TV Review: Episode 5 of ‘Legion’ rebounds with a crazy journey to David’s creepy childhood home


This week on Legion, we have the mass disintegration of gubberment soldiers, lots of butt shots in a blue room, a silent house full of creepy intrigue, and a twist that nobody saw coming! Nobody! Let’s dive in, Legionnaires.

We open on the forest surrounding the compound, pivoting towards a very understandably upset Cary. He’s watching David, Ptonomy and Syd carry his symbiotic sister Kerry back from getting shot by The Eye last episode. We hear bits and pieces of Bird’s conversation with David in the aftermath of his meeting her husband in the Astral Plane, before cutting towards David meditating on the dock where we’ve seen him before. Syd visits him about Kerry’s condition, and tells him about their quest through his past. David’s surprised that they’ve “figured him out,” and he promptly takes Syd into his mind to fuck in the room from the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey. That way they don’t have to worry about changing bodies when they touch, and it’s REAL TO THEM, DAMMIT. Meanwhile, we get some lengthy exposition about Kerry and Cary between the latter and Bird.

David and Syd, in a post-coital afterglow, march into Bird’s office and tell her that they’re going to rescue Amy from the clutches of the Gubberment. Bird’s not excited about this in any way, and doesn’t want them to go out and try to do it. She keeps saying that they’re not ready, and eventually David pivots towards talking about Bird’s husband, teasing out details and making her visibly uncomfortable. She tells David that he and Jemaine are a lot alike, you see, and that he went to the Astral Plane because he liked being in control of a place. Bird asks telepathically if Jemaine asked about her when they met, and David says that Jemaine “doesn’t remember much,” but there was a moment where he might have. After thinking that Bird wants David to take her to Jemaine in the Astral Plane, she clarifies that she wants David to bring him back to her in the real world.

Kerry wakes up, and Cary absorbs her back into his body, becoming visibly more injured as he takes on her injuries. David and Syd meet up in an elevator, and they talk about going to attack the Gubberment tomorrow before deciding to go back in David’s head, and they bone in the same but now blue-tinted room. After coitus (and gratuitous butt shots from the both of them), David asks her if that was her first time, and she tells him a pretty creepy fucking story about trying to seduce her mother’s boyfriend through switching bodies with her mom. Long story short, she changed back in the middle of boning him, and damn, yo, that’s some pretty intense shit. Later on, Syd’s dozing in the mental bed, while David prepares for war with Lenny (Aubrey Plaza). Syd wakes up and goes to look who David’s talking to and nobody’s there, but we get a pretty gratuitous butt shot. She gets pretty creeped out, and snaps out of the mental space they shared, and wanders around in a daze. Commercial!


Back at the compound, the Mutant brain trust is planning an assault on the Gubberment, and Syd breaks in and ruins their party by telling them that David already went to go attack them. Ptonomy’s pissed off about it, and doesn’t want to go help him out. Bird still thinks he’s too valuable an asset, and Ptonomy brings up Jemaine to try and get under her skin. Syd sticks around for a bit after and has a surprisingly tense conversation with Bird about David’s health, and Syd starts to get a little defensive when Bird brings up how fragile of a person he is. Syd says he’s never been stronger since he got back from the Astral Plane, and Bird says that scares her. Lots of slow motion running follows set to Radiohead’s “The Daily Mail,” as the gang all boards Bird’s Buick to go and rescue David. Syd’s secretly nursing a hurt about how David abandoned her to go attack the Gubberment complex, and when they get there, they discover the entire place is in ruin.

Bodies everywhere, open flames on the sidewalk, purple smoke rising out of the sides of the building. Inside, the alarms are all going off, and the gang rushes to try and find David, and Hawley does his best to disorient us here by cutting between camera angles like crazy during seconds of blackness between the alarm’s flashing lights. Syd and Ptonomy split up from the main group, and run into David’s psychiatrist from the mental institution. He asks them to free him, offering cryptic bits and pieces of information, and they walk past him. Bird and the anonymous super-powerful telepath who showed up in the first episode and was promptly forgotten about are hunting through the security camera footage for any sign of David. And signs they get, my god. David’s literally disintegrating motherfuckers left and right. Even worse, under a spectral analysis, David’s form is replaced by that of the Man with the Yellow Eyes. Oh god! Commercial!

We come back, and Cary’s talking to Kerry, who’s still hanging out inside of him. He’s watching footage of David’s first MRI, and he starts hearing strange stuff. Suddenly, the MRI machine starts broadcasting strange images of David’s childhood. Back at the compound, Ptonomy and Syd stumble upon the big gubberment baddie (you know, the guy controlling the Eye) who has enough life left within him to give them a cryptic warning about David — that his power is strong as hell, and that “he wears a human face.” Syd’s freaked out a little bit, and it’s even worse when they get outside. Cary contacts them via projection, and tells them his theory about The Man with the Yellow Eyes: it’s a parasitic organism that rewrites David’s memories to hide its existence, and that it might be controlling him. Syd stares off into space for a moment, and suddenly she’s back in the mind-fuck room (lol), where David starts to play “The Rainbow Connection” on the Banjo, while almost sobbing. Syd walks towards the red bathroom, where the not-real dog David had as a kid is waiting. She closes the door, and proceeds to go look at at the telescope in the room. Back in reality, Syd tells the group that David’s headed home, back to where all of this began, and sirens in the distance means the gang’s got to split. Gubberment reinforcements! They walk off, and they hold the shot for an extra 30 seconds, where the Eye, sporting a bruise on his forehead, stalks after them. Commercial!

David and Amy arrive at their old house, where Amy’s in shock at how small everything seems. She’s stunned by all that David did to save her, and David’s been a total fucking creep. Amy asks if they came here for a reason, as she vaguely heard about a team and their headquarters. David says they’ll come eventually, but he says he wants to talk to her first. He wants to know her secret, and he says he can smell it. “You know something about me,” he says, and Lenny pops out of a mirror, being made manifest. She reveals all of her former personalities to Amy, and finally, David asks “My whole life has been a lie. Who am I?” Amy tells him that he was adopted, and it smacks the shit-eating grin right off his fucking face. We cut to Syd in the car, with a VO from Amy, explaining why their parents never told him (they never wanted to make his illness worse). After a few more seconds with the Heller siblings, we return to the compound, where Cary’s created a device that might disconnect The Man from the Yellow Eyes from David. Kerry comes out of him, says there’s going to be a fight, and both of them head out. Commercial!

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The gang arrives at David’s old house, in the middle of a foggy night, and Bird warns them that they might have left the real world and are in David’s head now. Ptonomy’s a douche about it, Bird tells them to press on, and suddenly everybody’s deaf. Everybody screams for a minute to confirm that they’re deaf, and they press on, with an effective snap-zoom towards the Eye, who’s stalking them in the background. They make it through the house, and Syd stumbles upon the World’s Angriest Boy in the World running around the house. She follows him upstairs, and we follow everyone else around as generic horror music starts to play. Ptonomy and Bird are about to ambush the Eye as he enters the door, but it’s actually Cary who shows up. Bird demands Kerry come out, and she does, with a pretty badass spike-covered bat.

We get hints that the generic mutant who’s been tagging along with them might actually have been the eye this whole time. Finally, Syd finds Amy, and is suddenly ambushed by Lenny who says that this is the listening place, not the talking place and drags her to the wall. She creepily kisses David, and the gang busts in. The Eye runs in (as the other mutant) and tries to gun down David, and Syd and him are transported to the mind-fuck room before he can get killed. The Man with the Yellow Eyes begins stalking her about the room in a really fucking scary scene, and right before she’s about to be attacked, Syd wakes up. We hear a familiar sound: the bouncing of a ping-pong ball. Yep, she’s back in Clockworks (the hospital), with all of the series regulars sitting in a therapy circle as patients, except for Lenny, who is their therapist. Roll credits.

Stray Thoughts:

— Well, that was an ending. I think I’m so accustomed to WORLD-ALTERING twists at the end of every major episode (probably from actual comic books) that this one didn’t hit me at full force. Regardless, it’ll be fun to go back to Clockworks for an episode, and even more fun to see the gang powerless and weird and doubting their sanity. It’ll upend a lot of the traditional dynamics in this show as we’ve come to know them, and it might be a nice chance for the show to reset some of its more troublesome quirks (I know we’ll never get to a real baseline sense of what’s actually going on in the show, but it’ll be nice to see them try). Also, I bet that was a really expensive set, so it makes a lot of sense to use it beyond the pilot.

— The reveal of the Man with the Yellow Eyes being behind the assault on the Gubberment forces was excellently done, though I kind of wish FX had given this show enough of a budget to have us follow David through the assault, as opposed to having the not X-Men watch it through security footage. We’re always at a remove from the central character of this show, and sometimes it doesn’t really work to its advantage. It’s one of the many sacrifices this show makes to keep its mysteries secret and its style overwhelming.

— Likewise, the silent investigation into the house at the end was fantastically tense, and the ultimate conclusion of that scene was probably the best use of Plaza to date. You know I’m no fan of her in this role, but she’s exceptionally creepy when she’s not asked to jive-talk or scat-sing for twenty minutes. But still- the scene with Ptonomy and Bird at the door, about to accidentally shoot Cary was fantastically tense, and if the show’s going to emphasize creepiness over action, give us more scenes like this, please.

— Syd is still the best-written character on the show, and I wonder why we even bothered with David as a protagonist, given that he could still be the subject of the show and our remove from his perspective might even make him more interesting. That story about boning her mom’s boyfriend is surprisingly tragic and funny at the same time, and it’s hard for me to imagine it working as well in any other show. It’s a shame she gets put into the damsel role so much here, and when she’s used as bait or an incitement for David to commit some act of violence, it’s just another example of this very good show shooting itself in the foot.

— The mind-fuck room raises a lot of interesting logistical questions (to which Noah Hawley will put his fingers in his ears and whistle) but I’m generally really cool with it. The set-designers did a hell of a job in this episode. It’s like the “Hotline Bling” set, except somebody’s actually getting laid in it.

Next week: “David tries to find a way out of his predicament.”

See you next Wednesday, Legionnaires.

Get caught up:

Premiere: Breaking down and making sense of the premiere of ‘Legion’ on FX

Episode 2: ‘Legion’ takes shape through the lens of memory loss in second episode

Episode 3: The third episode of ‘Legion’ dives deeper into David’s muddled past

Episode 4: ‘Legion’ unwinds, unfolds, and provides a whole lot of ’70s-era Jemaine Clement

Follow Nick Johnston on Twitter @onlysaysficus.