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Starring: Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris, Awkwafina, Glenn Close, Adam Beach
OUR RATING: ★★★★☆
Apple TV+ sci-fi drama written and directed by Benjamin Cleary. Set in the near future, Swan Song (2021) centers on Cameron (Mahershala Ali), a loving husband and father diagnosed with a terminal illness who is presented with an alternative solution by his doctor, Dr. Scott (Glenn Close), to replace himself with a carbon copy clone to shield his family from grief. As Cam grapples with whether or not to alter his family’s fate, he learns more about life and love than he ever imagined.
Our Favorite Quote:'It's hard to be left behind.' - Dr. Jo Scott (Swan Song) Click To Tweet
Dr. Jo Scott: [referring to Jack, Cameron’s clone] I know that some of these concepts are uncomfortable. Just remember that if you decide not to proceed at any point in the evaluation process, he never leaves this facility.
Cameron: [referring to his illness] And there’s no way he gets this thing?
Dr. Jo Scott: As outlined, we modified the relevant strands of his DNA to prevent that happening again.
Cameron: And what happens to him if I decide not to do this? He just…
Dr. Jo Scott: He goes to sleep that night unaware. Doesn’t know a thing. We’ll be calling him Jack for now, if that name’s okay with you.
Cameron: [to Scott, after seeing Jack for the fist time] I’m sorry, Doctor. I can’t do this.
Dr. Jo Scott: I know what a momentous decision this is for you. I know what you’re going through. But just the second you tell your wife that you’re dying, your opportunity to do this is gone. You can tell her, or you can do this with us, and let life go on for your family. But given your worsening condition, we can’t afford to delay, Cameron.
Andre: [referring to cloning] The article said it’s not. It’s regeneration.
Poppy: It doesn’t matter what you call it, Andre. It’s still weird. I don’t care how good they say the tech’s going to be. You’d know it wasn’t a real person in seconds.
Andre: Look, I’m just saying, hypothetically speaking, what if it was actually possible? What if they did actually work it out?
Poppy: You can’t copy a human being. You can’t.
Poppy: [referring to cloning] Look, if mum could be sitting here right now with us, and like, you know, we couldn’t tell, she was indistinguishable, then, yeah. You know, screw the ethics. I would take that. I mean, that being said, if they happen to delete her fondness for yacht rock, I would not be devastated.
Dr. Jo Scott: I know how you’re feeling, but there is no lie. When the memory of this process gets wiped, he wakes up that day, at home, as Cameron Turner. And no one knows. Not even him. It’s the only way this works. A clean swap.
Dr. Jo Scott: [referring to cloning] This will be as common as a heart transplant within a few years.
Dr. Jo Scott: Come back and spend a week with him before making your decision.
Cameron: This is not just my decision. My wife needs to know.
Dr. Jo Scott: Either you decide that your wife would want this, which requires secrecy, or you decide that she wouldn’t, and tell her you’re dying. Either way, you’re deciding for her.
Dr. Jo Scott: [to Cameron, referring to Kate] Listen, the woman you’re about to meet has no idea she’s a duplicate. Neither does her daughter, her mother, or her friends. So, where is the lie?
Poppy: [to Cameron, referring to her pregnancy] Are you bracing yourself for sexy bowling ball bod? I still can’t believe it. We’re going to fall in love with a new little person again.
Cameron: [referring to Jack] So he has everything?
Dr. Jo Scott: Even the memories you’ve stored deep in your subconscious.
Cameron: All those memories, they’re not just mine. They’re my wife’s, my son’s. Not part of some experiment. I just wish I could talk to her.
Kate: When they sent “me two-point-o” back, seeing my mom look into her eyes not knowing it wasn’t me, seeing her talking to my daughter. I mean… And then when they wiped her, knowing she was no longer in on the lie, my guilt faded pretty quick.
Cameron: [remembering the first time he met Poppy] Hi, remember me from a few weeks back?
Poppy: Yeah. You ate my chocolate bar.
Cameron: See, I also purchased an Echo bar. And I’m hoping you worked that out by now. Yeah.
Poppy: Yeah. I’d have loved to see your face when you realized.
Cameron: Not a strong moment for me.
Poppy: [referring to Cameron’s drawing of her] Wow, you’re good.
Cameron: Oh, thank you. I realize now that even makes me look more like a psycho. But I’m not! I’m not. I promise.
Poppy: A talented psycho is better than a talentless one, so.
Cameron: Yeah. I appreciate that.
Poppy: Oh, my God. Okay, you’re definitely taking the blame for this specimen.
Cameron: No. I believe Cory picked that out himself.
Poppy: What? At three months?
Cameron: Yeah. Because I was with him. We were in the store walking around, and I’m pushing him in the stroller. And he’s like, “Hey. Yoh, big man. You see that yellow mustard onesie right there? I need that in my life.” Yeah, he’s so charming. I was like, “Hey, what do you say to that?”
Poppy: Yeah, he is very charming. I’ll give you that. But this is criminal.
Cameron: [to Cory, referring to Poppy] Together, me and you will take care of her till she can take care of herself again. Alright? Me and you got to be strong for her, okay? She’s just sick right now.
Rafa: [to Cameron] Okay. Keep your eyes closed. I’m going to count you down from three. And on three, and two, and one.
Dr. Jo Scott: [as Jack opens his eyes] You’re okay. Breathe.
Dr. Jo Scott: [to Jack] For the time that you are in this facility, that freckle is the only place on your entire body that isn’t identical to his. If you get confused, you find that freckle, and you’ll know who you are. Okay? We know how strange this is. You got the good deal here. You’ll see.
Cameron: They’re saying any of these seizures could kill me. And I could die out here this week before getting home to see them. I can’t stop picturing her getting the news, having to tell Cory. Poppy and I have been going through some stuff. The other night I made her laugh. And I can’t remember the last time I did that, you know? Just made her laugh.
Kate: That’s because you’re not funny.
Cameron: Yeah, that too.
Cameron: [as Kate lights up a joint] Those things will kill you, you know.
Kate: Oh, you are funny. F*** that.
Jack: [to Cameron] I don’t know how to, what to say here. I know you don’t think I’m you.
Dr. Jo Scott: He knows you’re nervous, Jack. Just answer the questions. Cameron, you’re you. There are no wrong answers.
Dr. Jo Scott: Did you always want children?
Jack: I think after I met Poppy, I realized I wanted kids. I was cynical for a long time.
Jack: This idea of finding true love or a soul mate. Then someone like Poppy comes along and you realize you’re just surviving. I could have just gone on like that forever. I just lucked out, I guess.
Cameron: He looks like me. He sounds like me. But I don’t know.
Cameron: In seven months, that child is going to come into the world without a dad. Seven months.
Kate: Hey. At least you’re not feeling sorry for yourself.
Cameron: [laughs] Oh, okay. That’s fair.
Kate: You’re going to be good, man.
Cameron: And what about you? How you doing?
Kate: [jokingly] Me? Never better. Any other great questions?
Cameron: No. Okay.
Kate: Yep. Having the time of my life out here. Nature’s awesome. Great food.
Dr. Jo Scott: [referring to Poppy’s twin brother] What happened to him?
Jack: Andre, was thrown from his bike off of a mountain road. His body landed in the branches of a pine tree, high up. Every couple of weeks, I dream about him up there in the treetops. Alone. Just laying there.
Dr. Jo Scott: Have you talked to your wife about that dream?
Dr. Jo Scott: Why not?
Jack: She didn’t leave the house for the better part of a year. Slept in the guest room most of that time, so. It’s not really subject matter we enjoy getting into.
Dr. Jo Scott: How did Poppy sleeping apart make you feel?
Jack: Alone. Mostly, I worried about her. I missed her.
Dr. Jo Scott: Did you resent her for it?
Jack: She lost her twin. She never felt good about him getting that motorcycle. Blamed herself for not protesting more. But he was going to get the bike anyway.
Jack: [after Cameron ends Jack’s conversation with Poppy] What did you do?
Cameron: I don’t like this.
Jack: And you think I like this? Talking to my wife under a spotlight?
Cameron: She’s not your wife!
Jack: Oh, okay. Okay, I see. You just can’t bear to see this actually work. That’s the real problem.
Jack: And what about me? Waking up in this place, waiting for you to pull the plug, being told I’m not me.
Cameron: Because you’re not me. You are not me!
Jack: [to Cameron] This is real. And you know it. You know it. Poppy said if she couldn’t tell, if her mom was indistinguishable. Well, here it is. Indistinguishable. And you won’t go through with it because you’re too f***ing selfish!
Cameron: You won’t leave this place. I’m going home, and I’m telling them everything. Everything!
Jack: Yeah, I bet you will. B**ch a**. It’s always about you. It’s always about you. She’s been trying to talk for I don’t know how long, and you keep shutting her out, because deep down inside, you feel like she abandoned us!
Cameron: I never thought that!
Jack: You did!
Jack: [referring to Poppy] Hey, I’m really sorry about earlier. I don’t think she abandoned us.
Cameron: No, there’s something to it. There’s something to it. She’d been trying to talk to me for a long time in her own way. Thought I had more time, I guess. If I’d just told her about that dizzy spell three months ago. If I’d had mentioned the headache back then.
Jack: She’d have marched us in for a scan that day. And got to it before it spread. Dealt with it together.
Jack: I know you got to go back and see them. I get it. But do the right thing here. In seven months, that baby…
Cameron: Don’t do that.
Jack: If you tell her, you’re saying it for you. I’m saying that for them.
Cameron: [referring to the lab] I’m not going back.
Dr. Jo Scott: If you stay, and you have another seizure without supervision, you could die in front of your family.
Dr. Jo Scott: [after Cameron has a seizure] Jack goes in the morning.
Dalton: I haven’t finished evaluating his psychological state yet. I’m not comfortable with Jack going home.
Dr. Jo Scott: Poppy’s expecting him back. Jack is ready. He goes first thing. We’re covered for this in the contract. It will be noted that you opposed the decision. Tell Jack to call Poppy now.
Dr. Jo Scott: If these two weeks at home go well, which they will, your memory of this process will be removed, and we will not see you here again. If Cameron wakes up, he will monitor your lens feed. But unless there are any issues over the next two weeks, he will not have the option to stop this. I know this isn’t as we planned it, but you’re ready, Jack. Don’t think of these two weeks as a test.
Jack: I’m just going home.
Cameron: I’m not done. I didn’t say he could go back.
Dr. Jo Scott: But it was the right decision.
Cameron: Bulls**t. I’m not done!
Dr. Jo Scott: Well, it’s not about you now.
Cameron: Excuse me?
Dr. Jo Scott: You have an opportunity here that no one gets.
Cameron: No. No, no, no.
Dr. Jo Scott: Don’t be blind, Cameron.
Cameron: F*** you.
Dr. Jo Scott: You’re dying! You’re dying.
Dr. Jo Scott: Jack was ready. They’re in good hands. They’re in your hands.
Cameron: I want to see the video. Now. And you need to stop watching my family.
Poppy: [after Jack takes Cameron’s place at home] Somehow I’m finally breathing again. But I feel like I’ve lost you, Cam. You keep yourself so busy in a job you hate. It’s like you’re not here. And I’m not saying you’re fully to blame, you know? We’re both in this. I know I checked out for a while. And I know that scared you. And I’m sorry for that, Cam. I am. I mean, hearing you say the words, “I hit my head,” the other day. I couldn’t lose you, Cam. I couldn’t live. So this is me telling you that I’m done with the silence now. We start communicating, and we fix things.
Cameron: [referring to Jack] He’s been taking out the contacts more and more, not just when he goes to bed.
Dr. Jo Scott: Well, he doesn’t have to wear them all the time. They make him feel uncomfortable. He feels badly for you. But he also feels uncomfortable having his family watched.
Cameron: I don’t give a s**t about his comfort. That’s my family.
Dr. Jo Scott: What you’re feeling right now, Cameron, is normal.
Cameron: No, it is not. Something is wrong. For the last couple of days, I feel it. Something is off!
Dr. Jo Scott: At this stage, whatever you’re going through, it’s normal. He’s fine.
Jack: [after Cameron comes back home] Do what you need to do.
Cameron: [after he’s been with Poppy and Cory for the last time] Take care of them.
Jack: I will.
Dr. Jo Scott: As of this morning, he’s officially Cameron Turner. He’ll never know about any of this.
Cameron: Good. Good. Thank you, Doc.
Dr. Jo Scott: Thank you.
Dr. Jo Scott: [to Cameron] It’s hard to be left behind.
Jack: [before having his memory wiped, he leaves a video for Cameron] Babe? Tell me you love me.
Poppy: I love you.
Jack: No, no, no.
Poppy: Cam. What are you doing? I’m chopping stuff.
Jack: For real, P.
Jack: Look me in the eyes and tell me you love me.
Poppy: What are you doing?
Jack: Just come on. For real. I need to hear it.
Poppy: Okay. I love you, Cameron Turner. Always have. And always will. How was that?
Jack: That was good.