‘The North Water’ Episode 5: Recap & Ending, Explained – What Did Patrick’s Rebirth Symbolize?


Does the last episodes of The North Water, “To Live Is to Suffer,” end Patrick Sumner’s sufferings in the monstrous world? For most parts, it was speculated that Sumner’s death would only bring him peace. Hence, The North Water Episode 5 was about Patrick’s death but not to perish forever. Instead to get reborn and start anew.

Patrick, who reaches icy oblivion following the trials of a bear, ends up killing the creature in Episode 4. To save his soul from a spine-chilling storm, Patrick rips apart the bear’s belly and takes shelter inside its warm corpse. The local arctic tribe, Angakkkuq, finds Patrick in the body of a dead bear as if swallowed whole. (The description refers to Otto’s prophecy from Episode 4).

A missionary priest who lives among the tribe looks after a shivering Patrick and helps him to heal. Once on his legs, the priest reveals that the Angakkkuq tribe has a mythical belief. According to it, bears have extraordinary powers, and certain chosen men partake in them. These men are often considered to have superhuman strength. For these reasons, the tribe look upon Patrick as a skillful hunter.

During his stay among Angakkkuq, Patrick learns about Otto’s death and Drax’s offensive schemes, who run away to the northern tribes of Baffinland for shelter. He will probably wait for the dreadful winter to end and leave north as spring arrives. Patrick decides to follow the same schedule and, in the meantime, gets familiar with Eskimos culture and performs a major surgery of his career by operating the priest. The confidence and accomplishment revive Patrick’s spirit as if he is reborn.

What did Patrick’s Rebirth Symbolize?

Otto prophesied that the crew would perish, but the ship’s surgeon would survive the tragedy. However, later, he would be eaten by a bear. In a straightforward sense, the old Patrick died when he lifted a weapon against a creature. The new Patrick reborn (from the bear’s belly) had an air of confidence and felt less guilty about his past or actions.

The revitalized Patrick killed two men in the last episode and didn’t feel guilty about it. Maybe, the superstitions of Angakkkuq were accurate who considered Patrick a hunter with super strength. In The North Water, Patrick wasted a life overthinking the incidents of the past, especially his disgraceful suspension from the army after the Delhi Seige. However, the reborn persona understood and accepted the reality of his existence and the world as it is. A gospel he learned during his stay with Angakkkuq.

Patrick confessed to the missionary priest that the root of all his sufferings was himself alone, and no one else was to blame. The confession influenced him to start again in the best way he could manage. As the spring arrived, Patrick left the north and landed back in the British Kingdom five months later.

‘The North Water’ Episode 5 Ending Explained

As Patrick arrived in England, he dropped Angakkkuq’s talisman disregarding their superstitions. He visited East Yorkshire to meet the mastermind Baxter to receive his promised wages. Baxter tried his best to lure Patrick and promised him a job reference in London to work under a surgeon, Gregory. He requested Patrick to stay in town until he hears from Gregory.

Episode 5 revealed that Baxter had sheltered heinous Henry Drax in his house attic. He ploys against Patrick and infuriates Drax to kill him before the surgeon could spill the beans to the world and spoil their money-making scheme of voluntarily sinking the ship. But Baxter not only wanted to get rid of Patrick but Drax too. He sent his loyal butler Stevens to finish off Drax as soon as he killed Patrick.

In the end, Drax ambushed Stevens and Patrick on the night of May Day. Drax killed Stevens and revealed Baxter’s wicked schemes of the voluntary ship sinking. Patrick survived the attack and killed Drax with a dagger he brought from the Arctic. He reached Baxter’s house and threatened to kill him. Baxter tried his best to buy him, and the old Patrick would have given up on Baxter’s sweet words. However, the revived huntsman was on a mission to end it all.

Patrick emptied Baxter’s safe and shot him dead. A gunshot suggested the killing, and thus, Baxter’s fate could only be speculated on it. As Patrick left the house, a bear’s mannequin could be noticed in the background, highlighting Angakkkuq’s myth. Did Patrick reborn into a wild hunter?

It was a curious question that kept the drama intact until the end. What was the conclusion of Patrick’s ill-fated journey? How did it transform him? In most simple words, it could be explained that an unsettled person went on a voyage to discover himself or bury his guilt. One year later, with Baxter’s money, Patrick settled in Berlin, away from the English Kingdom. While walking in a garden, Patrick spotted a caged bear that quickly captured his attention. The last encounter between Patrick and Bear only underlined Patrick’s curiosity about the creature and the myths around it. Some things in nature are beyond explanation. After a transformation in his character, Patrick had finally given up overthinking and thus, accepted reality as it was. He felt it’s best just to let it go.

The North Water is a 2021 Period Drama TV Mini-Series created by Andrew Haigh for BBC.

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Shikhar Agrawal
Shikhar Agrawal
I am an Onstage Dramatist and a Screenwriter. I have been working in the Indian Film Industry for the past 12 years, writing dialogues for various films and television shows.

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