Episode 7: “Transmission”
Directed by Damon Thomas
Written by David Schneiderman
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “The Sacred Gift” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Rebirth” – click here
8 months later on the Nightflyer things have changed. Murphy (Phillip Rhys) is playing Russian Roulette along with others— it isn’t actually real. Thale (Sam Strike) is keeping an eye on them. Thale watches over Murphy and the rest while Dr. Agatha Matheson (Gretchen Mol) tries to remind him that they’re different than the rest of those people. Murphy and the others aren’t telepaths, and maybe that could cause problems eventually.
Karl D’Branin (Eoin Macken) is continually busy studying the fleshy probe bits sent back by the Volcryn. He does test after test, examining everything in the DNA, and it feels hopeless for him. That is, until now – “Test 79” – which proves more successful as D’Branin seems to begin linking mind and matter together as one in the “memory suite,” a further connection between human and machine than just skin and meat weaved into metal.
Things aren’t entirely going well aboard the ship. Rowan (Angus Sampson) riffs off their isolation with a piece of The Shining: “You know what they say— all work and no play.” Although this doesn’t really describe his situation. He’s gotten much closer to Tessia (Miranda Raison), who’s carrying their “little bee” in her belly. Maybe things on the Nightflyer aren’t perfect. They’re certainly more interesting.
Karl sees a vision while having sex with Agatha, as if they’re sharing a connection further than physical. She says she’s been taking suppressants to keep her powers at bay, but even a double dose isn’t doing the job. She’s scared they’ll lock her up should her secret be uncovered.
Melantha Jhirl (Jodie Turner-Smith) goes to Captain Roy Eris (David Ajala) with her concerns the team is falling apart. She believes everyone’s drifting apart and the mission will suffer. She and Eris discuss the rest of the crew. Later, Dr. Matheson has an attack while doing a therapy session with Cpt. Eris, sending her off to take an injection. She’s barely able to keep her true nature concealed. What happens when she runs out of those drugs?
What about Lommie (Maya Eshet)? She’s isolated herself to a degree. She’s hooked up to the computer system, off at a 1950s-style diner, the Silver Spur, getting a Downtown Dog. She meets her family there. It’s a perfect memory. Except out of nowhere things go rotten, the food’s crawling with mould and maggots. Lommie senses someone else is there.
D’Branin is conducting more experiments when the pieces of meat all begin to throttle in their containers. Not a coincidence that Melantha’s simultaneously seeing the Nightflyer draw closer to the Volcryn object on the ship’s radar. Karl tells Rowan it may a sign of communication: “The probe is alive again.” He connects to the sphere again, seeing his daughter Skye again. Could this be their version of a conversation?
Lommie finds little Cynthia at the diner, and the girl’s murdered her family. She runs out of there before the girl can kill her, too. She’s been inside the system for hours. Melantha is waiting when Lommie’s out, alerting her to their approach towards the Volcryn. Lommie explains she “built a world” inside the crystal matrix to escape reality. Yet she doesn’t tell her former lover the entire truth.
When Thale listens to Tessia’s baby, he clearly hears/sees something unsettling. He says it was “millions of tiny voices.” This disturbs the expectant parents, even if they were the ones to ask him to do it. He apologises— for what, though? Will the baby be a swarm of bees? Of course not. It’ll probably be far more disturbing.
In the sphere, Karla meets his daughter again. Skye wonders if he’s “a ghost.” Her memories are confused, not knowing she died. Dad tries to explain, but she doesn’t understand. She asks when he’ll come back home. What are the Volcryn trying to say or tell D’Branin if they’re using his daughter?
That’s the least of the trouble. Rowan and Karl are at odds after the latter brings up the mission protocol concerning pregnancies in space. They’re meant to be terminated. Hmm. Maybe the baby WILL be a swarm of bees! Who fucking knows at this point.
There’s also the fact people, in various ways, are falling into delusion on the Nightflyer, whether it’s D’Branin in the sphere with his dead daughter, or Murphy and his wife off in their imaginary world pretending, getting a rush off Thale’s powers. When things don’t go like Murphy wants during one of their games, he gets angry at Thale, provoking the L1 to retaliate briefly— his face changes into a hideous mask as a noise seems to emanate out of him, affecting anybody nearby. Agatha finds him, trying to tell him he can “filter it.” But Thale’s terrified by himself.
What else will the Volcryn affect? And how badly? Well, Tessia’s pregnancy is going south fast, and they’ve got to induce labour. Not. A. Good. Sign. (!!!) When the child comes it’s stillborn. The parents must at once welcome a child into life and also say goodbye, beginning the process of grief. A devastating image to see Tessia hold her dead baby. Doubly upsetting when Rowan reveals they were going to name their little girl Skye in honour of Karl and his daughter. The nasty cherry on top is when Tessia must watch her child disintegrate in her arms, leaving her, the doc, and Cpt. Eris in quarantine. Holy shit.
Definitely the most heart wrenching episodes of Nightflyers. Plus, the effects of the Volcry on everything is going to bring other madness. “Rebirth” is next.