Danny started out as a black sheep, but now he’s a full-blown monster. He’s a moral chameleon with possessed eyes and a gaping hole where his heart used to be. Written by Carter Harris, “Part 10” made me feel as dumb and broken as John. For a majority of these recaps, I’ve been sticking up for Danny, trying to prove that it was somehow his family members who created his dark side. I still believe Danny’s a product of his past, but I can no longer lend him my defense.
Danny’s spun a web, and he’s waiting for everybody to fall into his trap. “That’s a sign the fun’s starting,” John says to Eric. The difference between this Danny and the one we met at the beginning of the series is that the new one (or real one?) does everything with a sense of maliciousness. Danny’s earlier actions would’ve led you to believe that they were borne out of some sense of misfortune or desperation. This Danny knows exactly what he’s doing. Ben Mendelsohn’s eyes look like any semblance of that old Danny has checked out. Danny was given the choice this episode between vengeance and some sort of reconciliation or high road, but Danny took whatever knife he had stabbed in his family’s back and twisted it, rather than pull it out. Now we know what he means when Danny says he wants to claim what’s his — it’s not just his birthright, it’s the fate of the Rayburn family. He wants to be the new patriarch, he wants total control; this deal with Wayne is his coup d’état.
It’s a big testament to the writers that they’ve been able to pull the wool over not just the characters’ eyes, but also ours. Danny’s transformation over the last nine episodes has been perversely fascinating. How much of this would’ve been different if Papa Ray didn’t die? In watching Danny, I’ve felt like the stereotypical nonbeliever character in the Paranormal Activity movies (or any scary ghost movie, really). A demon is haunting this family, and I’ve just been sitting here, saying, “No, no, you guys are wrong.” Or, “You guys are just making this up.” But now all the cameras have caught and shown us all the abnormal activity we’ve heard so much about, and we’re reaching the part in the horror movie where John, Diana, and Meg — Kevin has been the one crying wolf from the very get-go; he’s that stereotypical hauntee that nobody listens to until something terrible happens — look at us and say, “Told ya so. We’re being haunted, someone please call the Ghostbusters.”
At that point in the movie, it’s almost always too late. The demon is pissed off, and it’s vowed to be an unrelenting source of trauma until it gets what it demands. A peaceful end is never reached. If you had any doubts about the depths of Danny’s depravity, the scenes in “Part 10” in which Danny interacts with his brother should’ve crushed those. The Eskimo Brothers snippet was a particularly disgusting scene (made lighter only because it means Danny is a fan of The League). My mind did somersaults much like it seemed Kevin’s did — wondering if Chelsea’s just one of Danny’s weapons against his kin. The intense scene in the interrogation room between Danny and his brother that bookended this episode showed that Danny’s race to total decadence is in high gear. It seemed for a split second that maybe Danny felt an iota of guilt for delivering the fuel that killed those girls, but not enough to take his eyes off the Rayburn prize. I loved the way director Michael Morris and Co. executed the shot of Danny getting left behind in the freezer. The way the door slammed on him felt like his fate had been sealed on the spot, and he looked like nothing more than a caged animal, his empty eyes longing to be unbound.
Maybe that’s why Danny’s become so power-hungry with his family. Even being miles away and decades apart, Danny has probably felt suffocated by his family and their ideal for the picture-perfect family. Earlier, I wrote that he’s wrested control from his siblings and Mama Ray. Danny’s mother, because of her guilt, has chosen not to acknowledge this. But the other siblings are aware. Meg dropped the bomb on Marco this episode so she could be freed from her brother’s clutches. But you get the feeling — and again, we actually know this, thanks to the pilot and all the flash-forwards — that no matter how many admirable things these characters do in the next three episodes, it’ll be far too late.
• What’s incredible to me is that Danny is so smart and adept at manipulating people and staying two steps ahead of everyone. You’d think he’d be able to use those skills to actually have done something with his life.
• Mrs. O. is the worst.
• NOW MOM’S GONNA CHOOSE SIDES, OKAY!
• How would Marco not recognize Danny’s voice, too?
• You know this show is complex when it’s even willing to devote a whole ten seconds to showing you that Rafi had a heart. Even if it means he dies immediately thereafter.
• The Bananas in Pajamas are back! Those jackets are for Meg’s wedding! Oh, boy.
• Mind-explosion alert: Sally didn’t leave because of the Sarah incident. She was the reason behind it. She says she can never forgive herself — no kidding. The motivation for this didn’t really make sense to me.
• Carlos, you are screwed, because Meg is the Robin to John’s Batman.