The first clue that these memories-folded-over-memories are worth decoding is in the name of the physical location Red both seeks out and is then overwhelmed by: Sea Breakers Inne. On the sign out in front of the picturesque, oceanside hotel, which is closed for the season, the use of the term “inne” to describe the location is critically important although likely unnoticed by most viewers. Nowhere on the planet is a hotel referred to as an “inne.” An “Inn” certainly, but the usage of “inne,” in any context in modern English, is obsolete.
Tracing the origins of the word “inne” is difficult and elusive. The clearest example is from Old Irish-English and refers to one’s anatomy, specifically the bowels, guts, or viscera. In the spiritual sense, “inne” may also refer to one’s center, intrinsic feelings, essence or nature. And so it happens that Katarina Rostova (re)enters Red’s reality as he visits Sea Breakers Inne. It is the memory of the day in 1991 when she walked into the sea, supposedly to her death, although we know now, at the end of season nine, that Katarina Rostova is still alive.
Red had just arrived in Cape May and seemed quite familiar with Sea Breakers Inne. He breached the locked entry easily and snaked his way through passageways and porticos until he arrived at a nondescript door that led into a storage shed. There he picked up a chair, walked through the shack to the other end, and opened a door that emptied out onto the sand and a pristine view of the coastline. The water was breaking in roughly as the waves neared the shore. The beach was desolate, save for an elderly man pushing his metal detector over the sand about two hundred yards away. Red set up his chair and seemed to relax as he took in the view.
He didn’t get to relax for long as he noticed a crimson-haired woman kneeling in the sand. She removed her jacket and then her necklace before standing and walking toward the water. She kept going when the cold waves slapped her shins. Then she dove in, without a moment’s hesitation. Red also didn’t hesitate to chase her and throw himself into the rough, icy water with the gusto of a martyr. He carried her out of the water and laid her down on the sand. She coughed and sobbed all at once, and he placed his hat under her head. When she got all the water out of her lungs, he picked her slight frame up again and carried her toward the hotel.