‘Constellation’ Episode 7 Recap & Ending Explained: What Do The Paintings Mean?


After a greatly interesting episode last week, in which the perspective had been changed to the reality in which Paul Lancaster was alive and Jo Ericsson had died in space, AppleTV+’s psychological space thriller series Constellation presents the most mind-bending episode this week. A number of significant and mysterious events occur in episode 7, including Jo’s desperate search for Alice from her reality and Henry Caldera’s supposed switch into an alternate reality. The exact meanings of these occurrences, or why they take place, are still not very clear, as next week’s season finale has been kept away as the final piece in solving this sci-fi space thriller puzzle.

Spoiler Alert

How does Alice communicate with herself in the alternate reality?

Constellation episode 7 picks up right where episode 6 left us last week, with Alice still unable to accept the fact that her mother has died in space since, in this reality, Paul Lancaster had survived. Distraught and also determined to find Jo somehow, Alice had convinced her father, Magnus, to take her to the old cabin in Sweden, which Jo would often visit. Alice wanted to somehow reunite with her mother, perhaps out of a childish desire or because she strongly felt that Jo was still alive, and at the end of the previous episode, the girl had indeed heard the sound of a car approaching the cabin. When Alice walks up to the window, she sees Jo get out of the car, although the woman is still in the alternate reality. Thus, as the girl walks out of the cabin to meet Jo, she can no longer see her, as the two realities are no longer accessible or visible to each other. However, the existence of the other realities can still be sensed, for both Jo and Alice hear each other’s footsteps on the snow, despite not being visible to each other. 

Seeing nobody in the vicinity, or even as far as she can see across the vast snowy fields, Alice ventures out further away from the cabin, all while Magnus sleeps inside with no idea about these developments. The girl now knows that her mother is indeed not dead after having seen her for a few seconds, and so she calls out to her. Since sounds are clearly crossing over the boundaries of the two realities, just like the sound of footsteps earlier, Jo is able to hear the cries, and she immediately decides to respond. This is when Jo ran across to the other cabin, found Alice inside the cupboard, and then brought her back, all of which was seen in the earlier episodes. While Jo had been helping Alice take a bath, the girl had disappeared, and now it is clear that she is brought back to her original cabin, where Magnus is woken up by her cries. 

On the other side of reality, the incident also made Jo very determined to go back to the derelict cabin, tugging along Alice from the original reality with her. Since this is Alice and the reality we have been following since the beginning of Constellation, it would be safer to consider this version of the girl as the actual Alice. Still very confused about Jo’s claims of having seen a different version of her, young Alice follows the woman who is supposed to be her mother through the snowy fields until the two have a very serious confrontation. Out of anger and frustration, Alice lashes out at Jo, asking where her actual mother was, to which Jo responds that they need to solve the mystery together. This further perplexes Alice, and she starts running back towards their cabin, only to somehow come across the derelict cabin in the woods, which looks to have been abandoned a really long time ago. Entering the place, she finds the same tape recorder as the one she has in her reality and is immediately intrigued, since playing the cassettes from the Bang twins on this very device had led to so much confusion. Exploring the place further, Alice finds a wardrobe on the upper floor with a beaded necklace stuck on the handle, which is similar to what she also had, and this makes the girl finally believe in the existence of a different version of herself.

During this time, Alice in the alternate reality, who is still looking for her dead mother, had decided to flout Magnus’ advice once again and had ventured out of the cabin once more. Walking through the forest and field, she came across a trail of beads on the ground, which the other Alice had been leaving behind while following Jo in a confused and scared state. The Alice of this reality also reaches the same derelict house, where she sees a light on the upper floor and immediately enters to get to the room. According to what Constellation episode 7 seems to suggest, the vast snowy area is probably far enough from any life or locality to be a spot where different realities can be experienced or felt. In such a place, the derelict cabin itself seems to work as a sort of spot through which the realities can be directly communicated, despite the two existing separately. 

Thus, the two Alices cannot see each other, but they can indeed speak with each other through the common element in both realities—the tape recorder. Both versions of the girl ultimately climb into the wardrobe, with the recorders in their hands, and then speak with each other through the device. A voice note recorded in one reality can be heard by playing the device in the other, once again confirming that only sound is able to move through the barriers of multiple realities. Through their conversation, the original Alice learns how the other Alice lost her mother in space and realizes that the version of Jo who has returned to her life from space is actually from another reality, since the other Alice speaks fluent Swedish, also referring to her mother as “mamma.” It seems like the two girls become friends through this conversation, agreeing to help each other even though the means to do so are not known to them.

What do the paintings mean?

Ever since the cabin in the snowy woods was shown in Constellation, the respective paintings on the walls of the building have been given special attention. These paintings are actually by Finnish artist Hugo Simberg, who was a practitioner of the symbolist movement in art. Simberg’s “The Devil by the Pot” and “The Wounded Angel” are the ones seen hanging on the walls of the cabins in the two different realities. It is mentioned that Jo particularly likes Simberg’s works, perhaps because of the ambiguous and generally eerie nature of the paintings. However, as the derelict cabins are shown, in both realities, the contents in these paintings are seen to have changed, for an angel is seen standing by a cooking pot instead of a devil, and a wounded devil is seen being carried on a stretcher instead of an angel.

These variations seemingly suggest a change in reality, as they show the different possibilities with regard to the paintings. It is also the paintings at the abandoned cabins that are altered, and these alterations are also directly linked to the paintings in the alternate realities. The devil and the angel figures are the ones that get exchanged with each other on their respective backdrops, making it clear that these derelict cabins in each of the realities are spots where the two alternate worlds can easily interact and leave impressions on each other. Along with the paintings, the presence of the cat is also particularly interesting, since it is most definitely a direct nod to Schrodinger’s cat theory, in which a cat is theoretically both alive and dead at the same time, the result of which is not determined until the box is not opened. The fact that the result is determined only when it is observed is directly linked to the proposition of the CAL device in the series. The cat is seen alive in one reality and dead in the other, while in the latter part of episode 7, Jo sees both a dead cat and an alive one at the same time, suggesting duality in her current reality.

Is Jo able to reunite with Alice?

While the two versions of Alice from the different realities speak with each other via the tape recorder, both Jo and Magnus, in their respective realities, are able to hear their voices in their cabins. Both the parents check on the matter but find nobody, since their respective daughters are at the abandoned cabins. As Magnus has no idea about any of the strange occurrences, he simply calls up the police and informs them of his daughter being missing. On the other side, Jo hurries out to find her daughter, and in the process, she mistakenly sets off a fire in her original cabin. Around halfway through her drive away from the place, though, she notices that the whole building is on fire and returns to the place. 

While the words being spoken in the derelict cabins can be heard in the original cabins, it means that the two realities can also affect each other. Therefore, the fire that breaks out at Jo’s cabin also inflames the respective abandoned cabin of that reality, but what is mysteriously unexplained is that Jo is able to travel to the second cabin despite entering her own. She finds herself in the abandoned cabin and finds Alice hiding in the cupboard, although the girl is still the one who cannot speak Swedish, meaning Jo is still stuck in the altered reality. Irrespective of the fact that this version of Alice is not her actual daughter, she decides to help her after finding the girl lying outside the cabin.

Incidentally, Jo does see her real Alice, though, just as she is trying to save the altered daughter, perhaps meaning that the fire at the cabin has finally broken down. However, Jo now chooses to not go with her real daughter but instead to be with Alice in her altered reality. The protagonist makes this choice perhaps because Alice needs her attention more at the moment, and probably also because she wants to solve the mystery of this strange occurrence. She tells her daughter to return to Magnus and keep him company instead, promising that she will try to return. Therefore, the Swedish-speaking Alice returns to her father, who had also spotted Jo alive amidst the snowstorm, not knowing that this was his real wife but who had been pushed into a different reality.

In the end, as Jo helps Alice, in her present reality, recover from the fire-induced injuries, the police, along with Magnus, Henry Caldera, and Frederic Duverger, also reach the place. The girl is taken back to the city and admitted to a hospital, where Alice is treated back to health. During this time, she sees a nightmare in which she sees the Valya, which was the orange-suited cosmonaut that haunted her dreams often, and the strange figure looks very identical to Irena Lysenko. Indeed, it is revealed that Irena has taken Jo away to help her with her mental struggles, for the protagonist is still considered to be hallucinating. But Alice realizes that Jo is not safe with Irena, stating that they need to go and rescue her mother soon, building up to an interesting premise for the season finale next week.

Have Henry and Bud exchanged realities?

Constellation episode 7 also has Henry Caldera rushing towards the cabin in Sweden along with Magnus and the police, as he remains desperate to retrieve his CAL device. Henry talks about the experience aboard the Apollo 18 mission, stating that at one point his colleagues looked to be suffering and sick, following which he himself lost consciousness. But when he woke up after some time, everyone was seemingly fine again, only realizing that his reality had changed after he returned to earth. This was indeed when the switch between Henry and Bud happened, and this is also why Bud seems so vengeful against his altered self. Towards the end of the episode, Bud is possibly able to take his revenge and return to his own reality, when the shooting of his gun towards Paul Lancaster (as seen in the previous episode) leads to him and Henry exchanging realities.

The shooter immediately regrets the action and also calls for medical help for Paul since he is no longer Bud but Henry. Similarly, on the other side, Bud has transferred over to Henry’s reality, which is probably his original reality as well. Bud is the one who carries Alice out of the cabin and then moves away from the place, probably in order to find the CAL device and also perhaps to avoid any attention. This switch will definitely have some major repercussions, but they will only play out in the next episode, when Constellation season 1 comes to an end.

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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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