Leave it to Manny to disrupt Daniel’s bliss by theatrically masturbating mere feet from his bed. That small act of self-gratification jerks Daniel right back into the alternate reality of his death-row cell, where Wendall would pester him through the filtered grate and concrete wall. Without uttering an intelligible word, Manny shakes up Daniel’s daydream and has him wondering whether the nightmare is starting all over again.
If only Chloe could understand what’s “rattling around in that brain” of his is the constant tug-of-war between his darker impulses and gentler (we think) nature, between a persistence to remain present and a wariness that was calcified by years of isolation. If she did, she might fall even harder and faster for him. Chloe, too, never quite knows whether to stay or go, whether to get comfortable or careless. They are, as she surmises seconds before their kiss, “temporarily perfect for each other,” an observation that makes sense any way you take it, which is why Daniel likes her so much. The shadows that conceal and then reveal their faces as they move closer to one another even seem to agree with her assessment. Which makes it all the more tragic when Manny satisfies his basest impulse, transforming Daniel’s goofy grin into something far more primal, stripping him yet again of his humanity when he’d only just reclaimed it.
Amantha’s more like her brother (and, accordingly, her mother) than she knows. All she really wants to do while out with Billy among the deer and tall grass is just be. Although as dawn turns to daylight turns to dusk, she inches closer to, and ultimately crosses over the threshold of, intimacy with her old high-school classmate, even stepping outside her comfort zone and going hunting in the process. (Daniel succumbing to pistachio gelato at Chloe’s country-music-star art buyer’s house seemed like a far less painful conflict.) Unburdened of living her life to absolve her brother’s guilt, Amantha is both coming out of her shell and, unexpectedly, finding comfort at home. It’s why she eventually wants Billy to drive her there, but not until they linger in this space a bit longer.
Curled up in anger and fear on his bed, fiercely clutching his sheet, Daniel might envy Amantha. But Chloe, Avery, and others are right that he needs to deal with his trauma and make peace. (Oh, if only he could sell it away on eBay for a fresh start like Jared did his Furbys.) Or at least be able to distinguish his past from his future. It’s hard to say whether pursuing PTSD therapy or being fully exonerated would be more constructive right now. Odds favor the former. Jon’s on his own quest for closure and the timing could be tumultuous, depending on Daniel’s own choices and state of mind. Jon’s day is like everyone else’s, divided and determined by what happens when the sun is out and time is on your side versus nighttime’s more tenuous waning hours. He spends hours in ex-sheriff Pickens’s front yard, long enough that Mrs. Pickens can’t quite believe he hasn’t found a tree to pee on. She appears less bemused than melancholic about all the little things that happened over the course of what turned out to be a momentous 24 hours two decades earlier. Anyone touched by Hannah’s death will never feel fully unburdened.
Hours later, Jon confronts Trey, who’s suffered a banishment of sorts from his local bar ever since coming under scrutiny for Hannah’s murder. In retrospect, their encounter presaged the turning mood that ensued once Chloe dropped Daniel off at New Canaan. Jon doesn’t back down from Trey, nor does director Stephen Gyllenhaal (yes, Jake and Maggie’s dad) emasculate him by framing him at a cowering distance. Mr. Stern is ready to fight for Daniel’s life. Trey can see that, but unlike Mrs. Pickens, he can’t help but feel bemused. When he suggests Jon, per the episode title, “go ask Roger” and start to consider Chris Nelms’s culpability, Jon can’t make heads or tails of Trey’s intentions. But Gabriel Mann’s suddenly ominous score would indicate the truth is afoot. Buyer beware.
In a more literal sense, Janet, Ted, and Teddy are having a bit of seller’s anxiety. Mr. Childers (Steve Coulter, a.k.a. Reg from The Walking Dead) delivers his sobering news that the company he represents may want to purchase Paulie Tire’s property, though two other spots are under consideration. Moreover, they have to endure the stress and indignity of letting Childers’s people treat the store like a crime scene while they determine its viability. The no-strings $5,000 for their trouble is a patronizing rub that undoes all of Teddy’s great plans to stay one step ahead of their city-slicker counterparts. He doesn’t take it well, and during date night with Tawney, he vents about being shut out and shut down and wasting years of his life, all over a pitiful plate of fettuccine he deems too “cheesy” (or, perhaps, just being cheesy was offensive enough). All Tawney sees is Teddy’s anger. All he sees in her is someone who wants a saint, not a husband. She returns to work under the pitch of night, checking in on Zeke, no different than she did that same morning as the sun rose. Only now, his sad insights about loneliness, loss, and faith stir some kind of feeling, maybe her first true feelings since tunneling deep within herself into an absence of light, divine or otherwise. Daniel, no doubt, would be able to relate. Maybe she really does love Teddy. Hopefully, if she does, the tears he shed while playing back her confessional voice mail were ones of optimism. At any rate, they might stand a better chance of surviving than Ted and Janet, the former of whom wants to see Daniel and square their differences, while she just wants to feel whole. With four episodes left in this stunning series, most of its characters are still thrillingly, achingly stumbling around in the dark.
Apart From All That:
- C’mon Jared, tell Janet she wasn’t the worst mom ever.
- Although it's pretty harsh to wishfully confuse Lester as Jared’s dad.
- If Tawney and Daniel are having parallel experiences (hers being voluntary), Carlton is her well-meaning but irksome warehouse boss.
- The answers lie in the bobblehead.
- Janet’s look when Teddy declares, “They need to know that we know what they know,” is some serious Janet goodness.
- Nice hunting boots, Amantha.
- I'm too cynical to wonder whether Billy is still pals with Chris Nelms and/or any of the 20 kids at the police station that night. Thoughts?
- Safe to assume the famous country star was supposed to be Tim McGraw? (Gotta have Faith, as Zeke might say.)
- Chloe had me at “Do you want your own spoon?”
- Jared is young but wise. “Everything else that no one will ever want is still up here” may as well be a metaphor for how Daniel needs to think about compartmentalizing his past.