To the Lake season 1, episode 3 recap – don’t trust anybody

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: October 7, 2020 (Last updated: December 4, 2023)
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To the Lake Season 1 Recap
To the Lake Season 1 Promotional Image Courtesy of Netflix


To the Lake pumps the breaks as an injury leads the gang to temporary shelter and more threats than ever.

This recap of To the Lake season 1, episode 3 contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.

Check out our spoiler-free season review.

As noted in the previous recap, the weather is becoming a problem in To the Lake episode 3, which is why it opens with the group trying to take shelter in a large tent and realizing it’s only a small consolation against the elements. And this is probably the least of anyone’s problems.

Things are looking up for Misha, at least – Polina tells him that if he’s able to get her some alcohol then she’ll sleep with him, and he is on the case immediately. This subplot – which persists for most of the episode and has a couple of funny moments later – is the closest To the Lake has really come to outright humor, and it’s nice to see.

When the group is able to get moving again, they only stumble on more carnage. A military blockade has been ransacked, leaving behind a real mess. While investigating it, Sergey is stabbed in the stomach by a wounded soldier, which makes for the second major subplot of this episode. With the show’s nominal protagonist laid up, panic begins to set in, and so too does a heretofore unseen weakness in Boris, the stoic survivalist, who’s hands are shaking so badly, at least in part with worry for his son, that Misha is forced to drive to their next destination.

That destination turns out to be a house where they meet Igor – one assumes the same one from the radio. He’s a shifty dude, and one assumes not only because he’s infected with the virus. I’m glad that the show introduced a pretty desperate scenario before anyone was inclined to blithely trust this man. Anna needs a needle and thread to save her husband’s life, and if being pally with the obviously suspicious Igor is the only way to get it, then fair enough.

With Sergey stitched up, it’s time for him to sleep off the injury, leaving everyone else to worry about his condition and what they’re going to do next. Particularly concerned is Boris, who opens up to Misha about the perestroika, the political and economic restructuring of the Soviet Union that led at least in part to the collapse of the Eastern Bloc; years of his scientific research was lost in the process. This quite serious conversation is made somewhat hilarious by Misha spending its entirety trying to nab the bottle of vodka Boris has been drinking without him seeing. Eventually, the older man spots him and empties the liquor into the snow.

Much less funny is a conversation between Anna and Ira. There’s still no love lost between the two, and Ira explaining how their relationship broke down solely because she didn’t put out for a while following Anton’s birth hardly makes matters better. I’m Team Anna, either way.

A good source of tension in To the Lake episode 3 is the increasing weirdness of Igor, and his excitable face when seeing Anna’s full trunk of supplies is a nice bit of foreshadowing. The development of the Misha and Polina subplot is much funnier, though. Misha eventually offers her an “alcoholic sorbet” which is just a bowl of the snow that Boris poured his vodka on – pine cone included. Nevertheless, after learning that he’s never been drunk before, she lets him eat the stuff off her body, which promptly causes him to spew everywhere, much to her amusement.

In the midst of all this fun, Polina spots someone spying on them, but he quickly clears off.

With the brakes having been applied here, there’s plenty of time for these character dynamics to really percolate. Sergey’s delirium causes him to mistake Anna for Ira, which must sting, and it gives Lyonya another chance to make off in the night, still unconvinced that this group is capable enough of surviving. Polina is also struggling mentally with having killed a man in the first episode, which belies her devil-may-care exterior.

Things start to break down when Boris arrives steaming and brandishing a shotgun, clearly terrified at the prospect of losing Sergey and having lost himself in the bottle. Thankfully he’s able to be restrained before he hurts anyone, leading to an incredibly awkward morning after. But at least Sergey is on the mend, thanks in large part to Lyonya, who brings Olga, a vet, to give him some antibiotics.

Eventually, it comes time for Igor to make his move. He jumps Misha from behind and steals the group’s supplies, leading Boris and Lyonya to storm his house. Inside is some of the most provocative imagery of the show thus far: Igor’s infected family, feasting on the bloodstained floor. An infected woman attacks the group with a hatchet, and she’s shot dead as the episode ends.

Thanks for reading our recap of To the Lake season 1, episode 3.

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