The mid-point of Legion is quickly peeling away the covers as we see how David’s mutant mind clicks.
But this week was a psycho ride down a few rabbit holes that culminated in a bizarre group therapy scene with Walter (The Eye) and the gang at Summerland.
Cary is able to save Kerry back at Summerland while David has a profoundly different attitude and even a new look to his character this episode.
Melanie Bird exhibits more emotion than ever as her desire to be reunited with her husband Oliver Bird is also tempered by her realization that something ain’t right with David Haller.
It also showed the antipathy brewing with Ptonomy over Melanie’s handling of Haller and how to deal with his unfolding and troubling persona at Summerland.
David’s confidence immediately latches on to Syd as he creates a virtual sex trysting scene and completely mesmerizes her while Melanie is disturbed by his cavalier behavior and the mention of her husband.
The White Room was a sensory pleasure dome fraught with earthly imperfections and horror, notably visually teased by the perfect bowl of berries suddenly rotting and crawling with beetles.
The pursuit to get David and his sister Amy in D3 was a trippy, scary and perplexing car trip.
TV critics April Neale and Ernie Estrella hash over the episode…
April Neale: Okay Ernie, that was an anxietal episode as David Haller’s parasite has made him a creep, and immediately the tonal shift in his personality is evident as we watch the episode begin. This amplified “dick David” who can efficiently lay waste to human life pissed me off as he taunted Melanie and messed with Syd’s emotions. What say you?
Ernie Estrella: Well we see that David can not only be the greatest hero of this story but also the most deadly villain, which I think is one of the great side conversations one can have with these super-powered stories.
Very little separates heroes from villains and when the mind is the greatest weapon, it’s phenomenal, as long as you’re in control of that mind. I think it’s important to remember that he’s not at complete control of his mind and/or body and probably hasn’t been for a very long time.
He’s been damaged goods, potentially since he was adopted as Amy suspected then that something was wrong. But yeah, the parasite or the Shadow King, as we hypothesized last week, is combining the enlightenment David is getting with Melanie and his own exploration of the astral plane and then turning it against them.
AN: The scope of David’s power sort of gives the impression there is no limit. He can create astral spaces to have sex. He can totally annihilate and vaporize people. He can project his conversation into your mind and even remove your hearing with the wave of his hand. A god or devil is this hitchhiker wearing a human face?
EE: I think the beauty of telepath superpowers is wondering the limitless things one can do with their mind. We know that even the smartest humans are only using a small percent of their brain, so there’s this fantasy that we can do so much more if we could unlock the portion we don’t use.
In telepath stories, they are better than the one-trick ponies out there. Super strength, flight, super-speed, all of it is useless against someone who can shut off your brain.
I think the parasite is on for the ride in K.I.T.T. (for all of you Knight Rider fans) and that power with evil intent is frightening. To Melanie’s point to Ptonomy though, it’s important they reach out and sway him back, of course not knowing that he’s being controlled.
AN: How scary is a big Caucasian in a fat suit? Fat Bastard’s evil twin going after Syd, I had nightmares. I feel like that with all this doubled up parasitical power, there might be some schizophrenia David has to complicate matters further, based on the hallucinatory episodes that don;t seem to involve the evil fat bastard. What say you?
EE: Yeah, so as ridiculous at that looked when I first saw it, that thing gives you the grade A certified creeps. And to just put yourself in Syd’s place.
She lets herself go, thinking she’s in the safe spot that David created for them and this terrifying thing is coming after you, can touch you, and you are powerless in this plane of existence.
Also, I know that a lot of the “effects” is just lighting but man, they’ve done some incredible work with the color schemes and lighting to convey mood and atmosphere whether we’re in David’s mind or the astral plane.
AN: How cool were all the scenes with Kerry and Cary in the Summerland and how Cary put it together about David, and then, the Eye in Clockworks for some group therapy scene? Insanity. What did you make of how the episode ended and how Cary figured out David was carrying a parasitical evil force inside him?
EE: Okay, so what I thought when we reached to that ending was that the parasite was able to infiltrate Syd’s mind, or all of the minds inside that house. I don’t think we’re in David’s world anymore, to me, I feel like we’re now seeing Syd’s experiences and memories and the parasite, as manifested as Lenny is in control.
AN: This episode revealed that David was adopted by the Haller family and that the parasite has used Lenny as one of its manifestations in David’s mind and projected astral plane world, along with King the beagle and the World’s Angriest Boy.
Some chatter out in the Internets (remember I have no knowledge of the source material) claims David could be the son of Melanie and Oliver Bird. Not Charles Xavier. Do you think that this twist is likely?
EE: I think the money shot that a lot of fans are thinking is that it will be Charles Xavier, even if we don’t get a Patrick Stewart cameo this season, the hope, as expressed by Stewart in his press tour for Logan is that he’d love to appear on Legion.
It’s really the only major link to the larger X-Men film universe. The adoption explains the separation and I’d love for that reveal to be at the end, and we see Season 2 (if one is in order) explore how David came to Amy’s family.
Noah Hawley tends to do that with Fargo, reference one thing and use subsequent seasons to tell that story in greater detail. That said, I hope that’s not the case that the Birds are his real parents, though given the astral plane observation, that’s not a bad theory to let twist in the wind.
AN: Educate me in a tight tag about who the Shadow King is and why he wants to be inside David?
EE: So the Shadow King is an evil mutant who doesn’t have a human form, so he possesses humans and “feeds” on all of their negative energy, their hate, their resentment and evil thoughts.
When amplified in a instrument like David, the Shadow King could get really fat with power and I think we can both agree that this parasite is fat and mean.
For David to be one of the most powerful empaths, only makes him all the more appetizing, and I think the exploration now would be, what all has David experienced to make him hate so much to be such a good host for the Shadow King, even dating back to when he was a child.
AN: I am in awe of the range that Dan Stevens gives Haller, from fear and timidity to true calculating menace and lustful delight when he is consumed by the parasite. I know you like Ptonomy (Jeremie Harris), but who is giving the best performance in this series so far for you?
EE: I like Ptonomy because he’s so cool, Jeremy Clement as Oliver Bird is also in that category because, well, beat poetry.
But Stevens is hands down carrying this series. Like you said, he’s pulling off the multiple personalities and the subtle differences of being himself and possessed, or influenced by Lenny/Benny and all the variety of states.
You have to buy it when he’s with Syd, because he’s fooling the other characters too, so he’s got to be convincing no matter the different face he puts on. Also, Katie Aselton has been smashing as David’s sister, Amy.
I hadn’t seen her in this kind of role before so she’s been surprising me with every scene she’s in. Last night’s was no different.
AN: Do you think David is trying to send Syd clear warnings about his internal battle to protect her? Do you think David is aware he has a monster inside him and now must protect the fellow mutants from it?
EE: You know to me, he’s been running away from this demon in his own mind but probably has no clue that it’s been in control. I think he bought into being “sick” as he’s been diagnosed but his mind is being blown wide open and before he can run out of the tunnel, the Shadow King is strengthening his grip on his mind and the gloves are off. He doesn’t want to let go.
AN: The carnage at Division 3 base, man! Faces ripped off, limbs askew. How did Walter (The Eye) escape all this mayhem or does he want the parasite to partner with their cause?
EE: I don’t know. When Bird and crew got to the Haller home and their voices went silent, and Walter is seen lurking in the bushes behind them, I couldn’t help let out a burst of laughter because Legion kind of goes there each episode, to that place of absurdity but I know that’s Hawley’s sense of humor.
However, that does makes me think the Eye really is an equal adversary when he’s aware. That he can hide in plain sight with no one knowing he’s there, and if he can hide from David, at times, and the others, we haven’t seen him unleashed.
AN: Syd’s wholesale deep dive into being “David’s girl” is a bit off to me. Her character is perplexing to me at this point. What’s your take?
EE: I’m along for the ride. I do think these are two mutants who felt alone and suddenly feel like they’ve found someone that gets them, despite whatever people want to do to poke and prod them for their own gain.
I think there’s genuine feelings here, and yes, some puppy love obsession too. Given how many other mutants in this story have shut off their emotional buttons, perhaps that’s why their feelings jump out so much.