Directed by Ellen Kuras
Written by Noah Hawley & Nathaniel Halpern
* For a recap & review of Chapter 11, click here.
* For a recap & review of Chapter 13, click here.
Last we saw David (Dan Stevens), he was headed inside the stormy mind of Syd (Rachel Keller) after she was trapped by the Catalyst, too. She’s taking shelter in an igloo with a fire to warm her. Then she crawls out through its opening, birthed into the world all over again in a delivery room. We see Syd relive her childhood, getting a little older, wearing her gloves to keep from affecting others through touch. Sort of reminds me of Jean Grey a bit. She and her mother Joan (Lily Rabe) are close. But poor Syd was missing out on a whole other realm of lie, the personal connection to others her powers wouldn’t allow, and nothing ever seemed capable of replacing that longing, that curiosity, that desperate need. Saddest is seeing her smell the coats of house guests, wearing them to feel closer somehow. Later, it was moshing at a punk club, and so on.
The beautiful, powerful opening sequence is set to a fantastic Bon Iver song.
“The word ‘survivor’ used to mean one who has survived. But now modern psychiatry would have us believe that survival is a curse, like Sisyphus with his rock. And so every day we wake to survive again.”
David tracks Syd down in a museum, though she doesn’t recognise him. He sits to try and talk with her. Doesn’t really work. So, back to the igloo Syd goes, back through the birth canal. David watches this occur, watch it must’ve been like for a mother to have a child who didn’t like to be touched. He watches little Syd and sees what she had to go through because of her own powers. Some of it’s even a little disturbing, seeing her take out the rage she felt inside with her powers. A truly fucked up youth.
So, David keeps trying to go back to Syd in her personal “maze” in the museum. Hers is a bit trickier than the others. He still hasn’t figured it out, either. Thus the process happens all over again, a perpetual cycle of rebirth. David watches over and over again, trying to find the clue necessary to unlock the key to Syd’s maze.
At Division 3, Kerry (Amber Midthunder) is able to pull Cary (Bill Irwin) out of her after their latest trouble. They run into Clark (Hamish Linklater), who fills them in on all the rest of the shit that’s happening. Everyone’s concerned about David and Syd, of course, including Dr. Melanie Bird (Jean Smart). Cary can’t figure anything out on his end. They’ve got to sit and wait it out.
Still braving the snow, still trying to find a clue, David’s pushing through the world of Syd and her mind’s maze. He returns to the museum. He believes he’s figured out the maze, that it’s a way of Syd showing him all her secrets, good or bad, to test him. He professes his true love for her. Yet that’s still not the answer.
We see that part of life for Syd was resenting her own mother, who was able to experience all she couldn’t physically. So, one night, she traded places with a sleeping Joan, then seduced mom’s boyfriend from within her own mother. Good lord. It’s absolutely unsettling. And still, there’s a tragic wonder to it, how badly Syd wanted to feel the experience of physical love, to the point she’d do something so morally creepy. This wound up in a horrific family situation, as well as the boyfriend being carted off by the cops. Just heartbreaking and brutal. On top of that, David gets a front row seat to it all.
David believes the maze is about how the “damage itself” makes us strong, not weak. Just like bones often grow stronger at the breaking point, to compensate. Syd also reminds him that it’s about love, and that she believes love can make a person weak; or anything too good if experienced too long can go bad. She likewise wonders if the “lovers or the fighters” will come out on top after the coming apocalypse she’s seen in the future. She tells David: “Love isn‘t gonna save us. It‘s what we have to save.”
And finally, the two leave the astral plane, heading back to their bodies at Division 3; a little bit stronger, a little bit wiser, a little bit more in love. But there’s still plenty of work ahead. Oh, and Lenny’s (Aubrey Plaza) been dragged back there, too!
Loved all the songs in this episode, including a “Burning Down the House” cover over the credits. Mostly, I loved all the Syd. Lord it’s long overdue we got a big backstory-centred episode on her. Then there was Lily Rabe to boot. Maybe my favourite episode of Legion altogether?
Chapter 13 is next time.