Much like the episode before it, “Death Doesn’t Let You Say Goodbye” feels very stagnant in terms of plot. It’s an exposition-heavy episode, one that has its fair share of great character moments, but never really uses them to propel the story of the sensates forward.
As great as it is to get some backstory in this episode, to see Jonas again and to get an idea of how the sensates have been living generation after generation, it largely feels like the show’s establishing a holding pattern rather than moving forward. The backstory of the sensates and BPO, some of which is revealed to Riley in a conversation with an older sensate named Yrsa, fills in a few of the holes in the mystery of the sensates, but its placement within the season, coming off an episode that was also very meditative and slow moving, means that much of it doesn’t feel consequential.
Essentially, “Death Doesn’t Let You Say Goodbye” is an episode that’s designed to give a lot of information to the audience and that doesn’t usually make for compelling television. There’s still a lot of great thematic work in this episode, much of it dealing with love, death, and responsibility, but those moments are overwhelmed by a flurry of exposition and lengthy conversations. There’s no relief, no change of pace, and that leaves the episode feeling rather dull.
Most of the episode revolves around two different conversations: one between Nomi and Lito and one between Will and Riley. The two visitations serve two different purposes. Where the former conversation is a moment of reckoning for the two characters and represents a turning point in their lives, the latter is one that’s meant to deepen the story of BPO and the sensates.
The latter, despite being more mysterious, is the least interesting one. Before Will visits Riley she’s seen wandering through a cave on the shores of Iceland. While there she encounters a woman, one she seems to have known her whole life. Her name is Yrsa and it turns out that she’s a sensate who perhaps worked for BPO back in the day, but tried to save the lives of the sensates once she realized what was going on (or so she says—it’s hard to trust anyone’s motives here).
Yrsa saved Riley many years ago, not only removing her from the hospital when her tests came through as showing sensate proclivities, but also at a later date when, presumably, Riley’s mother died while on a mountain. It’s all a little abstract, and only so much of what happened to Riley and her mother is revealed, but it does cement BPO as a substantial threat whose power seems far-reaching.
More interestingly, Yrsa reacts to the knowledge that Will is talking to Jonas. Yrsa pulls Riley away from the visitation, telling her that she can’t trust Jonas. She says that him and Angel work for BPO, that they give birth to clusters in order to help BPO track more sensates down. It’s a compelling twist, but one that doesn’t have any immediate implications. We’ll have to wait and see what truth is revealed in the season’s final three episodes.
NEXT: What we work for and what we live for