Mary Kills People – The River Styx

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All those who saw the first episode of Mary Kills People and had hastily classified the series as being too light hearted with humour when the subject matter involves euthanasia, assisted suicide and death, possibly had to revise and expand their judgment by the end of this second episode.

If there was an entertainment program capable of dealing with such delicate subjects, with tact, respect and awareness, without giving up the ability to smile, that program is definitely Mary Kills People.

The River Styx gives us 45 minutes of involvement without pause but with emotions and thoughts, laughters and poignancy telling, as intended, of death and of life with a multifaceted approach, so “real”, to make the story and all the characters, each one in its own way, incredibly close to the audience.


The sweet Nora, the desperate Yvonne, and the fake Joel, allow us to learn more about Mary and about Des too, helping us to understand a lot of their reasons, telling with three different voices, how life and death speak between the banks of the River Styx, of happiness and sorrow, hope and resignation, illusion and disappointment.

Death should always be like Nora’s. Maybe even life, serene and aware.

In the silence of the beach in the early morning and with the sound of lapping waves, we join Mary, feeling self admiration and satisfaction from knowing she did the right thing in helping Nora to have a respectable end, the fair one for her exciting life.

Mary has no hidden goals, we know it now.  Yes, her life is much more messy than Nora’s, the everyday nature of her getting out of her extremely demanding family life, combined with such a arduous and multifaceted job…
Mary juggles brilliantly between the wheels of her carousel so long as Joel does not fit into her life.


Joel is desperate but cannot die.
Joel wants help that Mary does not want to give him.
Joel, who Mary can’t say no to.
Joel … Joel who cannot lie.

So cold, ruthless, defiant in his determination to bring Mary down, so relentlessly sincere in not knowing how to hide his true intentions.
As though a remote bit of his conscience, lost somewhere in the unconscious, bewitched by Mary more than Mary by him, had not screamed the danger, hoping to startle Mary, to warn, to avoid her making the fatal mistake.

“Tell me how you’re gonna do it.”
“What do you mean?”
“How you’re gonna kill me”


A sentence, five words and it is clear to everyone, Mary first, that Joel is not dying.
Mary’s activities give her the chance to interact with subjects who approach their end in a truly different way one from another.
The fear of Troy, the serenity of Nora, the desperate desire of Yvonne and Charlie.
No one animated by the wish to put an end to suffering, would dare to talk to Mary in terms of killing.
Joel gives himself away with a naive mistake.  The poignant and convincing performance that he played right in front of Mary trying to rush times.
He had just gazed at her through his lost puppy eyes, hands in hands a moment earlier, then Mary suddenly has to deal with the burning sensation of disappointment mixed with fear, fed by a presence of mind she never knew to have.


Her reaction at Joel’s place, first, and outside her house at the end of the episode, wins the hearts and gives credit to the empathy that the actors love to share with their audience.
Too easily Joel thinks he has got Mary, to have understood her, probably because he does not know what Des knows. Yet Mary did give him some clues such as telling him there was no mom or dad to help her.

At Yvonne and Charlie’s, whose sorrow, not only moves us with tones real and poignant, but also has credit of unveiling Des’ vibrant vulnerability, impossible to confidently hide behind the humor.  At their home Yvonne and Charlie, along with Mary, deal with an experience opposite of Nora’s, not less necessary, indeed.
Yvonne’s resolution in wanting to choose her end, tells of a pain that becomes strength, becomes dignity, enriching positive awareness to Mary’s and Des’ work, no less than Nora’s reassuringly did in the morning.

That pain that becomes strength is of Mary too, we find out when, at Des’ place, she reminds him why there is so much sensitivity (I know what it feels to be him, except, in my case, there was no one there willing to help ).
It is the same pain that gives her the skill to react to Joel’s threat.

He lied.
He mistified.
He broke a spell that an emotional impact created.


There is no compassion in Mary when she faces Joel outside her place. There is no longer even fear.  The instinct that had put her on the run from the apartment of Joel, now called Ben, that same instinct suggests to play the game with her inescapable truth because Ben’s certainties are far from being certain, his bravado cracked by her wrenching sincerity.
Bewitched by something he does not consciously understand but which cannot escape, Ben, in the middle of the road after Mary fiercely has gone, looks like a liar who has not been able to lie, a warrior who thought he’d won and he was conquered.

This is not an accident, probably, the title’s reference to the Styx, the flow of serenity and despair, frailty and strength, deception and truth.
Nothing is white and nothing is black, no good and no bad.

Those who seemed superficial, detect sensitivity instead.

Those bold and determined are revealed vulnerable.

Those who were thought to be at mercy of events, manage to take the helm of life, maybe painfully but without being carried away by the current.


Edited by Lisa

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