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Normal People: Episode 3

"I don’t think it’s a bad thing that you’re feeling bad about this.”

Oh, Connell... You idiot.

This episode saw Marianne experiencing the worst and Connell at his worst. It was a jarring shift considering they were having tender sex for the first time last episode.

Marianne is a very endearing character. No matter how many teachers she insults, you always feel for her and want her to be happy. Her family once again were awful to her. And while what we learned about her father does shed some light on why they act that way, it doesn’t excuse the way they treat her.

She went through a lot this episode. From getting assaulted at the bar, to being told by a partner “I love you” for the first time, to said partner then nonchalantly admitting to her face that he’d asked someone else out. She seemed poised as well to be pretty happy at the start, comfortably socializing with someone who wasn’t Connell for a change. The fact that she calls Connell a nice person even after he does the bare minimum to console her shows what an eschewed view she has of her self-worth. Marianne’s been so deprived of affection that she clings on to anyone who shows her any kind of kindness. Case in point her thanking Karen by saying “Thanks for being so kind.”

I felt proud of Marianne for standing up for herself instead of once again allowing Connell to keep her as his secret rendezvous girlfriend for much longer. She even showed up to school again in radiant yellow, very done with her school uniform, and probably very done with how she’s been treated for the past few weeks. Or months? We don’t really know how much time’s passed since Episode 1.

It was pretty hard feeling sympathetic for Connell this episode. We can see he has deep-seated anxiety that affects him so much he doubles down on things he probably knows are wrong out of fear of being humiliated. But like with Marianne’s mother and brother, a dark past or mental health issues don’t justify mistreating others, especially someone as innocent in all this as Marianne. What’s probably even more frustrating is that we can tell he genuinely does care for her but can’t bring himself to say this.

I quite liked that Connell’s friends got a little more fleshed out in this episode. Karen especially was lovely. I don’t really know how or why she suddenly warmed up to Marianne, but it was nice seeing one of the group finally being friendly toward her. Karen even pointed out how Connell was watching Marianne dance even though she most likely knew Rachel fancied him.

I almost warmed up to Eric as well with him having a more mature conversation to Connell about Marianne. That is before he started talking about “riding her.” I think that if Connell had just been more open, Eric would have understood and maybe even been partly supportive.

But the MVP award hands down goes to Lorraine. What a kickass mom she is. She had five scenes in this episode and in all of them, she basically said what we the audience wanted to say. She held in her laughter at Connell the morning after, she gave Marianne the hug she desperately needed, and most importantly she dragged Connell through the dirt (metaphorically). I loved how her berating Connell for what he did showed how much she cares for both him and Marianne. Lorraine is probably the only one who really talks to Marianne at the Sheridan house, so it’s understandable that she’d feel protective of her. At the same time, she’s confident enough in her relationship with Connell to wholeheartedly scold him but have him know this is for his own good. And despite all this, she was still there for him in the end. No drawn-out mother and son drama on top of what we already have with Marianne. How lovely. More Lorraine, please.

Bits and pieces:

- Rachel is basically Regina George. She even has two other friends to round out the Mean Girls trio. At least this Karen is nice. :)

- Unlike Marianne, Rachel’s father didn’t see much merit in studying English. He immediately assumed Connell would go to teaching. As someone who studied Fine Arts, I get this a lot.

- Nope, I don’t consider Connell telling Rachel to “fuck off” as supporting Marianne. Especially since he asked Rachel to the debs the next day.

- Connell watching Marianne dance was supposed to be romantic and sexy. In a recent Instagram Live, Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal called his behavior a little creepy, and I kind of agree. Just fracking ask her to dance, Connell!

- For those who are unaware, the “debs” comes from “debutante” and is equivalent to senior prom in Ireland.

- Is it common for high school students in Ireland to drink that much during a school event? Either the school really isn’t that strict, or everyone attending the debs just happened to be eighteen.

- Paul Mescal has a very convincing disgruntled woken-up face.

- In this edition of Chainwatch 2020, we see the chain in one scene, which was probably the first scene we've seen of them together in bed that wasn't preceded by sex. It was a lovely scene, all things considered.

- I’ll probably say this every episode, but gold acting stars all around. Even to the supporting cast.


Marianne: “You’re a nice person. Do you know how weird that is?”

Connell: “But it wouldn’t be the kind of thing where, like, feelings would be involved.”
Marianne: “And what about with me? Would you say your feelings are involved?”
Connell: “Obviously.”
Marianne: “Who is it obvious to?”

Lorraine: “I won’t be gossiping about your sex life, Connell. You have no worries there.”

Lorraine: “And you don’t think maybe you should have asked her? Seeing as how you fuck her every day after school.”

Lorraine: “My son tells me you’re ignoring his messages.”
Marianne: “Well, I am, I suppose.”
Lorraine: “Good for you. He doesn’t deserve you.”

Connell: “I’m just calling to say that I miss you. See, I can’t really talk to anybody the way that I talk to you or anything like that.”

So here's where the drama really starts. Lots of interesting conflict going around with stellar performances. 4 out of 5 unhappy high school proms.

Mara Fabella is a visual artist, writer, retired martial artist, yoga practitioner, booper of cat noses, and lifelong lover of mint chocolate chip ice cream.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, do I don't miss high school. It was so sad but somewhat predictable that Connell would find it so hard to drop his comfortable clique of friends for Marianne. At least he realized in the end what he had done.

    And wow, does he have a terrific mom.


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