Welcome back to our ongoing "Legion" recap series, this time taking a look at episode 3 (or "Chapter 3"), which is the first episode of the season not written by series mastermind Noah Hawley (the teleplay is credited to Peter Calloway, who also wrote the episode that airs on March 8). For those who remember, Hawley wrote almost all of the first season of "Fargo" and a good chunk of the second season. He's clearly got more stuff going on during the production of "Legion," so his contributions are likely to be fewer and farther between. What's good (and heartening if you subscribe to the television auteurist theory) is that the episode is just as weird and unsettling and chronologically upended as the last couple of hours have been.
And obviously, there are questions. So let's try to answer some of them, shall we?
What Happened Last Week?
Right, a recap: David (Dan Stevens, who amps up the twitchy affectations considerably this hour) is a super-powerful mutant who had found himself confined to a psychiatric facility called Clockworks. His powers, ever evolving (sometimes dangerously so), eventually led him into the custody of an evil organization called Division 3. (Again: their logo is super nifty.) David is detained, interrogated, and intensely threatened until a group of freedom-fighting mutants, led by Dr. Bird (Jean Smart), absconded with David and brought him back to a compound called Summerland. It's in Summerland that David has been accessing past memories in an attempt to understand and better control his psychic abilities. It's also where he gets to hang out with his cute mutant girlfriend Syd (Rachel Keller), who has the ability to swap bodies (more on that in a minute). At the end of last week's episode, it was revealed that Division 3 had captured David's well-meaning sister Amy (Katie Aselton). The noose tightens.
So What Happened This Week?
What's interesting about "Legion," as a series, is that thus far it's been as invested in backstory and looking into the past of its central character, as it has been in driving the narrative forward. It's fascinating and it's hard to think of another series that is this uninterested in momentum or drive. It's just sort of content to hang out, put on some Pink Floyd, and see where things go. And in it's in that same space that this episode continues. It begins with Bird talking to a coffee machine (voiced by Jemaine Clement, who we learn is her husband), while David sits by a pier. Unbeknownst to him, Amy is being tortured with leeches. Basically, David wants to go after the Division and free his sister, whereas Bird insists that he refine his powers before they attempt a rescue operation. (It does make sense.) So the episode is, once again, concerned largely with going through David's past via metaphysical transportation and other woo-woo weirdness.
While it mirrors both of the previous hours in their investigatory tone and emphasis on David's past, there are a few key takeaways from this week's adventure, first and foremost that David wasn't just dabbling in drugs like we saw last week but was a full-on, self-described "junkie." In fact, the kitchen meltdown, the one where all manner of kitchen appliances and household items, were psychically smashed about, was the result of David's girlfriend Philly (Ellie Ariaza) finding out about his addiction. David is also very, very powerful, with one mutant noting that he was able to "teleport 600 fee through two solid walls." At another point, Bird describes him as "maybe the most powerful mutant alive." So there's that. At the end of the episode, David is sedated, but won't wake up. It's unclear, once again, whether or not the entire show is taking place inside David's fractured psyche. Fun!
Also, we get to learn a little bit more about Syd. She was raised in the city, on "the 34th floor." She makes note that her mom was "famously smart" and that instead of shaking up with men, "We kept their heads instead." Now that last part caught me. Was she being cheeky or is there something darker in Syd's past? Can't wait to find out.Oh, So There's a Different Title Card Each Week?
Last week, I talked about how cool the title card for the show was, with its slender font and eerie background choice. This week, the card is different. It's the same font, but the context has been completely changed. So I guess the title card will be different each episode and that is really, really neat.
How Cool Is That 'X' Window?
Another design flourish that is really exploited this episode is a circular window in Summerland that has an "X" on it. It's exactly the same shape as the "X" in the "O" of the title, and it's an obvious nod to Professor Xavier and his School for Gifted Youngsters (and the subsequent crime-fighting team X-Men). It's a pretty subtle nod, especially if you're watching the show and are unaware that it's connected to "X-Men" at all, and another very real indication that the people who make this show are having a lot of fun.
Does the Drug Have Something to Do With David's Power?
So here's an interesting question: does the drug that David does with Lenny (Aubrey Plaza) somehow amplify his powers? The kitchen meltdown occurred right after Philly discovered that David was using and David was on a number of psychotropic drugs at Clockworks, the scene of his most violent psychic episode (one that resulted in the death of Lenny). Later in this episode, he's sedated in an effort to control his abilities from interfering in their "memory work" (can we briefly pause to talk about how awesome Jeremie Harris is as memory master Ptonomy Wallace?), but the powers only seem to become more intense. So what are the drugs doing, exactly, and is it possible they're actually something that should be introduced into his treatment.What's the Deal with The Eye?
Another fascinating wrinkle introduced this week was the fact that The Eye (Mackenzie Gray), a mutant and member of Division 3, used to be one of the good guys. Bird says that her husband and Cary (Bill Irwin) started Summerland with the man now known as The Eye. So what happened to him? How did he go from peace-loving beatnik to murderous thug? And what are his abilities, exactly. At one point in the episode, David and Syd astral project to wherever the Division has Amy. The Eye seems to see them and walks towards them, eventually reaching out and touching them, before they blink back to Summerland.
Who Is the Devil With the Yellow Eyes?
While the Devil with the Yellow Eyes, the bloated, phantasmagoric boogeyman from David's subconscious, has been referenced before, it had been only fleetingly. During this episode not only did we see a lot more of him, but other characters acknowledged and interacted with him. Even more than Division 3, the Devil with the Yellow Eyes seems like the episode's Big Bad, a character who is looming in the shadows and whose abilities and goals remain frustratingly out of focus. There's been speculation as to whether or not the character will be revealed to be a famous "X-Men" foe (most of the hypothesizing centers around the Shadow King), but whoever he is, he's creepy as hell and we need to learn more.
Will David Ever Wake Up?At the end of the episode, David is still unconscious, and Bird is rifling through his subconscious. It's an abrupt cliffhanger of an ending, made all the more tantalizing by the circumstances that surround it. Now why I ask if David will ever wake up is because Hawley has, repeatedly, suggested that the entire series takes place inside David's mind. Now, this could just be a cheeky misdirect (and he wouldn't be off-base for suggesting such a scenario), but it could also be true. Imagine if we get to the last episode of the season and it flashes back to David in Clockworks (or even earlier) and the entire thing has been in his mind? I know I keep circling back to this idea, but if it's true, it could be a true mind-blower.