After the dramatic ending of The Lake of the Clouds and Annie agreeing to stay with GRTA we suddenly find our dynamic, dysfunctional duo thrust back into a reflection and still under the C Pill’s influence. The job is clearly not done yet on Maniac.
Owen is a disgraced Icelandic spy, called Snorri (complete with a ridiculous high-pitched accent), working with Admiral Grimmson (the Jed/Grimmson character) to answer the questions from the NATO council of high-ranking military personnel. It is revealed that Snorri was harbouring a little blue alien creature called Ernie, who had been doing nothing but good (curing cancer, helping with tech advancements). But in an unforeseen accident, Ernie is killed by Snorri when he is electrocuted making a speech to a raucous gathering, celebrating him. After enduring a grilling, Snorri breaks down and admits his guilt to all and is willing to sacrifice himself to save the earth from an Alien threat in response to Ernie’s death.
With Owen and Annie having been separated but Owen having found his way back, as a hawk in the previous episode, it doesn’t take long to find out that Annie is involved from the get-go in this reflection. Sultry and mysterious, Annie is a CIA operative, here to rescue Owen/Snorri from his fate. And rescue him she does, also informing him that the aliens are actually going to enslave humanity and sell them for meat, thereby releasing Snorri’s shame and responsibility for the fate of mankind, and also paralleling Owen’s feeling pressured into doing something that he does not want to do in regard to Jed’s impending court case.
Annie’s character has a cleverly worked homage to the Treadstone/Bourne films basis in that her memory has been wiped and then reprogrammed to do a job, paralleling the way that the drug trial is functioning. Annie’s rescue descends into a hectic action sequence with more visualisation of Annie slaying her inner demons, the numerous henchmen that are sent her way and dispatched with ease.
Owen becomes aware and takes over from Snorri. He tells Annie about her deal with GRTA to stay inside with her sister. After Annie reveals that Grimmson IS her handler, a confirmation to Owen that his experiences with Grimmson in the outside world weren’t all fabrication: Annie IS the female agent that Grimmson told Owen about. With this revelation, Annie has taken control of her reflection character and while Owen is tasked with saving both of their brains from being McMurphy’d by GRTA it is left up to Annie to resolve her situation with Ellie and GRTA and extract herself from the system. In a touching moment, and spoken from real experience, Annie is able to teach GRTA about loss and how to deal with it in the wake of losing Robert.
During all this action, the scientists in the outside world are also being subjected to the threat of being locked in by GRTA as she has disabled a large chunk of the controls that would keep her in check (and allow the scientists to move freely). The tension mounts as it is left up to Owen to unlock GRTA’s control and allow the machine to be rebooted and free those inside. At this moment it is clear that the trial has just become secondary to the wellbeing and recovery of those under the influence, and themselves.
Greta Mantleray is advising all those involved that GRTA has lost her mind and is collecting patients. More parallels are met with Greta telling Dr. Fujita not to be blind to her offspring’s issues (GRTA is her child in this conversation) but this also works for Greta and James: Parental issues are prevalent throughout and it goes to show the effects of having that relationship not working causes so many issues further down the line. Justin Theroux and Sally Field as James and Greta Mantleray take centre stage as the completely dysfunctional mother and son and Utangatta takes their relationship to the extreme, with both actors giving their all to pass on their discomfort and overbearing feelings.
With the trial finishing, what will be the outcome for all those involved? Are James and Azumi finished in this business? Have any bridges been built or life-changing connections made? Or are we not going to get any straight answers at all from a series that has managed to convolute stories and entwine lives in ways that were entirely unexpected?
Maniac is now available on Netflix in the UK.