Episode 5: “Greywing”
Directed by M.J. Bassett
Written by Terry Matalas & Christopher Monfette
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “White Rabbit” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Sacred Gift” – click here
We see memories of Cynthia Eris as a little girl (Brielle Olaleye), hiding from whom we can assume is her father, dressed in his military uniform. Except his eyes are like the scratched eyes on a photograph— static-like Xs in the place of eyeballs, as if he were a monster instead of a man. Captain Roy Eris (David Ajala) has a family history filled with dark, mysterious secrets.
Rowan (Angus Sampson) and Karl D’Branin (Eoin Macken) are doing an “autopsy” on the probe’s fleshy pieces which are actually parts of the latter’s DNA, and, in a way, part of his own body. It’s a bit surreal for D’Branin, though he feels it’s necessary he’s part of the process. He’s also got his ex, Dr. Agataha Matheson (Gretchen Mol), on his mind.
But there are bigger things to worry about, too. Lommie (Maya Eshet) is telling the crew of the Nightflyer about the danger of Cynthia when she’s frightened. She wants to contain Mrs. Eris in a safe place, so she can’t access the ship’s various systems. This will require Lommie to, effectively, bond with Cynthia in the woman’s “crystal matrix.”
And we get a brief look at Lommie’s own painful memories previous life before space, as well. She lived in a dystopian Luddite-style society where “tech is forbidden.” She was forced to smash her father’s (Joplin Sibtain) hands with a stone mallet because he nurtured her biotechnological gifts via a hidden computer they kept in the ceiling.
When the security team go to Thale’s (Sam Strike) containment tank they see him covered in blood, lying on the floor. The telepath is rushed to the medical bay, but the doctors can’t find any source for all of the blood. There’s no visible wound. He’s not actually bleeding, he’s fucking with everybody in the room. Dr. Matheson has everybody close their eyes and take a breath, then they realise it was all a mass hallucination produced by Mr. L1. He’s been bored and lonely. He’s left strapped down on the table for a minute alone when the injured, burned up Murphy (Phillip Rhys) hobbles in on crutches, who’s talking about what he saw a little girl telepath do years before, murdering his fellow soldiers.
Agatha is continually working to help Thale. She convinces Karl to let the telepath help Lommie connect with Cynthia in the crystal matrix, as a guide of sorts, in case he’ll need to pull Lommie out or be of service, if possible. The telepath is willing, though he doesn’t want Dr. Matheson in the room because her mind will cloud his own. Neither can Melantha (Jodie Turner-Smith) be there, due to her relationship with Lommie. Once they’re both gone the pair are left to connect with Cynthia, or try to, anyway.
Lommie enters the crystal matrix. She walks up to a sprawling mansion. “Fucking birds everywhere,” Thale quips as he watches on. It’s the old house where Cynthia grew up, her father’s home. Firewall security’s unlocked allowing entry inside. Lommie heads in, hearing orchestral music in the distance. Everything’s covered in plastic— like a portrait of Cynthia (Josette Simon). The L1 senses somebody else present. We see the doll from the opening scene on the floor, and then Lommie meets young Cynthia, who soon leaves, and she proceeds upstairs. She hears a distorted voice and a raven flies up behind her. A grown Cynthia emerges from the bird, swiping a weapon at Lommie, who manages to escape, running to another area of the mansion. She enters a cellar filled with junk, where she finds the grown and child Cynthia together. Thale feels himself being choked like Lommie when Cynthia grabs her by the throat.
Lommie’s pulled out of the matrix. She’s told Cynthia revealed everything for Thale. Seems they’ve got it all solved. Or is it more that Cynthia has manipulated what Lommie’s seeing? Cpt. Eris, Melantha, and Thale are each acting incredibly strange. Then there’s video playing of Melantha and Lommie’s intimate moments. This is a way for Cynthia to distract so she can figure out how they bypassed the firewall.
Now Cynthia is angry. She’s depleting oxygen in Karl’s quarters and he finds he’s unable to get out. On the bridge, Auggie (Brian F. O’Byrne) receives a security alert. At the same time, Agatha somehow telepathically feels Karl calling for help— is there something big we don’t yet know about her? (Does she have powers? Is she Thale’s real mom?) They both rush to D’Branin, though they can’t breach the room. The electrical panel won’t work, and they watch as the man begins to perish behind the door. Auggie manages to break the panel, and Karl narrowly avoids death.
But the trouble’s only started. Lommie’s “trapped inside” the matrix with the two Cynthias. She goes upstairs to the doors that are meant to remained locked. Someone’s pounding on the other side. Is it scary eyes dad? “She‘s not going to like this,” says little Cynthia. But Lommie already knows that, and it’s exactly why she intends to open the doors. Before she can, she’s visited by Cynthia once more. The woman says she’s lonely, not unlike Thale and his tricks earlier. Truthfully, she was transformed into someone she was not by an abusive father. She tries relating her struggle to Lommie, only the latter had a loving father: “It was this fucking world that kicked me in the teeth and I had to accept the price.” And so dad’s let loose to haul Cynthia behind those doors with him.
Lommie returns to reality on the ship, and Cpt. Eris can no longer hear his mother in his head, for the first time in a lifetime. Things are safe— for now. It’s taken a toll on Lommie. Not only did she have to exert a lot of mental/psychological energy, she also discovered Eris was watching her and Melantha in bed together, which complicates things all around.
Memory is a big theme in Nightflyers. We see Karl struggle with his own, whether it’s of his wife and child or Agatha, while his wife chooses to remove them entirely from her mind as a benefit of living in a tech future. He soothes himself now by going to Agatha and they fall into one another’s arms. Then there’s Murphy, who lives with the memory of what the telepath did years ago, which Thale seems to determined to heal.
Elsewhere, Rowan shows Tessia (Miranda Raison) the “space blood” he’s been examining. The DNA won’t die. He starts wondering if DNA could be used as a way of communicating. Like human beings could be “two tin cans” connecting parts of galaxies by metaphysical strings. Are the Volcryn trying to have a conversation? Or, could they be spying?
Oh, and don’t sleep on Auggie. He means much more to the story than we knew. He and Cynthia have a relationship. She calls him “Little Bear” affectionately. Oh, my. What else will this bring to light? Cynthia’s not staying away for long.
Incredibly intense, emotional, and revealing episode!
“The Sacred Gift” is up next.