Let’s just jump right into it. Keisha starts off by saying that she didn’t plan for any of this, and tells Alice that she won’t be hearing from her for a while:
Alice, how did it get from there to here? What were the series of events? I see each moment as a knot in this link of time, and it feels like if I tried hard enough, I could unwind them. Correcting each mistake until I found my way back to where I tall started, and finally free us all.
But that is not what’s going to happen. Instead, I have been pursued. Hunted. Until I have no choice but to do this.
Maybe when we’re both old women, your hand can again rest in mine.
I’d like that.
I don’t believe it, necessarily. But I’d like that.
The episode then cuts to the credits, and after, Keisha is in Kentucky. She says that she hasn’t seen the Watcher since their encounter in the farmhouse, but that doesn’t exactly fill her with confidence. She also points out that she’s never felt completely safe in her life, “not all the way down. And now even my surface is turbulent water. Every shadow, every turn in the road.”
Near a place called Horse Cave, Keisha notes a car that she describes as a “puke-green sedan, it’s passenger-side door a slightly lighter puke-green.” She sees it following her for a couple of hours, but it’s gone when she looks back at one point. She dismisses this as “the usual rhythm of the road” and moves on.
Keisha then has a somewhat amusing aside where she talks about Horse Cave:
I looked up Horse Cave, by the way. I mean, great name. In this cave, there is a horse. You may ask the horse any question and it will answer truthfully. But choose wisely, as you may only ask once.
There are no horses in Horse Cave. It’s an actual cave though, right in the middle of town. What is in the cave is a stream that used to provide the town’s water, until they accidentally dumped a bunch of sewage in there. The smell was so bad that folks couldn’t even walk on that side of the street. Good name, though.
Caves are a bigger thing in Kentucky than I’d realized. There are advertisements for all sorts of activities you can do in caves. Ziplining, boating. If you can do it in the outside world, in Kentucky, you can do it in a cave.
Near a place called Burnt Prairie, Keisha sees the green car again. She notes that whoever’s driving it is driving pretty erratically, but is staying behind her until she eventually loses track of it again. “Just a fellow traveler, I told myself. There is no need for concern, I lied. All is well, I laughably asserted.”
Keisha then notices some farmhouses, and wonders if a farmhouse near the highway would be worse than one further from the highway: “Where’s the line between privacy and convenience? Guess it depends on how often you plan to leave home.
It’d be nice to have a home to leave.”
Keisha finishes this thought, then goes back to the green car, and that she’s seen if off and on for the past few days. “I keep seeing it, driving as though drunk or having recently met an irate wasp.” Eventually, she comes across the car crashed into a tree, with no sign of the driver, ambulances, or police. It unsettles her, but there isn’t much she can do about it, so she decides to move on.
The transmission breaks, and Keisha ponders some more about her mysterious employer:
The behavior of Bay and Creek in letting me live, and Thistle in trying to kill me, leaves me with one conclusion. That I have an important role in this war, and it must be one that only I can do, because frankly anyone would be better than me. I’m an anxious mess, and if they needed steady hands, mine aren’t.
Let’s start with this. There is a war. To understand my role in the war, I need to understand the war itself, which I don’t.
I understand Thistle. They are monsters, plain and simple. They are hungry and they feed. Their ways are ways of wickedness. But why is the US government hiding them?
And Bay and Creek. Again in one way, the motive is easily understood. There are literal monsters on these roads. Any good person, given that situation, would want to fight back. If evil, then good somewhere will stand against it. But Bay and Creek is powerful and it is rich. Where are they getting the money and supplies to wage this war? Who is behind them? A battle of good vs. evil, fine, but I want to know who the good is.
Alice, did you know? Or did you proceed on faith, because you knew the other side was so monstrous?
Another break, and Keisha stops at a Love’s near Sioux City, where she sees a rather odd vending machine: one that sells knock-off perfumes. One that instead of just giving you a jar, sprays you with it when you put in your money. Keisha’s thoughts about this echo mine: “No thank you.”
She uses a paid shower, and notices something moving out of the corner of her eye. It moves away when she turns to look. She then imagines, as steam fills her stall, that there is a woman in a police uniform running at her.
At any rate, she finishes her shower, and sees a man at a counter filling a gigantic, keg-sized travel mug with coffee:
The cashier gave him a refill rate. Rests are required by law, but we are a profession that depends on artificial energy. We are paid by the mile, not by the hour, so every moment you don’t move is a moment you are away from the place you call home, and the people you love, for free. You can feel it, the itch letting you know that all of this time you were spending, filling the gas tank, taking that shower, that is all time you are not being compensated for. And so we drink coffee after coffee. It jitters through us, as we curse a traffic jam for lowering our hourly rate enough to mean the difference between being able to pay a bill and not pay it.
I saw a woman spill an entire cup of coffee down the front of a man’s shirt. He glared at her, but she just laughed and shrugged. “Hey, we’re truck drivers!” she said. “We’re always covered in this stuff anyway.”
She leaves, and considers taking some time to get her truck washed. As she looks up, she sees a woman walking straight towards her. This makes her decision for her: she gets out of the truck and leaves. The woman turns to continue following her: “Hours later, on the road, I had the horrible feeling that she was still behind me somewhere. Still slowly walking, never wavering in the direction of her steps.”
Keisha then has a question she wants to ask her wife:
Alice, as long as I’m asking you questions: do you have any idea what it is they wanted me for? I hope not, because the thought that you knew that I would be involved and then hid that from me is the most painful thought of all. If it was something I could already do, then Bay and Creek would have tried to guide me to it, right? So it must be a matter of timing, or else I’m not ready yet to do it. Unless by the very nature of what I must do, I cannot be guided, I must find it on my own.
Keisha comes to the conclusion that asking these questions is useless, and that she won’t be able to guess what Bay & Creek want her for. She decides that she has only one option left: waiting. Waiting for a moment that she hopes that she’ll be able to recognize, one that will tell her what he purpose in this conflict is.
There’s another break, and Keisha is now in Iowa. She says that it looks like how you would think it would look, and “in a life like mine, when something turns out to be as promised, that is already a major victory.” She says that the landscape is simple, all fields, flats, and road, and having been to the state multiple times, yeah, that’s about it. She says that simplicity is something she feels she’s due in her life, so this is a good thing.
Keisha stops for breakfast in a very small town called Fertile. While in the restaurant, she sees a flier for a car repair shop that says, “we speak female.” This causes her to alter her positive perceptions of Iowa a bit.
About an hour later, Keisha sees a sky-blue truck that was driving erratically. It eventually passes her, and she sees something odd: a bunch of handwritten, cardboard signs over the driver-side window that say, “I not bad boy.” The signs obscure her view of the driver, and she passes and is passed by it a few more times before losing track of it.
A break, and Keisha has some thoughts about porn shops in conservative areas, and an unsettling fireworks shop:
I’m still so fascinated by the approach to sex stores in places that identify as conservative. Because they are really in your face with the sex stores. There’s a huge one right by the highway, with big signs advertising showgirls and a men’s spa. How does that kind of open attitude translate with the proudly conservative culture of the rest of it? It’s a strange dynamic.
I passed a fireworks store called Sad Sam’s Fireworks, and the sign was a huge neon face of a crying clown. I’ve seen some horrifying sights on my journey, but I don’t think anything prepared me for that.
Keisha then notices the blue truck again, with the cardboard signs mentioned above now plastered over the windshield. Keisha says, “what the fuck?” as the car gets on her tail and starts honking at her. She then tells Alice that this worries her quite a bit.
After another break, Keisha eats lunch at a Cracker Barrel, mentioning a cheesecake they have that’s 1500 calories per serving, which she has some trouble with. There’s then another break, and Keisha comes back on, breathing heavily and saying, “Oh shit,” a couple of times before cutting out again.
She comes back on, and says that two days have passed. She’s stayed off the radio until she was closer to her destination. Keisha then explains that she’d gone back inside to use the bathroom, and the truck was there, with all of the windows now covered in those cardboard signs.
The doors were open, and standing on the hood of the cab was the woman in the ramshackle police uniform. Her chin was stained with blood, and when she saw me, she started howling. Not like an animal, like an alarm. She locked eyes, and with no change in her expression, started a mechanical howling, over and over.
[sighs] I ran for my cab. She didn’t chase. I started the engine, started driving. She stayed on the cab, dripping blood onto the blue hood. Howling.
The transmission breaks, and Keisha says again that she didn’t plan any of this. She also comes to the conclusion that there’s no way she can get away from the Watcher, who will always be able to find her. She’s also filled the cab of her truck with heather in the hopes that it will ward her off like it does the Thistle Men.
She comes to another conclusion: she needs to flee the country.
It’ll be a long time before you hear from me again. I won’t say which border. I’m leaving everything behind. I’ll leave behind my identity. I’ll, I’ll disappear into the cities where no one thinks twice about a stranger.
My role in this war will become apparent with waiting, and it is better I wait somewhere anonymous and safe than continue to play dice with the universe looking to see me dead.
You won’t hear from me, not for a long time.
Alice, how did it get from there to here? What were the series of events? I have no particular plan for when I will return. Maybe it will be a few months from now but – more probably years.
Alice, I believe in what you’re doing. I don’t understand it, but if when I’m 70 years old, the call finally comes, I will return. I hope it won’t be that long, but it could be even longer.
I’ll be a different person by the time I come back. So will you. We will be different, older people. I hope those people like each other.
Keisha begins to say goodbye to Alice, but is interrupted by a crash and a scream.
There are then footsteps approaching, and then the Watcher says, “Hey, Keisha. Why don’t we go somewhere quiet, where we can talk?”
And then the episode ends.
My jaw seriously hit the floor at that ending. It was very, very much not what I was expecting, and is one hell of a cliffhanger.
I was also right with my last post saying that this would be the penultimate episode, with episode 10 ending part two. There will, however, be a part three starting up next year, which Joseph Fink has said will be the last part of the series. They’ve started up a Patreon to help fund the third part if you’re interested in throwing some money their way.
And again, holy fucking shit with that ending.