“The Mother” disappears up its own backside for a while in a slightly longer chapter that grinds the pacing to a complete halt.
This recap of Katla season 1, episode 3, “The Mother”, contains spoilers. You can check out our spoiler-free season review by clicking these words.
Darri hasn’t had much to do thus far in Katla, so it’s almost a surprise that “The Mother” opens with him, even after the cliffhanger ending of the previous episode that revealed his dead son was back, covered in clay and ash. Things are confusing for the kiddo, though. As far as he’s concerned, he has just woken up after a good night’s kip. Curiously, despite having the same layer of detritus on his skin, he isn’t hypothermic like Gunhild and Asa were. Is that because he wasn’t lost up the mountain?
Gisli and Einar are still considering the possibility of a “normal” explanation for all this, but I think we’re past that point. Darri asking his son, Mikael, some questions about who he is and what he remembers doesn’t help much either. Turns out he wasn’t the most “normal” kid when he was alive — friendless, by his own admission, and quite happy to clip the wings of his pet parrot because he “felt strange”. Asa isn’t in a particularly good mood after her return either, still fuming about her perceived abandonment despite Grima’s admission that she suffered a mental breakdown in the aftermath of her disappearance and was advised by doctors to cease the searching. This is rather a miserable show, isn’t it?
Katla episode 3 seems slower than usual, in part because it has introduced quite a few different mysteries now and seems reluctant to pile on anymore without fleshing these out. So we get more scenes of older and younger Gunhild arguing about Thor, Grima and Asa arguing and bonding and bickering, and Darri trying to clean up Mikael and keep his return a secret. We get a lot of this, in all honesty. Perhaps too much. When Darri eventually locks Mikael in a shed it feels like a mercy. From there, though, he’s able to call his mother, which is presumably the exact opposite of what Darri intended.
I know a lot of this is important or might become important later, but “The Mother” was the first time I’ve really felt the pace grind to a halt. Katla season 1, episode 3 is also slightly longer than previous installments and totally feels it. The relationship between Grima and Asa is obviously vital, but it really does seem like the show is more concerned with looking pretty than actually having these scenes mean something. A nighttime dip in a hot spring feels like filler, not crucial character development, and there are only so many times I can watch Bergrun fondle entrails, or Gisli peer down one of his wife’s ventilator tubes. Weird stuff is happening — we get it. But can we actually get to see it, soon?