Yes, that’s right: I think Amalia True is an alien. I think in the next few episodes – or, at the very least, by the end of Season 1 – we’re going to take a wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey left hand turn straight into Doctor Who territory. And you know what? I’m on board.
So far in this season, there have been some lines of dialogue from Amalia True and about Amalia True which feel very discordant and out of place. Maladie has referred to her as “the woman who sheds her skin”. Amalia told the Beggar King that her face wasn’t even her face and, in a separate scene, we see her staring at herself hard in her vanity mirror, seemingly unfamiliar with her own reflection.
But in episode 4, the show takes all of the breadcrumbs that it’s been subtly dropping all season and turns them into a big, savory bowl of Thanksgiving stuffing by the time the credits roll.
Just look at this bit of dialogue between Penance and True which happens shortly after Mary’s funeral:
True, I can’t imagine how many funerals you’ve been to-
-none. We don’t do that where I’m from. We don’t have enough time, and we don’t have enough ground.
When Penance laments that true hasn’t given herself enough time to grieve Mary’s death, True shoots back with:
All time does is run out. I was left here, completely alone, with nothing but a mission I was never actually given. No orders, no objectives–they left me here and they fucked right off! Maybe they died. Who cares? I’m here…where a woman can be killed just for having a voice, which will be the world’s fucking epitaph if I can’t do something other than make it worse.
Where – exactly – are you from, True?
Who are “they”, and where did they fuck off to?
Later on, when True is confronting Lucy about her sudden but inevitable betrayal, they have the following exchange:
(Lucy) How do you know how it’s supposed to be? Did you do this? Did you make this nightmare?
(True) I just got left behind.
Before anyone starts arguing “well, all those bits of dialogue are very ambiguous. They could mean anything!” I think the nails in the coffin of my theory (no pun intended) are the lyrics of the songs which are prominently featured in this episode.
Interpreting Song Lyrics
Among all of the verbal slip-ups I’ve just gone over, I think both songs featured in this episode – the English translation of “Mary’s Song”, as well as the burial hymn they sing at Mary’s funeral – are further evidence to support my point.
Let’s start with Mary’s Song. When translated, the message is:
You’re not alone, Mrs. True.
Amalia, my lonely soldier, (something about wearing stripes), I didn’t leave you.
I went inside the city, I was damaged, incomplete. I had to heal.
Soon we will all be ready, but it’s dark.
There’s a darkness.
Gather everyone, all of you, and protect each other.
Because of the dark.
Find me. Let them help, those who will.
Come below and find me, come before the dark and we can save-
Of course, that’s where the song gets cut off thanks to a few dozen bullets slicing through Mary’s torso. Personally? It feels pretty obvious to me that the entity that is speaking through Mary is, in fact, that glowing alien orb buried underneath the city that Lavinia Bidlow is trying to excavate with her lobotomized force of enslaved touched. But when you look at the lyrics of the song, I think there’s a little bit of ambiguity going on. This may be just an error-in-translation thing, but I think the lyrics flip-flop back and forth between talking about the literal darkness of being buried underground, and the approaching darkness of the war which Lord Massen and Lavinia Bidlow want to wage upon the touched.
Also, that “something about wearing stripes” part? I once dated a cop in NYC who happily sewed a third stripe onto his uniform after passing the sergeant’s test – and then angrily ripped it off after being told that he wasn’t going to be promoted over “senior (i.e. white) staff” because there were only so many sergeant spots to go around. And it’s not just the police that show rank by putting stripes on their uniforms. Our military does it, too. The more stripes, the higher your rank. And that fact that it’s plural in the song – indicating multiple stripes – means that True ain’t just some cannon fodder enlisted grunt. She’s a ranking officer. Now, it’s one thing if you’re just some foot soldier who nobody expects anything from and you’re suddenly left behind and alleviated of your duties. But when you put effort into gaining ranks and you’re suddenly left behind enemy lines with no mission and no purpose? That’s a whole other ballgame of existential angst.
Moving on to the next song: the hymn everyone sings at Mary’s funeral is called “Now the Laborer’s Task Is O’er”. Of course, the casual viewer probably won’t think twice about what this song means or why it’s being sung in the opening scene. It has the word “laborer” in it, and it’s sung during a scene where laborers are preparing to strike. It’s also a funeral hymn, sung during – surprise, surprise – a funeral. But when you look it up and take a good, hard look at the lyrics (which I did, because I’m a nerd), you start to ask yourself “wait a minute…why is this song in this scene?” Other than the superficial reasons we just touched on, this song really isn’t fitting for either of the situations that are going on during the cold open. Let’s take a look at some of the more discordant lyrics:
Now upon the farther shore,
Lands the voyager at last
I think this speaks more to Amalia than anyone else. The very definition of voyager is “someone who goes on a long trip, especially if they travel in a ship. Historically, voyagers have often been explorers”. I think Amalia is the voyager here, I think her alien form was on that ship, exploring our galaxy, and I think that the woman who tried to drown herself three years ago either got body-snatched when the unicorn sparkles rained down, or that there’s some sort of mind-meld going on between the woman who was and the alien entity who “touched” True.
Left behind, we wait in trust,
‘Till the resurrection day
How often has Amalia alluded to being “left behind” so far in this season? Also, the mysterious glowing orb that Lavinia’s lobotomized slaves are currently excavating was dark and dormant, and only recently came back to life – or, to put another way, resurrected itself – within the last few days. I don’t think this hymn was casually chosen. I think it was picked on purpose to further foreshadow Amalia’s big secret. And I’m loving the attention to detail that’s happening in the writer’s room (assuming my theory is right, of course).