'Normal People' Episodes 2 and 3 intimately explore Marianne-Connell relationship, stay true to the book
While Connell Waldron (Paul Mescal) and Marianne Sheridan (Daisy Edgar-Jones) share their first kiss in the first episode of 'Normal People' — Hulu's and BBC's joint adaptation of Sally Rooney's eponymous acclaimed novel — it isn't until the second episode that the viewers see them getting intimate.
In the second episode, Marianne and Connell continue their secret tryst — mainly for Connell's sake since he's the popular kid in school and Marianne is largely ridiculed. We see the two young people fall in love as they meet every day after school and sometimes on the weekends.
The episode largely focuses on the growing intimacy between the two characters and you can see why there are reasons to like Connell, in spite of his insistence on keeping their relationship a secret. He is thoughtful and mindful, asking Marianne if she is okay the first time they have sex.
It is, however, in the third episode that we start to see the cracks forming and how that quickly shatters the illusion. Marianne undoubtedly wants more than just to be Connell's after-school girlfriend. She even volunteers to sell raffle tickets for the school dance — perhaps so she could spend more time with Connell and his friends. Maybe she thinks that if his friends warmed up to her, Connell might go public with whatever is going on between them.
It seems to go well initially. Marianne dresses up and goes to the pub. She dances with one of the girls who hang out with Connell and his guy friends. The entire time Marianne is dancing, he cannot seem to take his eyes off of her. In fact, we even think that this might be the moment that he will hold her hand in public, but just as Rachel — most definitely the queen bee of the school — starts mocking Marianne, he hides his hand.
It is when Marianne gets sexually assaulted in front of the group that things really get serious. Connell's friends mostly laugh it off, however, he quiets them and drives Marianne to his house. That night, Marianne talks about her father who would beat up her mother and Connell confesses that he loves her.
From there, it goes downhill. Marianne is perhaps still waiting for Connell to ask her to the dance. However, Connell is getting ridiculed by his friends for standing up for Marianne. This prompts him to ask Rachel to the dance, to get back in his friends' good graces.
When he breaks this news to Marianne, she breaks up with him. His mother finds out and chastises him for what he's done. She even comforts Marriane in her moment of need. Connell is hurting and he feels bad — but it's not that he knows it yet. Mescal's acting in these scenes is a class act as he brings through Connell's frustrations, grief, and confusion.
When he is surrounded by his friends during the dance, he feels alienated. One friend of his tells him that despite Connell taking all the care to hide what was happening between him and Marianne, his friends knew what was going on.
This is when Connell leaves the dance. He tries calling Marianne — who doesn't answer — and leaves her a voice mail. As he slowly breaks into tears, he tells her that he really loves her and that he is sorry.
It's clear that the TV adaptation has taken what made the book so successful, It doesn't shy away from the intimate and sentimental moments between Marianne and Connell. It doesn't shy away from depicting the embarrassing love, the pain of desperation and even the regrets that each of these characters feels. As far as adaptations go, the Hulu/BBC series is doing a wonderful job of it.
All episodes of 'Normal People' are released for streaming on Hulu in the United States on April 29.