“Under the Yum-Yum Tree” maintains the show’s high quality, but also its frustratingly unhurried pace.
This recap of Lisey’s Story season 1, episode 3, “Under the Yum-Yum Tree”, contains spoilers.
“Under the Yum-Yum Tree” takes its time. This is a good or a bad thing, or perhaps even both, depending on who you are and where you stand. The high quality of the production and acting and the tasteful use of flashbacks as a storytelling crutch make it easy to settle into the world, but that world doesn’t seem particularly interested in pushing us through it. Those more used to the fast-paced direct-to-binge distribution model of most streaming platforms might find themselves frustrated by how content Apple TV+ is to dole this story out an hour at a time.
Chief Richardson revealing to Lisey the details of the man who threatened her in the previous episode leads to a lot of examination of Scott’s work and of the couples’ history. Rooting through old belongings leads Lisey to the Antlers Inn, where flashbacks reveal they spent some time, and lots is made of Scott’s traumatic background and the significance of the world “bool”. Stephen King loves this kind of thing, and indeed stuff like the dreamlike alternate fantasy realm of Boo’Ya Moon, which is brought up here in Lisey’s Story episode 3. (Be quiet!)
Dual realities is a classical horror device. So, too, are ideas of childhood trauma and self-harm, particularly among King stories, so that “Under the Yum-Yum Tree” features all of these things is no surprise. King’s typically rote depiction of mental illness comes through in Amanda, and his fascination with extreme fandom is crystallized in James Dooley, who is still in Lisey’s study when Lisey’s Story season 1, episode 3 comes to a close.
The lure of Boo’Ya Moon provides enough supernatural intrigue that it’s worth sticking with Lisey’s Story, though it’s easy to imagine King’s fondness for the story is because of his personal attachment to it rather than him thinking it’s the best thing he’s ever written. It’s one of the most quintessentially King stories, for sure, but that isn’t necessarily a good thing depending on who you are. Apple’s adaptation here is more patient – perhaps to a fault – than such things usually are, more interested in character interiority and allowing the world to bed in that it is simple shocks and spooks. That’s refreshing, but whether or not it’s quite enough to bring audiences back week on week is another question entirely.