Constellation S1E7 Recap: What the Name of the Song Is Called

“Through the Looking Glass”

Jo holding a kerosene lamp
Screenshot/Apple TV+

The following recap contains spoilers for Constellation S1E7, “Through the Looking Glass” (written by Peter Harness and directed by Joseph Cedar)

With apologies, I must begin with a correction. Last week I was operating under the thought that, in Episode 1, we’d seen a world where Alice (Rosie Coleman/Davina Coleman) spoke Swedish and the CAL device existed. This is not the case. In light of Jo (Noomi Rapace) telling Alice here in Episode 7 that she does not remember the CAL device prior to the accident, I revisited that scene from the first episode and watched it very closely.

While it flows as though it’s a smooth sequence, as Jo talks to Alice on her iPad, Paul (William Catlett) is not always working on the CAL. In some shots, it is simply not there and he’s pressing buttons on a laptop. There also seems to be a shift in what Alice is wearing, though it’s hard to see looking at the screen that Jo is holding.

The language that they’re speaking doesn’t track consistently—the Alice who speaks Swedish does not always speak Swedish—but it’s clear that the sequence is actually jumping between two realities. There’s one where the CAL device exists and one where it doesn’t. We can further line that up with the two versions of Jo we see in the repetition of the scene in Episode 6, not just in terms of whether she’s holding her iPad but in terms of when her connection with Alice drops.

Jo's bloody face smashed against broken glass
Screenshot/Apple TV+

So it does seem that there are two main realities at play in Constellation. In one, Apollo 18 was a disaster, Irena (Barbara Sukowa) died in space, Bud (Jonathan Banks) is a failure, the CAL device doesn’t exist, and Alice speaks Swedish. In the other, Bud/Henry saved the day on Apollo 18, Irena is alive, the CAL device exists, and Alice does not speak Swedish. The Jo from the former ended up in the latter, while the Paul from the latter ended up in the former.

This does not mean that we’ve only seen two realities in Constellation, however. Indeed, the bulk of “Through the Looking Glass” complicates that idea, as it takes place in various versions of the cabin, but these are perhaps best viewed as representing a liminal space, or superposition of worlds. Surely, the dead cat and the living cat are meant to put us in mind of Schrödinger’s Cat.

Constellation S1E7 begins where Episode 6 left off, with Alice looking out the window of the cabin and seeing Jo. As expected, she proceeds to go outside in search of her mother but doesn’t find her. When Alice returns to the cabin, it is cold and empty. She hides in the cupboard and gets locked inside until Jo finds her there, as she did in Episode 3.

Certain events in Episode 7 directly repeat those of previous episodes, which I had noted Constellation hadn’t been doing until this point. The perspective tends to differ, but we again see Jo running Alice a bath, seeing two Alices at the same time, and then one of them disappearing. We also revisit the mismatched Jo and Alice coming to conflict out in the snow before the action carries forward from there.

Alice runs away from Jo and finds the “second cabin.” She tries to call out to Jo about this, but Jo isn’t there. Meanwhile, the other Alice has wandered back out into the cold and has herself returned to this “second cabin,” but it isn’t the same place as where the other Alice is. Nonetheless, they end up using the Fisher Price tape recorder to communicate with one another, and they can see each other through the mirror (much like we’ve previously seen with Bud and Henry).

Magnus in the snow on the phone
Screenshot/Apple TV+

Jo and Magnus (James D’Arcy) are both looking for Alice, albeit in different realities. They each find the tape recorder in the cupboard, and it’s not entirely clear whether they can hear the two Alices talking to one another on it. It seems like they can, so perhaps each just struggles to comprehend it.

Magnus proceeds to call the authorities about his missing daughter, while Jo grabs the tape recorder and heads off across the lake in her car. Unfortunately, she didn’t secure her kerosene lamp very well on her way out and the wind knocks it over, setting the cabin on fire.

Halfway across the lake, she notices this and turns back, but when she enters the burning cabin it is suddenly no longer burning. She’s also made it to that other cabin, and the fire is contained to the Hugo Simberg painting.

Jo in the cabin, with fire within the painting on the wall
Screenshot/Apple TV+

Jo goes to the cupboard, where she finds Alice, but it’s the Alice that doesn’t speak Swedish. In the meantime, though, the two Alices have figured things out: the living Jo returned to the wrong reality.

The cabins where each Alice hides seem to be between the two worlds that form the bulk of Constellation (or third and fourth worlds where no one came to visit at that time). I’m not entirely sure how to think of them, and thus not entirely sure how to frame the next thing that happens. The cabin where Jo is becomes the cabin that is on fire, which means that she and Alice have to get out of there. And it suddenly seems that Alice is suffering from smoke inhalation.

They get outside as Henry arrives. This is the world where he’s joined Magnus and Frederic (Julian Looman) in searching for Jo and Alice, and they’ve brought a bunch of cops with them. Jo hands Alice off to Henry so that she can look for the other Alice, but unfortunately it would seem that Henry and Bud have just switched places. Henry finds himself in an LA apartment with Paul bleeding on the floor, while Bud looks at Alice and has no idea who she is. So, he just sets her down in the snow and heads off to places unknown.

Bud in a winter hat, looking downwards
Screenshot/Apple TV+

Jo finds this Alice and starts giving her CPR. Meanwhile, the other Alice shows up (no idea how she got out of the cupboard) and says that she can no longer feel her counterpart. Then, she hears Magnus calling for her, and Jo tells her to go to her dad, even though they are the Jo and Alice who belong together. Alice complies, and Magnus seems to see Jo, though he later tells his daughter he’s not sure if he did.

Magnus talking to Alice
Screenshot/Apple TV+

That all occurs in the reality where Jo died. In the one where she’s alive, Magnus and the cops arrive to find her giving CPR to Alice, and Magnus thinks Jo has lost her mind and is endangering their child. Thankfully, this Alice is not dead. She comes to from Jo’s CPR, at which point Jo wants to find the other Alice again, but she’s restrained and taken into custody.

The plan is apparently to put Jo in Irena’s care, or at least that’s what Henry told Magnus when they were on the way to the cabin. He also told him that he’d experienced the same thing Jo is going through, where his memory of Apollo 18 didn’t match the reality he found himself in afterward.

I continue to wonder, though, if Henry’s situation truly is the same as Jo’s or Paul’s. The latter two clearly had a version of themselves die in space (as did Irena), but that doesn’t seem to be the case with Mr. Caldera. In one version of reality, his crewmates died, while in another they lived, but that’s not the same thing. Is there a third in each instance (a dead Caldera, another living Jo, and another living Paul)? If not, what is the relevant thing they share in common?

Henry on the phone, holding a piece of paper
Screenshot/Apple TV+

It’s tempting to think of the CAL device as the explanation for all of this quantum weirdness, but it’s a wrinkle that what happened to Henry and Irena predated its existence. Still, there have been a lot of references to quantum mechanics and the theories surrounding it in Constellation, so a thesis about retrocausality isn’t off the table. I guess I just kind of hope it’s not that.

As for the CAL, it would seem to be sitting somewhere in the snow as S1E7 ends. Alice dropped it there, and though Henry found it later, he also dropped it as he and Bud switched places. Maybe Bud grabbed it?

I don’t know what to make of the two Calderas swapping realities. That seems to go beyond even fictionalized appeals to quantum physics, so it’s probably foolish to search for an explanation. Similarly, the Valya appears to Alice in the hospital towards the end of “Through the Looking Glass,” and there’s no way to feign realism about a dead cosmonaut talking.

The Valya (aka Irena) as a dead cosmonaut saying, "Come away, child" in Russian, with a subtitle
Screenshot/Apple TV+

The Valya tells Alice to come with her if she wants to see her mother again, which is creepy but almost seems like a dream. At the same time, though, Jo has been taken to Irena in this reality, so there is a connection there.

As Episode 7 ends, Alice tells Magnus they have to find Jo. Alice has a grasp on what’s happened, even if no one is going to believe her. Meanwhile, Bud is now out there somewhere in what may have been his original world but surely isn’t one where he belongs now.

There’s one episode left in Constellation Season 1, and I have no idea if next week’s episode will be a conclusion to the story or something that leaves the door open for a Season 2. How will these threads come together? What will be answered and what won’t be? I look forward to finding out.

See you next week.

Written by Caemeron Crain

Caemeron Crain is Executive Editor of TV Obsessive. He struggles with authority, including his own.

Caesar non est supra grammaticos


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  1. Caemeron, I’ve been enjoying your reviews on this show.

    With regards to your comment, “Is there a third in each instance (a dead Caldera, another living Jo, and another living Paul)? If not, what is the relevant thing they share in common?” The thing they share in common is that they are in the wrong reality (alive or dead). I thought that the reason Henry/Bud could swap places was because he didn’t die (obviously) in one reality, unlike Jo and Paul. If Jo was alive in both, maybe there’d be two of her with both eventually being aware of each other.

    And I thought the ‘third reality’ was the liminal space and/or where things exist and don’t exist at the same time (what was the terminology used in the first episode?).

    • Thanks! I’m wondering there about why these particular people ended up in the wrong reality, and if death in space is a part of that explanation. It seems like Henry has been wondering that too, if we recall his whiteboard, where he had Lithium circled (still not entirely sure how to interpret that whiteboard). But, Henry/Bud did not die, apparently. So that kind of undermines the idea that death in space is part of what causes the reality swap, unless there is a dead Caldera somewhere… Anyway, what led to Jo, Paul and Caldera being in the wrong reality is what I’m wondering about.

      And, yeah, they use various terms to get at this over the course of the show: liminal space, quantum superposition… I don’t know if one pins it down better than the others. Some of the stuff in and around the cabins certainly seems to be not in reality A or B but some third/fourth place. So, sure, let’s call it a liminal space.

      I hope we get a second season! Thanks for reading!

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