1899 Episode 8 Recap: The Key

Welcome to Reality, Maura

May your coffee kick in before reality does. It's time for episode 8 of 1899. To see all of my 1899 recaps, go here.

In the last action-packed episode, half of the crew lost their lives for different reasons, leaving only nine people remaining. Daniel promises Maura he will make things right and return with their son.


Episode 8: The Key

This episode opens on a mountaintop. Elliot and Maura are enjoying a picnic together. He runs to her and shows her a familiar looking scarab beetle. He laughs and tells her he will name the beetle Alfred. He wants to keep Alfred and decides to put him in a box. Maura smiles but scolds him a little and suggests that Elliot should let Alfred go. Would he enjoy being trapped in a prison?

Elliot feels sad because if he lets Alfred go, he can't watch him grow. Maura looks sad, too, and says that sometimes you have to let things go. That you can't keep some things forever. Elliot released Alfred on the ground but tells Maura that he will live with her and Daniel forever. This moment repeats a theme we have heard often on the show of wanting to avoid a life that feels like a prison or trap. Maura is all too familiar with that concept as a woman in the 19th century.

Elliot opens his eyes. He's holding a white cloth that looks like Maura's hospital gown. He's in the pyramid world – Daniel's world. He yells for Maura but calls her mum. He then panics and wakes up. He's lying in a bed in Henry's study.

Henry begins to speak to Elliot. He doesn't bother introducing himself or making sure that Elliot is okay. Instead, he begins to lecture. "I'm sure you father told you all about me. But he probably left out the bit where he explains why we are really here."

He and Henry watch the television screen, and you can see the remaining passengers walk out on the deck of the ship. He continues talking: "They made the choice to go on this trip because they wanted to forget their past. Now they are all stuck in here as well. Your mother has fooled you. She has fooled all of us."

Elliot gets weepy. Henry offers to show Elliot the truth if he's brave enough. Elliot looks at the screen, and we cut to the opening credits.

Maura confesses everything

We then open on the ship graveyard we saw at the end of episode seven. A wet hand appears on the side of the ship. It's Eyk, entering the ship the same way that Daniel did at the end of episode one. Maura comes forward and embraces him. The rest of the group look on in dismay.

Eyk asks once again who Daniel is to her. He knows she isn't being honest.

Maura has finally lost all pretense. She confesses that Daniel is her husband and that Elliot (that boy) is her son. Eyk is understandably taken aback as Maura has tried to low-key seduce him multiple times. But she confesses that she doesn't have memories of their life together.

She then admits to the rest of the group that her father is the owner of the ship and that she thinks he's been doing experiments on all of them. She then tries to explain what a simulation is. They all think she's crazy, especially Virginia.

It does make me wonder how contemporary simulation theory is. Did people in the 1800s think about questioning reality or simulation theory? It looks like the closest thing in this time would be the theories of Nietzsche, who mocked philosophers who couldn't see that our world could be just another type of fiction.

In any case, Virginia refuses to take Maura seriously. We can see that more of her body has been contaminated by the black crystals. Half of her neck is covered in black, which makes me believe that her body under her dress could also look similar. We just can't see it.

Maura asks each of them to try and remember how they boarded the ship. No one can. The group tries to translate for each other. The only one who can't understand is Ramiro, who has no shared language with anyone.

Maura pulls out her trump card – the letter. She thought it was all about her, but it's not. One by one, each member of the group pulls out their letter. They question if Daniel is working for Maura's father. Is he for us or against us. Maura tells them she believes he's trying to help.

Elliot shows Maura the beetle named Alfred
Daniel hacking

Daniel has his device and he's in the panel in the boiler room. The power seems dead. He picks up a shovel that he uses to get a little deeper into the wires. He then begins hacking away on this device, trying to find signs of life. Daniel spends much of the episode in this panel in hacking mode.

I'll show you the truth  

We cut back to Henry and Elliot. Henry says, "Our brain is a very complicated construct. As much as we can try to forget the things we don't want to remember, we'll never forget entirely. They're part of who we are. Woven into our very fabric. It's time for you to remember. Your truth lies behind these walls. There's no reason to be afraid. This isn't real. Remember?"

Henry has his own device. He pushes buttons, and the landscape changes from muted to colorful. They walk towards the hospital. Henry is going to show Elliot "the truth." Surely, he's going to the chair room, and I feel afraid for little Elliot.

The group deserts Maura, except Eyk     

Back on the Prometheus, the group follows after Maura. Their progress is blocked by an entire wall of black crystals that continue to manifest. Virginia says she won't go any further until Maura explains what is happening. She has no trust in Maura any longer.

Maura tries to convince Virginia that they should continue to follow her: "The last thing I remember before waking up on the Kerberos is finding that envelope in front of my door. I think my brother sent it. This was in it." She holds up the key locket. "I don't know how he did it but somehow he made me forget. HE made me forget what happened and who I am. But I think whatever this opens will help me remember and we can all get out of here."

Her words don't reassure anyone. Everyone except Eyk begins to walk away from Maura. They plan to try to lower lifeboats and try to get off the ship.

Maura feels frustrated that they don't understand. She tries to convince them that there is no ship. The ship isn't real. It's only happening inside their heads. Virginia stands her ground. To Maura: "I'm sure you're a very bright woman. I admire that you studied medicine and that you stand against the conventions and limitations that women face, but you can't really believe what you are saying. It doesn't make any sense."

Ling and Virginia walk off together. Clémence and Jérôme then follow after them. Lastly, Ramiro and Tove. Those two don't know each other at all. It just goes to show how much the group does not align with Maura. They hope to move towards safety. Only Eyk remains with Maura, but even he looks warily at the crystals.

Maura somehow convinces him that she can find the way out. The two of them go to Maura's room. They discover the shaft in the floor is now missing. She picks up some large knitting needles and tries to use them to open the boards in the floor. They find only concrete slab underneath.

Maura wants the two of them to find her father's office in the hospital. She plans to confront him there to make this stop.

Maura and Eyk visit Daniel's dreams

Maura then looks at the wedding ring in her pocket and thinks of Daniel. She goes to his room, and the shaft is still there. Sebastian didn't think to look there apparently. They use it to access Daniel's dreamscape, with the black pyramid looming above them.

They end up in Maura and Daniel's bedroom. Eyk looks around curiously. He sees all of the pictures of them together.

Maura repeats again that she's in all the pictures but doesn't remember any of it. She seems to want to explain to Eyk that her feelings for Daniel aren't fully there yet. That it's her but she doesn't recognize that woman.

Eyk asks her, "You don't remember being married?" If all this is an illusion could his memory be one as well.? How do you know he's telling the truth?" Very true, Eyk. That's the whole problem when you begin to question reality. Suddenly nothing seems solid. You can never be sure the reality is real or just something that's been built.

She mentions that: "The boy, he said that there was a Creator, somebody who's created all of this. Whoever created it there must be some kind of logic to it. A design. Inside the brain memories are stored in different places but they're all connected by neural pathways. When you smell a certain smell, you might remember a lot of memories that are tied to that smell. So maybe that's what this is. Some kind of imitation of the brain and different areas connected to each other. "

She goes to a wall and punches it. Eyk helps her tear that section of the wall. They find more wires and a flashlight. It's similar to the wires Daniel found in the last episode. They climb inside and being to explore.

Maura and Eyk travel through the wires
Blocked by crystals

We cut back to Virginia, who is holding her right arm. She thinks they should keep moving. They are doing their best to find the lowering deck where the lifeboats are kept. But every hall becomes blocked by black crystals. The group is now getting confused and becoming clumsy. The crystals are beginning to populate at faster and faster rates. Ramiro and Ling get separated from the rest of the group.

Eventually they all get separated into pairs: Clémence and Jérôme, Tove and Mrs. Wilson, and Ramiro and Tove. Jérôme tells Clémence they should go back and find the doctor and the captain.

This might hurt a little

Back at the hospital, Henry explains to Elliot that even though he doesn't remember things that happened here, his body still remembers and may feel fear. Henry walks to room 1011. Elliot doesn't seem phased. He follows after him.

Henry them asks him to take a seat. He has an odd smile on his face. He opens a box with two vials – one with white liquid, one with black.

Henry then explains that Elliot is trapped here – not Maura. He uses the plunger to push the white liquid into Elliot's neck. Elliot cries out. It must be quite painful.

Ellliot is in a memory now cuffed to the chair. He's in the room alone. Daniel and Maura walk inside, but it's like they can't hear him. Elliot's voice sounds like he's trying to talk underwater. Daniel scolds Maura, "You can't stop him from dying Maura. You have to let him go." Elliot is confused that they can't hear him.

Maura says that she can't let him go. She leans over Elliot, "Don't worry, my love. You'll forget. You'll forget this ever happened. This is the only way for us to be together." She then squirts the vial of black liquid into his neck. He gasps and cries out. He wakes up with just Henry.

Henry tells them that he's now seen the truth. That Elliot is trapped in a simulation so that his mother can keep him alive. Elliot wants to believe that this is just an implanted memory, too. That Henry is making this up so that he doesn't believe Maura.

I'm not sure what to think of this memory and what it represents. If Elliot is not truly alive, then who is Maura talking to here? Is Elliot a clone or a corpse they have resurrected?

Story time! Henry says, "When your mother was your ago, she found a paper on Plato's cave allegory in my study. She was clearly too young to understand the abstract concept Plato was suggesting. Nevertheless, she read it over and over. It was this one thought that turned her world upside down -- the idea that our knowledge has limits and that we can never know if things truly are how they appear.

Henry adds more to this story. As a little girl then, Maura began to question the concept of reality. If there was a God, and who created God. Are we just play things in God's playhouse?

Elliot believes that he's lying. But Henry tells him that everyone has been lying to him. Elliot begins to cry. He doesn't know what to think. Henry has the pyramid, and he turns one of the corners, showing Elliot a keyhole. He tells him that Maura has the key. The words "WAKE UP" are written on the pyramid.

All mixed up and no place to go  

Our three pairs are still looking for an escape route from the ship. They get ferreted into different memory portals. Virginia and Tove end up in Jérôme's world. Clémence and Jérôme are in Ling's world. And Ling and Ramiro are in Ángel's world.

Sebastian and Henry can see this all happening and get confused. They realize that Daniel is hacking at the system, trying to change the architecture. Henry orders Sebastian to go find Maura immediately. If he doesn't find her, they could get trapped in here forever.

The group begin to hear the voices of their loved ones crying out to them. They are helpless to stop themselves from being influenced by the voices, even though they know those people are dead. They still follow anyway. The black crystals also appear in the memories, looking deadly to the touch.

A vision of Olek climbs up from the well, covered in black oil. We saw him die, so what is this image? Is it a simulated program of Olek or was Olek a simulation to begin with.

Henry can see that Daniel is doing this hackathon and gets mad. He says mean things to Elliot. That his father doesn't really love him. That he only loves Maura. It's really a low blow. Why be mean to a kid? Also, it's odd that they don't try to intercept Daniel at all, unless they don't know where he is or don't think he can do anything truly damaging. They seem more focused on getting the key from Maura than stopping Daniel.

And now . . . they key  

Eyk is also questioning Maura about her father? How did he do all of this? Maura admits she doesn't know really, but that she will try to find out. She's convinced her memories have been tampered with. She and Eyk almost hold hands again as they try to piece together what is happening. Maura is set on finding her father's office.

Sebastian interrupts both of them and demands that they give him the key. Eyk thinks about attacking Sebastian, but Maura stops him, since Sebastian is holding one of those devices. She knows what it can do. He demands the key again, and Maura complies.

As soon as he has the key in hand, Sebastian decides to zap Eyk anyway and shuts his body off. Maura is beside herself and begs him to bring Eyk back, but Sebastian tells her that he can't. What he can do, though, is take Maura to Henry.

Maura hears "the truth" from Henry

Maura confronts Henry

Maura then enters the room where Henry and Elliot are talking. Elliot seems very withdrawn now. Henry tells her that Elliot now knows "the truth." They argue about who is the better person. Henry now has the key just like he wanted.

Maura looks around and notices all the TV screens. She feels justified that he has been watching her, just as she thought. She wants to know where Ciaran is, believing that her father has done something to Ciaran, too.

He presses a button to get his orderlies to appear. They drag Maura into the chair. Elliot looks like he's trying to not cry or throw up or both. He just his chin out. He's trying so hard to be brave, but you can tell that Maura still means a lot to him. He wants a reason to believe her.

Henry says, "We're born into his world either a seeker or avoider. To be an avoider is pure bliss. To be a seeker, on the other hand, brings nothing but pain. You will open every door, step into the darkest voids, driven by the urge to gain more knowledge. Contrary to your brother, you were born a seeker. And I wish you that you weren't. You tried to get rid of your pain, but all you did was create more pain."

Who is the Creator?  

Henry then shares his big secret. That Maura is the Creator. She is the creator of the simulation. They are all trapped in here because of her. She indeed is little Henry. She likes to watch, just like her father.

This is a pretty big reveal. Everyone, including Henry, has been a puppet for Maura to manipulate. Henry then decides to give Maura the vial, in order to "wake her up." He plans to make Maura stay in here forever so that he can get out.

The simulation ends  

The rest of the passengers arrive in the coal room. There's a strange assembly of lights.

Sebastian, Elliot, and Henry come back to the office. Henry opens the top of pyramid and looks triumphant. He puts the key inside the lock and turns. But nothing happens. They realize that Daniel has successfully changed the code.

There's an awesome display of orange-colored lights. There's a countdown, and everything dissolves like graphics on a computer.

Maura finds the first simulation

Our first simulation  

Maura opens her eyes. She's lying on her back, looking up at the clouds. She's wearing her hospital gown. She sits up and notices her red and raw ankles from the restraints. She sees the cross on the hilltop. She walks towards the grave and climbs down to Elliot's bedroom. Shortly after, Daniel climbs down, too. They hug each other. He tells her that "it worked."

The simulation didn't start over. Apparently, this room is their first simulaton they created together. It's their home away from home. Maura is still sad that she can't remember, but Daniel tells her that it doesn't matter. All that matters is that they are both here.

He reprogrammed the codes so that only Maura could control everything. The key and pyramid that Henry had no longer worked. Instead, there is a new key and device. Their wedding ring is now the key.

It's actually your brother

Maura is now alert. Daniel tells her that although it seemed like Henry was controlling everything, instead it was Ciaran. But he pleads with her to complete the mission. She needs to wake up or everything will be lost. Truth be told, this makes me distrust Daniel somewhat. Why wouldn't he have shared this information earlier about her brother.

But even though she doesn't remember them being married, she still seems to be having a hard time leaving him. She wants to know if he will still be there when she wakes up. He says, "Always. I'll always be there." She puts the ring in the new keyhole, and . . .

Maura sees the inside of the new ship

Welcome to Reality 

Maura wakes up in a new location. She has a device and a helmet attached to her head. She looks around and sees many of the passengers on the ship: Virginia, Eyk, Krester, Tove, Olek, Ling and Yuk, Iben and Anker, Ángel and Ramiro, Clémence, Lucien, and Jérôme. There's also an empty capsule. All of these are assembled in a circle, standing up like mummies.

Maura walks towards a portal window. She has very short hair. She looks outside and notices that they are all floating in space. David Bowie's Starman play on the loudspeakers.

She then notices a monitor with DOS-style text. It says, "May your coffee kick in before reality does."

More words appear:

Project Prometheus

Survival mission to 42.043240 – 44.375760

Passengers 1423, crew 550

October 19th, 2099.

Hello sister. Welcome to Reality.

Wrap up

This is quite a doozy of an ending. The show got cancelled, so we will never get to see season 2 play out and find out what was happening. This is a rescue mission of some kind, but to rescue who? Is this spaceship a rescue party or the people being rescued?

It's not clear to me if Maura really is the mastermind or if Ciaran is now. Henry seems pretty horrible, but the ending is quite ambiguous about what the truth is. As a season finale, I guess it works since it lead up to the big reveal, but I do feel that as the season wrapped up, they sort of ditched all character development. We got to know Henry better, but the main characters (the passengers and even Maura and Eyk) really became devoid of all personality and just became pieces on a game board. This show did best as a character study, so I was disappointed that they pushed that aside. All of the attention was given to Henry's sick game and setting us up for the reveal that Maura was the mastermind, only to say nevermind, it's Ciaran.

While this ending disappoints me, I'm glad that Bo and Jantje got the opportunity to make a new show.