HBO's 'The Nevers' Episode 6 Reveals the Show It Should Have Been This Whole Time
What just HAPPENED??
This article contains major spoilers for The Nevers.
If you've been following along with HBO's steampunk sci-fi series The Nevers for the first half of its first season, you probably expected that its sixth episode—which, due to quarantine interrupting production, is the midseason finale—would offer a plot revelation or two, maybe explain a little more about how the Touched got their weird superpowers. You probably were not expecting it to happen like THAT.
Though this was by no means the plan, "True" functions quite well as a middle-of-the-season break, as it leaves us with plenty of information to process while we decompress from what we just saw. Going into this, we know that the Touched received their abilities via a winged spaceship thing sailing over London spreading sparkly lights, and that Amalia True has a deeper connection to the thing that started all this than she's let on to her cohort. Through the murdered Mary Brighton's song, something was trying to contact Amalia, telling her to "find me" "inside the city." That thing turns out to be, as far as we can tell, a Galanthi, a member of an all-powerful alien species that came to Earth in order to save humanity from ourselves.
The sixth episode (which is also the final episode creator Joss Whedon completed before he left the series) begins in the far future, after war has turned the planet into a barren wasteland with unbreatheable air. A group of soldiers from the Planetary Defense Council take a member of the enemy's army, a Free Life soldier, prisoner, sheltering in the remains of a scientific facility. It turns out that this facility was one of a number of them, targeted by the Free Life army for housing the 20 Galanthi (large tentacled creatures with multiple eyes and four legs) who appeared on Earth apparently with the intent of helping humanity save their planet. Their arrival split humans into two factions, Free Life and the PDC, whose war has further decimated the world and killed all but one remaining Galanthi. The PDC soldiers find this Galanthi trapped inside a bloody chamber with the remains of its human scientist allies hanging above it, having been tortured by the Free Life zealots who believe the aliens are agents of evil.
After a shootout, the one remaining PDC soldier, a pessimistic woman who calls herself Stripe (played by Farscape's Claudia Black), attempts suicide, but her soul is transported by the hopeless Galanthi back in time, into the body of Amalia—who was actually a downtrodden lower class Victorian woman before she committed suicide by jumping into the Thames. When she's hauled out of the water, the new owner of the body is Stripe, disoriented by the time travel and stuck in a women's sanatorium while the outside world is reeling from the effects of the Touched. This explains why she's such a competent hand-to-hand fighter, and why she seems to know a lot more about what's going on than anyone else. We see what happened to her in the years between the arrival of the Touched and the start of the show, how she met physician Horatio Cousens and Maladie (a.k.a. Sarah) in the sanatorium, and an interesting tidbit about how the Galanthi's "spores" have changed from simply making people more empathetic as they do in the war-torn future, to giving the people who contact them actual superhuman abilities.
When this episode catches up to the events of episode 5, Amalia has made her way down below the prison to where the Galanthi has been hiding this whole time, encased in a glowing blue sphere inside a large cave. When she confronts it, it shows her a blast of memories of not only her life, but of the first Amalia's, before giving her a few split-second visions of the future, including one of a woman, apparently from wayyyyy into the future, who tells her, "This is a long time from that little cave. This I will need you to forget." Whatever THAT means.
When Amalia and Penance meet up afterward in the courtyard of their home, Amalia tells her that something in the visions she had gave her a clue as to what's going to happen next. The whole episode has raised the stakes for the entire show, transforming it from a superhero tale dressed in Victorian petticoats to a time-travel body-swapping tale of aliens and spaceships and war for the future of the planet. That's the show The Nevers should have been this whole time, and it shows tons of promise for what comes next.