‘Shining Girls’ Episode 5: Recap And Ending, Explained – Is Kirby’s Changing Reality A Peek Into The Future?


“Shining Girls” Episode 4 concluded with a bang as Kirby (Elisabeth Moss) and Harper (Jamie Bell) finally came face-to-face in the laundromat that is/was supposed to be a bar. Up until that moment, it seemed like Harper had a hold on things and was doing what he was doing very methodically. Then it became apparent that not only were his kills very random, but also that he didn’t have any idea of the impact he was causing on Kirby’s life. A violent altercation between the two also revealed that Kirby and Harper are the only two people who are aware of the changing realities. The rest are oblivious to this phenomenon because their memories become altered according to the shift in reality. And if you thought all that confusion was a lot to take in, you are in for a ride in “Shining Girls” Episode 5.

Kirby Figures Out Her And Harper’s Intertwined Destinies

The opening of “Shining Girls” Episode 5, titled “Screamer,” indicates that after crashing through the glass and ending up on the street in front of the bar that was a laundromat a few minutes ago, Kirby went straight to the police to get Harper’s face sketched. Since the sketch artist isn’t very interested in the details, it irks Kirby because she wants that sketch to be painted all over the city. The sketch artist says that’s not the procedure. Technically, it’ll be taken to someone the criminal knows, and the police will work from there. Kirby says that no one knows him, so that is a dead-end (which is an important point to keep in mind because the episode comes full circle to subvert that statement).

Harper wakes up in a hospital, and he asks a fellow patient to free him of his restraints. When the patient jokes around, Harper gets frustrated. As soon as he stresses himself, he suffers a mild seizure, and he starts asking how long he has been there in the hospital. The fellow patient says that it’s been around 12 hours, and that sends Harper into panic mode. He starts saying he has to go home, and he borderline threatens to kill the fellow patient if he doesn’t get him out of there. The patient gives in and gets out of Harper’s way as he drags himself to the house. Does this confirm that the house is some kind of a source of power for Harper? You know, to keep his sanity or molecules intact since he travels between timelines so much? Maybe.

Dan (Wagner Moura) goes to the police station to receive Kirby. That is where he sees the sketch and remembers that he’s the guy who followed him into the subway station and wanted to know about the Julia Madrigal murder investigation. Dan then meets Kirby, who says that she wants to go back to the bar. She even reveals that she has snuck out a copy of Harper’s sketch so that they can go find him because the police are not going to. Dan says that Kirby has to inform her husband and her mom that she’s unharmed and fine, but Kirby says that getting to the bar is more important. They find that the bar is closed. Dan starts talking about how Harper might’ve found Kirby because he was at Julia Madrigal’s wake. Kirby tries to explain how she thinks Harper is traveling through time, ever-present and always stalking, and how it changes her reality. Dan obviously doesn’t digest that.

Jin-Sook (Philipa Soo) reads Kirby’s story in the latest edition of the Chicago Sun-Times and is prompted to check up on her lost key. When the receptionist brings up the report of the lost key’s activity, she thinks that Jin-Sook is frequently using it. But Jin-Sook figures out that several of the entries in that report aren’t hers, which means that someone is using Jin-Sook’s lost key to get into the planetarium pretending to be her. Dan and Kirby return to the office to find that it’s flooded with people reporting crimes similar to the one that Kirby has reported. When Abby (Erika Alexander) asks how they’re going to follow up on the report, Dan says he has a profile of Summer Francis ready to go, but he wants to go after the Madrigal suspect. Kirby interjects, and says that they should report her altercation with Harper. Dan advises against it, and Abby tables the discussion for the time being.

Jin-Sook meets up with Kirby, and she informs Kirby that she thinks Harper has been coming to her workplace using her lost key. Kirby asks if Jin-Sook recognizes him from the sketch. Jin-Sook says that she meets so many people in a day at the planetarium that it’s impossible for her to single out one face. Kirby then asks Jin-Sook if her reality is shifting. Jin-Sook says she doesn’t know. Referring to Harper seeing the changing realities while beating her up, Kirby wonders why she and Harper are the only two people who are aware of this phenomenon. Jin-Sook says that no one really knows how they’re connected. She says that two particles can be connected somehow, like an invisible thread is between them. They can’t act independently and hence a change in one particle impacts the other, even across all of space-time.

See More: ‘Shining Girls’ Episode 4: Recap And Ending, Explained – Does Harper Have No Control Over How He Affects Time?

Is Jin-Sook’s Story A Time-loop?

Harper pays Leo (Christopher Denham) a visit, and we hear Harper ask him if he sees things changing in the care home he is in. Leo says he doesn’t see the kind of change Harper is claiming. Leo says that he doesn’t like it in that care home and wants to come back to that house. Harper refuses and says that that can’t happen. Harper talks about his altercation with Kirby to let Leo know that things are capable of “changing” outside of that house; meaning that, till now, they were under the impression that changes were limited to the house. Harper thinks that Kirby is the one who is making things change. But Leo teases Harper with the notion that maybe Kirby is one step ahead of him and knows something that he doesn’t.

Then the second most bizarre thing happens. The whole interaction between Kirby and Jin-Sook in Jin-Sook’s apartment, where Kirby warns Jin-Sook to be careful about where she’s going, plays out from Harper’s perspective. We see him lurking in the shadows and sneakily looking at the two women talking. The conversation plays out almost exactly like it did in “Shining Girls” Episode 4, down to Jin-sook cutting off Kirby when she starts to talk about self-defense. After that, though, Kirby gets up to look through the balcony door, unaware that Harper is standing a few feet away, looking right at her. Just as an experiment, Harper moves toward Kirby, and her appearance changes. He moves again, and Kirby’s appearance changes once again, taking her back to her short-haired look. This confirms that the “change” is triggered by Harper and Kirby’s proximity to each other.

At the Chicago Sun-Times office, Kirby is accused of manipulating the evidence. Dan doesn’t back Kirby’s statement that she didn’t do anything to the evidence, and that angers Kirby so much that she has a panic attack. Marcus (Chris Chalk) catches her just in time and takes her out of the office to calm her down. Some of that anger spills into Marcus and Kirby’s conversation as she can’t believe that in this reality, she likes bacon, peanut butter, and grape jelly in her grilled sandwich. Dan meets up with Rachel (Amy Brenneman) to talk about Kirby, who is also angry because Kirby isn’t picking up her calls. So, that attempt at getting to know Kirby’s mental state by Dan goes nowhere. In Kirby’s home, while reminiscing about Marcus’s army days, Kirby comes across a symbol resembling the one on Harper’s chest. Marcus deduces that that means Harper is a military man then.

Jin-Sook, with her red umbrella, goes to the planetarium, and the day plays out exactly like it did in the first episode, down to the de-winged bee on her table. But going by her expressions, it seems like she’s somewhat aware that this particular event is repeating itself. Or maybe she has that worried expression on her face because now she knows that a killer is after her. Which is something that she didn’t know in the first iteration of this event. However, that means that this is, in fact, the second time that this is happening. I know, it’s confusing.

Meanwhile, Dan and Kirby go to the care home to talk to the old man Julia Madrigal looked after. Instead, while hanging the sketch on the notice board, they find out that Harper visits the care home to meet with Leo, who is apparently suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. So, naturally, Kirby and Harper shift their focus to Leo.

‘Shining Girls’ Episode 5: Ending Explained – Is Leo The Key To Catching Harper?

Since every room in the care home is tailor-made for the patient and filled with stuff from the time the patient remembers the most, Leo’s room indicates that he’s from the 1910s because he has World War I medals hung up on the walls. Kirby and Dan try to get him to talk about Harper, but he doesn’t budge. Dan goes out to check if there’s anything in Leo’s files. Kirby sees that as an opportunity to truly (and illegally) get into Leo’s fractured mind. She starts feeding him lies about knowing his and Harper’s secrets. She says Leo has said things that he actually hasn’t said. When Leo says something about taking an object that Harper doesn’t know about, Kirby doubles down on that until he breaks and hands over a VHS tape to her. Kirby and Dan play it and see Harper taping a girl (played by Madeline Brewer).

Then the most bizarre moment of the episode happens. At the planetarium, the moment where Jin-Sook gets trapped on the roof and miraculously finds the red umbrella on the railing, as if someone predicted she’s going to get trapped there and that it’s going to rain, plays out a little differently. Because this time, Harper is actually present on the rooftop with Jin-Sook. Harper asks Jin-Sook how she knows Sharon (Kirby’s old name). He says he wants Jin-Sook to talk to Kirby for him. And he keeps getting closer and closer to Jin-Sook, who is too afraid to get away from him. Jin-Sook agrees and asks him what he wants her to say to Kirby. Harper says that she’s already said it. He says that when he feels something, Kirby knows. We cut to Kirby and Dan getting into a car that they didn’t arrive in. Kirby and Dan get into an argument about the changing realities. Harper leaves and Jin-Sook finds the red umbrella on the railing, again. Dan tells Kirby that maybe the changes that she sees are an indicator of what’s about to come.

What does that mean? Like every interesting thing happening in “Shining Girls,” I have no clue. How is a change in reality, which sends ripples throughout everyone’s personal and public histories and something that can only be perceived by Kirby and Harper, be an indicator of the future? Well, maybe what Dan means is that the things that undergo change are the things that are going to help Kirby get one step ahead of Harper or the other way around. Which begs the question: what is the goal? What are they racing towards by changing reality or observing these changes? I don’t know, but I am hooked on this show, and I want to know more.

See More: ‘Shining Girls’ Episode 6: Recap And Ending, Explained – Who Really Harper Is? Where Did He Come From?

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Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit loves to write about movies, television shows, short films, and basically anything that emerges from the world of entertainment. He occasionally talks to people, and judges them on the basis of their love for Edgar Wright, Ryan Gosling, Keanu Reeves, and the best television series ever made, Dark.

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