Despite a new creative team, “Monday – The Mother” proves that The Third Day hasn’t lost a step in a haunting continuation of Jude Law’s tormented excursion.
This recap of The Third Day episode 4, “Monday — The Mother”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
The Third Day has transitioned from Summer to Winter, with a 12-hour stop in-between for Autumn, a live-theatre experience during which the show’s lead, Jude Law, was sacrificed to and reborn by the pagan gods of Osea Island. Much has changed with the seasons. Law’s character, Sam, is now nowhere to be seen, replaced by the equally capable Naomie Harris, whose Helen is the mother of two daughters, Ellie (Nico Parker) and Talulah (Charlotte Gairdner-Mihell), neither of whom are fans of her choice of holiday destination. You can hardly blame them. It’s new director Philippa Lowthorpe who leads us through “Monday – The Mother”, but the fresh perspective does little to make Osea any more touristy.
But there’s something different about the place all the same. It’s colder, obviously, and so are the locals, who immediately set about chasing Helen, Ellie, and Talulah away, initially for no discernible reason, though there’s an implication that Helen and co. being people of color might be a contributing factor. Everything seems topsy-turvy. Mr. and Mrs. Martin insist there’s no room at the inn – just the opposite of how they treated Sam. And Larry, of all people, is the only local who seems to have any time for the family, though admittedly it’s young Ellie he has time for, and even then in front of a gratuitous mural that depicts a human-looking figure using both hands to pull open what looks like their… look, like I said, this place isn’t exactly touristy.
Helen, understandably, doesn’t take kindly to their welcome. But she also, puzzlingly, absolutely insists on staying, even when it becomes obvious that the creepy locals might not just be rude but actively dangerous. For anyone who hasn’t been paying attention, is coming in cold, or just didn’t pick up on the hints, the reason for this might come as a surprise; “Monday – The Mother” even treats the confirmation as a last-minute cliffhanger reveal. But it turns out that Helen is Sam’s wife. This explains why she becomes so frantic when she discovers Ellie talking to Larry. This is why she’s adamant about staying on the island, ostensibly for the purposes of a fun-loving archaeological excursion for Ellie’s birthday, despite Ellie having grown out of this interest years ago (it’s left deliberately unclear whether Helen is just ignorant to this, or is pretending to be to excuse the trip.) What we don’t know is quite how much Helen knows about what happened to Sam, how she hopes to learn that information, or why she brought the kids along.
We also don’t know what Osea knows about Helen. Do they want her gone because she’s Sam’s wife, or just because they know she isn’t their leader by birth-right as he was and want to keep their weird rituals secret? How much truth is there to the Martins’ all-too-convenient explanations to the weird goings-on Helen has seen since her arrival? A subplot developing in the background here concerns a screaming woman who has gone into labor, which explains an entire operating theatre in an abandoned house since she refuses to go to the mainland. “We’ve had our customs for years,” says Mrs. Martin. “They ain’t pretty, but I’m not f*cking apologizing for them.”
The Third Day episode 4 recognizes now, though, that those customs aren’t mysterious enough on their own anymore. With the change in protagonist and season, what we’re looking for is a similar shift in the storytelling; this can’t be a rehash of Sam’s misadventures, and thus far, thankfully, it isn’t. The new creative team knows exactly which bits to play with and which to keep the same, which helps to create that disorientating off-kilter vibe. But it also helps us to understand certain things – the danger represented by certain characters, say, or the perils of the landscape – without having them explained to us again. There’s an efficiency here that is only possible because the personnel changes are rearranging the furniture but renting the same house.
What we’ve learned of Sam’s tragic backstory also works as shorthand development for Helen. Her panic attacks, which her children sadly seem to be experienced in coaching her through, are the obvious legacy of the loss of her child and then her husband. The knock-on effect of this trauma has clearly impacted Helen’s living children, too, which creates a fraught dynamic and a more personal horror for the audience. Jude Law’s fate being at stake is one thing, but now we have to worry about two adorable girls as well?
It’s a lot. Luckily, “Monday – The Mother” seems to relish all this and seems more than capable of building a story on top of it. The Third Day remains beautiful, haunting, and fascinating, and doesn’t seem to have lost a step in its second half.
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