With this week’s penultimate installment, HBO’s The Third Day finally begins to pull taut the many, many threads creators Dennis Kelly and Felix Barrett began methodically laying out since the debut. (That was five weeks ago, but it feels like five months ago.) The result is the show’s strongest chapter (which may be something of a low bar given the mixed quality of the series so far). Nonetheless, there’s mood and tension aplenty, and also some degree of clarity as to where things (may) be headed. The unfortunate part about it is that it took five episodes of a six-part series to reach this more satisfying point.
“Tuesday – The Daughter” (written by Kelly and Dean O’Loughlin) picks up with new protagonist Helen (Naomi Harris), who arrived on Osea last week under mysterious circumstances that became slightly less opaque in the previous episode’s closing moments, crossing paths with the visibly pregnant Jess (Katherine Waterston) and using her experience as a vet to help her deliver a baby girl. (Given what we’ve seen in the show thus far, no bonus points here for guessing who the father is.)
[poilib element=”poll” parameters=”id=3c671ceb-18d6-49de-b606-0fdded180acb”]
Needless to say, it’s an uncomfortable situation made only more so given the various interrelationships of the people involved, and due credit to both actors for effortlessly wringing every ounce of awkwardness out of their interactions as the extent of their connection begins to dawn on Helen. Meanwhile, Helen’s daughters are undergoing their own journey of discovery as they delve into the disturbing history of Osea that, coupled with an unexpected return at episode’s end, points the way to next week’s long-in-coming wrap-up.
As a result of so many plot points intersecting, there’s a sudden dose of forward thrust to the proceedings that feels both refreshing and (somewhat paradoxically) nerve-wracking. The tension is considerably higher in this chapter, perhaps due in no small measure to the knowledge that things are headed toward a denouement. And yet, this deep into what has at times felt like a truly interminable trek, it’s taken far too long to build up a head of steam. We’re left with a story that feels fundamentally unbalanced.
[widget path=”global/article/imagegallery” parameters=”albumSlug=tv-shows-that-killed-off-a-main-character&captions=true”]
That concern may end up null and void if The Third Day manages to stick the landing next week, but one wonders if there’s a bit of the “Lost effect” happening in microcosm here. The sinister underpinnings of the plot send us off in so many different and disparate directions that the concern — as with the controversial finale of that ABC mystery — is over whether the writers will be able to arrive at a conclusion that feels earned. (Full disclosure: I’m someone who really liked the Lost finale, even as its ambitions clearly outstripped its execution, so I’m certainly ready to be pleasantly surprised here.)
SHOPPING DEAL UPDATE: