Monday – The Mother
Episode 4 of The Third Day changes the game and introduces us to Helen, who’s heading to the island on holiday with her two kids.
There’s hints that the family have money problems and an overbearing religious Grandmother but the natural exposition gives us fragments of what’s going on.
Driving across the causeway of our familiar Osea, the island is very different to the one we left it in last episode. The gritty, muted colours are inhospitable and the word “Out” is graffitied everywhere.
Helen makes her way to the cottage where she meets a man named Alan. He’s less than happy to see them though and urges Helen to leave the island, despite paying for a reservation there.
She’s understandably annoyed and after promising to report them, Helen goes exploring round the island to find a place to stay.
The hotel there is closed down permanently too although Helen does take her time to help the hotelier, who’s sporting a nasty cut across his head. It turns out there’s something “tricky” that’s occurred on the island earlier in the day and that’s why no one wants to help. For now though, we’re left in the dark over what exactly this is.
Glancing outside, Helen notices her oldest daughter Ellie talking to Danny. She scrambles outside and hysterically breaks up her daughter’s conversation. Her maniacal reaction to him and her panicked mannerisms both point toward the possibility that something may have happened to Ellie or her in the past.
For now though they head up the shore to find a place to stay but the pictures online betray the reality. That strange mural of a woman continues to show up everywhere and Lou’s bathroom woes force them to stay inside one of the run-down cabins.
As Ellie heads off to explore, she finds a frightening corpse of a sheep slit open and a baby doll where her womb would be. She and Helen are both distracted though when three men arrive talking about “sides”.
It seems likely that there may be a war brewing on this island but for now it’s quite unclear just what’s going on. Sensing something seriously wrong, Helen decides to leave the island. When they return to the other side of the fence though, Helen finds her car gone.
Without much of a choice, the trio head back to town and break into one of the houses there. While Lou sleeps, Ellie takes the time to ask her Mother just why they’re on the island in the first place. Helen brushes aside her concerns by mentioning archeology but her daughter is smart. She knows there’s something more going on.
They’re both distracted by Lou who winds up starting to freeze. Helen heads straight down to town and into the bar where Mr and Mrs Martin happen to be.
Helen is defiant and eventually manages to convince the pair to let them stay for the night in front of the fire. Mrs Martins even convinces her husband to get them some food.
As the episode closes out, we finally see exactly why everyone is so cold and inhospitable toward Helen. As the kids get into bed, the tablet screen flashes on to show their family set up. Helen is smiling alongside her husband… Sam.
The Episode Review
What a twist at the end! The entire episode is the perfect example of how to exude natural exposition and moody atmosphere without spelling everything out.
There’s a tense feel to the entire episode and you can really feel something is about to bubble up and explode. It’s a slow burn for sure and some people will undoubtedly be turned away from this changed perspective.
Personally though I think it works well to offer up a different perspective and the ending helps to tie everything together. This is undoubtedly one of the best mini-series of the year.