the third day 2
Image: HBO/ Robert Ludovic

‘The Third Day’: Saturday – The Son

The Third Day is a contradiction of a TV show – it’s baffling and, two episodes in, I don’t really know what’s going on, but I can’t stop watching. It’s captivating despite its confusing nature, and it may be one of Jude Law’s best performances yet. ‘Saturday – The Son’ sees Sam fall further into darkness, and his escape from the island looks increasingly unlikely, and it’s compelling stuff.

Sam spends his first night on Osea, and the island’s atmosphere seeps into his dreams. He wakes up to discover that he may have slept with Jess, and the two bond over a series of conversations about their pasts. Sam explores Osea and learns more about the island’s religion, but his exploration also turns up some surprising links to his own past. He becomes convinced that the island and its inhabitants have the intent of doing him harm – Jess and the Martins attempt to convince him otherwise and help him enjoy a local festival, but Sam’s feelings may be more accurate than he realised.

‘Saturday – The Son’ sees Sam fall further into darkness, and his escape from the island looks increasingly unlikely, and it’s compelling stuff

Jude Law continues to astound with his acting, no more so than in a scene when he reveals the truth about his son’s death to Jess. It transpires that his child was killed by an immigrant with learning difficulties, who then killed himself – that grief, and the lack of any answers, is driving many of his decisions, and it’s entirely possible that he may be imagining some of the threats against him. There’s a long scene in which Sam sits on the beach with Jess, just describing the pain of grief, and it’s really powerful stuff: “Agony is bespoke. Yours is yours. Theirs is theirs. Mostly grief’s just lonely.”

Unusually for a show that seemingly prides itself on being hugely atmospheric and weird, we actually open (after Sam’s nightmare) with a spot of comedy as Sam and Jess deal with the morning after a spot of extra-marital sex. That light tone is swiftly dropped, however, by the revelation that Jess is likely to have been tailed by a spy whose job is to report to her controlling husband – bad behaviour could lead to Jess losing visiting rights for her children. Their intriguing relationship develops until, at a local festival, Jess and Sam both decide (extremely ill-advisedly) to take some drugs, warping Sam’s mind. At this point, we don’t know what is and is not real, and the viewer is forced to ask a question that has been floating through the narrative – can we trust Sam?

I’ve seen few shows like The Third Day – it may be terrifying and incomprehensible (on purpose, I hasten to add), but the acting is incredible and it’s bizarrely watchable

It’s good that the relationship between the two characters develops and is strong, because a lot of ‘Saturday – The Son’ remains as baffling as the premiere. For every question that this episode answered, it threw three more at us. Sam’s belief that he has been to Osea before is compounded when he discovers a local archivist, Mimir (Börje Lundberg), is the man who performed his son’s autopsy. This leads him to encounter strange, mask-clad people, who are trying to kill him, except they may not be. He also encounters Epona’s father, who blames Sam for her death and threatens to kill him – something complicated by the fact she soon turns out to be alive.

Due to the structure of The Third Day, the next episode will wrap up the ‘Summer’ portion and, with it, likely Sam’s story too. After a shocking ending scene, ‘Saturday – The Son’ dares us to come back for the concluding episode, and the show is so gripping, it’s hard to decline. I’ve seen few shows like The Third Day – it may be terrifying and incomprehensible (on purpose, I hasten to add), but the acting is incredible and it’s bizarrely watchable.

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