Constellation’s Ending, Explained


Summary

  • Constellation
    presents parallel universes and quantum experiments, causing Jo to experience strange shifts between realities.
  • The CAL created a liminal space allowing two worlds to coexist, leading to mysterious accidents on the ISS.
  • Jo’s pregnancy, the survival of Jo (Blue), and unanswered questions in the finale leave viewers hanging for a potential second season.



Warning: Spoilers for Constellation.From the moment it begins, Constellation presents a captivating narrative, and keen-eyed viewers will surely notice the blatant clues to one of the show’s biggest reveals littered throughout the entire first episode. The series begins with a fatal accident on the International Space Station (ISS) in which astronaut Jo Ericsson (Noomi Rapace) survives, and her colleague Paul Lancaster (William Catlett) dies after losing his left arm.

However, before the accident, Jo is seen talking via FaceTime with her daughter, Alice (Rosie Coleman/Davina Coleman). As the camera cuts between shots, Jo appears to seamlessly switch between English and Swedish while her daughter’s hair is in a ponytail one moment and braids the next. Furthermore, Paul can be seen working on the CAL in one shot and then working on something else the next, all while remaining at the same workstation. Rather than an editing oversight, viewers are actually watching Jo, Alice, and Paul from both universes, which isn’t fully confirmed until the show’s sixth episode.


Upon Jo’s return to Earth, small details of her life seem different, which are explained away by memory loss due to space travel. However, as more time passes, it becomes evident that something strange happened in space following the experiment with the CAL, and now she’s experiencing its repercussions. Her car is blue instead of red, as she remembers. Alice doesn’t know Swedish, her husband seems uncomfortable, and she randomly sees what she believes to be Paul’s ghost. However, Paul isn’t a ghost. Instead, Jo is experiencing moments when her universe splices over a parallel one. Simply put, Jo returned to a different Earth in a parallel universe and doesn’t yet understand why or how it happened. Despite understanding the layout of what is happening in the series, the entire thing warrants a bit of an explanation following the show’s finale.



What Is the CAL in Constellation?

Apple TV+

Understanding what the CAL (Cold Atomic Laboratory) is helps in understanding a vitally important aspect of the show. As Henry Caldera (Jonathan Banks) explains, the CAL is part of a quantum experiment meant to capture a quantum superposition, when one thing can exist in two places simultaneously. The collision on the ISS happened just moments after Paul began the CAL experiment, which suggests it caused the accident. It’s clear a dead female cosmonaut collided with the ISS, but how it was able to do so without the debris censors alerting the crew can only be attributed to the CAL. In short, the cosmonaut is from a different world, and the CAL created a liminal space in which two different worlds could exist simultaneously.


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There Are Two Parallel Universes in Constellation

Constellation

Constellation

4/5

Release Date
February 21, 2024

Main Genre
Sci-Fi

Seasons
1

Read Our Review

Constellation consists of two parallel universes, a Red universe, and a Blue universe. The Jo viewers observe is from the Red universe, but she ends up in the Blue universe, where most of the season takes place. In the Blue universe, the CAL exists, but in the Red universe, it does not. In fact, Jo (Red) doesn’t remember anything about the CAL until after the accident. On the flip side, Paul from the Blue universe actually survives the accident but ends up in the Red universe, where Jo (Blue) dies. As indicated by the show’s first episode, both universes stared viewers in the face the entire time.


In the Red universe, Bud Caldera (Jonathan Banks) is a washed-up astronaut living in the shadow of his disastrous Apollo 18 mission that resulted in the death of his colleagues. It’s also the one in which Irena Lysenko (Barbara Sukowa) is the dead female cosmonaut whose escape capsule caught fire during her mission. In the Blue universe, Henry is a decorated astronaut and Nobel Prize-winning physicist whose colleagues survived the Apollo 18 mission, which made him a national hero. It’s also where Irena is alive and working for Roscosmos, the Russian space program.

However, viewers soon discover that Bud and Henry switched universes just as Irene did with her counterpart at the time of the respective space accidents that resulted in someone’s death. Henry and Irene are originally from the Red universe but have been in the Blue one since their accidents, while Bud and the dead cosmonaut are originally from the Blue universe but were thrust into the Red universe. Bud somehow manages to switch back with Henry after shooting Paul (Blue) in the stomach.


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Irene Gives Jo (Red) a Warning

Noomi Rapace lying down in a medical room looking up toward the camera in Constellation
Apple TV+

After Jo (Red) is taken away to a hospital to receive “help,” she discovers two men locked away in one of the hospital rooms. When she confronts Irene about who they are, she’s told there’s only one man in the room, the first man in space. Irene further explains that he refused to accept his reality and refused to take his pills, just as Jo (Red) is currently doing, so he went mad. She urges Jo (Red) to do the things her body is familiar with and take her pills. Otherwise, she’ll break in two, literally. Their discussion suggests other astronauts might have switched universes with their counterparts, which prompts Irene to inquire with others about whether they’d be willing to disclose such possibilities.


What Will Happen With Jo’s (Red) Pregnancy and Are Both Alive?

While in the hospital, Jo (Red) discovers she’s pregnant, which raises the question of what will happen regarding the baby’s existence. Alice (Blue) even asks Jo (Red) where the baby will be from if Daddy is from “here” and she is from “there.” Naturally, Jo (Red) doesn’t have an answer, but given the sonogram picture had an interference, it certainly won’t be a run-of-the-mill pregnancy.


Furthermore, the possibility that Jo (Blue) might be alive could complicate things even more. While on the ISS in the Red universe, Paul (Blue) believes he sees Jo (Blue) breathing. The entire incident frightens him so much that he removes her body from the escape capsule and ultimately leaves her behind. This could explain what the surviving Jo (Red) and Paul (Blue) saw on the ISS when they left for home. Jo (Blue) could be the reason why the bolt malfunction that required two crew members to fix was remedied. However, there’s no hardline explanation as to how that happened.

The final image viewers see is Jo (Blue) floating inside the ISS, her head wound clearly visible. Playing in the background is the message Jo (Red) left on the iPad for Magnus and Alice. Just before the camera cuts to black, Jo (Blue) grabs hold of the iPad and looks at the camera. If Jo (Blue) is still alive somehow, it would explain why Jo (Red) keeps experiencing headaches in the same place as Jo’s (Blue) wound.


Given the scope of the series, the finale’s conclusion and cliffhanger still left numerous questions unanswered. Why and how does Valya talk to Alice (Blue)? What did Paul (Blue) see before abruptly waking up in the hospital? Which Paul was it? He seemed shocked to have both hands, which suggests he’s somehow actually Paul (Red), who’s back in his original universe. Now that Bud destroyed the CAL, will anyone ever return home? Such questions can only be answered with a second season, which fans can only hope will arrive soon. All episodes of Constellation are currently streaming on Apple TV+.



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