In Part 2’s finale, Keisha finds herself in a jam, and we learn the truth behind Bay & Creek and the Thistle Men.
Keisha starts off by talking about how she met Alice, her voice echoing as if she’s in a cave or an empty room:
Did I know from the first time I saw you, Alice? It feels like I did.
But I think our memories of these things get clouded. Maybe I didn’t think anything but “Hey, she’s cute.” That memory is so heavy with our love, it’s almost impossible for me to lift it up and inspect it for what it is.
Here’s what I do remember. You were not my first, but you were close. I dated Mindy Morris in high school. Mindy and I were friends, and then we knew we were more than friends, and we didn’t know what to do about that, and then we did know. I wanted to keep it a secret, she didn’t. We kept it a secret. I think a lot of people knew anyway. I thought my parents for sure had no idea. Eventually, I learned that they knew and were mostly OK with it. Later they would be completely fine with it. In between, there was an adjustment. Not everything can be alright all at once.
Then I was in college and me and Mindy still were together, but we hardly ever saw each other. And then we weren’t together, but we would still hang out on breaks when we were both back home. And then not even that. And I thought, this is good. This is good. It’s time to be single for a while. Learn more about myself. I’ll stay single for at least a few years and then see what happens. And three days later, I ended up in a study group with a student named Alice.
And maybe I thought nothing much, except that you were interesting and funny and I liked the way you ran your hands through your hair when you were talking about something complicated. But now in my memory, I remember thinking about my plan to stay single and looking at you, and then thinking, well shit.
There’s a break, and then the Watcher cuts in, telling Keisha that she needs to focus, and letting her attention wander won’t help her. Keisha, panicking, asks where she is and what’s happening; the Watcher responds that they’re in a location unknown to anyone but her “coworkers.” She goes on to rather ominously tell her that it’s time to have a little talk.
Keisha asks why the Watcher doesn’t just kill her, and she responds by saying that’s why she wanted to talk to her first:
Because that’s the question you’ve been asking yourself. Why am I alive? And it would not be satisfying if you died without understanding, really understanding, the answer to that question.
The credits roll, and we go back to Keisha and the Watcher. Keisha asks the Watcher if she works for the Thistle Men. The Watcher tells her that “works for sounds so servile,” and tells her that she works with them, and says that her “job satisfaction is high.”
Keisha calls them monsters, and the Watcher tells her that’s a bit melodramatic. Keisha clarifies that she means they’re literal, not-human monsters, predators. The Watcher says that’s close to the truth, “but very judgy. Just because we’re not human or monsters. Humans can be pretty monstrous.” Keisha scoffs at this at tells her to save the equivocating, and the Watcher says:
Fair. We love the taste of blood, because it tastes like freedom. You people, you restrict yourself so much. We have no restrictions. Why would I ever hold back because it might harm someone else? Am I them?
Keisha asks her what they’re goal is, and the Watcher says that Keisha understands that there’s a war going on, but not what said war is about. Keisha responds that she understands why Bay & Creek would want to stop them, and that “evil demands resistance.” The Watcher responds that Bay & Creek’s motivation seems clear, but not the Thistle Men’s. She goes on to point out that they’re being protected by the US government, and asks Keisha why. Keisha responds that she doesn’t know, and the Watcher tells her its because she’s not asking the right question. Keisha asks what they want, and the Watcher loses her cool for a bit:
No, not that question! Who knows what we want? We’re a blank force of terror, we’re groping hands in the dark, pulling you into the shadows. We’re snatchers. Who cares what we want?
Keisha says if that’s the case, then she doesn’t know what the right question is. The Watcher tells her that she does: ” I want you to come to this on your own. I want to badly hurt you before I start inflicting the physical pain.” Keisha mulls this over a for a bit, and then comes to the conclusion that the question she needs to as is, “Who benefits from this?” She concludes that, clearly, the government must be benefiting from this somehow. The Watcher asks why, and Keisha says she doesn’t know. The Watcher, disappointed, says she was so close to figuring it out and might not be smart enough to figure it out on her own. She decides to ask Keisha the question she’s been asking herself this whole time: “Why am I still alive?”
The Watcher goes on, saying that’s probably the smartest question she’s asked so far, and says the answer to that right now is because she wants to answer it for her, but first wants to go over Keisha’s conclusions. Keisha says that Bay & Creek wants her alive; the Watcher asks her why. Keisha says that it’s because there’s some kind of role she has to play in the conflict. The Watcher asks her what that role is, and Keisha says she doesn’t know. The Watcher then responds by saying it’s good to admit that you don’t know something, then derisively adds, “I love the conclusion you come to, I find them fascinating. Because you play it humble, don’t you? Little anxious you.” She then asks if she’s feeling afraid.
Keisha scoffs at her, and then adds that most things make her afraid, and that she’s used to it. The Watcher calls her anxiety “a kind of sublimated pride” because Keisha likes to think that she’s important. Keisha responds, “I don’t think of myself as anything. I just wanna be at home with Alice.” The Watcher reminds her that Alice didn’t want that, and Keisha says that she doesn’t know what Alice wanted. The Watcher goes over Keisha’s conclustion: that Bay & Creek want her alive to fulfill some kind of nebulous role. The she offers an alternate theory:
The reason you’re still alive – is just because you’re not dead yet. And everyone knows it. You are not important, Keisha. You don’t have a role. There is no riddle to the beating of your heart, now conspiracy to the air in your lungs, you’re merely a dead woman who hadn’t died yet. And I’m the one who everyone knew was coming to do it, so no one else needed to. You’ve never been anything, Keisha. And soon you won’t be at all.
There’s a long pause, and Keisha goes back to her story about how she met Alice:
I was set on the idea of staying single, even as we started to date. I didn’t allow myself to understand what we were doing as dating. We were friends who sometimes had sex. We went on dates but weren’t dating. Being with you feel better than anything, but there could always be something better. Don’t except what you have, reach for what you could theoretically some day have.
I was honest with you. “I’m not a good person to like,” I would say. “I don’t wanna get in a long term relationship right now.” “Sure,” you would say. “That’s fine,” you would say. “Hey, let’s drive to the beach!”
And we did drive to the beach, and it was cold and kind of miserable, but we took a walk anyway. At a certain point, somewhere in a pile of rotting seaweed and an inlet where water poured from a metal pipe, you took my hand and spun me around and then back toward you so that we were facing. And you kissed me for a long time.
I was completely yours at that point. Maybe you knew it, even as I refused to admit it to myself. It was you that said “I love you” first. We were talking on the phone, and you were getting to class and you needed to hang up. “OK I love you bye,” you said. Then you texted me. “I think I just said I love you. I do.” I did too.
This all happened, Alice. I hold on to that. All of this happened, no matter what happens next.
Back to the conversation between Keisha and the Watcher. Keisha repeats what the Watcher told her; that the only reasong Bay & Creek didn’t kill her was because they already knew someone else was on her trail. The Watcher tells her that she’s almost there, but still can’t quite grasp her situation. She says, “Let me provide a visual aid,” and we hear a sound like a door or partition going up.
Keisha is shocked, and the Watcher says, “Yeah, it’s an impressive place, right?” Keisha begins talking through it and we learn that they’re in the base that Keisha had found in the abandoned farmhouse.
She then realizes that the Watcher works for Bay & Creek, and that Bay and Creek want her dead. The Watcher replies:
Now you’ve got it. You made so many assumptions about how Bay and Creek felt about you. I don’t like people making assumptions. I needed to disabuse you of them before you died.
Keisha says that both Bay & Creek and the Thistle Men want her dead. The Watcher tells her that it’s something like that. She commiserates a bit, saying that it’s not a good position to be in, and that she wouldn’t want to switch places with Keisha. Then she rather matter-of-factly saysthat she’d be able to get away, and would still kill Keisha on the way out. “Basically nothing would change. You die in all possible versions of this moment.”
Keisha then says that the Watcher is playing both sides of the war; the Watcher tells her that, when it comes to war, “while having two sides is convenient, it turns out, it’s not absolutely necessary.” Keisha comes to the conclusion that Bay & Creek are working together. The Watcher tells her she still doesn’t understand, and that “Thistle and Bay and Creek can’t work together, because there is no Thistle and no Bay and Creek. There is only one side to this war.” She then asks Keisha where the funding of a base this large would come from. Keisha says that it would have to be the government.
The Watcher tells her that she’s right, and opines that war can be very useful, before telling Keisha to remember the most important question. Keisha asks again, “Who benefits from this?” The Watcher tells her that a war can cover up a lot of things. Keisha asks about Alice, and the Watcher takes a moment to taunt her:
Did the love of your life know? How ultimate is this betrayal? Oh Keisha. I wish I could rub it in, but I like to be honest about my work and I just don’t know. Many people involved in Bay and Creek genuinely think they are stopping terrible monsters that lurk on the back ways of this country. Otherwise it would – be a pretty hard secret to keep. Probably she thought she was actually saving the world.
But Keisha, I want you to understand that I’m being perfectly honest. Because I really want you to feel the full brunt of the pain from this. She could well have known. A lot of people also do. Otherwise it would be a pretty hard charade to maintain.
Keisha says that she knows Alice; the Watcher tells her that maybe she doesn’t know much of anything. Keisha asks her about Praxis, and how they fit into this. This seems to throw the Watcher off slightly, as she asks her what she knows about Praxis. She says that she doesn’t know much about them, and the Watcher tells her that’s the smartest thing she’s said so far, “probably the smartest thing you’ve ever said in your waning life,” and not to worry about Praxis. She goes on to say that she’s tired of talking, she got what she wanted, and she has places to be, so it’s time for Keisha to die now.
Another pause, and Keisha continues talking about Alice.
Years later. You and I lived in a tiny apartment in the Bay area. The apartment was basically a kitchen. We had a bed barely big enough for the two of us. It was the only furniture we had, and so we spent all day in it. We slept, ate, talked, all on the cheapest mattress a small amount of money could buy. When we finally got rid of the mattress, the guy who collected it said that it sagged more than any mattress he had ever seen. There was a room with the toilet on one side of the kitchen, and a room with a sink and a shower on the complete other side of the kitchen.
Moving in together was not easy. There were fights, discomfort. Two people with two lives figuring out how to shrink their lives to fit a tiny bed in the corner of a kitchen. But slowly we realized that it wasn’t a constriction but a rearrangement of terms. There was infinite space in that tiny apartment, if we reoriented ourselves to find it.
Soon we settled into this new way of living, and the two of us became a unit. It was the first step to having a life together.
But the realization that this life could be indefinite, could have the same length as the lives of our physical bodies, that didn’t come until the death of my father. We were staying in my mother’s house, on a guest bed that was bigger than the one in our apartment. I was still in shock, and my head didn’t feel quite attached to my body. We laid facing each other during the day. I don’t remember the context. Were we taking a nap? I just remember the sunlight on your face, and I said, “I could spend my life with you.” And you said, “That would be nice.”
We wouldn’t get married for another few years, but that was the moment that the possibility of forever laid itself out for us. At least that’s what I thought. I never foresaw this room, this room I will die in. I’ll never again see that woman who laughed at study group, who kissed me on the beach. Who took my hand and walked with me into the rest of our lives.
Back to Keisha and the Watcher. The Watcher warns her that this won’t feel good, and Keisha, defiant, tells her that she’s killed a Thistle Man and that she can survive this. The Watcher tells her that she promises she can’t, and tells her to come here. Keisha, of course, isn’t going to do this, and starts running. The Watcher catches up to her, and, after a scream, we can hear Keisha start choking. The Watcher says to her, “It’s happening right now. Can you pinpoint the moment you start to die?”
As this is going on, there’s a knock on the door. The Watcher tells whoever’s knocking that she’s just finishing up her. The knocking just gets louder, until it turns into a banging noise and the door crashes open. There’s a sound like a gunshot, and then Keisha starts crying and says, “Alice? You came back for me.”
We then hear Alice say that she was wrong, and is sorry, before asking Keisha to come with her somewhere.
And that’s where Part 2 ends.
Wow, there were some bombshells dropped in this episode. I kind of had an inkling that it was going to turn out that Bay & Creek and the Thistle Men were going to turn out to be the same organization. It did leave the thread of Praxis dangling, but I think that they’re going to get more into that mystery in Part 3.
Which isn’t coming out until next year.