“Cynthia lived a difficult life. She suffered too much. She built this ship to escape that world. To fly away from old monsters, not into the arms of new ones. She put her life into this ship. It’s not meant to be a prison for her. It’s meant to be freedom.”
As Nightflyers reaches the halfway point and the truth of the ship has been revealed, Roy, Karl, and the others realize that in order for them to finish their mission—in order for them to survive, they need to incapacitate Cynthia’s presence inside the ship. In this, they have but one option: Lommie.
Of all the parts of Karl’s team, Lommie has, to this point, been more important than any single person. They’ve all contributed but her ability to access systems has been invaluable. The risk she takes when porting into a system is also quite extreme; if disconnected during an interface, her mind would be lost forever in the system. Thus, infiltrating the Nightflyer to locate Cynthia’s core programming and isolate that is just as dangerous as Melantha’s earlier task of manually resetting the thrusters. She won’t be alone though, as after some convincing from Agatha, Karl uses Thale as a tether to help Lommie remain connected to the world.
Booting into the systems, Lommie (and Thale) are introduced to Greywing, Cynthia’s childhood home. A massive and cold place, devoid of warmth, the mansion contains two aspects of her persona; the uncorrupted child version and the scarred and battered adult aspect. Both are terrified of her father’s manifestation, the one thing that could possibly keep Cynthia in check. In fact, Lommie’s able to do just that; imprisoning the corrupted version of Cynthia with her father while the younger version remains free. If anything, it gives the crew time to breathe as they continue to suss out the volcryn and just how to communicate with the distant aliens.
It’s no secret that so much of the terror created in Nightflyers relies upon what people truly fear; not some big bag ghost or demonic presence. Rather, it’s the horrors and scars of their own past. We’ve already seen this with Karl and his wife’s loss of their child and a snippet of Lommie’s harsh Luddite upbringing. This latter incident is expanded in “Greywing” as Lommie is forced to violently punish her father, while the younger Cynthia actually runs from her abusive father. These two women have both experienced trauma at young ages through no fault of their own yet Lommie is strengthened by the certainty of her father’s love for her. Cynthia has never had that conviction and the fear she still has for her father, even in this unlife, is the greatest weakness they protagonists can exploit.
Though a necessary tale, “Greywing” halts much of the momentum gained by the past few episodes. Taken separately, it is a strong psychological deconstruction of the things that shape us and how, for good or ill, we develop from the stimuli. The past cannot be changed and too often people allow their pasts to dictate their futures. One has to deal with the past as, unlike Joy’s solution to have her memories wiped, it cannot be erased. Lommie’s acknowledgment of her father’s love may also be what gave her the strength to walk away from Melantha when she discovered the other woman’s duplicity (not mentioning that Eris was watching their intimate moments). It just may be that Lommie has found her power—the only problem with that is Cynthia now realizes her greatest threat and when (not if) she is freed from her prison, Lommie will be the primary target.
Into the Void
- For the briefest of moments, it looked as if the writers were going to walk back the development they’ve shown for Thale over the past two episodes. The ‘joke’ he pulled on the crew—with him bleeding out—was a selfish and callous action, not to mention immature. He gains his redemption in the end, not because he helps Lommie return from her battle with Cynthia, but for a quieter moment with Murphy. The battered crewman tells Thale about the horrors of Lunar-71 and his inability to remember his sons’ faces. When Thale sees the recuperating man trapped in the nightmare of that moment, he salves Murphy’s emotional distress. It’s not something anyone will ever know or give him credit for and, because of that, it’s the most decent thing Thale has done thus far.
- Though Rowan has but a few moments of screen time, his discussion with Tessia towards the end is one of the more vital reveals in the show to date. Combining the knowledge he has of cell communication within the body as well as insect colonies, Rowan suggests that the volcryn’s motivations for sending the probe back was to listen; to discover what they could regarding humanity.
- After seeing Agatha’s memories of her and Karl as well as the unspoken tension between them, it was only a matter of time before things reignited between the pair. It took Karl nearly dying and then him consciously letting go of Joy to do so but now the former lovers are back in each other’s embrace. Whether that affects the team’s dynamic or not (particularly Thale) remains to be seen.
- The final shot of Augustine looking over a holo photo of Cynthia and her accompanying dialogue strongly suggests that he will somehow find a way to free his love and, in that, doom the entire ship.