Life Sentence Season 1 Episode 3 Review: Clinical Trial and Error

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It would seem to be that Life Sentence will continue to exist on that weird plain of melodrama meets relationship comedy.

On Life Sentence Season 1 Episode 3, there is no in-between with everything awash with eye-popping vibrancy and interior decor that's perfectly assembled to created immediate loft envy. 

Even the most impossible characters and their most impossible traits are somewhat lovable. From Aiden's inability to grow up or Paul's obsession with his old love or even Stella's naive self-righteous nature, through all their fumbling they're immensely likable characters. 

Stella Gives Advice - Life Sentence

Which is what makes this episode hit such a momentary misstep as it sets up a potential romance with a new character who rings immediately false.

The framework is successful, as it allows characters to splinter off into twosomes rather than having one character run around and touch base with each family member and/or friend to remind the audience who's who. 

Two of the three pairings are largely successful, due to either buildup of the prior two or because of unexpected chemistry and nuances. 

Related: Black Lighting Season 1 Episode 9 Review: The Book of Little Black Lies 

Aiden and Paul are the most obvious of the three and their relationship continues to resolve itself before everything is thrown into a blender at the start of each episode. They can't stand one another. Paul let Aiden down as a kid and now, in turn, Aiden lets Paul down as an adult.

However, by the end of each hour, they once again come to some sort of stalemate where they're in one another's corners. 

I don't know who raised you but I hate them.


It's hard not to adore Aiden, no matter how much of an obvious pain he is. He's also the character we've seen the most of across the televised landscape. He's the messed up man-child with a heart of gold and while we shouldn't be so susceptible to such an obvious trope, Jayson Blair is obnoxiously charismatic.

He conveys a lot with the with little snippets of insight we're granted from him. 

He also, oddly enough, still gets to play big brother to Stella, giving her words of wisdom when she needs it the most, remaining her rock through trying times. 

Now the twist that the woman Paul slept with is someone Aidan knows? Now that's something that's going to need a neat resolution so that the gross factor isn't too raised. Regardless, the development between father and so was well earned, especially as we watched them endure cabin fever together. 

Related: Riverdale Season 2 Episode 16 Review: Chapter Twenty-Nine: Primary Colors

He literally watched paint dry and commented on it.


Wes and Ida also unexpectedly get a chance to bond as they watch over Elizabeth and Felix's kids. When one of them gets sick Wes calls for Ida and she rushes over. At first, she's calm and collected but in the next moment is freaking out over a slightly elevated fever. 

It doesn't take long to realize that this isn't at all about the fever and more projected trauma regarding Stella's illness. The scars of a sick child are alive and rampant in IDa and Paul and the further they explore these minor tragedies they had to live with day in and day out, the more interesting they become. 

Dad, I'm going to be your wingman tonight.


Similarly to the slight survivor's guilt Stella feels after learning she was the sole survivor of the clinical trial she was under, Ida feels a similar guilt, believe she didn't come to her daughter's aid soon enough. 

It's strong characterization and it also allows Ida and Wes to get to know one another, further cementing Wes into the Abbott clan as he finds himself enamored with such a close-knit family having come from one so entirely closed off from warmth or emotion. 

It's hard to be as thrilled with the Dr. Grant and Stella pairing.

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Stella continuing to be a mentor to Sadie is fascinating, even if it's hard not to believe it will all end in tragedy, and their dynamic is even more poignant when Stella takes on the fight every fight like it's the last one attitude that her parents adopted for her. But with it brings along Dr. Grant who, I suppose, is fine. 

Stella: They went through hell, huh?
Aiden: They did. But you're worth it.

Just fine. 

I'm not jazzed at the idea that the showrunners are potentially setting up some form of will they won't they back and forth, especially with how unabashedly flirtatious Dr. Grant was at the end.

Too infrequently do shows allow their happy couples to thrive without some sort of romantic dalliance or loss of trust but here, with all of the drama that surrounds both characters, that extra will they/won't they pull is unnecessary. There's enough drama already!

But it's happening, and Dr. Grant has already been given as much backstory as Wes. 

What's intriguing about this aspect of the story is that this might be the first time Stella has ever experienced something like this -- an unrequited longing, a fruitless crush, sexual tension between someone she only just met.

Stella and Wes were always meant to be on the pages of love stories. She missed out on the fun that comes with simply flirting and feeling that attraction. 

If this is where it stays, it will be justified. Until then, we'll just have to wait and see. 

Regardless, it's finer moments were engaging as we continue to unravel these characters to see the bruised humans they lay underneath a shiny and wholesome visage. Where do you hope their stories take them next? Remember you can always watch Life Sentence online

Clinical Trial and Error Review

Editor Rating: 3.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.0 / 5.0 (3 Votes)

Allyson Johnson was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She retired in May 2018. Follow her on Twitter.

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