Right off the bat, Jon Hamm has another lesson for us. Part Contagion: Five… or is it Chapter contagion… Segment 5? Anyway, this lesson seems a bit more plot focused. We learn about the Nocebo effect, in which while the placebo effect is one of instilling a positive effect through neutral means (a sugar pill, or sugar water, and being told that this will cure you), the nocebo effect is a negative physical reaction to a suggested harm. We are shown someone taking sugar water, being told that it will vomit, and your mind will be so convinced that it will become true. This is your reality. The contagion segment of this lesson is telling you about conversion disorder, in that the body converts a mental stress to a set of physical systems. Like if you are stressed, you may have a tick, if you’re tired, you will yawn. Sometimes, if you yawn, you will make other people yawn. This is part of the contagion, and there are many examples of this sort of mental contagion in history, as the episode points out. We see a mental tick spread from person to person. We end on an interesting question, where Jon Hamm asks, “If the idea of illness can become illness, what else in our reality is actually a disorder?”
I love Jon’s little visits.
This little lesson goes into the rest of the episode, which is about the mental virus that is infecting the people of Division 3. We’ll get into that a little later though. First, out of our lesson, we see Faruq, wearing sunglasses, and with a lady on each side. In Faruq’s sunglasses, we see the Professor X, in chalk form in the first season, before we see Faruq drop dead. Then monks come and bury Faruqs body in a place where we will hopefully never see him again.
David and Sid are looking for Faruq’s body at Division 3, where they figured the monk who’s been infected might have an idea on where to start looking. Problem is, the Monk has escaped, and now all hell breaks loose. David decides to talk to Faruq in the astral plane again to find out what’s going on, and he see’s Lenny, who’s desperate for any kind of escape from this mental prison, to the point where she tries, and fails to kill her self in any way imaginable. Brushing Lenny aside, David speaks to Faruq, talking to him about what Faruq would do once he gets his body back, how David’s father had unrightfully dethroned him. He brings up an interesting point about how Professor X seemed righteously indignant about what he thought Faruqs people wanted, without know their customs, or how Faruq ruled. This does not faze David. Another interesting point the Faruq brings up is the fact that David is doing this for Sid from the future, but if David succeeds, that woman will no longer exist. This is a show of deep thoughts posed as questions to the audience, and I love it.
From here, David returns from the astral plane, to Division 3 to see that pretty much everyone is infected with the teeth chatter virus. What’s interesting is seeing everyone doing the teeth chattering thing… made me do the teeth chattering thing, just to see what it would feel like… kind of proving that suggestion is contagious… I’m OK now, I’m swear.
Anyway, David finds Cary, who’s the only one in Division 3 who isn’t infected. They go look for their close friends, while trying to hide from the monk, and they see Wallace first, who had a little bird crawl in his ear earlier, which from an earlier lesson, was a representation of an idea that turns into delusion… at least that’s what a little bird told me (I just got that by the way). The only way to free Wallace is to go into his mind. In it we see his maze, and it’s maddening, as it is beautiful. Wallace’s mutant power is to sift through the memories of others, so he knows almost everything, but his maze that keeps him docile is to forget everything. This is his content place, where he literally just smells flowers all day. I kind of love the idea that they think for a moment to just leave him there because he looks happy… but thankfully cooler minds prevailed.
Next, we see what’s inside Melanie’s head. What is her happy place? It one where she needs to be in charge of everything and oversee the goings on. So of course, her maze is a text adventure. Her maze is conceptually weird to me, because he wants to be omnipotent, and see everything, but you need other people for true use of omnipotence, and the text adventure is a weird metaphor… but I got past that because it was a pretty cool scene other wise. We also see the minotaur again, which may be malevolent, may be dangerous, but we’re still not sure.
After freeing Melanie, the group splits up (always a good idea), and David gets captured by the monk, and we see a bit of the history of these monks. They live day to day, in peace, read scriptures, then go a little crazy, kill themselves, and get infected by the virus. Earlier in the episode, Faruq says that he didn’t infect anyone in that club, and that’s true, but he is the cause of this. Having the monks hide his body is taking a toll on this monastery, which is why the monk wanted to see out David, who may be a weapon… but we’re not sure weather it’s for good or for evil.
The episode ends in a bit of a cliff-hanger, after David and the monk have a conversation (before the monk kills himself), Cary finds Kerry, infected, and then disappears to a place that we’re not sure of quite yet. David finds Syd, infected, and goes into her mind and finds her maze is a blizzard, and then… credits.
So, as always, we can speculate a few more things. What’s with the child soldiers? What’s with the Minotaur? And what’s with the cow? We can go into the symbolism of what a cow means to monks and delve into what that means for the characters… but as with the minotaur, we seem to only be have way there when it comes to the full picture. The problem with being told that we can’t trust anything we see is that we can’t trust anything we see. But in this show, everything means something… so what do these things mean? I look forward to finding out!