Posted on

first_imgStay on target Don’t Hold Your Breath For Noah Hawley’s ‘Doctor Doom&…How ‘Legion’ Uses Superpowers to Explore Mental Illness Legion has done a fantastic job of putting us inside the head (sometimes literally) of David Haller. It’s used experimental filming techniques to give us some idea of what it’s like to perceive the world how he does. It hasn’t given us the same understanding of its other characters. Until last night. This show has no problem disorienting us right away. We start in a snowy field, shot in the widescreen usually reserved for the journeys inside peoples’ minds. Inside an Igloo, we see Syd.As she crawls out the opening, we year some screams and commotion, and it becomes very clear what we’re watching. This is Syd’s birth. We get to see her entire childhood, in an oddly peaceful opening for this show. Last season spent so much time in David’s life, we never got to see what her childhood was like. As you can imagine, given her powers, it was very lonely. Especially as a teenager, when she sees a couple kissing in a museum and wishes she could do that with someone. Her need for contact is so great, she resorts to wearing the coats of her parent’s guests during a party.This all leads to her rebellious teen phase, where she takes off her gloves and goes dancing in a mosh pit, freely touching whoever bumps into her, presumably switching bodies each time. That apparently doesn’t do great things for her mental health, and the next thing we know, she’s strapped to a bed in a hospital. In her mind, as an adult, she returns to the museum and stares at her favorite painting. This is the maze Syd is trapped in. As David says when he finds her, this is her core desire. But he gets it wrong. She doesn’t want to be part of a world she doesn’t have to touch. David has to watch her life play out again, and pay better attention this time.Dan Stevens as David Haller, Amber Midthunder as Kerry Loudermilk, Rachel Keller as Syd Barrett. (CR: Suzanne Tenner/FX)The last episode saw David being a mental superhero. This week, that’s not so much the case. It was easy for him to be the hero to Melanie and Ptonomy. Syd is much more complicated. That’s what attracted David to her in the first place, but right now, it’s making it harder for him to figure out the exact nature of her maze. He watches her entire life multiple times, focusing on a different aspect of each trip. The second loop shows her troubles at school, with a group of girls making fun of her. When a boy pressures her for a kiss, she eventually relents. But only so she can switch bodies with the boy, beat the girls up and have the boy get blamed. Even as a teenager, you didn’t want to piss off Syd. Even still David gets it wrong. They arrive back at the museum, and he singles out the kissing couple. He thinks she wants what they have. He’s wrong.The next time through, he watches her experiences with self-harm. We don’t even get to hear what he thinks her maze is that time. Syd just says he’s wrong. The next time through, he examines every minor detail, finding nothing. He satisfyingly tells the girls tormenting young Syd to piss off, but Syd tells him he’s cheating. Solving the maze doesn’t count if he just asks her. He has to go through the maze again, but I’m glad he told those girls off. That “lives with her mom ’cause her dad’s in Hell” rhyme is one of the meanest things I’ve ever heard one TV character say to another.Amber Midthunder as Kerry Loudermilk, Bill Irwin as Cary Loudermilk. (CR: Suzanne Tenner/FX)So why is it so hard for David to find the answer? Thanks to a brief scene on the outside, we learn that they might not be infected with the same teeth-chattering virus. When the Monk jumped off the roof at the end of last week’s episode, the virus ended. Everyone woke up (and had to pee). David and Syd are awake, but their brainwaves are different. David’s figured it out too. They’re not in the maze. It’s another construct that Syd put together. The only question is why? And David still gets that one wrong. It’s not a test of love. She’s not showing him the dark details of her life to see if he got scared away. Good thing too, because that would have been really lame. After all the character growth we saw last season, that would be a huge step backward for both of them, and I’m glad the show not only avoided this pitfall, but pointed and laughed at it as it hopped over.Each time through, we see a little more of her life. Until finally, we see what probably landed her in the mental hospital in the first place. This scene was alluded to back in season one, and it’s real disturbing watching it play out. She switches bodies with her sleeping mother and joins her boyfriend in the shower. The way the scene plays out, it’s unclear whether she intended to have sex. That may have been the idea going in, but once the man starts kissing her, the scene looks violent and scary. The bodies switch back right in the middle, and suddenly the boyfriend is in the shower with a 15-year-old, and he can’t explain why. The mom is furious, and calls the cops on him. Syd just looks like a hurt, scarred young girl.Dan Stevens, Rachel Keller (Photo via FX)The way this episode ends is ultimately a little unsatisfying, but maybe it was meant to be. Because as much as Syd has a point, I doubt we’re meant to think she’s entirely in the right. David finally figures out why she’s showing him these moments. They were all moments of pain. And pain, as Syd sees it, makes her stronger. It toughens her up. David has let his love for Syd blind him to the dangers they will face. She says he needs to use his pain to toughen up and protect their love, rather than rely on it to protect them. Now, there’s certainly some truth to that, but she doesn’t acknowledge how this could backfire. What if toughening up makes you a colder person? What if you’re no longer able to feel that love because you’ve developed such an impenetrable exterior? She and David will both have to help each other as the season goes on, because I don’t think either of them have the answer at this early stage in the season.Did we need a full hour to get to this lesson? Probably not. The show very clearly has something big planned for next week, and it probably wouldn’t make sense for any of that to happen in this episode. Still, it made for an oddly slow hour where very little really happened. In a show like Legion though, I don’t mind it much. The cinematography is as mesmerizing as ever, and the premise is cool enough to keep us in awe all the way through. And it was worth getting to know Syd this much. We’ve spent so much time in David’s life, we barely ever learned anything about the woman he loves. It’s easy to forget that David isn’t the only one who’s had trauma in his life. Syd grew up unable to touch anyone. That’ll do real messed up things to a person. We can finally understand what made her the person she is today. Why she thinks the way she does. For that alone, this episode was worth it.Sometimes a slow episode is needed. Especially right before something big happens. We might not get much of a chance to breathe next week. This episode ends with Lenny being dragged into Division Three. Is it actually her? Did she escape the Shadow King? Or is Farouk just using her body again? Either way, I’m glad Aubrey Plaza’s sinister smile is returning to creep us all out next week.center_img Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey.last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *