Henry And Bud In ‘Constellation’ Explained: What Happened During The Apollo 18 Mission?

It is believed that the notion of multiple realities is founded upon the principles of dichotomy found in symmetry. While different realities, which are alternate versions of each other, share a number of similarities in some of their fundamental principles, some random acts and events differ from each other in both major and minor ways. After all, the varying possible outcomes of a single incident and how that triggers further changes are the core precepts of multiverse theory. 

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As a thrilling cosmic sci-fi series, Apple TV+’s Constellation aimed to focus on the intriguing concept of alternate realities with a strong emotional undertone. The series excelled in doing so by highlighting the relationship dynamics between astronaut Jo Ericsson and her daughter Alice (and an alternate version of her), but the series’ most complex, poignant commentary on duality in uniformity is shaped through the study of character duo Bud Caldera and his alternate reality counterpart Henry Caldera. Through them, the makers addressed the unique aspect of causality that is often associated with such narratives. Throughout the season, Bud and Henry are shown to be polar opposites, but at the same time connected so intrinsically that their destinies get intertwined twice through their lifetime.

Spoilers Ahead

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What Do We Know About Bud And Henry Caldera?

The duo of Bud and Henry Caldera are probably inspired by real-life identical astronaut twins, Mark Kelly and Scott Kelly. In fact, during the first few episodes, when the alternate reality aspect wasn’t touched that strongly, viewers had mistaken Henry and Bud to be identical twins as well. 

Anyway, among them, we first meet Henry in the alternate reality, where he is working as a vital member of the Rocket Propulsion Lab. Henry was a celebrated astronaut in his past life; he continued the pursuit of space through his study of quantum cosmology, and his efforts were acknowledged with the Nobel Prize. Henry’s other remarkable achievement is his invention, the CAL (Cold Atomic Lab), which captures the quantum superposition of a particle in the presence of microgravity at near absolute zero temperature. Henry sends CAL to be tested by a crew of international astronauts, led by his apprentice Paul Lancaster, and this marks the beginning of the reality-shifting shenanigans that entrap Paul, Jo Ericsson, and a host of other related characters.

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On the other hand, Bud Caldera, in prime reality, posits himself as almost an antithetical presence to Henry. His career as an astronaut has been the cause of lifelong guilt and shame, which sent him down a road of pain and suffering. Unlike Henry, whose composed, sophisticated demeanor reflects his mettle, Bud is a disorganized, alcoholic recluse whose short temperament often leads him into trouble. Much like his professional life, Bud’s personal life is a mess, as it is hinted that his family has severed ties with him as well. By commercializing his failed career, Bud manages to make ends meet in his dingy apartment. However, things weren’t meant to be like this for either of them, as a curious case of reality shifting during the Apollo 18 mission back in the 1980s changed their fate forever. 


What Happened During The Apollo 18 Mission?

Both Henry and Bud Caldera participated in the Apollo 18 lunar mission in their respective realities, and both of them experienced situations that jeopardized the lives of their fellow astronauts. While Bud, in his reality, was successful in making the necessary arrangements to save the lives of his colleagues, Henry failed to do so, sending his colleagues to their deaths. However, the cruel hand of fate, or in this case, cosmic entanglement, stuck the duo, switching their places. Thereby, Henry, who was from prime reality, was sent to the alternate reality, and as he returned to earth with his fellow astronauts safe and sound, he received a hero’s welcome. He received the credit that was due for Bud Caldera, and on the foundation of this success, he had a successful career.

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Bud, who did everything in his power to ensure the safe return of his fellow astronauts, suddenly had to find himself facing the repercussions of Henry’s failures. His life was taken away from him in a most unjust, inexplicable way, and the worst part turned out to be the inability to share it with anyone else. Both Henry and Bud started taking anti-psychosis lithium pills, and while Henry was content with utilizing the opportunity of a lifetime, the uncompromising agony of the survivor’s guilt, coupled with public humiliation, made Bud increasingly jaded and unpredictable. Perhaps if the cosmic entanglement hadn’t interfered, Bud Caldera might have lived a better life after his return from the Apollo 18 mission. 

Just like how Alice from two realities communicated with each other through the tape recorder and mirror, Bud and Henry, who were revealed to be aware of each other’s existence and predicament, conversed with each other in mirror reflection. As Bud slowly descends further into worst phase of his life, he grows tired of living a life built on the mistakes of someone else and vows revenge against Henry.


What Will Happen To Henry And Bud In The Next Season?

Quite ironically, Henry’s biggest achievement, the CAL device, turned out to be the reason for his undoing. In all probability, Henry might have designed CAL to learn about the reality shift he and Bud had experienced. The device was activated on the ISS to alter Jo’s life forever and later activated once again to rewrite the destinies of Bud and Henry all over again. In the snow-clad, freezing wilderness of Northern Sweden, the device found its optimum liminal space and functioned accordingly to once again return both Henry and Bud Caldera to their original reality. The exact moment this shift happens is shown perfectly, as in the burning cabin of Vindelälven, Jo seeks the assistance of Henry to take alternate Alice to safety. But right at that moment, Bud takes over, and unlike Henry, who knew and had prior conversations with alternate Alice, he is totally unfamiliar with her. In his characteristic way, Bud basically dumps her in the snow to go on his way. Correctly assuming the CAL device to be the reason for the shift this time around, Bud destroys it and goes on to live Henry’s successful, affluent life. In prime reality, Henry is up for a troublesome awakening, as Bud’s crimes—the murder of Ian Rogers and the attempted murder of Paul Lancaster—are now his burden to deal with. What goes around, comes around—which Henry has now realized in a twisted, sadistic way. 

According to the showrunners, the possibility of Constellation getting a second season is quite high, which means series viewers will have another chance to see Jonathan Banks flaunting his acting chops by wearing the two faces of Bud and Henry quite effortlessly. So far, it has been established that CAL is one of the possible return tickets for the characters to swap realities with their alternate counterparts, which means Henry needs to build one in prime reality to evade the repercussions of Bud’s actions. Paul is aware of the functionality of CAL as well, and on the off chance that he gets convinced by Henry’s account of the reality swapping events, he might help Henry design a new CAL. 

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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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