The Third Day Episode 3 Recap: What Is Up With All The Crickets?

Photo: Courtesy of HBO.

The bright orange crickets Sam (Jude Law) keeps spotting on the mysterious island were the most important clue that what you see can’t always be believed on Osea. The neon bugs on The Third Day look almost radioactive. Fitting then that they are a symbol of the poison that runs deep in this cultish community. Perhaps, that should have been obvious by the first cricket Sam spotted before driving across the throughway. The one that looked so vibrant and otherworldly until he turned it over to reveal it was being consumed from the inside out by tiny black beetles. A metaphor for how appearances can fool you, these creatures require you to dig deeper to find the truth. By the end of episode 3, “Sunday — The Ghost,” those same crickets offered a possible hint of what’s to become of Osea as the seasons change and The Third Day pivots away from Sam’s story

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The final episode of “Summer,” which marks the end of the first part of the two-part six-episode miniseries, finally explains why the island felt so familiar to Sam despite him never having visited it before. It’s in his blood. Sam’s grandfather had told him that he had been stationed in Osea during the war, but he was actually the grandson of the island’s founder, Frederick Nicholas Charrington. The brewery scion established the island as a “sober oasis” that practices Christianity intertwined by Celtic lore. The Celts believed Osea was the “soul of the world” and that the island needs a Father to get it through the dark times. Frederick Nicholas Charrington gladly filled that role. After his death, the roles passed down to his son, but then Charrington’s son’s son, Sam’s granddad, decided the job was not for him. Apparently, he wasn’t down for the ritual sacrifices that keep Osea balanced. 

When Sam’s granddad eventually left the island, it messed up the hierarchy and the current Daddy Charrington (Richard Bremmer), Sam’s grandfather’s brother, isn’t getting the job done. He isn’t getting any younger, but with no son to take over, he can’t technically die, which is why Osea has been plotting to get Sam back for years. “He’s a fucking moron,” Mrs. Martin says of the current Father. “He was never supposed to sit in that role. Ever since he took over, Osea’s decayed.” Most believe Sam is the rightful heir, the “true Father” they need to get them back on the right track. Others, like Larry (John Dagleish), believe he isn’t the answer, but the problem.

So no, Sam finding Epona (Jessie Ross) in the woods wasn’t a coincidence, it was a setup. She offered her life in hopes it would lead Sam to devote the remainder of his to the island. Children are the collateral damage in the plan to get Sam back to Osea. His son’s kidnapping was also a setup masterminded by Mr. Martin (Paddy Considine) to get him back. He tells Sam that the Father wanted to meet with him and tell him everything. Like, everything, which the islanders rightfully assumed might not have gone over well. After all, who responds well to be the heir of a ritualistic cult? So they went with Plan B. They found a man who would kidnap the boy in exchange for a home on the island. “Imagine what that is for those that believe,” Mr. Martin says. “To live in the world’s soul.” 

Children are also the catalyst for the episode's big finale. Jess (Katherine Waterston) turns against Sam because of her children, the young blonde girls we’ve seen hanging out with Charrington, a.k.a The Man In White. They were used as pawns by her husband to keep Jess, who says she also grew up in a place like Osea, in line. She was bullied into gaslighting Sam so that she wouldn’t lose her daughters. There is something sad in seeing her turn the gun back on him, even if it doesn't feel all that thematically surprising.

In the end, Sam also chooses his son is actually alive. It’s information that the rest of the island doesn’t seem privy to. Mrs. Martin reveals as much when she tells Sam body Sam that the body he thought was his son’s was really that of Epona’s brother, another sacrificial lamb to help heal the island’s soul. They apparently had a contingency plan: If Sam wouldn’t come back, his young son could take over one day. 

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Photo: Courtesy of HBO.

The Third Day was always about grief and learning to find closure. When you lose someone, all you want is to get them back. The mourning process is all about learning to live without them. For Sam, it seemed nearly impossible. When we first meet him, he’s performing the bleak yearly ritual of sending his son’s clothes down the river. The same one where his little body was found. Sam later reveals to Jess that he planned to continue doing that until his son’s closet was empty. The hope being he could shed his grief incrementally, piece by piece, instead of all at once. “Grief is bespoke,” he tells Jess an episode earlier. It’s also lonely.

Osea and its people offer Sam the chance to bring his son back from the dead, to be made whole again. Despite it being years since he last saw his son, Sam still sees him as a young child. His son appears to be a memory of who he used to be, not of who he would be now. It makes you wonder if he’s even there at all or if he’s a mirage to keep Sam on the island. Is Sam’s son “The Ghost” in the title? Is this one of Sam’s episodes? Is Jess right, is the belief that his son is still alive as good as fact for Sam? 

The show, which is sometimes trippy — literally, when Sam takes acid — and surreal, doesn’t address those questions in the final moments of the episode. Like Sam, we're asked to take this news of his son as truth, despite all the lies he's been told already. Instead, the episode’s final moments show Charrington take his own life to applause and Sam entering the big house with his son. He’s finally caught up to him after years of searching. He’s now ready to become the true Father who the islanders believe will set things right. 

Earlier in the episode, Jess, who has been the audience’s tour guide throughout “Summer,” tells Sam that many cultures believe crickets are “a sign of rain and flooding.” Specifically, in Brazil it is believed the chirping of crickets is taken as a sign of impending rain and the chirping is constant in this episode. Sam doesn’t understand how anyone believes in these symbols, but Jess does. “It doesn’t matter how. It matters how much,” she says. “For them it’s not belief, it’s immutable fucking fact.”

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The final shot is of the bright orange crickets, who swarm the camera until they are all you can see and hear. It could be a sign that the drought that has plagued the island is finally over and things might get back to normal. Well, whatever normal is in Osea. But, more likely, they are an omen, a “when it rains, it pours” kind of symbol of something worse to come.

Not to rain on the Osea’s parade, but Jess also said many cultures believe crickets are a sign of death. In Brazil, a cricket announces it, which is why the insect is killed if it chirps in a house. To be fair, other cultures, like the Chinese, believe crickets are good luck, a sign of a financial windfall. But there are other foreboding signs in The Third Day beyond those crickets.

Winter is coming in the next three episodes and in literature, the season is a symbol of death and mourning, ending and detachment. So it's hard to believe those swarming crickets don't mark the end of something. Perhaps, it's just the end of a chapter in the story of Osea. But a new one is about to begin and those crickets could mean that Osea’s problems aren’t ending, they’re just beginning, no matter what the islanders believe.

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