The Essex Serpent Season 1 Episode 3 Review: Falling

Cora’s investigation makes absolutely no headway, but at least she’s getting to spend more time with Dr. Luke!

The Essex Serpent Season 1 Episode 3 bored us to death, and we are thankful that this is a six-episode miniseries.

Claire Danes, Tom Hiddleston, and the entire ensemble try to hold our attention, but the script falls completely flat.

We were teased with a bit of horror at the end of last week, but the horror elements were again shoved into the background.

Like The Essex Serpent Season 1 Episode 2, this episode shined brightest when it embraced its intensity.

Sadly, only one tense moment, with other failed efforts spread out throughout the 45 minutes.

The Vicar’s daughter, Jo, got incredibly traumatized after the event at the school and refused to speak for an entire weekend.

Cora thought she’d bring in Dr. Luke to help.

Dr. Luke Walking - The Essex Serpent Season 1 Episode 3

Dr. Luke again wanted to use a form of experimental medicine: Hypnosis.

Hypnosis is still something that many people consider “experimental medicine,” but it was something seldom heard of in the 19th Century.

As Dr. Luke got Jo to speak again through hypnosis, the Vicar burst through the door and witnessed the act (which doesn’t look entirely innocent in fairness to the Vicar).

He attacked Dr. Luke, claiming that he was hurting his daughter.

Jo protested (out loud, so it worked), and he calmed down as Cora, and Dr. Luke abruptly left the Vicar’s house.

Cora's Son - The Essex Serpent Season 1 Episode 3

The highlight of this hour once again ended up being Dixie Egerickz’s Jo.

Even without speaking throughout most of the episode, she conveyed the fear and emotion we would expect so brilliantly.

Egerickz isn’t the only young performer impressing us; Lily-Rose Aslandogdu also shines.

She’s been outcasted from her class and by the town and seems to be one of the few who believe in the myth.

Her haunting gazes and strange behavior have not gone unnoticed, and we appreciate her presence when she’s on-screen.

The last saving grace for the show comes from the cinematography.

The Essex countryside proves to be a major standout and feels like a character in and of itself.

While Cora cannot stop talking about the mystery of the serpent itself, she doesn’t seem to be making much headway.

Little to nothing got revealed during the segment, and we are getting tired of her going erratic.

The more Cora starts getting manic, so does the show’s trajectory (and, sadly, Danes’ acting).

The Vicar Concerned - The Essex Serpent Season 1 Episode 3

Things become too theoretical with nothing happening to back up all Cora’s theories.

We often don’t like to dip into cliches, but The Essex Serpent needs to follow the “Show, don’t tell” motto.

We get told a lot about people’s feelings and fears, but none of it comes to fruition (outside of a LOT of yelling, specifically at Cora).

The last few minutes of the third entry also prepare us for a significant plot development: the romance between Cora and Will, The Vicar.

This romance is not something that we WANT, as the Vicar has a wife and is, well, a Vicar.

Stella and Jo - The Essex Serpent Season 1 Episode 3

But as the investigation “develops” (we use that word sarcastically), so does their romance.

A lot of The Essex Serpent gets presented as useless rhetoric, trying (and failing) to convince us that this story is worth our time.

Through all of that muddled rhetoric and convincing; however, it forgets to tell us a story.

We don’t know what’s happening in Cora’s mind (other than that she got mad at the Vicar for striking at Luke), what the serpent is if it’s even real, or what genre this wants to be.

As we’ve said, leaning into its science-fiction, fantasy, and horror elements serves the series well, but those elements are far and few between.

We also expected that the performances from the leads would stun us: but they’ve been pretty lackluster (but this could be from the poor writing).

The story is messy, and so are the characters, and sometimes, messy storylines are great (this is not one of those times).

The miniseries needs more direction, more of a reason for being.

There is no ending in sight, and with only three episodes remaining (and with the current abysmal pacing), we wonder if the show will wrap up satisfyingly.

Typically, any chance to see Tom Hiddleston is usually quite welcome, but sadly, it’s just not worth it.

Will Talking With Cora - The Essex Serpent Season 1 Episode 3

Of course, our interest in the novel got initially piqued, but we now are wary of starting it.

Unlike Pachinko, we feel that The Essex Serpent is driving us away from diving into the novel instead of towards it.

The lack of structure and quality does not bode well for the TV Fanatic that also dabbles as a bibliophile.

We want to enjoy The Essex Serpent, but we often are grateful for its six-episode run.

Hopefully, the final three airings will provide us with some better storytelling and a satisfying ending.

Cora Unable to Sleep - The Essex Serpent Season 1 Episode 3

So Fanatics, what did you think of the episode?

Are you as disappointed and bored as we are? Let us know in the comments below!

The Essex Serpent is a miniseries that airs on Apple TV+ on Fridays.

Michael Stack is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

You may also like...