Directed by Sara Adina Smith
Written by Noah Hawley & Nathaniel Halpern
* For a recap & review of Chapter 10, click here.
* For a recap & review of Chapter 12, click here.
Narrator Jon Hamm questions us about the “nocebo effect,” different than the placebo effect. The body only needs a “suggested harm” in order to feel the effects. Such as being told something will make you throw up, then throwing up. It’s almost like an implanted suggestion. The Narrator references “the dancing plague of 1518,” yawning, the “Hindu milk miracle,” and other things that follow along these same lines. Technically it’s known as a conversion disorder— the psychiatric becoming symptomatic in the physical. These types of things can turn into an epidemic, spreading from one person to the next rapidly.
This opener, among the rest of the Narrator’s moments so far in Season 2, is exactly why Legion works on more than the level of a superhero story solely. Because there’s an entirely other aspect involving the mind when it comes to a character like David Haller (Dan Stevens), or the Shadow King himself, Amahl Farouk (Navid Negahban).
Speaking of Amahl, we see the moment when he dies. He sits at a table, his mind elsewhere on the astral plane battling with Professor Charles Xavier— it’s a fantastic visual to see the battle going on behind his eyes, through his glasses. An ingenuous little bit of writing, executed flawlessly.
“If the idea of illness can become illness,
what else about our reality is actually a disorder?”
And so, the Mi-Go monks took the body of Farouk away. They sealed him in a capsule-like coffin, lowering him below the floor of their monastery, and he was entombed there in his earthly body beneath the earth. Yet he was never ever truly defeated. Not fully.
Back at Division 3, Ptonomy (Jeremie Harris) has a nasty little creature crawling into his ear. And that can’t mean anything good. He wakes in the morning not feeling quite right. Meanwhile, Kerry (Amber Midthunder) and Cary (Bill Irwin) are still disembodied. They’re dealing with things, Cary’s teaching Kerry to be “independent” in the most literal sense of the word, and it’s hilarious to witness. Because she’s never had to be out, doing all the normal things, she only comes out to kick ass.
And then there’s David, learning about life as a cat with Syd (Rachel Keller). The little kitty roams around Division 3, as Syd scopes out what’s going on. This is right about the time Clark (Hamish Linklater) and Dr. Melanie Bird (Jean Smart) are looking around for the monk (Nathan Hurd), though he’s not in amongst the Catalyst victims where they thought. Afterwards, the place is put on lock down.
David’s heading back into the sensory deprivation tank, onto the astral plane. He finds Lenny (Aubrey Plaza) by the pool, trying harder than ever to get out of there and free of the Shadow King. Lenny’s deteriorating mentally, like cabin fever but much worse. Farouk is mixing drinks, too. He and David have one, talking over the monk situation. David wants to know what’s next, so Amahl tells him he’ll live in the body of the monk, and find a fancy little pocket of the world where he can live it large.
They have a bit more of a tense conversation when David’s father comes up. Farouk tells the tale of a colonialist-style Professor X, coming to liberate his people as if he “knew better“— an allegory for the role of America in world diplomacy, if there ever were, or the British Empire to an even larger, more brutal extent. Also, Farouk says it isn’t him bringing the Catalyst to people, rather it’s the monk who’s the “Typhoid Mary” of this particular strain of virus.
Back to Division 3, David finds Cary in the dining hall. Cary says he saw the monk leading child soldiers through the halls. All over are victims of the Catalyst, including Ptonomy. So, David heads into the maze of his mind to see what’s wrong, taking Cary along with him. They walk through a path, arched by trees and surrounded by a garden. In the midst is Ptonomy. However, there’s that yucky trail of bile nearby, as well. David tries chatting with Ptonomy, who’s not himself at all. Although he soon manages to bring his friend back out of the Catalyst’s effects.
In the halls, they also find Melanie, stricken with the Catalyst. The three of them go inside Dr. Bird’s mind, where it’s entirely devoid of light. They move through the darkness and a keyboard appears from nowhere (it’s from an Informer portable computer). A screen pops up, like an old school interactive type-and-play game, and David has to play along. Eventually they find they’re in a Theseus and the Minotaur sort of predicament, at the centre of a maze. They get no answers from Dr. Bird’s mind, they just see a Minotaur peeking from the dark. All David can do is tell a story through the keyboard, to try drawing Melanie out.
They manage to get Melanie out from the dark, but they’ve got more work to do before it’s all over. David keeps having worse trouble in his head, surges of the future and future Syd coming back to him. These aren’t the worst of his problems, though. David’s been blindsided, tossed into the room with all those Catalyst victims. And then a whisper in his ear to boot.
He comes to in another place, a Mi-Go monastery. He sits with other monks, praying quietly. He sits with them copying manuscripts. He hears one of them go mad with laughter out of nowhere, a terrifying moment. Then he goes on about the rest of his day like the rest of them. Because the monk’s distracted him.
Seems Fukuyama and the Vermillion have been taken over by the monk. He warns about the “end of everything” if Farouk gets his body back. They also figure out that David is a “weapon” that’s meant to destroy “the monster.” The monk and David then head onto the astral plane for a chat. David finds he’s juggling too many things, and he’s unable to take one sole path. He’s trying to reconcile one thing with the other, instead of just destroying the Shadow King wholly. The monk then takes a leap off the top of Division 3 to his death. And still there’s more. Syd is infected by the Catalyst, meaning David must head into her snowy, isolated mind to try bringing her back like the others.
Just an utterly wild and wonderful episode! Season 2 is really amping things up, even after Season 1 was surreal enough. Really dig this show. So much talent, in all areas. The visuals are simply unmatched currently on television.
Chapter 12 is next time.