Maniac Season 1 Episode 5 Review: Exactly Like You

The complicated absurd storyline of Maniac begins unraveling itself

Last episode’s events presented two possibilities about the direction that the plot of Maniac could take. Turns out, it’s a bit of both. We instantly begin this episode with our lead test subjects Owen and Annie inserted in a completely different reality, one that projects a more confident Owen and an equally ballsy Annie, as the two are on a secret mission to steal a chapter from a book. There are some crazy elements thrown in for good measure such as Sally Field, showing up as the live impersonation of the supercomputer but the reality itself is not as relevant as the subsequent analysis that follows.

I loved how Mantleray’s interrogation featured a live score counter that increased or decreased based on Annie’s responses. I remain hopeful that this is but one of the interrogations, with those of others to follow soon. Mantleray grills Annie and tries getting into her head and forcing her to accept her true state of mind, and as her honesty segues into curiosity, Mantleray helps subtly explain some key plot points that alleviate some of the confusion. Each of the memories that the test subjects have been experiencing are what the pharma company calls reflections, meant to bring the subjects’ core weaknesses to the forefront, and lead to them getting acclimatized with their disorders. This should presumably lead into the final stage where the consumption of the C drug leads to a stage of natural recovery.

What’s also interesting is that the drug has done a lot more than we saw in the last episode. Annie’s memories aren’t just limited to the incident of rescuing the Lemur. She’s lived a full life of companionship with Owen in her head and the drug has somehow generated 20 years’ worth of memories, something that baffles even Mantleray himself. It’s natural for her then to feel not only disoriented, but also some form of connection to Owen. The drug messing with their minds is an angle that’s ripe for a mind-bending ending.

Maniac is really packed with details and I like how every episode, narrative or incident has plenty of detail to avoid coming across as just filler material. Take the case of the entire heist at the beginning which, even though largely irrelevant to the bigger picture, is packed with details like Owen’s expertise in card tricks, or Annie’s frequent disappearance baked into the structure that just immerse you in the narrative so hard by the time you return to the real world laboratory, you feel a sense of disjointedness yourself. That’s perhaps the point of such rich details, to help you understand how characters could get lost in a world that fictitious and ridiculous. When you coat a lie with details, it starts approaching some semblance of truth.

The 10-episode structure means we’re now mid-way with the show and it’s really beginning to pick up in storytelling. The episodes are comparatively shorter as well which leaves less room for slacking in contrast to some other Netflix shows. It’s only a matter of time now before C-trials begin and we enter the final hours of Neberdine Pharmaceutical Biotech’s experiment

Overall Score: 8.5 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.

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