If there’s one word that can describe the proceedings this episode, it’s bizarre. Not only is Maniac‘s world twisted in itself, with its own unique trappings and logic that more often than not defies reality, but inexplicable things happen at times that propel the narrative forward in crazy ways. At the risk of spoiling a major development, because there’s really no way I can move ahead without revealing it, the scientist Muramoto suddenly dies in the middle of interrogating Annie (Emma Stone) who he suspected of having consumed the A-pill (a play on the A-team?) before.
The key word here is sudden. He just collapses head down, slammed on the table, with no explanation whatsoever. We’re to attribute it to his exploits with the drugs he had the patients undergo trial. And just like that, he’s gone and it forms a major aspect of the narrative as it brings his partner and co-founder James Mantleray (Justin Theroux, fully embracing the show’s restrained craziness) into the pharma lab. We get the sense of a fallout between the two, or perhaps Mantleray wasn’t really interested in the drug’s capabilities, preferring to get his doze of cheap sex through a virtual reality rig.
We also get some insight into one of Owen’s worst memories when he sees the girl he had some feelings for get engaged to one of his brothers. Unable to bear the sound of his brother’s proposal (and I don’t blame him), he leaps from the rooftop but manages to survive in what looks like a distortion of the original event. The trial volunteers are all identified by numbers by now with Owen and Annie designated numbers 1 and 9 respectively (the others don’t matter much at this point, save for 5). 1, 5 and 9 are called in for suspected irregularities in their results (turns out Owen never consumed the pill) and with Muramoto’s passing away, Annie is able to fudge results and get them accepted for further tests, signifying in a key moment her willingness from move on from the entrapped memory of her sister’s accident and look into what the future has in store.
And the answer to that is more zaniness. When the supercomputer learns of Muramoto’s demise, she sheds a tear (yup, a literal tear), which manages to flow into the circuitry fusing the wires flowing for numbers 1 and 9 (don’t ask why 1 and 9 are placed next to each other). And in a perplexing cliffhanger, the episode thus ends with both Owen and Annie sharing a common memory, as if related to each other. As cliffhangers go, that definitely forces you to push play on the next episode but I’ll leave it for you to figure out whether or not it makes sense (at least by this point).
Getting to see Jonah Hill and Emma Stone interact was a highpoint though, as was Justin Theroux’s introduction into the mix. And as strong as the cast and production aspects of the show are, with giant sets featuring walled computers reminiscent from the science fiction and James Bond movies of the past, what’s particularly a highpoint thus far is the show’s music. It’s great at building a sense of tension even when there’s none and successfully manages to keep you engaged and occupied, so that the quieter moments where nothing happens are masked by the tunes playing in the background.
On the whole, Maniac is proving to be decent entertainment, if nothing else and if it can keep the proceedings up, I’ll be happy to award it a recommend at the very least. For now, on to the next episode.
Overall Score: 7.5 out of 10.0
We’re doing individual episode reviews of Maniac. Even though all episodes are out on Netflix, viewers may want to savor the show one episode at a time. These episode reviews may contain spoilers so discretion is advised while reading them.