Title: Legion Season 2 Episode 4: “Chapter 12”
Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama, Science Fiction, Superhero
Platform: TV – FX
Director: Ellen Kuras
Writers: Nathaniel Halpern and Noah Hawley
Release: April 24, 2018
Cast: Dan Stevens, Rachel Keller, Aubrey Plaza, Bill Irwin, Jean Smart, Jeremie Harris, Amber Midthunder, Jemaine Clement, Hamish Linklater, Navid Negahban
Feature image: Source
“Afterward some are strong from the broken places…and so every day we wake to survive again.” Joan Bennett – Legion
A snowstorm rages outside, Syd Barrett (Rachel Keller) is in an igloo dressed in furs. We hear muffled noises, the noises turn out to be childbirth. Nurse: “Here she comes.” Syd crawls out of the igloo and is born. We get a montage; baby Syd cries every time her mother, Joan Bennett (Lily Rabe) touches her. Little Syd (Audrey Lynn) lies in bed with her mom, with a pillow between them. She watches a gold fish. Teen Syd (Pearl Amanda Dickson) is with her mother at a museum, she is wearing gloves and watching a couple kiss. Back at home, she kisses her image in the mirror. Joan reads a passage to her guest at their apartment, “Afterward some are strong from the broken places…and so every day we wake to survive again.” David Haller (Dan Stevens) is in the living room. Teen Syd is in a bedroom trying on the guests’ coats and hats, acting out their owners’ personalities. Teen Syd walks out and one of the guests touches her, causing her to freak out. Some of the adults laugh at her freak out while Joan tries to find out what happened. Now Teen Syd is dressed in sexy punk clothing, she goes to a punk club sans gloves. She touches people while dancing wildly in the mosh pit, quickly changing bodies with them. Teen Syd lies in a hospital bed in restraints while her mother sits quietly beside her.
“You think ghosts like living in a haunted house? Watch it again.” Syd Barrett – Legion
David joins Syd at the museum wearing a guard’s uniform. David: “So this is your core desire?” Syd appears not to know who David is or what he is talking about. He changes the topic to the Egon Schiele painting she is looking at. David: “You like this painting?” Syd: “You don’t?” David: “Well, it’s…” Syd: “It’s what?” David: “Well, it’s trapped in that negative space. No feet, no hands. Mouth covered. No way to communicate or connect. It’s…” Syd: “Honest.” David tells Syd what he thinks her core desire is. He thinks she likes the museum because its, “Somewhere where you can be part of the world without touching it.” Syd walks away angry saying, “You don’t know anything.” She pauses and continues, “You think ghosts like living in a haunted house? Watch it again.”
We repeat the first scene, Syd is back at the igloo being born again. David tells Joan, “You shouldn’t touch her. She doesn’t like to be touched.” Three mean girls taunt Young Syd (Violet Hicks). Mean Girls: “Poor lost elf. Keeps to herself. Lives with her mom because her dad’s in hell.” Syd was a lonely kid. A young budding sexual harasser, Jason (Spencer Ward) wants a kiss from Teen Syd. Jason: “Come on, just a kiss.” Teen Syd: “No.” Jason: “I’ve seen the way you look at me.” Teen Syd still refuses. Jason shoves her into a fence and yells “Frigid bitch!” Three teen girls [Maybe the older versions of the girls who taunted her earlier.] laugh at her and call her a loser. Syd grabs Jason and asks him, “You want a kiss?” She kisses the creep and they change bodies; he faints. In his body, Teen Syd picks up his lacrosse stick and beats the bullies. When she is back in her body, she tells a passing teacher that Jason attacked them. Jason doesn’t have any idea what happened. Back in the museum Syd watches the couple kiss. David walks up to Syd and tells her who he is and recites some facts about her to prove it. David: “I was wrong, it’s the couple. You’re in the maze, caught in a loop of your own life. Like I said, it’s the couple.” He tells Syd she wants the closeness they have. Syd: “Wrong. Watch it again.”
Syd is back in the igloo waiting for her birth. After she’s born, David is in the igloo alone. He watches baby Syd. He watches earlier scenes of Syd growing up again. Teen Syd starts cutting herself with a pair of dull scissors. David is frustrated, he can’t figure out what she wants. David runs off the mean girls who are taunting Young Syd. David goes up to her and pretends like he is a teacher. He asks if she is okay. Young Syd: “You’re cheating. You have to figure it out yourself.” David: “Wait, what is happening, I thought we were in the maze.” Young Syd: “Again.”
“300 angry people who all need to use the bathroom at the same time.” Clark – Legion
Kerry Loudermilk (Amber Midthunder) wakes up from the chattering teeth contagion. She calls for Cary (Bill Irwin). He answers from inside her. She pulls him out. [That just sounds so wrong on so many levels.] Clark walks by. Cary: “We just woke up.” Clark: “You and everybody else. They just found the Monk on the sidewalk dead.” He can’t stay because he needs to tend to, “300 angry people who all need to use the bathroom at the same time.” Kerry asks, “Where’s David and Syd.” They go up to the roof looking for David and Syd and find their frozen bodies. They move the bodies to Cary’s lab, Melanie Bird (Jean Smart) and Ptonomy Wallace (Jeremie Harris) join them. Melanie: “I don’t understand. Why haven’t they waken up like the others?” Cary: “They are awake. Their brain waves have changed.” Ptonomy: “So why aren’t their eyes open?” Cary: “I don’t know.”
David is out in the blizzard again. He’s back at the igloo, now the museum. David sees Syd and tells her he know this isn’t the maze but a test. David: “You think that if you show me who you are, who you really are, all the mistakes, all the fouled up things you did, that I won’t love you anymore.” He reminds her how messed up he was. David: “I love you okay. There is nothing you can show me that is going to scare me away. Can we go home now?” Syd does a buzzer noise, “Try again.” In a pleading voice she asks, “Try.”
The process begins all over again. Igloo, birth, Little Syd in bed, but this time David is lying next to her. David tells her, “I won’t give up. I’ll never give up.” Joan reading to her guests, Jason the creep asking for a kiss. This time Joan is with her boyfriend Isaac (Dave Baez). Teen Syd prepares to go out, her mother isn’t paying her any attention but Isaac winks at her. David watches Teen Syd at the punk club and she disappears. She wakes up later that evening and sees Isaac’s feet heading towards the bathroom. Isaac turns on the shower. Teen Syd leaves her room and sees her mother passed out on the couch. She touches her mother to change places with her. Teen Syd in Joan’s body undresses and joins Isaac in the shower. She touches his body in wonder. Isaac grabs her and they have sex. Joan wakes up in her body on the couch. She hears Isaac yelling from the bathroom, she runs in and sees Isaac in the shower with her 15 year old daughter. Teen Syd is standing in the corner with her clothes on in shock. Joan freaks out; Isaac keeps repeating, “I didn’t do anything.” The cops take him out of the apartment in handcuffs. David looks at Teen Syd in shock; she stares back at him.
“It’s about the damage itself, how it makes us strong, not weak.” David Haller – Legion
David is now talking to grownup Syd. David: “Okay. I think I understand. It’s not about being alone, or about being in love. It’s about the things you survive.” David quotes the old Hemingway adage that “the world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.” He continues as Syd nods, “It’s about the damage itself, how it makes us strong, not weak.” David tells Syd how their love felt like a fairy tale. Syd: “This isn’t a fairy tale.” David: “It was for me.” Syd: “Do you know what love is? It’s a hot bath. What happens to things when you leave them in a bath for too long? They get soft, fall apart.” Syd reminds David about the upcoming apocalypse and asks who will survive it, lovers or fighters? Syd: “Love isn’t gonna save us. It’s what we have to save. Pain makes us strong enough to do it. All our scars, our anger, our despair — it’s armor.” She finishes with, “God loves the sinners best because our fire burns bright, burn with me.”
Since David has learned his lesson, they can go back. They awaken in the lab. There is a big commotion in the hallway. Division III troops are running down the hall. Syd and David get up to find out what is happening. The troops are dragging Lenny Busker (Aubrey Plaza) in handcuffs. Lenny: “I’m back!”
David goes into Syd’s mind to rescue her from the chattering teeth contagion. He thought she was in the maze just like Melanie and Ptonomy. David didn’t know he was in something much deeper. Instead of him guessing what Syd’s “core desire” is, he has to learn a lesson about using your pain and trauma to be stronger. What David didn’t know was that Syd was in charge the whole time. He starts at the very beginning, Syd’s birth, with the igloo of course symbolizing the womb. David sees Syd’s childhood, with emphasize on the traumatic events surrounding it. David being thick [like most of us dudes] kept misreading what Syd was trying to tell him. He thought she wanted to be part of the world without touching it; she wanted the closeness of the couple she kept watching; he thinks that she wants to show him how f@#$ed up she is and scare him away, but he assures her he will always love her. All of these answers were wrong. After seeing Syd’s most horrifying event, switching bodies with her mother to screw her mother’s boyfriend which leads to his arrest, David finally gets the message. Syd is trying to get him prepared for the upcoming apocalypse. Love isn’t going to save them, strong people like them will have to save love. When they wake up, they will have to face their newest challenge; Lenny’s back!
This is easily the best episode of the season, and maybe the best of the series. The deep dive into Sydney Barrett was needed. Syd can be a surface character, since she can’t touch people, she is somewhat isolated from the others. She spends most of her time with David, who idolizes her, so we never quite see who Syd is. By going deep into her subconscious, we find out who she is. Girlfriend is a pretty screwed up individual, whose had a lonely and traumatic childhood. A lot was heaped on her, but when she dished it back, it was brutal. Jason was a creep, but did he deserve being carted away for beating the three female bullies. They were bullies, but did they deserve to be beaten with a lacrosse stick? [Maybe?] Aside from giving Teen Syd a wink, did Isaac do anything else to her? Being arrested for statutory rape of a minor is beyond anything we saw him actually do. Syd is a very dark person; her darkness matches with David’s in a way. They both have gone through a lot, and Syd is trying to show David it has made them tough, tough enough to take on the apocalypse. Syd is the type of teacher who doesn’t grade on a curve.
The woman who directed this episode was Ellen Kuras who was the cinematographer of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. She was an inspired choice to direct this episode with it spending so much time in Syd’s memories. She used some visual techniques to help the audience understand where we were in the story, and the implications of what was happening. This show is always a visual wonder. The Syds were wonderful. Rachel Keller did her usual stellar job, but special mention must be given to Pearl Amanda Dickson as Teen Syd. She carried the emotional baggage of this episode with aplomb. Dan Stevens was great as the increasingly frustrated and confused David. The museum exhibit was from the works of Egon Schiele. Legions comic book co-creator, Bill Sienkiewicz used Schiele’s work as inspiration for David. If you look at his art work you get the vibe of Legion.
Legion is well known for its music, the show’s creator Noah Hawley and its musical supervisor Jeff Russo have done a great job matching the music cues with the show. This might have been their best episode. During the first montage when we went through Sydney’s childhood, 22 (Over Soon) by Bon Iver played. When Teen Syd is enjoying the freedom of the mosh pit, Turtleneck by The National was featured. A cover of Cream’s White Room played when Syd was cutting herself with the dull scissors. When David was telling Syd he still loved her after all the awful things she had shown him, It’s Not To Be by Tame Impala played. The episode ended with a cover of Burning Down the House by The Talking Heads. For both White Room and Burning Down the House, I have the original artist’s version.