HBO’s The Third Day: Series Finale
*This Review Contains Full Spoilers*
On the series finale of HBO’s The Third Day, Last Day – The Dark, a reunion between Sam (Jude Law) and Helen (Naomie Harris) causes more hidden truths to be revealed as the division within the islanders grows.
Right away, we get into the nitty gritty of Sam and Helen reuniting and it leads to some harsh truths about Sam and his grief. Obviously, Sam tells Helen about Nathan almost immediately and while it seems like we’re about to watch a heartwarming reunion with Helen seeing that Nathan is alive, but it’s far from it and much darker. The Nathan that’s been with Sam is not really Nathan as his age doesn’t make sense since he would be ten years older by now and his skin color doesn’t match. The fact that he draws horrific pictures of violence, which are creepy as hell, matches up with the troubling behavior that Sam and Helen have mentioned, but that’s all that really makes him Nathan. It’s a really great reveal that works in showcasing how deep Sam’s grief really is. All he ever wanted to hear was that Nathan was still alive and he was so guilty and full of grief that even the slightest resemblance or mention that seemed right would make him believe it. He’s truly a victim of his own grief, but that’s not to say that he’s really a victim in this situation.
With Helen being on the island now, she can confront Sam about her intentions on finding him and give a clearer picture on what exactly happened with Nathan’s disappearance and who he is as a person. It turns out their relationship has pretty much deteriorated as Sam left his family behind and ruined any chance of them surviving because of how wrapped up he was in hoping Nathan being alive. The phone call he had that made him loose track of Nathan was with another woman he was having a fling with, he’s put his family in debt with a deal gone wrong, and now left them behind to be on the island. He’s certainly not the hero or victim he wants to be, and Helen is really only here to reclaim the money he took so that her and the girls don’t lose their home. There’s no chance that these two are ever really going to reignite the feelings they once had for one another and are now stuck in an even worse situation as the island continue to divide in an unexpected way.
So, the reason that Jess (Katherine Waterston) giving birth is such a big deal is that this newborn girl, that she names Epona, could be a new leader of the island in the future since she has Sam’s blood. Thus, those that aren’t happy with how things on the island are going are willing to put faith in the future – so long as Sam isn’t in power. It’s actually crazy some of the things we learn since the island is now so divided and it turns into bloody conflict. From Kail (Freya Allen) telling Ellie (Nico Parker) that she’s not only Jess’ daughter but also that she’s the one who sent the email that brought Helen to the island to Ms. Martin (Emily Watson) revealing that they knew they were lying to Sam about Nathan but keeping him here and letting him believe lies anyway, there’re plenty of shocking reveals that really do a great job piecing everything together. However, the real question is – does the island want Sam to stay or go? Well, it’s legitimately divided.
The division literally causes two camps to form with one siding with Sam and the other siding with Jess – who becomes a real power-hungry villain in this episode. She’s become about as manipulative as Ms. Martin with how she turns Ellie against Helen and makes it seem like she never cared about them because of how she didn’t show her grief for Nathan dying. Sure, she maybe could’ve been more emotional about it and checked in on how Ellie and Talulah (Charlotte Gairdner-Mihell) were doing, but she really had to hold everything together while Sam slowly let his grief ruin things. However, Ellie is so brainwashed by Jess saying that this island being “special” and that they can be a family again if they stay. It’s a sad sight to see as Ellie turns against her family, for the moment, and helps kick off a group of surprise deaths that show how FUBAR things have become.
Although the Martins and the Cowboy (Paul Kaye) try to protect Sam, it comes at a grave cost. With Jason (Mark Lewis Jones) swinging an axe into Mr. Martin’s (Paddy Considine) heart and Ms. Martin meeting her end in an absolutely brutal and heartless fashion of an unconscious drowning, there’s a monumental shift in power that can be felt as the island’s two most prominent figures are killed. There’s also an earlier moment where Talulah witnesses the gruesome executions of the lodge owners that turned Helen away. Even Sam gunning down Larry (John Dagleish) in the church and stabbing Jason to death shows how hostile things have become. The island’s divide is something that makes this episode so thrilling to watch, but it does lack some satisfying conclusions.
While this series is truly amazing at putting the pieces together through great reveals and big moments, it struggles to give its central location and islanders a satisfying conclusion. The fate of the island is never touched on, there’s this whole thing that Sam mentions about darkness coming to the island that we never see the full effect of or really understand what it means, and the idea of the island being “special” never really comes. Perhaps nothing really happening is meant to signify that the beliefs and mysticism around the island isn’t real, but there’re no clear answers about that. For all of the build-up of lore and this strange religion around this series, it doesn’t really go anywhere. Also, there’s still no purpose to Cowboy being there and he’s just another character randomly thrown into the mix.
The finale does give a great conclusion to Sam and Helen’s story though as Sam accepts his fate of having to live a lie on the island and Helen making a valiant escape. Sam ultimately decides to stay on the island with fake-Nathan – who tries to make it seem like he’s actually Nathan by telling Helen that he knows that she didn’t mean to tell him that she wished he’d never been born, but I’m not buying it. It seems like something that Sam could remind him of and doesn’t come across genuine. Regardless, the series ends on a delightfully thrilling and emotional note and Helen escapes with the girls by pulling a rowboat across the freezing cold water. It’s a devastating showing of how hard it is to really escape Osea and we finally get a glimpse of Nathan as Helen sees him one last time. It’s truly powerful to see Helen swim through the water, especially when we see how frigid her body becomes when they finally reach the shore, and even more comforting to see Ellie and Talulah huddle around her showing their bond.
Although it struggles to give its lore and central island satisfying closure, the series finale of The Third Day offers even more shocking reveals and secrets that create a thrilling send-off for its story and gives Sam and Helen fitting ends. Even for some its lackluster conclusions, The Third Day still remains one of strangest and most thrilling watches of the year.