‘Legion’: Look upon the wrath of Cornflakes, ye mighty, and despair
Season One, Episode Six — “Chapter Six”
By Jarrod Jones. The frailty of Team Legion has revealed itself and so has their true enemy.
Melanie Bird, usually so assertive, is all exposed nerves and tremulous despair. “I’m okay with change,” she says to her psychiatrist, her anxieties manifested in an eternal hair twirl. It’s difficult to see Melanie so vulnerable, just barely holding on to hope. Kerry Loudermilk, separated from Cary by force, asks her later in the episode what she dreams about. Mel, without skipping a beat, responds: “Love.”
There’s still power inside her, somewhere, but in the Clockwork Hospital power isn’t love. Power is oppression.
Syd Barrett, who spent the last two weeks of Legion trying to get to the root of David’s psyche, has flown too close to the sun. For her trouble, she’s been stuffed back inside her zipped-up athletic gear, pacing the hospital’s monotonous hallways. Ptonomy Wallace looks like he hasn’t slept in years. Walter is there too, but like Melanie, he’s been stripped of his agency. He knows he has hate inside him, but in the Clockwork Hospital, that hate — hostile, yes, and scary too — is misdirected.
But David? He’s the happiest he’s been in years. And that’s what counts. Because in the Clockwork Hospital, Lenny’s running the show. They’re in there, all of them, trapped under the weight of Cornflake’s Clockwork might.
Of course in a show as psychotropic as Legion, the devil is literally in the details. Syd stalks the hallways looking for an elusive door that no one seems to know exists. She’s seen it, and heard what’s beyond it — pure, orgasmic bliss. Is it a way out? The door, much like everything else in the Clockwork Hospital, is regimented lunacy: it flits in and out of existence at a rhythm Syd can only scarcely anticipate.
But Syd’s daily regimen of seeking an escape means she’s more attuned to find the details Mel or Ptonomy or even David either ignore or can’t see. Take that bleeding sphincter in the wall: that shouldn’t be there, she seems to think, her finger probing through to the other side. That space on the wall is Lenny’s weakness, the very spot where her smashed organs used to be. Syd put her there once, but in Lenny’s version of the Clockwork Hospital, Syd is at the mercy of Lenny.
There’s something absolutely Freudian about all that. And in a show as psychotropic as Legion, I don’t even want to speculate on it.
In fact, everything done by Lenny — who is later revealed (rather unsurprisingly) to be the Devil With the Yellow Eyes — is open to strict Freudian analysis: we’re treated to the first musical number since the show’s bombastic premiere, only instead of Serge Gainsbourg, Lenny struts around David’s headspace to Nina Simone, sexing up every square inch of David’s vulnerable spaces. (She even humps the pillows on his bed.)
There is hope to be found in Lenny’s memory prison: Oliver, in his atmospheric diving suit, seems to be the catalyst for disruption, covertly infiltrating Lenny’s subterfuge by luring Cary inside his giant ice cube bachelor pad, and paradoxically, out from Lenny’s control. (No Jermaine Clement this week, sadly.) Which begs the question: Has Oliver always been contained within David’s mind? If so, how in the heck did he get there? And if Lenny has David under her (their?) sway but Oliver can still bop around at will, how much of David’s mind does she (they?) actually control?
“I could give a shit about your mind,” Cornflakes says, casting David out into a black oblivion. I guess that’s sort of an answer.
Ptonomy: “Everybody loves dogs.” David: “I don’t.”
Kerry: “Melanie? What do you dream about?” Mel: “Love.”
BEST MOMENT: Lenny flexing her might over David by strutting around his brain in high heels, as bold swathes of red streak the television screen. It may be Legion‘s most provocative moment yet.
EPISODE’S MVP: Aubrey Plaza, as Cornflakes, exuding power.
WELCOME TO THE MACHINE:
– Apologies for missing out on episodes five and six — travel and work kept me from recapping the last two Wednesdays! One day I’ll be able to convince FX to send me episodes in advance.
– Red sightings: Walter’s t-shirt; Syd’s Cherry pie, covered in pests; Lenny’s dance number to “Feeling Good”; Syd’s nightmare of the Devil With the Yellow Eyes; Lenny’s belt.
– A special treat this week: watching the great Bill Irwin get to indulge his classic vaudevillian training, if only for a moment.
– Ptonomy’s memory of watching his mother die has strong shades of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
– Whoever makes the beds in the Clockwork Hospital has either worked in a hotel, served in the military, or both. Respect.
– When David and Syd argue, David’s record player begins to warp the music in the background. Subtle and spooky.
– Lenny reveals that David’s father went out of his way to “hide” David, knowing about his power. So it’s clear that Legion wants us to know that David’s pops is really Professor Xavier, right?
– So what do you think, Legionnaires? Will we be seeing Charles Xavier at some point? How in the heck did Oliver get inside David’s mind? Can you dry clean the mental projections of pillows? Sound off in the comments section below.
9.5 out of 10
Next: “Chapter 7”, in one week.
Before: “Chapter 3”, here.