‘Constellation’ Episode 5 Recap Summary: What’s With The Two Alice Problem?

Identities merge, realities converge, and contrasting perceptions intertwine as Apple TV+’s sci-fi thriller drama Constellation takes viewers deeper into the proverbial rabbit hole of space exploration mysteries. The boundaries between self and others almost cease to exist, as we are left to question the true nature of this crisis, which is forcing people into living alternate lives. 


In the previous episode, it was revealed that Jo is gradually getting bewildered as the inexplicable changes in her known reality is hard to cope with. Furthermore, Jo learns that Roscosmos and ESA are probably trying to shut her down for speaking the truth, as she discovers she was being given medication for psychosis in the guise of vitamins all this while. Henry Caldera fails to find a future for his CAL-related research, as NASA and other space organizations refuse to believe in findings without documentation. On the other hand, Bud Caldera goes scot-free even after murdering the journalist, as the FBI fails to recover video evidence of the incident due to inexplicable distortion. Jo’s suspicion about cover-ups turns into belief as she receives audio recordings addressed to her from the Denmark Marine Observatory, which hints at a larger conspiracy brewing in the background. Unfortunately for her, her husband Magnus doesn’t believe her, and like others, he too translates her erratic reactions as psychotic episode and arranges to send her to rehabilitation. This leads to an argument between the two, and Magnus loses consciousness after accidentally hitting his head. The fifth episode of the series, titled “Five Miles Out, The Sound is Clearest,” connects events scattered across the episodes and adds to the duality confusion even more than ever while doing so.

Spoilers Ahead 


Why Does Jo Head Toward Denmark?

Constellation episode 5 begins right where the last one left off: an unconscious Magnus lying on the floor while Jo watches over him, horrified at what just happened. Fortunately, Magnus’ condition isn’t fatal, contrary to what was previously suspected, but he still needs time to recover. Meanwhile, Frederic, Jo’s senior colleague at ESA, responds to Magnus’ call, and Jo receives it without giving away her identity. Upon learning that Magnus suspects something problematic has happened and is on his way to their home, Jo freaks out. She already considers the space agencies to be in cahoots and willing to cover up some nasty secrets, which includes her recent expedition to the ISS, and Magnus, whether involved with it or not, is one of them. Jo calls an ambulance for Magnus, and in the middle of the night, Jo wakes up her daughter Alice and leaves for the Marine Observatory in Denmark. The unknown person(s) who sent her the audio tapes are somehow aware of her predicament, and she needs to know how. She takes Alice with her, probably because she too is seeing strange visions and dreams, which somehow feel connected to her own experiences on the ISS.

En route to Denmark, Jo stops at ESA to search for the audio recordings—to verify whether they indeed received her transmission from the ISS. She finds only the recording of her conversation with Alice, which took place before the accident, to be available, and the rest of the files to be restricted. While getting out of ESA, Jo steals the CAL device, probably because it is connected with her experiences or to gain some leverage against the conspirators. Later, while boarding the ferry, Jo calls her ISS colleague, Ilya Andreev, and asks him to check his vitamin medication label. Just as she had suspected, Ilya, like the rest of her colleagues, received regular medication while she was getting dosed with antipsychotic medications. Jo shares her suspicion with Ilya about being targeted for speaking the truth and also the fact that, contrary to what the world knows, the transmission was being received on Earth when she was stranded on the ISS. Before hanging up, Jo asks Ilya to get his pills analyzed for verification. Later, Ilya does so, and they turn out to be regular vitamins, but when he tries to inquire about medication given to other astronauts in the Roscosmos archive, he returns empty-handed. Later, Irena questions Ilya as to why he was snooping around the archives and also asks him whether he knows anything about Jo. Ilya is shocked to learn that within the brief period since her return, Jo has been deemed a mentally ill fugitive who has stolen CAL, incapacitated her husband, and abducted their child. He promises Irena that he will inform her of anything he learns about Jo, but the seed of suspicion has started growing roots in his mind as well. 


Who Is Valya? What Are The Ghost Tapes?

After making a stop at the diner, Jo asks Alice about the reason she acts afraid and frequently hides inside the closet. Initially hesitant to share, Alice states that she is afraid of Valya, who often tricks her. Curious about this seemingly imaginary companion, Jo requests Alice draw what Valya looks like while she calls the Marine Observatory. 

Two elderly siblings, Walborg and Laurentz Bang, have operated the Marine Observatory for decades, but their recorded tapes have been refuted by NASA as fabricated misinformation, with the duo being labeled conspiracy theorists as well. After learning about this, Jo is taken aback, feeling even more guilty and hopeless that she risked so much for the sake of false hope, and regretfully calls Magnus to make amends. Now somewhat recovered, Magnus is now assisted by Frederic, and the duo tries to convince Jo to return. But right at that moment, Alice shows Jo the sketch she made of Valya, which resembles the desiccated corpse of the Russian astronaut whom Jo had seen causing the accident on the ISS. There was no way for her daughter to know about the particular incident, and a desperate Jo interprets this as a sign that she is on the right path. Eventually, she reaches the observatory in Denmark and meets the siblings. 


While a skeptical, dementia-afflicted Laurentz is apprehensive about Jo and Alice’s arrival, his sister, Wallie, who sent Jo the tapes in the first place, soon warms up to them and offers her help. Inside the Observatory lie the broken dreams of Wallie, who wanted to become an astronaut, and collections of memories of numerous space adventurers who had visited this place previously. Using their father’s money to buy a listening console and pairing it with three military-grade recorders, the siblings used to tape the silence of space and occasional distortions after the space race began. The old folks have seen their fair share of horror for sharing their findings, and their cloistered existence is proof of that. Irrespective of whether their findings are legitimate or not, a glimpse into the lives of Laurentz and Wallie is bound to make viewers feel sympathetic for them. There is a blink-and-miss reference to the Judica-Cordiglia brothers, who are shown in photographs, and their role in uncovering the hushed-up failed space program is the point of emphasis in this case. 

Jo shares her experience on the ISS and how sharing details about the incident has drawn her into deep waters. She learns that Henry Caldera had visited the observatory for the last time while seeking the tapes of Apollo 18, of which he was the only survivor. And this further complicates the Henry-Bud situation, which we will discuss later. Jo wants to learn about her tapes, which Wallie terms ghost tapes, the recordings that are never recognized by authorities, refuted as pranks or hoaxes, and deliberately erased to hide secrets that people in power do not want to reveal. But in order to play the ghost tapes, Wallie insists on going out in the open ocean, in a liminal space, where the recordings can be better observed. She also believes the government is watching over them at the same time, which is all the more reason for her to move to what she considers a safer place. The sibling duo shares details about a number of unusual activities observed by astronauts, which have remained buried long since. In the meantime, Alice has managed to take a phone lying around the Observatory, and listening to the space stories, she starts considering the siblings to be lunatics. Out on the ocean, suspicion once again piles up on Jo’s mind as well, as Wallie states that only she and his brother can decode the speech patterns from static noises received from space, as they have seemingly trained themselves to do so. Wallie plays the recording to a Russian female cosmonaut who died in a space shuttle accident on November 23, 1967, and there is an ambiguity surrounding it that puzzles both Alice (who is adamant all this is made up) and Jo alike. Out of nowhere, Wallie starts insisting that she and Laurentz have heard Paul Lancaster, the seemingly deceased commander of Jo’s mission on the ISS, and that he is alive, and the conversation starts getting tense as Wallie almost tries to force her perception onto others. Realizing that she has overstepped a line, Wallie immediately apologizes, and they return to the shore. Meanwhile, Alice makes a call to her father, Magnus, and informs him that Jo is probably taking her to their cabin in Vindelälven. However, Alice longs to spend time with her mother and take care of her. Alice knows that Jo is scared about how people around her are hell bent on proving her to be a deranged person, and therefore, she is willing to stand by her side no matter what. On the other hand, Frederic stops Magnus from going to the authorities by mentioning how it could defame Jo’s entire career. 


As Jo and Alice take their leave from the observatory, it is disheartening to see Wallie continue pleading with them to believe her until the last moment. She reminds Alice of how her namesake of the fantasy world needed to believe in six magical things before breakfast—perhaps she too can broaden her mind and become more accepting of different ideas. Lastly, she almost forces Jo to take a bunch of recordings and transcripts, stating that they belong to them. If, by any means, Jo gets to find something substantial by digging through their life’s work, the elderly siblings will be somewhat redeemed. 

Duality Of The Caldera Brothers: Are They Twins Or Altered Versions?

Like a habitual procedure, the episode radiates its eerie aura right when the Caldera brothers’ segment begins. At his luxurious hotel suite in Germany, Henry Caldera starts feeling threatened by the presence of someone unseen but not unknown, as he suspects that somehow his brother, Bud Caldera, is involved in this. Later, Irena calls Henry to discuss quantum entanglement, and viewers can perceive the narrative allusion to two brothers with the reference. Henry’s sense of reality starts getting muddled as he sees Bud in his mirror reflection, threatening about repercussions, and the self/other discourse hinted through the imagery is very on point. 


Later, Henry discovers that Jo has stolen the CAL device, and as Frederic prepares to go search for her, he insists on joining him. As Frederic refuses his request, Henry inexplicably turns into a different persona, wets himself in front of him, and laughs in a cynical way before coming back to his senses. Later, Henry engages in an argument with Bud through his mirror reflection, and it is unclear whether it is his broken psyche or a real situation. But one thing is certain: there is bad blood between these two, and Bud is determined to serve Henry just right for past grievances when he gets the opportunity. 

What’s With The Two Alice Problem?

As Jo drives towards Vindelälven, from the backseat, her daughter tries to cheer her up by helping her sort out the problems that have been plaguing her—through box arrangements. The conversation moves to Valya, whom Alice mentions as someone floating around in space, and Jo casually mentions the Russian Cosmonaut recording as a link to the statement. This time, as Alice plays the recording, it is surprisingly audible, as the painful account of the last moments of the hapless individual has been captured in proper detail. Alice mentions that this is what Valya sounds like as well, further strengthening Jo’s belief about the authoritarian cover-ups.


Reality confusion crops up once again as Jo relies on her instincts to locate the cabin in the midst of the snowy tundra of northern Sweden. Later at night, looking through the pile of tapes sent by Wallie, Jo plays the conversation that took place between her and Alice in the ISS just before the accident, and Alice’s revelation upon hearing the recording startles Jo. Alice states that the person in the recording isn’t her, as neither does she speak Swedish nor does she address Jo as’mamma’. The duo stares at each other with anxiety, fear, and concern as an atmosphere of heavy tension pervades. The scene cuts to show another Alice, walking through a fierce snowstorm all alone, teary-eyed and shivering. After looking around her in search of someone, this version of Alice calls out to her mother, shouting ‘mamma’—and the screen fades to black. The existence of two Alices confirms the multiple realities and also the fact that Jo has been displaced into the other one, where she probably would have been dead instead of Paul. There is no predicting as to how future events might shape up, given how tangled up everything is right now. But one thing we know for sure is that unsung heroes of space missions like Valya and truthseekers like the Bang siblings hold the emotional crux of the central narrative.

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Siddhartha Das
Siddhartha Das
An avid fan and voracious reader of comic book literature, Siddhartha thinks the ideals accentuated in the superhero genre should be taken as lessons in real life also. A sucker for everything horror and different art styles, Siddhartha likes to spend his time reading subjects. He's always eager to learn more about world fauna, history, geography, crime fiction, sports, and cultures. He also wishes to abolish human egocentrism, which can make the world a better place.

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