‘Constellation’ Episode 5 Recap & Ending Explained: Who Are The Bang Twins?  


The mind-bending AppleTV+ psychological space thriller series Constellation continues to make matters sinister with this week’s episode 5, while the characters take some major steps towards clearing doubts. The protagonist, Jo Ericsson, had been dumbfounded by her daughter Alice’s claim to have seen a flash of an alternate reality in which Jo was the one who died in space while Paul Lancaster had safely returned to Earth. Along with this, she had also found out about an unofficial source of recordings from space missions, and so she sets out to find out more about the source and the strange occurrences in her life.

Spoiler Alert

How does Jo find herself in trouble?

Constellation episode 5 begins right where episode 4 left us, at the house of protagonist Jo Ericsson in Cologne, Germany. The woman had just had a terrible row with her husband Magnus over multiple matters, including the differences in their opinions about Alice’s habits, Jo’s belief that she was in some changed reality now after her return from space, and also, most importantly, Jo’s alleged affair with her boss at ESA, Frederic Duverger. Although Jo had no recollection of any such affair, Magnus had just confirmed it from Frederic himself, and this led to the couple having an argument that briefly turned into a physical struggle. In her attempt to get Magnus off her back, Jo pushed her husband hard, resulting in him suffering a dangerous fall. It had seemed like Magnus had died from the impact after hitting his head terribly on the floor, and episode 5 now begins with Jo having the same opinion. She is afraid of having killed Magnus and is immediately terrified of the legal consequences that this will have on her. But she is also very determined to solve the mysteries in her present life and knows that she cannot afford to get arrested.

Not only would an arrest by the police mean that Jo could not continue her personal investigation, but it would also ensure that she was forcefully fed the lithium 7 capsules, which she had been avoiding so far. Convinced that an entire conspiracy was in the works against her, Jo now flees her house together with Alice and goes over to the ESA office at first. She frantically searches through the official records to find out what had happened at the ISS but realizes that her access to these audio clips has been taken away, clearly to hide some truth from her. Only one audio clip can be accessed, in which Jo is heard talking to Alice right before the accident, and from this, the protagonist figures out that the whole mystery is somehow connected to the CAL device. The audio log reveals to her that the accident on the ISS occurred right when Paul had switched on the CAL device for some experiment, and this ascertains Jo’s next step. She removes the CAL device from the ESA facility and takes it along with her, hoping to solve her mystery with the help of it.

But unbeknownst to Jo, Magnus had not really died and had only become unconscious as a result of the fall. In fact, he had started to move and squirm around when Jo was preparing to leave with Alice, and had she checked on him once more, she could have been saved from a lot of trouble. But on the other hand, Magnus would never let her go out on such an investigative journey, and it would have also hindered the plot progression of Constellation. After coming to his senses, Magnus immediately informs the police that his wife is missing along with their young daughter, with the insinuation being that Jo had fled with Alice as her hostage. Around the same time, the ESA authorities also reported a major theft at their facility, for the CAL device was missing, and it did not take long for anyone to deduce that Jo had taken the device. While Jo does get in touch with Magnus on one occasion, only informing him that both she and Alice are safe, she does not give any details to her husband about the upcoming journey. After successfully escaping Germany through the borders, Jo also calls up her colleague from the ISS, Ilya Andreev and tells him about how she was being given Lithium 7 as part of her medication. She requests that Ilya find out more about the pills from the Star City authorities, and the friend does so, too, only to be told that the specific records have been destroyed. Within some time, the Roscosmos head, Irena Lysenko, directly meets with Ilya to interrogate him about connections with Jo, but the latter hides the matter for now. By now, Lysenko had also clearly gotten involved in the matter through her secret lover, Henry Caldera. Alice also gets hold of a phone in the episode and secretly calls her father, telling him about their location in Denmark, which possibly sends the police forces in search of Jo, as seen in the previous episodes.

Who are the Bang twins?

Towards the end of Constellation episode 4, Jo received a letter from someone in Denmark with only the name Skagerrak Marine Observatory printed on it. As she had opened the mail, Jo found a letter addressed to her, along with a bunch of audio log transcripts and also a tape cassette. The letter claimed that the cassette contained an audio log of Jo while in space at the ISS, which was rather unusual since nobody other than the certified space research agencies should have access to the log. The letter also claimed that another cassette from the past also had very similar content, and this further egged Jo’s curiosity. Therefore, now that she has to flee Germany and investigate the conspiracy against her by herself, Jo decides to pursue the Marine Observatory she had received the mail from, situated in Denmark. On the way, she reads up about the place and finds that it is run by two elderly twins named Walborg and Laurenz Bang, who have had run-ins with the law as well.

The online article about the Bangs reveals that the twins had been arrested and imprisoned for six months on charges of impersonation and using fake evidence to blackmail and extort cosmonauts. This shortly changes Jo’s opinion about them and her journey to Denmark, and this is when she calls up Magnus to apologize to him for her erratic behavior. But Jo also finds out that ESA head Duverger is also present at her house with Magnus, and this once again makes her believe in the conspiracy against her. She finally drives over to Denmark and reaches the address of the Skagerrak Marine Observatory, which is situated quite some distance away from any locality. Jo had earlier called the number she could find, but Laurenz Bang had discouraged her from coming to the place, stating that his sister must have sent the mail to Jo, which she must ignore. But now, when the protagonist reaches the place and introduces herself to Walborg Bang, the sister, a different perspective is revealed.

The Bang twins, Walborg and Laurenz, had always been very interested in space research, even though they had never received any formal education or experience in the subject. During their younger days, the siblings had received some equipment from the WWII era and had built their own listening device, or radio of sorts, with them. In reality, this device could actually hear and record audio transmissions from space, which is extremely unusual and considered impossible since only space organizations have the resources and capabilities to do this. Initially, the organizations were impressed by the siblings’ remarkable work and had even invited them to their facilities for introductions. However, the Bangs were simply unwilling to go by the official records and propaganda of such organizations, as they had found the truth to be quite different from what was actually officially stated by such authorities. As an example to prove her point and convince Jo of their experiences, Walborg mentions an anomalous incident that had been reported by a few astronauts during one space mission, which the twins heard about through their makeshift radio. But these reports were simply covered up and changed by the authorities, who did not want the truth to come out for some reason.

As a result, the Bang twins became enemies of the authorities, and soon, fake charges were planted against them, due to which they were arrested and imprisoned. Although he is still equally invested in space research as his sister, Laurenz keeps trying to send Jo away only because he is afraid that she, too, is a spy for the authorities, who would only get the siblings arrested again. Walborg does not keep such reservations, though, and so she takes Jo out on her boat to make her listen to the relevant recordings. She mentions that while most people would hear only static noises in the audio recordings, she and her brother had learned and developed the skill to figure out the content. Walborg also reveals that the tapes are best heard only on water, about five miles away from any human civilization, in the middle of the vast open sea. She then goes on to play and reveal that the audio transmission from Jo’s time at the ISS and her further messages while inside the evacuation pod eerily matched the transmission from another cosmonaut on November 23rd, 1967. 

On that specific day in the past, the Bang twins had recorded a transmission from a cosmonaut in space in which she spoke about her evacuation capsule malfunctioning. The cosmonaut, a woman, had died from the accident, but there was no official record of it, and Irena Lysenko had also gone to space on that very day, just a few hours after the accident. Walborg Bang seems to suggest that it could have been Jo who had actually been killed in 1967, possibly in some other reality, and that the dead body of the cosmonaut in the orange suit that Jo had seen in space could have been her own corpse from a different reality. Walborg’s claims do sound too far-fetched and unsettling, which scares Alice, leading to her and Jo going away from the place. But as Walborg gives Jo a bag full of cassettes of their recordings from space, the protagonist makes two important revelations in quick succession.

Firstly, Jo learns that while the cassettes normally have a lot of static noise when played, they can be heard very clearly whenever brought close to the CAL device. This seems to suggest that the natural properties at geographical locations far from any civilization are very similar to the ones replicated inside the device, meaning that such locations are close to liminal space or the undefined space between two realities. Next, Jo hears the recording that the twins had made only a few days earlier in 2021, on the day of the accident at the ISS. However, to her bewilderment, it seems clear from the recording that it was Paul who had survived in this reality, and she was the one to have been hurt by the accident. This can either mean that Jo is really in some alternate reality or that the Bangs’ recording device is actually capable of hearing and recording transmissions from different planes of reality. 

But the matter of Alice also being able to experience certain flashes from a different reality still remains a total mystery. The girl now reveals that she is often haunted by a nightmare in which she sees a ghostly cosmonaut, whom she calls The Valya. When Alice draws a picture of the Valya, it looks very similar to the orange-suited cosmonaut Jo had seen in space. In the episode, it is also suggested that the dead Jo from 1967 was the same Valya that Alice keeps seeing in her dreams. At the end of the episode, Alice also learns that the Bangs’ recording of the 2021 incident is starkly different from her reality since she never called Jo “mamma” and also did not speak Swedish. This only further ascertains that the matter is indeed very real and is not psychological trouble for the protagonist.

How can Henry communicate with Bud?

By the end of Constellation episode 5, it seems almost confirmed that Henry and Bud are from different realities and that they can communicate with each other despite the differences. As Henry grows convinced that Bud is messing with his life from the alternate reality, he leaves a message on the mirror of his room, asking Bud to leave him alone. Around the same time, Bud receives the message on the mirror in his own house but decides not to pay attention to the request. Henry was seen telling an MIT professor about his theory that the observer’s effect that is common in quantum physics was not at work, but rather, the opposite was happening. According to Henry, it was the very duality of the states of objects, or the experiment itself, that was affecting what the observer was seeing, instead of the observer’s effect theory, in which an experiment being observed ascertains the result of it. 

Henry’s theory, or claim, seems to become clearer through the fact that only he could see the duality in the result run by the CAL device, while nobody else could. This is closely tied to the fact that Henry can anyway observe and communicate with alternate realities, just like Jo and possibly also Irena, all cosmonauts who have been to outer space. A scene in episode 5 has Henry accidentally urinating right in front of Frederic Duverger while trying to convince the ESA chief about the importance of retrieving the CAL device. This was clearly the work of Bud, who either knowingly or unknowingly made himself relieve himself in public. The incident seems to suggest that the CAL device is something that helps keep Henry separated from the alternate reality, without which he is vulnerable to the acts of Bud. 

There is also still maybe a slight chance of the whole thing being psychological, as Henry’s communications with Bud can probably be seen as an acute case of split-personality or multiple-personality disorder. Nonetheless, it also seems like there are some incidents from the past that have made Henry and Bud enemies, even if they are literally just two personalities of the same individual. This seems to stem from the Apollo 18 moon mission, in which an accident supposedly occurred. Incidentally, Henry Caldera had visited the Bang twins in the past, asking for the recording they had made of the Apollo 18 mission. Since the recording is seemingly at the disposal of Jo at present, this mystery will also surely be solved soon in the upcoming episodes. 

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Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya keeps an avid interest in all sorts of films, history, sports, videogames and everything related to New Media. Holding a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies, he is currently working as a teacher of Film Studies at a private school and also remotely as a Research Assistant and Translator on a postdoctoral project at UdK Berlin.

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