With a great sigh of relief Dr James Mantleray welcomes everyone back from their C Pill reflections, and states that they are now healed but the look on his face tells a different story: relief that they are all actually still alive and not been McMurphy’d.
All the test subjects file out of NPB getting a cheque for their time (and minds) and a kindly corporate reminder that they signed an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement). However, the test subjects aren’t the only ones being shown the door at NPB as James, at the request of his mother, is given the heave-ho and never to work in the industry again. How’s that for family bonding! But it does allow James and Azumi to rekindle their relationship properly, jumping into Azumi’s flame-adorned car and taking off together.
Annie and Owen set off on their separate ways, with a parting pledge from Owen that he won’t be pursuing her after their time together and connection that they had inside the trial. Once Owen is back into his family situation, he goes about settling some issues, on reflection from his experiences in the trial – some good has come out of it at least. But the Jed court case is still happening, is still going ahead and Owen still has a major part to play.
Owen does what his family ask him to do: Lie for Jed to try to clear his name and the family name. Unfortunately, video evidence says otherwise and, at this point, Owen breaks from the pressure of his family and blurts out the truth in his first act of courage, following what HE thinks is right and not just following what he is told.
Annie returns to her Dad’s house and also confronts her family issues head on. She spills out about her not being ok being out there alone after losing her mother and her sister and her need for him to be there for her. Annie’s father (Hank Azaria), for once isn’t in his A-Void pod and is actually making progress himself back into the world and the reconnection that they have, over a coffee, is perhaps the opposite of how the Milgrim’s are dealing with Owen’s honesty.
More therapy. Owen has been checked into a clinic (albeit a swanky looking one) to deal with his issues that are so unacceptable to his family. His therapy sessions come round to talking about why he will not talk to or seek out Annie again: Option A – Annie isn’t real, Owen made her up and he doesn’t have to worry about his feelings being crushed, Option B – Annie is real but their connection from the trial is fake. So Owen would rather deny the existence of Annie than risk himself being exposed to pain. Owen is protecting himself, such an Annie trait, by not giving in to the thoughts.
Annie, with her new-found belief in the world, is intent on reconnecting with Owen and it is only when she sees a newspaper headline about Owen’s court case and committing to the clinic that she realises that she can do something about this, to help her friend. And track him down she does but not only that she attempts to break into the facility to retrieve Owen from his predicament. Owen, though, isn’t quite so keen to accept Annie back into his life (see Options A & B above). But as with all good friendships, Annie doesn’t abandon Owen in his direst hour but instead she offers up another option, Option C – Annie is real AND the connection they made was also real, backing it up with a commitment to never leave him. This it seems is enough for Owen to cling to and he agrees to let Annie help him, by breaking him out of the facility!
So through all these episodes it has come down to connections. Connections made and connections held onto, or in some cases let go of. Every significant player in Maniac has made a connection somewhere and it has changed them or their relationship in some way. People need to have connections to other people (and not computerised, robotic sex-machines James Mantleray!) and, for a lot of them, it is difficult to open yourself up enough to let someone else in. We also see the effect of an open relationship and the responsibility to treat the other person with respect, else it can have a devastating effect (Again James and Gertie’s mother-son relationship is the most prominent case in point).
Driving off into the sunset after escaping the clinic Annie and Owen are off to start their lives anew in Salt Lake City, almost secure in the knowledge that they are there for each other and will continue to be. It is a delightful ending to a meandering path, but for all the good sentiment that is in place here at the end, was there a little bit of the ending to The Graduate in that scene as Annie and Owen drive towards the camera, a little uncertainty…