I have noticed a trend in my articles, in that they all seem to circle back to the Galanthi, and I worry that I’ve done a disservice to readers, as I tend to just write variations of the same central topic. I have come to realize, however, that the show itself has consciously made the design choice to direct my interest toward the Galanthi. Every story line connects back to it because the Galanthi is the story engine. Everything that has appeared on screen has appeared because of the influence of the Galanthi.
And Myrtle is no exception. In fact, she’s the first recurring character introduced, even before the primary characters (Massen, Cousens, Mary, etc.) are reintroduced. Her importance in The Nevers can’t be understated, though the filmmakers have gone to great lengths to keep her out of the spotlight, only using her when needed.
“Why is she chained?” asks Mrs. True.
“Infection,” answers Mr. Haplisch.
And with that, we are introduced to the polyglot Myrtle Haplisch.
The placement of Myrtle’s introduction is brilliant, because as the audience we don’t have our bearings yet. We have just had a proper introduction to Penance and Amalia, and we don’t know how much time has passed since the opening montage, which is important.
Because the question is: how long has Myrtle been touched/chained up? One would assume since August 3, 1896, which would mean she’s been chained and unable to communicate for three years. I don’t know, seems unlikely to me.
But just like Myrtle, the language of the scene is super important.
Let’s start by outlining what we know about Myrtle.
We know she’s anywhere from 12-16 years old; in the opening of episode 1 Mrs. Haplisch says “Myrtle was the only one could earn a wage with the new labour laws.” In 1895, the UK Parliament passed the Factory and Workshop Act to regulate the conditions, safety, health and wages of people working in factories. This act capped the minimum working age of children at 12. As well, when they arrive at the Orphanage, Penance introduces Primrose to Myrtle and says “I recalled you saying you don’t have anyone your own age to talk to.” The Nevers wiki lists Primrose Chattoway’s birth year as 1883, putting her at 16.
We also know she can draw. Once at the orphanage, she draws the picture of the leather-hooded henchman. Later, after hearing Mary’s song, she tries to draw what she heard as she still can’t communicate verbally. Luckily, she’s surrounded by a bunch of smart women who have the idea to bring in multiple people fluent in multiple languages to patchwork a translation together.
At some point in the future, she’ll be able to communicate in English…and probably every other language.
The Great Escape
There is one thing very early on that tells us volumes about Myrtle and it’s one single look, one single expression on Myrtle’s face once they make their daring escape in the auto-carriage.
They hold the shot on her for several seconds as she looks around and even looks down at the carriage motor.
That’s not the look of a girl who just escaped danger and is about to embark on an amazing adventure. There’s no wonder in those eyes. That’s the look of someone taking it all in and assessing their work/accomplishments.
That’s the look of someone who knows something we don’t.
Circling back to my earlier comment about the language of The Nevers, the show is full of double speak and it’s so innocuous it’s easy to miss, even after multiple rewatches. A good example is when Dr. Cousens ‘stitches’ Amalia after the opening. On the way out, he says the dress will ‘keep pressure on the wound’ but he’s clearly not talking about her physical wound.
Jumping further ahead, when Lavinia is introduced at the opera her and Dr. Beldon are discussing the specificity of modern language.
As I continue my deep dive into this show, I’m learning that language is extremely important in the world of The Nevers—almost thematic.
So when Mr. Haplisch replies infection in regards to Myrtle being chained, what does he mean? Looking back to the conversation at the start of the scene, Mrs. Haplisch believes Myrtle is possessed by ‘Red Boot Teddy’ and that’s why she’s speaking gibberish. They feared that could influence the other children so they quarantined her. But there could be another answer: what if Myrtle, much more recently than 1896, did have an actual infection of some sort?
The Galanthi Connection
Of course, as I’m sure you know by now, I do have a theory.
In the future when talking about the Galanthi spores, Stripe and Knitter discuss how “not everyone is affected, we don’t know why.” Perhaps some spores lay dormant until activated?
I believe Myrtle did get ‘spored’ when the Galanthi arrived, but that it had no immediate effect.
And we know the Galanthi’s influence extends beyond the underground. For example, when we met Augustus, he claimed the crows were acting weird/agitated, which could be because of the Galanthi, to say nothing of Mary being the voice of the Galanthi.
It’s possible that, a few years later, Myrtle had an infection and died, or was near death, just as the Galanthi was waking. Needing a way to see the outside world, the spores in Myrtle were activated, healing her and allowing the Galanthi to inhabit her, at least in part.
If you’re wondering how I came up with this crazy idea, once again, it comes back to the Galanthi, and a connection I hadn’t made until recently. I strongly believe that the development of the Galanthi character/race was heavily influenced by the Vorlons from Babylon 5. The non-corporeal Galanthi is very reminiscent of a Vorlon outside of its encounter suit.
But the thing that caught my attention was that the Vorlons can break off pieces of their consciousness and put them into other organisms. This technique allowed them to travel hidden through the galaxy using others as their eyes and ears.’
It remains to be seen but the spores, aside from their original purpose as translators, could connect the host to the Galanthi in a much more tangible way.
This could all be the ramblings of a crazy super fan, but I think I’m correct in my assumption, at least in part. IF the development of the Galanthi was influenced by the Vorlons then it’s likely I’m bang on.
Right or wrong, I’m looking forward to the second half of the season to see how close my analyses are, but I’m confident my predictions will be pretty close.
Regardless of my hypothesizing, though, however it shakes out Myrtle is going to be a major part of the The Nevers.