Everything David Haller has known about himself is a lie. Or rather, a grave misdiagnosis. Now David has to reevaluate every aspect of his life by revisiting his memories, mutant style.
David Haller is not a schizophrenic. He’s a powerful telepath and telekinetic. The voices he hears, aren’t coming from his own mind, but from other people. To get him to unlock his full potential, Melanie (Jean Smart) is taking it upon herself to convince him he’s not mentally ill. But how does one go about that when the subject has been told his whole life that he’s sick? For now, she and another mutant named Ptonomy are going to delve deep into David’s memories to guide him to a better understanding of himself (and to see what they’re dealing with).
Ptonomy has the power to look into someone’s dreams or memories. He can also bring others in with him. As part of David’s therapy, Ptonomy and Melanie let David enter into his own history. We see snippets of his childhood where his father is reading him a scary and inappropriate bedtime story, and his adult life before entering the mental institution. David is advised to witness his memories from the outside, keep them at arm’s length. However, we quickly learn that’s easier said than done when David comes across troubling moments from which his mind seems to be trying to protect him. His brief moments of panic and instability within the dreams occur when he’s thinking about his father, whose face is intentionally darkened so we (and David) can’t see who it is. We can see his mind struggling to remember, but there’s something else keeping him from putting the pieces together. That something could be the yellow-eyed demon. A manifestation of a past trauma?
During David’s little mind scape adventure, we catch glimpses of the kitchen scene from the first episode in which everything in the room explodes and floats around him. Snippets of that scene appear when David’s memory glitches out. When they try to get to that memory directly, David’s mind reroutes them back to his childhood where something else is haunting him.
“This is a safe space,” assures David’s doctor in a memory. But is it? David may not be a schizophrenic, but something is definitely “not right” with his mind. It seems to be working against him, and something is definitely lurking within the very crinkles of his memories. In trying to unlock his true nature, David might be giving that creepy-crawly a new space in which to mess with him. David’s never far from fear, especially if it’s lurking in his own mind.
In other parts of David’s memories, we discover that Lenny (Aubrey Plaza) has been David’s friend outside of the mental institution. Around her, David doesn’t have to act “normal” because because neither is his junkie pal. She not only accepts his nervousness and idiosyncrasies, she encourages them and plays off on his supposed craziness while they’re out getting “vapor,” a new street drug. With Lenny, he can indulge in every worry and every impulse without judgement.
Then there’s his relationship with Syd.
Allow me to go back a second. In a memory, we see David’s sister Amy wanting her brother to have a normal life, to receive all the benefits of life — stability, marriage, family, etc. David wants that, but he’s also realistic. A life like that is not in the cards for someone as “sick” as he is. With Lenny, he’s allowed to be himself. But with Syd now in the picture, David wants to be better not just in mental health but also as a person.
David shows his love for Syd in little ways from respecting her space (she does not like to be touched even when her skin is covered) to listening to her advice to “Just do the work” so he can better understand and control his powers even though Amy is now being held captive by the government agency that’s after David. It also doesn’t hurt that Syd can now empathize with what David’s going through after spending a good amount of time trapped in his body.
Speaking of Amy, she goes to Clockworks (the mental hospital in which David had been residing until the incident in the last episode) to look for her brother. However, the lady at the front desk has no record of a David Haller, nor does she know the doctor who has been treating him. Note: The nurse does know, but she’s denying their existence just as they had denied to David (over the phone) that Syd was ever a patient with them. Simultaneously, David finds a way to reach out to her with his mind. She hears him and she responds; unfortunately, it was in front of the guys who had been chasing after David since his escape. Amy is then abducted and held against her will. David senses this, but (after listening to Syd) resists the urge to fall for their obvious trap in favor of learning more about his powers so he can save her later.
- David calls his and Syd’s relationship a “romance of the mind.” Aw.
- The black hat government agency after David is called Division 3.
- Ptonomy mentions that if memories are directly interacted with, the memory changes. I wonder if that has already happened to David and we just don’t know it yet.
- There’s someone other than the yellow-eyed monster creeping around the corners of David’s view. But who is it?
- There are two characters with the same sounding name on the show — Cary, the MRI technician, and Kerry the young woman who helped with David’s escape. It’s weird. At first we think Cary is talking to himself (or rather, another person inside his head who he’s named Kerry), but we discover that Kerry has been in an adjacent room this whole time, we just never hear her while he’s responding to her questions, or whatever. It’s confusing. I’m under the impression that they may be the same person somehow.