From its breathtaking opening shots, to all the stunningly beautiful imagery throughout this hour, “Chapter 16” is a pure visual feast filled with so many gorgeous frames (thank you Jeremy Webb and Polly Morgan), a museum could be filled. With open skies (that remind of Breaking Bad), and paneled mosaics floating through Ptonomy’s Matrix-like prison and into the muted mind-desert where lost souls wander … into each other, we could happily watch without a sound, if not for Noah Hawley and Jordan Crair writing such incredible dialogue. This series is meant to be savored, pondered over beginning to end, then again, and to attempt encapsulation is to miss the Yo! Food boat(s). Speaking of … this week’s offerings are difficult to discern, but I think I see meat.
In a momentary lapse of reason, Ptonomy is able to jump into a Vermillion host long enough for a quick machineversation (“Is that alive?”) with David, explain that the Mi-Go monk hacked young Fukuyama’s mind (“You’re in here, too?”), and the location of Farouk’s body — “Le Désolé“. Flashing back through the Admiral’s memory, Wallace discovers a Little Basket Head’s inception; Brubaker “recruiting” a boy to serve his country, keeping secrets, (ironic considering he was reading: Freud’s Unheimliche (The Uncanny, things that should remain hidden, but have come to light).
In Cary’s chamber, David mindtravels to Le Désolé, kindly leaving Syd a note this time (“Should we tell? No, if we tell, Farouk can read their minds.”): “Gone to find the monster”, though it doesn’t save him a kick or a slap. While Farouk assures David will wander the desert plains (plane) forever — “… unless he figures out the secret” — perhaps Farouk isn’t counting on Syd following her man, or the rest of the Summerland folks David summoned with a snap of his fingers.
Present day Narrated lessons invade the story, circle back to us; Shadow Kinged perceptions take over — “The world they see in the shadows is not the real world … How strange would the real world look after a lifetime of living in shadows?” As Syd and David take shelter from the storm, see their apparently prewritten future ,and Syd asks David to prove her fatalistic view wrong, Oliver tempts his Bonnie Melanie into service, a message to Clark and an upside-down minotaur haunt our waking dreams: “Find the clock of the long now”.
What is the Clock of the Long Now? Aka the 10,000 year clock — thought up by Danny Hillis in 1986 and still being worked on (on Amazon’s Jeff Bezos’ property) — the clock is intended to tick once a year, for ten thousand years.
Once again, our minds must be blown by reflections in eyeballs. This time it’s Syd and David in Ptonomy’s as the scene transitions from their conversation on the stairs to Ptonomy inside (Welcome to) the machine.
“To create fear hold up a mirror.” Mi Go Monk Adage Yeah, that’s pretty scary!
The woman who hushed Ptonomy inside the machine last week is/was young Fukuyama’s nurse. When Farouk finds and questions her about the location of his body, at one point she says, “The professor, not here.” This must be a reference to David’s father, Professor X aka Charles Xavier.
Speaking of, I only today caught onto “Basket Head” = Basket Case, and I’m so ashamed.
She reads young Fukuyama Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth while he’s in the “hospital”.
Oliver’s car plates: JC 07 CC (Jesus Christ or Jemaine Clement?); Lenny’s stolen motorcycle plate: 63 295.
Speaking of Oliver, his; “A poem:
America, I’ve given you all and now I am nothing
$2.25 January 16, 1976
I can’t stand my own mind
America, when will we end the human war?“
Did Oliver really summon Melanie into Farouk’s service? I don’t think so. I believe husband and wife have such a strong connection that they’ve managed to somehow communicate, that Melanie’s going to help Oliver defeat the tapeworm. And p.s., so glad to see both Jemaine Clement and Jean Smart back.
Since Season 1, I’ve been trying to figure out who exactly Clark is, and what the significance of his walking stick wolf is. And here we still are.
Here’s the Narrator’s (Jon Hamm) weekly life lesson aka Hawley‘s Plato’s Allegory of the Cave: “And now we come to the most alarming delusion of all; the idea that other people don’t matter at all. Their feelings, their needs.
Imagine a cave where those inside never see the outside world. Instead, they see shadows of that world projected on the cave wall. The world they see in the shadows is not the real world, but it’s real to them. If you would show the world as it actually is, they would reject it instead as incomprehensible. Now, what if you were outside in the world, but you couldn’t’ see it because you weren’t looking? Because you trusted that the world you saw through the prism was the real world. But there’s a difference. You see, unlike the allegory of the cave where the shadows are false, there other people. This is the delusion of the narcissist who believes that they alone are real. Their feelings are the only feelings that matter, because other people are shadows and shadows don’t feel, because they’re not real. But what if everyone lived in caves; then no one would be real, not even you. Unless one day you woke up and left the cave. How strange would the world look after a lifetime of looking at shadows?”
I don’t necessarily mind these asides, as they do apply to what we’re seeing in Legion — the Shadow King‘s false story/delusion and mental illness being presented, and both the characters and viewers are uncertain what is real. At the same time, I get that part of the audience may think things are getting a little preachy, with the life lessons about being on our phones all the time, and living in some altered, constantly online reality. Anyone who is a parent right now is likely dealing with that reality on a constant basis, and trying to find a line in the technology with their kids, but some folks might not love things feeling “preachy” (as I’ve seen some describe).
Look at this! LOOK AT THIS! Sometimes, I cannot breathe when watching this show. It is art — every frame is art and I, for one, could not be more thrilled and thankful to watch.
How about that, finding your own skeletons. Cuh-reepy.
I love love, and I love that Syd and David’s love drives them (as I believe Melanie and Oliver’s love also does). Here’s hoping in the end, the story diverges from its source and that Syd can save her man.
Music This Hour:
The Black Angels, Comanche Moon
Morten Lauridsen, Les Chansons Des Roses: No. 1 En Une Seule Fleur
Domenico Modugno, Non Piangere Maria
Jemaine Clement, My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean (cover of Scottish Folk Song)
Syd to David: “Are we helping him? Farouk?”
David: *Head shake*
Syd: “What about the end of the world?”
David: “One thing at a time.”
Brubaker to 17 year old Fukuyama: “I was a student here once, a lifetime ago. Our thoughts were our own. Now, there are listeners, watchers, creatures from science fiction who can read our minds. We’re vulnerable, you and I … But more important senators, presidents, and so there is a plan. Create a mind that can’t be read. A secret keeper …Because of your tests … You have a gift. You are a gift. On your application, you wrote you’d do anything for your country. Then do this, keep our secrets.
Ptonomy (in Vermillion body) to David: “David, It’s me, Ptonomy … I don’t know how long I can control; I exist in the machine, preserved.”
David: “Is that alive?”
Farouk to the nurse: “Can you see me in my true form?”
Nurse: “The professor, not here.”
Lenny to David: “Don’t do that.”
Lenny: “Look at me like I’m in a zoo.”
David: “Amy did that when she was nervous.”
Lenny: “Look man, it wasn’t my call.”
David: “Is there anything in there left of her?”
Lenny: “Tell me something, and don’t screw with me. Am I really here?”
Clark to Syd: “I left a boy in the Army who kept jumping out of planes for me.
… Can we agree he ‘s unwell?”
Syd: “What does that mean.”
Clark: “Maybe he does’nt now the difference between things real and not real.”
Syd: “He’s delusional, you’re saying. Have you ever seen him lie?”
Syd: “Me neither, but I think he lies all the time.
Who teaches us to be normal when we’re one of a kind?”
Clark: “You don’t trust him.”
Syd: “I love what we were, but I’m just not sure we’re that anymore.”
Clark: “He could potentially destroy the world if he wanted to or if, say, you hurt his feelings very bad.”
Syd: “I’m going after him. Because love is what we have to save if we’re gonna save the world.”
Farouk to Oliver: “Time and space is relative here … It’s part of the trick to keep me from myself.”
David when Syd shows up in the desert: “To be fair, I left a note this time.”
Syd: “I’m on your side, asshole.”