By Benjamin Lindsay
Warning: Recap contains spoilers for Falling Water episode 106, “The Swirl”
Falling Water Episode 106, “The Swirl,” opens with a young Woody and an even younger Tess walking together in the woods near Tess’s childhood home. Not many answers come from their brief interaction, but add that to Charlotte confirming in this hour that the boy is Tess’s, and it’s clear that Tess’s roots in this Topeka conspiracy run deep -- she just doesn’t know it yet. Catch that and more below in our weekly recap.
Tess confronts her mother.
After finding her teddy bear in her boy’s old living space, Tess goes to pay her mother, Charlotte, a visit. When she sleeps that night at her mother’s, she dreams that she’s getting her dry cleaning, which turns out to be the teddy bear. With the bear in-hand, she pushes through the rows and rows of clothes in the back of the cleaner’s and exits out into an elementary school classroom, where she sees her mother, who’s dreaming that she’s a little schoolgirl, playing on the floor. When Tess shows Charlotte the bear, she snatches it up, saying, “You can’t have that! No toys in school!” And next thing you know, they find themselves in the lobby of a banquet hall, where they’re running late for some show or ceremony. They end up dancing together in the lobby. It seems as if Tess has hacked her mother’s dream, and her mother manipulated it so that she’ll forget about the bear or why she was there in the first place. When Tess awakens, she’s apparently still dreaming, and stuck in a therapy session and physical examination with her mother. Tess accuses her of invading her dream, but her mother says she invaded hers first. When she wakes up for good, her mother is watching her. Though there’s no explicit confirmation that what she just dreamed actually happened, Tess is creeped out enough to leave for the local diner.
Taka joins The Green to find his mother.
We open up on Taka in the back of the van with other members of The Green, who are blindfolded and sitting in silence. They eventually arrive at a suburban home. Ann-Marie promises Taka that they’re not there to hurt him, they just want to help him reconnect with his mother, and that they’ve already gone to a lot of trouble to do so. No one but Taka was able to bring her to the woods or to make her call out from her coma. When other members of The Green admit to knowing his mother and seeing her in their dreams, Taka agrees to dream for them. He lies down, surrounded by members of The Green, and wakes up in a field where they’re once again holding up a parachute, just like at the funeral. They bring it down on him, and he reappears in his mother’s old apartment; Sabine is there, wearing his mother’s robe. She turns to him and says that he’s being held down and pinned by his mother, and she’s not even there -- that he’s convinced she’ll wake up one day. “And then what?” Ann-Marie asks, appearing in the corner of the kitchen. This exercise in grief counseling ends there, and Taka awakes in the front lawn of The Green’s home. In their next dream together, Taka is with The Green in a diner, and in the corner, he spies his mother sitting in a booth. She’s staring straight ahead, mouth agape and unblinking just like in the real world, but Ann-Marie assures him he has the power to speak and get through to her. He teases her by eating her fries and burger, encouraging her to join him, as a parent would to a child. Frustrated by her silence and inability to eat, Taka stands, calling B.S. and leaves the diner. Once awake, he goes back to his mother’s hospital to visit her; he tearfully pleads with her to meet him halfway and to wake up because he’s here, waiting. When he turns around, Sabine is standing in the doorway, watching him. “I hate her,” he says.
Burton learns more about Topeka.
It all comes back to Topeka, and we get more answers this week when Burton makes the mistake of forcibly interrogating Woody. Knowing what he does about Isla and the young boy being auctioned off, Burton reconvenes with Bizzy Hull, who’s been having a nightmarish dream-affair with Woody, and tells her he thinks Woody is hacking her dreams. “I always thought my dreams were just mine, but then I met a woman who had the ability to enter my dreams, and I realized she wasn’t the only one,” he explains. Bizzy agrees to help him for the woman he loves (the woman in red) because she’s in trouble. They fall asleep next to each other and dream together in Marcello’s. When Woody shows up, Burton pulls him to a back alley for questioning. Woody tells him that Topeka is the dreamscape. Similar to Levon’s speech to Tess, Woody then tells Burton that he’s a powerless pawn in a game much bigger than himself.
Burton learns he has no control.
And just like that, Burton wakes from the dream with Bizzy still asleep next to him from Woody knocking on the front door. He cracks the door open. “You’re messing with things you don’t understand,” Woody says. “You’re not even awake.” And next thing you know, Burton is thrown into a dungeon-like space with the Woman in Red. But as she’s reaching out to touch him, he comes to back in Marcello’s with Woody sitting across from him and playing waiter and several other patrons. Woody explains that he has the ability to link his dreaming and waking state. If the two were in separate glasses, he’s be the ant walking along the rim from one glass to the other, while Burton has the “rare ability” to mix them together.
Burton then awakes for good, finally, in a meeting with White Sand Equity CEO H. Robert Arnaut, who’s saying he wants to help reunite Burton with his girl, who’s currently captured by The Green. He claims that The Green wants to wreak havoc on all of humanity the same way that Burton’s been wreaking havoc on himself and his sanity. They have the power to do this through the young boy, which is why he’s so valuable. But when H. Robert offers an envelop with instructions on how to go about saving the Woman in Red, Burton still declines to take White Sand Equity’s side over The Green -- he just wants to save her on his own without pledging allegiance. “Wars have two sides,” H. Robert says. “Those who don’t pick one get smashed in the middle.” With Burton remaining indecisive, he kicks him out and burns the envelope.
Tess and Burton connect in the real world.
After Burton’s exhausting mind-games between Woody, the Woman in Red, and H. Robert, he winds up in a local diner for late-night food and drinks. None other than Tess, fresh from her own set of challenges with Charlotte, is also there, and they begin chatting. They express how they’re both insomniacs and Tess recalls how she once made herself stay awake for six days. She had ended up hallucinating that she was on a cold, rocky beach, when she was actually walking down the center of the highway and got arrested. Before leaving the diner, she tells Burton that if he ever finds his way to that beach, he should look behind the tree because there’s a bottle of wine waiting for him.
Charlotte confirms the boy belongs to Tess.
Tess goes home from the diner and falls asleep on her couch. She dreams that she’s in a forest, looking up at the sky. It’s gently raining. She blinks and is back in the examining room being poked and prodded by her mother. Then they’re back in the ballroom, and Tess is putting up a fight, demanding Charlotte tell her where her son is. Charlotte caves, admitting that they don’t know where he is because he was stolen. She says Tess wasn’t supposed to know he existed at all. “Who has him now?” Tess asks. “We don’t know,” Charlotte says.
Burton takes things into his own hands.
After Tess leaves, Burton goes to the bathroom and examines himself in the mirror. “Like an ant on the rim of a glass,” he ponders aloud. Then he reaches out to the mirror and realizes he can crawl straight through it into the dreamscape, like Alice through the looking glass. When he gets to the other side, everything is backwards -- exit signs, music, and more. Realizing this, Burton goes back to the suite he met H. Robert earlier in the night, and in the fireplace are ashes and the envelope with the Woman in Red’s whereabouts, solid once again. Opening the envelope, he finds a location -- Greenwood Self Storage -- and a locker number: 22035. Waking back up in the diner, he writes the information down and calculates his next move.