'Legion' Chapter 5: Okay, Let's Talk (RECAP)
Dan Stevens as David Haller
[Spoiler Alert: This recap contains major plot twists from Chapter 5 of Legion. If you have not watched the episode, stop reading.]
Talk therapy, in an ideal world, functions as a means to confront personal demons. In an ideal world, the demons are metaphorical. As of this week’s Legion cliffhanger, David has regressed in his telepathic training, or perhaps in his mental health treatment, to the point that he and just about everyone he knows are back in a mental hospital. Whether this sudden reinstitutionalization is a defense mechanism constructed by David, a trap designed by the Devil With Yellow Eyes or something else entirely remains to be seen. For the moment, though, all the patients (Syd, Kerry, Cary, Ptonomy, Melanie, The Eye, and David) and even Dr. Lenny have calmed down significantly in their sterile white therapy circle.
Earlier in the episode, David showed off his ability to create these White Rooms as a way to facilitate a different form of “therapy.” Given the opportunity to build a custom dream world, he used his power as most anyone would: for consequence-free sex. Although, from the very beginning, the pristine façade of David’s wonderland gave way to some unsettling realities skittering beneath the surface, like beetles ruining a bowl of lovely strawberries.
Syd certainly didn’t notice. Seduced by David’s newfound smarmy bravado, she disregarded any and all red flags, and what could have been a nice moment for lovers taking their romance of the mind to new heights became a tense, uneasy affair.
Contrasted with the motherly pseudo-physical contact Syd had with David’s unguarded, child self in Chapter 3, the uninhibited carnal energy in the White Room felt lurid. Syd was highly susceptible to this type of diversion, which for anyone else would be a normal physical temptation to shut out unpleasant realities, because she’s never had a socially acceptable way to satisfy her sexuality in her physical body. Her story about losing her virginity by borrowing her mother’s body and boyfriend was disturbing both in its vulnerability and its overall creepiness.
“Who teaches us to be normal when we’re one of a kind?” she asked.
This question adds a new dimension to the tried and true how-would-real-people-respond-if-superpowers-existed plot structure à la “Who watches the Watchmen?” But it also recalls the problematic idea the pilot flirted with: that mental illness is a social construct manufactured to isolate and marginalize the exceptional.
With Syd enthralled by the lure of the White Room, Ptonomy unenthusiastic about the idea of risking his life for someone who has caused nothing but trouble, and Kerry/Cary still in recovery, Melanie was the only one who seemed eager to call attention to David’s radical personality shift. Despite her personal motivations for cultivating David’s power (bringing Oliver back from the Astral Plane), Melanie correctly assumed that David’s fragility had increased despite his swaggering front.
The DWYE, on the other hand, had no interest in sparing David’s delicate emotional balance. While Summerland was sleeping, it took David to Division 3 headquarters, ostensibly to save his sister, Amy. By the time Syd, Melanie and the rest of the mutants caught on and followed, David and the DWYE had already come and gone, leaving a ruin of wrecked machinery and loose body parts spliced into the floor. A quick look at the mutant-power-detecting replay monitor revealed that the DWYE had completely taken over David and used him to murder dozens of people with gleeful efficiency. The Division 3 boss who had managed to stay almost entirely out of the floor offered up an ominous summary of the day’s events: “It wears a human face.”
It was about right then that Cary called in on his distractingly echo-y cyberpunk holo-communicator to offer the team some vital exposition. The DWYE is, according to Cary’s theory, an older mutant, who separated his consciousness from his body and took up residence in David’s mind long ago, rewriting and obscuring memories along the way to cover his tracks.
David, it seems, was as unsettled as anyone by the carnage at Division 3, and with what may have been the most troubling rendition of “Rainbow Connection” in recorded history, he showed Syd how frightened he was of the red room just next door to his White one.
Meanwhile, at the childhood home of the Hallers, the DWYE in all of its guises— Lenny, Benny, King, The World’s Angriest Boy in the World— interrogated Amy for a Haller family secret. The reveal that David was adopted isn’t an earth-shattering one for viewers who know who his father needs to be, but it’s certainly an important bit of information for David to understand in order to progress in his own journey of self-improvement.
The Summerland crew arrived at the Haller household, pursued by The Eye, to find that, for reasons unknown, reality had been altered to omit sound. Before anyone had a chance to use Cary’s DIY DWYE paralysis device, The Eye pulled a gun to try to take David out. To save himself and Syd from the gunfire, David retreated to the White Room, where the real threat emerged.
The DWYE, in all its spindly, bloated glory trotted out from the red room to menace Syd. Unable to stop the DWYE, David did something. The image the episode ended on was a group therapy session, similar to the one from the pilot, with the Summerland mutants in attendance and Lenny Busker leading the discussion. Apparently Syd had just been talking about how the death of her father had affected her.
“Okay,” Syd said after panning across the blank faces of the other mutants in attendance, “Let’s talk.”
Legion, Wednesdays, 10/9c, FX