Welcome to the Ending Explained for Netflix‘s Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities, Episode 3. This episode is titled “The Autopsy” and it is an adaptation of a short story by Michael Shea, another prominent author in the horror and fantasy genres. Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities pays homage to the short story by getting some amazing actors like F. Murray Abraham, and Glynn Turman in the main roles. The episode is directed by David Prior, who made a name for himself in the horror landscape by directing the films: The Empty Man, and Void.
The episode is without a doubt one of the most graphic in the entire show. As its title says, there is an autopsy at the very core of the story, as well as a very interesting mystery. Prior knows how to handle his veteran actors and lets them do what they do best. F. Murray Abraham is always good, and his performance as the forensic doctor in question is quite amazing. There are also some stunning practical effects being done here. So good, in fact, that if you don’t like seeing blood or internal organs, avoiding this episode might be for the best.
The following paragraphs contain spoilers for Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities, Episode 3, “The Autopsy”. Read at your own risk.
Why Is Carl Performing The Titular Autopsy?
The episode begins as we see an old man descending an old bus and stepping into a very old-fashioned town. This man is Carl, a seasoned forensic doctor, one of the best in his profession. We see him slowing down and getting some rest, as he is being affected by some mysterious pain. Later, we see him stepping into the town’s police department. There, he meets with the town’s sheriff, his good friend Nate. They greet each other with affection, and Carl asks why did Nate call him? Nate begins to tell his tale.
Nate tells us of a situation that has been plaguing the town for a while. A series of disappearances without any solution. Many men have just vanished, leaving their families and work behind. The situation continued just like that until one boy finds a body in the forest surrounding the town. The body is found inside a bag, and he seems to be full of cuts and missing organs. It is not a pretty sight. Later, while looking for more bodies in the same forest, Nate loses some of his men as well, under mysterious circumstances.
Later, they identified the body they found and that led them to a man called Sykes, who was now going by the name of Allen. This man was the last person who saw the body they found in the forest alive. Nate tells us how they tracked Allen to a boarding house and then to the mine. At the boarding house, they find some kind of sphere that they took with them. Before getting to Allen to question him in the mine, Allen grabbed the sphere from the police car and jumped into the mine, where more than nine died after an explosion following Allen’s descent.
Nate explains how the mining company is looking for some trace of a bomb. To not pay anything to the victims, as it wasn’t his fault that some crazy men jumped into the mine with a bomb. Nate wants a second opinion from Carl; he trusts him. On the road to the place where Carl will perform the autopsy, he reveals to Nate that he has cancer and that he has only six months to live. Carl seems to be at peace with his fate and grabs his instruments, puts the tape on the recorder, pushes play, and starts working. Nate will visit him in a few hours to see how things are going.
What Does Carl Find During The Autopsy?
As Carl starts doing his job, he starts to talk to the recorder to keep a record of everything he finds. He opens body after body and is happy to find that there doesn’t seem to be any indication of a bomb explosion. These people died more surely than not by being asphyxiated. However, he also finds something very peculiar in some bodies: a hole in their chests that follows straight into their hearts. Carl opens up these bodies and finds that their organs are dry, and that the bodies are completely drained of blood.
At that moment, the body of Allen wakes up and, like a zombie, interrupts the autopsy. Carl is scared, of course, but his curiosity is stronger. He starts asking questions to the zombie, and the walking dead reveals that its real form is trapped inside a corpse. The entity reveals that it is not from this Earth and that the sphere was its ship. It destroyed it because they are not supposed to be discovered by humans. He says that they have managed to dominate humans for thousands of years by working in secret. The alien says that he will take Carl’s body next.
The alien knocks Carl down and puts him off the autopsy table. It gets ready to pass itself from Allen to Carl. The aliens talk a lot and say that they are beings who have transcended and that they have been ruling the world without anyone noticing it, and more. Carl says that they are actually jealous because they don’t have senses of their own, and can only steal them. They are pathetic. The alien replies by saying he will take Carl’s body and kill Nate, and rejoice in their suffering because every person they possess doesn’t die but remains there, inside their bodies but without control.
The alien opens Allen’s body and takes itself out. However, Carl seizes his chance. The alien is blind and deaf without Allen’s body, so it’s taking its time to find the incision to enter his new host. Carl grabs the scalpel with his only free arm and cuts his jugular vein and takes his eyes out so that the alien cannot see when taking possession of the body. The alien is trapped now in a useless body that will die soon enough from blood loss. Carl laughs at the alien for being so stupid. With the last of his strength, he uses his body to write on his chest the words “Play Tape, Burn Body”
Nate arrives and sees the message on his friend’s body, as we see that the recorder caught the entire interaction, exposing the aliens to the world.