Legion Recap S01E05

How do we define ourselves? Are we simply an accumulation of our memories? Or a collection of neural responses? If our memories are unreliable, how can we be sure of who we are? Fortunately, we can rely on the testimony of others to help us understand such things. This begs the question of how we can trust them, though. What if they are also being lied to? And what if this closeness proves to be as much a distraction as a comfort? When Cary describes his relationship with Kerry as "a very delicate ecosystem," he could just as easily be describing how any two people manage to forge a connection.

WARNING: SPOILERS

Duality is a major theme this episode, with characters facing a literal fork in a hallway at one point, as the first half deals with the different pairs of Syd and David, Cary and Kerry, and Melanie and Oliver. That last couple is especially poignant, but the latter’s absence is clearly felt. We learn he’s been trapped in the astral plane for almost twenty-one years, but Melanie continues to hold out hope for his return. As much as she sees David as a key for that, she’s anxious about his newfound confidence.

Syd is more distracted than she lets on, ignoring all the warning signs of her boyfriend’s personality shift out of devotion; she’s also enjoying the fact that he’s developed a way around her power that enables them to touch, kiss, and have sex. Others, Ptonomy especially, think Melanie’s too taken with the idea of rescuing her catatonic husband, but it turns out she has reason to worry. The Devil with the Yellow Eyes is the real source of David’s heightened adeptness with his abilities, and is the one calling the shots in his body.

Before we learn this explicitly, we’re treated to David finally rescuing Amy from Division Three, at which point the episode veers closer to outright horror than the superhero action one would expect. The "super team" from Summerland arrives too late to help, and finds the grisly aftermath. Blood is everywhere, limbs and torsos jut out of concrete, and fluorescent lights flicker ominously, all reminiscent of the slaughter at Clockworks that killed Lenny in "Chapter 1." As the mangled and bleeding director warns Syd and Ptonomy that "he wears a human face," Melanie and Rudy watch security footage of David skipping about while performing carnage with a literal snap of his fingers.

David being mentally ill may seem to undermine the parallels I've been drawing from this show between mutant and queer experiences, but I think it deepens them. David doesn't have schizophrenia, but a parasite. This could easily stand for all the hate, prejudice, and invective that queer people endure and internalize their entire lives, even long after coming out and finding happiness. How many self-hating gay men have wrought destruction in the lives of other gay men just because they had the privilege to do so?

This is why connecting with other people is so important: empathy. As Syd plaintively asks David after they make love in the astral plane, "Who teaches us to be normal when we're one of a kind?" The answer is that we can teach each other. It's the reason he later sings "The Rainbow Connection" to her in the same room with tears in his eyes, hoping they can rescue him.

When they do, they get more than they bargained for. The Devil with the Yellow Eyes is in control and the Eye is closing in on them. After a tense silent sequence that turns slightly comedic, David once more unleashes his powers and seemingly rewrites reality to be a group therapy session at Clockworks with Lenny as Dr. Kissinger. It looks like next week will take place entirely in this altered universe, but it makes sense that David would retreat here. The Devil may have wanted to go to his childhood home, but the mental hospital is where he first met Syd.

Devin Whitlock's picture
on March 9, 2017

I've enjoyed comics since I was ten years old, but won't reveal how long ago that was. I'm a freelance writer and editor based in Chicago, and can usually be found at a local bar with a book in one hand and a drink in the other. I'm so happy to be contributing to Geeks OUT!