Dropped deep into the effects of the B Pill, we find ourselves in an alternate reality, so different from the experiences that the A pill has already given. Owen is Bruce, a mullet-wearing father of 3 in 1980’s Long Island and married to Linda (Annie). They are a working class couple, rough around the edges but heartfelt. This is also the first moment that we realise that Owen and Annie are in this together, that the incident inside the computer has caused just their experiences to be connected and that they are able to influence each others behaviour.
Linda works at a hospice, caring for the old and infirm. One of Linda’s patients, Nancy, has just passed away and she promised to pass on the old lady’s pet Lemur to her daughter but, whilst in Linda’s care, the lemur got stolen and now Linda is on a mission to get it back to fulfil her promise to Nan. Linda has managed, via some fantastic work in the DMV, to track the thieves down to a strip-mall fur coat store, Furs by Sebastian, and she intends to break in and retrieve the Lemur. No real thought about how she is going to do it but she is going to none-the-less. With Bruce brought into the fray to assist their methods are effective if a bit basic.
Needless to say it all goes a bit wrong and the resulting stand-off between the thieves and some Fish and Wildlife officers is so straight out of an 80’s action film it hurts. However, in the ensuing chaos Bruce and Linda make it away with Wendy the Lemur and transport her to Nancy’s daughter’s house to finally complete Nancy’s dying request.
In what will become a recurring theme throughout Nancy’s daughter, Paula, hasn’t had the greatest relationship with her mother. The lemur, it turns out for all Linda’s efforts, is just a great big “Fuck You” to her daughter, basically telling her that a lemur is better than children. Paula is already pregnant however, and in her lasting retaliation against her mother she promises to call her son Greg “Fuck U Nan” Nazland. It is at this moment that you really have the first proper link, in this fictional construct, back to reality as you realise that the Paula-Nan argument is the thing that leads to the death of Annie’s sister, Ellie: Greg F.U.N. Nazland was the driver who fell asleep at the wheel and crashed into Annie and Ellie’s car.
As we get to the end of the episode, Annie and Owen’s brains start to bring reality and their trauma’s back to the surface, interweaving with the stories that they have created, in an attempt to work them through and break down their barriers. Annie and Owen have made their first proper connection, albeit not real but it is a shared experience that they can build on, and on top of that they get to be, and see, the people that they never had the inclination or belief to follow-up on in real life.
Furs by Sebastian really brings Maniac into its stride and it is seeing the blend of reality and make-believe in this episode that makes it so fantastic.
Maniac is now available on Netflix.