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Old Man of the Sea - Recap

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The Providence is becalmed in the middle of the ocean with two days’ of water left at half-rations. Belowdecks, Sinbad insists that there will soon be wind and tells the others not to worry. Cook comes down and tells them that he’s just seen a ship, even though there’s no wind to have brought it there. Anwar and Sinbad go to take a look but there’s nothing there. As they go back below, the mysterious ship reappears out of nowhere.

In Basra, Akbari discusses the exile of Taryn with his brother. The Emir assures Akbari that he did the right thing, even though Akbari believes the sorceress was the only one who truly understood his grief. His brother tells him that she was only playing on his grief to twist him to her will. Akbari insists that vengeance is in his heart but the Emir tells him that what he builds will be the truth testament to his dead son and advises him to let go of his desire for revenge.

Taryn goes to the grave of Sinbad’s brother and takes a tuft of his hair to cast a spell to find Sinbad. She swallows it, transforming it into an insect which flies to find Sinbad.

On the Providence, Sinbad and Cook are playing a game and the Asian suddenly insists that he has to go back and fix his mistakes. After stopping him, Sinbad goes over to Anwar and asks him to take a look at Cook. The ship’s doctor tries to get him out of the sun but Cook starts giggling, saying that it doesn’t matter. As the sun sets, Gunnar fishes for food without success using a makeshift rod. When the temperature starts to drop, he says to Nala that the cool air is a relief but she nervously brushes past him without a word.

That night, Gunnar catches a very small fish and he begins scaling it, only to discover that it’s dead and rotting. Rina goes to the side and sees something out on the water. They see a ship with a lantern and Rina suggests they investigate, but Nala refuses. Sinbad and Rina take a skiff over and board the ship, and discover that the deck is covered in ice and the sails are in tatters. They go below and find a mess table covered with a wedding feast that has long rotted. Rina is eager to take the silver serving dishes until she finds them filled with maggots. They check the hold for supplies and find an old man sleeping.

When Sinbad and Rina bring the skiff back, Cook refuses to let the old man on board, suspecting plague. Anwar ignores him and helps them aboard, pointing out that if they become ill as well then they’ll only die a little faster. Sinbad and Rina tell the others that there was no food and only a rotting feast, catching Nala’s attention. Cook points out the festering boils on the old man’s face, but no one else sees them.

The next morning, the old man’s ship seemingly disappears. Anwar thinks that the haze from sunlight on the water is concealing it but Sinbad isn’t convinced. Gunnar goes below and checks on the old man, who looks up and says that he can see the blood on the Northerner’s soul. He goes back to sleep as Anwar and Sinbad come down, and Gunnar walks away without a word. The old man looks up again and Sinbad tells him that he’s safe, and the man identifies himself as a Greek, Anicetus. Anicetus refuses to answer Sinbad’s questions about his crew and says that they’ve met before. Sinbad has no idea who he is and asks about the wedding party, but Anicetus says he knows nothing of it. Nala comes down to tell them they’re splitting up the remaining water and she stares at Anicetus at a moment as if she recognizes him.

On the deck, the crew ladles out the remaining water but when Rina tries to drink it, it transforms into maggots. Cook says that Anicetus is responsible and they should never have brought him onto the ship. The crew looks in the water barrel and discovers that the rest of the water has also transformed into maggots.

Sinbad goes to find Nala, who is polishing her father’s dagger. He asks why she ran from her people and Nala explains that they believed she had an obligation. A great enemy threatened their city and the elders struck a deal to save themselves, but at a price. Sinbad says that sometimes it is best to put things behind oneself but Nala asks if he was able to put his brother behind him. After a moment he turns and leaves without answering.

Later on the deck, Anicetus comes up and Nala helps him. He breathes in the fresh sea air and comments that life is a fragile gift. She agrees and Anicetus realizes that she’s lost someone. Nala explains that she lost her father recently and Anicetus tells her that which is lost can sometimes be found. Smiling, he then goes back below. Gunnar, having watched the exchange, tells Sinbad that Anicetus is part of what is affecting them and Cook knows it. Cook begins ranting hysterically and they go to get Anwar. Anwar has discovered that Anicetus knows a great deal about medical treatises, having read them in the original languages. Rina brings Anwar to the deck and he tells them to get Cook into the shade. However, he can only tell everyone to stay together and to keep each other distracted from their peril.

That night, Taryn’s insect finds the ship and begins searching for Sinbad. It sees the map that Anwar has plotted of the ship’s course and Taryn, seeing through the insect, realizes where they are. Meanwhile, the crew gathers around the brazier for warmth and Rina asks Gunnar about his past. Before he can answer, Anicetus comes up and asks to join them. Sinbad invites him to sit and Anwar suggests that he tell them a story. Anicetus admits that he’s told them everything he can remember and asks Rina, who takes offense when he calls her “child.” Sinbad talks about when he and his brother Jamil used to con rich people. Anicetus asks about Jamil and Sinbad sees his brother’s face appear in the fire. It disappears after a moment and the others see nothing. Gunnar realizes that something happened but Sinbad insists that he saw nothing. Glaring at Anicetus, the Northerner storms off and Anwar and Rina find excuses to leave as well. Anicetus asks who Sinbad saw and says that whoever it was, Sinbad misses him. Sinbad says that Jamil is dead and Anicetus says that he feels guilty. He looks at Nala and steps away, and Nala asks if Sinbad saw his brother in the flames. She says that she understands but Sinbad says that what is done is done and accuses her of self-pity. Nala says that he knows nothing of her and that tears don’t come easily to her, and Sinbad walks away. Anicetus tells her that neither one of them have made peace with their losses. He says again that what has been lost can be found and leaves her alone.

Later that night, the crew tries to sleep. Nala is plagued by dreams of a wedding feast where she is the bride and her father Zalelew is seated at the head of the table. The people suddenly disappear and Nala sees the table in the hold of Anicetus’ ship. She wakes up and realizes that she’s been dreaming.

On the deck, Gunnar remembers the slaughter of a village and drives his knife into the mast. The Northerner sees blood drip down from the cut and then watches as it vanishes, and recoils in superstitious horror.

Anwar dreams that he’s in the Great Library of Alexandria and the stacks are on fire. He tries the door and discovers that it’s locked, and yells for help. After a moment, Anwar wakes up from his nightmare and finds a bit of charred paper caught in his sleeve. He meets with Sinbad and Gunnar and suggests that they’re hallucinating due to thirst and starvation. Gunnar isn’t convinced, saying that he could smell the blood and hear the screams. Anicetus comes out walks up to the wheel, while Anwar suggests that the dreams are just a way of working out their internal fears. Gunnar says that he fears nothing, but Sinbad reminds him that he is afraid of Anicetus and gives him his knife back. Sinbad tells Anwar that he hasn’t dreamed of anything and tells Anwar to check on Cook, and then glances at Anicetus, who is staring into the night.

In Basra, Akbari wakes up and finds Taryn at his bedside. He reminds her that he promised to kill her if she returned, but the sorceress says that her life is meaningless without his patronage. As Akbari prepares to cut her throat, Taryn offers him Sinbad and explains that he is sailing for Baruk.

On the Providence, Anicetus sits next to the sleeping Cook. As the others come over, touches Cook on the chest and walks away. Rina reaches beneath Cook’s shirt and finds a blue butterfly. Meanwhile in her cabin Nala takes out the wedding dress that she wore in her dream and imagines the wedding feast and her father watching her. She goes to Anicetus, who gestures out to sea where his boat is visible again. He smiles and walks away without a word as the ship fades away.

That night, Nala dons her wedding dress and finds Anicetus on deck by the brazier. He offers her fresh water and confirms that she knows why he is there. Nala asks if he can bring her father back and Anicetus explains that her people suffered at the hand of a great enemy. He sent a plague into the enemy camp because Nala’s people begged him for his help, and in return he was to receive one noble daughter in marriage. Nala admits that she wanted to live and couldn’t bear to fulfill her part of the arrangement, and her father helped her flee. By doing so, he lost his position and the love of his people. She gave him nothing in return, and offers herself willingly to Anicetus in return for her father’s life. Anicetus assures her that he won’t harm Sinbad and the others unless they interfere, because it isn’t yet their time.

Anwar studies the blue butterfly and Sinbad and Gunnar join him. The ship’s doctor admits that Anicetus’s talk of medicine and science fooled him, but that he goes against the laws of nature. Further, the name Anicetus means “unconquerable.” In some cultures, the butterfly symbolizes the unconscious. Anwar finally suggests that Anicetus is Death himself. When they wonder what Death would be doing aboard their ship, Rina steps in and tells them to ask Nala because Death’s business is with her. They run up to the deck and see Anicetus on the skiff taking Nala to his ship.

Sinbad and Gunnar dive into the water and swim after their friend. Meanwhile, Anicetus takes Nala into the mess room of his ship and seals the door behind them. The wedding table now has fresh food and the guests from Nala’s dreams, guests who arise at Nala’s approach. Anicetus then takes Nala into a huge hallway and hand-in-hand they walk down it. There is an altar at the other end and he tells her that to be his bride and restore her father, Nala must join Death forever. Sinbad and Gunnar smash in and Sinbad says that she doesn’t have to do it. Anicetus summons a horde of butterflies to protect him and the insects smash Gunnar back out of the room. Sinbad protects himself with a shield and yells to Nala, warning her that Death is lying and that no one can return from the dead.

When Nala hesitates, Anicetus gestures and the shade of Zalelew appears, smiling in approval. As Anicetus places the wedding ring on her finger and says that Zalelew has seen her tears for him, Sinbad yells again that it’s a trick. Nala remembers that she couldn’t cry for her father and his shade fades away. Anicetus insist that Nala is promised to him because of the bargain, but she knocks away the ring and says that she never struck a bargain. Reaching forward, she rips off Anicetus’ face and he dissolves into a cloud of butterflies that fly away. The ship begins falling apart and quickly dissolves around them, dropping Gunnar, Sinbad, and Nala into the water. Sinbad swims down and pulls Nala to the surface while the wedding ring sinks to the ocean floor.

Gunnar and Sinbad get Nala back to the Providence and discover that Cook hasn’t improved. Sinbad goes to their unconscious friend and says that he can’t leave them. Thunderstorms gather overhead and it begins to rain. When the water seeps down onto Cook’s face, he wakes up as the others laugh and celebrate.

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