The Third Day review: Strangeness continues in an episode that reels us in for the long haul

Episode two of The Third Day continued the menace and trippy scenes, but Jude Law and co have turned the corner from intriguing to gripping 
The Third Day review: Strangeness continues in an episode that reels us in for the long haul

Jude Law and Katherine Waterson in The Third Day.

The Third Day

Sky Atlantic/Sky Now

You're never quite sure with this show, but Jude Law's character Sam appears to be in a dream. He's staring at a flaming caravan, screaming for his murdered son and ripping open his own chest. So far, so Third Day.

But then he wakes up and everything is ok. Except it isn't. Next to him in the guesthouse bed is the American woman he was on the lash with at the end of episode one. Drink had been taken. Sex had been had. And nobody is quite sure what else has happened.

Last week's opener was strange and intriguing, but never quite convinced that you'd be sticking around for the entire series. Episode two unpeeled a few more onion layers in this mysterious enigma and reeled us in for the long haul.

Dennis Kelly had previously impressed with the story of Jessica Hyde in Utopia on Channel 4, a brilliantly quirky show that probably helped ensure he was given plenty free rein for this seven-part co-production between Sky Atlantic and HBO.  

Emily Watson and Paddy Considine in The Third Day. 
Emily Watson and Paddy Considine in The Third Day. 

Law just about gets away with the heavy load on his character, while Emily Watson and Paddy Considine, who play the tavern-owning couple, are their usual brilliant selves. She can't refer to her hubby without a string of scything expletives, while we suspect there's much more to him than his “Let's all have a nice cuppa” demeanour.

The real star of the show, however, is Osea Island, an actual place in an estuary in Essex, owned by Sugababes' music producer Nigel Frieda (his brother is John, the hair and shampoo guy).

 It even has the causeway that's central to Sam's inability to escape. Sorry pal, tide is in again, you'll just have to stay here a while longer with us menacing islanders.

At least there's a festival on, complete with a mix of giant puppets, crusty drummers and ancient religious iconography. And just when you think it couldn't get any more like Ballydehob in the early '90s, Sam decides to drop some acid. Not surprisingly, the weirdness level goes up to 11, and there's not much that spoils a psychedelic excursion quite like being told: “They've got weapons... they want you dead.”

A scene from episode two of The Third Day.
A scene from episode two of The Third Day.

The Third Day has drawn comparisons to classic island horror The Wicker Man (1973), and there are also hints of the excellent first series of True Detective. But this show  already looks like becoming a distinct beast of its own, and would be much talked-about at the water-coolers if we still gathered at such places. Edgy and gripping, it regularly lurches towards downright violent and scary. 

The show will push the envelope even further in the coming weeks with the arrival of new characters, and an immersive 'live' episode that will be 12-hours long. You'd do well to turn on and tune in. 

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