The fantasy setting we were sucked into in the last two episodes wasn’t the end. Turns out Maniac has at least one more fictional universe for us to explore before it either gives us some mind-altering revelation or brings us back to the real world. Annie and Owen find themselves together in a United Nations-esque conference about fending off an alien threat, with Owen’s Icelandic-German hybrid of a character being the key to the outcome. Annie is a CIA agent here, sent to free Owen from his harrowing fate.
It doesn’t take long though for the two to realize they’re actually dreaming all this up. To that end, the personification of GRTA shows up in the world and lets Annie have a tender moment with her sister through which she’s finally able to let go of the grief she’s held back all these years. Whether he sister’s real or in her head is immaterial at this point as Annie goes through the requisite process of healing and comes out healed, just like everyone else.
The real world meanwhile is witness to far more interesting events as Mantleray, his mother and Azumi frantically realize that GRTA has been misleading them with false readings and has gone truly berserk, wanting to trap these participants in their alternate reality perpetually. Whether it’s merely for sadistic pleasure, or to learn how to handle her grief of losing Muramoto from their minds, we do not know. The team rushes to unplug her even if it means letting go of 73 iterations worth of useful data that could help them produce the world-changing drug that replaces therapy.
At this point, the goings-on in the simulations are more psychological whereas the events in the lab follow the more traditional path of storytelling. However, they never quite mesh into a gripping coherent narrative that holds your attention as much as it should, never mind how fresh the premise itself seems in both conception and treatment. The short length makes it bearable, but only so much.
It’s worth pointing out two things I really admire so far. One is Jonah Hill’s very subtle portrayal of his flawed mindset. The seamless transition from a man of Icelandic accent to his true self inside the simulacra is just point on, as are his struggles with his internal self and his brother who keeps popping up in his vivid visions throughout. The second is the score; the central theme is simply a lot more arresting than the show itself is and fingers crossed, I’m hoping the orchestral track will be released for general consumption.
Despite the few brief episodes in the between, Maniac looks like it has run its course. One final episode would reveal how strong or weak a note the show closes on.
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.