present, Lenny taunts David, saying that the doctors can’t save him any more than the hospital could.  Plus, she doesn’t think Melanie should be trusted because she’s probably got secrets.  And those secrets might have secrets.  And even if David has powers, Lenny reminds him that Amy is probably getting gangbanged in her cornhole. Lenny then appears as Amy and begs for David’s help.

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Then there’s a sudden spike in David’s power.  As the room shakes and equipment goes haywire, Syd rushes into the room just as David begins to levitate in the air.  She joins them and the two find themselves going on a trip.

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In astral form, they end up in the interrogation room with Amy, The Eye, and Brubaker, who brings up how Amy used to say that David heard voices and had visions.  He says that even when people called David sick and locked him away, Amy said nothing to help him.  He accuses her of knowing that David had not issues, but psychic powers.  No, Brubaker says that Amy left her brother to be turned into a fool.

Going further, Brubaker admonishes Amy for letting David run wild with too much power, but no self-control.  He needs her help so he can turn off David.  Amy, though, acknowledges that she’s not a tough person, so if she knew something, she would have said it by now.  Then, all of a sudden, The Eye reaches out to David’s astral form, but gets nothing.  To Brubaker and Amy, though, it’s as if The Eye is just grabbing at thin air.

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David and Syd end up in the lake outside Summerland.  Syd praises David’s power, saying that if he can learn to control them, he’ll be a world-class badass.

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They tell Dr. Bird that The Eye- or the man with the perm, as they call him- saw them.  Bird warns David not to return, but David is certain that he can go back and save Amy if he has Syd’s help.  Bird isn’t so sure.  Since he surprised The Division, she’s certain that they’ll be waiting for him.  That will lead to one of two scenarios: they’ll kill him there or follow him to Summerland so they can kill everyone else.

Syd guesses that Melanie knows the man with the perm.  Before all the Division, The Eye was Walter.  Summerland used to be a horse ranch.  Her husband at the time, Oliver, inherited it in the 1940s.  Actually, turns out his voice is the one on both the elevator and the coffee machine.  He and Cary built this place 30 years ago, before the Divisions came along.

They went looking for people like Syd and David, but Walter…he wasn’t like the others. He wanted to hurt people.  David gets back onto the topic of his sister, so Melanie admits that she’s never seen a mind like David’s.  It’s as if his brain is defending itself and certain parts of his memory have been either walled off or erased.  As such, she feels that she’s making things worse.  She can’t do what’s necessary to train David.

But she’s not giving up on David because he’s far too important and they’re on the losing side of their war.  And since David may be the most powerful mutant alive, Melanie wants to fix David because he deserves to be happy and healthy.  I mean, she also plans to use him as well, but at least she’s considering his well-being.

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Again, all David cares about is Amy, but plans are going to have to change somewhat. Due to David’s resistance, the work will need to slow down and Melanie suggests sedation to lower David’s increasingly high defenses.  That way, there will be unfiltered access to his mind and Melanie can determine what is and isn’t real.

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Syd wants to go on this trip as well, and she’s not taking no for an answer, either, even if David insists that he do this alone.

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That night, as David rests, we travel through various points in his past, such as The Greek cooking on the stove.  However, the trip ends once we see the Devil with Yellow Eyes again.  Syd awakens and joins David in the hallway.  He tells her that before Clockworks, he spent his junkie days high all the time, as well as lying and stealing. Syd isn’t bothered by this, though.

As David continues, he remembers something that Dr. Poole used to say: ‘monster’ isn’t a noun- to be a monster means that you have to do something monstrous.  David warns Syd that if she goes with him, she’ll see things that may cause her to rethink her feelings towards David.

Syd pulls the ‘Do you love me’ card and of course David does, but in that case, there’s nothing else to say.  Fair enough.  David wonders if all the people calling him sane are wrong.

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The next day, it’s time for David to show how he ended up in Clockworks.  We cut to Lenny wheeling David through an alley.  The sedation keeps David’s rational brain from being here.  Instead, we get a child version of David, as the that’s the part of his mind that’s still awake.  Melanie tells Syd that her powers don’t work here since she’s not in her physical body, so she can touch David.

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And in a sweet, tender moment that I’ll admit did make me smile, young David goes in for a hug and Syd embraces him with open arms.

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Past David breaks into Dr. Poole’s office and ransacks it for items and drug samples.  As Lenny said, this is big score potential.  As the others observe, past David sees his session with Dr. Poole.  Memories within memories.  This is Inception level shit right here.  The room shakes and Syd notices things that the others don’t, like David eating the recording tape and a crack appearing in the wall.  However, Ptonomy can’t get them out.

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Then, young David runs off and Syd chases him.  They see older David arguing and later having sex.  Soon, the two end up in David’s bedroom.  Syd asks young David if he has a hiding place where no one can find him.  He does.  As the figure from the bedtime story suddenly pursues them, young David leads Syd into a heating vent.

The figure crawls into the space, but it’s soon not the figure, but the Devil with Yellow Eyes.  She tells David to wake up, but that’s not happening right now.  Soon, Syd awakens and she wakes up Ptonomy as well, but both David and Melanie are still under.

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Still in David’s mind, Melanie enters David’s bedroom and finds The World’s Angriest Boy in the World in the closet.  As she flips through it, the book suddenly slams down and crushes her hand.

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As the Devil with Yellow Eyes appears behind her, Melanie awakens with her hand intact.  Ptonomy calms her, saying that these are just memories, but Syd isn’t so sure about that.

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However, David still hasn’t awakened.  Instead, he’s still in his mind and surrounded by people taunting and yelling around him as the episode comes to a close.

Well, that was disturbing.  Legion’s third episode shows just how much this show likes to torture David Haller, but for the right reasons as the show continues to unravel the triggers that led to his powers manifesting.  It’s a great way to look at his psychology and though we’re still in Summerland for most of this episode like we were in the previous one, examining David’s mind never grows tiring to me.

It helps that the show is examining not David’s peaceful thoughts, but everything that’s ever made him feel afraid or stressed.

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But before getting to David, let’s step back and think about the greater picture: the war. Melanie tells us about the origins of Summerland and how her husband helped find mutants like David, but not all of them were confused.  Walter looked to have a clear goal in mind when he decided that he wanted to hurt people instead of help, so like the Professor X/Magneto division, we see how mutants differed on using their abilities.

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So now I’m curious about this current war apparently between the Divisions and Summerland.  More than that, like Lenny indicates, what are Melanie’s true motivations? She says that David deserves to be happy and I’m sure she means that, but she also has use of his abilities. And if her side is losing in the war and David’s powers are as powerful as she says, her main motivator may be taking advantage of his abilities.

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But that all depends on whether everyone involved make it through David’s memories without losing any sanity.  We saw by episode’s end that Melanie felt like her hand really had been crushed and Syd was able to see the Devil with Yellow Eyes and the crack in the wall when Melanie and Ptonomy could not.  So David’s memories may be more than just memories.

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It’s all part of the ongoing question of whether the things David sees are real.  He even asks Syd what if the people calling him sane are wrong.  What if he is insane and needs to be kept in control by a group like Division Three?  Is a mutant as confused as David someone who should be trusted, given his untapped potential?  That would make him seem more like a threat than a benefactor.

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And looking at his drug-ridden past, there’s already grounds to try and stamp out his powers before he does some real harm.  Or perhaps David, like most mutants, was just a wandering soul unsure about the power he possessed and shouldn’t be blamed for some of his actions.  He’s not vengeful or looking to hurt people, so chances are he’s not on the verge of becoming another Walter.

I do think that if he goes through the work like Syd said last time, he could use his abilities for good.  He’s already focused on trying to save a helpless Amy and he acknowledges that with Syd’s help, she could be rescued.

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Right now, though, she’s left in the dark and is one of those who just believes that David has problems, not powers.  And that’s unfortunate because this leaves her at the mercy of Division Three, who are aware not just of David’s abilities, but also that he’s now actively searching for Amy.  This means they’ll be more aware of any disturbances.

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Speaking of disturbing, this episode had plenty of creepy moments, more so towards the end when I got a huge Stranger Things vibe from both the real life version of the book character, as well as the crack in the wall or the Devil with Yellow Eyes that Syd has now seen.  These moments ramped up the tension in an episode where we went down territory similar to last week’s as we went deeper into David’s mind.

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However, for all of the creepy moments, Legion has a ton of heart and much of that comes from David and Syd’s conversations.  I’ve gushed enough about the chemistry between Dan Stevens and Rachel Keller, but really, it’s a testament to their acting, Michael Uppendahl’s direction, and the writing from Hawley and Peter Calloway that every single interaction the two have is memorable.

I loved their conversation not just for the awkward humor, but for learning about Syd’s experiences each time she enters another person.  Even though Syd insisted last time that David not rush in to save Amy and instead do the work to improve, she really does care for him.

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And I think that comes across very well when she hugs the younger version of David. Here’s someone who can’t touch other people and even offered to hold David’s hand if it meant he stayed at Summerland, but when she hugged young David, the moment felt earned.  I’d like to think I’m not a sentimental person, but that hug was a very warm scene that helped lighten the tension as we headed into the horror filled ending.

Chapter 3 took us deeper into David’s mind and pulled back the curtains on the moments that led into the birth of his powers.  It had a good amount of humor and light moments to balance out the horror and showed Syd, Melanie, and Ptonomy that there’s a lot more to David’s memories than they originally expected.

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