Circular Time
S1 episode 10 Aired on December 22, 2016

Warning Contains Spoilers

Burton gets blindsided.

Just as he wrapped 109 on a high note, having found the boy and brought him back into the waking world, Burton is quickly brought down a notch from this episode’s onset. It begins with Burton and the boy in the field near the highway where we left off last week. He takes the boy to get ice cream, and it’s there that he breaks the ice on the Woman in Red. “There’s a woman I care about very much. She’s lost and needs my help,” he says. “She told me to find you.” At that, the boy gets up to throw ice cream away and takes Burton’s hand. He walks around to the back of the ice cream shop, opening the back door and crossing them over into Topeka in The Green’s dungeon where they’re holding the woman captive. There, Burton finds the Woman in Red, but it’s not what he expected. She stands, looking at him for a moment before bursting out: “No, you’ll leave me. You can’t leave me!” Taking us all by surprise, she stabs him with a makeshift shank, clearly delusional. Next time we see Burton, he’s in Marcello’s, bleeding out with the boy waiting next to him for Tess. 

Sabine loses herself in Topeka.

Tess’s arc opens with her showing a sleeping Sabine how she can hack her dream to prove she and Taka weren’t lying. They’re standing in a field, and Sabine is happy, astonished, and amazed. While Sabine wanders further into the field, Tess turns around to see her son is standing on a tree stump in the distance. Leaving Sabine, she runs towards him, but he disappears. On the stump, Tess finds a matchbook from Marcello’s, and her son has written, “Don’t tell,” inside. She wakes with a start, and Sabine is still sleeping. Taka is also with them in Sabine’s apartment, so he waits with Sabine while Tess leaves for Marcello’s. Time passes, and growing agitated, Taka tries to wake Sabine, but he turns her over to find her staring blankly in the distance, just like his mother. At this realization, he gets a call from Ann-Marie angrily telling him that he didn’t press the button when he was near the boy and that The Green needs the boy. Taka insists that he never saw him, but it’s no use. “That boy can do anything. He can reshape the world. He can bend space and time. Do you even understand that kind of power?” Ann-Marie won’t give Sabine back to Taka until he delivers the boy, despite their agreement originally being about helping his mother. Taka protests, but Ann-Marie says that taking Sabine was his mother’s idea. 

Tess goes to Marcello’s again and again.

Tess drives to Marcello’s in lower Manhattan to find it boarded up; foreclosure notices decorate its doorway. She enters anyway, and in the back, she sees Burton sitting in the booth he often shares with the Woman in Red, bleeding from the gut. “You, you’re his mother,” he says, immediately recognizing her. The boy sits in the corner, silently sulking and blaming himself for Burton’s injury despite being told he did nothing wrong. He eventually stands and hugs Tess. Tess takes Burton to the hospital to be tended to, but while he’s recovering, she’s unexpectedly interrogated by a hospital social worker who tells her there’s an Amber Alert out for a young blonde boy who was last seen with a man who fits Burton’s description. When the social worker, still suspicious, leaves them alone, Tess gets a call from Taka, who after getting off the phone with Ann-Marie, has made his way to Marcello’s to find it empty. He insists that he needs to meet her son. Desperate to save his mother and Sabine, has he now compromised his loyalty to Tess? 

Before we can learn of Taka’s intentions, Bill enters the hospital waiting room to speak with Tess. He tells her not to run and that he’s the only one who can clear up the Amber Alert since he made the call. He says she’ll never make it out of the hospital, and he just wants to explain everything. She runs anyway, almost getting out of the hospital with her son, but the revolving door is locked down with both of them inside. Frantic and nearly captured, she bangs the walls. “Let me out! He’s my son!” She looks down, and her son has miraculously disappeared. Thinking it’s the end, she all of a sudden hears, “Mama, wake up!” and she awakes back in her car outside of Marcello’s, where her son and Burton are waiting for her inside. Ann-Marie wasn’t lying: It looks like the boy can bend space and time to rewind and take another stab at his escape with his mother. “Circular Time,” indeed. She enters Marcello’s and grabs her son. “Sorry we don’t have time for this,” she tells Burton, leaving him injured on the floor. They escape and book themselves a motel room just before Taka shows up.  

Taka betrays his mother’s wishes.

Taka reenters Marcello’s to find Burton bleeding out on the floor. “If you’re here for the boy, you missed him,” Burton says, but he recognizes Taka from his dream about the Belgian ambassador. Taking a breath, Taka calls Burton an ambulance. Back in the hospital, Taka dozes off while Burton is stabilized. He awakes in Topeka, back in the parking garage space with the iron room in the middle; his mother, Kumiko, is working on something beside him. Taka is upset with her for holding Sabine captive, but she persists: “You know I love you. All of this is about love.” She’s convinced that they can all have everything they want if Taka just helped The Green find the boy. “Promise me you’ll give Tess a choice,” he says. “Everything’s always a choice.” With that, he follows her into the iron room to link up with Tess. 

Meanwhile, Tess and the boy fall asleep in their motel room, and Tess dreams she’s in a dark, old house with narrow hallways. Hearing a wolf-like growl coming from behind her, she runs upstairs to find Taka and Kumiko waiting for her. They apprehend her, shooting her down to the ground floor and forcing her to sit for negotiations. Tess is resistant at first, learning that Taka is now working with The Green. “What do you want?” she asks. “To help your son grow,” Kumiko replies. Now awake, she’s much more conniving than we could have imagined, but she promises that she’s learned from her mistake of taking the boy from Tess. She says they can stay together, but Tess still refuses. The whole time, despite his protests, Kumiko talks down to Taka as if her were her young boy, telling him to be quiet while the adults are talking and forcing him in a timeout chair in the corner. But with Tess’s refusal to cooperate, he stands and grabs Kumiko, swinging them back into the iron room. He tells her “no more” and that he won’t let her take the boy away from Tess. With that, he takes a hammer to the peepholes. When he’s done destroying the room, he turns around to find Kumiko’s disappeared. 

Tess rewinds again…

Tess wakes up from her dream with Taka and Kumiko to a call from Bill: “Please, I just want to explain,” he again insists, but she runs from the hotel and is quickly surrounded by members of The Green. Ann-Marie steps forward: “It’s like Kumiko told you. We’re an invisible army. You can never outrun us,” she threatens. Unsure of what to do, Tess looks down once again to find the boy is gone from her arms. “Mama, wake up!” she hears, and she wakes up for a third time outside of Marcello’s. Burton sits inside, confused because he knows that he just got his wound fixed. He looks to the boy. “This is about you, isn’t it? Are you doing this?” he asks. “Well, I guess we better get it right.” They stand up to await Tess’s arrival. She shows up and is upset that the boy disappeared from her, saying that they have to stay together no matter what. Taka then enters and apologizes, admitting he was wrong. Then he tells Tess that The Green has taken Sabine, Tess’s sister, and is holding her captive in Topeka. He shows her the button, explaining that he’s supposed to push it when he’s near her son. The boy goes over to Taka, accepting him into their group. 

The four of them are at a loss as to what to do next, but Burton thinks they should try their luck with H. Robert, who has the means to protect them. H. Robert enters with a group of other suits (including Woody) saying that the boy would be safer in Topeka, so they cross over to draw up a contract that promises H. Robert will protect Tess and her son and let them live together, but they would essentially be on house arrest for the rest of their lives. He says that this set up isn’t like prison because it’s for her own safety. “In the wrong hands, your son’s powers are a danger to us all,” he says. Woody assures Tess that she should sign, saying that until he grows up, her son is always going to have people after him. But before she signs, the phone rings, and it’s Bill. Next thing, there’s a roaring at the door; something is pounding and shaking it from its hinges. They all rush the boy out a back door, where they come to the hallway of many doors from Bill’s experiments in Topeka. They hear a monstrous thing coming from around the corner, and Woody walks ahead to scope it out before being grabbed into the dark, presumably killed. Bill enters from the room Woody left. “They were bad men,” he says. “They would have hurt you in the long run. You have to believe me. Just listen.” 

…and again. But she escapes!

Tess isn’t having it, refusing to hear Bill out. “No!” she yells, effectively waking herself up back outside Marcello’s where Burton and her son wait for her inside with Taka close behind. Only this time, Bill is also behind Taka. Upon entering the restaurant, he sets his spinning instrument in motion, closing them all off in a white room.  “Do I have your attention now?” he asks. Bill insists that he was only trying to help her reconnect with her son, that he saved him for her and that the instrument was just for the sake of making money. How bad is he when held up to the businessmen auctioning Tess’s son off to run the world? Tess falters, empathizing with Bill’s logic, but then she turns to Taka: “Push the button,” she instructs. In an instant, the walls are being banged on by the shadowed figures of The Green, who are trapped on the other side trying to get to the boy. “The device will hold,” Bill says nervously. While they’re knocking, Tess kneels down with her son, telling him to not be afraid -- that even if The Green ends up being the wrong choice for them, they’ll go back in time again and again to try to fix things until they’re together and safe. They’ll do that forever if they have to. She runs to the device and smashes it on the ground. 

Members of The Green storm Marcello’s and beat Tess, Taka, Burton, and Bill to the ground while her son looks on, scared. Tess looks to her son desperately as she’s pinned to the ground, and a bright white light grows from within him. “Mom!” he shouts, and Tess reawakens back outside Marcello’s. This time, she looks in the backseat of her car, and her son is there, sitting with one of Bill’s spinning instruments. They smile in relief and, knowing that no one but they have their best interests at heart, drive away, never looking back. 

Taka and Burton find relief—for now.

With Tess gone and no sign of Bill, it turns out that the boy really could give our three heroes what they want all along. Taka awakes on Sabine’s floor, and she is sitting up, waiting for him. They embrace. “Are you okay? What’d they do to you?” he asks anxiously. “I don’t remember,” is all she says. Burton wakes up in a hospital bed, stable, but mysteriously handcuffed on either side. The Woman in Red, now free from the dungeon, walks in and pulls the sheet up to reveal his feet, smiling. “What are you doing?” he asks. Without a word, she pulls out a pair of green sneakers and places them beside him on the bed. And finally, in a scene reminiscent of the pilot, the next frame pans through Marcello’s, which is now filled with dead bodies from The Green piled on top of one another. On the ceiling above them painted in green are the words, “My name is James.”