On the sixth episode of Beacon 23 on MGM Plus, we flash back to multiple points in the past that explain what the relics or rocks are and how they were discovered near the beacon.
It’s all about the rocks and how they eventually got on to the beacon. Last episode’s big reveal was about Solomon’s glowing blue rocks and why Halan was drawn to the fringe beacon by the force of the Solominium.
We start in the near past, when a saboteur disguised as a repair engineer has just connected an explosive device on a timer to BART’s systems. The clever AI buys more time by revealing that he knows about the “relics” aka the glowing rocks.
Apparently, the saboteur is part of a political faction called The Column. They’ve already blown up Beacon 24. BART and Beacon 23 are next. This same terror organization also happens to use the relics as part of their recruitment process.
Buying time with the bomber
Actor Marc Menchaca, who we know from Ozark, (who also happens to have married Lena Headey in 2022) stars as this enigmatic explosives guy. BART prevails upon him that he knows plenty about the rocks and he shouldn’t blow up the beacon if he wants to know about them, something that might truly interest their group.
So BART engages him in a conversation and buys himself time. He tells a tale of the first beacon keeper, Dr. Ree Avalon.
There are plenty of nifty and entertaining details that won’t need to be spoiled to enjoy this episode so we’ll leave that to the viewer to discover, including the explanation of Avalon’s decisions from her origins. This episode is, in fact, a multiple revelation thread of origin stories.
Nevertheless, these are two main important points: Dr. Avalon was responsible for naming BART, first as Bartholomew, and she was also the first to note the “comet” — the same phenomenon that Milan Aleph noted a few episodes back.
Dr. Avalon, I presume?
Dr. Avalon also starts having intense visions. Like Halan, she also loses time and doesn’t remember events, like when she almost killed herself by taking a spacewalk sans suit. (Dr. Avalon is played by Carolina Bartczak from the limited series Painkiller, and she does a great job of playing someone who’s almost perpetually in a fugue, obsessed with the relics.)
Back to the present day, our bomber from the Column is getting restless but he opts to stay after BART explains that the woman bomber who exploded Beacon 24 actually died. Turns out our guy bomber was close to her.
Buying more time, BART launches into the story of Grisha and Farut. They’re a couple who managed the beacon after Dr. Avalon when the policies had changed. ISA was now experimenting with companions on beacons to avoid the consequent dangers of being so isolated and lonely.
Grisha and Farut
It was Farut who gave BART his own drone. The problem with the couple? They suddenly become pregnant, which is very illegal according to regulations and a mystery because they both tested impotent when they signed up.
The girl Parsim is born and as she grows up she starts seeing the light phenomenon that Dr. Avalon witnessed on the rocks. This worries her parents, even if they both can see the lights, too.
They really should be worried, as Parsim seems to be forming a unique bond with the relics or lights or The Artifact. She’s happy and smiling when the lights are blinking outside. She constantly looks out the window and seems to be obsessed like Dr. Avalon.
Things escalate and soon Parsim is singing in an unknown language. She’s also becoming more and more infuriated the longer she doesn’t see the lights.
One day her father discovers her at the top of the beacon, the Cupola, where she’s singing to the relics and rocks whirling around each other in a fantastic formation. It's exactly just like we saw Halan and Aster witness in the last episode.
Everybody loves Parsim
In a fit of desperation, Grisha uses the beacon’s drones to collide with the whirling mass of lights and rocks as they’re smashed they become just the glowing inert mass of rocks we now know.
It works. Parsim goes back to being a precocious little girl. But now her parents know they must go on the run, since the drones were destroyed ISA got an alert and is coming to check on them.
Grisha gives her daughter a passport with her new identity when they relocate to some small colony. Instead of Parsim, it reads "Aster Calyx."
Disarming the bomber
BART also gives Parsim/Aster a parting gift: A necklace of the shape she’d been drawing when the relics started contacting her. This is the exact same necklace we see on Aster when she comes on board the beacon in episode 1.
This is a great episode about origins that’s filled with strange elements of family, galactic politics, terrorism, and a better sense of the relationships between humans and AI in this alternate world.
It’s also a very cool exploration of just how long and how deep BART’s intelligence and personality have developed since the founding of Beacon 23. Watch out for the explanation of how the picture of the original lighthouse came to be framed on the Cupola’s wall.
Also, the coolest thing about this episode is its denouement — how BART was able to keep the bomber from the Column, named Keir, engrossed in his stories, in a fascinated trance like an AI Scheherazade.
Only revealing his masterstroke after he had executed it hours before. Keir is captured. Perfect, BART, just perfect!
All episodes of Beacon 23 are now streaming on MGM Plus.