A Look at Legion- Season 1, Episode 2: “Chapter 2”

So now that David Haller is in the hands of Melanie Bird, it’s time for David to learn more about his powers, look back at his past, and take a deep dive into his own mind.  And this doesn’t involve a trip to Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters.

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The episode begins with David and the others still on the run from wolves, black masks, and Mackenzie Gray’s character, who we can now call The Eye.  As the journey continues, we overhear Melanie Bird say that the human race is evolving.  She and her group believes that David is a powerful telepath- potentially telekinetic- meaning he can control matter with his mind.

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As David rests in the facility known as Summerland, Dr. Bird tells David that The Divisions were created by the government to track and study people like him and Syd. Ones who cannot be controlled are killed.  She asks if David is hearing voices and then tells him to focus on them, despite the pain this power is causing him.

Dr. Bird tells David to concentrate on finding a single voice calling out his name.  It’s like turning down a big volume knob.  As David focuses, Dr. Bird explains that this is called telepathy.  For now, David can rest.  Tomorrow, memory work begins.  Syd joins David, who is curious about what Melanie meant by memory work.

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Let’s find out together. The next day, Melanie poses a question: what if everything people said about David’s supposed illness was a lie?  Instead, the voices and hallucinations could just be his powers.  And Melanie can help him rewrite the story of his life.  Right now, David wonders if there’s even time for that with Division Three still in pursuit.

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There’s time, though.  Dr. Bird tells David that he is important to her, so she needs him clear and focused.  They, along with Ptonomy, sit at a table with rods sticking outward. This, Dr. Bird says, is how her group looks back, finds a person’s abilities, and what triggers them.  More than that, you’re made whole.  They grab the rods and memory work begins.

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The three travel to the past and watch a young David and Amy running through a field.  This is memory work, thanks to Ptonomy’s gift as a memory artist.  Right now, Ptonomy just wants David to take all of this in, as talking to his younger self and sister could change the memory.  It’s best he not do that.

Right now, the idea is for David to accept that this is real, and then the group can focus on taking David back to moments when his ‘illness’ started developing. Melanie will show that this was really just David’s gift and he will soon be whole again.

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In essence, this is David’s museum and he can do whatever he wants.  He glimpses moments from his youth, like his mother doing garden work with him and marking his height on the wall in their home.

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As for David’s father, he was an astronomer, but he passed away.  We then watch as David’s father, who we can’t see, reads his son a bedtime story.  As David watches his younger self, he soon backs away and the room begins to shake.  All of a sudden, voices begin flooding in again.

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He breaks free from the memory work, afraid of the memories, but Syd implores him to calm down.  She felt the same way on her first time, too.  A frantic David, now wanting to leave, is soon put to sleep by Ptonomy.

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We then flash back to David speaking with Dr. Poole, played by Scott Lawrence, who asks David about his home life and girlfriend, who apparently left him.  While David asks for gum, Dr. Poole notes that the end of a relationship could be disruptive for someone with David’s condition.  David’s sleeping just fine, and he states that vapor has helped. Poole asks what David meant by ‘the vapor.’

More than that, he notes that the dynamic of fighting and then making up isn’t good for David, who still has flashes of when he destroyed the kitchen.  He needs a more settled environment.  David promises to work on that.

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We follow David as he leaves his appointment and meets up with Lenny, who asks if he’s good in the head.  Turns out that Lenny got her hands on a kitchen range from a girl she finger-banged.  Kinky.  She and David start walking through an alley.

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David soon awakens and receives a glass of milk from Ptonomy.  The first time in memory work is always the worst.  Syd threw up her first time.  She’s doing talk work with Dr. Bird, who thinks that David is the key to winning the war and other things.  David admits that he’s impressed with Ptonomy’s memory artist abilities.

Ptonomy explains that his father had a shit memory due to artillery shell in the war causing him to go deaf in one ear.  As a result, he was never good with facts.  He’d just snap his fingers whenever he forgot Ptonomy’s name.  Odd, since Ptonomy remembers everything.

And he does mean everything, like his birth and even being in the womb.  Imagine being inside your mother’s body, warm and blind, and then light after some intense pressure. Ptonomy then asks David about that book his father read him- “The World’s Angriest Boy in the World”- because if David’s parents read that book to him before bed, that’s messed up.  David doesn’t remember, but Ptonomy is certain that David’s memories seem clear.

David would rather not talk about it, but hey, it’s not Ptonomy’s deal, either.  He’s just the memory guy.  Okay, fair enough.  Meanwhile, The Eye leads a squadron of soldiers as they continue their pursuit…

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Later, at a swing set, David tells Syd that he doesn’t see how the memory work is helping.  Syd thought the same when she first arrived.  Once she got there, all she wanted was to rescue David.  It wouldn’t have mattered what she saw when she was in David’s body.

She still doesn’t understand it.  After a flash, she remembers switching places with David and everything in the dayroom growing louder.  Between that and the lights, Syd never felt that way before.  And then, in addition to glimpsing the blob with yellow eyes, Syd realizes that she’s responsible for killing Lenny.  David knows that it’s not Syd’s fault.  As Lenny said, you don’t give a newbie a bazooka and act surprised when they blow shit up.

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However, Melanie and the others, as well as Division Three, heard Syd using David’s powers. Melanie’s group thought they had found David, but it was actually Syd.  Sure enough, Syd soon returned to her own body when en route with Melanie’s team.

David confesses that he’d love to hug Syd or at least hold hands, but that’s uncomfortable for Syd.  The closer she gets to someone, there’s this feeling that she equates to being covered with ants or feeling little anxious needles under her skin.  It’s all she can do not to scream.  That sucks, but as David points out, they’re at least having a romance of the mind.  Sweet.

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We then cut to David receiving an MRI scan of his brain.  The doctor overseeing the process is Cary Loudermilk, played by Bill Irwin.  He instructs David not to move or sneeze because it could jumble the scan.  As Dr. Loudermilk rattles off a few words, David admits that he talks to himself, too.  That or the voices.  Cary wasn’t talking to himself, though.  He was talking to Kerry.  The other Kerry, mind you.

After noting that David has a large amygdala, Cary tells David to think of someone or something that he loves.  He begins the scan.

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We then cut back to Amy telling David that she thinks that a man- Bill, I’m guessing?- is going to propose to her.  David is happy, but Amy doesn’t know for sure.  She knows that David and girlfriend, Philly, gets him.  David doesn’t think so, but Amy asks why her brother why he can’t have what everyone else has: a nice home and a family.  David’s reason?  Because he’s sick.

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Still in the past, while David is transfixed on a dog, Lenny tries to give her stolen kitchen range to The Greek, played by, Eddie Jemison in exchange for drugs.  As they speak, their voices become more distorted.  The Greek has no need for a stove, even if it could be used to cook, heat a room or, hell, even kill himself.

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Soon enough, Lenny does manage to score some drugs that she inserts into a blue bong. David wonders why the drug is blue, but they’re always blue. Lenny asks David how Dr. Poole’s place is since they could probably slip in one day when he’s not home.  There’s great score potential, after all.  The two soon start inhaling fumes from the bong and they begin to go on a trip.

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Oh, but this is all part of memory work.  When time freezes, Dr. Bird asks David what he saw when he looked at Lenny, but David doesn’t see the point in that because he was high.  Melanie insists that David brushing his abilities off on schizophrenic delusions is part of an old narrative.  The things he sees are real.  Speaking of, let’s go through time again.

chapter-2-ptonomy-david-and-dr-bird-at-the-session

Ptonomy takes us back to David’s session with Dr. Poole.  At one particular point, he notes a glitch- a time jump.  It’s important that David remember everything.  Even if he was focused on something else, the surrounding memory should be intact.  If David is still confused, Melanie and Ptonomy will help him find the truth.

The session resumes and Ptonomy spots a flash of David’s kitchen incident six years ago when he used his powers.  He tells David to concentrate on where he went.  So long as David makes his mind blank, Ptonomy can take them to that particular moment.

chapter-2-david-in-his-bedroom-with-his-younger-self

So we return to David as a child.  David insists that he’s not doing this as the bedroom door suddenly shuts.  The room rumbles and shakes as the copy “The World’s Angriest Boy in the World” falls to the floor.

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Back in the present, Syd checks in on David, as Dr. Bird won’t tell her about David’s memory.  David asks Syd if they’re really safe at Summerland.  Right now, yes, but she knows that people are searching to experiment on them.  Syd promises that she’ll protect David.  Well, she thinks it, as David realizes, but Syd doesn’t think so.

chapter-2-dr-poole-asks-david-when-things-changed-in-his-life

After a brief cut to the MRI scan as Dr. Loudermilk tries to figure out where David’s memories are stored, we return to David’s session with Dr. Poole, who asks when David started seeing another world out of the corner of his eye.  It began when David was 10 or 11, but the pills Dr. Poole prescribed should help with that.  Poole asks if David is supplementing- since he used the word ‘vapor’- but David denies it.

Then Poole asks what David remembers from the years when the visions started.  David rattles off a series of constellations and ends up talking about his father studying the stars. Some nights, David’s father would wake him up in the middle of the night and the two would drive out in the truck to look up at the sky.  Dad said the stars talk to everyone, including him, but David thought he meant it in a metaphorical sense.

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As for what the stars said, David says he’s not supposed to talk about that.  Besides, he’s soon drawn to the closet door opening by itself.  Dr. Poole, assuring David that he’s in a safe place, closes the door and says that it’s just a closet.  Nothing can hurt him.

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Back to the MRI scan, David apparently hears a woman’s voice, but it wasn’t Kerry. It was Amy’s.

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We see Amy visit the facility, where she learns that there are apparently no records of David Haller or Dr. Kissinger at this hospital.  Amy asks the clerk if she’s being coerced, but the woman instead proposes that Amy herself be admitted for observation.  She then asks if Amy ever saw a psychiatrist for paranoid delusions.

As Amy prepares to leave, she hears David’s voice.  David, in astral form, calls out to her, but he can’t reach her.  At the same time, The Eye enters the hospital.

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Back to the scan, Cary notes a spike in neural activity.  He leaves, but the scan continues anyway.  And then David spots the Devil with Yellow Eyes standing before him.

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Soon enough, David finds himself out of the chamber.  Why?  Because the chamber itself, as Dr. Bird and the others soon see, is right outside Summerland.

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David tells Dr. Bird that Amy is being held by Division Three, but Bird tells David that he can’t help her.  He soon packs up and tells Syd that he’s leaving, but not because of Syd herself.  He tells her about seeing his sister while in the MRI machine.  He can’t just leave his sister.  Syd insists that David stay long enough to learn to learn what they can do together.

That way, after the work, they can rescue her.  Plus, Syd knows that Amy won’t be killed by Division Three because she’s bait.  David relents.  He’ll stick around.

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The episode ends with The Eye bringing a fish tank of leeches with him into the dingy room where Amy is being held.  It’s time to begin.

We’re now at episode two of Legion and it’s not as off-the-wall as the pilot, but that’s just fine.  The effects are just as outstanding as before, but this one slows down a bit in order to take us on a voyage through David’s mind.

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As Dr. Bird says, he has to move past the message that’s been parroted to him for years. He’s not just some schizophrenic, but has special abilities that could prove beneficial both to himself and Dr. Bird’s team group at Summerland.  Things are changing as he learns not just about his powers, but whether he can accept what is real and what’s just in his memory.

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At least he has a great support network.  We don’t know all of Melanie Bird’s motivations, but I like how she’s helping David understand his powers and how he can tap into them, as well as see them more as a gift instead of curse.  It’s no accident that her mentoring is very similar to that of Charles Xavier aiding mutants come to terms with their powers.

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But is that all?  She just helps mutants learn to harness their abilities?  Because as Ptonomy mentioned, Bird believes that David is the key to winning the war and other things.  What other things?  If we’re talking about a war with humans who capture and experiment on them, then that makes sense.  But to what end?  And what other things does Ptonomy mean?

I doubt we’re talking about an all out war against humanity for experimenting on humans, though it would not be unwarranted.  It’s like Dr. Bird has all the teachings of Professor X, but maybe shares Magneto’s desire to battle against humans.  That could be a stretch since there’s no reason yet to think Bird believes in mutant supremacy, but I am curious to see the depths of her plans for David.

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As is, I liked both her and Ptonomy going into David’s mind to see what triggered his mutant abilities.  I like how fractured some of these trips felt.  Between the direction and writing, it feels like whenever the scene glitches or cuts in and out, it’s he’s still battling with his mind or that he can only remember things in fragments and pieces.

David feels like he’s always on the edge.  He can sort of keep things under control, but either when pressed or taken to a certain point in his life, he loses it, as seen when he watches his father read a bedtime story to his younger self.  This is as much a journey for him as it is for us as he still processes his true capabilities as a mutant.

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I like the slow, methodical approach the show is taking to filling out David’s backstory and not spelling it all out at once.  We see his drug escapades with Lenny before they were institutionalized, Dr. Poole discussing David’s condition, and David’s relationship troubles with his girlfriend, but these are just as important in telling us more about him as they are in revealing moments that led to his abilities manifesting.  Memory work is brutal.

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By the way, the combination of Ptonomy’s abilities and the group grabbing the rods while at the table felt very reminiscent of Cerebro.  And Ptonomy, from what I got here, is a very laid back mutant who has been through this many times.

Being able to remember every single thing from your life, even before your birth, though, is a scary thought, coupled with examining moments where a person’s powers manifest. Sounds like a stressful job, but he handles it with care and it’s nice that he, like Syd and Bird, isn’t trying to force David.  After all, as he said, he’s just the memory guy.  He can only help unlock one piece of the larger puzzle.

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For now, even though David is as conflicted as ever, he stays because Syd assures him that the training will help him unlock his true potential.  Not to mention it allows the two to bond more.  Their relationship is an odd one- well, they are an odd couple- but there’s such strong chemistry between Dan Stevens and Rachel Keller that I soak up any screen time they have together.  I loved that “romance of the mind” line.

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In addition, there’s still much more to learn about Syd and her abilities.  We learn that she was in a similar position to David when she arrived, but don’t know the full scope of her powers.  She has an intimate connection with David due to being in his body and accidentally killing Lenny when she lost control, but David accepts her nonetheless.

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And she’s even willing to go as far as holding hands, against her rule, if it meant David would stay.  Sure, some of that is out of concern for him not putting in the work yet, but part of that also has to be from how she cares about him.

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But at the moment, David doesn’t have a choice but to stay if he wants to improve so he can safe Amy without fail.  I do wonder what plans The Eye- and I’m guessing Division Three as a whole- have for her.  The fact that she went looking for David should prove she doesn’t know where he is, but that doesn’t mean she can’t be coerced or tortured.

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And on an unrelated note, we learn more about David’s father and his interest in astronomy.  I hope we see more of him later on, not just to learn about David’s upbringing, but to see if Legion will play with David’s connection to Charles Xavier.

Chapter 2 peels back the layers of David Haller’s mind as he tries to understand his abilities, what triggered them, and how he’ll be useful to Melanie Bird.  We see more of David’s powers and vulnerabilities, but with time, he’ll hopefully gain more control of his powers.

At the same time, we see his continued struggles, glimpses of the Devil with Yellow Eyes that continues to torment his mind, and on top of that, Amy is in the hands of The Eye. David better start training hard.

A Look at Fargo- Season 2, Episode 8: “Loplop”

Time to see what Ed and Peggy were up to while Karl showed Betsy why he’s known as the Breakfast King of Loyola.

Loplop- Peggy talks with Albert, played by Mackenzie Gray

The episode begins back in the Blomquist basement.  Ed rushes in and calls out to Peggy, who is sitting in the basement and visualizing a man, Albert, played by Mackenzie Gray, who she talks to about understanding the difference between thinking and being.  Peggy doesn’t understand.  To be is simply to exist, Albert, before telling her to try simply being.  Peggy wonders how sitting is gonna help her be the best person she can be.

Ah, so she wants an explanation.  The human mind seeks and finds nothing but contradiction and nonsense, Albert says.  Peggy knows that she’s not living up to her full potential.  Albert tells her to either think or be, but she can’t do both.  So she should just be that person, not think about it.

Loplop- Ed punches Dodd

Ed soon joins Peggy, who reveals that she was talking to her friend, who turns out to be Dodd.  Ed recognizes the man as a Gerhardt and punches him across the face.  Ed tells Peggy that the cops are coming, so they need to pack up and get out.  Peggy figures Dodd for the leader, so he’ll be coming with them.  Ed fits Dodd in the trunk of the car as he and Peggy get in and drive off.

Loplop- Hank and Lou arrive later at the Blomquist household

Not too long after the two leave, Lou and Hank arrive and enter the household.  They search the premises and find some bodies downstairs in the basement.  No sign of Ed or Peggy, though.  Lou decides to call a medic.  He’ll put out an APB for the Gerhardts.  Hank asks Ed to not tell Betsy that he’s indisposed.  However, as Lou leaves, Hanzee emerges from the darkness.

Loplop- Hanzee investigates the Blomquist household

He also checks the Blomquist basement but with a bit more meticulous searching.  He finds a note next to the phone, followed by a letter about a booking at the Southnik Hotel.

Loplop- Ed and Peggy on the road

On the road, Peggy tells Ed that they’ve been going about things all wrong.  It’s like waiting for a teacher to call on you to go to the washroom- you just go.  Ed is more concerned with avoiding detection.  Peggy is just glad that they’re not trapped anymore, but they still left their family home.  Plus, they still have to figure out how to deal with the cops.  As for now, Ed and Peggy are actualized.  Actualized, I tell ya!

Loplop- Peggy tases Dodd again

So Ed and Peggy soon arrive at Uncle Grady’s cabin, which they’ve never been to since Uncle Grady apparently smells like Athlete’s Foot.  Ed ops the trunk, just as Dodd kicks him away, but Peggy strikes back with the cattle prod.

Loplop- Ed and Peggy talk about what to do with Dodd

Inside, Ed ties Dodd down and goes through his wallet.  Dodd, despite his situation, makes threats to tear Peggy apart, but Ed is not concerned right now.  Ed spotted a convenience store near the road to make a call instead of using the one in the cabin so it can’t be traced.  He wants the two of them to be left alone if they turn over Dodd.

Loplop- Ed makes his first call

While Hanzee heads towards Sioux Falls, we then cut to the very gas station we previously saw as Ed makes a call.  He explains that he has Dodd, but then closes the phone booth when a police cruiser pulls up.  Not understanding what’s meant by a message, Ed hangs up.  He exits the phone booth, gets in the cruiser, and drives off.

Loplop- Peggy stabs Dodd

Peggy cooks while Dodd remains plain rude and tries to wriggle free.  He tries the sympathy card with his four daughters, but then promises to show Peggy the back of his hand.  Sure, that’s how it should go, Dodd.  Peggy would prefer that Dodd remain civil, but when that doesn’t work, she goddamn stabs him once!  And then again!  She then offers Dodd some beans, but when he just responds with no, Peggy shows him the knife, forcing him to correct it to ‘No, thank you.’

Peggy’s trying to stay positive through this whole mess.  Positive Peggy is what they call her, but this thing has been hard on Ed since he’s more delicate.  And Peggy figures that this is all her fault.  After all, she’s the one who hit Rye, and she’s very sorry about that, but the guy was stepping out into the road and didn’t look where he was going.  All Ed did was clean up the mess.  Now they’re both hoping that they can smooth this all over and their lives can go back to normal.

Loplop- Peggy feeds Dodd some beans

As Peggy feeds Dodd beans, she realizes then that Dodd said he didn’t want any.  After everything that’s happened, Peggy is still trying to actualize, and that’s no easy feat.  She doesn’t want to keep repeating past mistakes.

Loplop- Ed advises Peggy to stop stabbing Dodd

Ed soon enters and notices that Dodd is looking a bit bloodier than before, but Peggy figures it’s water under the bridge.  Peggy says that she just had to teach this man some manners.  Dodd begs for Ed to keep Peggy away from him.  Ed tells Peggy they won’t want him back.  He ended up having to leave a message with a flunky he’ll call back later.  No worry.  Peggy assures Ed that they’ll be fine, but Ed does at least need Peggy to stop stabbing Dodd.  Sounds like a fair compromise.

Loplop- Hanzee disrespected in a bar while drinking Tequila

Elsewhere, Hanzee arrives at a less than friendly looking bar and gets a less than appealing glass of water that the bartender spit in, so he asks for tequila instead, and wants it poured in front of him.  The bartender does indeed do just that.  He asks about a white couple, but the bartender talks about Indians having guns in their country.  The bartender isn’t sure he want to serve to a man who doesn’t want to be an American, never mind that Hanzee did three tours in Vietnam, has a Purple Heart, and a Bronze Star.

Loplop- Hanzee shoots two men outside the bar

He finishes his drink, leaves his cash, and heads off, but men from the bar taunt him.  Hanzee turns and faces the men, pulls out his gun and shoots two of the men in their legs.  The third runs off.  He then reenters the bar to kill the bartender.

Loplop- Hanzee uses an assault rifle to kill two cops

As Hanzee calmly exits, a police cruiser pulls up, but Hanzee is ready with an assault rifle that he uses to blow away the two officers.

Loplop- Ed helps Dodd take a leak

That evening, back at the cabin, Dodd needs the john, but Ed doesn’t want to risk untying him.  For clarification’s sake, Ed asks if Dodd has to go number one or two.  It’s one, and Dodd won’t piss his pants like some kind of half-wit.  He has rights, according to the Geneva Convention.  Ed goes to undo Dodd’s pants and holds a tea kettle in front of Dodd, who doesn’t want Peggy to look at him.  Ed prepares to make the call.

Loplop- Constance receives an unexpected visit from Hanzee

We then cut to Constance, who gets an unexpected visit from Hanzee.

Loplop- Ed buys some items from the convenience store

Ed returns to the convenience store to make another phone call.  Again, the phone rings and rings, but no response.  He picks up a few things in the store and makes small talk with the owner.  He saw Ed earlier on the phone, and Ed says that he’s out on holiday, despite this being the wrong time for such a holiday.  It’s just Ed and the moose, apparently.  The owner throws in a deck of cards on the house for him and the missus.  Ed then learns that the store opens around seven in the morning.

Loplop- Peggy calls Constance

Peggy, meanwhile, hits the television over and over and messes with the ears in order to get it to turn on.  Those gosh-darned old televisions, you know.  Then, against her best judgment, she picks up the phone and actually makes a call to the Southnik Hotel in Sioux Falls to speak with a Constance Heck.

Loplop- Constance speaks to Peggy, but with Hanzee at her side

Constance does indeed answer, with Hanzee at her side.  Peggy explains that she’s in trouble, but doesn’t go into detail on her situation.  Constance tells Peggy to come while there’s still time.  Peggy had a breakthrough, though: she can see things a whole lot more clear now and maybe she doesn’t need it as much anymore.  So she just wanted to call and say thanks.

Then Constance asks for Peggy’s location so the two can meet for a drink and talk visions, but Peggy decides against that since they’re in some trouble in the woods.  It hasn’t been easy for the two, but they’re coming together.  Constance tells Peggy that she’s got some workbooks to send with some real eye opening stuff, but Peggy isn’t sure how long she’ll be in this cabin.  She tells Contance to hold onto the material, which should be easy since Peggy is close.  Constance can just hop in the car and pay a visit.

But then Peggy doesn’t even know exactly where she is.  She’ll just call Constance as soon as this ordeal ends.  Hanzee hangs up the phone.  Well, gotta give Constance credit.  She did try.

Loplop- Dodd sleeps with a pillow case over his head

Later that night, Peggy can’t sleep due to Dodd looking at her and Ed.  Dodd isn’t tired enough to sleep, so Dodd sticks the pillowcase over his head.

Loplop- Peggy so into Desperate Journey that she doesn't notice Dodd slipped out of his ropes

The next morning, Ed is ready to make one more call and he won’t take no for an answer.  Peggy watches the film Desperate Journey and is so entranced by this film that she doesn’t even notice that Dodd has slipped out of his ropes.

Loplop- Ed makes one last call

Ed tries to tell the man on the other side of the phone that he has Dodd Gerhart. He reads an article about a Gang War and a certain Mike Milligan.  And wouldn’t you know it? The story actually matches the headline.  He makes another call to the Pearl Hotel to speak with Milligan, who is apparently with a party of fellas.  The cover story is that Milligan left his wallet in Ed’s store with $100 inside.

Loplop- Ed makes a deal with Mike Milligan

We then cut back to the ending of “Did You Do This? No, You Did It!” as Mike Milligan receives an unexpected phone call from Ed Blomquist.  Today is Mike’s lucky day, as Ed has Dodd in the trunk of his car.  It’s been a hell of a day for Mike.  In exchange, Ed needs the entire Gerhardt family to stop coming after him.  The two will meet in Sioux Falls tomorrow at 8 am at the Motor Motel.  And no funny business, because Ed has killed before and isn’t afraid to do it again.  Mike is familiar with the Butcher of Luverne, and brother, he likes your style.

Loplop- Hanzee asks the store owner about Ed and Peggy

As Ed leaves, he steps over a paper with a newspaper, which includes an article about the word out for a Native.  Not long after Ed leaves, Hanzee pulls up to the convenience store.  He tells the owner that he’s looking for a heavyset redhead.  The owner points him to a bar not too far from the road.  So Hanzee says that he’s looking for a heavyset man.

The owner tells Hanzee that this is a family store that gets tourists.  The man Hanzee wants is driving a blue Lincoln.  The owner tells Hanzee to leave if he’s not going to buy anything, which indicates that the man knows who Hanzee wants.  All he knows that a fella came in two or three times to use the phone.  He talked of going crazy at the lake, but he wasn’t agitated.  Satisfied, Hanzee leaves.

After Hanzee leaves, the man picks up the paper and, after recognizing Hanzee’s face, makes a call.

Loplop- Dodd hangs Ed

As Ed returns to the cabin, he’s stunned to find it in disarray.  As he heads in, Dodd slips a noose around his neck and hangs Ed high.  He tells Ed that he has women problems, what with their lack of rational thinking and mood swings.  He says that men have the potential for greatness.  Look at your kings of old- all men made of muscle and steel.  But women, especially in Bible movies, not so much.  Dodd’s honest belief is that Satan is a woman.

Loplop- Dodd notices Peggy coming for him

Not the dumbest doorknob, Dodd does notice Peggy crawl towards him, but he’s not fast enough to stop her from planting a knife so damn deep in his foot that the handle comes off.  When Dodd eventually pulls his foot off of the knife, Peggy knocks him out.  She then cuts Ed down.

Loplop- Hanzee corners Ed and Peggy

Hanzee, meanwhile, drives through the woods and passes cabin after cabin until he finds one with a blue Lincoln parked outside.  He enters just as Ed and Peggy are securing Dodd, who can’t feel his legs.  He tells Peggy that he’s thinking of getting a haircut, something professional-like.  Shorter, like on the sides and back.  Well, Peggy figures that Dodd has the bone structure.

Loplop- Hanzee shoots Dodd in the head

Dodd goads Hanzee on to shoot, calling a half-breed and a mongrel, so Hanzee does shoot…Dodd, in the goddamn head.  He then asks Peggy again for a haircut.  Peggy sits him down for his trim and is grateful to this man for saving their lives.  Ed asks if there’s anything the two can do to repay Hanzee.  He’s ready for his cut and tired of this life.

Loplop- Lou and Hank corner Ed and Peggy

However, as Peggy gets to work, Ed spots Lou and Hank approaching outside.  Hanzee, also spotting them, opens fire and misses.  He leaves just as Lou and Hank enter the cabin and corner our ever unlucky Blomquists.

You know how this season uses the occasional split-screen?  What if this episode employed that throughout so we could watch this one play out as the same time as the previous one?

Loplop- Phone call split screen

No, I’m not being serious, but it’s interesting to think about, given the timeframe here.  “Loplop” is another great episode.  It doesn’t completely advance the overall storyline, so much as fill in the blanks.  As an audience, we heard from the previous episode what happened with Ed and Peggy, Dodd, and Hanzee as the stage is slowly set for a confrontation in Sioux Falls.  However, as we didn’t see those events take place, “Loplop” serves to show us what occurred around the same time that the police are trying to get the Gerhardts to cooperate.

It doesn’t try to force the fact that this episode takes place at the same time as the previous one, which I like.  We don’t need to cut back to scenes like Hank saying he should have checked on Peggy.  The episode is allowed to stand on its own and build on what was revealed to us previously.  And we got a hell of a lot from just these four characters.  This may be the most light-hearted episode of the season far because of the absurdity of it all, but it didn’t feel unnecessary or out of character.

Loplop- Ed and Peggy cornered

Ed and Peggy are one unlucky couple.  By hitting Rye, they kicked off a chain of events that’s led them to go on the run.  As they’ve moved, they try to be more careful, but whether through fate, lack of solid planning, or a failure to communicate, their situations go from bad to worse.

Loplop- Ed meets up with Peggy at home

And it’s not like they want this to happen.  Ed and Peggy, but more so Peggy, want a serious change of pace in their lives.  They’re trying to actualize and do instead of think.  It’s like shooting first and asking questions later.  Rather than waiver on indecision, they act on impulse, as if shedding the skin of the mild-mannered, unassuming couple.

What I appreciate is that this doesn’t come out of nowhere, like them hitting Rye was a one-time thing and they kept trying to go back to normal.  With their lives now turned upside down and topsy-turvy, Ed and Peggy have more conversations about making a change.  Ed aspired to have a family and run the butcher shop, while Peggy just needed more in her life.

Loplop- Peggy tells Dodd to be civil

She needs to actualize and goddamn, did she do it.  Let’s just talk about Peggy right here for a moment.  Kirsten Dunst has been very great thus far, but from the start when Peggy cooked while leaving Rye in the garage, you got the sense that something was just off with this woman.  This was Dunst’s moment to shine and she delivered.  Through her facial expressions and flashes of anger, coupled with her calm, conversational tone, Dunst shows how warped Peggy is right now.

Loplop- Peggy about to stab Dodd again

I mean, she stabbed Dodd!  Twice!  With no kind of warning and she tried to still carry on this casual conversation while warning him to be civil.  Yes, Dodd is an ass and had it coming, but this woman is a psycho who just happens to make some presumably killer beans.  It’s the slightest change in Peggy’s facial expressions that show when a switch has been turned off in her mind.  She doesn’t even give stabbing Dodd so much as a thought- she just does it on impulse.

Loplop- Peggy needs a knife

She starts off by having an imaginary conversation, which is already enough of a sign to show that Peggy is acting and thinking like a sociopath.  The whole season has been about her gaining more confidence and being the best her that she can be.  It’s the whole reason Constance wants her to attend this Lifesprings seminar.  Well, Constance probably wanted a little something else from Peggy, but that’s neither here nor there.  But now, Peggy is at that point where she can be assertive and have some excitement in her life.

With each knife thrust into Dodd’s body, it’s like Peggy became more alive.  She’s actualizing, you know?  She’s thinking in the now, which means that she isn’t thinking long term right now.  Peggy is tired of her dull life and won’t have anyone disrespecting what she feels she deserves, but she doesn’t consider the consequences that would come with injuring Dodd, whether what that means for his life or her own and Ed’s.

And it’s that momentary distraction when she’s engrossed by the film that her guard drops after being so careful.  But even when Dodd gets the upper hand, Peggy still managed to regain the advantage when she stabbed him yet again.  Peggy is thinking outside the box, despite the fact that she and Ed are literally boxed in at this cabin.

They don’t have a lot of wiggle room because they’re not too careful about avoiding detection or drawing attention.  Both lack subtlety in their approach because, let’s face it, they’re not that clever.

Loplop- Ed returns to find that Peggy stabbed Dodd

Ed is trying to be a bit more careful.  With Dodd in possession, he’s taking steps to make sure he and Peggy are no longer targets, but his repeated appearances at the convenience store, Peggy making a phone call on the cabin phone, and even still using that vehicle draw attention to them.

Loplop- Ed realizes that Peggy stabbed Dodd

And by the way, I love the look that Ed gives Peggy when he returns and realizes that she stabbed Dodd.  As if Ed is slowly realizing that his wife is a loose cannon.

Side-note, I assume that when Ed fled from Hank and Lou, he went right back home to pick up Peggy.  If I had any confusion about the time frame, it’s how he managed to get home on foot both with Hanzee on his tail and still beat Hank and Lou in their cruiser.  He just seemed to get back there much faster than he probably should have, given the circumstances.

Loplop- Ed accepts the title of Butcher of Luverne

But back to the episode at hand, Ed may not be as into actualizing as Peggy, but he’s embracing the wilder side of things when he wear the title of the Butcher of Luverne with pride, as if he’d coined the term himself.  Ed has proven that, when in a desperate situation, he’ll fight to keep himself alive.

And while I think Peggy is a tad more assertive, Ed is willing to do dangerous things in a tight spot.  This, I feel, makes them both unpredictable because it feels like they come up with solutions on the fly.  Like an uncontrollable brushfire, you can’t predict what they’ll do next, so it makes me wonder whether this mentality will carry them through season’s end.

Loplop- Hanzee finds a coat in the basement

Hanzee is also a careful character and a damn good detective on top of that.  He doesn’t skip or miss key details that others would miss, such as the note on the refrigerator that led him to Constance.  He’s an outsider to the Gerhardt family and world around him, but he takes his job seriously despite never really having a sense of belonging.

Loplop- Hanzee pays for his drink, despite the insults

He endures insults and taunts not just against his own heritage, but also having his war service disgraced, as he’s only defined by his skin color.  Kind of like Malvo and even Anton Chigur, Hanzee can convey so much with little words.  Hell, his lack of words shows how much patience he has when men try to get under his skin and are met with bullets.  It just takes a push to move someone over the edge.  I wouldn’t go as far as calling Hanzee a psychopath because unlike Peggy, he remains in control of his situations and keeps himself in check.

Loplop- Hanzee is tired of this life

So when he finally kills Dodd and says that he’s tired of this life, he really meant it.  He’s tired of being a disrespected gun for hire.  Even though people like Bear respected him, Hanzee is now set to carve out his own path.

Loplop- Dodd believes that Satan is a woman

Dodd just never learned.  You’d think that after being tased, he would be more careful around people, especially someone like Peggy, but we’ve seen how he treats Simone, so not like his view of women would change.  Much of the dark humor came just from his interactions with Ed and Peggy.  It’s interesting that he chose to keep her alive after escaping, but perhaps he just wanted to screw with Ed.

Loplop- Dodd can't believe that Peggy just stabbed him

Jeffrey Donovan has been great in this role.  He plays up the asshole part very well.  Even when bound, Dodd still acts like he has the upper hand.  That said, I absolutely loved the look of shock on his face after Peggy stabbed him twice, as if his face just screamed ‘Did you just stab me?’

So “Loplop” was not a detour, but a way to fill in the gaps from “Did You Do This, No, You Did It!” and show us how Ed and Peggy ended up where they are with Dodd.  It put them right back in Hank and Lou’s crosshairs by episode’s end, but with Hanzee now back out there, the other Gerhardts still in play, and Mike Milligan headed to Sioux City to collect Dodd, not to mention just two episodes left, the pieces are slowly coming together as head towards the end of the season.