Despite their vow to protect each other, Annie and Owen are split into separate reflections this time around. They each have a straight up, hard core experience with their families, using the exploration of “what if” scenarios to confront ways their lives could have been different, this time changing their relationships with their siblings.
Owen belongs to a mob family straight out of a Martin Scorsese movie, let’s say GoodFellas. But he has Jed’s role in the family business instead of his own, while Jed has been exiled. Annie gives in to one of Ellie’s final desires, and plays out the high fantasy story that Ellie laid out in their hotel room the night before she died. It’s Lord of the Rings with extra mead.
The story opens on Owen and his father, Porter, meeting in their dark basement lair. Porter tells Owen about his lost older brother, who was such a disappointment to Porter, with his disloyalty, crying and lying, that Porter put him up for adoption at 4 months old. Porter congratulates himself on catching the baby’s flaws early.
Now Porter wants Owen to take the fall for his latest drilling murder. He’ll have his lawyer, Frank, say that Owen was crazy and thought he was drilling the cabinet instead of the bookie’s head. Porter thinks the judge would take one look at Owen and agree. Owen questions why he, as Porter’s #2, should go down for this. Porter says that Owen has developed too many emotions, making it hard to trust him. Later, Owen demands, in a mildly threatening way, that Frank give him some blue pills, the color that keeps you in the Matrix.
The mobsters’ TV is showing a fantasy story that turns into Annie’s reflection. Narration tells us that Queen Gertrude is watching Annia, waiting to strike, but Annia is still lost in the past. She’s repeating her trip to
Salt Lake City the Lake of the Clouds over and over out of drunkenness and greed, unaware of the trip’s significance. Her task is to guide Princess Ellia there to find a cure for the curse that’s killing her.
The two stop for the night in a small cave. Annia makes soup for Ellia, but drinks only alcohol, herself. Ellia is a good-hearted elf with only kind words for everyone, while Annia is a crusty half-elf who hates everyone. Annia decides that she’s changing the terms of the deal according to which she was guiding Ellia to the Lake of the Clouds. The terrain has turned out to be more dangerous than expected, so she wants at least 8 more diamonds. Ellia as to pee them out, so this is a doable, but painful, price.
Owen gets fitted with a wire for surveillance by two NYPD cops, played by Carl the lab orderly and Adelaide, Jed’s fiencée. Then he goes back to the family business, Milgrim Monuments (gravestones). Carl notices that Adelaide has a huge engagement ring and wonders how her cop boyfriend affords it. Adelaide doesn’t care, but suggests he robs the evidence room.
Porter questions Andy, a member of his network who screwed up a delivery. Andy has an excuse, but it’s not good enough for Porter. He preps for another “drilling”. Owen holds Andy down. Porter tells his victim that he’s the Drill instead of the Skull because he always knows when someone’s hiding something. It’s his superpower. It runs in the family. All of the Milgrims have powers. One son has 3 nipples.
Porter dramatically turns on his drill, but the battery is weak. Brothers Mike and Phil argue over finding a fresh battery. Carl and Adelaide listen in. Andy tries using bible quotes from the Book of Matthew to get Porter to relent and forgive him, but Porter tells him he’s lying. “Father’s do not forgive.”
The drill is ready to go, and Andy is begging for his life. He admits that he’s skimming off the top, because he has a special needs daughter who needs care. Porter barely acknowledges the confession before putting the drill, fitted with an inch wide circular bit, to Andy’s skull, and drilling. He gleefully calls out the parts of the brain which the drill is destroying as he goes through them. Adelaide continues eating her lunch. Carl turns up the radio.
Back in Middle Earth, it’s early morning, and Annia decides to go hunting. Ellia is sound asleep. Annia calls her a disgusting creature on her way out the door, but she takes the diamonds Ellia made for her. Annia doesn’t get far before someone is shooting arrows at her. She shoots back, but drops her flask. It’s shot before she can grab it back. The death of the flask puts enough rage in Annia’s heart to find the other bowman and strike him down.
When she finds the body, it looks like her own. Someone sneaks up from behind and hits her on the head. As she’s lying on the ground, a talking dragon-fly explains to her that the assassins that keep finding her are her inner demons.
Wow, thanks, Princess Obvious!
The Knights who knocked her out realize she’s an elf. But that’s the extent of their genius. They take Annia to their leader, Lady Nora.
Owen goes back to Adelaide and Carl to have a meltdown and try to get out of his deal. He’s worried that Porter has an inside man with the police who’ll find out that he’s a snitch. Adelaide says that if he quits informing he’ll go to jail. She asks him to keep going, for her.
Carl says he’s not the inside man. He’s so clean he pees detergent.
Annia can use it to clean her diamonds. This episode has some weird obsessions.
Owen follows Porter to a diner. Owen’s car is black, with huge custom flames painted on the hood and fenders. Porter is in a booth, meeting with someone.
Owen sits at the counter in the diner. Olivia is his waitress. While she’s getting his coffee, he sees Emma in a newspaper ad. Olivia asks Owen if he wants to study together for the final for the class they’re in together. Owen agrees.
Then Porter leaves the diner, so Owen gets up to follow. Olivia touches his hand and tells him that she’ll take care of the coffee. He asks why her hand is so warm, and she says she has hypothermia, which makes her skin a very warm 106°.
It should be hyperthermia. Hypo means low.
Lady Nora just happens to be Owen’s mother. She stands over Annia and Ellia as they wake up and says, “She’s a long way from home.”
Despite the mechanical repairs and Greta’s presence (or maybe because of it), Annie and Owen are bleeding through into each other’s reflections. Owen would rather have Annie as his girlfriend, so she shows up in an ad. Owen doesn’t have room to include his mother in his reflection, whereas Lady Nora is acting as a mother figure for Annie. So the mother Owen wishes he had shows up on Annie’s reflection. Annie wouldn’t want to insert her own mother and would be looking for a substitute anyway.
Lay Nora continues, noting that Annia is also a long way from home, and asking how Ellia found her. Annia says, “How does anyone? I was drunk in a tavern. She was lost and sick and wouldn’t take no for an answer.”
Lady Nora asks if Princess Ellia knows that her Ranger guide is hunted by invisible assassins sent by Queen Gertrude. Annia says they share information on a strictly Need to Know basis. “And who doesn’t have a price on their head these days.”
Ellia wakes up, and they dine. The man who’s serving them is Greg FUN Nazland. He’s falling asleep standing up. Nora shoves him awake.
Ellia explains to Nora that she was cursed to die by her mother, but Annia is guiding her to the Lake of the Clouds, where, according to legend, she may be cured. Nora knows of the lake and the legend, and can help them find it.
She brings out a magic looking glass, and has Annia look into it. Annia sees Annie and Ellie putting on makeup when they were young and thought their mother was coming for a visit. The truth starts to come to Annie.
Lady Nora asks them to stand, and gives them directions to the lake. They are to go north until they find a certain tree. Then they’ll find the lake, as long as they have clear hearts and eyes. She wishes them luck. She tells Ellia that she’s still Annie’s eyes.
Once they’re outside of Lady Nora’s tent, Annie hugs Ellie and tries to get her to wake up to the truth. Ellia is stuck in the story. She’s not a human consciousness, just a recreation, so she had nothing to revert back to. Annie tries to figure out what it means. After a minute, she figures out that it was Ellie’s idea, since this is her least favorite genre.
In the lab, James peeks in on his mother. “You’re probably conspiring against me, turning my test subjects against me.”
Azumi comes into the room and tells him that all of the indicators look good. She suggests that maybe his mother doesn’t destroy everything after all.
James says that he never apologized to her for the gala. She says he doesn’t have to. “The consequences were simply the end of our romance.” James says he’s sorry anyway. He says it was a way out of failure.
He looks back at Greta and says it’s the quietest he’s ever seen her. He wonders just what she could be up to inside his computer.
Some issues with paranoia, self-confidence and self-importance, there, James. He wanted to self-sabotage to create personal and professional failure, before they came for him.
Azumi once again speaks as if she’s not a person and doesn’t matter, when she says that whatever James did at the gala doesn’t matter anymore, because it only led to their breakup. She’s made it clear that she was and is in love with him. Whatever would embarrass/hurt/humiliate her enough to break up with him should matter.
Especially because Azumi always puts James first. In her, James has found the perfect woman, the woman he wishes his mother would be. Someone who allows herself to be an extension of him; who never outshines him, because he can take credit for everything she does; and who’s buttoned up so tight she’ll never embarrass him.
I love Azumi, but she’s clearly the scientist who’s most responsible for the ULP, yet she’s happy to let James and Robert have all of the credit. Why is she such a repressed doormat when she’s also so amazing?
It’s nice to see the families back again, especially Angelica/Nora/Trudie Styler. She was shown caring about Owen in real life, but being the ineffectual, enabling parent, and possibly some type of quiet substance abuser.
It’s interesting to see that Owen doesn’t think that Adelaide is perfect. She manipulated and threatened him into continuing to spy on his family, though she only threatened him with the truth. Then she was indifferent to a brutal murder. And she didn’t care where her fiance’s money for her ring came from. So Owen sees her as possibly knowing what Jed’s really like and ignoring it. At best, she purposely doesn’t look too deep.
Owen equated his father with the same physical brutality that Jed’s capable of. That suggests that Porter badly physically abused Owen when he was younger, we just haven’t been shown it. Chances are Jed learned from someone.
The hawk story and the murder of Andy had some close similarities. Andy was hurting Porter in order to help a sick child. Owen hurt Jed in order to help a sick hawk. Hawks are protected in New York, by the way, just as special needs children have extra protection under the law. Neither Porter nor Jed cared that the small injuries to them were for the greater good. All they cared about was vengeance that was out of proportion to the crime, to act as a warning against further crimes. Both men used home improvement tools- Porter used a drill to the head, while Jed used a hammer to the head.
It makes you wonder if the drill scenario is real.
Annie is followed by assassins and Greg FUN Nazland wherever she goes.
Images courtesy of Netflix.