Calling The Vasty Deep
S1 episode 2 Aired on October 20, 2016

By Benjamin Lindsay

The floodgates are still creeping open in this second episode of USA’s Falling Water, and mystery abounds. Our heroes Tess, Burton, and Taka are not yet entering one another’s dreams, but they are progressively getting more and more lost in their own. Between Tess agreeing to monitor her sleep in Bill’s experiment, Burton hunting for the Woman in Wed, and Taka digging up more truths about his Topeka-related group, there is once again plenty to sink our teeth into and keep us rolling into round three. 

Tess teams up with Bill.

With the promise to learn more about her son, Tess agrees to partake in the dream study Bill’s funding that has its subjects sleep alongside each other and dream collectively. Her first shared dream has Tess appear in a massive warehouse with each room apparently housing another person’s dream. In the center is a meeting room where she and two other dreamers convene and sit around a bath tub that’s emptying one drop at a time upwards, dripping back into the tub’s nozzle. There, she meets Levon, a handsome man who tells her that Andy, the bearded dreamer from last week’s episode, “stroked out” and is now catatonic. Bill insists, however, that these rumors are not true.

Despite the rules of the experiment, Levon and Tess start up a relationship in the waking world built on their shared sleeping secrets, but that quickly ends when Tess finds a drawing of the boy conspicuously hanging in Levon’s bathroom. Storming away without much explanation, Tess doesn’t see Levon for the rest of the episode -- but she does hear him (or something like him). He comes knocking on her door late one night begging to see her. With each refusal of entry, his voice grows louder, angrier, and more ferocious from the other side of the door. By the end of his rant, he sounds beast-like. Tess opens the door in a fright to find no one there. It certainly seems something wicked is afoot.

It’s worth noting, too, that sleeping with Levon isn’t the only time Tess breaks the rules of the experiment. Back in her first collective dream, she strays from the meeting room to track down what sounds like a young boy’s cries from the room above. Following the cries into the darkness, she comes upon the young blonde boy, presumably her son, hidden in a kitchen cupboard. But moments after their reunion, the pair is apprehended by a pair of suited men -- though men is a generous title. Void of facial features altogether, they’re well-built agent-types (think The Matrix) with a blank glitch where a face should be. It’s definitely an eerie sight. The young boy flees down the hall, and Tess awakens. 

Taka unveils a shared past between The Green and his mother.

This episode largely belongs to Taka. It’s quickly established that the explosion across the street from Ann-Marie Bowens’ home was orchestrated by the group who killed themselves under the word Topeka last week. With 12 cult-related deaths on their hands, the NYPD is cracking down on the case, and that begins with a collection of Ann-Marie’s personal belongings -- sole among them a pair of bright green running shoes -- and a visit to the Belgian consulate, where the deceased was original found on the stairs. She was apparently going to see the ambassador. Though the ambassador is out of town, Taka does manage a meeting with one of his representatives, a beautiful and charming Belgian woman. But something’s off: Why does she have a sketch of the young blonde boy from Taka and Tess’s dreams hanging on the wall?

She says it was a gift for her from Topeka City Blues, a record store in the Village, and that it’s somehow linked to the late downtown ’80s rocker Robert Eacey’s LP, Somnambulism. Beguiled enough to go to the store himself, Taka ends up purchasing the album -- a collector’s item priced at $200. Sure enough, the sketch of the boy decorates its back cover.

Taka goes home and does what anyone else would do with a new record: he puts it on. A little strangely, he also tries squeezing into Ann-Marie’s green shoes, but they’re entirely too small. Just the same, he leans back and falls asleep to the Jack White-esque blues rock of Robert Eacey -- and boy is his dream a strange. He finds himself in what appears to be an abandoned asylum of some sort. Just moments in, he runs into the blonde boy running from the same faceless suits that interrupted Tess’s dream. (Could this be a sign he and Tess are dreaming in the same place?) Here, the suits are less reproachful, and they let the boy take Taka’s hand and show him other parts of the building. Turning a corner, they find an abandoned space -- high ceilings, open-air, steel pillars. It’s barren and long forgotten. When the suits come back for the boy, Taka stays in the room to investigate a sculpture in the corner. Walking over to the piece, he finds his mother angrily hitting the sculpture, screaming in anger. Upon seeing her, Taka wakes.

Going with his gut on this one, Taka reopens the record to examine its art, and to his surprise, his own mother is shown in the centerfold photo spread, lounging on a plush chair, a smile on her face, and surrounded by other adults -- all presumably Robert’s friends. Better yet, they are all convened in the same space that Taka just dreamt he was in.

While she can’t provide much answer to the growing questions, Taka visits his mother in the hospital and plays the record. Just as it begins, a young, disheveled looking woman passes by their room, and she’s wearing the same green sneakers owned by Ann-Marie and other members of The Green. Is this woman one of them? Taka follows her into the depths of the hospital, where he stumbles upon what looks like a group therapy session in a basement room. Who are these people? We’ll have to tune in next week to find out.

Burton is losing his grip on reality.

This episode was a taste of where Burton is headed, and it doesn’t look bright. We enter, finding him sitting alone at a table in the same Italian restaurant he and the Woman in Red regularly dine, only she’s not there this time. Instead, Woody, Burton’s Wall Street colleague who blew up at Jones before Jones shot himself dead, is playing bartender in the dream. He impatiently tells Burton that his meeting with the woman was all a dream, and that he’s dreaming right now. While that may, indeed, be true, there’s a certain amount of menace to Woody’s voice that sounds threatening, as if to warn Burton to stop pressing the issue.

As the episode continues, we learn that Burton is not the only one dreaming of Woody. His colleague, Helena Swift, admits to having vivid dreams of a sordid love affair with Woody, and that they get so real that she struggles to determine what’s real and what’s not. Sound familiar? In a panic, Burton checks his firm’s security tapes to see if he can spot his first encounter with the Woman in Red, but no dice. It seems more and more likely that this woman is a figment of his imagination.

The episode ends with him back in the restaurant -- he’s dreaming? -- and reunited with the Woman in Red. It’s all smiles and puppy eyes between the two lovers until in the background, we see Woody shaking up a martini, a knowing look on his face. “I can call spirits from the vasty deep,” his narration says. “Why, so can I. So can any man, but will they come when you do call them?” This Shakespearean quote gifted the episode its title, “Calling the Vasty Deep,” and yup, there’s definitely something menacing about this guy Woody. The screen drops to black.

Final thoughts and questions.

One of the main mysteries of this episode is the nature of Tess’s tests with Bill. It seems that considering the rumored fate of Andy and increasingly erratic behavior from Levon that there may be psychiatric side effects to the process that Tess did not anticipate. And who were those faceless men in both her and Taka’s dreams? They seem to indicate a larger controlling entity or agency that does not want any of these three characters to get to the truth. Enter your conspiracy theory here.

Speaking of Taka, his mother definitely has a little something to do with this record and this dream drama. We know very little about who or how she was before her state in assisted living, so it’s anyone’s guess what kind of trouble she got caught up in that put her in this state in the first place. And now we must wonder who this girl is that Taka came across in the hospital. Does she have answers to who, what, and why The Green is?

And things are really heating up with Woody in Burton’s arc. There’s something going on here that we’re just now getting a taste of, and Woody is looking a lot more guilty than your average coworker. And Topeka -- it all comes back to Topeka…