Director Cary Fukanaja directed both this mini-series and the entirety of the first season of HBO’s True Detective. The latter featured an episode that had this magnificent, long tracking shot where an undercover detective does what he can to get himself and an unsuspecting witness out of a bad situation that comes from a group of white supremacist biker drug dealers threatening a rival community full of African Americans. It’s a great moment in a great season of television.
This episode features something similar, only this time it’s played for laughs as Emma Stone and Jonah Hill run around shooting guys that come across more like video game NPCs than genuine threats. I loved every second of it.
Yes, Owen and Annie are back in a shared dream, but the important thing right now is Greta Mantleray is trying to explain to her son James why he and his partner Azumi need to shut down GRTA immediately. GRTA is grieving and won’t let the test subjects out of their shared dream. James refuses to believe that. He’s got some mommy issues, he tells her off…and promptly goes blind from the stress. Now, Greta is a pop psychologist and James is a doofy biochemist working with an advanced AI, and neither of the Mantlerays seem all that reliable to begin with. So, who’s right?
Greta is. GRTA locks down the room, even electrocuting an orderly who tries to use an override switch to wake up the test subjects. It looks like things are doomed.
See, this time around, Owen is Snorri, an Icelandic diplomat with what even he considers a questionable accent mourning the death of a friendly alien his actions accidentally electrocuted. That alien’s family is coming for revenge against the human race when Annie’s unnamed CIA killer comes to rescue him with her own questionable accent. That leads to the shoot-out mentioned above and…then something happens.
Grimmson appears to both of them. He was already there, but now he’s himself, and Owen snaps out of his dream to become himself.
And with a little talk, he gets Annie out of her own dream. Sure, both are still in the hallucination, but they also both know more or less what’s going on and what they have to do now.
See, Owen is used to not believing what’s going on around him, so he and Grimmson set of to solve the game-like puzzle below. Annie, meanwhile, heads off to get some personal closure over the death of her sister Ellie and holy crap, how did I not realize until now both Owen and Annie had sibling issues?
See, what is Grimmson but an idealized brother for Owen, the one he wishes he had instead of Jed, the one he actually has?
And what has been Annie’s problems aside from not knowing how to process what happened to Ellie?
That actually makes Owen the best choice to get through GRTA’s in-dream puzzles (solving a monochrome Rubik’s Cube) while Annie is best to confront GRTA in human form over how to deal with pain and grief in a health(ier) way. Owen gets closure that allows Grimmson to go away, possibly forever, and Annie gets to say the things to Ellie she never got a chance to. Plus, GRTA knows how to deal with grief in a more human manner.
And that means everyone can wake up and face the no-doubt dire consequences for this entire mess of a drug experiment.