Daisy Jones & the Six Series-Finale Recap: Go Your Own Way

Daisy Jones and The Six

Rock ’n’ Roll Suicide
Season 1 Episode 10
Editor’s Rating 5 stars

Daisy Jones and The Six

Rock ’n’ Roll Suicide
Season 1 Episode 10
Editor’s Rating 5 stars
Photo: Lacey Terrell/Prime Video

This episode of Daisy Jones & the Six could have gone another hour, and I would have kept watching. Its structure could have been the backbone of the whole telling. The documentary footage proved wispy over time — interviews were reduced to a series of revealing looks. Even when directly posed hard questions, albeit by Billy’s daughter, the bands’ real answers were hidden in what they left unsaid. It’s from an eye roll that you learn Daisy’s chagrined by something Billy said a lifetime ago; two decades on, Graham and Karen still can’t force their mouths to take the shape of the word “abortion.” If the documentary has a point to make, it’s that a glance — not an interview — is worth a thousand words.

In the finale episode, though, we toggle between our normal story, the documentary, and evocative footage from the band’s Soldier Field concert, footage that’s smoky and ambiguous, alternatingly doleful (Daisy joining Karen on the piano bench) and sexy (Billy performing fully in the moment, no part of him held back). The band talks to each other wordlessly, pregnant glare after pregnant glare. For nine episodes, Daisy Jones & the Six has felt like a solid, by-the-numbers adaptation. But for a show based on a book based on a band as incendiary as Fleetwood Mac, all the characters’ moves have felt modest. And for all the love triangles in the air, no partners have actually changed. “Solid” was a letdown.

But “Rock’n’roll Suicide” is more ambitious and freer than the episodes that came before it. It didn’t just look like a multi-million dollar Amazon production — it was thunderously messy at the same time. It also introduced an entirely new structure, though not one that could have a sustained ten hours of TV. (It’s possible the fundamental problem with Daisy Jones the series is that it should have been Daisy Jones the movie.) The forward action is a tick-tock of the Six’s last day, and it’s pure, unadulterated melodrama: Camila and Billy have an ugly bust-up in a hotel corridor; Daisy and Camila finally get their confrontation; Billy decks that self-pitying little shit Eddie.

That timeline is interspersed with scenes from the last show the Six will ever play. Graham and Karen trade pained stares across the stage; Billy seems determined to confirm for the stans that all those rumors about Daisy and Billy being together in real life are true.

And then there’s the third timeline, the one from 20 years in the future, continually reminding us there’s no unknotting this show’s emotional puzzles. Daisy and Billy won’t find a way to be together. Neither will Karen and Graham, the latter of whom I only just noticed has been giving interviews beside a framed photo of his children, like the queen giving her Christmas Day speech. Taken together, the three timelines generated enough tension to make me wish there were more episodes to come.

Sam Claflin and Riley Keough have done as much with Billy and Daisy as I think is humanly possible. Given only a handful of chances to really let rip, they’ve wrung every drop of passion from a script that has kept its thumb squarely on the “they won’t” side of the will-they/won’t-they scale. They open the Chicago show trading insults on “Regret Me,” but Daisy and Billy could sing “Happy Birthday” and this crowd would call in requests to the local radio station.

“If you’d told me that morning this would be our last show,” Graham says twenty years later. “I would have laughed.” But what about after, I wonder. When he runs it back now, can he see how close to the edge they’d been and for how long? Poor, Warren. If the collapse of the Six has an innocent bystander, it’s this guy, and even he admits he had blinders on. “You get to fly around on jet planes and sleep on hundred-dollar bills, and we get to play songs that millions of people listen to, and they fucking love ’em,” he tells Eddie, trying to coax the bassist off the ledge of quitting. I think I feel worse for Warren than any of the other knuckleheads in this failing band. It’s stupid to chase fame, but at least Warren appreciated the stupid thing they had.

But, much like the episode, I’m getting ahead of myself. Almost as soon as we hear the opening riff of “Regret Me,” we Tarantino it. It’s ten hours until showtime, and the band is checking into the hotel, including Simone, who will join the Six onstage tonight before a crowd of 50,000 people. (I wish someone suggested adding Simone to the Six’s lineup instead of breaking up because her live rendition of “The River” at Soldier Field is an absolute treat.) For the first time since maybe L.A., Daisy and Simone are on the same page, stuck at the same crossroads between love and music. In a heartening reversal from the last episode, Simone reveals she’s turned down the Attic Records deal that would have cost her Bernie. Now Daisy is poised to do her own hard math. How much more breaking can her heart endure for the sake of the songs?

It’s the same question that’s been tormenting Camila, so much so that she nearly confesses to her affair with Eddie. Instead, Cami settles for a cryptic, “We’ve both done things … You know exactly what that means,” hurled in Billy’s general direction. Has he? Does he? I watched her at the bar with Eddie on the night of the crime, and even I can barely decode that insinuation. But Camila’s not the only one circling the truth. Billy lies when he says nothing is going on with Daisy, even if he can’t bring himself to deliver the lie that would solve his marital woes for good. He loves Daisy. His marriage is collapsing outside the hotel ice room, and still, he can’t bring himself to deny it. When Cami finally storms off, Billy displaces all his anger at himself onto Daisy, who, at this point, vacillates between series hero and villain with such regularity I truly don’t know who the show thinks Billy belongs with.

It goes on like this all episode, angsty and melodramatic: Camila and Billy fight; Daisy and Billy fight; Camila and Daisy fight because even though a distraught Daisy tells her what she wants to hear — that she and Billy aren’t having an affair and never will — she doesn’t say it the way Camila wants to hear it, with an emphasis on true love rather than the inescapable bonds of wedlock.

Billy and Eddie fight because even though Eddie is quitting the band out of professional jealousy, he can’t resist hinting that there’s cause for Billy to be personally jealous of Eddie, in a kind of caveman jealousy exchange. Billy (somehow) manages to connect Eddie’s light taunts to Camila’s earlier avoidance and comes up with the only reasonable response: He gives his bass player, the one who will end the series still pathetically chasing Billy’s approval, a real shiner.

And Daisy and her mom fight because, after the showdown with Camila, Daisy makes the recklessly drunk decision to finally open her mother’s letter. On the phone with a woman she’s not spoken to in years, Daisy is suddenly Margaret again, young and sensitive to her mother’s venomous bullshit about how hard her daughter is to love in real life. Onstage, though, Daisy’s the Queen of Hearts. The crowd adores her and, just a few hours after leaving his wife a tearful phone message begging her to take him back, Billy’s the one strolling over to Daisy’s mic for once.

Yes, new levels of chaos have been unlocked by the time everyone makes it to the stadium. Up is down. Right is wrong. Wig is Rod. Billy’s drunk for the first time since the last tour. Convinced Camila’s left him for good and unable to bear that loneliness for even half a day, he plants a big ole kiss on Daisy in the green room. Song after song, Billy finds her on stage and sings with his open mouth as dangerously close to hers as possible. This night would be everything Daisy’s ever claimed to want if only she could recognize the guy in front of her.

Because Daisy wanted to be with Billy, and the manic version that’s mauling her backstage between the last song and the encore is not the guy she made an album of love songs with. “Let’s be broken together,” Billy tells her. If he can’t be happy with Camila, at least he can be deliriously miserable with Daisy. But that’s what Billy’s never really understood about Daisy, going back to the day they spent writing their first song together — “Easy song” — at Teddy’s house. Daisy’s not content to be the broken woman her mother sees. She’s got bigger plans for herself than Billy understands.

Improbably, Daisy and Billy’s is not the only break-up that happens as the band waits in the wings to be cheered back onto the stage. Karen and Graham have been slowly fading from love since hotel check-in when Karen confides about the abortion. But over a series of five-second conversations that span the episode, the problems between them keep shifting. It’s not the abortion; it’s that they’ll never want the same things. When Graham says he’s willing to forgo a family to be with Karen, she makes the startling confession that she doesn’t love Graham Dunne to begin with. I was shocked to hear it, and yet the couple has been given such paltry screen time that I don’t have the evidence to contradict her.

When the Six finally retake the stage for one last song, Daisy gives a schmaltzy little speech about how love can be healing, which is her own way of releasing Billy back to his old life. She’d rather the man she loves keep existing than be with the version crumbling at the mic.

And then they finally play “Honeycomb.” Well, they sort of play it. The crowd starts the number off, and Billy can’t pull himself together enough to karaoke. I wish he had, though. I wish we got to see Billy and Daisy perform together one last time, but instead Billy goes running after Camila in the middle of the song he wrote for her. And you know what? Billy needed Daisy’s help to make “Honeycomb” a hit, but Daisy can work a crowd all on her own. The fans don’t even seem to notice that Billy’s gone missing — they’re too focused on the fact that their favorite singer in the world is belting out their favorite song.

The series could have ended right then and there, and I think we’d all have been able to guess what happened over the intervening years. But there’s a documentary to finish. Billy grovels at Cami’s feet, desperate and committed; Daisy heads to rehab, sad but hopeful. Only Karen and Warren summon enough denial overnight to even board the tour bus the next morning. They wanted to be the biggest rock band in America, and they got their dream. It was a total nightmare.

So here’s what they all did next. Karen kept living a version of the dream, playing keytar in a band called Candy Floss (picture DEVO meets the red-lipped, hair-slicked, all-girl band from the Robert Palmer videos). When she tells Julia that she loved Graham all along, it feels honest but annoying. I’ve never really been into tales of unselfish, set-them-free kind of love. I prefer my characters to burn each other to the ground with heedless devotion, but there’s no accounting for taste.

Graham went home, fell in love, had kids, and had happiness. “Pittsburgh on three” forever. Eddie’s still gigging in half-empty bars: “My life’s totally fine.” Yeah, okay. Bernie and Simone opened a nightclub called Haven. Teddy died alone, hunched over a soundboard, which I refuse to acknowledge is the same thing as dying “doing what he loved,” whatever Billy insists. Warren married Lisa, the movie star, and made a career as a session drummer; he even plays on Daisy’s solo records.

And Daisy has no regrets about leaving the band that night — she has sobriety, a daughter, softly blowout hair, and side-swept bangs that old Daisy never could have maintained. And over time, Billy and Daisy have separately managed to settle on the same story about why they never could have worked: they were too alike in all the good ways but also the destructive ones. That they’ve both found a narrative that leaves the other blameless is perhaps the most generous we’ve seen them be with each other.

Billy, though, didn’t get that second shot at fame. He went to therapy, cheered at his kid’s soccer games, wrote songs for other people to sing, spent another 20 years married to Camila, and some of them taking care of her when she got sick. Quite imperceptibly, Camila has disappeared from the documentary footage over the series’ final few episodes, (conveniently) dying far too young and before her daughter could finish making it. I suppose this also explains why a documentarian would choose to revisit the epic rise and explosive fall of a one-album band like the Six right now. Julia needed to make this film while her mother was still here to give her the answers she needed.

There were answers Daisy and Billy needed, too, about the future. Buried inside Julia’s documentary footage is Camila’s blessing. She wants Daisy to know she’s happy for her; she wants Billy to feel at peace when he finally picks up the phone to close the distance between them once again. For a piece of television about music, music plays an almost entirely destructive force in the lives of its characters for the time that we know them. It connects people in ways that leave them fundamentally sad, and yet no one in that documentary tells Julia they regret that connection. Daisy Jones & the Six is a flat-out soap, but if it has anything at all to say about music, it has to be that there’s an irrevocable quality to the way it binds people together. It’s why all we need to see is a glimpse of grown-up Daisy opening the front door to know she and Billy will be fighting and making up and fighting and making up again in no time.

Daisy Jones & the Six Finale Recap: Go Your Own Way