Netflix’s Maniac season 1 finale recap: ‘Option C’


It’s been a long, strange trip but we’ve finally made it to the last episode of Maniac.

After the computer almost destroyed everything in episode 9, she finally let everyone go and Annie and Owen woke up from the final round of the drug trial. Before that happened, though, Annie had finally said goodbye to her sister and Owen had finally fulfilled the mission Grimsson had given him to save everyone by solving a Rubik’s Cube.

As Maniac‘s tenth episode, “Option C,” begins, all the participants wake up. They’re sweaty and exhausted but alive. As they walk out of the testing room one by one, Dr. Mantleray congratulates them and Greta thanks them for coming.

Later, Dr. Fujita and Dr. Mantleray go to see their boss — the voice on the TV Dr. Fujita talked to after Dr. Muramoto died in episode 3. Greta is with them.

The voice calls them idiots. Greta hits back — the voice can speak to Dr. Fujita and Dr. Mantleray that way but not her. After all, she’s globally recognized.

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The voice ignores her and tells Dr. Fujita and Dr. Mantleray that its technicians cannot locate the consciousness they created. Maybe it slipped away. Dr. Fujita sadly corrects him — she no longer exists.

The voice says that Dr. Muramoto’s family is planning to sue. Greta tells him she’s planning to do the same. They stole her mind for profit. The voice is encouraging about her plans.

Greta advises the voice to never let her son practice in the industry again, both for his sake and all of humanity. Dr. Mantleray looks bereft but the voice assures Greta he won’t.

The voice asks Dr. Mantleray if he has anything to say for himself but he claims he’s said all he needs to. Greta gets up to go and confronts Dr. Mantleray. Dr. Mantleray tells her they could share a very brief lunch together sometime. But Greta informs him she’s leaving the country for a 47-city book tour on all seven continents. They won’t see each other again for quite a while. Dr. Mantleray wishes her farewell and Greta leaves.

Meanwhile, the participants are being discharged. Annie refuses her check from Patricia, the woman she blackmailed to get into the trial in episode 2. She also apologizes and assures Patricia she’d never hurt her daughter.

Patricia tells Annie she hopes it was worth it. She hands out the other checks while reminding the participants to remember their NDA.

Once they’re outside, Owen finds Annie. Owen tells her he’s not going to make more of the situation than it was. He won’t follow her around in real life. Annie’s confused, she didn’t think he was going to. Owen confesses he has a problem with doing that. Annie shrugs.

Owen says good-bye, and Annie does the same. Owen hails a taxi and leaves her.

In the elevator, as they’re leaving Neberdine Pharmaceuticals, Dr. Mantleray apologizes to Dr. Fujita. Dr. Fujita tells him bringing him back for the last trial was the only choice. She believes things would have failed no matter what.

Besides, Dr. Fujita was the one who created an intolerable situation for the computer. Dr. Mantleray tells her that her work with the computer was remarkable. Maybe the computer was the real project.

Dr. Mantleray tells Dr. Fujita he’s beginning to believe it was her and not his mother who was responsible for his hysterical blindness in the previous episode.

During the incident he had a vision where the two of them were at sea, she was his first mate and life partner, and they were on a journey to the lost city of Atlantis. Dr. Fujita seems disappointed for a moment — she doesn’t like boats. They passionately make-out and Dr. Fujita offers to give Dr. Mantleray a lift somewhere.

They walk to her car, a Mercedes with flames painted on it.

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At the same time, Annie walks home in the rain and Owen returns to his apartment.

The next day, Owen’s mother meets him at the park bench in front of the Statue of Extra Liberty where he sat in the first episode. He thought the whole family was coming but his mother says it’s just her.

Owen observes she’s worried he’ll ruin Jed’s trial. But he assures her he won’t. His mother says she thinks Owen’ll tell the truth and help Jed and it makes her proud.

She then asks if anyone has tried to get him to change his story about Jed. She’s heard women who make false accusations against the wealthy will sometimes hire people to manipulate and confuse witnesses. Owen denies that’s happened.

Later, Owen’s in trial prep. A settlement comes in but his father refuses to take it. Jed made a mistake and any settlement will stain the family name. Owen’s father leaves the room in disgust.

Jed is left alone with Owen. He begs Owen to help him. He cries as he confesses he’s a horrible person and he’s worried his fiancée will leave him. He informs Owen that his tears are real. Then he tells Owen he’s either part of the family or not

The next day Owen is on the witness stand at the trial. His exchange with Jed’s lawyer goes well but then the prosecutor questions him. She has footage from the security cameras where Jed works of him doing exactly what he’s been accused of.

She then asks if Owen is schizophrenic and if he ever thinks he’s seeing Jed when he’s not really there. Owen says he doesn’t see Jed when he’s not there anymore. When the prosecutor asks if Owen has trouble knowing the difference between fantasy and reality, Owen agrees he does sometimes.

At that point, Jed’s lawyer tries to object but Owen says he wants to submit his testimony. The prosecutor asks if the person in the video looks like Jed. Owen denies it looks like him. The defense and Owen’s family are elated. Then Owen continues. He says the person is Jed.

The prosecutor asks for clarification. Owen tells her he lied and Jed’s guilty. Jed screams at Owen that he’s going to kill him as he’s dragged away.

Meanwhile, Annie goes to her father’s house. She approaches the isolation pod in the yard that her father occupied in the second episode. Annie addresses the pod.

She tells her father that it’s not okay for her to be on her own anymore. Yes, her mother leaving broke his heart and then his daughter died. It’s okay he had to go into the pod but Annie won’t accept it anymore. He needs to be out there with her.

When she’s done with her speech, her father surprises her by opening a window from inside the house and answering her from there.

Annie has tea with her father. After she’s told him about the drug trial, her father tells her she seems good. Annie says she doesn’t feel good.

Then he asks how Ellie seemed. Annie tells him none of it was real, Annie just made up a version of Ellie. Her father agrees it might be that way, but who knows. He asks how Ellie seemed again. Annie says Ellie seemed like herself.

Annie tells her father she feels confused. Owen listened to all her stories but in their fantasies, she kept giving him reasons not to trust her. He kept trying to help her anyway. Her father observes Owen acted like a friend.

Meanwhile, Owen’s been committed to a psychiatric facility and is meeting with his therapist. The therapist asks why Owen never tried to talk to Annie again. Owen says it’s because he had two options: and neither would end well: She either doesn’t really exist or something even worse.

Elsewhere, Annie is trying to figure out how to re-connect with Owen. She hires a FriendProxy as Patricia did in episode 2 so she can practices what she wants to say to him: That she was wrapped up in her own stuff but should’ve said he cared about him and that she wants him in her life. Connecting with someone is hard and when you do you can’t run away.

The FriendProxy does a terrible imitation of Owen, however, and when the interaction takes a turn for the ridiculous, she goes to her car to leave.

She notices a newspaper on the front seat. It’s a headline about how Owen’s family had him committed. Annie believes it’s a sign. She gets in the truck and drives away.

Annie goes to the institution where Owen’s being held. She signs in as Linda, the Long Island wife from her fantasy in episode 4. She enters the facility and finds Owen. He’s sitting alone and she sits next to him.

She asks what he’s doing. He moves away from her and she follows. He tells her his family had him committed. Annie says she knows but what’s he doing in there, it’s not even a state-run facility. Owen says he’s crazy and then walks away again.

Annie follows. She tells him he’s not crazy, just kind of crazy. Owen says he threatened some powerful people. He sent anthrax to the governor. Annie tells him his brother did that.

Owen says he had a BLIP. Annie says maybe he was diagnosed. maybe he needs to be medicated, but the current situation doesn’t work for her and she doesn’t think it works for him either.

Owen tells her his mind doesn’t work right. But Annie counters that no ones does. Annie tells him she’s going to go to a nearby bathroom and 30 seconds later he should follow her.

Owen won’t do it. He’s afraid because the same thing happens every time he meets and gets close to someone — he messes it up. One day he’ll get frustrated and yell at her about something insignificant.  And then she’ll stop calling back and she’ll change her number and it’ll break his heart. It’s easier if she’s not real.

Annie informs him that she is real. Owen knows her and he’s braver than that. Besides she’d never do that to him.

He finally agrees to her plan and she makes her way to the bathroom. Owen follows as planned. He locks the door to the bathroom and Annie gives him a cover story and a change of clothes.

Owen hesitates. Then he asks her why she’s there. Annie informs him that she’s his friend and that’s what friends do. He changes.

They narrowly make it out of the facility and to Annie’s truck. A dog is waiting there. Annie introduces him as Harpo, a rescue. Annie takes deep breaths as she starts the car. She then asks Owen to go to Salt Lake City with her. He agrees as the guards at the facility run after them and they drive away.

It’s the fantasy Owen confessed to Annie in episode 6 come true: They’re going somewhere together and they’re being chased but Owen has a huge smile on his face and he’s laughing, because he and Annie are looking out for each other.

As the credits roll, Dr. Mantleray is driving with Dr. Fujita and describing a theory to her. They pass Annie and Owen on the road.

Owen asks how far it is to Salt Lake City. Annie tells him it’s far. Owen asks if they really know each other. Annie tells them they’re off to a good start.

Meanwhile, one of the robots that clean up dog poop from the sidewalk (which we saw in episode 1) drives down the road after Annie and Owen. A hawk is perched on top of it and a dog walks after it.

Maniac: A Final Assessment

Well, ultimately, Maniac was about friendship and finding people you can really rely on — and letting go of your trauma so that can happen. There were no real maniacs on the show, just a bunch of deeply troubled people who reasonably needed help.

The show was well acted, with Emma Stone, Justin Theroux, and Sally Field giving especially impressive performances. The episodes were by turns hilarious, moving, and thought-provoking. And the narrative conceit of the characters’ different fantasies enabled the show to touch on many genres at once while not losing itself along the way.

Maniac is a heady experience that rewards close and repeat viewing. With all the call-backs, Easter Eggs and subtleties buried throughout, the show is layered and complex. But unlike shows like Westworld, where putting the narrative puzzle pieces together is often the main point of the story structure, the layers in this show reflect the layers of the human mind itself.

Maniac is meant to be a limited series, so it’s unlikely to be back for season 2. However, it’d be interesting to see if Annie and Owen make it to Salt Lake City and what they do when they get there.

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All in all, Maniac was a rewarding, well-constructed series that’s worth at least one viewing, if not more.

If you want to dive into Maniac again, you can review all our recaps, starting with the first episode, or you can stream the series’ ten episodes on Netflix.

Share your thoughts on Maniac and what it all means in the comments!