The Origin Of The House
Episode 8 of Shining Girls starts in Lake View Chicago, 1848. A man places a flower in his journal out in the woods. When he returns to the house he finds a body hanging from the rafters with a note “All yours.”
This house happens to be the same one Harper is using for his time traveling, which we soon find out.
That dog from before randomly showed up in the house for Harper during one of his travels too, explaining how it showed up randomly with Kirby. He led the dog out of the house, shutting the door behind him which, presumably, leads into Kirby’s apartment.
After this neat bit of tying up of loose ends, we return to a frazzled Jinny, who’s still rattled after time distorting last episode. Kirby too is aware of what’s happened, pointing out that Jinny’s new reality is something she needs to get used to.
Why does reality shift?
Digging through her wallet, they find evidence that Jinny is now a mechanical technician and also living at a different address too. Kirby urges her to head home and try to blend in, pointing out that this is “who she is now.” Kirby has experience with these shifting realities and encourages Jinny not to panic.
As for Kirby, she heads off to Dan’s place but he’s obviously not there, given he was killed at the club last chapter. As a result of this distortion, Kirby’s role at the newspaper has changed.
Just like Jinny, Kirby is forced to get a handle on everything. She’s still working there, which is a plus, but it seems she’s actually much higher up the hierarchy. Kirby is working on something called the Berwyn Murders.
In this distorted reality, and without Dan around, the Harper case is being wrapped up with Pavel being the likely suspect. When Kirby attends the morning meeting, Abby informs the team gravely that Dan Velsaquez used to be a writer with them but he’s been killed at Sid’s bar. Through hearing this, Kirby realizes why everything has changed.
Does Harper find the tape?
Harper visits Leo and demands to know what he has been talking to Kirby about Klara. Leo plays dumb, claiming he doesn’t know who she is beyond being a singer in the 20’s. Harper asks for the tape.
Leo is pretty adamant that he doesn’t know where it is, but Harper is relentless. He eventually takes Leo out the care center and brings him back to the house, under the pretence that the tape is there.
For some reason, the door won’t work for Leo, it only seems to work for Harper. Leo pleads with Harper, telling him he wants to go home, out of this time period that he’s been dislodged in.
As we soon learn, Leo actually helped Harper get rid of Klara’s body and this tape holds evidence of what they’ve been doing, hence why Harper wants it so badly.
Leo wants to go back to the day they found the house and in doing so, he’ll reveal where this is. Given Klara saw straight through the man’s deception, Leo is confident he will too and gets to the crux of the issue. He taunts Harper, telling him plainly that he has no one – that’s why he’s in this house and losing his sanity.
Harper snaps. He stabs Leo several times and holds him in his arms and lets him bleed out.
What happens after Leo is killed?
Meanwhile, Jinny explains – or tries to anyway – what’s going on here to Kirby. She brings up the analogy about particles becoming untangled and a thread running through them.
Jinny believes that this thread is connecting three particles together. In this specific example, that would refer to Harper, Jinny and Kirby. She believes Harper is connecting them and in order to untangle everything, they need to “remove one of the particles to let the rest run free.” This sees them turn their attention toward Harper as the one they need to free.
With another death though, reality shifts once more as it seems death is the catalyst for the realities changing. In this reality, Marcus is happily married to someone else while Kirby is back working in archives.
Manic reality shifts
Things are spiraling out of control fast though, and as Harper goes on his killing spree, Jinny tries to talk her way out of ever-increasingly suspicious workers that don’t know why she’s at the newspaper as well. It doesn’t work though, and police eventually take her away.
When Kirby returns to the office, she finds Jinny gone. In the middle of this whole drama, another kill from Harper shifts us ever-so-slightly again as Marcus doesn’t recognize who Kirby is. She swallows hard and nods knowingly.
Kirby heads off to see the coroner, the one who shifted midway through the earlier episodes, where she finds it’s back to being Iris again.
What does Kirby find at the coroners?
Dan has been brought in under the pretence that a thief came at him and stabbed the man as a consequence of this. Kirby knows this isn’t true and points out that whatever Dan has, he’s always been generous and given away, hence why the narrative doesn’t quite work.
“You sound very sincere,” Iris says, as she decides to leave and let Kirby investigate. Kirby is appreciative and heads through the evidence bags and eventually realizes all of this links back to the house.
How does Kirby outsmart Harper?
So off Kirby goes, to the house itself. She smashes the window and makes her way inside. After looking through the rooms, Kirby opens the shutters and marvels at a brilliant white light. When Harper returns to the house, Kirby is there and she attacks him with a knife, determined to take him down.
“It was never you,” Kirby rasps, “It was the house.” With Harper pinning Kirby down, she grabs a knife and stabs him through the chin.
This cuts us abruptly back to the 1920’s where Klara is not happy about seeing Harper. The scene plays out very differently now. Klara somehow knows exactly what he’s going to say before he does. The timeline plays out like before, but without Klara this time, as Harper finds the digital watch… alongside a polaroid of himself; the address of the house on the back.
Harper is clearly uneasy about this revelation and heads in with Leo just as before. This time though, Kirby is waiting for him.
She’s the one in control and she shoots the man when he shows up – but not fatally. “You can’t not be who you are.” She says matter-of-factly, ending this cycle before it can even begin.
Harper believes he can take whatever he wants, and his motivation has stemmed from operating under the illusion that the world owes him. But for Kirby, she’s fighting back. It’s her house now and she promises to always be with him. She forces Harper out the house, demanding he make amends to avoid being killed… again.
Does time go back to how it was?
This whole reality shifts, with Harper out of his uniform and Leo standing before him. He points out that Harper never actually made it over to France to fight and they never were there together. Given this was the catalyst for everything we’ve seen since then, it’s a clever way of tying everything together while not technically killing our antagonist.
Anyway, in Harper’s pocket happens to be that wooden Pegasus he gave Kirby all those years ago. Having not given it to Kirby, thus reality shifts back to the original timeline once more. This means that every single one of Harper’s victims are still alive and time seems to have righted itself again.
Jinny is back at the planetarium; Dan is still drowning his sorrows at the bar; Kirby is finally making sense of her reality.
Kirby heads in and sits with Dan in the bar – who doesn’t recognize her – and guesses what’s in his pocket. “I know you.” Dan eventually says, taking a good, long look at the woman he’s unknowingly worked with so hard to uncover the truth. He can’t say where, leading Kirby to tell him if he does remember, then he knows where to find her.
How does Shining Girls Season 1 end?
Kirby eventually returns to the house, where she hears banging on the door. It’s that same dog we saw from the start of the episode, wanting to come in. Kirby lets him in and makes herself at home, slumping in the sofa in a quiet bit of contemplation. This is her house now. But still, the niggling sense of what could be lingers on.
The Episode Review
Shining Girls has really come into its own these past few episodes and it’s another example of why episodic releases can actually kill a show off before it gets good. Midway through this slow, meandering series you’d be forgiven for thinking this one is going nowhere in a hurry.
However, around episode 6’s flashback chapter and the subsequent follow-ups leading into the end of the show, Shining Girls has really stepped it up a gear and leaned into its premise.
The idea of this house being the constant, the time travel device if you will, feels like a nod toward Stephen King’s 11.22.63, although that show had a much more consistent thread tying everything together with its time travel.
For Shining Girls, much of the run-time has been muddied and not made clear what’s happening until way near the end of this chapter. That’s not a bad thing though, but again it reinforces why you need a good deal of patience to really drink in the setting, atmosphere and characters.
Shining Girls has been a really enjoyable watch and this one certainly bows out on a high. Whether Apple will renew this one or not remains to be seen but there’s certainly enough here to whet the appetite for a sequel.
In the end, Harper is stopped from his murderous rampage but at what cost? Kirby has lost everything she had, and that could well see her try to rewrite history and get back to her old life. Or will she settle for what she has? We’ll see!