In thinking about Thomas as a character, there was so much to consider that was never going to translate into actual scenes in the show. He’s a character we don’t realize we’ve met until well into the story and so much of his own emotional turmoil is hidden from Kaitlin, even after he reveals his true identity. That was really my aim in building this playlist — to understand the heart of a man who is so central to our main character but hides his true self for so long.
I think of Thomas as a man who hasn’t experienced an immense amount of love in his life. He doesn’t have family or many friends; his whole world is his job and Conor. To even be with Conor, Thomas risked so much, suggesting that this is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of love. As a result, there’s a decent amount of hope on this playlist. Because what other choice does Thomas have except to hope against hope that things will turn out okay?
1. “You Will Become” - Glen Hansard
There’s something so aching about this song; something dark and lurking. The lyrics themselves aren’t overly sad, but the way Hansard sings “you will become” feels simultaneously like a promise and a warning.
In time this won’t even matter/this chapter will be long under the grass — I love that this is the opening line because it immediately tells you where he’s at. Things are bad right now, but he’s hopeful that in the future, things will be okay. I think Thomas has a grain of this hope; that he’s just in the middle of a nightmare and will eventually wake up.
And we talked about talk of a gold ring/and you brought me one step closer to the heart of things/and we talked about everything till we laughed about it/your honesty is nothing compared to what/you will become — Thomas had hopes for Conor and his future together and I also think that he hoped Conor would become someone who understood the gravity of what he had done.
2. “Colour me In” - Damien Rice
So I tried to forget it, that was all part of the show/Told myself I’d regret it, but what do I know/about all these useless dreams of living alone/like a dogless bone — given his job, I would imagine that Thomas tried to resist Conor for a while; not fall in love while undercover (isn’t that a cardinal rule of spying?). But, ultimately, Thomas couldn’t stand being alone knowing Conor existed.
3. “All the Beds I’ve Made” - Caroline Spence
Of all the beds I’ve made/This is the hardest to leave — Thomas absolutely made his bed when he decided to break aforementioned cardinal rule of spying and fall in love with someone on the inside. But, even with all the grief it eventually brought him, I don’t think he regrets it.
There’s no wrong side to get up on/No ghosts keeping me awake/Honey this love’s gonna make up/for all the beds I’ve made
4. “Storm” - Jose Gonzalez
There are two consistent themes on this triptych of playlists, the first being the theme of storms. Kaitlin is a lightning strike, Conor is a gathering storm, and Thomas is the one in the middle — the one who probably has the clearest picture of the destruction — trying to make his way through.
As soon as the storm is over/and all the fog is clear/As soon as the storm is over/I promise to send out for you — something I find very interesting in Thomas is the idea of loyalty. Kaitlin’s loyalty is very clear: it’s Conor, every time. But Thomas has his job — his agency — to consider. He has to weather that storm before finding Conor again or, as Thomas and Kaitlin both fear, finding out the truth of what killed Conor.
5. “Steady” - The Staves
Rabbit in a snare while you’re sleeping softly in your bed/Red, unruly, wild blood is pumping, why you running scared? — Conor is the rabbit in the snare, having waded into a situation he doesn’t understand but in reality, Thomas is the one running scared. This song — the constant repetition of “steady” — is a call to courage.
6. “White Lies” - Paolo Nutini
Now I’ve lost my disguise, it was all white lies — this is fairly self-explanatory given all the, you know, lying and spying that Thomas does.
Would it help if I tried, or has it sailed and passed me by/First love grows and then it dies, and it’s all white lies — this is the second theme of these playlists: plants and growth. “Kingdom Underground” on Kaitlin’s playlist is all about the forbidden fruit and there are a number of references on Conor’s playlist. It wasn’t necessarily an intentional theme, but it worked out nicely.
7. “Your Ghost” - Greg Laswell (originally by Kristin Hersh)
This is a very good “crumple up on the floor and cry” kind of song. That is my only comment.
8. “Thistle & Weeds” - Mumford & Sons
I begged you to hear me, there’s more than flesh and bones/Let the dead bury their dead, they will come out in droves/But take the spade from my hands and fill in the holes you’ve made/Plant your hope with good seeds/Don’t cover yourself with thistle and weeds — here again we have the planting/growth theme. Thomas has absolutely covered himself with thistle and weeds and now he has to deal with that.
9. “The Shrine / An Argument” - Fleet Foxes
All these playlists end on a song that builds and then crashes. This song is beautifully driving and moves through a couple of different musical motifs seamlessly. And then it ends with a cacophonous horns argument that speaks to internal conflict
And if I just stay awhile here staring at the sea/And the waves break even closer, ever near to me/I will lay down in the sand and let the ocean leave/Carry me to Innisfree like pollen on the breeze — apparently “Innisfree” is from a Yeats poem: an ocean village where all his problems are gone. Especially given Conor’s fantasy of living on a island mentioned in Episode 9, Thomas wishing for such a place is a wonderfully sad thought.
(If I had kept the sixteen minute version of the Snow Patrol song on Kaitlin’s playlist, both playlists would have ended with weirdly long, two-part songs.)