Episode 3 is a sobering experience — you never know what the story is until halfway and then it becomes a horror about a character refusing to confront the truth.
This recap of Hulu’s Monsterland season 1, episode 3, “New Orleans, Louisiana” contains significant spoilers.
We recapped all of the anthology series — check out the archive.
Episode 3 starts with a man playing the trumpet at a parade. A young boy called George runs away from his mother Annie. Later, George wants ice cream but his mother says he’s had too much sugar. Her partner Joe convinces Annie to go get ice cream. Annie then bumps into an old friend while Joe walks off with George. Annie then shouts for Joe but finds George who is crying.
The start of episode 3 tries to show the audience how anxious Annie is at this parade to prove a point later.
A monster chased me
George is checked by a nurse — Joe finds Annie and George and he tells them that he just ran off again. George tells his mother and stepfather that a monster chased him that had black eyes and tried to eat him. Annie explains to Joe that she’s never seen her child so shook. As they drive off, the trumpet musician shows his black eyes.
Of course, this all becomes clearer later — episode 3 is not so obvious about what’s happening at first.
Do you know my sister Julie?
Annie throws a surprise party for Joe as he’s won an award in medicine. An older George turns up at the party — he’s come from California. A man named Frank starts giving a speech at the party and asks Joe about his sister Julie. Annie asks security to get rid of Frank. But Frank ends up punching Joe who laughs it off and asks for the party to get back into full swing.
She thought we were in love
Later, Annie asks Joe about Julie. Annie raises she accepted that their marriage is different — Joe tells Annie that Julie thought they fell in love. He worked with her at a hospital and Julie ended up getting fired for their affair. Annie tells Joe that he should have told her about the affair. Joe mentions how it was a difficult time with George’s nightmares and believing there were monsters. Joe is surprised by how cool Annie is about it.
Monsterland season 1, episode 3 presents the turning point and the ultimate truth about Joe — it’s one that spurs some haunting experiences for Annie.
The next day, Nancy rings Annie and asks her to check the news. Suddenly there’s a commotion at the front door of the house. A woman tells the couple that Julie has uploaded a video on Twitter and many others have come forward, including an 11-year-old. Annie believes these are false accusations and comforts her husband. Suddenly, Joe says that he needs help and that he’s sick. On the news, other women come forward saying Joe sexually abused them as a child. Annie is shocked and disgusted — she’s in a trance and she’s in utter disbelief.
The trumpet player returns
In the middle of the night, Annie hears a trumpet and a rock is thrown the house window. Outside she can see the trumpet player. She approaches the trumpet player and asks him if he threw the rock — he shows his black eyes and then his fanged teeth. As the trumpet player grabs her, Annie hits him with a rock. She then drags his body inside. As Annie cleans up, she can hear the accusations against Joe in her head.
In the middle of the night, the trumpet player is conscious again and he bites her neck. She manages to hurt him and runs off. Trumpet sounds smash objects in the house so she hides in the basement.
The monster is real
The next morning, George returns home and Annie reminds him about the monster when he was younger. George believes it was just “Kid stuff”. Annie tells George that the monster is real. George believes his mother has taken something or has drunk alcohol and tells her to sit down.
George talks about the festival when he was younger — he says that Joe also hurt him but he got away which is how he hurt his wrist. While being in-denial, Annie asks about the monster — George says Joe was the monster after he went to go to get ice cream with him. Annie is in denial again and reminds her son that they have money and Joe has given them a good life. George explains that he’s failing class and he can’t get over this hurdle. George wants Annie to admit that she knew deep down — he states how she kept it quiet because he paid her off with good money and a nice house.
George gives his mother one last chance to admit that she knew. She runs after him but then she hears the trumpet noises again and she falls to the floor, unable to take the noises. She stabs her eardrums to stop the noise and now she is deaf.
It’s very likely that the trumpet player is not real — in fact, the trumpet player is in her subconscious, blocking out the fact she knew her husband was a child abuser and she refuses to admit the truth. The louder the truth gets, the more it hurts her — this monster she sees in her head was manifested by her son when he was a boy and she used that as a justification to continue a life with Joe.
Despite her deafness, she can now hear a soft trumpet and sees the man outside. Annie follows the man as he plays, looking intently at him.
Monsterland season 1, episode 3 is a sobering experience — you never know what the story is until halfway and then it becomes a horror about a character refusing to confront the truth.