Even more-so than Thomas, Conor is a mystery to our audience. We know about him through Kaitlin alone — and sometimes her parents and the public’s perception of the “cyber hero” — but we don’t know his own personal journey. So, as with Thomas, I used this playlist as a way to try and get into the head of someone we don’t hear from. Instead of building something that would represent Conor throughout his whole life, I really wanted to focus on who he is now. After all, even though we don’t know it until the end, Conor is alive. Alive and grappling with all of his own demons while he’s scared and isolated and searching for his own answers.
1. “Passage” - Vienna Teng
I can’t say enough about Vienna Teng’s songwriting. This song — from the perspective of someone who has died, sung entirely a cappella — is chilling and beautiful. One of the most painful things about it is how the singer’s loved ones are so bereft when they pass but then eventually...move on. Because of course they do. They have to. We can’t stay in that immediate period of mourning forever. We want our loved ones to continue living their lives. But when told from the perspective of the dead, it’s so lonely.
Here again is the theme of growth — planting a tree in memory of the deceased. Watching it grow as the living get further and further away from the moment their loved one died. That’s a simultaneously hopeful and terribly sad thought.
2. “Come Clean” - Greg Laswell
This is not so innocent/This is not what I had planned/Why did you never come clean with me? — I imagine that Conor was furious with Thomas when he found out about Thomas’ real job. But then again, could Conor really cast stones from that glass house? Yes, he and Thomas were involved with the same groups online, but Conor went much farther and has his own misdeeds he needs to come clean about.
Most of the playlists are quite soft and I wanted to do something different for Conor. In some ways, he is the most unapologetically himself. Both Thomas and Kaitlin hide in their own ways — constantly lying and changing how they behave depending on the circumstance — but Conor is, for better or worse, who he is. I wanted the music to reflect that unhidden boldness so there’s faster tempos and harder transitions on this playlist.
Here we have our first repeat artist: Laswell was featured on Thomas’ playlist.
3. “No, I Don’t Remember” - Anna Ternheim
I think this is probably a song about a romantic relationship, but I think it actually works quite well for Kaitlin and Conor. Things are broken between them because of the choices they’ve made and the people they no longer are. That’s a difficult thing — growing up alongside someone and then realizing that there are things you don’t know or understand about each other.
No, I don’t remember what brought us to this/What places we blindly passed, what turns we missed
Remind me of who I used to be back when/nothing could come between us then
4. “I Was Just a Card” - Laura Marling
There’s something teasing about this song — almost like the Mona Lisa’s smile, mysterious and enticing. It has that boldness that I associate with Conor; the “I know things and I’m smug about it” mentality, even when that mindset might land him in trouble.
I know, I know something/about you that you don’t want me to know (a complete side note: there is a beautiful dance video to this song that I’ve watched a million times and I get chills every time)
5. “Blood I Bled” - The Staves
Another artist from Thomas’ playlist. Both songs are calls to arms of sorts — preparing for battle but almost reluctantly.
Oh, saddle me with your blame/You cut my roots and now my leaves are dead/They tumble down in pools of all the blood I bled — again with the plant motif, this time in the reverse direction; being cut down instead of growing tall. “Saddle me with your blame” feels especially cogent for Conor, who is reluctant to feel his own guilt.
6. “Youth” - Daughter
This is just...a very good song. I don’t really have much more to say about it because it’s so expertly written and spurs a feeling that I can’t quite articulate. But it’s the repeated refrain of “you caused this” that just hits me in the gut every time. It’s accusatory and tired and defiant all at once.
We are the reckless/We are the wild youth/chasing visions of our futures/One day we’ll reveal the truth — out of the three of them, Conor is absolutely the most reckless
It was a flood that wrecked this/And you caused it/Well I’ve lost it all, I’m just a silhouette/I’m a lifeless face that you’ll soon forget
7. “Stormy Eyed” - Far Places
I’m stormy eyed just before the rain/The power lines are buzzing on my way/You can’t stop the rush the water’s coming down/Don’t say a word this is holy ground
And here’s our second theme: the storm. The Le twins are each storms in their own right; building and rumbling and ready to pour down at any moment.
In terms of artist overlap, I tried to not only use the same artists but also have the artists relate the two characters: as in, the Laswell and Staves songs on this playlist are about Conor’s relationship with Thomas and these final three tracks — all by artists on Kaitlin’s playlist — are more about Conor and Kaitlin.
8. “Canvas” - Imogen Heap
Once again, I don’t necessarily really understand what Imogen Heap is talking about (I think this song is about fighting with your internal artistic muse?) but she still captures that roiling tension better than almost anyone else. The storm is gathering.
The more you look, the less you see/So close your eyes, and start to breathe/Oh, you said yourself this wasn’t easy — for both Conor and Kaitlin, looking even closer at their findings only bring up more questions.
(a note: this song is worth listening to on headphones because she does some neat things with panning L to R that really underline the tension)
9. “Make This Go On Forever” - Snow Patrol
I can’t be as sorry as you think I should — as well as — We have got through so much worse than this before/what’s so different this time that you can’t ignore?/You say it is much more than just my last mistake — really speak to the situation that Conor and Kaitlin have found themselves in. Conor made a choice and Kaitlin disagreed with how he reacted to the consequences of that choice
All that I keep thinking throughout this whole flight/is it could take my whole damn life to make this right/This splintered mast I’m holding on won’t save me long/because I know fine well that what I did was wrong — I think by the time Thomas has told Conor everything about his undercover work, Conor is feeling guilt over what he was a part of. The mention of the flight here is, of course, perfect — I like the idea of Conor not only coming over to tell his parents about Thomas and him getting married, but also owning up to Kaitlin that he was wrong.
And I don’t know where to look/My words just break and melt/Please just save me from this darkness — I love how this song builds and then comes crashing down onto these words. It feels like the way our season is structured.