The Lunatics Have Taken Over the Asylum: Legion, “Chapter 5”

I’m afraid that if Lost‘s Daniel Faraday were around these Legion parts, even he might be confused. That old “Whatever happened, happened” sentiment just isn’t as solid as it used to be. In David Haller’s (Noah Hawley’s) world, even the actors don’t exactly understand what’s occurring week to week. Unraveling the mysteries of this particular mutant’s brain is necessary work for Melanie, Ptonemy, Cary and Syd; their self-preservation (and for Syd, emotional well-being) demands and depends on it. But, for the audience, discerning reality is pure entertainment — a mental challenge wrapped inside a glorious Wonka concoction — with the promise of a golden, mind-bending ticket to board each progressive week’s wild and addictive ride.

In comparison with the past four Chapters, number five brings relative clarity. Despite myriad quick change viewpoints, locations and morphing — absorbing — personae, deft direction by Tim Mielants (Peaky Blinders) grabs us by the hand for a smooth and strangely thrilling ride through David’s Tomorrowland in a way that somehow feels just as smooth as the Disney attraction.

Back at Summerland, a bruised and stunned Cary anxiously observed Syd, David  and Ptonomy bringing in his severely injured other half, tends to Kerry and removes the bullet while Melanie updates him on David’s contact with Oliver. Whether her end goal for David was always to rescue Oliver from his self-created space/mind prison suddenly and simultaneously occurs to everyone, but as rapid-fire sequences (telepathy! healing absorption! secret mind rooms! butts!) cut between Cary and Kerry, David and Melanie and David and Syd, our minds are quickly wiped of suspicions just so we can deal with each happening.

When David shows Syd his new power — “I’m the magic man” — they’re both intoxicated (frankly, so are we) by a newfound ability to touch — in his mindroom — an illusion he (like Oliver) can create. “Real, fake, it’s all the same”.  Hmm … As she later explains to Melanie, Syd’s not there for the fixing (treating); “He’s my man”. The question that begs — who exactly is driving David’s actions at any given moment — recurs throughout the hour, though the mutant we think we know as Haller seems to gain control by episode’s end.

Despite Melanie’s penchant for planning and Ptonomy’s increasing distrust, an evermore confident David takes off to rescue Amy all by himself. Grappling with the implications, “He’s too powerful … if they turn him”, Syd, Melanie, Ptonomy and Rudy head to D3, where they discover the remnants (bodies) David’s already left behind. A dying Brubaker warns them “Be careful, it wears a human face”; indeed, Cary’s theory that an incredibly old mutant has taken over — burrowed into Haller’s brain — seems to be sound, perhaps the best summation of his condition we’ve heard.

Speaking of, Syd (after David telepathically contacts her) informs the group David went back to his childhood home, the group (and The Eye) follows and after Melanie’s warning that they may not be in reality (rather, David’s creation), something renders them all silent. In what is surely one of the best television sequences ever seen, Melanie, Ptonemy, Syd and Rudy wordlessly — with hand signals and hilarious lip reading) work their way through David’s old house. Cary and Kerry pop in with Cary’s ridiculous looking, purportedly mind-controlling headband contraption, Melanie orders Cary to release Kerry so she can help, The Eye swaps places with Rudy, and the whole of David’s world goes bananas. Because, in between the group’s rescue efforts, David found both his sister and the news he’s adopted; Blenny (Lenny + Benny) and the Yellow Eyed Monster have all made themselves known and seem intent on terrifying (or harming) Syd. At the final, terrifying and thrilling moment, Syd calls David to go to the white room, meaning:  create them a safe space and suddenly, the entire group — Melanie, Ptonemy, Syd, Cary, Kerry, The Eye — are all back at Clockworks in group therapy, with Blenny leading a suspect session. Shaken, confused, trying to make sense of what happened and where they are, there’s not much for an exhilarated viewer to do but shout out, “Hey, got room for one more?”

Deep Thoughts:

“I’m the magic man. It’s all an illusion. I see that now; why’d I fight it so long? Real, fake, it’s all the same. We’re not really touching.” David’s discovery that he (it?) can make a world where he and Syd can be together is as exciting for us as it was for them. That kiss! Those bed scenes! Pardon me while I gif out.

I loved the gorgeous shots this hour, particularly the bugs on a bowl of strawberries fading to Kerry’s similarly textured bloody patch,

and the red light under swaying curtains.

Dan Stevens was finally allowed room to break out, and he did. My doubts expressed last week are gone. Likewise, even I must give Aubrey Plaza credit for her fantastic work this week. I can’t stand Blenny, but Plaza is burrowing her character into our brain.

Does Melanie’s heartbreaking story — Jean Smart killed it in all her wordless scenes this hour — about how Oliver got to the astral plane forshadow David’s future? I might predict the series ending with Syd and David in their own romantic, forever ice cube (mind palace). Will, as Melanie hopes and believes, David be able to bring back Oliver?

Ditto, Bill Irwin, who is absolutely brilliant in this role. He could do the entire season as a mute and be just as much fun to watch.

Melanie to Cary about Kerry:  “Can’t you just absorb her and fix her”?

Irritated Cary:  “… it’s a very delicate ecosystem”.

David to Syd, on going to rescue Amy at D3:  “It’ll be fun, kick some ass, save the girl, get a snack”.

Syd’s story of her first sexual experience managed to be intriguing, horrifying, and funny, all at the same time:  “My first time, he was with one of my mother’s boyfriends … When he was inside me I changed back. Then my mom was there and everyone was screaming”.

Even though Ptonemy seems increasingly angry about the group devoting so much time and energy to David, I don’t get any bad feeling about him. I think he’s rightfully worried about himself and protective of the other mutants.

Radiohead‘s The Daily Mail is the song that played over the group’s arrival at D3, heralding David’s destruction. David’s banjo serenade in the white room to Syd, Kermit’s Rainbow Connection.

Was Dr. Kissinger damaged during Division’s questioning, or was he always that way? Smart to leave him in the cell, I think.

That video of David Melanie and Rudy watched was damned creepy.

And the Yellow Eyed monster going after Syd was terrifying.

Cary definitely seems to have honed in on what’s happened with David:  “I think we were wrong, the whole approach, he is schizophrenic — this monster isn’t David, it’s a parasite inside. This thing burrowed into David’s brain, and it has been feeding off him all this time. Every time David sees this thing, this creature makes him forget. I think it made you forget too. The power is of this thing — not David [Melanie ‘What is this thing’?]. An older mutant, this thing has separated from its consciousness, for 30 years”.

Or did he? According to Jean Smart, there’s a twist coming next week that’s “just fabulous”.

The Eye continues to be perfectly creepy, slipping in and out of people unnoticed.

I wonder if Cary’s has mindcrown can work — paralyze the entity so they can talk to David — or if they’ll even have the chance to get it on him.

Syd to David:  “Who teaches us to be normal when we’re one of a kind”?

Syd to Melanie:  “I’m not treating him, he’s my man”.

Blenny’s REM shoutout to David: “I love it here, all these shiny, happy people”.

Was any of the original (Chapter 1) Clockworks stuff real? Or could this Clockworks be real?  “Did you guys notice the door in the hall, it’s not always there. We can run, there’s just no place to go”.

Cindy Davis

Cindy Davis has been writing about the entertainment industry for ​over ten years, and is the ​Editor-in-Chief at Oohlo, where she muses over television, movies, and pop culture. Previous Senior News Editor at Pajiba, and published at BUST.

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