Season 1, Episode 3: “The Abyss Stares Back”
Directed by Nick Murphy
Written by Lindsay Sturman
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Torches and Pitchforks” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “White Rabbit” – click here
We see Karl D’Branin (Eoin Macken) before his flight into space aboard the Nightflyer, trying to explain to colleagues in the world of academia his beliefs about what’s out there. Everybody seemed unimpressed when he suggested the vessel out there was piloted by intelligent lifeforms. He later got a call from Captain Roy Eris (David Ajala) and they talked about the possibilities of what they might find aboard the vessel. Karl’s revisiting this memory, wondering if Cpt. Eris had ever told him anything truthful in their short relationship given recent events. The captain also knows the White Rabbit probe’s been released, feeling it’s a sign of disrespect he wasn’t told.
Lommie (Maya Eshet) and Melantha (Jodie Turner-Smith) are enjoying one another’s comforts. “Sexing is great for your biochemistry,” Melantha says, also cautioning against getting tangled up in the nonsense often involved. They’re soon interrupted when Karl’s getting more paranoid about the captain, trying to figure out what mysteries are on the journey with them and the Nightflyer. Melantha has to deal with Cpt. Eris creeping on her via the camera eye, hologramming into her room now and then. She tries using it to find out his secrets.
Meanwhile, Hartley’s (Youssey Kerkour) feeling like the ship is more a haunted house than a space vessel. He can’t shake flashbacks of the spider attacking him and the security team. Auggie (Brian F. O’Byrne) suggests a “couple cycles off” to recuperate. But time off’s not going to make him feel any less haunted. Hartley sees ghosts everywhere.
In the garden, Rowan (Angus Sampson) finds Tessia (Miranda Raison), a.k.a “the Bee Lady.” They have a bit of a chat about nature, particularly the concepts of order and chaos. Then they speak of the L1, whom she doesn’t see as dangerous like the others. She sees the telepath as reflective of the energy around him. Only sensible that angry, irrational, and volatile human beings would create chaotic energy. Because we humans are awful! Rowan wants to try helping Thale to hone his abilities, so he goes to Dr. Agatha Matheson (Gretchen Mol), who’s got tips for him before he meets with the L1. He heads down to the holding tank. Clearly Rowan’s nervous around the telepath. He’s brought a white rabbit with him, too. He asks Thale to focus on the rabbit and try to connect with it like he’d previously tried to with the bees. The telepath sees no “rabbity thoughts,” only devilish fire-like imagery and an almost demonic face. Thale keeps hearing the rabbit’s thoughts after it dies, so Dr. Matheson cuts it open and finds a tapeworm inside.
Lommie connects to the computer for D’Branin, finding anomalies in the system, such as a pattern in shutdowns on the ship’s thruster. Before long the system’s “self deleting” and Lommie can’t figure out why it’s happening. Then, they see Cpt. Eris is sending instructions. When Karl goes to the captain he gets nothing much other than deflection. There’s also the issue of not falling of course, which will require a manual shutdown/restart of the thruster. Problem is, the area the ship’s passing through is radiated, and D’Branin can’t wait. So, Melantha and her genetically engineered abilities will be put to the test in a “cloud of radiation.”
In the meantime, D’Branin needs to bypass biometric scanners on older parts of the ship. Tall order to get DNA from the actual Cpt. Eris, seeing as how he’s floating around in a hologram 24 hours a day. This sends Karl and Rowan off on a secretive mission to hopefully get their biological key.
Melantha’s preparing to go out into the radiation and restart the thruster. She’s told to go back by the captain’s hologram after the radiation gets too strong. Yet she refuses. She keeps going, whereas even the hologram disappears. She manages to restart the thruster, but the time on her suit runs out and she starts passing out, seeing an image of Lommie taunting her: “You‘re nothing but weakness.” She falls over as someone comes into the room, later telling Lommie it was the actual captain himself.
At the same time, Hartley’s being driven mad by the faces of ghosts tormenting him throughout the Nightflyer’s halls. He wants to turn around and go home, taking the bridge of the ship hostage with a gun. He believes Cpt. Eris “knew what was in this ship.” Before he can do anything he has his neck snapped brutally by the captain.
Speaking of the cap, his secrets are being discovered little by little, after Karl and Rowan find their way into his private quarters. Only they come across a scary psychological trap, where Karl’s wife emerges, picking out pieces of her brain and raging at him about their daughter. That’s when Eris arrives trying to call the woman off, but she’s angry, she won’t stop until she’s ready. When Karl asks what’s going on the captain tells him it’s his own mother, who was uploaded into the Nightflyer’s computer system.
“She’s the one who’s been trying to kill you”
Another solid episode. Is everyone else enjoying this Gothic story in outer space?
“White Rabbit” is next time.