Episode 3, The Ghost, answers many of the questions that the first two episodes set up, but it can be a difficult hour of television to watch. Sam starts the hour as a kidnap victim who’s still high on a hallucinogenic drug. What follows is somewhere between a prank-filled ramble through the Fairy Realm and a torturous scramble to escape the Island of the Dead before he’s killed by one of its insane residents. At least Sam is still wearing Mrs Martin’s magic shoes.
There are three competing mythological strands in Part 1 which are being pushed onto Sam by various factions of islanders. In some ways, Sam is on the classic Hero’s Journey, following in the footsteps of Odysseus and the legends of King Arthur. There are also elements of the Christian Stations of the Cross, based on Jesus last day before his crucifixion, in Sam’s weekend events, and those continue on Sunday. And the islanders have pushed Sam toward the heroic Threefold Death all weekend.
The Threefold Death is an ancient Indo-European rite which involves death by hanging (or strangulation or falling), drowning (or poisoning) and by wounding (or fire/burning). The death might involve all three injuries happening to one person or a different person experiencing each injury. Combined, the human sacrifices made to Esus (god of war/hanging), Teutatis (tribal protector/fire) and Taranis (god of thunder, sky, sun and wheel of the year/drowning) were Threefold Deaths. Some on the island want to kill Sam, either for real or symbolically. Other want him to do the killing, either for real or symbolically.
For two days, Sam refused to take the bait and also avoided capture by the more violent islanders. At the end of episode 2, the island’s main instigators seemed to have finally forced the issue, drugging/poisoning Sam, then leaving him alone in the woods like a child in a fairy tale. Are Mrs Martin and Jess acting as Sam’s Judases? Is Mrs Martin the island’s fairy queen, leading Jess and Epona to tempt this Odysseus into staying an extra year or 20? Or are the islanders preparing to act out the Osea version of The Wicker Man?
The last time we saw Sam, at the end of episode 2, Larry knocked him out and then kidnapped him, aided by the man in the white suit. As episode 3 begins, Sam regains consciousness to the sound of a bell ringing and the preacher chanting. Sam has a hood over his face and seems to be surrounded by fire. The hallucinogen Jess gave him at the festival the night before hasn’t worn off.
He does the only sensible thing and screams for someone to get the hood off of him.
Unfortunately, Larry is the one who takes it off.
Sam looks like death warmed over. Seriously- his skin is grayish, as if the island is draining the life out of him. Images and sounds come at him fast and furious: a baby carriage and the sound of a baby crying; the preacher continuing to chant while performing a ritual at a table; the man in white, who is the current island Father, sitting on an ornate couch with the two blonde girls who are almost always with him. Larry teasing him about his drugged state.
That last one is extra weird, because Larry’s just having fun instead of menacing Sam. Larry’s forehead is bleeding, though, in a mirror image to Sam’s wound.
Preacher prays for the Lord to bring Osea the True Father it needs. He chops up an animal, pours some wine (or blood?) and spits in it. Then he prays for the wine to “Join me with him. And let this put the blood of the land that has redeemed him inside him. And on this bread…” Preacher continues praying in a different language- Gaelic or Latin? Larry holds open Sam’s mouth while Preacher pours some wine in. Then Preacher holds out a still beating heart for Sam to eat. After Sam has taken his bite, Preacher also takes a bite.
No bothering with changing the flesh of the sacrifice into communion bread here. The plants, animals and the people are one with the land and they need to be sure the flesh and blood of the True Father reflect that. Ashes to ashes, we are all part of the life cycle.
Preacher asks if anyone else knows they took him. Larry says no. He wants to kill Sam now. Preacher has other plans for him. Old Father explains that they’re going to save him.
Saving him could have at least 2 meanings and it’s not clear whether Preacher and Old Father mean the same thing. Preacher, as the Christian representative on the island, wants to save Sam’s soul along with making him Father. Old Father, who’s failed, wants to make Sam the heroic, successful New Father. They are watching as Sam goes through a process on the island and looking to see whether he has the qualities of the hero and savior they need. On the other hand, Larry wants to sacrifice Sam to the island gods in the traditional way, which would also, in a sense, make him a hero and savior.
This is the confusing battle we’ve been watching play out all weekend, with islanders testing Sam and each other to see how far they’re willing to go. Even on this small island, the 3 sides are in constant flux, with betrayals and shifting alliances muddying the water.
Larry throws the hood back over Sam’s head and takes him downstairs, where Old Father says he’ll be safe. He drags Sam down the stairs still tied to a chair, banging his head on every step, then tosses Sam and his chair into a dark room.
But here is where things get interesting. Sam’s magic shoes, which were given to him by the island queen, Mrs Martin, glow in the dark in the royal color, purple, a color we basically haven’t seen on this show. There are antlers in the same frame, which associate Sam with the Celtic horned god. And Mimir, advisor to to Odin, the king of the Norse Gods, Keeper of the Well of Wisdom at the Base of Yggdrasil, the Tree of Life, is there in the basement waiting for Sam.
These are all signs that point to Preacher’s ritual having taken Sam to a new level as the island’s Father- as if the island itself recognizes him and is showing its acceptance. Some mythology links the god or the goddess to the land and the life, death, rebirth cycle with a trip through an underground portal to the Otherworld or to another state of being. A passage-grave like Newgrange, with its migrating birds, triskeles, and association with wombs and tombs, is practically a postcard from the ancients demonstrating this belief.
So Sam is in the womb-like basement, which I’ll take as a representation of the goddess, with the antlers that represent the horned god. The animistic God and Goddess are pagan spirituality at their most basic, which signify the island has accepted him at the deepest level, which should also satisfy the trinity of Celtic gods for the moment.
He has the Merlin-like advisor to the king and is producing his own light, two qualities which generally prove the hero is the Chosen One in Western tradition. He’s also been associated with the Tree of Life for a while now- the plants were the first to accept him. Of course no one is around to notice, because that’s always the way these stories work out- no one sees Arthur pull the sword from the stone. As part of his Journey, he has to prove he’s the Rightful King over and over, in front of every possible audience.
I should note that Sam appears to be losing bits of time here and there. At some point, Mimir turns on a light and removes the hood, but it’s a while more before he sets Sam and the chair upright. Sam awakens to Mimir pouring wine down his throat, having just dreamed about Preacher feeding him the beating heart. Maybe they went through the ritual a second time, who knows?
Mimir is in a chatty mood. He says that the ritual was a baptism for Esus.
Mimir: “The Celts believed Osea was the soul of the world. It needed a father to shepherd it through the dark. Charrington was that father. Then his son was. But his son decided he didn’t want this life for his own boy, and they fled… His brother took over. But as the brother comes closer to death with no male heir, the island declines, and so does the world… Your grandfather told you he was stationed on Osea, yes? He was not. He was born here. He was the son of Charrington. The father who fled. He didn’t want this for his son, and they didn’t want it for you. You are the rightful Father of Osea, Sam. Can you feel it coming? The darkness?”
So, like King Arthur, Sam is a stolen prince, raised in secret, his birthright kept even from himself.
Larry storms back in, angry that Mimir is talking to Sam. Mimir denies saying anything. Larry tosses him aside and turns his attention back to Sam. First, he presses a thumb into the open wound on Sam’s forehead, because Larry is a sadist. Then he double gags Sam with a cloth and duct tape. He takes Sam out into the night- apparently the spirits have done it all in one night- and drags him across the island. Sam is still having altered consciousness events, so who know what really goes on, but they wander and frolic until it’s light out, as do many of the islanders. Then Larry holds a hunting knife to Sam’s cheek and tells him to be quiet. He’s not interested in saving Sam, did I mention that?
He takes Sam through a passage into the remains of an old, round stone tower with a small round pool in the center. It practically glows with mythical purpose. He ties Sam to the wall and pulls out some weights. Larry says that Sam’s presence has split the island in two and the trouble is ending now.
Larry takes out a blue rope, ties it to the weights and drops them in the water. Sam sees this in a weird way, almost as if it’s a memory of being in the water. He struggles against the board he’s tied to and kicks Larry in the head as the other man climbs toward him, knocking him out. Then Sam breaks the board and pulls the rope free, but his hands are still tied up behind his back. He pushes them around his feet, then lies next to Larry and works the knife out of his clothing. Larry’s breathing is labored- Maybe Sam broke something when he kicked Larry.
Once Sam has the knife, he cuts the rope just enough to separate his hands, but leaves it tied to his right wrist. He tosses the knife into the pool.
Though Larry tried to kill him, Sam leaves Larry alive, unconscious but unbound. Sam runs away. This is important to note, because Sam has appeared to be weak and a coward at times. He had the opportunity to kill an enemy here and made the conscious choice to use as little violence as possible. His nonviolence is a strategy, not a weakness.
Despite, or maybe because of, what happened to his son, Sam still doesn’t believe in violence as the solution to his problems unless there’s no other choice. Chances are, his father and grandfather who left the island and didn’t want this life for him raised him this way and he’s stuck to it, even through extraordinary hardship. The island has chosen him, even though he remains nonviolent. That might mean that the island wants the balance Sam’s way would bring, rather than continuing what we see in the old way Larry is showing us.
Once Sam is out in the main part of the island, it’s dark again. Maybe the full moon set. Maybe time is moving strangely. He reaches the sea, where the artificial lights of London can be seen in the distance. So close and yet so far. He definitely can’t swim to the mainland in this direction. It’s low tide and he attempts to wade out into what turns out to be mud flats. He’s too exhausted and mud flats aren’t as much fun to walk across for long distances as you’d think, so he gives up again in frustration. Even magic shoes can only take you so far.
He wakes up in the morning on the beach, in a sea of crabs. This is more animal life than we’ve seen all weekend, so I’m thinking the sea is exceptionally pleased with Sam. He walks back to the village, which he finds empty.
His car is blocked by a table, but he still has his keys in his pocket, by some miracle, so he moves the table as quietly as possible. One of the islanders arrives and blocks the gate before he can drive out, so he runs back to the causeway.
Low tide is ending. He decides to make a run for it as water begins to cover the causeway. Maybe the water won’t get that deep, if he can manage to follow the road all way across. Except it does, and the currents and waves pick up, and he’s still exhausted and hasn’t eaten. He’s determined to make it this time though, and keeps going.
He’s just beginning to get into trouble and having flashbacks again, when a hand grabs his face from behind. At first, it’s not clear whether he’s being drowned or rescued, but then Jess tells him it’s her. She pulls him back to the shore of the island and doesn’t drown him.
But I’m not sure whether returning him to Osea can rightly be called a rescue. At some point, Sam was going to reach the halfway mark between the island and the mainland and the water would begin to get shallow again. Jess could have helped him keep going to that point. It seemed like she might have been making sure Sam didn’t escape as much as she was keeping him from drowning.
Now that they’ve both been immersed as deeply as possible in the sea, it’s time for some truth. Lots of blue in this scene, which is the color of truth, balance and impartiality.
Before Sam has even finished crawling out of the water, Jess drops his bag of cash in front of him. He asks where it came from- he doesn’t remember stealing it or bringing to to the pub, or so he says. Jess found it in their bathroom, under the sink with the salt.
He tells her that Larry tried to kill him. She asks if he’s having another psychotic episode and questions whether the attacks on him have been real. He insists that he’s not having an episode, but she wonders how he’d know the difference. Shaking, he holds up his right arm, with the bright blue rope of truth still tied to his wrist. She finally believes him. He asks her to help him leave the island.
Sam waits in Mimir’s greenhouse while Jess goes to the pub to get dry clothes and Mrs Martin. Jess returns wearing a bright red raincoat. Red is the color of blood, violence and death on this show. Nothing good ever happens when red shows up. If this were science fiction, I’d assume Jess was now infected with whatever evil is catching. Since I’ve already been pretty sure she’s involved in the conspiracy, let’s just take it as the show bringing her duplicity out into the open.
Jess tells Sam that Mrs Martin is on her way. She took a detour to warn Mr Martin about Larry first. She says that Mrs Martin seems scared. While Sam changes, Jess says she just wants to get back to her girls. She asks what Nathan was like.
Sam says that Nathan was a difficult child who could be cruel. His wife, Cas, was worried because Nathan went through a period of torturing insects, but Sam didn’t think it was too serious. Nathan was tricky, but he could be so loving.
Sam notices a green cricket, that’s maybe a toy? He tells Jess that he’s seen them all over the island. She says they’re a sign of rain and flooding in some cultures, implying that Mimir leaves the green ones around to bring rain. Sam wonders how people can believe such things.
Jess says that she grew up in a religious community that was nearly a cult. If their leader told them to believe or to do something, they did it, no matter how strange, no questions asked.
She adds that crickets are also a sign of death.
That would be the red crickets. Like the one Sam saw just before Epona hung herself.
The Martins arrive and are told the current situation. Mr Martin gets panicky. They discuss how to get Sam off the island, until Sam insists that they tell him the truth about why Larry wants him dead. Mr Martin goes through a list of excuses, but Mrs Martin finally instructs him to tell Sam the whole story.
It’s raining outside the greenhouse.
Let me stop here and mention that green equals life, growth, power, love- it’s the opposite of red, as it is on the color wheel. The green crickets are associated with rain because rain brings growth and life. They probably turn red when there’s been too much rain, there are too many crickets, and the floods begin. Too many crickets and too much rain will both cause death.
Mr Martin: “The man in the white suit, the Father? Well, He can’t die, God bless him. Not till he’s sure he can pass it on. Osea needs a true father, Sam.”
Mr Martin explains that it was the Father who’d arranged to meet Sam the day that Nathan disappeared. He intended to tell Sam everything. The islanders only found out about the Father’s plan the same day. They were furious.
The current Father was never supposed to play that role and no one thinks he’s suited to it. The islanders had searched for Sam for years with no results, and there he suddenly was, with his son. They panicked.
The islanders had two opposing ideas. Some thought they should approach Sam and ask him to take his rightful place as Father. But they were afraid he’d refuse. So the second idea was to take Sam’s son, who was a direct descendant of Charrington. The island and the world were in decline because the wrong man was Father. They needed a workable solution.
So they chose the second solution and asked someone to take Nathan. They offered the kidnapper and his family a place on the island, which is a great honor for believers. But Goltan was confused. He wasn’t supposed to get violent. Nathan wasn’t supposed to get hurt.
By now, both Mr Martin and Sam are growing increasingly agitated. Sam asks, “Whose idea was it to take my son?”
Mr Martin: “Mine. And I’ve regretted it with every single breath since.”
Mrs Martin has been watching the two men, her eyes practically glowing as emotions run higher and higher. When Sam starts to release his anger, she steps between him and her husband and asks if now is the time when he’s going to give in to his rage. For the Martins, the entire weekend has been about waiting for this moment.
This is why one of the first things Mr Martin told Sam is that he and his wife lost 7 pregnancies and how deeply they feel that pain. They needed him to know that the pain from the loss of their own children is equal to or greater than his, before he found out that they caused his pain from losing Nathan.
Then there’s the pain they feel over having caused the loss of one potential Father and breaking the mind of the other. The island has languished for years while they waited for Sam to work through his grief and hoped he’d be ready to lead them and save the world someday.
Mrs Martin may be hoping he’ll give in to his rage and punish them for what Mr Martin did, because that would finally lessen the burden of her guilt and rage. She must have wanted a child very badly to keep trying for so long. I imagine the knowledge that her husband brought about the death of a child who was also their savior, the equivalent of Baby Esus, is soul crushing.
Sam is still oddly the most well-adjusted person on the island: “I want you to listen to me. All of this, everything you believe in, is f—ing nonsense. It’s magic and pixies and fake gods.”
Mrs Martin: “It’s not fake. Don’t say fake.”
Sam: “It cost my son his life. My son is dead because of your f—ing garbage. This s–t that you believe in. I want to get off this island. I would rather slit my own throat than come back here for one more minute.”
The Martins agree to get him off the island. They say he’s lost enough and they’ll pay for their sin.
Sam is properly suspicious.
When they step outside, the sun shines and birds chirp. Sam asks about Epona- he’s a good father to the end. The Martins are lousy caretakers to the end. Epona’s missing. Sam tells Mrs Martin that there’s no way he’s leaving Epona there with them. She insists that they have to go straight to the boat. Meanwhile, Mr Martin continues to explain that the signs all point to how important Sam is to the island.
He’s correct in that. Clearly Sam and Jason should be put in charge of the children and all living things, while the rest of the islanders are held off at gunpoint. Maybe a nurturing woman will be revealed in Part 2 or 3.
They walk through the woods, then come to the edge of a field. Islanders are searching for Sam in the woods on the other side of the field. Mrs Martin sends Jess and Mr Martin ahead as a distraction, then she and Sam double back the way they came.
This won’t go well. She’s never been fully on Sam’s side- it’s been more like she was testing him. She basically turned him over to Larry last night.
Something in her turned against him when Sam told her their religion isn’t real, as if that’s all she has left to cling to. It broke something inside her to hear the man she sees as her last chance at a savior deny her religion.
Birds continue to chirp loudly as they walk down a forest path which leads into a tunnel. Mrs Martin stops outside the tunnel and asks if Sam sees anything inside. Once again, she convinces him to stay where he is while she goes inside to scout ahead.
Mr Martin does the sign of the cross to himself in a mirror. When he and Larry shared the cross Friday night it started a drunken revelry that led to
a sex ritual Sam and Jess having sex. I can’t see this going in that direction.
I am actually wondering if Mr Martin is Death though. So much death and failure at his hands. But the birds are singing, which means the souls are returning to the island. If the new Father doesn’t bring back fertility, Death will be out of work, too, because no one will be reborn, so eventually there will be no one to die.
Right on cue, the boy appears to Sam. Sam’s entire face changes from wary to relieved. The boy leads him to the stone church where Mrs Martin left him alone the night before. Of course he goes into the church. This ritual must require that he enter the church by choice, rather than being lead or invited in.
Inside, the church has some gruesome artwork with bloody scenes from the past, such as human sacrifices and witch hunts, that include Sam as the main figure. If he’s the reincarnation of Esus and Esus is the violent star of their stories, then the Esus in their illustrations should now look like Sam. Based on the painting over the alter, I’m wondering if Esus is also “the darkness” and the islanders are waiting for a sign that it’s truly manifested in Sam.
Sam hears dripping and follows the sound to a long table with a tarp over it. Epona is under the tarp, dead, with her abdomen sliced open. Just as Sam is reacting to what he sees, Mrs Martin tells him to move away from Epona. She’s pointing a rifle at him. He assures her that he didn’t kill Epona.
Mrs Martin already knows that he didn’t kill her. She says that Epona sacrificed herself to the gods of the woods. First she hanged herself to heal Osea and that brought Sam to the island. Sam didn’t want to stay, so she’s sacrificed herself again, mimicking an ancient tableau.
Mrs Martin: “I always knew she was incredible, but I didn’t know she had this in her.”
She goes on to described how perfectly Epona performed her painful ritual suicide, all because Sam wouldn’t stay. Epona wanted Sam to be the island Father, just as the rest do. Like Mrs Martin did. But now she knows it’s not possible.
As if encouraging child suicide isn’t obscene enough, now Mrs Martin is layering manipulation on top in order to get Sam to stay.
She says that she agrees with Larry, Sam is the problem, not the solution.
Gosh, as if it hasn’t been obvious that she’s nuts and thinks violence is the answer for 3 episodes already.
Apparently the islanders think the problem is that there are too many living heirs to the “Father’ throne right now, so Sam needs to die if he’s not going to accept the crown. Sam assumes she’s killing him so the mystical divine right will jump back to his uncle. She just smiles enigmatically and waits for him to figure it out.
He says, “Nathan.” Then he asks if his son is alive. She says that the body that was found was Epona’s brother, Jason’s son, who was the same age as Nathan. They killed him and mutilated his body then placed it in the river, so that Sam and Cas would think it was their son’s body. Mimir took care of the details. This is why Mimir and Jason were especially emotional around Sam.
She tells Sam he can die happy, because his son is alive. But she won’t let him see Nathan. She forces him down into the basement, so she can kill him in secret, without inflaming the tensions on the island.
The church is being rewired, so there are loose wires hanging all over the basement. Sam asks again to see Nathan. Mrs Martin tells him that, “It doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.”
Oops, sorry, that was Casablanca. Mrs Martin isn’t nobly sacrificing her own needs and desires for the greater good. She’s going to kill Sam after her husband got Sam’s son killed, or maybe Jason’s son killed, because she thinks the teeny tiny island she lives on is the center of the universe and that gives her the right to do anything she wants to anyone she wants.
The third day in this sequence is slightly about rebirth and mostly about more death and more insane religious justifications for violence. It’s about a cult who will stop at nothing to fulfill their vision. Even the death of the village’s own children doesn’t slow them down. Even the destruction of their ability to produce food. They simply create excuses to justify why the loss was necessary or someone else’s fault.
Rebirth can’t happen unless you accept death and its source. These people are doomed to relive the same destructive cycle into eternity until they stop and take a look at themselves and the truth. They’re so far gone, so intent on living in darkness, they aren’t even noticing the ways the island is changing in response to Sam or the ways Sam is telling them what he needs. All they’re doing is further breaking what they’ve already broken. They are stuck in darkness.
Sam begs to see Nathan, but Mrs Martin tells him to keep moving. He finally uses one of the live wires to electrocute her. He absorbs a jolt of electricity himself. She might fire a shot as well. They both end up passed out on the floor.
He wakes up first, his skin darker gray than ever. He channeled Taranis, God of thunder, for a moment there. The live wire is still sizzling. Mrs Martin wakes up right after him and tries to follow. She fires the rifle as he’s locking her in the church, but misses. Sam escapes her, but once again only damages his enemy enough to save himself.
Sam runs out into a green, flowering field and flops down. The flowers are yellow, one of the few uses of the color we’ve seen and the few times we’ve seen flowers. Another sign of life returning to the island. Sam is partially deafened and his ears are ringing. His phone rings- it’s Aday, the committee contact he meant to bribe with the £40,000. Sam answers, but they’re unable to communicate because of Sam’s hearing loss. The signal soon cuts out again anyway.
Red crickets jump on Sam, startling him so that he drops his phone. It starts raining, then Sam cracks his phone while he’s searching for it. The island must know how desperate he is to leave.
The Soul of the World Weeps
The islanders pushed things too far. Sam might’ve forgiven them for Larry’s violence and the baptism ceremony, since Jess and Mimir helped him. It was a rough night, but he also discovered that the islanders are family. But he won’t be able to forget about what the Martins told him at the greenhouse, Epona’s horrible death or the way Mrs Martin rejoiced over Epona’s body, then turned on him.
Then there’s her claim that Nathan is still alive. We haven’t been told how long Nathan has been dead, but I had the sense that he should be older than the boy is. Nathan was 6 when he was taken. The boy only looks like he’s 8 or 9, which would mean it’s only been a couple of years. The whole thing is strange. If Nathan is alive, the islanders must feel that he won’t work out as Father either. Why else bring Sam back?
Either way, the islanders still kidnapped Nathan and murdered Jason’s son. Either Nathan is also dead and they deprived Sam and Cas of the chance to say goodbye to their son or they’ve held Nathan hostage for years. Neither is forgivable and no sane person would expect it.
The way the story of Nathan’s death has evolved over the course of three episodes is so odd that I can’t imagine Mrs Martin’s desperate last chance ploy is the end of the story. The story they told in the greenhouse felt right, but it’s also heartbreaking, especially now that Jason’s daughter, Epona, has also died hoping to bring Sam back to the island.
But it not over yet. Sam has one more gauntlet to run.
Sam returns to the pool where he threw Larry’s hunting knife. He wades in and fishes it out, symbolic of the hero being given and accepting a special sword as reward for passing through his initiation tests. It rains harder. This might be a cleansing rain. It’s washing the blood from Sam’s face. Sam has completed his trials. Accepting the knife likely means he’s accepting his status as Chosen One, the island protector.
Jason shows up, startling Sam again, so that Sam threatens to kill him if he comes close. But Jason is calm and compassionate this time. Sam can see the Big House from where he stands. He asks Jason if Nathan is there. Jason nods. Sam says he’s leaving and taking Nathan with him. Jason nods again with understanding and tells Sam that Tomo’s boat is waiting to take him to the mainland, so that he can get the police. Jason will take care of Nathan until Sam gets back.
Sam believes Jason. He runs back through the hedge maze to the beach, where he runs into Jess, still in her red raincoat. She says that Mr Martin told her to wait there for the boat. Tomo is waiting a ways up the beach in his red boat. He was expecting the Martins to be with them, so Sam and Jess have to convince him to leave for the mainland without them.
Once he and Jess are on the boat, Sam picks up a flare gun and forces Tomo off the boat. Jess protests, but he doesn’t trust any of the islanders anymore. Tomo tries to convince him to stay, but Sam pushes Tomo off the boat mid sentence. Jess drives the boat, sticking close to the shore of the island. She says that the tidal currents keep pulling them back in.
They get stuck on a flat in front of the Big House. The islanders have gathered on the beach in front of the house to watch. Sam uses an oar to push them free.
Jess picks up the flare gun and points it at Sam. She tells him that she grew up someplace a lot like this. Her husband has the islanders watching her. Sam reminds her that he has to leave. He begs her. She reminds him again that her daughters are all that matter to her, then brings the boat in to the the Big House dock, where everyone is waiting for them.
The two blonde girls run to Jess. They’re her daughters. The islanders were holding them at the Big House all weekend, where the threat to their safety and Jess’ visitation rights would be palpable. Is their father one of the men we’ve seen? Maybe the blond who runs with Larry?
Sam and the Father meet on the dock. Mr Martin tells Sam that the islanders are now all in agreement about what to do about him. The Father repeats, “The dark is here,” twice. Mrs Martin, who’s all cleaned up and fine, carries a gun over to the Father like it’s a baby. He says “Thank you,” and shoots himself in the head.
Guess they weren’t kidding about the Old Father being ready to die. The islanders cheer.
The King is dead, long live the King.
Mr Martin directs Sam toward the Big House. The crowd parts for him as he moves foward. Eventually, the boy appears in the front doorway. He and Sam meet in the front yard. Sam picks him up, sobbing, and carries him inside.
They don’t speak and the boy’s face is never shown clearly. He remains a fantasy child- a ghost. Now Sam is a ghost, too.
There are red crickets on the ground around the house. Once Sam and Nathan go inside, more appear. The camera pulls away and the sky darkens with crickets/locusts, a biblical pestilence.
The cycle is complete, but balance hasn’t been restored. The islanders messed this up again.
Mass Hysteria, the Threefold Death and Maybe Some Stockholm Syndrome
The islanders convinced Sam to stay and become Father, but they broke his mind in the process. I think they accepted him because he completed their initiation cycle when he went into the pool. That was where Larry was trying to put him, after all. That particular pool may have been used for sacrifices and rituals for millennia and have started out as a natural spring used by the ancient Celts. Larry was pretty clear that he thought the island would accept Sam as a healing sacrifice if Sam wouldn’t become Father.
There are a variety of ways to show Sam went through a symbolic version of the Threefold Death. Entering the pool may have completed the ritual and symbolized his death and rebirth as Father for the islanders, especially after he and Mrs Martin went through the fire of electrocution. Maybe by hurting her, he absolved her and her husband of hurting Nathan/the Nathan substitute.
The three deaths are wound/fire, drowning/poison and hanging/strangulation/hanging upside down from a tree. Larry put a hood over Sam’s head. Then Larry tied Sam to a wooden chair and dragged him downstairs with his head down. Mimir put his hands around Sam’s throat. Then Larry tied Sam to a wooden board while he prepared to drown him. Symbolically, one or more of those may have been enough to count as hanging for ritual purposes. Sam’s head was wounded and he was electrocuted for fire and he took the hallucinogen and went out into the sea for drowning, in addition to retrieving the knife from the pool.
In the end, everyone on the island knew why Sam was there and was part of the conspiracy, even if all they did was take part in the festival or choose a side. But the islanders are like children who expect a parent to solve all of their problems and expect there to be a simple solution to every problem. They think having the right Father will solve their issues and the world’s issues at the same time, as if the Father is an all-seeing, all-powerful god. Maybe Charrington tried to give that impression to help keep the substance abusers in line and used the threat of violence from his gang of loyalists to back up his authority. That type of authority may have worked 100 years ago, but the island needs a better way now.
Jess kept telling Sam that she wanted to get back to her daughters because the islanders were holding them hostage to make sure she went through with their plan. She was trying to tell Sam this so he’d understand her actions when he eventually learned the truth and apologizing for helping the islanders. She went through an ordeal this weekend that mirrored his experience and likely challenged and changed her just as much as his changed him. She faced the possibility of losing her children forever while she also saw what losing Nathan did to Sam and not being able to have children did to the Martins. Jess is the one person who saw the islanders up close while also knowing their intentions and what they’re capable of and also saw Sam up close and listened to him and learned who he really is.
This study (X) found that desert locusts begin life as harmless, solitary grasshoppers, but stress and overcrowding can create an intense release of serotonin that turns them into a swarm of locusts whose behavior is so different that they were once thought to be a separate species. In other words, the grasshoppers become an unrecognizable, destructive mob due to mass hysteria fueled by harsh conditions and their own neurochemicals.
The islanders and the crickets aren’t so different, except that the islanders want to be turned into a swarm of locusts. Cultish religion, drugs and alcohol fuel their mass hysteria. They seemed to draw energy from darkness and violence. Mrs Martin and Larry in particular, with Mr Martin not far behind. It’s hard to tell how much of Jess’ behavior was real and how much was coerced so she could get her daughters back. The coercion could have been a lie, too, so that Sam would continue to trust her.
There’s been so much violence and coercion on the island for so long that it’s hard to tell what’s real. They could all be acting out inherited trauma, continuing the painful methods they were taught because it’s the only way they know how to make sense of their lives. Every one of the featured characters has a sense of desperation and anger to them that gives you the feeling they’re mentally fragile, teetering on the edge at all times. The shared mythology and sense of purpose of Osea is what’s holding them together.
Each day of the weekend related to one of the gods of the Celtic trinity.
Friday was Esus: Epona hanged herself and thematic focus was on saving her and Sam, a form of rebirth (Esus is associated with Jesus on Osea).
Saturday was Teutatis: The festival dry run included bonfires and fireworks, plus Sam saw the burning trailer. There was an emphasis on dreams and hallucinations. The thematic focus was on protection. Epona and Sam needed protection and Sam relived his inability to protect Nathan.
Sunday was Taranis: Sunny yellow joined the color palette, often combined with blue. Time was spent in and on the water, showing that some version of the truth was revealed and accepted- Sam went in the pool, Sam and Jess went in the sea, Sam and Jess rode in Tomo’s boat, Sam woke up with the crabs, sea creatures. The electricity and gunshot in the church were pseudo lightning and thunder. The thematic focus was on change- how the island has changed and needs more change, how the islanders want Sam to bring about that change, and how the islanders’ hasty actions brought about terrible changes in Sam’s life.
There was also the addition of more red, signifying death. Epona died. We learned more about Nathan’s death or disappearance. We also found out that Jason’s son was sacrificed to bring Sam and Nathan back to the island. The Old Father died. The red crickets associated with death swarmed at the end.
One of the truths that had to be accepted was the death of the dream that Sam would be the type of Father the islanders have idealized and dreamed of for decades. Any of the three gods can be a father god, and each god has different aspects that could be emphasized, but the islanders are stuck on Father as Esus, tribal warrior, probably the most unhealthy version of fatherhood when all other aspects are excluded. Sam’s father and grandfather seem to have taken away his ability to be a warrior, which maybe he needs to find again. And maybe he needs to bring respect for the softer side of manhood back to the island.
This 3 day cycle began with rebirth and was completed with death. Instead of life, death, rebirth, it went rebirth, life, death.
Summary of Color Symbolism
Green= good, growth, life, power, light, love, plants. Main use was the lush green island plant growth, including the hedge maze, the forest, various green fields and vines. The main hall of the pub was green, which was honestly weird. I’m also not sure what to make of the lifeless green crickets. Possibly they are an indication that Osea is separate from the real world and that’s why the mainland can only be reached under very particular circumstances.
Red (orange, pink) = bad, decay, death, weakness, darkness, betrayal, lies, fire, animals. Main uses were in Jess’ raincoat, Epona pink clothing on Friday, Mrs Martin’s orange clothing on Saturday, Tomo’s boat, Nathan/the boy’s shorts, the red crickets and blood. The appearance of a red cricket often meant violence was happening off screen or was about to happen. Sam saw a cricket at the time when Epona was probably killing herself in the church (remember that Mrs Martin said she’d probably bled out overnight). Those red crickets are pure evil. The boy’s red shorts make the claim that he’s Nathan suspect.
Blue= compromise, secrecy, depth, the centerpoint of the scale, balance, reason, problem-solving, truth, water. The various bodies of water appeared more and less blue over the course of the weekend, sometimes from moment to moment, possibly to signify whose eyes we were looking through. I think Sam sees more color and lushness in the world at all times, either because of his mental illness or because he’s the Chosen One. Also, people do actually see colors differently. But Charrington may have realized that he was descended from the gods and that’s why he could control alcohol. Sam may have fairy blood in him. Anything seems possible on Osea. Mrs Martin wore blue on Sunday, which I think means she was speaking her truth, even if it wasn’t always the absolute factual truth. Same for Jess. The rope was conspicuously blue, so maybe it has special powers like Wonder Woman’s Lasso of Truth.
Yellow= the life, death rebirth cycle/ the growth cycle, wholeness, completion of cycles, spiritual enlightenment, flowers, the sun. Uses were Jess’ daughters’ blonde hair, Mrs Martin’s blue and yellow blanket, and the yellow flowers in the church. There was a lot of gold in the church.
Black= the Darkness. And night. The painting in the church that personified the Darkness said it all. The Darkness had screaming captives in a boat and was eating bones. I don’t think the Darkness was rescuing them. The island might be possessed by a demon. The soul of the world might need a supersized exorcism.
Osea as a Magical Island
As the soul of the world, Osea is a land of portals, whose health mirrors the health of the entire world. This could mean that Osea is a magical island in other ways, with one foot in the mundane, earthly realm and one foot in the magical or spirit realm. It might be a 3rd, transitional realm of its own, such as purgatory (where a soul waits to be reincarnated, in this case), the Celtic Otherworld or a realm similar to Avalon, King Arthur’s final resting place.
British religion and folklore has included mystical islands since prehistoric times. The islands are sometimes home to supernatural beings such as the fairy folk or even demons. Sometimes they are sacred places that house magical places such as wells, groves or pagan shrines, which later became monasteries and shrines to Christian saints (who were often the pagan gods in disguise).
The people of Osea could be some version of the fairy folk- Mrs Martin would be totally believable as the fairy queen. Charrington could have gathered up all of the miscreant supernatural beings he could find and brought them to a magical island to keep them contained. As an insular tribe of non/semi humans, they would want any missing members and their descendants back and would occasional lure humans to the island for various purposes.
From Wiki on Ancient Celtic Burial and Afterlife – “A common factor in later mythologies from Christianized Celtic nations was the otherworld. This was the realm of the fairy folk and other supernatural beings, who would entice humans into their realm.”
In some Celtic mythology, the Otherworld is reached by going under or crossing through the water of a pool, lake or the sea. “The Celts believed in the Otherworld and for them Avalon represented the land of the mythical and mystical. It existed outside of the normal world but was accessible from it. Time moved at a different pace and islands were specifically associated with being gateways into the Otherworld. Most of the islands of the coasts of Britain were known as Isles of the Dead to the early Celts. Lundy, the Isle of Man, the Scilly Isles, have all been associated with being the real life location for Avalon.” (X)
On Avalon — “The idyllic nature of Avalon also might reflect the ancient pre-Christian British and Irish view of the afterlife. The Irish and British believed that islands could be portals to the otherworld where souls of the dead dwelled in eternal youth and eternal bliss.”
From Wiki on the Celtic Otherworld – “Graeco-Roman geographers tell us about Celtic belief in islands consecrated to gods and heroes. Among them were Anglesey (Môn), off the north coast of Wales, which was the sacred island of the druids of Britain; the Scilly islands, where archaeological remains of proto-historical temples have been found; and some of the Hebrides, which were, in the Gaelic tradition, home of ghosts and demons: on one of them, Skye, the Irish hero Cúchulainn was taught by the warrior woman Scathach.”
Purgatory as an island — “In his La naissance du Purgatoire (The Birth of Purgatory), Jacques Le Goff attributes the origin of the idea of a third other-world domain, similar to heaven and hell, called Purgatory, to Paris intellectuals and Cistercian monks at some point in the last three decades of the twelfth century, possibly as early as 1170−1180… The change happened at about the same time as the composition of the book Tractatus de Purgatorio Sancti Patricii, an account by an English Cistercian of a penitent knight’s visit to the land of purgatory reached through a cave in the island known as Station Island or St Patrick’s Purgatory in the lake of Lough Derg, County Donegal, Ireland. Le Goff said this book “occupies an essential place in the history of Purgatory, in whose success it played an important, if not decisive, role”.
One of the earliest depictions of St Patrick’s Purgatory is a fresco in the Convent of San Francisco in Todi, Umbria, Italy… The painter was likely Jacopo di Mino del Pellicciaio, and the date of the fresco is around 1345. Purgatory is shown as a rocky hill filled with separate openings into its hollow center. Above the mountain St Patrick introduces the prayers of the faithful that can help attenuate the sufferings of the souls undergoing purification. In each opening, sinners are tormented by demons and by fire. Each of the seven deadly sins – avarice, envy, sloth, pride, anger, lust, and gluttony – has its own region of purgatory and its own appropriate tortures.”
Dante solidified the idea of purgatory as an island in his Divine Comedy.
Images from the Church
The tapestry over Sam’s head and above the altar also hung behind Preacher’s revival meeting in the field on Saturday in episode 2. I couldn’t get a screencap of the whole tapestry that’s in focus, but you can see the angels at the top that are also in the episode 2 screencaps. The tapestry shows “the Darkness” in a boat, doing something with a chain of bones, probably eating them, while his prisoners beg a figure who hovers above, either Esus or Jesus, to save them.
The paintings show a series of violent incidents. The first appears to be the Witchfinder General burning witches at the stake. The second is of Jack the Ripper caught during a murder. The third painting shows a female saint carrying her own decapitated head. This fits the description of two British female saints: Saint Juthwara and Saint Noyala. It looks more likely to be Saint Noyala, but could be either, or some other saint who met a grisly fate and decided to walk away from it before dying. The fourth painting appears to be the scene of a crusade, but I have no idea what it depicts otherwise.
The violent male “protagonist” of each painting has a cloudy halo, which presumably means Father is the reincarnation of these characters. The last two paintings show Sam arriving in a storm cloud, dressed in white, brandishing two bloody knives, halo intact. Though Father has been associated with Esus all weekend, this seems to associate Father with Taranis instead. Sam chose the knife as his weapon and the boat or swimming as his escape routes. The sky has been notably gray and cloudy all weekend.
ETA: After looking over a few other things, I think the halo is an oyster shell and Sam arrives as a pearl, then fully manifests as Father once the Darkness is inside him. The oyster is the symbol of prosperity and fertility on the island. It makes sense for the most precious islander to be represented as a pearl. But the pearly gray can still signify more than one thing.
Maybe that’s been the issue all along- some Fathers reincarnate Esus, but some reincarnate one of the other gods. Taranis is associated with storms, which equate to change and restlessness, but also with the sun, which equates to light rather than darkness. The islanders might have to adjust to a tempestuous Father rather than a dark one.
Let’s add one more screencap. This is Sam’s face as he’s internalizing the knowledge that Mr Martin got his son killed. Mrs Martin is in his face, encouraging him to give in to his anger. He’s making the same teeth-baring expression in the painting and the screen cap. His face goes in and out of shadow, but it’s finally bathed in so much light that the screen whites out. The darkness may be here, but it hasn’t won. The light still wins in Sam. He only uses violence in self defense or in defense of others.
Images courtesy of HBO.