TV reviews

Maniac 1×06 – ‘Larger Structural Issues’ – TV Review

After coming out of the B pill experiment everyone is subjected to an interrogation with Dr. Mantleray about their experiences and their feelings. Being honest, it seems, is a requirement to staying with the trial. With Annie having opened herself up to this questioning at the end of the previous episode it is now the turn of everyone else.

In a montage of post B pill interviews we get to see a cross-section of the reasons and self-reflection answers that are given, with some appearing to be more honest and heartfelt than others. Owen, in his turn in front of Dr. Mantleray and the cameras, talks about his fixation with certain people, with Annie being one such person. In a sad moment Owen, who thinks that he doesn’t matter, uses the analogy of It’s a Wonderful Life to state that if that was him that disappeared then no one would notice.

As Owen has become demoralised with himself and life, Annie has come around completely. From her previous position of self-protection, she has now opened up and let Owen in and she now feels the connection and has become fully committed to it. Owen, on the other hand has receded and is pushing her away and threatening to leave the trial altogether. It is at this moment that it appears everything is starting to go wrong with the trial behind the scenes as well. As much as this show is about Owen and Annie, this episode delves deeper into the past and problems of Drs. Mantelray and Mantleray.

Because Dr. Fujita gave GRTA her own empathetic safety net, and by accident, feelings, the computer is now depressed after the loss of her dear Dr. Morimoto and it is decided that GRTA is in need of a counsellor. Of all the many fully qualified therapists working today it is decided that Dr. Mantleray’s mother Greta, self-help book author, is the one to step in. GRTA, you see, was created by a scan of Greta’s brain and feeding in all her work, but mainly her excellent PhD thesis.

The choice is given some depth to it as James recounts, to his mother, his reasons for creating the trial – to do away with his mother’s style of therapy – and further the divisions between the two and also exposing their deep-seated problems and another fine example of parental issues and the way that our parents can mess us up. Greta and James, with whatever happened in their past, continues to have an effect to this day. An excellent performance from Justin Theroux to portray his physical awkwardness towards his mother, not just her presence but even talking to her on the phone causes him to react and recoil and to protect himself. No punches are pulled in the exchange between Greta and James, with the elder Mantleray giving her frank opinion of James’ work and practices, likening the process to a lobotomy: Harsh, effective but not entirely beneficial.

Owen trying to leave the trial is made to think by GRTA threatening to create a McMurphy out of Annie (a reference to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Randall McMurphy, Jack Nicholson’s character who ends up lobotomised). Owen is deeply worried about the C Pill and his confrontation. but Annie, in a continuation of her new outlook, is confident they will go into this together and be able to protect each other.

There is much more reveal and depth to this episode than previously. Also much more about the way and effect bad parenting can mess you up. With less fantastical events and storytelling in this episode, it appears less exciting. But with the additional background to the whole process and the trial nearing its end, it all appears to be coming together. Sort of! Onward to the C Pill.

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