Maniac: Season 1/ Episode 2 “Windmills” – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)

Annie looking at a bus schedule board.
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A focus on Annie helps Maniac rebound from a lackluster premiere. Especially as we learn how and why she got into the trial.


Network
Netflix
Director(s) Cary Joji Fukunaga
Writer(s) Patrick Somerville
Air Date 9/21/2018
Characters Introduced
Patricia Selenis Leyva
Dr. Robert Rome Kanda
GRTA Sally Field
Dr. Fujita Sonoya Mizuno
Ellie Julia Garner

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How Annie Got Into The Trial: Annie, Patricia

Remember how there was a bit of commotion at the front desk with Annie? Well, it was because she was blackmailing a woman named Patricia to get into the study. How? Well, it seems in this weird alternate timeline, hacking, and things of that nature, aren’t as big of a deal as it is in our timeline. There are places, proper storefronts, which specialize in gathering information and undoing people’s bagged shreddings – maybe even companies.

So, using some money she took from her father, which was supposed to go towards a trip to Salt Lake City, she paid this shady character and intruded on Patricia’s Friend Proxy meeting. Which led to Annie saying she’d blackmail Patricia, but then backing down and Patricia saying she’d help her. Why? Well, because Annie apparently reminds Patricia of her daughter. I guess her daughter attempts to blackmail her to.

Either way, being that Patricia isn’t a big-time boss, all she could do was push Annie in to be tested. However, like a 16-year-old trying to get a job at Target or Walmart, Annie picks all the positive answers on the personality test and gets rejected. So, to make a long story short, Annie threatens Patricia’s kid, Patricia takes someone’s badge and sends them off to another test, gives Annie that person’s badge and boom – Annie is in.

Commentary

Patricia, for some reason, trying to figure out why Annie would try to blackmail her.
Patricia (Selenis Leyva): I’m a bit confused.

I’m trying to wrap my mind around the idea of someone cancelling my Friend Proxy meeting, talking about blackmailing me, running off, and me deciding to help them. It just doesn’t click. There isn’t a sob story in the world that will not, at the very least, have me walking away and looking over my shoulder for a good few months. Keeping my nose as clean as a whistle.

But, let’s add some layers to it, considering how easily that dude in the shop hacked Patricia’s history, how in the hell did a company like NPB, which seems to be rather huge, not catch any of that? Are the employees part of the experiment too or is HR as incompetent as Dr. Robert, who we saw doing some kind of drugs in episode one? I mean, even at that counter, all those other people seeing Patricia pace and this woman talking mess, no one reported that? You’re telling me despite an intake form, security guards and cameras, and the big to do she made, no one spotted her from the time she showed her badge number to when the trial started? What kind of company is this?

How The Trial Works: Dr. Robert, GRTA, Dr. Fujita

To put it simply, over the course of three days Dr. Fujita, with assistance from Dr. Robert and the computer GRTA will have the 11 test subjects take three pills. The first being pill A which addresses the trauma and brings it to the surface. Following that will be pill B which is supposed to deal with identifying the blind spots and self-defense mechanisms of the brain. Meaning GRTA, as she is used to help reprogram everyone, is going to make sure the trauma is brought out and learn how each person copes and handles their trauma. Hence the questions during intake requiring people speaking about emotion rather than the usual alternatives.

Leading to C which deals with GRTA confronting the brain, reprogramming it and, based off the 80s looking commercial, it should lead to eternal bliss. That is, as long as nothing goes wrong. Which, based off how Dr. Fujita talks, thanks to Dr. Robert, something might have in the past.

Commentary

Annie after the trial started and she was put under.

Magical pills, radio waves, and a computer interface. To be honest, I’m cool with how simple they are keeping it for if they started throwing out there different chemical properties and explain, fully, what was going on, I’d have questions. Mostly rhetorical, since I graduated college and thus ain’t trying to do or be involved in any more research project unless I have kids. But, point is, I’m glad they kept it simple. However, now I got some serious questions about the timeline and what kind of The Fifth Element, minus the aliens, kind of world we are in?

Between that weird ass koala playing chess, to GRTA, and even the AdBuddy system, what happened for the world to shift towards this? Considering the statue of liberty replacement, and the noting of a tour guide speaking Russian, did the Russians win the cold war or perhaps became a superpower before the US during the world wars? Where, or rather when, did Maniac’s world separate from our world?

Why Annie Got Into The Trial: Ellie, Annie

Though mentioned to Patricia, we don’t see the full weight of Annie and Ellie’s issues until pill A is taken and we see the two on a road trip. During that, It’s established Annie is a bit of an ass. Sometimes a funny one, like how she makes up backstories for other drivers on the road. However, she is also an ass in the form of knowing how to twist the knife.

Ellie already is a bit unsure of what to do in terms of leaving Annie in New York while she wants to go be with her fiance, Ben, in Salt Lake City. Yet, to try to make it easier, Annie talks about how she wants her to so she doesn’t feel coerced to pretend she cares about them growing apart while living in the same city. Yet, the next morning, she cuddles up with Ellie knowing she went too far.

But, remember Pill A is about confronting trauma and the trauma is, thanks to Annie’s antics, taking pictures of her armpit vs. tourist kind like Ellie wants, they nearly get hit by a truck. Though, to make matters worse, yes the truck missed having a head-on collision with them but Annie drove them off a cliff and while she got thrown out the vehicle, Ellie seemingly tumbled with the car down the rocks and maybe into the sea. Unfortunately, we don’t know if Ellie made to Salt Lake City alive, dead, or some kind of handicapped.

Commentary

Ellie smiling at Annie.

They should have cut down Owen’s life and inserted more of Annie’s. I get Netflix lets its creators do as they please and give them room to fail but the thing about the platform is your production is premiering alongside at least a dozen others. Now, granted, this is a limited series so there is no need to worry about attracting people for a season 2. However, the more interviews I hear, especially after the actor is years, a decade, separated from a project, here is looking at Viola Davis with The Help, you hear the truth. Be it that the role was like so many people said. If not, non-Davis related, there were certain things they wished were changed just so it could have been seen by more people.

Which is why I write up pilots as I do. There is so much choice now that you don’t really have the chance for a second go at a good impression. Because, even with the ability to binge, if I didn’t like episode 1, why in the hell would I spend multiple hours of my life trying to either catch up or hit this good part everyone is talking about? As the saying goes, “Don’t bury the lead.” As seen in this episode, Annie is a better way to lead in viewers than Owen and their episodes should have probably been swapped in order. For while, yeah, people may have found Owen’s episode boring in comparison to the first, it would simply be recognized as the show laying down the foundation and you’d suffer through it because the best is yet to come.

Collected Quote(s) & .Gifs

I’m not fucking crazy […] I’m just goal oriented.
— Annie

Highlights

  1. Annie, alongside Ellie, bring interest to this show in ways Owen, and most of episode one, did not.

Low Points

  1. Ain’t no way in hell anyone in their right mind would help someone, seek a person out, who just talked about blackmailing you. I don’t care if they look like your sister who has been clean for 30 years before they got that push. Not a single thing about Patricia helping Annie made sense.

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