The Third Day
Image: Sky UK/ HBO

‘The Third Day’: Last Day – The Dark

We’ve been building up to this final chapter of The Third Day for five weeks now, and the ending doesn’t disappoint. ‘Last Day – The Dark’ offers us enough closure without exposing all the mysteries of Osea, and it sees Naomie Harris and Jude Law turn in incredible performances as their characters finally reunite. This climatic episode is powerful, shocking and gripping until the credits roll.

Helen has found Sam at the Big House, but he is lost in the world of the island and doting over Nathan. She intends to offer her errant husband a piece of her mind, but the arrival of Jess’ daughter has changed things on Osea – the community is split, and those who follow Jess believe that Sam must be eliminated. Sam, Helen and several Oseans try to flee to safety, but the power struggle is going to reshape their lives forever.

This climatic episode is powerful, shocking and gripping until the credits roll

There are some shocking developments in this episode, both emotional and physical, but all are united in violence. Helen snaps at Sam when she reveals that the boy Sam is caring for is not Nathan – he’s too young, he doesn’t look like either of his parents and he’s the wrong colour. The clash between Harris and Law in scene is really good, and it encourages us to reflect on something the show has positioned as important since the beginning – how we cope with grief. In a powerful scene, Mrs Martin explains what happened to Nathan, and the camera lingers on Harris’ face, showing every emotion. That this plot thread may be somewhat more ambiguous than we first thought is really interesting, and it seems that Sam’s belief in the island’s power may have some credence.

One of the more compelling narratives throughout The Third Day is the evolution of Jess, and Katherine Waterston’s performance is brilliant – her transition from a fleeing mum to a murderous ruler has felt entirely natural and within the rules of the world. The ‘Autumn’ event implied a relationship between her and Jason, and it’s fully realised here. Jess names her new girl Epona, and manipulates him into doing her bidding.

This results in the first of the shocking deaths in ‘Last Day – The Dark’. Mr Martin decides his amiability is perfect to help reduce the tensions on Osea but, in a scare that honestly made me jump, he’s rewarded with an axe to the chest. This gives Emily Watson a chance to do some grieving, before she too is killed – as she helped Sam, Jess has her drowned. Given that they’ve been thorns in the side of Sam and Helen all run, I was surprised at how much weight these deaths carried.

And then, it was Sam’s turn. Helen demands that he helps find Lu and Ellie and helps them escape from the island, and we see that he is a different, more self-assured man now. Ellie is being held captive by Jason, so Sam gets two knives and brutally murders him – it’s really dark stuff. Sam realises what he must do – he heads to the church, and murders Larry and one of his henchmen, before giving Helen the money and choosing to stay. Helen is furious at Sam for his “operatic grief” and how it manifested yet, in a weird way, Sam is at peace – he can’t leave this incarnation of Nathan and he can’t leave Osea.

This show was a unique experience, intending to immerse us in the world of Osea and the story of Sam and Helen and, to that end, it succeeded beautifully

The episode’s ending allows Helen a bit of resolution too, as she musters all of her strength to pull a boat carrying Lu and Ellie across the causeway to the mainland. Helen sees Nathan in the boat and, as they land and she struggles with hypothermia, she holds onto the bag of money as if it were the shirt Sam discarded in episode one. We don’t know if Helen survives, but that final shot – her laying on the floor with her children holding her – feels right. At its heart, and whether we knew it, The Third Day has been a family drama, and it ends with a family together. Helen was able to keep fighting in the face of grief, and it’s that spirit that helped her escape, a conclusion that was by no means guaranteed.

We get some answers at the end of this episode, and ‘Last Day – The Dark’ is a generally satisfying conclusion. What may annoy some viewers is how much remains unanswered, but it feels completely appropriate to me. The Third Day dealt with grief and the power of religion, and sometimes there are no answers – there’s horror and there’s hope. This show was a unique experience, intending to immerse us in the world of Osea and the story of Sam and Helen and, to that end, it succeeded beautifully.

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