by Logan Cox
I love it when dialogue can have more than one meaning in the context of a story. This show is all about what lies beneath the surface of the words and actions we choose.
Kevin Can't Get a Grip
This episode, at first, seems to be centered around Kevin Rayburn. On the one hand, he's a lovable party animal who cares deeply for his loved ones. On the other hand, he's a man ruled by his emotions, which even his family finds intolerable, and has forced his wife Belle to separate from him.
He also strives to be like his father, particularly when it comes to their feelings on Danny. We quickly learn what this means as the episode progresses and we see the depths Kevin will sink to in his attempts to validate his suspicion of Danny. In the previous episode Kevin claimed to like Danny and that he was simply being pragmatic in regards to his behavior. Here we discover that he doesn't just dislike Danny, but seems to actually hate him.
The Fall of Robert Rayburn
In actuality, the episode is centered around the event that rocks the Rayburn family: Robert's fall. To elaborate, early in the episode Robert is out kayaking and spies Danny waiting for him, after being told the night before that he had left. He comes ashore to talk to Danny, and Danny says something vaguely ominous to his father before we jump forward in time and find that Robert is in the hospital after having fallen into the ocean from his kayak. According to Danny, they talked briefly, then Robert got back in his kayak and collapsed in the water, before Danny dragged him to safety. The doctors conclude that he must have had a stroke. Everyone in the family pretty much accepts this. Everyone except Kevin, who is convinced that Danny is somehow responsible for what happened to their father and becomes determined to prove it. Everyone thinks he's being irrational.
Well, guess what?
In fairness to Kevin, he wasn't entirely wrong about Danny being the cause of Robert's fall. In a way, Danny seems to be the cause of everything that's happening -- besides the murder case John and Marco Diaz are working on -- whether he intended it or not. While this episode may focus a bit more on Kevin and Robert, Danny is the one the show is centered on.
Given what we saw, we might have just as much reason as Kevin to suspect Danny of foul play. It may even seem easy to believe; Danny's attitude towards his siblings doesn't always inspire trust. The thing is, the same could be true of his family's attitude toward him. As the episode plays out, we begin getting our first hints that Danny, the Rayburn black sheep, might be unfairly maligned.
We learn some important things about Danny in Part 2. A doctor tries to speak to him about his shoulder pain, an old, unhealed fracture which he says was the result of "a hit-and-run" when he was a kid. She doesn't get very far, as Danny angrily snaps at her and demands she refill his painkiller prescription. John is also visibly affected when the doctor mentions Danny's shoulder injury and the accident that caused it.
Now we're asking ourselves "What happened to Danny," instead of "What happened to Robert?" I don't think I put the pieces together right the first time I watched this -- maybe I missed the scene where Meg examines the old family photo with tears in her eyes or misinterpreted John's hazy, sun-bleached flashbacks -- but seeing it a second time makes it all so clear.
John and his mother Sally both see the ghost of Danny's younger self. Not the man we know, but the adolescent boy he was. A boy who was the victim of a vicious beating from his father, not a hit-and-run driver. The image of Danny, young and battered, haunts John and Sally. Both appear to feel tremendously guilty; the specter prompts Sally's decision to let Danny come back to stay, and prompts John to violently tackle Kevin when he finally flips out and starts attacking Danny, just like Robert did.
So, it's official, the situation with Danny is far more complicated than he's just bad news. And the rest of the Rayburn family clearly are not as good-natured as we were led to believe. Kevin is an immature blowhard. John lied about his dad not wanting Danny back so Danny wouldn't be mad at him, and has apparently been lying for years about Danny's injury. Sally is also evidently complicit in the same lie. Lest we forget, Meg was introduced having steamy car sex with a guy who was not her boyfriend, Marco.
And last, but certainly not least, we have Robert Rayburn. We find out how much of a covert asshole this guy is, beyond even abusing the hell out of his eldest son in the past and getting members of his family to lie about it. As it happens, Danny was telling the truth about Robert. Only he left out Robert's response when Danny tried to bury the hatchet with him before leaving. Robert couldn't let Danny have the last word, so he told him that it was his siblings' who decided he should leave, and not Robert. And whatever fuse Danny set off in Robert's head to make him say that must have resulted in the stroke that put him in the hospital. Danny seemed to contemplate letting his father drown for a second before going in to rescue him.
The lies circulating within the Rayburn family have begun a slow spiral of chaos. Sally accepting his return home may not even matter, since Danny now believes that he is still unwanted. And the ending once again leaps forward in time to remind us how accurate this belief seems to be. We see a very unkempt, creepy Kevin receive a visit from John during a stormy night. John silently takes the gun that Kevin hands to him, which he says is untraceable. So yeah, Kevin definitely appears to be involved in Danny's death too.
Bits and Pieces:
* I only wrote a couple of notes for this episode. One of them was "UNHELPFUL FISHERMAN = 'fuckin witnesses'".
* We meet Eric O'Bannon's sister, Chelsea, played by a very cute Chloe Sevigny. She has a flirtatious relationship with Danny, and a contentious one with John.
* Danny is also now involved in the same criminal activities as his friend, Eric. They're stealing loads of fuel drums and smuggling them to some remote location along the coast. You just know this is gonna turn out well.
* I totally forgot to mention the murder case John is working on in my last review. The corpse of a teenage girl was discovered in the marshes. The autopsy shows that she drowned, despite the horrible burns all over her body. You can tell John pitied her.
Kevin: Listen, just so you know, I voted against having him stay. John said you'd be okay with whatever we decided, but come on. You really want him back?
Robert: ... He's my son.
Danny: Hey, how bad a thing are we doing here?
Eric: Don't worry, bro. You ain't Capone.
Eric: Danny, this is serious. You don't want to fuck this up. Okay? These guys are like the fuckin... They're like the guys who fuckin coined the phrase "You don't fuck with these guys."
Maybe you should have told him that before you got him involved.
John: (to Kevin) YOU NEED TO SHUT THE FUCK UP FOR ONCE IN YOUR LIFE!
Robert: (to Danny) It wasn't me who made the decision, you know? Kevin and Meg and John, I left it up to them. It was them didn't want you back...
We're still lacking clarity, but what little of the picture we can see is quite compelling. The show gradually instills a need to find out how these people got here and where they're truly going. Three out of four tipped kayaks.