Constellation Episode 2 Recap: Joanna's Escape Explained

By Klein Felt Posted:
Noomi Rapace as Johanna  Ericsson in Constellation series

Episode 2 of Constellation on Apple TV+ offered fans their first hints at the series' mind-bending premise. 

Starring Noomi Rapace and Breaking Bad alum Jonathan Banks, Constellation is a head-spinning thriller following an astronaut who - after an accident aboard the International Space Station (ISS) - seemingly finds herself straddling two different realities. 

The sci-fi thriller has dropped three episodes so far, offering fans just a glimpse at what is to come, as Noomi Rapace's Joanna is left alone on the ISS to fend for herself. 

What Happens in Constellation Episode 2?

Constellation Episode 2 set up more reality-splitting subplots in the cold Swedish wilderness while also following Joanna as she completed her mission aboard the International Space Station. 

On the Frozen Tundra

Joanna Swedish Tundra Constellation
Apple TV+

Episode 2 (titled "Live and Let Die") starts and ends in the same place as Episode 1 before it, following Noomi Rapace's central astronaut on a separate plane of action in a snow-painted Swedish landscape. 

The episode starts with Joanna carrying her daughter Alice (played by Davina Coleman) through the snow with no recollection of how the young girl got there. 

The pair enter the warm cabin from Episode 1, with Joanna drawing a bath for her hypothermic daughter. 

This is when the series' signature shifts in reality start to happen yet again, with Joanna seeing two versions of Alice during this sequence. One is sitting calmly in the bath, which Jo can see in the mirror, and the other wakes up and walks into the living room from her bed-chamber. 

This, of course, startles Joanna, as she races to see if the version of her daughter she placed in the bath moments earlier is still there. With the other pajama-clad Alice in tow, the former astronaut discovers that the bath is, in fact, empty and that version of Alice is gone. 

Stranded in Space

Constellation Episode 2 Apple TV+
Apple TV+

The series then cuts back to the space station, where audiences left Joanna in Episode 1. Following an accident and the successful use of the mysterious matter-creating CAL device aboard the ISS, Jo is left on the in-orbit laboratory alone. 

With only 6 hours and 45 minutes left of oxygen on the station, Rapace's Swedish astronaut is racing against the clock to finish her work on the ISS, replace the batteries on the Soyuz 1 evacuation capsule, and hopefully make it off the station without descending into madness. 

This is when Joanna loses all contact with mission control on the ground, making her Earth-bound collaborators wonder if she is even alive up there. 

On Earth, audiences learn more about the priorities of Jonathan Bank's Henry Caldera. The astronaut-turned-quantum physicist makes it known that he needs the CAL experiment device back on Earth as soon as possible. 

The CAL device is Caldera's life's work, and - if it was successful in its mission of creating a new state of matter - he needs it now, even if that means sending up another team of astronauts just to retrieve it. 

Back in orbit, Joanna is struggling. She has realized that for her to transfer batteries from the ISS to the Soyuz capsule, there simply is not enough time. This causes her to improvise a bit, tying together multiple battery cells to get the job done in as few trips as possible. 

On her trip from one end of the space station to the other, Joanna hears a mysterious clanging. She goes to look and finds the severed arm of her now-deceased crew member Paul, who tragically died during the ISS accident seen in Episode 1. 

She goes to grab the arm, and it inexplicably grabs back. For a split second, Joanna comes eye to eye with her fallen comrade before jumping back to the reality of the space station. 

Welcome to the Party, Bud

Jonathan Banks Bud Constellation Apple TV+
Apple TV+

Cut back to the ground, and audiences are introduced to Henry Caldera's brother Bud. After being referenced previously by the leader of the Russian Space Program Irene Lysenko (played by Barbara Sukowa), this is the first real look the series gives the viewer of Bud. 

Just like some of the occurrences that have been happening to Joanna up in space, the connection between Bud and Henry seems a bit off. Bud (who is also played by Jonathan Banks) is a former astronaut who was a member of the Apollo missions of the 1970s. 

Audiences catch up with him as he is aboard a space-themed cruise, of which he is a guest of honor. Bud is here to take part in a panel debate about whether astronauts ever actually went into space, and is visibly shaken hearing the news of Joanna and the accident on the ISS. 

Having lost the rest of his crew during his mission to the moon, forcing him to navigate his way back to Earth on his own, Joanna's plight resonates with the retired astronaut. 

The Journey Back to Earth

Constellation Apple TV+ Episode 2
Apple TV+

Following the short introduction to Bud, the series then jumps back into space. Joanna's minutes are numbered, and she knows it. 

After hours of work, a few hallucinations, and completely losing contact with mission control, Jo finally gets power restored to the Soyuz 1 evacuation capsule. 

With a fully charged shuttle, dwindling oxygen supplies, and the CAL experiment in hand (thanks to a recorded message from Earth instructing her to grab it), Joanna finally begins the undocking process of the evac capsule. 

She flicks a few switches, does some calculations  - as her reentry will be unaided by mission control - and hits undock. 

However, not everything goes to plan. As the capsule begins to undock from the ISS, one of the six bolts locking the vessel in fails to release. 

This causes Joanna to panic. Looking at the manual, she discovers the only way to release the sixth and final docking bolt is within the space station, requiring two people to do so. 

With the reality of the situation starting to set in, something mysterious and bizarre happens. Cutting to the interior of the ISS itself, audiences see a shadowing figure lumbering towards the bolt-release control panel. 

Then, without explanation, the sixth bolt finally releases, sending Joanna on her path back toward Earth's atmosphere. As she looks back at the space station behind her, Joanna sees a corporeal shadow looking out the observation window back at her. 

With no time to think about what just happened, Joanna sets off towards Earth, entering the atmosphere, and causing a full-blown search party to be deployed to find where her capsule has landed. 

"You Forget How the Earth Smells"

Joanna Episode 2 Constellation Apple TV+
Apple TV+

Back on Earth, the mission control search party finds the downed astronaut and extracts her - along with the CAL device and the body of the now-dead Paul - from her mechanical confines. 

Joanna is reunited with her husband Magnus and daughter Alice and is ready to start their lives again. 

Before they can fly off to begin their recuperation, audiences see Joanna experience one more reality-blurring hallucination. Sitting aboard a military-style helicopter the exhausted astronaut reaches for her daughter and holds her for a moment only for her to quickly disappear and show back up again. 

As the family flies away, Jonathan Banks' Henry Caldera is seen ogling over the CAL device. He takes a look at the results the ISS experiment yielded, and likes what he sees, observing what he calls some sort of interference effect, with the device possibly containing matter from two different realities. 

To close the episode, the series cuts back to the snowy Swedish cabin seen at the start of Episode 2. Joanna continues to question the Alices that seemingly popped up out of nowhere, replacing the one she had set in a bath. 

Not getting anywhere, Rapace's series protagonist, grabs the girl by the arm, declaring they need to find "other [Alice]" as they head out into the snowstorm on their mission. 

Who Helped Joanna In Constellation Episode 2?

While Constellation Episode 2 offered up plenty of questions worthy of head-scratching, no detail will produce more theories than Joanna's escape from the ISS. 

She should not have made it off the station after the Soyuz 1 capsule locked up during its undocking sequence. 

Yet, something helped the thought-to-be-doomed Swedish astronaut. 

The series clearly showed something aboard the space station despite Joanna very clearly being the last human on board. 

There is no way of knowing, at this point, who it was that helped her out in her ISS launch, but there are a couple of theories for who it could have been. 

The number one culprit is Paul. Yes, Paul died during the ISS accident seen early in Episode 1, but there is a possibility that a version of him is still present on the space station in some form. 

As Joanna experienced when she grabbed Paul's severed hand during Episode 2, Paul could be stuck in the kind of reality-shifting limbo that Joanna seems to find herself in. 

He was the only other astronaut present during the CAL experiment which looks to be the cause of Joanna's bizarre predicament. So who is to say that Paul also is not experiencing the same sort of strife and helped a friend out? 

The other option for who it could have been is Joanna herself. If what is happening to Joanna (with her hallucinations and seeing doubles of various people/events) is her being stuck between two realities, then the person to hit that release button could have very well been another version of her that breached the interdimensional void as well. 

Only time will tell, though, as Constellation looks like it is going to slow-play its biggest mysteries. One can only hope the answers are satisfactory when they do eventually come. 

[ Constellation Apple Series Explained: The Meaning of the Show's Cryptic Plot ]

Constellation is now streaming on Apple TV+. 

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- In This Article: Constellation
Release Date
February 21, 2024
James D'Arcy
Jonathan Banks
Noomi Rapace
- About The Author: Klein Felt
Klein Felt is a Senior Editor at The Direct. Joining the website back in 2020, he helped jumpstart video game content on The Direct. Klein plays a vital role as a part of the site's content team, demonstrating expertise in all things PlayStation, Marvel, and the greater entertainment industry.