As expected, Maniac wasted no time diving headfirst into a bunch of confusing, reality-warping questions. Even though it takes a couple episodes to get the mind-expanding drug trial at the center of the series, we already face questions of reality right away when Owen Milgrim (Jonah Jill) begins talking with an imaginary man named Grimsson (Billy Magnussen). So, just who is Grimsson in Maniac, and how does he play into Owen's story? Let's try to make sense of all of the nonsensical things he says.
Grimsson first shows up almost immediately after we meet Owen. We learn that Owen is the black sheep of his large, wealthy family due to being diagnosed with schizophrenia after a hallucinogenic episode. At the core of his hallucinations is Grimsson, an assertive man who happens to look exactly like his brother Jed — the only difference is a pair of glasses and a mustache. Right away, we see Grimsson refer to Owen as "the chosen one," telling him that he is somehow meant to save the universe. He also loves to repeat the confusing phrase "the pattern is the pattern," which Owen does not seem to understand.
Later, Grimsson pops up again when Owen first sees Annie Landsberg (Emma Stone), urging him to form a bond with her.
Of course, Grimsson is the manifestation of Owen's schizophrenia. We soon find out that Grimsson had also driven Owen to a nasty breakup with a girl he once liked named Olivia. Grimsson had filled Owen's head with delusions that his family was paying Olivia to hang out with him, leading Owen to lash out at her for using him to make money.
It is also important to note that Grimsson is a clone of Owen's brother Jed, with whom he has an incredibly fraught relationship. Whereas Owen is the outcast of his large family, Jed is the golden child, rich, successful, and engaged to a woman named Adelaide (Jemima Kirke), whom Owen appears to have a crush on. It is easy to see that Owen is envious of his brother's life, but even more than that, he is also being forced into falsely testifying on his brother's behalf. At the beginning of the series, it is unclear exactly what crime Jed committed, but we know that he is facing some sort of serious charge, and the whole Milgrim family is pressuring Owen into testifying on Jed's behalf. But from Owen's reluctance, we also know that his statement would probably need to be full of lies to actually protect his brother.
So, clearly, all of this jealousy, distrust, admiration, and anger that Owen has for Jed are all wrapped up in Grimsson, except instead of putting Owen down, Grimsson constantly reaffirms that Owen is some sort of one-of-a-kind superhero on a mission to save mankind.
We all naturally assume that Grimsson is a figment of Owen's schizophrenia since he just seems to pop in and out of existence, but we should also note that in a show like Maniac, it is impossible to unequivocally say what is real and what isn't. So, could Grimsson be real? We will just have to keep watching to find out what is really going on.