Healed: The Last Five Episodes of ‘Maniac’
Everyone on this show is bats**t crazy, but now it all makes sense.
[Spoiler alert!] I know these warnings are annoying, but hey, don’t say I didn’t inform you.
In a splitting headache that I like to call Maniac, I found myself embarking on the second chapter of the original journey I started a couple of weeks ago. I finally understand why previous episodes involved the main characters, Owen and Annie, going on drug-induced journeys—traveling to storylines that felt completely tangential, however, served a greater purpose.
In life, we all have choices. Imagine choosing a completely different path than the one you are on now. Instead of taking that new job with another company, you stayed at your current job, or you ended up marrying your ex-fiancé and you decided to have way more children than you thought humanly possible. What would your life look like? Most of us have had moments where we questioned: “What if?” The writers for Maniac do a great job of answering that question and feeding into our desire for Owen and Annie to get together—while solving underlying trauma that both characters need to heal from.
The underlying premise of the show is that everyone has some sort of “issues,” and we have different ways of coping. Episode six unpacked Dr. Mantleray’s mommy issues as he tries to fix the computer that controls the entire experimental program, Gertie (GRTA). His mother Greta (played by Sally Field), a therapist and famous author, “sells happiness” based on the doctor’s opinion as he shares in his rant to Dr. Fujita. He has to swallow his pride and reach out to his mother per GRTA’s request.
His mommy issues are why he says he has paraphilia, and the one thing he wants is freedom from his mother’s control over his life. I found this insight super relatable. I was once told “we all have mommy or daddy issues” because our parents weren’t perfect, and in some ways, they did fail us. For Dr. Mantleray, it’s ironic that his mother is a therapist, but her son has deep-seated emotional issues.
By episode seven, we transition back to Owen and Annie, who after taking the C pill, is no longer connected and experiencing their own storylines. Annie is a warrior princess named Annia who gives Daenerys of Game of Thrones vibes, and Owen is a “hood” FBI informant who watches his father drill a hole in one of his flunkies head. This episode touches upon Annie’s need to protect her sister from harm, where she has a moment on her quest, where she completely realizes that she is Annie and not Annia, and where she tries to have a full conversation with her sister. A possible glitch in the system?
The quests continue in episode eight where Annie opens saying, “I have not lost my mind—we are in my mind!,” as she tries to explain to her sister, Ellia, that she’s not gone crazy. Eventually, the two sisters break character and Ellia turns into Ellie, revealing some of her own mommy issues. Owen finally confronts a version of his brother, Grimsson (who is a clone of his brother, Jed) and who says he’s the “black sheep” of the family. He literally tells Owen, “I’ve watched you your whole life, I want to be you. I love you. Owen the prince.”
Grimsson represents a side of Jed that Owen probably wishes was real, having an endearing brother who actually loved him. Later in the episode, Owen turns into a hawk (yes, a hawk) and infiltrates Annie’s mind in efforts to save her from eternally belonging to GRTA world. However, the most profound moment is when GRTA sat down with Greta in a makeshift therapy session. GRTA looks exactly like Greta except she’s a more emotionally distraught version of her. Greta is freaked out and calls for her son James, wondering what exactly a McMurphy is.
Episode nine begins to tie the season in a bow. Annie plays an FBI agent, and Owen is Snorri Agnarrson, a man on trial for murdering an alien. Things in this episode titled Utangatta (an Icelandic phrase that means “amiss”), but I think it’s an oxymoron because this episode is in fact on target. Owen and Annie finally see each other again within their worlds, and Annie confronts her regrets in losing Ellie before she dies.
Once everyone is back from their “trip,” Dr. Mantleray says they are officially healed. Episode ten, like any final episode, gives us a sense of closure. The trial is over, we get to Jeb stands trail for Jeb’s case and confess his brother’s guilt, Dr. Mantleray and Dr. Fujita kiss on the elevator, Annie’s dad comes out of that chamber, and Owen and Annie drive off together after Annie rescues him from a psych ward.
The overarching theme of “mommy issues” that touched on in the final episodes hits a topic that’s rarely discussed. What happens when the person who is supposed to be your first form of nurture and comfort fails at their job. In seeing Dr. Mantleray’s mother, it’s obvious that she also had her own pain that she needed to unpack—along with some narcissism.
My biggest takeaway still remains: yep, we all have issues, but as a person who also has mommy and daddy issues, it was nice to watch a show address all types of trauma—not just your typical “daddy left us” or “my sibling was addicted to drugs.” The show addressed mental health, letting go, childhood trauma, mommy issues, sexual issues, and drug use. All to leave us with a little more compassion in our souls and empathy for our hearts to carry over to the next day.
Everyone has issues, and Maniac reminded me to be gentle in understanding how others cope.
— Charmaine Griffin