Title: Chapter 2
Director: Michael Uppendahl
Writers: based on the comics by Chris Claremont, and Bill Sienkiewicz created and written by Noah Hawley
Starring: Dan Stevens, Rachel Keller, Aubrey Plaza, Jeremie Harris, Amber Midthunder, Katie Aselton, Jean Smart, Hamish Linklater, David Selby, David Ferry, Ellie Araiza, Matt Hamilton, Brad Mann, Quinton Boisclair, Mackenzie Gray, and more
Duration: 49 minutes
David’s new friends attempt to help him explore his past while David continues to prove he’s bat-shit crazy.
Chapter two of this unconventional series, while still engaging in a lot of exposition,didn’t move the narrative forward as much, it spent a lot of its duration introducing us to the mutants retreat, Summerland, and spending time to let us get better acquainted with David’s new friends.
The idea is to help David explore his past in order to help him readjust his thinking so that he can accept his powers and learn how to deal with them and hopefully gain some control. Dan Stevens is excellent as David, twitching and tweaking his way through life. To say he’s a little high strung would be an understatement. He’s paranoid and constantly distracted by a world that apparently overwhelms his senses without relief.
The show uses a lot of different ways to depict what David is going through – flashbacks, visual hallucinations, and a distorted perception of his surroundings that add up to a very surreal episode of tv.
Here’s a recap, including some comments (*warning, spoilers follow*)
Chapter two starts out right after the events of chapter one, the escape from the government compound finds the mutants traveling in a boat on a river until they arrive at the mutant stronghold called Summerland that resembles a college campus in a forest setting.
David is twitching as much as when we last saw him, and his new companions attempt to calm him down and get him to relax a little. Syd is always near which seems to help, because he trusts her, and there were times it almost seemed as if his new friends were a cult using her to manipulate him which I suppose is true in a way, but I get the sense its not in a way that’s bad or with evil intentions.
Melanie (Jean Smart) is in charge, she’s a mother-like figure that spends a lot her time just talking to him calmly and trying to guide him towards healing his raw nerves. They have a system in place which they call doing the work, there’s inside work which means introspection and exploring memories to see what triggers the use of his powers and talking work which involves the standard talking to a psychiatrist named Dr Poole (Scott Lawrence).
The problem is David is not cooperating, not intentionally, but subconsciously he seems to have a lot of tricks he’s developed to avoid thinking about the stuff that upsets him and he’s also deeply in denial about it. It all seems to have to do with the mystery surrounding the yellow eyed demon and whatever that represents.
Everything they try seems to fail to some degree or another and each approach ends up with David going over the edge into some form of extreme anxiety attack. he seems better when he’s one on one with Syd, but is still frustrated that he can’t touch her, and she seems to feel the same way.
We get to know Ptonomy Wallace (Jeremie Harris), a little better, it turns out his mutant ability is making memories come to life and he known as a memory artist. Its still not clear what Syd’s ability is although at one point she confesses that she thinks she was responsible for killing Lenny (Aubrey Plaza) when they switched places back at Clockwork Hospital, and she apologizes. This is the event that made the mutants aware of David and Syd along with the government agents that showed up to question him.
During his memory work David experiences being with Lenny while she goes and scores some drugs for them. Some stuff that’s called vapor that seems to a have both an opiate effect combined with a psychedelic one. The stuff is done by inhaling vapors from it apparently when its cooked somehow in what looked like a frog shaped cookie jar. It seemed like a really wasteful way of getting high and seriously inefficient means of ingesting it. Hoping we continue to see more oaf Lenny, I am really enjoying her character and Plaza’s portrayal of her.
At one point David is handed over to a character who was maybe a doctor, or scientist, or just a technician, it was not made clear which, named Cary Loudermilk (Bill Irwin) who gives him a cat scan which lasts way longer than David can handle. He finally freaks out when Cary leaves him alone in the thing because of something he sees on his instruments, and David transports the entire machine outside the building onto the campus with his mind.
Meanwhile elsewhere the Eye is in pursuit of the mutants and David is aware of that somehow the entire time. He also becomes aware that the Eye has captured his sister and so he decides to leave to go rescue her, but Syd talks him out of it convincing him to stay and do the work so he can learn to control his powers and heal himself
So, this was not a really eventful episode that moved the narrative forward, it felt more like a plane in a holding pattern waiting for permission to land. It wasn’t boring, we learned more about david and his past, it had some amusing moments as well as some scary ones, Because of all the distorted representations of reality, along with flashbacks and fractured memories, the show is very surreal and sometimes seems to make little to no sense, but I like weird so I am enjoying, for the most part, what it is they are doing, and find it entertaining. The jury is still out on this one and a few more episodes should determine for me if if I consider it a hit or a miss, but so far I like it.