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The Third Day Ending, Explained

October 20, 2020
6 min read

The Third Day’ creators Felix Barrett and Dennis Kelly carefully kept it under wraps that Jude Law is going to appear in the third part (‘Winter’) of the show as well. From the moment it was revealed that Sam (Law) and Helen (Naomie Harris), the two protagonists of the show, are actually each other’s spouses, fans have been wistfully hoping for a reunion.

Law’s appearance in the final moments of the previous episode ensured that it would happen in the series finale, titled ‘Last Day – The Dark.’ And what a reunion it is! Helen, who is by far the more lucid between the two, gives completely different and more plausible versions of the events that serve as frameworks of the plot of the entire show, from their son’s death to the mysteries of Osea. SPOILERS AHEAD!

The Third Day Finale Recap

The episode opens with the two protagonists seeing each other for the first time in months. Standing on the dock with the estuary of the River Blackwater behind him, Sam looks every bit a cult leader with his long hair and white suit. When he tells Helen that their son, Nathan, is alive and staying with him in the Big House, she downright rejects the notion. But Sam’s confidence makes her wonder, “what if?.” Teetering between disbelief and hope, she follows him into the house, only to find that her own pragmatic suspicions were true. The boy isn’t Nathan as he is too young.

Frustrated, exhausted, and filled with rage, she tells him that Nathan would be 16 if he were still alive. It turns out that his brief sexual encounter with Jess (Katherine Waterston) isn’t the first time he cheated on Helen. In fact, he was talking on the phone with one of his mistresses when Nathan went missing. She claims that his “operatic grief” has destroyed their family – financially and emotionally – and demands to know where the £40,000 he took is. Elsewhere, Jess prepares to take over the island for her new-born daughter (she names her Epona) with the help of Jason and Larry.

They get to the Big House, and Jason kills Mr. Martin (Paddy Considine) with a huge ax. Although Sam, Helen, and others manage to escape, Ellie (Nico Parker), who is rapidly becoming enchanted with Osea, helps Jess’ men capture them. Mrs. Martin (Emily Watson) is then drugged and drowned, but Jess forgives the rest. Sam and Helen find Talulah (Charlotte Gairdner-Mihell), hiding under a bed. Coaxed by Helen, Sam embraces his dark side and kills Jason, rescuing Ellie, and later shoots Larry and another man dead.

Sam stays back in Osea with “Nathan” as Helen leaves the island with their two daughters. Realizing that she can’t wait until dawn for the causeway to appear, she puts Ellie and Talulah on a boat, handing them the packet of money that Sam gave her earlier, and drags the boat through the icy water of winter to the main island. Once there, the girls curl up against their hypothermic mother inside a house. Soon after, the morning comes, and it finds the three of them still sleeping.

The Third Day Ending

Ultimately, beyond the secrets and mysteries of Osea, ‘The Third Day’ is essentially about two parents’ vastly dissimilar attempts to deal with the death of their son. Nathan’s death affected Sam and Helen quite differently. Sam’s actions became more erratic. His delusions led him to believe wild theories posed by strangers, claimed that the police were attempting a cover-up, and even accused Helen’s father. However, he was right on one account.

As Mrs. Martin reveals to Helen, the Romani man Goltan indeed took Nathan on the islanders’ behest, but the young boy was killed before he could hand him over to the Martins and others. The child that Sam thinks is his son is actually the son of the previous Father of Osea (Richard Bremmer) and “a girl who was barely old enough not to be called one herself.” It is possible that this girl was Epona (Jessie Ross). If that is the case, then it sheds a whole new light on Epona’s first attempt at self-sacrifice.

“Nathan” was there with her, helping his mother kill herself so that Sam would come to Osea. As Sam fell apart after their son’s death, Helen had no choice but to become the singular source of strength and resilience in their family. What Ellie refers to as the “stone” was Helen’s way of coping with her grief. She can’t afford to be overwhelmed by it like Sam, but it’s ever-present, under the surface. It finally breaks free when Mrs. Martin admits the islanders caused her son’s death.

The Money

The £40,000 has been a constant source of mystery since the beginning of the series. Why was Sam bribing a city official? Why did he take out the money and leave with it? In the finale, Helen asks these exact questions to him. When they go to the church, where Sam kills Larry and the other man and gives Helen the package, she asks again, “Why did you take this?” His answer is as infuriating as it is heartbreaking. “What if he’d come home?” Sam asks her. “Nathan. What if he’d come home and we weren’t there?”

The Remaining Mysteries of Osea

The relationship between Sam and Helen dissolved a long time ago. What we see in ‘The Third Day’ is Sam’s last contribution to the welfare of his wife and their daughters. By embracing the darkness within him, Sam accepts his lineage as the descendant of Frederick Nicholas Charrington or Jack the Ripper. When he kills Jason, he wields two knives, just like in artwork on the church walls. Although the show doesn’t reveal the outcome of his confrontation with Jess, it is evident that he is the savior of Ose.

He knows that only by accepting who he truly is, can he become a real leader for the islanders. In the end, despite all the revelations, Osea manages to maintain some of its mysteries. When Sam and Helen are parting ways, “Nathan” reaches out to her and says that he knows that she didn’t mean what she told him that day and that “I know you’ve always wanted me.” This is the reference to the last conversation that the two had, before Nathan’s death.

Helen brought a good dosage of reality and facts with her to Osea. But this final nugget of mystery makes us reconsider everything we saw, heard, and experienced in the series all over again. And this is where the success of ‘The Third Day’ lies. Despite duly providing its audience with almost all the answers, it still ends with considerable ambiguity.

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