Katla Season 1 Plot Synopsis
Set deep in the heart of Iceland, Katla is a moody slow-burn revolving around a small town called Vik. When Katla erupts, we cut forward 1 year to find a strange ash-covered woman arriving out the smoke and dust.
Secrets are soon revealed that turn this community upside down. Among those looking for answers is Grima, who finds herself pushed to breaking point, questioning her very existence.
Who is the ash-covered woman?
As we soon come to learn, this woman is called Gunhild and she’s closely aligned with Tor, Grima’s Father. However, the real Gunhild actually left and is currently in Sweden, with her son Bjorn. Bjorn is actually Tor’s child, which we find out during the finale.
This ash-covered Gunhild is much younger (20 years younger which coincides with when she worked at Hotel Vik in town) An extra twist reveals that young Gunhild is pregnant with Tor’s child.
Who else returns?
Among those to return from beyond the grave is Grima’s sister, Asa. She went missing a year back, around the time of the eruption, and many presumed her to be dead. So how is she walking about? Well, we’ll get to that in a moment!
The plot thickens midway through the season when Grima discovers a frozen corpse under a cabin. This corpse is eventually identified as Asa – the real Asa.
Magnea, Gisli’s wife, also returns much more healthy than her current, terminally ill state. One of the researchers, Darri, also sees his young son Mikael return, although he’s visibly shaken by this given his real son died 3 years back.
The final puzzle piece in those returned sees Grima return as an ash-covered doppelganger too.
How did these people return?
Well, we’re given a brief explanation in episode 7 when Darri heads under the glacier to investigate. After collecting up some rock samples, Darri deduces that this meteorite crashed down to Earth a long time ago and this seems too have a strange, alien, life-giving element within it.
These meteors are responsible for bringing in the changelings. The chalk-ash exterior seems to be some form of cocoon to keep the body safe while it’s grown underground.
According to Darri, this meteor is apparently using the most intense emotional feelings that each of the townsfolk are feeling to recreate the people that are missing.
Again, all of this is just a hypothesis from Darri but he goes on to mention how these replicas are molded by the thoughts people have about them. In essence, they are a more exaggerated version of their real counterparts, clinging to the main trait that made them come into creation.
What are changelings?
Changelings have been about in folklore for a long time. Historically known as an auf or oaf, changelings are basically human-like creatures that are believed to be a fairy that has been left in place of a human stolen by fairies.
There are numerous accounts throughout history of this presumably occurring and different regions have their own interpretation of these tales.
Who dies in Katla season 1?
With the continued presence of the changelings getting involved in everyday life, each of our characters make a bold decision regarding their future.
Rakel and Darri realize their son is an imposter and consumed by rage. Convincing themselves that this is definitely not their son, they decide to drown him in the sea.
Asa drowns herself in a symbolic move after Grima reveals the truth about her existence. This changeling is far more thoughtful and slips into an existential crisis. Asa’s symbolic walk into the water mirrors Grima and Asa’s Mother, who did the same thing years back. This also explains why Grima is so haunted by what’s happened.
Grima then heads home and plays a game of Russian Roulette with the changeling Grima. She’s determined to let fate decide their outcome. The real Grima survives this deadly game, with the changeling taking the final, fatal shot.
How does Katla season 1 end?
The final shots of Katla sees the Earth groan and grumble, paving way for numerous ash-covered changelings to rise up and head toward the town. The final shot sees their faint outlines on the horizon.
Could this be a manifestation of stronger emotions across town following what’s happened? If so, what does this mean for our Vik residents? We’ll have to wait and see because this one ends on a big cliffhanger!
To read everything that happened in this final episode, do be sure to check out our full finale recap & review by clicking HERE.
Read More: Katla Season 1 Review
Thanks for reading our Ending Explained article! What did you think of the ending? Did you like the ambiguity of the cliffhanger? Would you like to see this return for season 2? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!