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David goes deeper and things get nightmarish on this week's Legion

Contributed by
Feb 22, 2017

Spoilers ahead for this week's episode of Legion, "Chapter 3."

The short version: In his quest to save his sister, David speeds up his training with Melanie and finds even darker secrets hidden in his mind.

THE GOOD

When Legion kicked off two weeks ago, I praised the show for its layered portrayal not just of the mutant experience, but of the way someone comes to terms with their mutant powers. Much of David's story so far has been an experience of discovery, from learning that his "illness" was actually a manifestation of his powers to learning exactly what those powers are. In "Chapter 3," the series makes one thing very clear: We still have no idea just how far David's powers can go.

Last week he teleported an object. This week he teleported himself and other people, including projecting right into Division Three's hideout to look in on Amy, who's still at the mercy of The Eye (who, it turns out, has a mysterious connection to Melanie and Summerland). He's also still powerful enough that Melanie and Ptonomy are convinced that he's walling off parts of his memory from them, even as new things appear. The kitchen incident is finally revealed to Melanie, confirming her suspicion that David is indeed telekinetic, and a childhood Halloween night reveals -- to the viewer, at least -- that The Devil with Yellow Eyes isn't the only horrifying thing in his memories. There's also a giant manifestation of the title character from a children's book called The World's Angriest Boy in the World.

I love the way the show is so gradually peeling all of this back, and how quickly it's able to pivot from fascinating to frightening. It makes close watching all the more spellbinding, and this week it rewarded us with another major question the series has yet to answer: What if David's still not totally sane? What if he's an Omega-level mutant and a person in need of psychiatric treatment?

This was also my favorite episode so far on the David/Syd front, particular when Syd opens up about what it's like to keep switching bodies temporarily. Her fear of intimacy is a classic Marvel Comics mutant trope, but this week she took her experiences further into the realization that her travels are proof of an individual essence, or soul: "Everywhere I go, I'm me."

And finally, there's that closing sequences, which took the creepier visuals and sounds at the edges of the show so far and morphed them into full-blown nightmare fuel. Trapped in David's memory with only a childlike version of her boyfriend to guide her, Syd watched as the Devil crawled through the ducts and fled as the Angriest Boy chased her through the halls. It was the most effective memory sequence the show's produced so far.

THE BAD

This is less a criticism and more a questioning of the show's dreamy logic that may well pay off later: What is Lenny? So much of the show's exploration of David's brain is pretty user-friendly by now, but not this. Is she his conscience? A manifestation of guilt? A soul he somehow absorbed when Syd took over his body and wrecked Clockworks? It's not clear, particularly since Syd hasn't addressed it either, but now we know David is accessing the speech center of his brain while silently conversing with Lenny. He's telepathically communicating with something, but it's still not clear what, and that's starting to nag at me.

THE UNCANNY

- In a conversation with Syd, David revealed that he still has a connection to her body, to the point that he sometimes feels like he has her long hair. Later, Syd has a dream that seems to be full of David's memories, and she even sees the Devil when Melanie and Ptonomy can't. How far does this connection to David's mind go, and what else did she get from it?

- It seemed plausible that the Devil was another mutant, polluting and invading David's mind at various points in his life. If that's true, though (and it might not be), what does that make the Angriest Boy creature? Is this a childhood fear writ large?

- Cary: "Could you maybe not break everything this time?"

- David: "I'm not gonna promise that."

And that's it for this week. We'll be back next Wednesday for more Legion.