Netflix’s After Life season 1, episode 3 recap


Episode 3 of Netflix series After Life examines the issues of healing crystals, faith, miraculous stains, common ground and what people do for addiction.

After Life has seen Tony Johnson (Ricky Gervais) grapple with the loss of his wife Lisa (Kerry Godliman) to cancer. Although Tony didn’t successfully commit suicide, he’s seen the world through the prism of his depression. It makes his tedious job at a newspaper even less satisfying, but his dead-pan observations nevertheless hit people hard. This episode begins with Tony and Lenny (Tony Way) interviewing a man (Alexander Kirk) about a pipe leak that left a stain looking like actor Kenneth Branagh. It’s a twist on a real phenomenon where people claim to see Jesus, Mary or other religious figures on stains, potato chips or slices of toast.

While discussing this less-than-miraculous story, the man (credited as “Stain Man” on IMDb) mentions that some kids on a moped had beat his wife with a hammer, grabbing her handbag and driving away. Obviously, that would be the real story, but Tony’s newspaper is so lackluster and tabloid-esque that nobody would even think of using it to address serious topics. On the bright side, it gives Tony a moment to mention Kenneth Branagh’s vague, beige face, and to compare Lenny’s appearance to Shrek (Mike Myers).

Roxy the sex worker

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Shortly after this “story,” After Life glimpses further into the world of drug dealer Julian (Tim Plester), who had previously robbed Tony while he was incapacitated by drugs. Now Tony encounters him with the sex worker Roxy (Roisin Conaty). Tony also learns that Julian lives in a garage and that Julian also had lost his partner. When Roxy tells Tony she’ll “do anything for 50 quid,” he takes her up on the offer, but in an unexpected way. He has her fix his garbage disposal. The joke’s on him, though, as a real specialist would have charged a cheaper rate. Anyway, it’s a chance for Tony to learn that her real name is Daphne, and they discuss Julian. Ultimately, Tony suggests that everything’s an addiction nowadays.

The nurse and the psychiatrist

Next in After Life, Tony visits his dad, Ray Johnson (David Bradley). After reminding him yet again that his wife is dead, Tony gets exasperated. It leads him to argue with nurse Emma (Ashley Jensen), who’s had enough of Tony’s bitter, angry and depressed attitude. Soon after this, Tony meets with Anne (Penelope Wilton) in the cemetery. She urges Tony to apologize to Emma for arguing, whether he was wrong or not. Tony seems to reject the idea, with his hard-boiled attitude of being unapologetic to an unapologetic world. If that’s not enough, his psychiatrist (Paul Kaye)
simply tells him “just stop feeling sad.”

Many who have been depressed can surely relate to Tony, who has trouble adjusting to the simpler attitudes of the non-depressed. Can depression be turned on and off like a light switch? Probably not in every case, or no one would stay depressed. Still, there may be something to what these people are suggesting. It may actually partly be Tony’s personality getting in the way, or his forced perspective on things, which makes him comfortable with his own jaded edge. Plus, these others are ultimately trying to help, which has some merit of its own.

Zeus and the healing powers of crystals

Back at the Tambury Gazette office, attention-seeker Brian (David Earl) shows up, desperate to get into the paper’s pages. He first shows them a gross old tooth, which he claims to have belonged to Freddy Mercury (and which was found in the local park by the swings!). He tries a number of other gimmicks to get an article, but they don’t want to hear it. Then, if he wasn’t insufferable enough for Tony, Kath (Diane Morgan) offers up a story angle: The healing power of crystals.

Tony instantly tramples on the idea, leading to a discussion on faith in general. She asks him about God, prompting Tony to ask her which one she means. Why not Zeus, for example? Kath maintains that life and the universe “can’t all be here from chance,” which makes Tony ask where God comes from then. It’s a debate believers and non-believers have had for quite some time. After Life sees Tony take a break from the office, where he heads to the beach to play with his dog Brandy (Anti). At first, it seems Tony might drown himself, but Brandy starts barking, alarmed by what her human is doing. In other words, Brandy may have saved his life yet again.

The comedian

At the behest of Matt (Tom Basden), Tony’s brother-in-law and boss, the Gazette’s employees head out to see a comedian (Sean McLoughlin). After the comic jokes about his friend committing suicide, Tony is noticeably not laughing. This prompts the stand-up to ask about him, and Tony explains that his wife’s death from breast cancer broke him. having no useful rejoinder, the man skips over these comments, going on to talk about umbrellas.

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Later, in the car ride home, Matt tells Tony that he’s tired of worrying about him, and that, in so many words, he wants to be able to worry about his own problems. This, of course, risks sending Tony on a shame spiral for feeling like his grief’s a burden on others. When Tony gets home, he meets with Julian again, who tells Tony he bought a present. It may be with money he stole from Tony earlier, but isn’t it the thought that counts? In any case, Tony comes to see he has things in common with Julian, and it may be a small catalyst for change.

What are your thoughts on After Life? Let us know in the comments!