Episode 4 of Tales From The Loop essentially follows two characters this time around; Cole and his Grandfather, Russ. The episode begins with Cole staying for a sleepover at his grandfather’s house. After collecting fireflies in the evening, Russ helps him with his times tables while they do gardening. Midway through, Cole asks about the nature of his job at the underground but Russ simply tells him he makes possible what others say is impossible.
When Cole is picked up and taken home, Russ heads back to work where he sits in his office writing down a math equation. After getting some bad news from his doctor, he heads back to see Cole and they walk together out in the fields, where he shows his grandson a strange object known as the Echo Sphere. As Cole calls inside, he hears the distorted echoes of his own voice and Russ tells him this object tells you how long you’re going to live for, depending on the number of echoes you hear.
Russ however, hears exactly zero echoes. Admitting that he doesn’t have long left, Russ sits with the family and tells George and the others that there’s nothing they can do. Cole storms off though, unable to listen to this, prompting his Grandfather to go and talk to him. He questions whether Russ can find something underground to undo what’s happening but unfortunately there isn’t, death is inevitable.
Russ hands over the reins of the underground over to Loretta and as he sits outside afterwards, Russ wonders just where the time has gone through all these years. He heads back to see George not long after and takes Cole out for a drive.
Together they head out to the fields again where he tells Russ you can always find light in the dark. It’s an important lesson and one that sees the two bond before he drives Cole back home again. Unfortunately it’s too much for Russ as he knows the inevitable is coming and begins weeping uncontrollably. When he returns to Klara back home, he collapses on the floor.
Unable to come to terms with what’s happening, Cole tries to find something in the Underground to help save Russ but just before he touches the black orb we saw in the first episode, Loretta stops him from touching it.
Determined, Cole decides to visit his Grandfather in hospital but his condition has deteriorated a lot. Russ is not the same man he once was and when Cole heads in, Russ rambles about Klara in the rain. It’s not long after that he passes away and the family get the inevitable call about his passing.
At the wake, Cole gets talking to a girl called Zoe and they discuss cremation and burials. Finally coming to terms with what’s happening, Cole heads back to Klara’s and asks what Russ did in his office. This remains a mystery for now but as Cole leaves, Klara tries to settle in to life on her own, whistling that familiar chime that Russ did all those times.
Heading back to the Echo Sphere one last time, Cole’s voice echoes through the years as we flashes of him at different points of his life. The last sees him as an old man with his family. As fireflies emanate inside the sphere, the episode ends.
While the sci-fi elements form the backdrop and setting to this story, the actual drama and poignant story about loss and coming to terms with death is a beautiful life lesson and something that Tales From The Loop has done incredibly well so far. This grandfather/grandson relationship plays out in a really beautiful way and Jonathan Pryce does a wonderful job playing Russ here, capturing the depth of his character.
There’s plenty of mysteries surrounding The Underground and the nods toward previous episodes here, with Loretta and the orb along with the familiar security guard we’ve seen helping to keep things consistent. Ultimately though, this episode is all about death and the way this is presented through the different relationships of our characters is certainly well written. While some may lament the familiar piano chimes returning this episode, Tales From The Loop delivers another beautiful hour of drama nonetheless.