Directed by Michael Uppendahl
Written by Noah Hawley
* For a review of Chapter 1, click here.
* For a review of Chapter 3, click here.
After the exciting events of Chapter 1, we find David Haller (Dan Stevens) alongside Syd Barrett (Rachel Keller), Melanie Bird (Jean Smart) and the others, as one of them sings “Road to Nowhere” by The Talking Heads.
They get back to a facility— Summerland— where David meets others, including Cary Loudermilk (Bill Irwin). But the poor dude is sick, he has too many voices rushing through his head. Melanie tries to help, getting him to focus: “There‘s a single voice calling your name. Can you hear it? Can you find it?”
And who’s the voice? Could it be his mother, maybe?
The next day things start in full swing. He sits with Melanie and Ptonomy Wallace (Jeremie Harris) discussing how to harness his powers, which involves looking back through a lifetime of memory. So it begins.
We see memories of David and his sister Amy (Katie Aselton), though they’re very young, maybe eight years old. They run in a field with their dog, they laugh and play. The goal is to figure out where his supposed mental illness started, then leading to, hopefully, controlling the energy of his mind. They head more and more through various memory work, and David witnesses himself as a boy with his mother. Happy memories, evidently. Also, he remembers his father as an astronomer. Those of us who know the comics know better though, don’t we?
“Pretend we‘re in a museum—
the museum of you.”
Suddenly something goes wrong. The dream feels sinister, ugly. The room starts to shake, as David spins out of control. Back to the table where they all sit. David’s beginning to freak out, until Ptonomy puts him to sleep. Another trip back sees David sitting across from Dr. Poole (Scott Lawrence). He’s twitchy, he’s nervous. The voices scatter his brain. Outwardly, he seems incredibly mentally ill. On the inside is something nobody would’ve ever been able to diagnose, in terms of regular everyday medicine and science.
Moreover, we see him and Lenny Busker (Aubrey Plaza) together, the earlier days of their friendship. But quick as we went in, David wakes up in Summerland with Ptonomy, and has a glass of milk to settle his stomach. I love Ptonomy, too. He has memories of his entire life, right back and into the womb.
Out in the woods, searching for David, is The Eye (Mackenzie Gray) and a fleet of black dressed, gun-toting SWAT team-looking cats. They will not stop, either.
There’s still no full explanation about what happened when Syd and David changed places. Although she remembers it being “so loud” while they did, it scared her. She likewise saw the horrible entity David keeps seeing in the background, that malevolent, hideous thing. And then, Syd remembers she probably killed Lenny.
Note: This scene had some awesome editing, from the memories of Syd about what happened in the hospital to the quick cut to Lenny reciting a line David is saying to Syd. Hawley & Co are pulling out all the stops to make this series work. Dig it!
Finally, David steps in with Mr. Loudermilk for a CT-scan-type test. Well it looks like Cary’s a bit of a character himself. There’s two Loudermilks: Cary and Kerry. Intrigued now, especially seeing as how he said he was talking with Kerry, and she’s nowhere to be found. Either way we tumble back into more of David’s memories, now one in which he and Amy sit together chatting about her personal life. Memories slip by quick and we’re over with David and Lenny once again— she’s trying to trade an oven for drugs.
Meanwhile David is having aural troubles. When they get their drugs it’s back home to get high! Only, should someone like him be experimenting? What I love most about Haller’s issues is that we see a genuine depiction of mental illness: he hears things, sees them, he’s not sure what’s real or what isn’t, and it’s as if we’re watching a documentary sometimes on the nature of schizophrenia. Inside the sci-fi trappings is a genuine depiction of a struggle with a disease of the mind.
We’re actually watching more of the memory work with David, Ptonomy, and Melanie. They try getting to the bottom of his visions. Particularly once the eerie, dark entity shows up and it freaks him out. Then the memories are glitching, jumping time. They dig up one of David’s flashes, in his apartment when he blew the place near to pieces.
Loudermilk is trying to help David figure out where his “memories are stored.” Stubborn little things. They head back into another one and try again. He goes into a dark place of his memory where things fold back onto themselves, the voices overcrowding his thoughts. Then there’s Amy, who can’t find David at the old facility anymore. She’s distraught, wanting to understand where her brother’s been taken. And Amy winds up being found by none other than The Eye. Uh oh. Has David discovered a further power? Can he hear and see things from across time and space?
Father Gore wouldn’t doubt it.
After Loudermilk leaves him alone, amazed by what he’s seeing on his readings, David’s greeted outside the machine by that grotesque entity. Another second passes and he’s not even in the machine anymore. It’s because he blew the thing right outside and into the yard with his powers. A truly disturbed individual, frighteningly powerful. Alas, David’s decided to leave for a couple days and figure out what’s going on with his sister. At the same time, Amy is stashed away somewhere being held by The Eye and his associates, in a dreary basement akin to an old mental hospital. What is he planning for her?
What a spectacular follow-up to the first episode.
Hawley is an impressive writer, showing more of his talents with every passing chapter.