In this installment about the family with never-ending secrets, it’s Meg’s time to shine. Naturally, the first scene from “Part 3” is one of John’s cryptic flash-forwards: There’s a torrential downpour, Meg is taking a drink because she’s stressed about something, and she absolutely loses her mind when she gets a call from Danny — who, as we know from the other flash-forwards we’ve seen, is in irreparable danger and potentially dead. John frames this episode by narrating, “My sister is a good person. She takes care of people. She wants everyone to be happy. But when our brother came home, that was impossible. There was no way to make everyone happy. And she was forced to choose a side; that was the worst mistake our sister could’ve made.” Of course, the Rayburn siblings want you to know that all of this unknown drama that’s going to unfold in the future is somehow Danny’s fault. Maybe it partly is, but who are they fooling? (I mean, really.)
The main drama of “Part 3” involves Meg’s perpetual hesitancy to update her father’s last will and testament. Before the last episode’s kayaking incident, Robert had asked Meg, who takes care of all of the Rayburns’ legal matters, to disown Danny and exclude him from the future of the business. Now that her dad is unconscious, though, Meg’s rogue procrastination is becoming a matter of grave importance — especially considering Danny’s still in town. Will she keep him in the will or not? This could be the “side” that narrator John is referring to. Probably. Who knows? This show plays up its vagueness in spades.
With Robert in the hospital, Danny (along with his mom) sees this as the perfect opportunity for the black sheep to prove his worth to his family. Annoying unanswered questions aside, the writers excelled in this episode by further splintering the family, bringing out everyone’s true colors, pitting everyone against Danny, and introducing some unlikely alliances. Let’s break these ever-evolving siblings down.
The hardest person to read this episode is John because he’s faced with a catch-22 of sorts. He wants his mom to be happy (meaning Danny needs to stay), but he wants the rest of his family to be happy and safe (meaning Danny has to go). So, confused/torn John starts out pressing Danny to stay because Mom’s happiness is most important. The problem is everyone’s still a little peeved with John because he’s been doing what it sounds like he always does: forcing decisions down everyone else’s throat from his moral high horse. But why is everyone pissed? Here’s where the writers also succeeded. Everyone is a hypocrite and nobody’s moral compass is calibrated.
As far as Danny is concerned, he says he can fill Dad’s void at the inn and perform the duties Mom can’t (e.g., taking guests on charters, wearing cool sunglasses, sitting on the porch, etc.); this will also allow him to go about living a stable, morally sound life for the first time in probably decades. Danny volunteers to cook for his brothers and sisters … as a preface to dropping this nuclear bomb, which essentially nobody has a say in. Danny is permanently staying and investing in a future here. Mom’s orders. Is this legit, though? Maybe, but his pool-table date with Chelsea, a.k.a. SeaSea, seems like a bad idea and an indicator that, yes, Danny might have good intentions, but he’s easily swayed to fall back into his old habits. (I’m not just referring to former flames.)
Aside from the Danny-staying-at-home drama, we learn more about Meg’s affair, which was teased in the pilot. She’s not content to stay with just Marco because nobody’s good enough for her — a self-belief she’s evidently held since high school. Nearly half a dozen times now, Meg has hooked up with one of her law firm’s clients, a wealthy real-estate developer from New York City. Oddly enough, it doesn’t stop there. She also vents to this guy the same way you might to a significant other. Despite its problems, the affair seems harmless till Danny catches on. After their family dinner, Danny overhears Meg coordinating a rendezvous on her phone. Later in the episode, he digs through her purse and finds a key card to a motel room. Uh-oh.
Meg skips out on what would be her last tryst with her client because Kevin wrangles her for a heart-to-heart at — guess where? — a bar. To a lesser extent, this was again a weird, inconsistent episode for Kevin. He opens up to Meg about the troubles with his now-former wife: They had a miscarriage not too long ago. The tragedy pushed Kevin to “try again,” but it pushed his wife into the epiphany that Kevin is too immature and not responsible enough for fatherhood. But this scene was pivotal in introducing the on-again-off-again alliance between these two younger siblings. (Kevin would never tell John this kind of stuff, not just because he’s too much like his judgmental father, but also because he has a much closer bond with his baby sis.) Kevin’s opening up to his sister shows Meg that she can talk freely with him, too. And that happens sooner than you’d think. Amid dealing with the stress of her failing relationship with Marco, as well as the will, Meg divulges to Kevin that she never expunged Danny from their parents’ estate. Here’s where Kevin got inconsistent for me this episode: In the beginning, he’s somehow totally cool with Danny staying, even after last episode’s freak-out. But then when he has to discuss the will with Meg, all of the sudden he acts like the devil on her shoulder, telling her to unethically back-date the will and go forward with Dad’s wishes to disown Danny. Everyone in this show is a wild card. Trust and count on none of them.
Sensing that he’s up against some major adversity, Danny leaves Chelsea’s house (it seems like he might even be done with Eric) and moves into his family’s guest room. Despite skimpy pay, he wastes no time taking over his dad’s charters — and he does a fantastic job. Mendelsohn’s bit as the goofy, cheesy-jokey scuba instructor is spot-on, and, boom, we’re convinced Danny could actually be up for changing his life for the better.
The doctors tell the family that Robert suffered a series of mini-strokes. A full recovery is not impossible, but it’s not exactly likely — and even if it happens, it won’t be speedy and there might be some memory loss. This revelation leads to two important developments: One, Robert is not of sound body and mind — so much so that he can’t sign the changes Meg now wants to implement to the will; two, he’s going to need a refresher when he comes to. To that second point, John and his son dig through old family videos from the ‘80s where it’s revealed that Robert and Sally had a fifth child, a daughter who was slightly older than Meg. She’s inexplicably not around anymore — and you get the eerie feeling that maybe this is why everyone hates Danny. Maybe he was involved in her nonexistence, maybe not. This is tenuously linked to the first point in that Meg has never been able to replace Robert’s older daughter, and she’s lived the entirety of her life in her sister’s shadow.
The most interesting part of this development is that Danny conveniently remembers this as he’s piecing together Meg’s affair. Everybody in this family has some sort of sixth sense for sniffing out drama right before it messes up their life: Danny barges in on Meg and Marco, both of whom are finally discussing their dysfunctional relationship. After Marco leaves, Danny confronts Meg with the key card, essentially handing her a fat package of blackmail. He knows there’s a will, and he knows he has yet to be disowned. He wants Meg to keep him locked in this family’s future — he’s claiming what’s rightfully his! — or else he’s going to spill the infidelity beans to Marco. He also reminds her that she’s not her dad’s favorite daughter and never will be. Sure, it’s a bit of a dick move. But life in this family is survival of the fittest. Also, everybody’s biggest gripe so far (or, at least on the surface) is that Danny is prone to bailing on the family. But how do we know this isn’t a new Danny? He’s moved in and he’s wearing Robert’s hat. But, for good measure, let’s not forget Danny’s turn-the-dial-to-11 mike-drop from this episode, which perfectly summed up his situation: “Treat me like family, maybe I’ll stick around.” Okay then.
- That Chelsea-Danny scene with the bike was sexual-innuendo central. Her character kind of reminds me of Nicholle Tom’s character on Gotham; in other words, I’m waiting for her to snap and do something insane.
- Where/to whom is Danny sending all of that money?
- Meg sucks at wearing business attire to work.
- Cool, okay, so no leads on Juanita Doe. We’ll check back next episode, maybe.
- Beginning to feel truly sad for Marco. His job is working him to the bone, and he just wants a normal life and fiancée. Instead he’s being taken advantage of and told, in passive-aggressive language, that he and Meg will never share joint custody of an air-conditioning unit.
- Remember: Danny opened a seafood restaurant in the Miami area, so he’s basically sketchy Emeril Lagasse. It’s a bummer when everyone loses their appetite over what they’re probably perceiving as Sally’s mini-betrayal to truly welcome Danny back home.
- I’m starting to develop the irrational fear we’ll never know what actually happens in these flash-forwards because they’re starting to feel too disconnected and haphazard; the future-sight devices worked in the pilot, but now they’re gimmicky character spoilers more than anything productive story-wise.
- All of these future glances are making it look like Danny has nine lives and everyone has killed him at least once. He’s like Kenny from South Park. RAYBURNS, YOU BASTARDS.
- This was Danny’s favorite song this episode.