We’re diving back into Lisey’s Story, and we’re getting introspective with it. The bulk of Under the Yum-Yum Tree pivots around a deep-dive into Scott’s childhood, as we’re unwelcomingly acquainted with Scott’s father, played by a hauntingly demented Michael Pitt. I actually had no idea this was Pitt initially, but my god is he unsettling – it’s a sensational performance because of how much he gets your heart pounding, making you sweat nervously as his eyes dart back-and-forth, jittering uncontrollably. King knows how to build a scene to a knifepoint of tension and then just let loose, slicing through like a lacerating puppeteer or suspense. This flashback also gives us insight into Scott’s love of treasure hunts, a fixation created from his late brother – it’s a traumatic bridge between childhood and adulthood, keeping him suspended in two different states of being.
States of being seems to be a recurring motif for the show, as Amanda similarly is stuck on a liminal border, Darla even remarking the differing feel of her body as she’s torn between the real world and what we know now is called ‘Boo’Ya Moon’. We’re still far from understanding much about this other-world, but at least we know Lisey’s first interaction with it; curiously, this tied into Scott’s deeply traumatic exchange with her. Pablo Larraín plays a little sonic trick on us whilst they’re under there, it sounds as though the pair are deep underground in a cavern, exploring the unmapped chamber of Scott’s memories. It’s beginning to become more clear that Boo’Ya Moon is intrinsically tied to emotional excess, and possibly even trauma, but it’s difficult to see past that initial discovery. There’s still many questions surrounding this mythical and perhaps malevolent dimension that hopefully we’ll begin to get answers to soon.
There’s a continued tying of the camera to our characters which I particularly love – the drifting aimlessness continuing through Amanda’s house as Lisey searches for the cedar box, the chaotic ragdoll nature as Darla discovers what her sister has done, sending us flying all over the room as she shrieks and wails. It’s a subtle technique but has such a powerful impact on emotionally connecting with the characters – oftentimes emotions are expressed kinetically, and possibly with a volatile movement rather than an explicit sound or face.
Where the episode seems to falter is Jim Dooley. Lisey learns of Dooley’s backstory, but it does feel like we’re already treading familiar ground – we’re fully aware of Dooley’s psychopathic obsession, wouldn’t Lisey assume he’s just another crazed fan? One of the biggest problems is he seemed to be set up for a violent collision with Lisey, but then that’s entirely undermined by him achieving his goal by this episode. If Dooley has the manuscripts, what else does he serve in this series? It feels like his story is complete, and yet we’re only three episodes in. It’s possible that he’s aware Lisey will always stand in his way of publishing the manuscripts, but I fear that this may end up feeling like a far too manufactured collision rather than the natural thematic meeting they appeared to share, Dooley navigating through the past just as Lisey was as well. Hopefully, the next episode will be able to give us some answers and prop Dooley back up as the unsettling antagonist he was introduced as.
Lisey’s Story premieres new episodes ever Friday on Apple TV+.