1899 Recap: May Your Coffee Kick In Before Reality Does
Season 1 Episode 6 Editor’s Rating5 stars *****
Photo: Netflix Things have gone from bad to worse over on the Kerberos. Much, much worse. Our main ensemble is fresh off of watching more than a thousand people toss themselves off a boat while in a trancelike state, and now they’re left on a boat with no running engines and no power, floating around in the middle of the night on the ocean. Also, most people can’t even communicate with one another. Things are bleak! And we don’t even have our two-man comedy act to lighten up the mood anymore — our wolf conspiracist went overboard and his buddy was, let’s call it, shut down (turned off?) by Daniel in an act of desperation. Things are feeling more and more disconnected from reality, but what our group of survivors decides to do next is very much the logical next step.
Eyk sends a group of the men (plus Ling Yi, who refuses to leave Olek’s side) down to the engine room to try and get the ship up and running again. He sends Mrs. Wilson, Clémence, Tove, and Iben to search the cabins for other survivors (spoiler alert: There are none!). He leaves “the two priests,” Ramiro and Anker, to stay on the bridge with the first mate and attempt to get a message to the ship company with their coordinates. The only way they’re going to survive is if they find land. This all tracks, right? This all makes sense if you’re still treating your reality as a logical one. But Maura and Eyk know something else is going on here, so they head back to the tiled shaft in Maura’s room, back to the desolate landscape with the mental hospital. A lot is going on, but the vibes between these two, the lingering touches, the “thank you for not thinking I’m crazy,” are off the charts. They cannot be ignored! It’s obvious that Daniel is someone important to Maura — do she and Eyk also know each other from … somewhere else? Listen, I’m here for the mind-blowing sci-fi story, but I’m also here for the heat, and I won’t apologize for that.
We get some more clues as to what’s really going on while these two are running around the mental hospital looking for Maura’s father: First, he built this hospital for Maura’s mother when she started to have mental-health issues after having her two children, and eventually she developed some sort of dementia. Henry resented Maura and Ciaran for this, since Maura already told us that Ciaran resented the relationship Maura and their dad had (wow, does this seem like a super-dysfunctional family), and threw himself into studying the brain. He wanted to know “how to repair it, if damaged.” She still can’t figure out what he did to her to erase most of her memory, but she knows she needs to track him down if she wants any kind of answers. Answers to questions like “How in the actual fuck are they in this mental hospital but also still inside the ship?” That’s right, friends: When Maura takes Eyk into the dreaded room 1011, he pulls back the giant curtains to find that the view outside the window is just the hull of the ship. Maura pulls back a panel of the wall — more hull. They’re still somehow inside the Kerberos. Make it make sense!
Speaking of being trapped in terrible situations, Tove is our latest victim who is forced to relieve a traumatic memory. We’ve taken some deeply disturbing and emotional trips into people’s backstories, but this one is on another level. It certainly explains a lot about the strange dynamics going on with this family. Over and over again, Tove walks through doors, usually led there by Krester or Ada’s singing, and winds up on her family’s farm. The animatronic feel to everyone in these memories is really pronounced here, if you missed it in other backstories — everyone in Tove’s memory feels like they’re in a video game waiting to be turned on. Once they are, we learn the terrible truth about Krester’s scar and Tove’s pregnancy: The man who owns the land their parents farmed on caught Krester with his son and wants to make them all pay for it. He shoots at Krester and hits his cheek, but he’s unsatisfied, even as Anker and Iben plead with him to stop. He rapes Tove in front of her family until she can finally fight back — she smashes his head in with a rock and then shoots him, all as her family watches. This is the point in their story when Iben began to hear voices and, believing it was the voice of God, had Anker become a priest so they could devote their life to whatever plan he had for them. It’s why she repeatedly has called Tove’s pregnancy a blessed one and why Tove can barely stand to look at her — why she wanted to get her siblings and leave their parents once they reached America. It’s all horrifying.
The trauma their family has gone through is even more complex than it looks at first glance. Up on the bridge, Ramiro and Anker futilely try to get that message to the ship company. The first mate, who knows “the ship company” will never get that message, is like, Peace, I’m outta here. Left alone and feeling hopeless, Anker opens up to Ramiro about how he doesn’t even believe in God, but after what happened to them, he just so badly wanted to feel hope again and so badly wanted his wife to be happy that he went along with it for her. Ramiro has no idea what he’s saying and also is not a real priest (we’re two for two!), but does his best to offer the suffering Anker some comfort. Okay, I know Ramiro killed a priest and assumed his identity, but the guy seems kind of sweet, doesn’t he? I just call it like I see it!!
Other passengers are having some meaningful conversations elsewhere on the ship, too. Ling Yi finds Olek’s postcard and he hints at a complicated relationship with his brother, who’s in America, and the two share a kiss up in the coal supply, which seems very dirty but also sort of romantic. I’m rooting for these two, even though hope seems to die completely on this ship of nightmares. Lucien and Jérôme share some tense words until Lucien lets Jérôme know that his wish is going to be granted — he was supposed to see a doctor in America to attempt an operation that would stop his seizures, but it looks like that won’t happen, so he’s probably going to die. Clémence admires Tove’s strength and resilience and symbolically changes into a pair of pants in order to feel a little freedom from her life: “Men invented dresses and heels so that women can’t run away.” Tove’s probably like, Why is this lady changing her clothes in the middle of everything else we have going on, but it’s a nice moment nonetheless.
These people should relish in these small moments of relief and quiet because the ship not having any power and being lost at sea is small potatoes compared to the other problem headed their way: This black material that looks very much like what the boy’s pyramid is made out of starts busting through the walls of the ship, growing at an alarming pace. When the group headed to the engine room sees it, Daniel’s there (with his very modern-looking flashlight!) to warn them not to touch it. When Mrs. Wilson spots it in one of the cabins, she’s too curious to stay away. The moment she touches it, her finger turns black and it begins consuming her entire hand. As with most things on this show, it’s unclear what it means, but it is definitely not a good thing.
Whatever those speleothem-like growths are, they’re bursting through the mental-hospital walls, too. Maura and Eyk still haven’t found Henry. She confides in Eyk about the boy’s mysterious “creator” warning and they sort of hold hands, but any moment of whatever it is between them is ruined when Daniel arrives. Things get heated because Daniel’s so frustrated that Maura doesn’t remember him and Maura’s terrified that he works for her father and he’s trying to trick her. “We don’t have much time,” he tells her. “I’m not gonna let this happen again.” There’s a little kerfuffle as Eyk tries to get Daniel into 1011, but Daniel uses his triangle device and — poof — sends Eyk back into the woods of his own memory. It gives Maura and Daniel a moment to be alone, and finally he can’t hold it in any longer: Daniel is Maura’s husband. They’ve been married for 12 years. None of this is real, he tries to tell her. She can’t process it, locks him in 1011, and runs off with his gun and his triangle device.
Outside, Maura screams out for her father. She knows he’s watching her. She wants to see him. She hurls her gun in anger … and it hits an invisible wall, causing a crack in the sky. When she picks at a seam she sees that this, too — the outside world — is just part of the ship (the visual effects here are insane). “This can’t be real,” she whispers.
Meanwhile, Eyk climbs back through the fireplace in his memory house, but when he gets up into his cabin he realizes he’s not in his quarters on the Kerberos — he’s somehow on the Prometheus. But that’s not all: When he heads up to the bridge, he looks out at the water and finds dozens and dozens of ships like the Prometheus. It’s a ship graveyard. Daniel has not only told us that nothing of what Maura and the other passengers are experiencing is real, but he’s also hinted several times at the fact that this isn’t the first time this has happened. Does that mean this is some sort of experiment in an inescapable loop and each ship represents a different iteration of that loop? Because if that’s true, oh, buddy, these people have been trapped on these ships for a long, long time. “This can’t be real,” Eyk says. You’re telling me, dude!!
Reality is crumbling all over the place. Once the engines get going, Ramiro and Anker realize there’s no one to steer the ship. Anker grabs a bunch of books on the shelf nearby in hopes of some answers. Don’t worry, even Ramiro is like, Sir, you can’t just read about steering ships in three minutes — but it doesn’t matter anyway; when Anker opens the books, every single one of them is a prop, and every page is filled with just one sentence over and over again: “May your coffee kick in before reality does.” Somebody, somewhere has a real sense of humor!
And what of our first mate? He travels through the cabinet in the dining room to go see Henry and let him know that the situation has gotten out of hand and they still have “48 hours for the transfer,” which I have to believe is loop-related. That ship cannot last much longer, right? Henry’s more concerned with the fact that the first mate hasn’t found the boy yet: “We need the pyramid. You know how much depends on the success of this project,” Henry says. Oh, baby, we’ve got to be cracking open reality — and this mystery — soon.
Not like time isn’t already of the essence, but on top of everything else, a massive storm has arrived in the path of the Kerberos. Is this the mechanism that will complete the “transfer”?
We find Henry taking a little stroll near that big pyramid he revealed from his window in the last episode (the land is also covered in the same black material coming through the walls of the ship). “People are oblivious to reality. They only see what they want to see,” he rants. This is some real Matrix shit going on here, and I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to fully go down the rabbit hole.
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