Every genre show that runs for long enough tries its hand at the “We’ve actually been in a mental institution this whole time!” bottle episode. Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Smallville, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Charmed, Community, The Magicians, Supernatural—the list goes on and on. So it was only natural that Legion, a show that literally began in a psychiatric hospital, would put their own spin on the trope sooner rather than later.
Luckily for us, “Chapter 6” doesn’t attempt to trick us into believing that Clockworks is the “real” world. As we’re reintroduced to all the members of the Summerland team and watch them attempt to find rational explanations for their supernatural quirks, it’s patently obvious that “Dr. Lenny Busker” is manipulating them. She might say all the right things, but there’s obvious frustration in Aubrey Plaza’s voice as she deals with each patient—or, rather, as she convinces them that they’re all mentally ill.The only person who can tell that something’s off (with the exception of The Eye, a.k.a. Walter, who just… is off) is Syd, who explains to Lenny that her new world feels “like a dream, but not an interesting one.” And that’s not all: she also sees David’s bedroom door manifesting out of the corner of her eye at times, and understands why she’s the only one who’s noticed it. I’ll have to go back and check but I swear, a lot of the exchanges Syd interrupts here are ripped straight from the pilot—although, David’s sister Amy gives her performance much more venom than the original Clockworks employee had. Heck, I’d be pissed too at this point.
David, in contrast to Syd, feels comfortable and “in control.” Unlike Syd, he’s not interested in getting better and leaving the hospital as much as he wants to take one day at a time, because, as he tells Lenny during their therapy sessions, he’s finally achieved some semblance of balance between mania and depression. Wait. Those are symptoms of bipolar disorder, not of schizophrenia, aren’t they?
But let’s not get bogged down in details—especially not when there’s an elaborate dance sequence a la the Archer opening credits for Lenny to star in while everyone is asleep! Aubrey Plaza is flippin’ killing it here, and I’d say she deserves an Emmy except I don’t think they give one out for “Best Evil Burlesque-Inspired Dance Routine In A Mini Series.” I guess “Best Supporting Actress” will do, right?
Meanwhile, Cary and Kerry (who still share a connection despite being physically separated for the first time) are both having dreams of ice cubes and diving masks. It seems like Oliver Bird’s trying to contact the two of them from his part of the Astral plane, and he succeeds in waking up Cary. But without him there, Kerry feels lost—and even worse, the Eye starts getting real creepy with her. Is their exchange meant to evoke a loss of confidence in Kerry, since she just lost that fight? Or is the show relying on predatory language to remind us that the Eye’s a bad guy? I want to believe the former, but I’ll admit, watching him stalk Kerry around and quote Little Red Riding Hood at her—especially now that she’s actually acting her young-seeming age—left a sour taste in my mouth.
Back in “Clockworks,” Syd’s been reading a book about dream states and memory palaces and thinks they might actually be trapped in an alternate reality. But David tells her to “be careful,” because she might trigger the delusions she’s worked so hard to avoid. Yup, in this version of reality it’s Syd who hallucinates, and David instead has “manic depression” (which, yes, is an outdated term for bipolar). But her aversion to touch is so ingrained in her that she can’t buy this new reality at all, and when she leaves David behind, a mysterious pustule on the wall triggers her memories of Lenny’s death and everything that’s happened to them since. Shadow King!Lenny responds by sending Syd away (bonus points if you made a “Sunken Place” joke while watching like I did), but it’s too late—David’s seeing the door now, too, and knows things aren’t as normal as they appear.
He’s not the only one, either; Oliver also reaches out to Dr. Bird, who’s more than willing to follow him through a mysterious hallway beyond Clockworks’ facade and into what reality used to look like (in the moments before David and Syd were about to be shot). Her inability to stop the bullet or move David out of the way feels like a very personal attack on all of us who really love X-Men‘s version of Quicksilver, if you ask me. Seeing the scene from the outside like this makes me wonder, though: is it possible that David’s trapped everyone in Clockworks in order to save them all?
Well, maybe not. When David asks Lenny where Syd is, she starts to let her facade drop and admits what she really is: a “fungus” clinging to David who doesn’t understand anything about humans, except their interest in power. Even more shocking, she admits she knew David’s real father, who hid David to keep him safe from her because he’s “always acting so holy.” Well, if we didn’t think this version of Legion is Professor X’s son just like he is in the comics, we sure do now! Finally, the kicker: she’s tired of trying to work with David and placate his desire for love and relationships. “All I need you for is your body, anyway,” she says, and shoves him down into his own version of the Sunken Place. God bless Jordan Peele for adding that to our lexicon; it’s an extremely useful phrase for a mind-warping show like this.
But all is not lost! Because Kerry’s next to get a visit from the mysterious vintage diver. Except… wait, is that Cary in there? What is happening?
I don’t know about you guys, but I’m ready for the inevitable reality-bending jailbreak that next week will be. In the meantime, let us know in the comments what you thought about tonight’s episode!
Images: FX Network