In Noah Hawley’s carnival kaleidoscope vision of Legion, it can be difficult to parse reality … and isn’t that the point? As Jon Hamm’s soothing voice reminds, as far as we humans — “the only animal that goes mad” — are concerned, perception is reality. We decide what is real or not. We are the creator of reality. And, we must agree on what is real.
If the audience is confused, we can more than imagine things from David’s perspective; “Are you you at all? Lenny from the hospital, the cornflake girl?” (“My associate is who she needs to be at this moment”). With master trickster, Amhal Farouk aka the Shadow King (Navid Negahban) firmly manipulating everybody’s … everything, we’re all in the same SUV together, alongside Haller, Ptonomy, Syd and “We call them Vermillion”, and we may as well enjoy the ride. “Let me be ultra clear, nobody gets hurt”.
As correctly surmised by Admiral Fukuyama’s androids — “There’s a sixty-three percent chance you’ve been lying to us” — David created the necessary diversion to allow for possessed-by-Farouk Oliver and Lenny entry to Summerland, where they break out in song, wreak unexpected havoc on poor Cary and Kerry (“I’m scared”), set teeth a-chattering, and rouse Melanie from hazy hookah dreams. Hunting down the Mi-Go monk order who may have his body hidden away, Farouk influences David to get back inside Cary’s sensory deprivation tank for an even trippier ride than last week‘s inaugural run.
Interacting with Future Syd, David’s seemingly more concerned about whether she wants to see him again than his possibly untimely future death, or her warnings about a monster much worse than Farouk — whose head David bashes in “… about a week from now, in the desert.” Upon his imagined return to Division 3 and the magic Yo! Waffles room, Clark interrogates David to no avail. Haller requests a meeting with Amahl Farouk, the Tapeworm (“You heard that?”) and for his troubles gets a wrestling match, and the Shadow King’s promise that he’ll stop killing if David helps Farouk find his body. Lenny wheels and deals to get her own life back — “You know how long it’s been since I got laid?” — while hearing one of Sid and Marty Croft’s equally psychedelic 1960’s kids’ show (The Banana Splits Adventure Hour) themes manages to set Kerry and Cary right again.
As Melanie contemplates her entire life, giving up her would-be dreams to live out those of the husband who deserted her, she soulfully admits her misgivings to ever-mystified David, advises him to take Syd and leave — “look at the clouds and live”. On a rooftop surrounded by the fluffy, white puffs, he finds her — them — Syd in human form, and as a purring cat who does the speaking. The timeless lovers David attempt(s) to work out reality (“Like you said, it’s a choice”), and where to go from … whenever they are, and since finding the monk is where Haller decides to start, we’re left questioning just who’s in charge inside David’s fragmented, chattering mind.
What a wonderfully, Alice in Wonderland-y trip that was. I kept waiting for David to show up in Tom Petty’s top-hat. Interestingly, as the show is airing I think I’ll never be able to make sense of anything — but when writing, little bits and pieces come together quite well in my brain. Either I’m understanding what Hawley’s projecting, or I’m on the verge of madness. If I had to guess, Future Syd is yet another Farouk-influenced manifestation in David’s head; the Shadow King is using Syd and David’s love to manipulate Haller into believing he’s helping to trap Farouk. Despite Future Syd’s warning about a worse monster coming, and her assertion that David killed Farouk, I don’t think that portion of what we’re seeing is actually a Future Syd, or perhaps there’s a real Future Syd and a Farouk Syd.
That said, it would mean that Cary’s thoughts he built the orb are also Farouk influenced (possible, since the diversion allowed Farouk/Oliver and Lenny into the compound). Marvel geeks noticed that Cary mentions he originally thought the Shi’ar made the orb. Is David stuck in the astral plane, being entirely manipulated by the Shadow King — not really experiencing any of the interactions he thinks he is?
Kudos to the (re)casting of Navid Negahban (Homeland, Arrow) as Farouk. He’s positively perfect in the Shadow King’s shoes, projecting exactly the right mix of maniacal menace, with ease and humor.
Who is the Miser Sunday? The Vermillion tell Melanie, David, and Syd that Farouk couldn’t possibly be hunting the Mi-Go order because “Many years ago, the Mi-Go were wiped out by the Miser Sunday”. There was no explanation as to who Sunday might be, BUT, some people think “The Narrator” Jon Hamm — who was at one time cast as geneticist, Nathaniel Essex in Josh Boone’s upcoming The New Mutants, is actually playing Mister Sinister (Boone decided the role will either be cut or downplayed) on Legion. So, farfetched guess: could “Miser Sunday” be an alternate name/alias/code for Mister Sinister? It’s a stretch, but not impossible.
After discussing the episode with my daughter, who’s actually read the comics, we both think David is the worse than Farouk monster that’s coming.
This week we got “Chapter 4: Unwelt”, Hamm’s meditation on reality and the nature of human mental illness.
Two Olivers are ALWAYS better than one, wouldn’t you agree?
Chapter 10 Music:
Bing Crosby, Swinging on a Star — performed by Aubrey Plaza and Jemaine Clement
The Banana Splits, The Tra La La Song (One Banana, Two Banana)
Ptonomy to David about the Vermillion: “I’ll be honest, they made me nervous at first, but I find them soothing.”
David: “How many are there?”
Ptonomy: “No one knows.”
Vermillion assessing the music box Farouk left behind: “Chance the object is explosive in nature, 27 percent.”
Syd to David when he asks her what’s wrong: “Nothing. Just your asshole parasite messing with my head.”
Cary, examining the orb: “I can’t shake the feeling that I constructed it — this orb.”
Kerry to Oliver/Farouk: “Let’s dance asshole.”
Melanie to the Vermillion: “I’d be careful who you blame right now. Maybe don’t piss off our only hope of killing the monster.”
David to Future Syd: “Wait, am I dead?”
Future Syd: “It’s complicated.”
David: “I tried to read your mind.”
Syd: “I don’t think that works, because I’m from the future.”
David: “You came to me because of love. What we have … you trust me, and I trust you. But, what you’re asking, to help this thing, I gotta know why.”
Syd: “It started like any other idea, as an egg. And then the few of us who are left went into hiding.”
David: “You’re so different.”
Syd: “Time does that to people.”
Farouk to David about his mind: “It’s a muscle my dear, you gotta work it.
You decide what is real and what is not.
You your will. You are the creator of reality.
You gotta get up from the kiddie table. Come and sit with the big boys.
What did John Lennon say? Bigger than Jesus.
Why such a sad face?”
David: “You read my mind, you tell me.”
Farouk: “Angry. Now we need to figure out if you are made at me, or yourself.
Very strong, but you are playing the wrong game.
If you help me to find your body, I will be in your debt, and where I come from, debt is somthing that must be honored.”
Lenny to Farouk: “You know,, I was thinking, now that you’re out of the closet, you and the kid talking face to face, maybe I could go.
Farouk: “Go, where?”
Lenny: “Back to my life.”
Farouk: “But you’re dead, your body.”
Lenny: “But, I was thinking, maybe you can make me a new one?”
All I’m saying is you got what you wanted out of me, man. You popped me like a tick …You know how long it’s been since I got laid, man?”
Farouk: “What would you do with a new life, a new body?”
Lenny: “I mean, I’d live the living shit out of it.”
“Farouk: “Then what?”
Lenny: “I guess I’d die again?”
Farouk: “And then what?”
Melanie to David: “We all die eventually. The real tragedy is forgetting to live.”