Alice Isn’t Dead, Part 3 Episode 1: “Cause and Effect”

And so we are now in the home stretch of Alice Isn’t Dead, as this season will be the last. At the end of part 2, Keisha is reunited with Alice. Since then, the pair has been busy. 

(Edit 5/24: I realized that I had linked the wrong episode above. That has been remedied.)

As a note, the episode frequently switches between Keisha and Alice, POV-wise. We start out from Keisha’s point of view:

This is not a story. It’s a road trip. And like any raod trip, the stuff that ends up important isn’t the stops planned along the way, but the detours that you’re forced to make. The weird vignettes caught out of the corner of your eye. The places you thought you’d never end up, adn that you’ll never return to. This isn’t the ending that I thought we were heading for. But it’s the ending we’re gonna get.

She then begins to address Alice the way she had been throughut the series so far, then remembers she doesn’t have to. Alice then cuts and and says that Keisha doesn’t need a radio because she’s in the truck with her now. For a moment, she laments that things aren’t the way that they used to be, but is hopeful that all this will be worth it in the end.

Keisha cuts in with, “Nothing ever could be.”

After the credits, Keisha says that they’ve come to Arizona, specifically a place called the Painted Rocks; “a miracle of art!!” as Keisha quotes the sign. She doubts for a moment that the place most likely wasn’t that impressive when it was still open, but’s it certainly isn’t in it’s current state of disrepair:

Whatever paint had been on the rocks was peeling. It looked like they had gotten sick, their natural color with this off-putting pallor. Alice didn’t look much better. She kept glancing around those paint faded rocks into the former ticket bootg that was now home to a family of lizards, like an ambush was waiting for her in this abandonment.

Keisha asks Alice what’s wrong. Alice at first says it’s nothing, but the tells her that she’s been there before and doesn’t want to talk about it.

Keisha tells her, “Of course you don’t.” She adds in narration, somewhat bitterly, “Of course she didn’t. I didn’t push. I didn’t care. How many secrets am I supposed to care about at once?”

She then takes a look around the place herself, noting that the bathrooms in particularly seem weirdly clean for a place that’s been abandoned. Reasoning that the plumbing most likely doesn’t work, she decides to leave the place alone: “I didn’t search too closely. I knew that there was something hidden in that place, but I dind’t need to find it.”

We switch to Alice’s point of view, as she explains that they’d finished what they’d come there to do and need to leave the state for a while because of that. They’ve headed west, and are now heading up the California coast near Santa Barbara. She sees some oil rigs off the shore, which she describes as “like giants from a monster movie, stepping out of the depths.”

Keisha interjects, “Tucked among the hills along the road, I see the fire of a refinery, constant and hot, strange against the lush post-rain greenery.”

Alice then continues, this time talking about her reaction at the Painted Rocks:

There was so much hidden at the amazing Painted Rocks. Physically hidden, but also hidden there was a story I’m not ready to tell her. How am I supposed to explain how the gut-bottom shock of that place nearly tuck me off my feet when I stepped off the truck? Because she hadn’t told me where we were going, because she dind’t think it mattered. Because she didn’t know that if my story had a first sentence, then that first sentence took place there. My secret is buried there, along with whatever else they put into the earth, but it will have to stay buried. We have a job to do, right? And not a lot of time to do it.

Alice then gives us some idea of what they’re doing. Alice and Keisha start off by getting some nebulous “stuff” from the truck and carefully placing it around the area, all the while checking for traps or other hazards. All in complete silence: “I don’t know if it would have made a difference if we talked. But we didn’t.”

We go back to Keisha, while she talks a bit of a town they’ve gone near called La Conchita, California. Basically, the town was built between two hills, which are prone to landslides. Alice cuts in a bit, and explains that the first major landslide had happened in 1995, with another in 2005. After this, the site was declared a geological hazard area, but the town is still home to about 300 residents.

Keisha says that she shouldn’t judge them and that everyone does things that they shouldnt: “It’s hard to walk away from something you put your whole life into, even if you know it might end up killing you.” This is quite clearly meant to be a metaphor for Alice and Keisha’s current relationship.

Keisha continues, this time giving us a bit more insight into exactly what she and Alice were doing in Arizona:

Once all the elements were in place, we went through and double-checked. We didn’t have a lot of time, but not much point in doing this if we’re not doing it right. So we cross-checked each other’s work. Then we went back to the truck, not in the parking lot, parked way farther back. Because we still hadn’t worked out the safe distance for this kind of stuff. We went there, and I pulled out the cell phone I’d bought at a gas station two states away. I asked Alice if she was ready. She said she was. I thought of Earl, murdered by the Thistle Man. Murdered as I ran away.

I can never make up for that. But maybe I can make small steps in the right direction.

So, I pressed the call button. “The amazing painted rocks, a miracle of art!!” Two exclamation points in all blew up. The rocks with traces of paint on them, those bathrooms somehow still clean. The deteriorating parking lot. The ticket booth…yeah, I feel bad about the lizards, but every war is going to have casualties.

We watched the remnants rain back down to earth, then we got in the truck and got out of there before someone on the highway noticed and tried to figure out which authority you call about a bunch of rocks blowing up in the middle of nowhere.

Essentially, this is what they’ve been up to since the last season: looking for derelict buildings and abandoned roadside attractions and blowing them up.

Back to Alice, who describes walking along the beach in Santa Barbara. She talks for a moment about a conversation between two old men that she overhears. One of the men pulls out and lights a cigarette, causing his companion to remark, “Those cause cancer.” The man with the cigarette laughs and responds, “Cigarettes don’t cause cancer, people cause cancer.” Alice then buys a smoothie, which she drinks while looking out at the water.

Keisha cuts back in for a moment: “I miss home. But home isn’t a place, home is a person. I wanna go home, but I am home.”

Alice then relates that a number of TV shows have given them a name: the Derelict Bombers. They don’t really understand what they’re trying to convey bombing a bunch of abandoned buildings and attractions, but the two don’t really worry about that: “The message isn’t for them.”

Alice expounds on this a bit further:

Five months since I pulled her out of that underground base. Five months of living like this. Parking the truck far from the highway, behind trees and brush. Living always as wanted people. Never turning our faces fully to a stranger.

Keisha then explains how they’ve been able to do this. Basically they would go to public libraries where they would google information, as well as getting the information from physical books to make it less likely that the authorities would track them. After they were confident that they knew that they were doing, they found and blew up their first Bay & Creek base entrance.

They’d found more since then, and while Keisha knows they aren’t exactly delivering a devestating blow to Bay & Creek, she at least hopes that they’re annoying them.

Alice has noted that Keisha’s heart doesn’t seem to be in it, however:

But I can tell Keisha’s had it. I can tell she no longer thinks this is enough, because it isn’t is it? It’s not enough to just annoy them. “We’re like mosquitos,” she says.

“Mosquitos kill over a million people a year,” I point out.

“We’re not givng them malaria,” she says.

“Well, maybe we should consider doing that,” I say. I laugh. She doesn’t

Keisha cuts back in, and says that they don’t have malaria, but they do have some valuable information, about Bay & Creek, the Thistle Men, and their ties to the US government. She believes that the best way to strike a blow against them is to take that information that they have and give it to the press.

She says that she’s been trying to call various journalists, but most of them have hung up on her. However, she has managed to pique the interest of at least one: a writer for the LA Times named Tamara Lietz. She had asked Keisha for proof, and Keisha had assured her that she has it.

Alice again, this time commenting on the conversation that she had overheard earlier. She says that she believes that neigher cigarettes nor people cause cancer, at least not by themselves. Rather, it is caused by a combination of the two.

Keisha then describes a scene, which she admits that she didn’t hear about until later, and that she’s mostly guessing about the events that she’s describing:

In a field somehere, let’s say Nebraska, only it’s not Nebraska but it’s similar to Nebraska. A man walks out among the grass. There’s something wrong about how he’s walking. He has a limp, maybe? Except it’s not regular enough to be a limp. His walk is wobbly and wet, like he’s shifting himself along on piles of mud. As he gets closer, there is the huff and snort of his breath. His skin hangs loose on his face. His eyes are yellow around the pupils. His teeth are yellow too. His polo shirt says “Thistle.” He is greeted by a group of men just like him. Boogeymen out of nightmares. There are hundreds of them in this remote field. They were scarrter out into the highways when their town near Victorville hadd been discovered.

But they have made their way to this place, picking off innocent people as they went. Traces of blood leading to a point on a map, and here, at this point, they gather.

A final person joins the group. She doesn’t look like the rest of them. She wears a Bay & Creek uniform. Her name is Lucy. Once I thought she had rescued me from Thistleown. Once I had followed her to the Salton Sea. Once she let me walk away from a Bay & Creek base, let me think it was an act of mercy.

Now she looks on this group of serial killing monsters, and she smiles and says, “OK. Let’s get to work.

And that is the end of the episode.

So, first off, it looks like the reunion between Alice and Keisha wasn’t quite as rosy as either of them would have wanted it to be. A large part seems to be on the part of Keisha, who expresses frustration that Alice is keeping secrets from here, as well as the ineffectiveness of their current activities.

Also, the monologue at the end is definitely setting up for a final conflict. And good lord is it chilling. The music that plays under it also sounds like it would be right at home in a Silent Hill game, which definitely adds to that feeling.

All in all, a strong start to the show’s final season.

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