Maniac Season 1 Episode 10: Option C Recap

mv5bmty3mtq3nde0ml5bml5banbnxkftztgwmtgwnzywnjm-_v1_sx1500_cr001500999_al_

With Option C, we reach the end the beginning of the road. That is to say, we come full circle. The drug trial ends, and the subjects are paid off and sent back to their day-to-day lives. Owen and Annie attempt to make changes in their lives, following up on what they experienced in their reflections.

The doctors are forced to change their lives, after the unexpected way the trial ended. They are sent out into the real world, no longer able to use their careers as an excuse to hide behind their computers in windowless rooms. All of the main characters spend the episode building toward striking out on new adventures, but we’ll have to wait to see if Maniac stays a “limited” one season series, or if it gets a season 2, before we find out if we get to follow the next stage of their development.

Option C begins with the subjects waking up from their “C” pill experience. They are dazed, overheated, and dehydrated. Owen asks Annie if she’s okay, but she just tells him, “Not now.” As the subjects stumble from the experiment room, James and Greta stand outside the door and say helpful things like, “You’re alive!” and, “You woke up!” They get it together after a minute and act as though they’re in a receiving line, congratulating the subjects and asking Owen if he feels pure, unaffected joy.

Owen tells Greta that he’s a huge fan and has read all of her books. That explains why he was able to understand Gertie, and she liked him so much. I wonder if Greta is Owen’s fantasy mother, when he dreams of replacing his own.

Continue reading “Maniac Season 1 Episode 10: Option C Recap”

Maniac Season 1 Episode 9: Utangatta Recap

mv5bmjq2nzm5nti5ov5bml5banbnxkftztgwnzcwnzywnjm-_v1_sx1500_cr001500999_al_

In episode 9, the “C” pill brings the subjects to confront the core of their fears. If Owen becomes the sweet, unguarded, lovable person that he was meant to be, but that person is a huge screw up, will he be worthy of protection and love? Porter was willing to sacrifice Owen in order to save Jed, but Owen now understands that there’s nothing he can do to inspire that kind of loyalty from his family. Nor should he aspire to. But can he inspire it in someone? Can he matter to someone, even if he’s a failure?

Annie needs to say goodbye to Ellie, but what’s really holding her back is her fear that she’ll never find anyone else, or, even if she does, she’ll lose them, too. Can she put aside her fear, anger and self-loathing, and use her strength, boldness and courage to trust, protect and love someone again? Can she believe in herself enough to be the hero who saves someone?

We’re about to go all super-spy to find out. Owen is Snorri Agnarsson, a blonde Icelandic diplomat who discovered and befriended a blue alien named Ernie. Ernie was sent to help mankind, and had made some progress. Snorri was scheduled to introduce him to the world, when Snorri’s careless mistake with a vodka gimlet killed Ernie. Now the world debates how to punish Snorri and to defend against Ernie’s people. Annie appears as a stone cold assassin, sent by the US government to save Snorri and awaken him to his true identity and purpose.

Owen and vodka gimlets just shouldn’t mix.

Continue reading “Maniac Season 1 Episode 9: Utangatta Recap”

Maniac Season 1 Episode 8: The Lake of the Clouds Recap

mv5bmgjhntczzwutzmu5ns00ntuxlwjmztktytlhyta0nzjkngixxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvyntg4ndc0ndq-_v1_

The Lake of the Clouds continues the “C” pill stories that were begun in episode 7. Owen is still his father’s #2 in their mob family business and working for the police as a snitch. Annie is still a half elf who’s showing her elven princess sister to a magical lake that they hope will lift a fatal curse from her. Gertie/Queen Gertrude is still working with Greta and threatening Annie. James and Azumi are still tense.

The episode picks up with Annia and Ellia back in their cave, arguing about the nature of reality. Annia has tried to explain the truth of the situation to Ellia, but she’s not buying it.

Ellia: So you’re telling me you believe that this is not the real world. That some other world, your world, is the true world. And that I’m confused who I am, as is every other elf, human, orc, dwarf, hobgoblin… The entire world is mad but you’re not? Is that what you think?

Annie: Yes.

Continue reading “Maniac Season 1 Episode 8: The Lake of the Clouds Recap”

Maniac Season 1 Episode 7: Ceci N’est Pas Une Drill Recap

mv5bmju4mji5njy3nl5bml5banbnxkftztgwnjmzmzmznjm-_v1_sx1500_cr001500999_al_

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.

Continue reading “Maniac Season 1 Episode 7: Ceci N’est Pas Une Drill Recap”

Maniac Season 1 Episode 6: Larger Structural Issues

mv5bmjewmzqznjyymf5bml5banbnxkftztgwota0mzmznjm-_v1_sx1500_cr001500999_al_

We take a break from Annie and Owen’s brains in episode 6, in order to help Gertie with her depression and get to know James and Azumi better. This gives us a chance to meet James’ famous mother, pop psychologist Dr Greta Mantleray, who served as the inspiration for Gertie’s underlying code when Azumi created her.

I could watch an entire series devoted to Greta, James and Azumi alone in a room together. Their relationship dynamics and power plays are a hilarious joy to watch, with Queen Sally/Greta/Gertie stealing the show.

After the “B” pill experience, Annie pursues a closer relationship with Owen, but he’s too wrung out to cope with her. After being lied to by James, and betrayed within the reflections, he’s too discouraged to put himself through any more. Gertie proves that she’s a world-class therapist by using some reverse psychology on Owen. Or does she??? As a result, he decides to stay to protect Annie.

We begin episode 6 with the Odds, other than Annie, returning from their “B” pill experience. Owen’s proximity test is edited together with the rest of the odds. #5 doesn’t feel there was any meaning at all to his experience of hammering people to death while searching for his dead father’s bowling balls. I’m sure he’s right. #11 feels that people place too much blame on their parents for their problems. #7 wants to know if Dr Greta is James’ mother, and if she’s the one who messed him up. He’s definitely right. And #3 admits that she gets more of a rush from telling people she cuts than from actually cutting.

I think the most usable data is likely to come from Annie and Owen.

Continue reading “Maniac Season 1 Episode 6: Larger Structural Issues”

Maniac Season 1 Episode 5: Exactly Like You Recap

mv5bmjm2mzc2odc4of5bml5banbnxkftztgwndmzmzmznjm-_v1_sx1500_cr001500999_al_

Maniac episode 5, titled “Exactly Like You”, relates another of Owen and Annie’s dreams/reflections while under the influence of the “B” pill. It’s Owen’s turn to create the setting, with Annie following along. Gertie also inserts herself into the story, and some other characters from previous episodes make cameos in the dream.

In this dream, Owen is a high-end con artist, named Sir Ollie Hightower, who’s on his way to a séance at an upper class mansion, where he plans to pull off a heist. Annie is his estranged wife, Arlie, who also has an invitation to the event. What they both really want is to steal a valuable antique manuscript from the hostess, Lady Neberdine.

Partnership is always on Ollie’s mind. He wants a partner desperately, but has been burned so many times in the past that he’s now determined to work alone, with only minimal help from his driver. This is one, or maybe two, of Owen’s defense mechanisms. He’s lonely, and so overwhelmed by his loneliness that he can’t find a way out of it. He’s given up on trying to find anyone.

Continue reading “Maniac Season 1 Episode 5: Exactly Like You Recap”

Maniac Season 1 Episode 4: Furs by Sebastian Recap

mv5bnjyxodg4ndi4m15bml5banbnxkftztgwntmzmzmznjm-_v1_sx1500_cr001500999_al_

Episode 4, Furs by Sebastian, is entirely comprised of one of Annie and Owen’s immersive “B” pill experiences. This one is driven by Annie, with Owen as a loyal sidekick, though his issues do bleed into the scenario as well. They begin as a seemingly normal, working class couple, but that doesn’t last long. Neither of the subjects really has “normal” coded into their genes. They couldn’t make “normal” work if they tried.

Normal is overrated anyway.

We begin with Bruce Marino (Owen’s alias in this reality), who’s waiting in his car outside of the Department of Motor Vehicles and reading a marriage advice book by Dr Greta Mantleray titled See Her, See You, See We. He’s worried that his marriage is failing and hopes that Dr Greta can help him fix it. He underlines a passage in the book: “She’s often telling you what she needs. Your job as her husband is to hear it.”

Continue reading “Maniac Season 1 Episode 4: Furs by Sebastian Recap”

Maniac Season 1 Episode 3: Having a Day Recap

mv5bmjuxotqxody1nv5bml5banbnxkftztgwmdi2ntewnjm-_v1_sx1500_cr001500999_al_

Yes, we are having a day. In episode 3, Having a Day, we learn about the two worst days of Owen’s life. They were so traumatizing that the day he attempted suicide was not his worst day. His worst day was when he hallucinated for the first time and ended up in a psych ward. Over the course of the episode, Dr Muramoto’s day goes even worse than that.

On the bright side, Dr Mantleray returns to supervise the project he founded, and he proves to be an inspiring, if eccentric, leader. Annie, Owen and #5 are all red-flagged, but survive the ordeal. Owen and Annie begin to bond as a team. Azumi survives a trip to the real world.

After an episode full of obstacles and trauma, the group forges ahead to the next stage of the trial, the “B” pill, which will hopefully lead to better days.

Episode 3 begins where the last episode ended, with the subjects regaining consciousness from the “A” pill. Owen is awake before the others. The scientists have the subjects’ “reentry” timed down to the second. The subjects are all traumatized as they come to.

One of them, #3, says that the treatment was unethical. Carl the Genie tells her, “You waived ethics in your consent form.”

Continue reading “Maniac Season 1 Episode 3: Having a Day Recap”

Maniac Season 1 Episode 2: Windmills Recap

mv5bndixmjg5mtu0nl5bml5banbnxkftztgwode0mzmznjm-_v1_sx1500_cr001500999_al_

In episode 2, Windmills, we get to know Annie Landsberg, whose world is both the opposite from and the same as Owen’s. While Owen’s life has been filled with ongoing trauma dealt out by his large, abusive family, Annie has very little family, but has been shaped by a few key traumatic events and the loss of loved ones. Owen lives in poverty by choice, in order to maintain his integrity and mental health, while Annie has no choice but to eek out a living, in what’s clearly a difficult economy, on her own.

Owen has learned to retreat inside himself as a defense against the family he’s outnumbered by, while Annie has learned to posture and be aggressive when threatened. In episode 1, we saw her use her trench coat to appear larger, and her voice and facial expressions to drive away potential threats before they became serious. Since she’s on her own, she tries to scare away anyone who might hurt her before they can get too close.

Having grown up in a family full of aggressive posturers, Owen is immune to the tactic, until the aggressor gets serious about inflicting harm. He most likely can instinctively tell when that switch has flipped. At the end of episode 1 he walks right through Annie’s defenses as if they aren’t there, shocking her into taking a different approach with him.

Continue reading “Maniac Season 1 Episode 2: Windmills Recap”

Maniac Season 1 Episode 1: The Chosen One! Recap

maniac-poster-wide

I’ve gone back and forth on whether to write about Maniac, Netflix’s new black comedy which was created by Patrick Somerville and Cary Joji Fukunaga and stars Emma Stone and Jonah Hill, but I decided to wait until I’d watched the whole thing before making a decision. During the first few episodes, I thought I wouldn’t, because it reminded me of Legion and other surreal, but aimless, shows that I’ve been burned by in the past. Professional reviewers were even comparing Maniac to those shows. But as the season continued, Maniac became something else.

Maniac is a surrealistic, quirky, scifi black comedy that can get very dark and can go off on tangents that don’t make sense at first. It’s also, at least for now, a limited series, which means it’s written as a self-contained story. And what Maniac is, at its heart, is a lovely, optimistic, long form, indie romantic comedy, with a beginning, middle and end. Both indie films and works of surrealism have difficulty coming to a satisfying conclusion (and sometimes even commercial works do, looking at you, Castle Rock S1!), so the ending of Maniac is a major accomplishment, in my book.

I kind of fell in love with this show, and it appears that I’m going to have writer’s block until I write about it. There are 3 other partial recaps in my drafts folder that are going nowhere right now, so let’s give Maniac a try, shall we?

Like most Netflix shows, and many other shows as well, the first three episodes serve as an extended introduction to the season. In episode 1, we get to know Owen Milgrim (rhymes with pilgrim, which is a seeker or wanderer), played with depressed, understated misery by Jonah Hill. You feel like he’s always on the verge of crying, and it’s taken a monumental amount of strength for him to reach this point in his life. He’s been diagnosed with schizophrenia, but refuses treatment.

Continue reading “Maniac Season 1 Episode 1: The Chosen One! Recap”