Darkness. Then, snow. A blizzard, eternal. This is The Cold. Where the Rimeblood rule. Ankar, Lady of Order, mother of the first peoples, makes a deal with someone unseen. Later, Zyz questions her judgement, but she says to trust her. She will see it through, because she wishes to have more children, and would not see them devoured as the Rimeblood ate her first children. But Zyz wonders, what could Ankar possibly give Ulyuq in return for him agreeing to free the world from Cold? Ankar stares into the sky knowingly. An aurora shimmers…in the sky….
PANTHEON: SERIES ONE, EPISODE SEVEN: AVALANCHE
Fade up on a desolate battlefield, thick with slaughtered dead. The carnage was terrible. The tracks of impossible beasts walk through it, into the distance – where their howls and feeding can still be heard. Inikaya, messenger of the gods, takes it all in. For this, ultimately, is mortal slaughter, and Gods are busy elsewhere….
Not far away, Korak, Ix and Smith are where we left them. Ix collapsed on his knees, downcast. Korak fuming, unable to speak. Smith victorious. Korak orders his brother to leave because he cannot stand to look at him. Smith objects, because he wants Ix to deal with the consequences for once. Ix sulks but will not leave for now. So Korak says, fine, wait here for justice.
At the Pit: Aristeia and Always both try to protect the other, which sums up their whole relationship – both sees the other as the little sister. Always, more and more sure of herself as Adelos, wins. But the world reacts. A frost runs across the earth, and every flying thing feels Aristeia’s fear, and rushes to the pit. But Ulyuq is no wild beast, but always the bargainer. He is conciliatory, demuring.
Feeling the fear of the Sky, the boys realise something is up. Smith sends Inikaya to get Zyz from Toleken, the underworld, and Smith leaves to get Dorabus. Korak and Ix look at each other, remembering that moment last ep when they recalled past alliances. They both run to the pit. Ix, faster, wilder, gets there first.
Snow falls across the edge of the Pit. Ix moves to rescue Aristeia, but finds Anehute blocking him. Ix realises Anehute has gone off the reservation. Smith and Dorabus arrive and Smith starts telling everyone how he so knew this was going to happen. Always tells him to sit down and be quiet, and for once, he does. Korak arrives next and he and Ulyuq swap barbs about the last time they battled. Ulyuq says he is just here to talk – to talk to Always.
Always says okay, everyone else clear out. Smith pretends to. Ix, trusting in his instincts, grabs Aristeia and runs. Korak refuses to budge and the two have a massive awesome domestic about who is in charge. Korak, as God of War, believes this is his domain, and she should respect that. He wins, but Always stays to help. A concession that only this new, wiser Korak could have made. Ulyuq explains he is here to talk business: if Always or the Five is to become a new Balance, then Cold belongs within it, it is part of that nature.
Always leads the accusations against Anehute, but the mortal says he has only freed a few beasts and Ulyuq cannot leave. He thinks he’s a genius. Smith disagrees. Anehute says he’s better than Smith because he will become a God and wed a mortal without going through all those hoops and all he had to do was borrow some of Ulyuq’s strength. Always wonders if she could take some of Ulyuq’s strength herself. She is tempted by Ulyuq’s offer perhaps. Smith reminds her – as he knows so well – that it’s not about strength, but manipulation. Leverage. Ulyuq is up to something – but Smith has a plan….Korak says he’s going to get his armies to finish this, so keep him busy.
Meanwhile Ix thinks the only safe place for Aristeia is to go below, to Toleken. She agrees but will only go if Teyamaq accompanies her. The three go below – and with the sky and the moon gone, the whole world plunges into a solar eclipse.
Always thanks Smith for his council and tells Ulyuq neither she, the gods nor the world needs him any more. He is of the old world and does not belong. Ulyuq aquiesces but says he has another matter to discuss – he wants his property back. You see long ago, he was given the Sky in exchange for a truce, and then the Sky was taken from him by force, which hardly seems fair, does it? Always, shocked, runs to Ankar and Rokan to confront them about this revelation. Smith left behind at the Pit decides to work out Ulyuq’s game, using all his cunning.
In Toleken, Ix tells his father that the gig is up, and he is here to do a swap. He will take Zyz’s punishment and stay in Toleken, and Zyz can be free. Zyz says that firstly, it doesn’t matter if the gig is up, he’ll still take the punishment for his son’s sake, and anyway, nothing matters until Rokan forgives him – it is the anger of his brother Rokan that Zyz needs to see rescinded before he will leave. Ix nods and leaves. Aristeia, worried, follows.
Always tries to ask Rokan and Ankar about their daughter but doesn’t get far before Ix, mad with rage and furious speed, storms in. He confesses to Rokan and demands he release Zyz. Rokan refuses to believe it, and says it doesn’t matter anyway, Zyz is still a betrayer. Ix nods and moves on, he didn’t expect much else and already has another solution. He says Smith was right – we can’t move forward because we come from something broken. After he leaves, Aristeia arrives and begs for mercy for Zyz. At the tears of his oldest daughter Rokan relents – he will speak to Zyz and soften his heart. And so Aristeia runs after Ix, back to the Pit. Always, finally, can talk to her parents about everything – about Ulyuq, which really matters, about the deal. Ankar says she’ll talk to Ulyuq and Always says no, tell me NOW. Ankar and Rokan are taken aback.
“You raised me to lead,” she says, “Now WATCH ME”. Ankar smiles, and congratulates the new queen. But warns her, there is always a price to leading….
At the Pit, Korak arrives with his armies. Smith says he did everything he could to make Ulyuq leave and he didn’t so the big guy must be stuck – whatever he gave to Anehute has made him too weak to leave. No doubt Ulyuq is waiting for Korak or Ix to kill Anehute for his rebellion leaving Ulyuq free. Korak smiles and advances and demands Ulyuq return to the Pit. Ulyuq says he will leave when he has his property. Ix arrives, storms to the edge of the Pit – but isn’t here to see Ulyuq, but his brother.
Ix demands of his brother: “Do you care about Rokan’s justice, or do you want to forge a new one?” Korak says he will forge a new one. Ix demands what that rule will be like – has he sinned? Does he need to be punished? Korak says absolutely. Smith says no, dammit, no more punishment, but fixing things, dammit. The boys argue.
Back at the Rokan and Ankra’s yurt, Ankar confesses: that she gave Aristeia to the Rimeblood in exchange for ending the endless winter. Rokan can’t believe it. Always pauses, ruminates, and accepts it. It’s in the past, it’s something of Ankar, and, as she says: “You don’t matter any more”. Ankar smiles, her girl has come of age. She takes off her crown and passes it to her daughter. Meanwhile, it finally hits home to Rokan what his wife did to his daughter. He bellows with rage and goes to strike his wife – but hits his daughter by mistake! Always brushes it off and reminds the feuding couple that they were once brought together by love, founded by love, built Always on love, and now Ulyuq threatens that love, and so do you. Rokan doesn’t listen. He shatters the balance and storms off. Always says “How do I fix this?” Ankar replies that she doesn’t know.
Ix says if he is to be punished, then let him be punished. He kneels. Is he waiting for Korak to kill him…or is he going to offer himself to Ulyuq in his cousin’s place? He looks into the Pit. But then Aristeia runs in and tells Ix to stop. But before she goes any further, Anehute grabs her and tells her she will be his now. Ix nods, thinking that might be right when he’s gone. But Aristeia screams no and pushes Anehute away. He falls into the Pit screaming as he dies. The cold of his heart flows back into Ulyuq. Always, now assured and wearing a new mask, built from her mothers and hers, showing her as now the Balance in full, runs and runs to the Pit. But Ulyuq rises and rises. Ix knows he only has one chance and leaps at Ulyuq. Suddenly Korak realises his brother could die and leaps to save him – too late. Always arrives too late. Aristeia yells for Ix. And Ix locks his arms around Ulyuq’s throat, and Ulyuq’s claws begin to tear the God apart. But it’s Ix’s Pit. Always has been. He can open it and he can close it – forever, if need be.
The mountain explodes, the earth shakes, the rocks fall, the avalanche rains down…and the Pit is filled and Ulyuq is gone.
We pull back slowly. The eclipse ends. Aristeia weeps and rain comes down for her. Always wants to comfort her, but she cannot, for she is no longer love. Smith reminds them they must tend to the wild beasts. Always says “yes, we must remember our duty.” Korak nods “As my brother remembered his.”
The music comes up. Montage. Dead Can Dance’s “Fortune Presents Gifts Not According to The Book” plays as we see each of the four reacting. Smith walks the earth, aching for the dead mortals. He sees the corpse of a carpenter, hammer still in hand.
Korak sits in the throne at the Brass Palace, brooding, remembering.
The church of Always and the church of Zyz reconcile, now that Zyz has been redeemed, the gravediggers are part of the church once more. Yeqawah also dons a new mask.
On the hills of a dying, denuded forest, recovering from cold, starving wolves howl.
Teyamaq carries the weeping Aristeia back home to the sky. And the credits roll over total silence.
Sting: Deep amongst the crevices and tunnels, Smith goes spelunking….looking for bodies…