Jon Hamm’s meditations on madness have been an interesting side dish to this season’s sumptuous main course. Chapter 14 marks the point where the side dish gets upended right into the main, a move that can either make or break the entire meal. In this case, it’s very much the former.
There’s a lot going on in this episode, to the point that it feels a little overwhelming and hard to absorb at first. David confronts Farouk about Amy, Ptonomy’s delusion monster spreads to the rest of the gang, prompting them to attack Fukuyama, Future Syd admits to Farouk that David is the one who destroys the world and David gets caught in a surreal love triangle with Syd and Future Syd.
First things first, David and Farouk’s dinner table conversation. Farouk’s elusive way with language is fascinating in that it can be either heavily metaphorical or utterly literal, depending on which serves him best. To Farouk, who has gone for decades without a body, the mind is a very real place and there is no differentiation between thought and action. Hence, when David wished Amy was dead – back when she put him in an asylum – Farouk took that as permission to kill her. David’s rage is fuelled by grief but it’s no match for the calm rebuttals from Farouk. By the end of the conversation, it’s hard to feel convinced that David is as dead set on burning Farouk’s body as he claimed to be.
Meanwhile, Ptonomy has been harbouring that delusion creature in his mind, creating the idea that Admiral Fukuyama is a monster who’s been eating people. He goes from room to room, spreading the delusion to Kerry, Syd and Clarke, enlisting them all into his lynch mob. When Fukuyama removes his basket, we see an ordinary, old man, but the delusion affecting Ptonomy and Syd sees a terrifying monster. David steps in to remove the growing delusion from Syd and Clarke, but not before a literal delusion monster rips its way out of Ptonomy’s body. Vermillion cart Ptonomy away, uploading his mind into their mainframe before his body dies. It’s a beautifully realised moment, but Ptonomy was never a character we really got to know properly, so it’s hard for his death to truly resonate.
Finally, there’s David’s love issues between Syd and Future Syd. He’s obviously struggling with the ethical ramifications of having two versions of his girlfriend, and despite her protestations, it would seem Syd isn’t entirely comfortable with it either. When David confronts Future Syd about not telling him that Farouk would kill Amy, she says she realises she was asking too much and asks for a kiss goodbye, causing David to tip toe over the lines he and Syd had drawn earlier. There’s a very good chance that this is going to lead to some serious problems between Syd and her future self and a possible wedge being driven between her and David. Or is that the plan?
Questions, questions, questions
- Syd visits Lenny in her cell, telling her that she knows she’s not really Lenny and that whatever her plan is to distract David, it won’t work. Do we agree with Syd on either point there? Whether that is Lenny or not, I’d say the whole incident has David very much distracted.
- Navid Negabhan is absolutely killing it as Farouk. He’s sinister, sly and definitely untrustworthy, but Negabhan imbues him with a strange likeability that makes it hard to see him as an outright villain. But, if Future Syd is right, he’s not the villain, is he? That would be David.
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