Things continue to get weird for our man Sam (Jude Law) in the second hour of HBO’s The Third Day, titled “Saturday – The Son.” After the first episode established the iconoclastic community of Osea, Sam is still cut off from the mainland due to uncooperative cell towers and a causeway that’s swallowed up by the tides for the majority of the day. As the mystery of this strange town deepens in episode 2, we also gain a deeper insight into the horrific trauma that Sam is carrying with him, and how it’s that same trauma that is pulling him deeper and deeper into Osea when every rational instinct should have him barreling in the opposite direction as fast as he can.“Agony is bespoke. Yours is yours. Theirs is theirs. Mostly grief’s just lonely.” So says Sam to Jess (Katherine Waterston), his fellow outsider on an island of True Believers, as he attempts to explain what it’s like to lose one’s child. As it becomes increasingly clear, the untended sore of trying to navigate that grief is what underscores so many of his decisions since coming to the island — including his concern for the suicidal Epona (Jessie Ross), whose rescue at the start of the previous chapter is what began him on this journey — and also explains his (baffling!) decision to stick around.
Of course, with all the strange, semi-mystical goings-on in Osea we’ve already seen in the preceding hour, it’s not a great shock to realize that child doesn’t merely exist as a data point in Sam’s past, but rather points the way towards something in his future. It also seems a safe bet that his continual refrain of how familiar the island appears to him — has he been there before? — will tie in with this loss at some point in the future. On top of that, there are the strange mask-clad people trying to kill Sam. Or are they? And there’s Epona’s grief-stricken father, who blames Sam for her death. Or does he?
Frustrated yet? Good. Because the questions keep getting piled atop each other like a moody, morose Jenga tower, and anything resembling a definitive answer feels as out of reach as the ghostly little boy Sam keeps seeing in the distance. Partly because the place is just so freakin’ weird, and partly because Sam & Jess (whose increasingly close relationship remains one of the bigger question marks waiting to be resolved) made the ill-advised decision to partake in some mind-altering vegetation as the town’s festivities get underway, so things begin to feel increasingly disjointed and surreal as the hour goes on.
As Sam’s descent into the madness of this place (or perhaps his own mind?) continues, what director Marc Munden continues to do quite effectively is stylistically blur the line between his nightmare visions and what we think is “real,” putting those of us in the audience on the same uneven footing as we try to navigate the maddening nightmare world we find ourselves stranded in. Once again, all props in the world to Law for imbuing the character with an internal life that keeps us on his side even as he makes some increasingly baffling decisions (Keep driving! No, don’t turn around! No, don’t go into the woods! No, don’t go towards the weird monster guys!)It’s a true mixed bag, with as much to frustrate as fascinate. But at this point, the positive still outweighs the negative enough to make it worth coming back next week. In fact, the end of this episode practically dares you not to.