This week’s episode of Legion wasn’t the pulse-pounding, jam-packed stress session that last week’s was, but I appreciated the chance to catch my breath and watch the plot move steadily forward. I’m usually not fond of this conceit – the protagonist suddenly finds themselves in a different (probably not real) world, populated by other members of the cast. The Magicians did a plodding and predictable iteration of it in “The World in the Walls”; The X-Files did one of my favorite (albeit incoherent) versions in “Triangle.” But because of the setup of the show, Legion actually managed to pull it off in a way that felt organic and in-universe. This is the most chronologically straightforward Legion’s storytelling has ever been – we don’t get as many flashbacks as usual, and the story is bound to the halls of Clockworks in what almost feels like a bottle episode.
We’re back at Clockworks, Lenny has become the therapist, and only Syd seems to have an inkling that anything is amiss. We see everyone in their own sessions with Lenny – in this projection, David is manic depressive, Syd is delusional, Melanie can’t let go of her long-dead husband, Cary and Kerry are codependent, and… well, honestly, Ptonomy seems alright. We finally get a little bit of internality from him as he spends the episode inside the memory of the day his mother died, but he’s still the least fleshed out character in our crew.
Amy has entered this projection as a nurse, not a patient. She’s strict and horrible, harassing Syd (with touch) and David (with a very long gag reflex scene). Everyone else seems to have emerged as themselves, so it’s not clear what’s happening here. Amy, talking about the Clockworks patients, says “we adopt you because we have to,” an obvious reference to David’s own adoption that seems more like a product of his own subconscious, or a taunt from the devil. If that’s the case, where did the real Amy end up?
Syd keeps seeing David’s bedroom door, starkly contrasted to the aesthetic of Clockworks, at the end of a hallway. She’s the main character this time around, searching out answers to why nothing feels completely real to her. She sees the cracks that start to form in the projection: the strawberry beetles from last episode infest the pies, and a throbbing cyst in the wall leaks blood and unleashes all of her true Clockworks memories.
As per usual, I love Cary and Kerry, and placing The Eye’s (Bad Perm’s) interest in Kerry alongside Cary’s showed how pure the first is and how predatory the second. Cary’s gaze is never predatory – Kerry is his equal, his protector, and together they make two halves of a whole. They’re a comfort to one another, knocking on the wall of their next-door rooms to let the other know they’re alright. But even the way the camera looks at Kerry, from The Eye’s perspective, feels wrong and invasive. Boy, do I hate this creepy, wolfish, rape-culture weirdo. I hope Kerry kills him, in any and/or plane.
Meanwhile, a deus-ex-Oliver appears to Cary (and later Melanie), pulling him into the reality of the astral plane. The mechanics of these planes actually make sense to me, here – of course the line between different planes would be more porous. When the characters move into the astral plane, they vanish from Lenny’s projection, probably since their bodies are still tethered and frozen at David’s house.
At Clockworks, scenes from the first episode keep looping, but with small changes. This time, it’s Ptonomy and David talking about the drooling patient, not Lenny and David; this time, David comes to Syd’s room. We’re not meant to think that David’s memories have been looping forever – the devil, in Lenny’s form, is clearly in charge in every way, manufacturing every aspect of this version of Clockworks. We get a pretty good idea of what her powers are – unlike David, she can touch the mind but not the world around it, manipulating, inventing, and putting to sleep.
I can’t believe I’ve written this many reviews without spotlighting Aubrey Plaza because, oh my word – Aubrey Plaza. This is the third, maybe fourth, role we’ve seen her play in David’s subconscious: starting at weird, druggie friend, escalating to a grinning tormentor, and now playing the part of a smooth-talking therapist. She’s always exactly where you need her to be, and the multiplicity of her roles was especially showcased this time around. Her dance number to “I’m Feeling Good” was unbelievable, trampling all over the spaces that we’ve seen over and over again in the show – the CT scan room, David’s old apartment. It’s another reminder that she’s won, for now; she has the run of David’s memories.
In fact, Lenny/the Devil might have been the true main character of the episode. She’s everywhere, watching all of the patients (that shot of her eyes in the wall of David’s old house gave me haunting flashbacks to that awful, Kafkaesque, lima-bean infused children’s book, A Bad Case of Stripes. My own personal Angriest Boy?).
Lenny finally shows her hand to David at the end of the episode, countering his inquiries about Syd with a disturbing monologue about cordyceps. Listen. I’ve heard more about this freaking ant fungus than I ever wanted to – from creepypastas to The Last of Us, they’re every horror writer’s new favorite nightmare. I’d be more annoyed if it didn’t fit Legion so precisely. “Such a sweet little baby,” the devil says, revealing that David’s birth father gave him up to try to protect him (Charles? Is that you?). “And me. Your very own, walking, talking, fungus.” All she wants is to take David over and use him to climb as high as she possibly can – maybe even spreading her disease to as many other people as possible. “All I need from you is your body,” she says while assaulting our poor, sweet protagonist.
Which can’t really bode well for next week.