We’ve reached the penultimate episode and, personally, I haven’t caught my breath from the whole Jane/Danny boat debacle.
Neither has John, as we open with him and Diana giving Jane the third degree about everything that happened on that boat. She doesn’t understand the big deal—Danny is fun and cool. John circles back to the seahorse necklace business. His face goes pale and sweats when she says that Danny told her to wear it because it’s was good luck. (Side note: Ben Rayburn gets a line in this scene too. Everybody drink!)
John goes into scary dad whisper and tells Diana to pack some clothes and get out of town.
Wayne’s weirdo smarms onto Sally’s porch, pretending that he’s a friend from high school. Sally innocently lets him know about Chelsea. Eeek.
Meg calls Marco to her place and he’s not feeling her at all. At. All. She’s like, listen, stuff is going down and I might want to go to New York and I don’t know what’s happening with you. Him: “I have nothing to say to you.” He tells her to go to New York. I appreciate Marco is the kind of one strike you’re out kind of guy, but still…rough.
Diana is pissed at John for putting the family into this terrible position. She guesses that he originally protected Danny, but John counters he thought he was protecting Jane. They bicker about whether he can arrest him now (he can’t) and then she spits out that he protected Danny for himself. Poor John Rayburn: he really carries the weight of a thousand family problems on his shoulders, doesn’t he? It’s not easy. It ends with him screaming, finally, back at her: he doesn’t know what he’s going to do.
Danny is still driving around listening to those trauma tapes. He really needs therapy. This just can’t be good for him. He sees that John is calling and ignores it.
Meg, God love her, is drinking tequila and looking at plane flights (oh no, not LaGuardia, Meg! Never LaGuardia!). Danny strolls all casually and I don’t blame her for being completely freaked out. He threatens her a bunch to try to find out what John did with the drugs, but Meg plays dumb. Danny says that things will work out eventually for he and John but Meg should not put herself into the middle of it. Danny and John have a real weird thing I do not understand. She’s like, well listen you’re done for after that stunt with Jane. He brings the whole family business papers thing again and whoo, this is a guy who holds some grudges. Rightfully? Who can say?
Kevin driving around nervously with a gun. Great. He spies Danny’s old Chevy and pulls in next to it. John calls Kevin and they’re doing a little who-has-eyes-on-Danny game. John asks Kevin to go to Key Largo to look for him. John pleads with him not to do anything if he finds him.
Danny, meanwhile, is in a hotel room that O’Bannon procured for him. He also left Danny a bottle of alcohol. (Aww, O’Dirtbag.)
John goes to see his mom, and there’s a cop sitting out on her front porch. She’s chattering away about this and that and he finally tells her to zip it. He explains how the boat trip with Jane was a threat. Danny is no longer just a troubled kid, he’s a grown man and he’s dangerous. Sally finally comes around.
As he leaves the Inn he gets a call from Danny. Danny tries to play it cool and light but John is in full Batman-voice and is not having it. Danny moves on to the facts: he knows John didn’t dump the drugs and he won’t let anyone hurt Danny so maybe they should work something out. When John says no, Danny hangs up.
Danny goes to see Wayne himself. Danny, this seems insane! Wayne is not messing around. Danny guesses correctly about John: he doesn’t care about the drugs, he cares about the girls. Wayne tells him to get out.
John takes his blood pressure: I’m imagining it is not good news. John tells Marco he wants to be the one to bring Danny in. John explains to (poor, sweet Marco) that Danny was sending a message by taking Jane on the boat. Danny is a threat to the family. Marco is all, listen, I can help if you tell me what’s really going on. He gets frustrated because the Rayburns are like that.
Wayne meets with his weirdo. He asks Wayne to tell him what to do. Wayne has a very dramatic pause and obviously Danny is dead meat.
Danny goes to see Chelsea at the hospital. She thought he was gone, he assures her that he’s back. She doesn’t buy it. She tells him to forget about his family. He asks to borrow her car. She gives it to him but with the tired sigh of someone who has been down this road before.
Wayne’s weirdo breaks into someone’s house….it’s O’Bannon’s, who comes home with no idea that there’s a hired gun waiting for him. Poor O’Dirtbag gets beat up (much like he beat up Kevin) and manages to not give anything up though we leave him with a gun to his head.
Kevin, meanwhile, spies Danny gassing up Chelsea’s car. He parks across the street—John tells him to “keep him there.” Kevin sees Danny see him in the rearview window. It’s a little scary, actually, though Danny sort of calmly lopes across the street. Danny taunts Kevin for a little bit and then Kevin pulls the gun out. Danny doesn’t seem to take it all that seriously and even tells him to put it away before he hurts himself. Danny walks away after it becomes clear that Kevin is not going to do a thing. He doesn’t even look behind him, just strolls off.
Chelsea comes home and finds her brother alive. (I never be I’d be so relieved about O’Dirtbag!) He tells her that he needs to get out of town and he tells her to stay away from Danny.
She goes to see John and tells him that there’s a guy looking for Danny. She says she didn’t know who else to tell. Eric told this bad guy where he’s staying, and she begs John to go there and make sure Danny doesn’t get killed.
NEXT: This is how Danny Rayburn dies
John sits and stews in his car, looking at Danny’s hotel. The nice thing about this show—and I’ve thought a lot about this—is just how complete a world it is. You can feel the humidity in this scene, feel the rumblings of an approaching storm. You just can’t get this kind of atmospheric stuff on a soundstage. Anyway. John calls Danny but he does not warn him about a man coming to kill him. Instead he tells him they should meet. First, John says, he needs to know that his family will be safe. Danny says they can talk about that and they can meet tomorrow. But while this is happening, John is watching the hired gun approach Danny’s room. John has an opportunity to warn Danny but doesn’t. Would this be different if Danny had just assured him his kids would be safe? Who knows!? They chat about where to meet while John watches this killer approach his brother’s room.
Augh, this is tense times. John thinks for a minute and then drives away, basically leaving his brother to get murdered. Coach Rayburn!
Danny smokes unaware, using a seashell for an ashtray (a detail I appreciate). John drives away and listens to the police scanner. He hears the report of gunshots by the motel but he just keeps on driving.
He gets to the Inn and gets the call from Marco: a man in his 40s has been found shot. John says that he’ll try to get over there. John, by the way, looks nuts. He dismisses Frank, the cop waiting outside, and goes in to see his mother. His siblings are all there and Sally asked if he saw Danny. He makes some nonsense up and goes upstairs to puke his guts out because, yes.
Marco gets to the hotel and guess what? It’s not Danny who is dead, it’s the weirdo.
John comes downstairs and thinks he’s seeing things but he’s not: it’s Danny sitting at the kitchen table. Danny fixes him with a long look.
Sally tries to call a state of the union for the Rayburn family. Danny is like, okay; he starts in with how he had to fall in with bad people because his paycheck was crappy (sigh) and now some guy tried to kill him. He goes on and on and Meg and Kevin are like, be quiet, and Danny blows his top. He says he brought the drugs into the Inn so now the whole family is in danger. Poor Sally. She’s trying to catch up to this but having a hard time. Danny drops whatever mask he had left and tells them they’re all liars but Sally is worst of all: “You always took dad’s side: you never protected me. I never felt safe in this house. And now, none of you are safe in this house.” I feel so conflicted about this because there does seem to be some small part of Danny that wants to be part of the chummy clan, but he’s turned some corner, and now he’s just burning it all to the ground.
Sally tells Danny he’s finally lived up to his father’s expectations and runs upstairs. John looks like he wants to barf again. The other siblings are all, WTF, John? He tells them he and Danny are meeting the next day and he assigns the siblings to stay with their mother.
Kevin goes home and does some coke and drinks some booze and sits shirtless looking at (an adorable) picture of he and his father. He’s all high and nuts being very Taxi Driver-like, talking to himself and waving a gun around. Great.
John goes to the motel crime scene where Marco remarks that someone else obviously got the jump on the killer. “Maybe they knew he was coming?” John is thinking the same thing.
Kevin, all hopped up, calls John and it’s that scene we’ve seen before where he asks John what he’s going to do about Danny. He also mentions the gun. Poor John Rayburn: I want to give him a hug! Kevin tells John that he knows it was Danny who attacked him. He tells John that it’s never enough, he can’t just give Danny what he wants. John tells Kevin he’ll handle it.
Sally, drinking, finds the crumpled yellow paper with Danny’s toast. She reads it and holy cow, hello Emmy reel for Sissy Spacek. This poor woman’s face breaks in every way possible. Meg walks in and Sally says that Danny hates her. “My baby hates me.”
John goes to see one crazy-looking Kevin and Kevin hands it over to John. “It’s untraceable. Do what you have to do.”
Danny is still listening to those tapes, mouthing along. Jeez, man, let it go!
It’s sunrise. John sits in his car, steeling himself for whatever confrontation he’s about to have with his brother. He puts the loaded gun in the glove box which seems like a good call, and walks along the beach to find Danny.
It’s so pretty where they are. Danny opens by busting John about not allowing him to come back. John asks how they can work this out and Danny says he doesn’t know. John tells him he thinks he should leave—not forever, just till things calm down. Danny is like, why should I? He also stuns John when he tells him he sent Chelsea to John to tell him about the murderous man who was after him. “I wanted to see what you’d do. Now I know.” Oops. John tells him he wants to make peace with him, but Danny does not buy it.
John tells him he was right: He did let the family scapegoat Danny. No one ever stood up to their father. He delivers what seems to be a sincere apology: for not helping his brother have a shot at the kind of life that John has. But, he stresses, Danny can’t be here. Danny tells him again he’s not leaving. John holds up the seahorse necklace and is like, um, this was real bad. “I can forgive so much…but not that.” He also tells Danny that he’s no longer going to let him feel badly about the fact that John could have been on the boat that day because he never would have been. That is also probably true. Then John let’s a lifetime of resentment spill out: because Danny was always the screw-up, it fell to John to be the good one, the responsible one. This is totally family dynamics 101, right? He asks Danny, what do you want? Danny says what he told Ghost Sarah: I want you to know how it feels like to have to beg. He tells John to get on his knees and beg Danny to leave. John blinks a few times in disbelief. Danny smirks and tells John this won’t end, that John’s life won’t always be so perfect. And then he walks away. (Please note, he walks away.)
John, filled with a murderous rage, picks up a log and smashes Danny into the ground. Danny just laughs (much like he did when he was getting beat up that night in the bar). John is like the Hulk and starts dragging Danny into the water—asking over and over when will this end— and Danny is still cackling…right up until John just straight up drowns him. To death. It’s slow and messy and looks just absolutely awful. Danny’s last bit of life is a weird sort of pat on John’s face and…this is certainly unexpected. John’s eyes clear from the rage and he sits on the beach not far from his brother’s lifeless body. It is an incredibly beautiful morning.