***Spoiler Warning: Spoilers for Legion through Season 2, Episode 2 follow. Spoilers***
Where standalone episodes often serve only as pause in the action, unnerving asides that leave audiences frustrated or tapping their fingers in anticipation of the “real story”, Noah Hawley refuses to tread. Crafting an emotional journey through a frozen landscape, the swirling storm of Syd’s entire life played out in a series of maze paths David chooses to repeatedly navigate (“I’ll never give up”) until he can bring out his true love on the other side, this stunning showrunner continues to expertly tickle our brains. From gorgeous visuals perfected down to the tiniest details (last week’s sunglasses reflecting a Season 1 callback), to brilliantly covering iconic songs himself (with composer/songwriter, Jeff Russo), Hawley’s ingenious take on Haller’s mind and story is above and beyond anything else on television. I’ll say it again; give this creative genius a Marvel movie, STAT.
Neither snow nor rain … nor multiple visions of Syd’s birth, childhood, bullied teenage years — or curious body-swappings to devastating consequences — will keep David from finding his way through her frozen tundra, receiving the message she needs him to understand. Her birth-canal-like igloo-womb is no match for the hot bath of David’s fairy tale (Beauty and the Beast Monster, anyone?) love; core desire museum meetings allow him the redirects, the route resets he must endure until Haller gets it right.
While Cary frets over their seemingly conscious brainwaves, Clark tries to work out the simultaneous stirrings (“Three hundred angry people who all need to use the bathroom at the same time:) that coincide with the Mi-Go monk’s mysterious death. Little Syd survives her superpowers (” … now it’s a curse, like Sisyphus and his rock”), but not without hurting those around her, over and over through the maze paths David works his way through … “Watch it again.”
With fresh intensity, Dan Stevens and Rachel Keller bring David and Syd’s love story to a higher (astral) plane, infusing their every scene together with longing, frustration, sorrow and promise. For David, the draw of a singular connection he’s never before been able to maintain breathes hope into his madness. Lifetime(s) lessons learned, this Syd mentors her man to show him the necessary skills he already has, to defeat the monsters that come their way. Malicious martyred monk aside, there’s the matter of a certain Shadow King whose heralded head-bashing defeat has yet to play out in “reality”, but it’s not Farouk that Future Syd was worried for. Rather, the disastrous demons plaguing David’s duplicitous psyche, the ego that threatens Greek-god-like to destroy everything.
Stop. Emmy Time. If the academy doesn’t hand out everything possible to Noah Hawley, Dan Stevens, Rachel Keller — heck, everyone on this show — there’s something seriously wrong with the world. The writing, the production, the pure, glee-inducing imagination infused into every single episode is outstanding. The shot of Joan and young Syd morphing to David and young Syd was beautiful, and David’s “I won’t give up. I’ll never give up” legitimately choked me up.
Kudos, also this hour, to Pearl Amanda Dickson for her excellent portrayal of young Syd, and to Lily Rabe, who played Syd’s mother, Joan Barrett. Both were excellent casting choices.
Even with only moments onscreen, Bill Irwin’s Cary and Hamish Linklater’s Clark always leave a lasting impression, and their scene together this hour was no exception.
Hawley clearly has an eye on Westworld, with all his allusions to mazes, loops, core desires, and (unseen) infinity escalators.
PUNK SYD, dancing in the club! There was something up with David’s distorted visions of Syd, perhaps indicating the unreality of some of the maze paths David was on.
Oh and, I’m going to need that necklace.
The book young Syd (Pearl Amanda Dickson) was reading is Rick Moody’s The Ring of Brightest Angels Around Heaven.
The art in Syd’s mind-museum included work by Egon Schiele. When first I saw it, I was reminded of Gustav Klimt and lo and behold, Schiele was a protégé of Klimt. The majority of Schiele’s work is on display at Vienna’s Leopold Museum.
In mythology, Sisyphus was the Greek king sentenced to push a giant boulder up a hill again and again for eternity, his punishment for an immense ego and trickery. It’s also the name of a Pink Floyd song, on their 1969 release, Ummagumma. Of course, we already know that Syd Barret is named for the Pink Floyd founder and singer who may or may not have suffered from schizophrenia.
Lenny’s “I’m back” was hilarious … and horrifying. I do look forward to seeing who she ends up as — what’s left of the real Lenny, whomever that might be.
Amusingly, Jon Hamm’s Mercedes advertisement ran during this hour. The Narrator …
Chapter 12 Music:
Bon Iver, 22 (OVER S∞∞N)
The National, Turtleneck
Tame Impala, It Is Not Meant to Be
Jeff Russo and Noah Hawley, White Room (cover of Cream)
Jeff Russo and Noah Hawley, Burning Down the House (cover of Talking Heads)
David to Syd, upon their first museum rendezvous: “So, this is your core desire.”
Syd: “I’ll scream, creep. You got my warning.”
David: “Loud and clear.”
Syd: “You think ghosts like living in a haunted house? Watch it again.”
David: “You’re in a maze, caught in a loop of your own life.”
Syd: “Wrong. Watch it again.
If you just ask me, you’re cheating. Figure it out, yourself. Again.”
David: “You think that if you show me who you are, I won’t love you anymore. I love you. There is nothing that you can show me that is going to scare me away. So, can we go home, now?”
Syd: “Try again. Really try.”
David: “Okay. Okay. I think I understand. It’s not about being alone, or being in love. It’s about the will to survive … It’s not the story of a little girl whose mommy couldn’t hug her … It’s about the damage itself, and the way it makes us strong, not weak. You survived the bullies and the way they made you feel. You cut yourself with the dullest blade, ’cause it felt the worst. I know that life, ’cause I lived it, too.
Syd: “I know.”
David: “And then I met you, and it was was true love, like in a fairy tale.”
Syd: “This isn’t’ a fairy tale.”
David: “It is for me.”
Syd: “Do you know what love is? It’s a hot bath.
What happens to things when you leave them in a bath for too long? Huh? They get soft. Fall apart.”
David: “And then I read this, ‘Junkies and masochists and hookers, and those who have squandered everything are the ring of brightest angels around heaven.”
Syd: “It’s a war, baby, this life. The things we endure. You said you saw the future, and it’s an apocalypse. Who survives that? The lovers or the fighters? They sell us this lie that love’s gonna save us. All it does is make us stupid and weak.
Love isn’t gonna save us. It’s what we have to save. Pain makes us strong enough to do it. All our scars our anger our despair, it’s armor. Baby, god loves the sinners best, ’cause our fire burns bright, bright, bright. Burn with me.
OK. I’m ready.”
David to Joan (Syd’s mom): “You shouldn’t touch her, she doesn’t like to be touched.”
Melanie to Cary: “Use words.”