With Jess in labor and the islanders at war, in episode 5 Helen is called on to act as midwife. She also reveals that she’s searching for Sam on Osea. Ellie gets to know Kail, leaving Lu to her own adventures. We learn more about how Sam’s disappearance and Nathan’s death affected the family.
The story picks up in the middle of the night, with Helen sound asleep and dreaming about Sam standing on a beach, calling to her. He calls her by his nickname for her, “Cass”. She wakes up when a woman screams.
Mrs Martin’s implication that of course the pub is safe was about as truthful as any other message she sends.
The woman continues screaming and both girls wake up, so Helen gets up to find the source of the sound. Lu, ever the sensible one in the family, tells her not to go. Helen responds by ordering her two girls to stay upstairs, alone, in the dark room.
Sam would have hidden under the covers with the girls and kept them safe until it was over. Helen is the brave knight of the family, ready to charge into any battle, while Sam is the conflict-avoiding, nurturing caregiver. As long as they understand and accept this about each other, they probably balance each other out. If they don’t accept their differences, it’s a setup for blaming each other.
Helen stops at the bottom of the stairs to observe the scene in the pub from the hall. Most of the town is there. It’s pure chaos. Jason holds up Jess, who is in active labor. He and Larry are arguing with the Martins. Mr Martin has a gun. The rest of the usual suspects surround them, yelling opinions.
This must be especially fun for Jess, who stayed out of the arguments in Part 1. She stuck to the roles of Sam’s seductress and confidante, while reminding him she was doing what she was doing because she’s a mother. Now she has an entire town of idiots arguing over her while she’s in labor. If I were her, I’d be tempted to grab the gun and drive them all out.
They clear a space on the floor for Jess, then Larry and Jason lay her down. Some people want Mrs Martin to act as midwife, but Jess calls her a killer and says she doesn’t want her near.
Gotta agree with Jess on that one. Mrs Martin was disturbingly okay with Epona’s suicide sacrifice. She gave Old Father the gun so he could shoot himself in the head 10 feet from Jess’ daughters, after he’d just spent the weekend cuddling on the couch with them. We don’t know how much history Jess and her daughters had with Epona and Old Father, but those were shocking deaths for an adult to witness up close. A child might be affected for life. Then there’s the fact that Mrs Martin tried to shoot Sam, as well. And it was Mr Martin’s idea to kidnap Nathan.
Now, the Martins won’t even lay the pregnant woman on a table, never mind a bed or a couch, to give birth. With their history, I’d only let them near me if it was that or death. Maybe not even then.
Larry argues with Mr Martin about the gun, then takes it. Just when you thought things couldn’t get worse, Larry is now armed. At gunpoint, Larry and Jason insist Mrs Martin examine Jess. Jason also reminds her that the baby is part of the tribe.
Mrs Martin kneels down next to Jess and examines her belly. She determines that the baby is lying crossways, but she can’t remember the technical name. She does know that the baby can’t get out and Jess needs a hospital.
Larry decides that Mrs Martin is exaggerating the trouble with Jess’ pregnancy to get Jess to leave the island to give birth. He threatens to kill Mrs Martin if she doesn’t help.
Helen takes all of this in and considers whether she should offer to help, since she has more medical knowledge than anyone else who’s available. She fiddles with her wedding ring and sees Sam’s face looking at her questioningly. He’s still the voice in her head. She cries a little. Whatever made her stop practicing as a vet must have been difficult.
But Jess screams again, so she goes in. The islanders are complaining that it would be hard to even get Jess to a hospital, since they shut the island down.
Don’t they have medevac helicopters in the UK? London isn’t that far away. In a country surrounded by small islands, it can’t be that unusual for people to get stranded and need medical help. Even here in the medically primitive US, we helicopter people from remote towns to larger cities and better hospitals pretty much continuously.
Or did someone conveniently cut the phone lines again?
This whole birthing situation feels like some combination of a scam to get Helen involved in the birth and pure islander stubbornness born of outdated tradition. Jess and Sam weren’t born on the island, so maybe the baby needs to be born there to have a greater claim to power and bloodline. Or maybe to be Jess’ anchor baby. Maybe the island Mother has to be born on the island, since it doesn’t seem to be a hereditary position, the way the island Father is. There’s some salt and soil connection at stake. That’s probably also why Jess is on the floor.
At any rate, I’ll give the show the mystical benefit of the doubt on this- it’s more proof that we’re on a magical island that can’t be reached most of the time by boats, helicopters or small planes, even though the real world is within sight. Trickster energy at work again.
Larry scoffs at Helen’s offer to help, since she’s only a vet. Helen points out that Jess and the baby could die and she’s the only help they’ve got. Jason agrees to let her help.
This conversation meets some magical conditions for consent. The islanders didn’t ask Helen to help. Just like when Sam saved Epona and brought her back to the island, Helen made the choice to save Jess and the baby.
Helen kneels next to Jess and asks for permission to examine her. She helps Jess get settled comfortably, then asks then islanders to turn their backs, to give the laboring mother some privacy. Mrs Martin actually rolls her eyes before she turns around, proving she is not interested in protecting mothers, just in case her refusal to examine Jess until there was a gun pointed at her didn’t clue you in.
If she ever was a friendly goddess, she isn’t one any longer.
She examines Jess in much the same way that Mrs Martin did, but more carefully, then says, “She’s right. It’s a transverse lie. Can you get me some flour please?”
Jess’ water hasn’t broken yet, which Helen says is good. Mr Martin brings the flour. Helen explains that she’s going to manually turn the baby to the correct birthing position (a procedure known as an external cephalic version). She puts some flour on her hands and firmly massages the baby into the head down position. She holds the baby in place through the next contraction to make sure she stays there.
Not surprisingly, Ellie and Lu did not stay upstairs, alone, in the dark room. Ellie watches from the hall but she won’t let Lu look. When Lu complains, she says that Helen will blame Ellie if she catches Lu downstairs. Ellie thinks Lu never gets in trouble because she’s Helen’s favorite. Lu replies, “Anyway, you’re Dad’s favorite, and by the way, he ran off because he’s a psycho, just like you.”
Ellie tells her not to say things like that. Lu says that Ellie doesn’t have anyone to tattle on her to, other than her best mate God.
Kail appears out of nowhere and says that Ellie is lucky to be close to God, because he won’t let anyone mess with her. Lu says she doesn’t believe in God. Kail tells her she doesn’t believe in God because she’s just like a sheep who does everything that her friends do. (Lu is wearing sheep pajamas.)
Kail: “Do you know what happens to sheep? They get slaughtered. So the rest of us can feed. Off to bed now, sheepy.”
Lu runs upstairs. Ellie is thrilled with her new, vicious friend. All three girls were unnecessarily mean to each other in this scene, but threatening to eat a stranger is over the top.
Ellie feels the loss of her father in the family dynamic, but she is also her grandmother’s favorite. Helen hovers over her with worry and fear, not anger. It seems more likely that Ellie gets in trouble more often because she’s old enough to be making more of her own decisions. She more like her father and grandmother than like Helen, so she and Helen have frequent disagreements. On the other hand, Lu is younger and also thinks more like Helen. It’s just the nature of family relationships for some to be easier than others.
Ellie’s nature gives us some insight into what might have made Sam eventually crack though- Ellie cares about what people think and wants them to be happy. That makes her easily led by others, just as we saw with Sam at times. Sam probably denied his own needs in order to be strong for the family after Nathan disappeared, while feeling crushing guilt and grief, and accepting blame from Helen, driving him to his breakdown.
Kail had no reason to be so mean to Lu. I suspect she drove Lu away on behalf of the islanders as part of a divide and conquer strategy. Kail just made Ellie feel cool and like they’re already friends, encouraging Ellie to trust Kail while stoking her anger at her mother and sister, who don’t believe in God.
Kail may feel the need to call other people food because her name means cabbage. Let’s hope her dad picked it instead of Jess. Kail shows less interest in her mother’s life threatening condition than Ellie and Lu do.
Helen tells Jess that her labor should proceed normally now. Jess asks to move to a small, quiet place where she can be alone in the dark. They take her to the pub bathroom, which is pretty roomy. Mrs Martin finds some cushions and a bedspread to make Jess more comfortable. Helen leaves Jess alone with Jason and promises she’ll be right outside.
Jess: “Thank you. This baby is so special. I didn’t ask for this, but it has come to me. So, thank you.”
Mrs Martin acknowledges that the core group of islanders is there for the duration and says she’ll make 10 gallons of tea. But she swears she’ll spit in the coffee of anyone who asks for it.
I’m really, really hoping that the islanders are acting so entitled because this is Sam’s baby and thus a royal birth. Maybe the political factions all have to witness the birth to be sure the baby is alive. They’ll note the gender, any birthmarks, take photos and fingerprints, etc, so they can be sure of the royal succession.
Now I’m wondering if there were cameras in the room the night Sam and Jess had sex, as if it was a medieval royal wedding that needed to be witnessed. Mr Martin confessed to witnessing the deed, at the very least. Someone should tell these people about DNA tests, but they probably wouldn’t trust that modern magic.
When Helen goes back into the pub’s main room, Mrs Martin tells her that the causeway is open. Once again, Helen is given the choice of whether to stay or go. She and the islanders look at each other, then Helen turns away. The islanders scatter, while Helen decides not just her own fate, but potentially the fate of Jess and her baby. For a moment, she’s Sheela na gig, presiding over birth, life and death. With her hair pulled back flat against her head and her tired eyes, she has the timeless, careworn look of the ancient goddess.
Helen puts on a blue robe over her white pajamas, giving her the look of Mother Mary, also associated with Brigid, and probably making the loss of position even worse for Mrs Martin. She steps into the kitchen and asks to talk to the older woman. Mrs Martin looks nonplussed and totters out of the room with the tea without saying a word.
Mr Martin immediately steps in through the other door to fill the gap. He thanks Helen for saving them from their own stupidity and says they owe her. She pulls out her phone and shows him a photo of Sam, explaining that he’s her husband and he’s been missing since last year. She’s hasn’t heard from him at all. She wonders if Mr Martin has seen him.
The police weren’t interested in investigating because Sam has disappeared before, but never for this long. Two weeks ago, someone sent her a rambling email from Sam’s account that sounded like it was written by a child. It said he was on “the island” and that she should come for him before the 14th. Yesterday, the police called her. They’d arrested Aday, the planning officer Sam tried to bribe, in a swoop. He told them that he talked to Sam the day he went missing. Sam said he was on “Sea Island”.
Sam was mourning Nathan’s death that day, so she knows Aday meant Osea Island. Mr Martin tries to suggest other nearby islands, but Helen is sure she’s right. She asks him again if he’s seen Sam. He denies ever having met her husband and insists he’d remember if he did. He offers to show the photo around the pub to see if anyone else remembers Sam.
The causeway is open for another hour and 20 minutes.
Helen is grateful for Mr Martin’s help. We all know that he rarely follows through with the help he so kindly offers.
Helen goes outside and bums a cigarette from Cowboy. She asks him what the deal is with the island. He tells her that they had hoped the festival would bring people together, but instead it divided them. Now they’re trying to find another way back together. But Osea has a big, healing heart that will help her if she lets it.
They all seem very healed and exceptionally mentally healthy, don’t they?
Mr Martin runs outside to say that Jess has run away.
Can’t imagine why she’d want to run away from the Martins and the armed, probably drunken, mob of villagers who want to watch her give birth, then fight over whether her baby should live or die. They’re such good, peaceful people. 😜
Kail asks Ellie if she wants to see something cool. She pulls out a child’s finger bone from a dig on the island. Ellie is grossed out.
Then Kail asks why Ellie came to the island. Ellie explains that although Helen says it’s her birthday surprise, it’s not really her birthday. Instead, her mom didn’t want her to go back to school after she got in a fight with a group of girls who were making fun of her. They’ve made fun of her before, but this week she hit one while holding a rock. She didn’t even realize she had it. The girls were teasing her about her murdered brother.
Kail tells Ellie that the Celts thought Osea was the world’s soul. If Osea is sick, then the whole world is sick. Ellie doubts the truth of the legend. Kail asks why she would doubt it, then continues, explaining that on Osea, they believe that the world is defined by dualities that must be kept in balance in order to keep the soul of the world and the world itself healthy.
Kail: “Everything’s salt or soil, Ellie. Hot or cold. Rain or shine. Bad or good. But some years it leans too far one way or the other. Things are out of balance and bad things happen. That thing you did at school? It’s just the balance gone wrong inside you. You’re not a bad person. It’s just your salt or soil. Out of whack a little. But if it’s out of whack here, it affects everything. Everyone. There’s something on this island, Ellie. A place, so special, no outsider’s ever allowed there. I could show it to you. Just you. Not your mom or your sister. Just you. Would you like that?”
Ellie really, really would. Who wouldn’t want to be part of the secret club in the most important place in the world that has the power to make you whole?
But here’s the thing. Osea Island is a marshy habitat where the land and ocean, salt and freshwater meet, migrating birds stop to feed and multiple different land and water habitats run together. When they are are healthy, places like Osea are some of the most fertile on Earth and they can be used to measure the environmental health of many species of plants and animals, in addition to soil and water quality.
While they may not be the soul of the world, tidal marshes are extremely important ecosystems that reflect the planet’s health just as much as rainforests do. The islanders are right in saying that if Osea Island’s ecosystem is dying, the surrounding world’s ecosystem is probably in trouble as well. They just take that metaphor to the extreme, then use it to demand human sacrifice. (Which thematically brings us back around to Dennis Kelly’s other series, Utopia.)
While the islanders loudly search for Jess, Mr Martin pulls Helen aside to tell her that he’s asked everyone if they remember Sam, but no one recognized him. He even includes a long list of the names of people who didn’t recognize the new island Father and mentions one who works up in the Big House. He sadly tells Helen that it appears Sam hasn’t been on the island. Helen thanks him again for helping her out.
Mr Martin goes on to offer her a word of advice. She seems like such a nice lady. She shouldn’t waste her time on a creep like Sam. It would really be better if she just left quickly, before the causeway closes and she gets hurt again.
With Jess missing, there’s no reason for Helen to stay, so she packs their bags and brings them downstairs. Alan catches her in the hall and sends her in to talk to Tomo, Margaret (Alan’s mother), Preacher, Larry and Jason. Tomo says they still can’t find Jess. They debate what to do for a minute, then look to Helen, who says it’s important they keep searching. Jess is in active labor and shouldn’t have the baby alone. Cowboy asks Helen to be part of the search party, since Jess trusts her more than anyone else on the island.
Jess has apparently been kept in isolation so that she’s the only one on the island who doesn’t know Helen’s identity.
Helen tells Cowboy that weapons and fear aren’t conducive to a healthy birth, so they need to help Jess, not threaten her.
Helen hasn’t figured out how the island works.
The girls ask if they can help with the search. Helen has them put their luggage in the car, then sends them back to the room. Lu sees a dead, mutilated small animal sacrifice in amongst the pub’s trash cans, but doesn’t say anything or outwardly react at all, which is odd.
Alan apologizes to Helen for the misunderstanding with the room. He wants her to know he’s not racist and it wasn’t personal. Helen lets him know she understands that he was being an open minded jerk rather than a racist jerk.
Then she double checks that he hasn’t seen her husband. Alan has no idea what she’s talking about, so he fumbles his response, letting Helen know that Mr Martin didn’t actually show Sam’s picture around. The Martins are standing nearby and notice the exchange.
Helen doesn’t confront them right away. She joins Cowboy to search the Sea Bird Hotel. As they enter the empty building, she asks him to explain again what Osea’s deal is. He explains that the islanders are divided: some wanted to open Osea up to tourists to make some money, but others want to preserve the island the way it is. He comes to the island occasionally in the winter to do some work and replenish himself. He’s not a true believer, but he does think Osea is special.
Helen thinks that makes him a true believer. She doesn’t think places are special. “They’re just places.” He asks her if the place where her son’s body was found is special, then tells her he remembers her from the news. Even though Sam was featured most of the time, she stood out to him because her grief was quieter. She’s not impresed with the way he ambushed her with his knowledge of her background.
He asks her again if the place her son’s body was found is special. She tells him no, it’s just another place. He asks if being dismissive helps her keep the tragedy at arms’ length. She tells him he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He says he knows she lost her “little angel”.
Mrs Martin called Nathan the same thing when she used the same tactic on Sam- blindside him with her recognition of him, then press him for information and feelings on his personal tragedy, while giving him mixed messages. It’s particularly confusing for the victim, because it’s meant to put them on the defensive while sounding like the attacker is expressing sympathy.
It’s the island gaslight specialty, which they use to throw their victims off kilter by prodding them into such a confused, twisted up emotional state that they can’t make rational decisions anymore. But the islanders can claim they haven’t done anything wrong. It’s the outsider/victim who’s the paranoid, crazy person.
Cowboy is an outsider the way Jess is an outsider. Maybe he wasn’t born on the island, but he’s all in on the conspiracy.
Helen tells him that Nathan wasn’t an angel. They used to get condolence cards that said the same thing- “You’ve lost your angel.” She hated those cards.
Wonder if those cards all came from islanders.
Nathan was an angry, difficult, violent child, so Cowboy shouldn’t act like he knows her family. Cowboy asks how she dealt with a difficult child. She tells him that she just loved Nathan. That’s it. Cowboy presses her further, saying he thinks she needs to tells him more about Nathan. Helen is angry, but she says that Nathan was troubled and she loved him anyway.
Cowboy tries to go with the cliche that she was a good mother, but she insists that she was just a mother like any other mother, except she lost her child.
Helen: “The last time we spoke, I was shouting at him, screaming at him.”
Cowboy asks what she said. She doesn’t want to admit what it was, but he wheedles it out of her.
Helen: “I told him that I wished he’d never been born. That was the last thing I said to him.”
Cowboy: “Did you mean it?”
Helen: “I’ve never meant anything less in my entire life.”
Cowboy tells her that she needs the release of a West Indian funeral, where there are women whose job is to make you cry and let out the grief. If they think you’re not releasing your grief, they’ll push and prod you until you let it out.
Cowboy: “Grief, Helen. It’s a hole that’s all around you. A warm, dark emptiness that you can just fall into. If you pretend it’s not there, it will devour you. If you try and fight it, it’ll engulf you. You need to run toward it, Helen. To the hole that Nathan left. You have to fall into it, love. Let go, so you can move on.”
While he’s been making this speech, he’s been poking and grabbing her, speaking right into her face. At the end, she shoves him away and tells him “No!”
Seriously, so many similarities to the film Get Out. He just told her to go to the Sunken Place. You don’t go that deep in your depression to move on. That place is practically the Underworld- it’s a trap. She might still need to be grieving Nathan- I think parents grieve lost children forever- but they want her to sink that deep either to bring out the pathology that the islanders love or to disappear so she’s not a threat.
Janny sits up in bed. He’s been passed out in the corner, unnoticed, during their whole conversation.
Back in their room at the pub, Ellie contemplates Larry’s fish artifact. Lu apologizes for saying she’s a psycho. Then she confides that she doesn’t miss their dad, because of the way he would get weird and make their mom cry. She doesn’t think Ellie is like him.
She asks what Ellie was thinking about when she hit the girl with the rock. At first Ellie won’t say, but when Lu presses her, she admits that she wished she didn’t have to be herself. Lu says, “You shouldn’t think that.” Then she leans against Ellie’s back to support and comfort her, a position which ends up with them supporting each other.
Ellie gets teary. Lu was supportive, just like Helen. But Ellie is afraid that she’s enough like her father that she’ll lose her mother and Lu and/or develop severe mental illness, just like her father.
Cowboy half carries Janny downstairs. He plans to sober the medic up with coffee so he can help Jess deliver her baby while withstanding the anger of the islanders. Cowboy hustles off to the pub for the coffee before Helen can remind him that she only has 20 minutes before the causeway closes, so she can’t babysit Janny for long.
Janny rambles to himself, saying he didn’t start all this. It was Sam who started it all when he turned up. Both he and Mr Martin refer to Sam’s good looks, which is interesting. Inside joke? Part of the mythology of the Father?
Helen hears Janny mention Sam and shows him the photo on her phone. He confirms that he knows Sam and says, “You can see it in his eyes. The darkness.”
Helen storms back over to the pub to confront the Martins. She assumes Sam has left the island and demands to know why Mr Martin lied. Mr Martin gets tongue tied, so Mrs Martin steps in. She admits that her husband is lying, because they felt that was the best option.
She says Sam came to the island around the time of the festival. He got involved in the island’s affairs and then people turned against him. They’re still fighting over the trouble he caused. Mrs Martin doesn’t care if Helen believes her or not. Sam left the island 3 months ago and they’ve been trying to pick up the pices of the mess he left behind ever since. Mrs Martin thinks Helen knows what that feels like.
Helen asks why they lied. Mr Martin explains that Sam fell in love on Osea. They don’t know why he didn’t call his family, but she seems like a decent person who deserved better than that.
Helen asks if they know where Sam went. Mrs Martin doesn’t want to answer. Helen gets frustrated and reminds her that Sam left home 9 months ago. He’d taken out loans and cash and gotten involved in bribes and other illegal activities. He left his family in a lurch. He’s not okay and needs help.
Mrs Martin finally tells Helen that 3 months ago, Sam said he was going back to her. This excuse was undoubtedly calculated to take the wind out of Helen’s sails so that the Martins can continue to manipulate her. The older woman stands up now and tells Helen that the causeway closes in 10 minutes, no doubt hoping that Helen will run away.
Mrs Martin: “Cross it. Don’t look back. Start a new life and pray that man never comes into it.”
I would believe Mrs Martin’s sentiment more if we didn’t already know that 10 minutes isn’t enough time for Helen to gather the girls, drive across the island and then across the causeway before it becomes impassable. Since we already know it’s too late, this is clearly just another cruel intimidation technique. She knows Helen will run into Sam sooner or later, so she wants to disrupt their relationship and communications if she can. I’m not sure Mrs Martin has ever said anything that’s wholly truthful. Which means the same is true of Mr Martin and his stories.
Helen silently walks away. It’s not an admission of defeat. She takes the girls to the car. Ellie wants to stay, but Helen won’t consider it.
Florence and the Machine’s Dog Days Are Over plays while they drive to the causeway, which is flooded by the time they get there. The sun is finally rising. They see a very determined Jess wading out into the river. She’s listening to Dog Days Are Over on headphones, so she doesn’t hear Helen and the girls calling to her.
Helen runs out into the water to bring Jess back to shore. Jess is out of it- she doesn’t even really respond to Helen. She seems to have gone into a dissociative state as part of her labor, either because she’s that deeply into it psychologically and hormonally or because everything that’s happened is bringing up old traumas.
Jess was raised in a cult, had an abusive marriage, lost custody of her daughters and survived substance abuse. She’s been blackmailed and coerced by the islanders. Last night, during labor, she was held at gunpoint and faced the possibility of her own and her baby’s death because of the transverse lie and the lack of medical care on the island.
The islanders continue to war over her and her child, who is also Sam’s child. Though she wanted to give birth on the island, someone may have whispered in her ear to get off the island or die. Someone may also have drugged her tea. She’s listening to the song Sam associated with Nathan’s death.- she may also be trying to escape him, worrying that he’ll turn into another controlling father.
I don’t think anyone can blame Jess for freaking out at this point.
Or, as I suggested with Epona’s suicide attempt, Jess may have been planted for Helen to find. Mrs Martin may have turned the baby into the transverse lie so that Helen could reverse it and Jess could be walking into the water when Mrs Martin knows Helen will be there so that Helen will save her, then deliver her baby. The Martins have had years to observe Sam and Helen’s lives and make their plans. This is a situation where every bit of paranoia is justified.
She could just want to labor in salt water. A high salt content allows you to float higher and feel lighter than you do in regular water, which would be really great for a pregnant woman. Maybe she just got a crazy idea in her head while she was alone and went for it.
Helen and the girls take Jess back to her own little house and get set up to deliver the baby, whose birth is now imminent. Jess comes out of her mental fog and begs Helen to help her. Helen is already prepared. She sends the girls next door.
Ellie and Lu run into Kail, who shows Ellie the key to the secret, special place. Ellie says she can’t leave right now. Kail isn’t impressed that Ellie has chosen her “little, godless sister” over their grand adventure and walks away. As usual, her own mother and the baby are of absolutely no concern to her.
Jess gives birth to a healthy baby girl without any further complications. As soon as she’s holding the baby, Jess chants, “She matters so much. She matters so much.”
Helen makes her some tea and cleans up. They realize that Jess gave birth on her due date for the third time in a row. Jess says she always gives birth on her due date, like a machine. With that statement, she both dehumanizes herself and provides evidence for a potential conspiracy.
When Helen assumes that Jason is the baby’s father, Jess tells her the father’s name is Sam. She explains it was a one night stand, but she believes that the baby was meant to be born.
Then she asks Helen to go get Sam for her, so he can see his new daughter.
Helen is surprised to hear Sam is still on Osea after all, but, oh yes, she’d be thrilled to run into him right now.
Maybe with a rock in her hand.
Jess tells her Sam is in the Big House. She and Sam haven’t been speaking lately. She wants him to look into the baby’s eyes, so that he’ll understand how special she is.
Helen goes next door to tell her daughters to watch Jess while she goes to confront Sam. Only she doesn’t tell them where she’s going. She just tells them to keep Jess warm and hydrated while she does a thing.
The islanders have successfully distracted her from protecting her children.
Ellie decides that if Helen can do a thing before they leave, she can, too. She delegates responsibility for the crazy lady who just gave birth to the 9 year old, gives her the
electronic monitor phone and runs off with Kail. Kail’s younger sister is probably with a serial killer somewhere.
On her way in, Lu introduces herself to Jess and puts the phone down on the kitchen counter.
Kail takes Ellie to a stone tower and unlocks the door to an ancient basement. Scenes from the life of Esus are carved into the stone walls. They reflect some of the same situations that Sam reenacted in the Esus and the Sea festival, comparable to Jesus’ life and the Via Dolorosa/Stations of the Cross.
At the end, Esus’ crucifixion is painted on the wall, with an altar set up below it. Kail says this is where the islanders worshipped in secret when Christianity made their religion illegal and they were persecuted. They still publicly say they’re Christian, while blending their old Celtic beliefs with Christians beliefs.
Kail: “Salt and soil, Ellie. Do you understand that yet? Osea needs to be in balance. And when it isn’t, well, the balance of the whole world is thrown out. (Holding finger bone.) These children were killed on Osea in 535 AD. There were floods worldwide that year. 991, the Battle of Maldon. A massacre right here on Osea. Also the start of the medieval war period. The hottest temperatures in thousands of years. You can look it up. And in 1888, Frederick Nicholas Charrington the man who started all this, stalked the streets of London as Jack the Ripper cutting women open. Snowed in the middle of summer that year.”
Ellie asks if that means Osea is dangerous. Kail tells her no, that means it needs to be loved. She says Helen will never understand this, never be able to love something so difficult. But she thinks Ellie can love Osea and if she does, Osea will know and understand her. It will love her back.
Lu asks Jess if it hurts to have a baby. Jess says yes, but it’s a good hurt. She lets Lu hold the baby’s hand. Lu is impressed that Jess made a whole person. Jess says that most women do it. Lu’s mom did it twice. Lu corrects her. Helen did it three times, since they used to have a brother, Nathan.
Oops. Lu remembers she wasn’t supposed to say anything about herself. Jess figures out who these newcomers are. She sends Lu to the back of the house for a bottle of water, while she leaves the baby on the couch and pockets Lu’s phone. The crazy lady is back.
While I’ve learned to be on my guard with the rest of the islanders, I still find Jess so likable when she’s just being herself that it’s startling when we discover she’s up to something twisted.
Lu gets a bottle of water for herself. Jess takes the opportunity to pull out a huge kitchen knife. She explains that the new baby will lead the island and there can’t be any more arguments about it. No one else is going to get in the way. She slowly walks toward Lu, telling her to sit down. She just gave birth after all- she needs her murder victim to hold still.
Lu runs for an open window in the next room instead. She climbs out and runs away.
At least Jess isn’t crazy enough to leave the baby behind or try to run after Lu.
Helen walks along the beach until she sees the Big House, which she stops to look at. Sam is standing on the dock behind her, looking out at the water. He turns and sees her, then calls her name, “Cass”. She turns and finally sees him.
In Part 1, the subtitles spelled Sam’s nickname for Helen “Cas”, with one “s”. In Part 2, it has 2 “ss”- “Cass”. Since we’re never told why he calls her Cas/s, I’m left with my twin theories based on Helen of Troy’s brother, Castor, and her lover Paris’ sister, Cassandra.
Castor was a horse tamer who was devoted to his brother, Pollux. After death, because of their devotion to each other, the brothers were gifted with shared immortality, traveling between the Underworld and other realms. They became the constellation Gemini. Cassandra was given the gift of prophecy by Apollo, but when she reneged on her promise to sleep with him, he punished her with the curse of never being believed, no matter how true or dire her prophecies.
In Part 1, Sam kept in occasional contact with Helen until his phone broke in episode 3. Now that she’s on the island, he’s calling to her in her mind- has the island created a telepathic link between them?
Both Helen and Sam have been crushed by their guilt and grief since Nathan’s death. The islanders absolved Sam of his guilt by telling him that Nathan was kidnapped. He’s probably still processing that information while dealing with his grief and the reappearance of Nathan in Part 1.
Helen had to deal with her guilt from telling Nathan she wished he’d never been born, then losing him, in addition to her grief. Cowboy gave her permission to work on her issues while she’s on the island, just like the Martins and Jess gave Sam permission to work on his issues.
Helen doesn’t know about the reappearance of Nathan yet. It’s strange that Sam didn’t tell her he’d found their son as soon as it happened. She tries to live a perfect life because of how devastatingly aware she is that each moment with someone could be her last. She blames herself for her last words to Nathan and she blames Sam for the inattentiveness that allowed him to be taken.
The islanders acted out their abandonment issues on Sam by taking Nathan- they showed him what they’ve felt like since his grandfather left. He won’t leave the island because he understands this, even if he also can’t be the father they want. The entire Osea community, including the island itself, is stuck in an abandonment-loss-grief-guilt cycle and is acting out those emotions in various ways. They need to work through those issues and find forgiveness as part of finding balance.
The poster shows that Sam is the true island Father. I don’t there’s ever actually been any doubt about that. Old Father was simply old and the true line of succession needed to be secured. Part 1 was, in some ways, the traditional battle between the Winter/Holly King and the Summer/Oak King. The Summer King won and the Winter King died to make way for the new season to begin. For now, the seasonal battle between darkness and light will take place within Sam. As the All Father God/Cernunnos, he’ll alternate between the two seasonal roles. At some point he and Nathan may begin to symbolically alternate.
The real issue that needs to be decided is who will take over from Mrs Martin as the island Mother. As with the Father God/s, the Celtic Mother Goddess could be represented as a singular, double or triple being. It appears that Mrs Martin has recently been the single island Mother/Brigid/Sheela na gig, but it’s possible that Epona and Jess were also in training or already acting as Maiden and Mother/Brigid aspects to Mrs Martin’s Crone/Cailleach/Winter Goddess. Brigid and Cailleach alternate rule of winter and spring the same way the Oak and Holly King do. Kail may be a Cailleach in training, given her name.
Whatever the islanders had planned, they lost Epona when she sacrificed herself. The island has rejected Mrs Martin and Jess in various ways. Mrs Martin moves fully into the role of Crone/Cailleach in this episode, as Helen takes over the role of Mother/Brigid and saves Jess twice, then serves as midwife to deliver her baby.
If the island had chosen Jess as Mother, it wouldn’t have allowed the transverse lie to almost kill her and the baby, or she would have gained some wisdom or strength from the situation, the way Sam did from his trials in Part 1. Instead, it’s not clear that she even remembers most of her labor, since she boasted about producing babies like a machine after this one went so wrong.
This was Helen’s trial, with the island testing her and spiritual guides (Cowboy, Janny, the Martins) moving her through the test. She got through it well enough to be reunited with Sam, which shows us that Helen’s magic and her claim on the title are stronger than Jess’.
Helen’s children’s claim appears to be stronger than Jess’ baby’s claim, as well, since Lu easily escaped Jess’ threat. That could change with time. But right now, Jess is probably using the baby to put herself and her friends in power, since the baby can’t lead for many years. As with Sam, Helen’s moves were made in order to protect others or to heal herself, motives that ultimately also protect and heal the island.
Mr and Mrs Martin guide Helen through the weekend by carefully controlling the information she receives as well as where she goes, just as they did with Sam. Jess is involved with Helen’s intense physical experiences, down to going into the water near the causeway. Helping Jess give birth probably replaces doing drugs together. Fixing the baby’s birth position covers Jess and Sam’s Friday night activities. Cowboy has taken on the role of confidant and guide to the island that Jess played with Sam, since Jess did actually have to give birth and all. Janny replaces Mimir as island wise man.
It’s time for Helen’s third day on the island and she’s at the Big House, just as Sam was. Sam discovered that the island is his ancestral home and his son was living there, instead of dead. Those discoveries still await Helen. Hopefully she won’t also have to get tied up or eat a beating heart. Delivering a baby ought to be an equal baptism to the island. She should get a fun trade off now, like a concert at the pub followed by fireworks.
From the super secret Esus caves:
Larry’s fish is carved into the goblet. Kail made sure to touch it to call attention to it when she said “salt and soil”. Sam was the Salt Esus during the festival. The fish represents salt on the goblet. Maybe the Father’s bloodline represents salt and the Mother represents soil? Or humans/the sea are salt and nature/land animals are soil? Maybe my original idea that they are selkies wasn’t so far off. 😉
Images courtesy of HBO.