With the airing of the first half of ‘The Third Day’ done and many secrets of the enigmatic Osea Island revealed, it is safe to conclude that Felix Barrett and Dennis Kelly’s TV show is perhaps one of the most benevolent portrayals of pagan motifs in the entire folk horror genre. The series is often compared to ‘Midsommer’ and ‘The Wicker Man’, and for good reasons, but unlike those films, it seeks to humanize the perceived antagonists of the story by making them more relatable. It draws a parallel between their beliefs and Christianity through Jess (Katherine Waterston) and gently reminds us that our own faiths can be as disturbing to an outsider as the Celtic beliefs are to Sam (Jude Law). Episode 3, titled ‘Sunday – The Ghost’, reveals that at least the first part of the show is about the eternal struggle between faith and reason. SPOILERS AHEAD.
The Third Day Part 1 Episode 3 Recap
The third episode opens by assuring us that Sam isn’t dead, but has been taken captive by a section of the island’s population, that includes Larry (John Dagleish), the preacher (Amer Chadha-Patel), and the descendant (Richard Bremmer) of Frederick Nicholas Charrington. Many of the mysteries that the show has carefully built in the first two episodes are unraveled in the third. We discover, at the same time as Sam, that his grandfather was a Charrington himself and was supposed to become the “Father” of the island, both the religious and administrative head of Osea. But he left because he didn’t want that life either for himself or his son. According to the islanders, Osea has been decaying ever since under the leadership of a man who wasn’t meant to be the “Father”, Sam’s grandfather’s brother. When they found out about Sam and his son Nathan, they took the latter with the help of the Romani immigrant Goltan, believing that it would be easy to mold a child to their beliefs than convincing a grown man.
The Third Day Part 1 Episode 3 Explained
Sam experiences the extremes of his various emotions throughout the episode. Torrential fear washes over him as he watches Larry preparing to drown him. He manages to escape, and there is a sense of relief in him, but it is soon replaced by frustration as he realizes he will not be able to get off the island. When the Martins (Paddy Considine and Emily Watson) tell him that Goltan did not kill his son but brought him to Osea, Sam’s immense happiness is very much palpable. But it is accompanied by white, hot rage. When Mrs. Martin betrays him after they discover that Epona (Jessie Ross) has committed ritualistic self-sacrifice by cutting open her belly on the altar in the old, abandoned church, Sam has almost resigned himself to his fate. He just wants to see his son one more time at that point, before she shoots him with the gun in her hand.
He again manages to escape and is helped by, of all people, Jason (Mark Lewis Jones). He has now lost both his children in the islanders’ attempts to secure their future. Jason’s son was killed so his remains can serve as replacements for those of Nathan. He oozes a profound sense of serenity as he tells Sam to come back to Osea with the police. Ultimately, it is Jess’s betrayal that forces Sam to return to the island and embrace his role as the “Father”. She informs him that she has done this because her daughters have been kept as hostages by the islanders. For all his anger and frustration, Sam can at least understand that. As he wraps his arms around his son, he is simply overwhelmed by the joy of having him back.
Faith Vs. Reason
The perception of religion is perhaps the most important theme in ‘The Third Day’. The show deftly shifts between Christian and pagan mythologies to create a ground for conflict between faith and reason within Sam’s mind. The title of the show eludes to Jesus’ resurrection, but it also denotes the fact that Sam accepts his destiny on his third day on the island. The individual titles of three episodes again draw heavily on Christian symbols, especially the ones associated with Catholicism. But, at the same time, they indicate the show’s proceeding. In episode 3, Sam becomes the ghost of the island in his desperate attempts to leave Osea.
Human sacrifice was an important component of paganism. According to the ways of Esus, Epona first tries to hang herself. And when that fails and she is saved by Sam, she goes on perform ritualistic self-sacrifice to the island’s deities that is starkly similar to what had been done to the squirrels that Sam spots and what he sees has been done to him in his vision. Mrs. Martin speaks about it to Sam in a clearly reverential manner, indicating that the young girl‘s act is greatly sacred for the islanders. The way she demands Sam to move away from Epona’s body demonstrates her derision for Sam. He is a non-believer, as he has shown during their conversation earlier, and she is convinced now that Sam has to die so Nathan can take his rightful place as the “Father” of the island.
According to the islanders’ beliefs, Osea is the center of the world, its beating heart. Its decay means the degeneration of the world itself. They also think that the “Father” will not die until his successor is found. When Sam finally stands before the man that is supposed to be his granduncle, the latter thanks him, before killing himself. His moment of deliverance has finally come.
There is evidently some darkness in Sam that has been hinted towards throughout the first part, ‘Summer’. The series also implies that he has passed at least some of those traits to Nathan. The first three episodes do not provide any definitive answer about the £40,000 he still has with him. They don’t shed any light on the artwork that he discovers in the dilapidated church either. Some of them are referring to Charrington’s connection with Jack the Ripper. But the others, including the one of Sam, envisioned as a pagan saint with knives, remain unexplained. It is possible that the painting in question is depicting events that are yet to take place.
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