HBO’s The Third Day Review

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HBO’s The Third Day is a story of loss and isolation and how those experiences affect the mind, from simple grief to community wide torment twisted into ritual ordeal. The tale is timely in a way the creators probably couldn’t have imagined when they began working on it.

At the center of the series is Sam, a man who’s never recovered from the loss of a child or the shape his need for redemption takes. The series is also a psychological thriller and folk horror narrative which takes place on a remote British island accessible only by boat or an ancient Roman causeway that’s above water for just a few hours a day at low tide. The tiny community on Osea Island have developed their own traditions and beliefs, which combine ancient Celtic mythology with the unique history and location of the island. Visitors to the island are inevitably drawn into the community’s rituals, which are meant to restore balance to the world.

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Helstrom Season 1 Review

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Marvel’s Helstrom is about a dysfunctional family with certain issues that run in the family. These issues are serious and sometimes spread to those around them, so various authorities and agencies have been involved with the family for decades. Thanks to these interventions, the younger members of the family are doing better than their elders. The kids struggle with a weaker version of the same issues, though, which can become harmful to those around them if everyone involved doesn’t keep their guard up.

What are the Helstrom family issues, you ask? HIV? Or perhaps alcoholism/drug addiction leading to violent abuse?

Not exactly.

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Book Review: When I Was You by Minka Kent

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When I Was You, by Minka Kent, begins with the story of Brienne Dougray, a woman who is recovering from a brutal attack which has left her with severe migraines, memory loss and neurological issues. She is so disabled and traumatized that she almost never leaves the Queen Anne Victorian home she inherited from her wealthy grandparents. To compound her difficulties, she’s inexplicably lost all of her friends since her attack, leaving her with only her boarder, handsome and compassionate Dr Noah Emberlin, to depend on when she needs care.

Niall is a somewhat mysterious figure himself, an oncologist at the local hospital who also seems to have few friends and sends Brienne decidedly mixed signals about what he wants from her. Is he a friend who pities her and gets carried away sometimes, so his attentions are easily mistaken for romantic? Or does he have feelings for Brienne, but thinks he should hold back because of her health status?

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Undone Season 1 Episode 3: Handheld Blackjack Recap

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In episode 3 of Undone, Alma tries to resume her normal life, Jacob begins to tell his story, and we begin to wonder just how bad an influence he would have been if he’d been alive through the girls’ teenage years. Alma, along with everyone but Jacob, questions her sanity, but she also finds a couple of new hobbies. Sam takes up a new hobby, too, gaslighting his girlfriend when she’s already in a delicate mental state.

And y’all wonder why I’m always so suspicious of men- even the nice guys.

Recap

Alma pops out onto the street at dawn in her pajamas with no idea how she got there. Well, some idea. She’s either sleepwalking or sleep time traveling. A neighbor yells at her to go back inside and put some clothes on. At least that’s what I think she said. It’s hard to be sure, since Alma doesn’t have her hearing device on.

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Prime Video’s Undone Season 1 Review/Episode 1: The Crash Recap

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Prime Video’s new animated series for adults, Undone, is a unique show that explores mind-bending themes, mental health and family drama in 8 short, 22-24 minute long episodes, making the most of its stellar cast and experienced animation team in each episode. Creators Raphael Bob-Waksberg and Kate Purdy (BoJack Horseman) used the animation technique of rotoscoping to give the series a surreal quality that takes it a step beyond magical realism.

Rotoscoping involves filming the actors in live action, then tracing over the filmed images to create a polished animated product. Undone is the first serialized TV series to be fully animated using rotoscoping. Probably its most famous previous use was in the film A Scanner Darkly. The same team, Minnow Mountain, did the rotoscoping on both that film and Undone.

Undone is the story of Alma Winograd-Diaz (Rosa Salazar), a young woman who is struggling with her goals and identity, in addition to the lingering trauma from her father Jacob’s (Bob Odenkirk) death when she was a child. Outwardly, her life seems Happy and Fine. She lives with her nice boyfriend, Sam (Siddharth Dhananjay), and has a decent job at a daycare center, working with her good friend and boss, Tunde (Daveed Diggs). (Who wouldn’t want to work with the voice of Daveed Diggs?)

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Maniac Season 1 Episode 10: Option C Recap

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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.

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Maniac Season 1 Episode 9: Utangatta Recap

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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.

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Maniac Season 1 Episode 6: Larger Structural Issues

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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.

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Maniac Season 1 Episode 5: Exactly Like You Recap

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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.

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Maniac Season 1 Episode 4: Furs by Sebastian Recap

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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.”

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