“Silk” takes the time to flesh out some relationships, but spares a moment for excellent tension-building.
This recap of See Season 1, Episode 6, “Silk”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
If there’s a reason that See has become by far the most popular show in the Apple TV+ launch lineup — and a reason why every week I look forward to it and generally like it more — it is, I think, because of how the show builds tension. Like many others, I have my fair share of problems with the large-scale worldbuilding and pace, but in the moment See is riveting; its gimmicky sightless contrivance makes for eye-opening action and suspense. There’s a sequence in “Silk” which, while not quite as stylish as the action in the third episode or chaotic as that in the first, nonetheless built to a moment in which I genuinely wondered if the show was going to kill off its ostensible hero.
More on that soon. First, we open See Episode 6 with Baba Voss (Jason Momoa), Haniwa (Nesta Cooper), Kofun (Archie Madekwe), and Boots (Franz Drameh) still fighting off the Witchfinders. Boots informs the others that he saw Maghra (Hera Hilmar) be killed, so they have to leave. Haniwa wants to stay and fight, but Baba Voss agrees that they must go so that he can keep her safe.
Maghra, meanwhile, is with Tamacti Jun (Christian Camargo), alive and well; she convinces him to order his men to capture her family alive. If he does, she’ll tell him everything he wants to know — and more besides.
Boots’s obvious deception somewhat gives away his next move in “Silk”, which is to lead everyone to a deep cave they can apparently hide in, but which turns out to be a hidden elevator deep into a warren of caves eerily lit by iridescent grubs. Kofun is angry with Haniwa for trusting Boots in the first place. Rifts are beginning to form.
Queen Kane (Sylvia Hoeks) remains in captivity in See Episode 6, spinning silk in the City of Worms. She befriends a local worker, Cora (Jessica Harper), but can’t help acting out. She’s beaten unconscious, triggering a hazy flashback to her and Maghra saying farewell to their dying father. We switch to Maghra’s interpretation of these events, which she’s explaining to Tamacti Jun. In his death throes, her father whispered to her that she must rule — and soon. And rule she attempted, amassing support, believing her sister to be unsuited to leadership. But Tamacti Jun’s vote prevented the coup. Maghra had to leave, and she did so with the queen’s favorite consort — Jerlamarel (Joshua Henry).
In the caves, Baba Voss and company encounter a woman; they’re ambushed and captured. Paris (Alfre Woodard) provides ominous exposition detailing how other clans made their lives below the ground, becoming — or perhaps regressing to — something other than human. The only way the family will survive now is by holding together, but Haniwa isn’t sure they can.
There is no shortage of telling conversations in “Silk”. Cora opens up to Queen Kane about killing her abusive father when she was nine; the queen, in turn, opens up about her own father, a kind man — to her sister, anyway. All she ever felt from him was indifference, especially when, despite her being the oldest, he wanted to give away her birthright. That was when she realized that “one must take the life one wants.” And took she did; more, apparently, than Cora could imagine. Queen Kane begins to formulate an escape; a worker revolt in which the downtrodden seize the weapons of their captors. She reveals to Cora who she really is. Cora, though, reports the information to their leader.
Paris, meanwhile, talks with Baba Voss, and breaks down in guilt over what has happened; Maghra’s disappearance, despite them being hand-in-hand at the time, and pushing the children to read and explore their sight when it has led to discord within the family. Jason Momoa here shows that he’s underrated as an actor and not just a screen presence. Haniwa, pretending to be asleep, listens all the while.
Queen Kane is dragged before the leader of the City of Worms, who now knows her true identity. He speaks of a ritual involving an amulet embedded in the skin of a reigning monarch, just above the heart. Lo and behold, Queen Kane has such an amulet; he removes it to prove to Tamacti Jun that the ruler is in his possession: “Now, let us find out what it can do.”
In the caves, we meet Delia (Kyra Zagorsky), who explains more about the place. What she is doing is forbidden. To protect the community, none who enter the caves can ever leave. She was lured there a long time ago, by the same person — Boots, her son. She explains at length how he grew up and was tormented for his differences, until one day he massacred everyone, beginning with those who had chastised him the most, but not stopping until all who remained was himself and his mother. In exchange for leading them to freedom, Delia wants an assurance that whoever escapes alive will kill Boots — Haniwa says she will. On their way out, Haniwa also mentions that the “saw” something. “She saw,” says Delia to Baba Voss, “be very careful with her.”
The way out of the caves is an elevator operated by a lever, with the classic conceit that someone must remain below to operate it. Naturally, Baba Voss volunteers himself. While waiting for the lift to return, he’s forced to fight off attackers in the pitch-black, with the audience’s only source of visibility the dim iridescence of the worms. This, to my mind, was a thrilling sequence. The elevator, rather than being lowered, instead crashes into the ground, so Baba Voss is forced to climb free, with Kofun and Haniwa attempting first to guide him and then to pull him up. This, I suppose, is the disadvantage of being a six-five superman. It’s also the moment during which I genuinely thought that See Episode 6 was going to off Baba Voss. Luckily, as I don’t think the show would work without him, he survives.
Boots, meanwhile, visits Maghra, and lies that he doesn’t know where the others are. Now that we know he’s a cunning and murderous psychopath, their interactions have taken on a new, sinister quality. He explains that he saw the Witchfinders kneel before her. He can do things nobody else can, and if she takes him into her service, she will also be able to. He will be devoted to her, as long as she promises not to mean. That pitiable line does a lot for Boots; a glimmer of childlike vulnerability, a simple desire to be treated with basic decency. At the same time, Tamacti Jun receives Queen Kane’s amulet, and a message requesting a ransom. Boots tells Maghra he knows where her sister is and who left the message — he can see them, still in the camp, the shadows from the City of Worms. He asks again if she’ll accept his service. See Season 1, Episode 6 ends before she can provide an answer, but I think we can guess what it might be.