A Look at Legion- Season 1, Episode 6: “Chapter 6”

Time to go back to where it all began as Legion takes us back to Clockworks.  But is this the real life or just a dream?

The episode begins with Lenny leading sessions at Clockworks: first up is Melanie, who tells Lenny that she misses Oliver every day.  In this world, though, Melanie apparently she came up with the idea of a frozen man who doesn’t age or change, and Melanie is fine with change.

In addition, Oliver’s voice is still all over Melanie’s house as well.  Lenny doesn’t want to hear any bullshit or Melanie denying that she’s trying to preserve her husband’s memory, though Melanie insists that Oliver will come back.  Lenny, though, sees Melanie as the frozen one.

Then there’s Ptonomy, who talks about his upbringing.  While his dad had been stationed in Germany, his mother died one day while washing dishes.  Ptonomy has a vivid memory of that day, down to how he kept pressing silly putty into the floor.  When mom finished the plates, she went to take out the cutlery basket.  Yeah, they used to call it that.  Go figure.

Lenny interrupts Ptonomy and notes that he spends a lot of time in this memory.  Ptonomy, though, sees himself as a time traveler, even though all he can do is watch.

Next up are Cary and Kerry, who insist that they’re the same person.  Lenny finds this odd, but the two insist that it’s not like they’re sharing bodies.  They believe that they aren’t crazy, but they’d like to know who is hurting from this.

Then there’s Walter, and Lenny senses hostility from The Eye, who was apparently the last boy in his class to mature.  But Walter doesn’t see growth as a race.  What matters is where you end up and besides, he doesn’t feel like less of a man.  Fair enough, though Lenny assures Walter that she just wants to get to the bottom of his anger.

And then we have Syd, who has a problem accepting any of this world is real.  Lenny then asks Syd to go further on that, so Syd realizes that something is wrong.  She feels as if she’s in an uninteresting dream of folding laundry or eating.  Everything seems normal, but not really.  Before Syd can continue, Lenny brings the session to a close, as it’s time for Syd’s meds.

With that session over, Syd walks through the hallways of Clockworks and approaches a door unlike the others.  It looks more like a bedroom door, in fact.  As she gets closer, she’s called to the nurse’s station.

Since she can’t continue her investigation, Syd heads to the common room, where Nurse Amy administers a spot check.

Not too far from this, Ptonomy and David observe a drooling patient, though David wonder what he might have been like before Clockworks.  To Ptonomy, though, there is no before when it comes to the sickness starting.  Syd joins them and brings up the bedroom door, but before she can go further with this, Lenny slides in and to grab David for his session.

In a change of pace, David is the one who feels most at peace.  He tells Lenny that the world makes a lot more sense to him.  The previous feelings of separation and difference aren’t there anymore now that David has a relationship with Syd.  Here, David feels in control.

Lenny asks David if he ever worries about losing it, and he does.  It could be a symptom of the other side- the mania and depression.  But that invulnerable feeling is dangerous in David’s eyes.  He doesn’t want to mess things up now that he has balance and has found himself.

With the session over, Amy takes David’s cherry pie and tells him that he can’t have any or even eat Syd’s. In protest, Syd refuses to eat hers as well, but she swats it away anyway when she soon finds bugs crawling all over it.  But it’s not until Syd knocks the pie onto the floor that she sees no bugs at all.

And then, in a bit that feels very reminiscent of a title sequence to a James Bond film, Lenny dances all throughout David’s childhood memories to the tune of Nina Simone’s “Feelin’ Good.”  While Lenny makes her way from one part of David’s psyche to the next, she trashes any and every room that she can.  Yeah, someone’s definitely in control here and it sure as hell isn’t David.

Okay, dance sequence over.  After Lenny peeks at Syd, we see that Syd is having flashes of previous encounters with David in his perfect world.  She  returns to Clockworks and watches Syd resting.  As she sleeps, she has flashes of her time with David in his white world.

She’s awakened when David joins her in the room and she asks if he’s ever had a feeling of déjà vu, but things are different.  David is happy here, mostly because he’s now together with Syd.  While Syd would prefer to get better and go back to reality, David points out that he’s no good in public.

Even though this is life, David reminds her that the last time David tried that out, he almost killed himself.  He’s fine being at Clockworks forever with the crazies, but Syd doesn’t want to remain institutionalized and pop pills for the rest of her life.  David still finds solace in a routine that grounds him, and Lenny even said that some people aren’t cut out for the real world.  Despite this, Syd can’t stay- not even for David.

The next day, as everyone goes about their routines and receives their drugs, Syd notices the peculiar hallway from before doesn’t have that same, different door this time.  Odd.

She joins Cary and Kerry- who are in the middle of a game of checkers- and tells them that she didn’t dream well.  She’s having flashes of being in a room filled with gunfire and people she can’t see, plus there’s a feeling that she’s already dead, but doesn’t know it.

Syd brings up how the hallway door is sometimes there before asking the most proverbial question of all time: how can a door be there and not be there at the same time?  Cary guesses something along the lines of alternate dimensions or physical displacement.

As Cary and Kerry go for a stroll- Cary pulls a bunch of colored hankies from his pocket- The Eye stares at Kerry from a distance.  When she feels a certain presence, she looks over and sees…no one.

That night, as lights go out, the two head to their separate rooms. Cary’s attention is drawn to a glowing ice cube floating above his bed.  As he reaches out to touch it, he finds himself in the astral plane, where he spots and asks a nearby diving suit if it can lead him to the ice cube.  The suit beckons Cary to follow him.

Elsewhere, David paints while Syd talks about the banging she heard behind the disappearing door.  For weeks, Syd has felt something off about Clockworks, so she’s been reading up on memory palaces.  Maybe the hospital is just a version of reality and not reality itself.  David, though, just cautious Syd to be careful so Lenny doesn’t find out and increase her med dosage.

When Syd brings up how she doesn’t like to be touched, David tells her that she’s here because of her delusional thinking and seeing things.  David is here because of his manic depression, and has no idea what Syd is talking about when she tells him that he’s schizophrenic.  He’s not calling Syd psychotic, but she did used to be raving.

To him, every door here is a hospital door.  Syd then heads off and finds a beating and bleeding hole in the hallway.  It’s here that she has flashes of everything that came before, including her killing Lenny, almost getting shot, the Division Three attack, and being in David’s white world.

Lenny interrupts and inquires why Syd is out after hours.  More than that, Lenny has something to share: she’s had a lot of luck with music therapy and wants Syd to try it out, so she hands her some headphones.  Said therapeutic music is the sound of crickets, which Syd finds beautiful.  As she listens, she finds herself levitated back to her room as if she’s being carried on an invisible stretcher.

As Ptonomy flashes back to the moment where his mother died, Kerry suddenly awakens and knocks on the wall, but gets no response from Cary.  When she checks his room, she finds it empty.  However, The Eye enters right behind and starts quoting from Little Red Riding Hood.  He zips up her coat and asks if she’s ever eaten an animal that’s still living. Kerry flees the room and Walter begins his pursuit.

The next day, David notices and approaches the bedroom door Syd spoke of, but Amy interrupts and tells David that he’s unwanted and his friends only pretend to like him.  Not done with the taunting, she calls him a freak and says that he’s adopted.  As Amy fake gags, David storms off.

Elsewhere, Melanie gets on at Clockworks just fine until she spots the diving suit man.  She reaches out to it, telling it that she’s been waiting for this moment.  The suit beckons Melanie to follow him, so she touches the wall and presses inward as she enters a narrow corridor.

At the end, she enters a vault and finds herself exiting a mirror and in the room just as The Eye opens fire at David and Syd.  She wants to know why the diving suit brought her here.  In an attempt to change reality, Melanie tries both to stop the bullets and move David and Syd out of the way, but she’s no Quicksilver, and her attempt fails.  Then a pair of eyes appear on the wall.  Yes, the walls are indeed watching you, Melanie.

Lenny receives a visit from David, who asks if she’s seen Syd.  Even though it’s not time for a session, Lenny is ready to hear David out.  She doubts that Syd is the right girl for David, who insists that they’re in love.

Lenny, though, points out that love is merely a chemical.  She then talks about a fungus, Ophiocordyceps unilateralis, that infects ants by taking over their central nervous system. This forces the ants to climb to a high point and the fungus grows up and bursts from the tops of their heads like a branch.  As such, the ants die.  In addition, the spore can spread and infect other ants.  This is what Lenny thinks of when people talk about love.

Hell, she’d like to know what the point of it is.  To Lenny, the only thing that matters is God, and He matters because of power.  Lenny plants her foot on David’s crotch and brings up his real, asshole of a father- the one who gave him away in a vain attempt to keep David away from Lenny, or rather, the Devil with Yellow Eyes.  But this fungus managed to find David.

As Lenny lords over David, she tells him that he is more powerful than she thought.  If the two of them joined forces, they could give God a run for His money.  David now perks up and asks about Syd, but Lenny isn’t about to be distracted.  Now frustrated, she tells David that she only needs his body and doesn’t give a shit about his mind.

With that, she seals David away in a box surrounded by nothing but darkness.

Syd is still entranced by the sound of crickets until they’re removed by the person in the diving suit.  However, the man in the suit turns out is not Oliver, but Cary, who welcomes Syd to follow him.  Roll credits to a cover of David Bowie’s “Oh! You Pretty Things.”

I think an appropriate way to start things off would be a congratulations to Legion for getting a second season renewal from FX.  That’s great news indeed.  Not that this show was ever in any danger, especially on FX, but it’s nice to have confirmation ahead of the first season finale instead of having to wait months after the season ended, as was the case with Agent Carter.

In addition, some great direction this week, courtesy of Hiro Murai, who directed several episodes of FX’s Atlanta.

As for the episode itself, Chapter 6 is a mad, mad world and we’re all just along for the ride as Lenny takes the wheel.  So much of Legion has been about control: Division Three wants control of David’s mind, Melanie wants to help mutants understand and control their powers, Oliver has control while in the astral plane, and Lenny has control over everyone’s world as Legion returns where it began at Clockworks.

It would be easy to write this off as a retread, especially since some segments of the pilot are repeated here, but it’s kept fresh through showing us just how much influence Lenny has over David in this world where only Syd seems to notice that something is amiss.

Like the world going upside down when David and Syd first touched, Clockworks is made into another sort of prison for the characters who are often in control.  Whether through extreme dosages or just the Devil’s abilities, what were once strong characters have been rendered inert and stripped to their most basic forms.

She psychoanalyzes Melanie, Ptonomy, Cary and Kerry and keeps them under lock and key.  And even the smallest attempts at resistance are put down, such as when Melanie says that she’s fine with change or the many instances when Syd questions this ‘reality.’ It was interesting to see these people brought to a standstill and put into a cyclical lifestyle with no opportunity for change or growth.

Because once you start questioning yourself or reality, then you’re seen as a problem. People like Lenny have more influence when they control the flow of information.  And no, that’s not a subtle dig at the media.  More an acknowledgement of how parasitic Lenny- and by extension, the Devil with Yellow Eyes- is at infiltrating and infecting almost corner of this upside down version on Clockworks.

And this extends to turning the characters upside down and changing key details we’d been told about them.  Kerry was always willing to fight and do her own thing, but now she clings to Cary like a blanket.  Amy kept David’s adoption a secret, but here, she throws it in his face as an insult.  In the pilot, Syd told David that she didn’t like cherry flavored things, but here, she’s ready to eat cherry pie with no problem until she saw the bugs.

That, by the way, reminded me of The Lost Boys where Michael thought he was eating maggots, but it turned out to be just rice.  As much as Syd notices something off in this world, even she’s susceptible to some of the trickery instead of seeing right through everything.

I do appreciate that while David and the Summerland team have been kept docile, Syd doesn’t just go along with the routine.  Rather, her being proactive shows that she won’t remain confined to a daily drug intake and or a routine that remains within the confines of what Lenny allows.  Hell, for all we’ve been told about David being a powerful mutant, Syd shows a strong amount of resistance until the music therapy kicked in.

But by episode’s end, it looks like Cary might be able to help free everyone from this illusion.  While we don’t know the full extent of Oliver’s powers, we know that he has total control while in the astral plane.  Right now, he, or at least that world, could be key to saving the others and rewriting this chapter.

And that could tie into how powerful he is as a mutant compared to others.  After all, he was able to bring Melanie back to the night everyone traveled to Amy and David’s home, but she was unable to alter the outcome.  Not just anyone, mutant or otherwise, can move bullets.

Wait…

After grappling with his demons for so long, and still doing so here, David is most at peace here.  He’s not schizophrenic, he’s just manic depressive.  And while it’s telling that he’s content with swapping out one mental disorder from another- did I just call depression a mental disorder?- it shows how fine he is with some normalcy if it means he’s not plagued by voices or visions from his past.

Complacent would be a better word choice.  He’s fine with meds because they ground him, as opposed to Summerland forcing him to relive traumatic moments from his youth in an attempt to understand his powers.  In a way, being in this version of Clockworks validates what Lenny said about Summerland poisoning David’s mind.

Here, he’s safe, but unlike his white world, he lacks any form of control.  And Lenny has already conditioned him to believe that the feeling of invulnerability is a dangerous idea. You can’t have your worker ants straying too far from the pack or else they’ll start thinking for themselves.

And Lenny can’t have that.  Both physically and mentally, she’s the devil on your shoulder. Without losing her temper or even showing many signs of anger, she keeps everything and everyone under her thumb.  And David is the main prey as she bores deeper into his mind in her attempts to play host.  As she said, she only needs David’s body.

The dance number is visually stunning, but indicative of how much control she has.  While everyone is rendered useless, she’s free to run amok and take glee in revisiting the dark chapters of David’s life like it’s her personal playground- all while getting closer to gaining total control.  It’s as close to playing God or even greater as she now tempts David to submit so they can, as she says, give God a run for his money.

Lenny talks and moves like a serpent and asserts her control over everyone, but maintains this calm exterior while luring everyone into a false sense of security.

Surely this woman couldn’t be a Devil with Yellow Eyes.  Lenny is your friend who calms you down with the sound of crickets and lulls you to sleep.  But behind that person is a monster.  Consider some of the lyrics to Bowie’s “Oh! You Pretty Things”: “All the nightmares came today and it looks as though they’re here to stay.  What are we coming to.  No room for me, no fun for you.”

Lenny’s Clockworks has no room or time for fun.  Since she can’t coax David to join her, she forces him to another realm since all she needs is his body.

And how about Aubrey Plaza in this episode?  For someone that we know more for her comedic roles, this is a huge transformation for her, but on this episode in particular, she’s outstanding.  This is a much more serious role for Plaza than I’d expect and it shows how much range she has as an actress, but also how damn great she is as a villain.

Chapter 6 of Legion was a great watch with what could be Aubrey Plaza’s best performance on the show yet as Lenny keeps everyone at Clockworks in check.  With David sealed away, the Devil with Yellow Eyes may finally have the full power it’s sought for so long, but now that Cary has come for Syd, a battle is brewing between the Devil and the mutants of Summerland.

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