One Pill Makes You Larger, and One Pill Makes You Small: Legion, ‘Chapter 9’

It only takes a few short seconds to realize one’s been plunged into a Noah Hawley-ed up world, an all-out hyper-colored, multi-sensory, reflective envelopment occurs, and if there’s a way to encapsulate a hallucinatory experience — to plunge people into the world David Haller is experiencing — the Legion showrunner has clearly found it. There is no better creator on television today.

Sun shining brightly in our eyes, floating right alongside the stunning gorgeousness of Aubrey Plaza’s giggling Lenny and an impressively Dad-bodded Jemaine Clement — the now Amahl Farouk-possessed Oliver — we’re all trapped together in time (not a bad place at all). “This is a conversation about time, and I try never to have conversations about time”; sorry, Oliver, but in an hour spent trying to discern the happenings in “Chapter 9”, turns out it’s more about the when than the what. “Welcome to madness”, indeed.

Spirited through the corners of David’s mind, theoretical events proposed in answers to questions (his own and others’), it becomes increasingly clear that nice guy Haller is less wide-eyed victim than calculating, would-be control freak; too bad for him our Syd is already miles ahead of his game. She plays it well, demure and devastated lover; lets David believe he’s at the wheel though like her mentor, Melanie, she sees beyond a fella’s facades … uses perceived weaknesses to her advantage.

David’s missing minutes translate to many months in Summerland, it’s mutinous mutants now — following the Lazarus affair and the Catalyst (an “infection” caused by Farouk/Oliver’s presence) — working with and for Division’s Admiral Fukuyama (aka Master), a gender-fluid, part robotic, part biological, mustachioed, basket-headed multi-personaed “machine that bleeds”. Despite the Admiral’s directive that David be terminated if there’s any sign he’s been infected, Clark and Carey attempt to run a few Altered States-ish tests, plunging a naked Haller into a state of would-be sensory deprivation, plugging (you sunk my) Battleship-like colored coordinates and peppering his brain with leading questions in an attempt to find out when and where David’s been missing.

With another of what’s quickly becoming trademark Legion balletic sequences, reminiscent of the fantastic “Chapter 4” Kerry/Carey fight, we’re transported to a fantastic dance-off/power-play between David, Oliver/Farouk and Lenny … and while it’s not entirely clear what (who?) is gained or lost — is David merely trying to prove Farouk can’t penetrate his mind, or vice versa? — the symbiotic overtones extend all the way back to the lab, where Carey can’t help but be moved, himself.

As explained in one of the voiceovers by Don Draper Jon Hamm, “For a delusion to thrive, other more rational ideas must be rejected, destroyed”; perhaps this was David’s attempt to exert his delusion over everyone, but led by Syd, the Summerland gang may prove more formidable than even the world’s most powerful mutant. Because by hour’s end, though Haller tries to cover his secrets with lies, his true face with the mask of an innocent, the one person he sees as most vulnerable to his emotional manipulations could just be the key to his undoing.

Deep Thoughts:

What a gorgeous, mind-bending, ALL-IN experience this series is. Between the visuals, the set design, costumery, camera work and soundtrack, AND the actors, AND the writing, AND the simply glorious way Noah Hawley’s brain apparently works, every episode of Legion feels next-level. I can’t even come up with words to properly express how amazing it all is, how from the moment it starts until the all-too-quick last second, I feel totally immersed, and happily so. There’s an immediate need to rewatch as soon as the episode ends, and I know I’ll watch again today. I can’t make enough gifs (come back later!). Someone freeze Hawley’s brain, please. I know that sounds terrible, but we must preserve such genius!

Kudos to Dan Stevens for his increasingly dark performance, and his uncanny ability to convey that evil lurking beneath David’s outward confused “whaaa?” and feigned ignorance. I can’t wait to see David’s progression … keep an eye on his hair.

Did Syd really send the orb for David? I’m not one hundred percent sure, but it makes for an interesting slant. Since pretty much everyone’s narration is unreliable here, especially David’s, it’s possible that’s just his perception, but I like the idea Syd is subverting what he thinks is his dominance, and using David to help find Farouk’s body (“We’re in a race”) before Farouk can manipulate David into helping him. Of course, the possibility exists that Farouk is manipulating David into thinking that’s Syd urging him to find the body, when it’s actually Farouk.

Note how she’s focused on his hand — is it his hand?

Remember that Syd and David can only touch in his mindspace room, and it’s interesting that even in there, Syd seems suspicious. She should be. I mean, it’s cool they can get down sideways and all, but the question is … why?

David has a little aside with himself.

Meanwhile, does Farouk actually have any hold over or connection to David, OR has David somehow already managed to absorb Farouk, and is wielding his power now and therefore, also needs Farouk’s body to gain the same extra power Farouk would, had the Shadow King been able to find it first? Head spinning yet? Yeah, I think that’s Hawley’s point.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for giving us more of Jeremie Harris’ Ptonomy. He was one of Season1’s underrated heroes, and I hope we get to deep dive into the character this time around.

Ditto, Bill Irwin’s Carey — one of my absolute favorite characters, equally (perhaps even more so) because of his remarkable physicality and his expressive acting.

I’m digging some of the parallels between Legion and Westworld, visual (did you catch that endless stairwell in the scene with David meeting Admiral Fukuyama?

It’s not unlike Westworld‘s endless escalators), and otherwise — the maze.

Loved Melanie’s (Jean Smart) speech about men, how their absence controls women, how women are expected to keep quiet about certain things, lest we be perceived as “bitches”.

Syd’s licking her hand and cleaning her face with it like a cat, while holding a cat … brilliant.

That honeycomb building, though!

I screamed “Yo! Waffles” when I saw the conveyer scene — reminiscent of Yo! Sushi.

I wonder if kids will come into play after that comment, “At a certain age, no one can be infected” (by Farouk).

What happened to Chapter One? — Chapter 2:  The Madness of Crowds; Chapter 3:  Delusions

Allusion to The Little Prince“It’s what’s inside that matters.”

Phenomenal dance choreography …

Chapter 9 Music:

We Love You, The Rolling Stones

I Would for You, Jane’s Addiction

White Rabbit, Jefferson Airplane (lyrics spoken by David)

Best Lines:

David to Ptonomy:  “Is there a guy with a basket on his head?”

Syd to David:  “Found a grey hair. I like cherry pie now. So …”

David to Syd:  “Can I kiss you?”

Syd:  “You better.”

Melanie to Syd about men coming back:  “Oh they always do, with all their in and out, in and out. All their important things. World’s not going to save itself … they distract us with absence from our lives. Course it’s never their fault, our men. God forbid we should have a feeling about it. What kind  of bitches would we be to stand in their way?

You know what the saddest words are in the English language? Vacant lot. Don’t know why.

Here’s what they don’t tell you. After they come back, things are never the same.”

Admiral Fukuyama to David:  “Our mind can’t be read.”

Carey to David:  “How do you feel about small spaces? And how do you feel about pitch black?”

Carey to Kerry:  “We talked about this. You make people uncomfortable.”

Kerry to Carey:  “I make people uncomfortable? You spent Wednesday walking around without pants on, how do I make people uncomfortable?”

Carey to David:  “I’m so sorry about that.

The fluid is 80% glucose, 15% bicarbonate and  5% strawberry extract … it’s for conductivity, also to give it a pleasant aroma and taste in case you should swallow any, which do not swallow any.”

David:  “So I’m supposed to find the Shadow King from inside a daiquiri?

This is a bad idea.”

Carey:  “Just open your mind.”

David to Syd, showing her the compass:  “Just head in the direction it’s pointing, and I’ll be there. If we get lost, we get lost together.”

David guessing what Future Syd is drawing:  “Me? Gift You have a gift for me. Present me. I’m in the present. I’m good at this. Me arrow you. Clock, time, arrow. Arrow of time …”

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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