Christ, what a tense hour of television. After the pilot – in which reality was continually rearranged and rarely explained – the show was due for some exposition, for some kind of direction. Which it has provided. Very little of that is being explicitly explained, though. What is given out is shown, through flashbacks, through demonstrations, through people trying to piece things together.
But David is driving, standing on the gas pedal, asleep at the wheel. And everyone else is running as hard as they can, just to stand still.
Chapter 2 was about establishing the current state. Chapter 3 is about trying to move forward. But one step forward means one step back, first, to figure out how David came to be what he is. Amy is still at the forefront of his mind, but before David can attempt to help Amy, he has to help himself.
More pieces of the puzzle are being put together here. For one, the limits of David’s power are being established. Rather, the lack of limits. Last episode, it seemed like David might be a young, dysfunctional Xavier, maybe even Jean Grey. But now, telepathy seems to be the tip of the iceberg.
In short order here, David’s telekinesis becomes known. Teleportation, too. But not even David knows what all he is capable of. He needs help. Does he want it, though? Consciously, he does, to help Amy, if not himself. But some part of him – or something along with him – may have its own agenda. And it is protective.
There are elements of other works here, recognizable touchstones. Christopher Nolan’s Memento is the obvious one, but it seems filtered through Roald Dahl and David Lynch, among others. As someone who has seen Mulholland Drive a number of times, the dreamlike elements here are very relatable. This is also a dream, but not a sweet one.
There is some sweetness, though. David and Syd continue to grow together. Syd may essentially be David’s chaperone but the task seems voluntary. For this being the third episode, their relationship is moving along quickly. It doesn’t feel completely forced, though rushed. In that regard, it fits with the overall pace. And being in each others’ bodies, however briefly, seems like it would expedite the process of getting to know each other.
Syd and David unpack this. Talk about the switch. This is not new for Syd, who has been through this many times. But never with someone like David, someone with his mental power. So there is more to it than the normal, everyday process of temporarily changing bodies with someone. And not just teasing that you took their body for a test drive.
Syd and David also take his powers for a test drive, too, which again, establishes that the boundaries of reality are both unclear and distant. They see Amy, who is afraid, and cast into a conflict far greater than herself. They see The Eye. And The Eye sees them.
This leads to a serious Come To Jesus meeting where Melanie explains everything. Well, some things. Enough. The Eye is not a complete unknown. He and D3 are coming. So, to expedite things, David is sedated, and we go back inside.
Syd comes too, this time. David warns her that what she sees will not be pleasant, but even the warning doesn’t explain the stakes. Having been here before, Syd is able to see past the façade, to pick up more of what is really happening and not just what is presented. And when she sees who else is there, she is ready to wake up.
Melanie, too. David’s mind is not a place to explore. The Angriest Boy in the World is in there, ready to color the world red. And the tumor now makes itself known, giving Melanie a glimpse of its intentions, and its willingness to fight back. She wakes up, shaken, but unharmed – for now.
- The Babadook Angriest Boy in the World allowing its titular character to manifest is solid nightmare stuff. The book itself trying to take Melanie’s hand is arguably worse, though. And the tumor showing its full size?
- Lenny is a bad influence. I want more of her in every scene.
- This is kind of a tawdry episode, between the sex scene in David’s mind, the softcore showering at the open, and Syd teasing that she drove David’s manual transmission. Basic cable! It’s everything that thirteen year-old me could have hoped for.
- I like that Syd wears black but with a red ribbon. Danger, not gone, but kept in check.
- What is the song playing when David is asked to think of a scary memory? During the trick-or-treat scene? It sounds like Low, “Monkey”, to me. And it is! But performed by Robert Plant??? I’m still taking credit for getting this.
- The scale of this show works well for me. Much as I’d like to see some of the other campers at Xavier Talented and Gifted Camp Summerland, I’m more interested in getting to know our principals. This is episode 3, Catgun, be patient.
- Come on, this is adorable: