‘Constellation’ Episode 6 Recap — Apple TV+ Sci-Fi Offers Another Universe

Estimated read time 10 min read

The Big Picture

  • William Catlett’s extraordinary performance sells the parallel point of view, capturing the essence of the story.
  • Director Joseph Cedar recaptures the creepy aura of the first episode, creating a full-circle narrative.
  • The episode’s conclusion feels like a wrapping-up, leaving little room for mystery or anticipation of future episodes.

“Paul Is Dead,” the sixth chapter in Apple TV+’s sci-fi mystery Constellation, is one of those television episodes that we all saw coming. Over the course of its first five installments, the Peter Harness-created series introduced us to a world infected by another, a universe partly populated by astronauts who found an intersection in space and took the wrong turn. It was only a matter of time before it showed us what is happening in said universe’s twin, parallel reality – a reality in which Paul Lancaster (William Catlett) is, unlike the episode’s title suggests, very much alive. However, it is not their Paul Lancaster who has returned from his trip to the International Space Station, but someone else’s. Much like the Jo Ericsson (Noomi Rapace) who survived has done so in a land that is not her own, Paul returns to a different family and a different set of co-workers, and these changes might just push him to a point of no return.

The predictability of its existence doesn’t detract from the impact of “Paul Is Dead.” While its first half does indeed feel a bit repetitive in that we have seen it all happen before, the episode manages to evoke the creepiness of Constellation’s first episode. Witnessing the events now from Paul’s point of view, we are once again trapped in the ISS with a dead body, hearing breathing sounds and voices that shouldn’t be there. Albeit far from exciting, these scenes are once again shot in a way that makes its viewers feel uneasy. Our nervousness matches Paul’s as he is distressed by Jo’s unquiet corpse and eventually finds himself forced to leave her behind. Could this be signaling a parallel with what happened during Irena Lysenko’s (Barbara Sukowa) mission, all those years back, in which a cosmonaut that may or may not be her doppelganger was abandoned in space? Maybe. Either way, “Paul Is Dead” holds many answers about what happened in the past. The question now is what impact these answers will have on the overarching plot.


Jo returns to Earth after a disaster in space and discovers that there are missing pieces in her life, so she sets out to expose the truth about the hidden secrets of space travel and recover what she has lost.

Release Date February 21, 2024

Main Genre Sci-Fi

Seasons 1

‘Constellation’ Episode 6 Is Carried by William Catlett’s Amazing Performance

The first thing that needs to be said about “Paul Is Dead” is that it is carried, at least for the most part, by an extraordinary performance by William Catlett. We already knew that Noomi Rapace was a great actress, but Catlett, who’s never had a high-profile project before apart from maybe one episode of Lovecraft Country, sure is a revelation. Replacing a show’s lead for an entire episode can certainly be risky, but Catlett is more than up to the task. It is always a nice surprise when we run into an actor who can emote with his eyes to the point where even his pupils are engaged in the performance, and that’s exactly what he does. His Paul is visibly scared and confused more than anything, and he never allows us to miss any beats.

Catlett’s performance is largely what keeps us from yawning during the first half of “Paul Is Dead” as it shows us the same events from Episode 1 from a different point of view. Constellation just can’t avoid the impression that it has all been done before, but the effort Catlett puts into making his Paul a relatable character makes everything more dynamic. We feel for him as he makes the decision, alongside mission control, to leave Jo’s body behind, and as he is questioned by a committee set up to investigate the accident, his despair at being treated as a lunatic is utterly palpable. After all, the CAL, the experiment that he was working so hard on aboard the ISS, has been discontinued for over a decade in this reality. How can he even begin to understand what is going on with him?

Like the living Jo who traded places with the corpse he abandoned in space, Paul has a hard time relating to his family back on Earth. Sure, his wife, Erica (Rebecca Scroggs), is oddly chill with him calling her Frida, but that’s just not enough. Seeing Jo at the graveyard just as he’s laying flowers on her grave gives him the certainty that she might be alive somewhere else. Alice’s (Rosie and Davina Coleman) anger at losing her mother, body and all, and her crumbling relationship with Paul’s daughter, Wendy (Sadie Sweet), does nothing to help. Neither does his co-workers’ insistence that he needs to see a psychiatrist. Increasingly frustrated, he turns to the man who served as his mentor during his time working on the CAL: Nobel Prize winner Henry Caldera (Jonathan Banks).

“Paul Is Dead” Leans Into the Apollo 18 Mystery of ‘Constellation’

The problem is that Henry Caldera isn’t there. As previously stated, the CAL experiment has been discontinued in this reality: all Paul Lancaster was doing in space was taking care of some plants. In a nifty work of editing, we see the Jo who talks to Alice about the CAL speaking only in English. The Jo that speaks in Sweden, a language that only this universe’s Alice knows, never shows her daughter the machine. To make matters worse, this world’s Henry, better known as Bud, isn’t even at NASA anymore. He’s a drunkard who lives in a shabby apartment, having failed on his one big mission to space aboard the Apollo 18.

In real life, the Apollo 18 mission was canceled by NASA way before taking off, in the late 70s. That, however, doesn’t mean that there isn’t a lot of speculation surrounding it, particularly when we enter the realm of fiction. In Constellation, the capsule the astronauts were in malfunctioned, but Henry Caldera was able to correct the problem and bring everyone back to Earth in one piece. He became a hero, unlike Bud Caldera, who was shunned after his mission ended with everyone but him dead.

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And we won’t be accepting any rebuttals on the matter.

Now, Bud and Henry seem to have switched places after the critical point in which his colleagues’ lives were either lost or saved, as Bud remembers things very differently from what he is told. Or, at least, that’s what he tells Paul. While his wife is fretting at home and discussing possibly committing him to a facility for mentally ill astronauts, Commander Lancaster takes a trip to the states to have a conversation with the man he remembers as the soul behind the CAL. Bud, however, is not thrilled by the visit, and asks Paul multiple times to go away. As he refuses, Bud takes a pistol out of a drawer and shoots Paul.

With Episode 6, ‘Constellation’ Seems to Have Come Full Circle

Now, if the episode’s title is to be believed, then Paul is, well, dead. However, we’ve been duped before when Jo pushed Magnus (James D’Arcy), so let’s wait for Episode 7 before jumping to any conclusions. From the gunshot, the episode cuts immediately to Alice going to the cabin with her dad as part of her grieving process, so there’s no actual aftermath shown on screen. Still, if Peter Harness and Apple TV+ were to decide to end the show at this point and call it a miniseries, audiences would probably be fine with it. With “Paul Is Dead,” Constellation seems to have come full circle.

We know, of course, that this is not the case. The final scene of the episode shows us Alice seeing her other self arriving at the cabin with Jo, reminding us that there is still the drama of a mother seeking her actual daughter going on in the series. The problem is it doesn’t exactly feel like it. “Paul Is Dead” has everything a resolution needs: we learn of what is being hidden in the past, we find out what is happening in the other reality in which Jo didn’t make it, we see the beginning of the events we have witnessed so far from the other POV, and given that Constellation hasn’t given us anything else to hold on to, that seems to be enough. At least right now, apart from Jo’s (and Paul’s) pills, there is nothing that points to a bigger conspiracy, one that goes beyond Bud/Henry and Irena, and none of our characters seem like big enough dogs to fight such a conspiracy if there is one. So, having the Apollo 18 mystery cracked open and Irena’s secret alluded to in a parallel feels enough.

But, then again, it isn’t. Constellation still has two more episodes in the oven. And while “Paul Is Dead” is a good episode in itself and would be a fitting conclusion to a beautifully told sci-fi story, it doesn’t really raise the stakes for what will come next. Sure, we can infer that Bud will be arrested or that he will use Paul’s body as some kind of leverage against Henry, and we can hope that Jo will be reunited with her Alice, but “Paul Is Dead” doesn’t give us anything to latch onto in this sense. For an episode that serves as an intermediary chapter to a story that is still not finished, that certainly is a flaw that cannot be overlooked.

Constellation TV Show Poster



In an episode that feels like a conclusion of sorts, William Catlett delivers a performance that sells the story from a parallel point of view.

Release Date February 21, 2024

Main Genre Sci-Fi

Seasons 1


  • William Catlett’s performance as Paul Lancaster is nothing short of extraordinary.
  • Director Joseph Cedar manages to recapture the creepy atmosphere of the show’s first episode.
  • Showing us the events from Paul’s point of view brings the story full circle.


  • “Paul Is Dead” feels like it’s wrapping up the story and leaves almost nothing for us to latch on to in terms of a mystery.
  • The first half of the episode can feel a little repetitive, as it depicts events that we’ve already seen.

Constellation Episode 6 is now available to stream on Apple TV+ in the U.S.

Watch on Apple TV+