by Billie Doux
Daniel Holden had his adulthood, his twenties and thirties, taken away from him. Here, he reconnected with the person he used to be at eighteen, at first exploring Jared's room which used to be his own, then going through his old music and games and his father's things in the attic. And then he went out with Jared and played like a kid, riding a bike. And then he sat in his room playing one of his old video games, and cried.
Daniel doesn't know how to behave like a thirty-seven year old man. He went from being a high school teenager like Jared, to the strange non-existence on Death Row, and now he is back in his mother's house with no job, no friends, no connection to life as it is now. In prison, he read constantly. At home, he's playing Sonic the Hedgehog as well as with feathers and a beanbag chair. Clearly, Daniel is still coping with sensory overload. In the opening scene, the windows in his bare little guest bedroom looked like bars. Daniel was ready to open the windows, but the door was still closed.
Amantha and Jon
Amantha keeps hovering outside of Daniel's closed door, and I'm sure she's not trying to eavesdrop or invade his space. She's just desperate to help him, and she doesn't know how. In this episode, Amantha reconnected with her teen years as well, recalling how bizarre it was to go back to school with Bobby Dean after Hanna died and Daniel had been sentenced to death, and there they were in algebra again, as if it had never happened. Like Daniel, Amantha had her young adulthood hijacked by Hanna's death. And sadly, since Jared is now getting the death threats Amantha used to get, Jared might be losing his own young adulthood as well. I just want to hug all of them. These characters strongly affect me.
While standing in the water and later by the river (this episode's baptismal scene), Amantha told Jon about how the story of Daniel killing Hanna became a local teenage rite of passage. In the new version of the story, Hanna was a virgin, and Daniel "married" her by raping and killing her and covering her body with wildflowers. As a teen herself, Amantha, who had understandably been left out of the river ritual, made her friend Jenny tell her about it. And then Amantha never talked to Jenny again. Very Amantha, to face it head on, and then decide later to avoid it permanently.
Where is George's body? I was expecting Amantha and Jon to stumble over it, not have sex in the car.
Jon's visit to Daniel's original attorney, Rutherford Gaines (Hal Holbrook, a freaking national treasure) didn't seem to clarify much of anything. Gaines talked about how people never really changed, and basically told Jon that Daniel was convicted because the people of Paulie were out for blood. Gaines did everything he could to keep Daniel off Death Row, but was unsuccessful because Daniel was just too odd. Did Daniel really end up in prison because he's an oddball who can't fake normalcy well enough? I wonder how many people are in prison because they can't fake being "normal"?
How is Jon going to defend Daniel properly if all of the old paperwork is gone?
Tawney and Teddy
I was sort of dismissing what Teddy Junior said about Tawney having a crush on Daniel, but after she brought him the monkey bread, I went hmmm. Especially after the parallel closed door scenes of Tawney and the blow dryer avoiding the hovering Teddy, and Daniel with the dustbuster avoiding the hovering Amantha. Why is Tawney married to a man she is trying her best to avoid?
Obviously sincere, Tawney told Amantha that she admires her strength in fighting for Daniel's freedom and getting him out. I loved that they had that conversation while Daniel was in the attic quacking away with his father's duck lure. I hadn't considered Daniel and Tawney as a romantic couple until this point, but maybe Daniel, with his crazy life situation and extreme sensitivity, would make a better partner for the withdrawn and sweet Tawney than the threatened good old boy, Teddy.
-- In the flashback, Daniel learned that his father had died of a heart attack. Of course, Daniel couldn't attend the funeral or mourn his father in prison. Another rite of passage denied, which was probably why Daniel was putting on his father's clothes.
-- I'm told that Sonic the hedgehog is about a rodent running through rings that become a chain. How appropriate.
-- Was that Hanna's voice on the mix tape? The music Daniel was playing had applicable lyrics, too. "I want to take you down, I want to get you low. Let the river flow."
-- Rutherford Gaines said that we all come from monkeys. Tawney brought Daniel monkey bread. Amantha wanted to take Daniel to the refuge to see the new baboon.
-- Amantha was looking for an apartment, and Melvin, the man who showed it to her, was on Daniel's side because Daniel used to take care of his turtles.
-- Along with an emphasis on doors, a lot of the interiors have distinctive grids and lines, like the attic. Even the kitchen has vertical stripes. No one has vertical stripes in their kitchen. Okay, almost no one.
-- State Senator Foulkes treated Jon with condescension. Foulkes also described Amantha as a 'basket of firecrackers'.
-- I liked Jared's girlfriend Claire. She insisted that Jared talk to someone about the death threats.
-- Paulie is in a dry county, and of course, the bars and liquor stores are right on the other side of the border. I grew up in a dry town, and it was the same. Stupid, since people will go get alcohol if they want it.
-- Amantha is so beautiful, but she wears the ugliest clothes and doesn't do anything attractive with her hair. It's endearing. Come to think of it, Tawney is much the same.
Hanna's mother: (to the TV camera) "Why ain't you dead, Daniel Holden? Why ain't you dead?"
Foulkes: "How are the biscuits today?"
Jon: "Good. Biscuits are good."
Foulkes: "That woman sure knows how to make the dough rise, don't she?"
What a jerk. And did he mean Marcy? She's the waitress, isn't she? Not the cook?
Amantha: "Little Bobby Dean. I watched Daniel go to Death Row, he buried his sister, and then we went to algebra class together. You're too young and too in the middle of it to know how crazy it all was at the time."
Gaines: "Humans don't change that much in fifty years. Or a hundred. Or a thousand. It's the laws that change, the rules of civilization. We just repeat ourselves. Everyone with a part to play."
Another excellent episode. Three out of four what? Biscuits, monkey bread, baboons or turtles? Maybe it should be hedgehogs,
Billie Doux is the founder of Doux Reviews and has been reviewing her favorite shows for quite some time. More Billie Doux.