We lose a Rayburn and the rest of the family just loses it.

By Sara Vilkomerson
March 24, 2015 at 05:32 PM EDT
Credit: Saeed Adyani
S1 E5
  • TV Show
  • Netflix

We open with visions of Sarah, once again, and that dang gold seahorse necklace. (Hey Netflix: I think I know what your press gifts should be!) This time it looks like it’s Danny who is having the bad dreams about Sarah. He wakes up, reaches for a smoke and no doubt remembers how his dad gave him the old heave-ho last episode.

Speaking of which, here’s Rob Rayburn bringing in a boat.

Danny is packing up his stuff when he hears a cry from outside. And it’s his mom with his…oh no, dead father! And that’s a wrap on Sam Shepard I guess. Bummer. RIP Robert Rayburn! Poor Sally Rayburn.

A man we have never seen before gets the call about Robert Rayburn. He immediately packs and tells his wife he’ll be gone for a couple of days. Neat, more people not to understand.

Sally sits alone on the porch. Clueless guests try to chat her up and she puts her hospitality face on just long enough to get through the conversation. Inside the house, Danny cancels his flight and generally rubs his siblings the wrong way. Danny doesn’t tell the sibs what he and the old man really talked about—he says Robert wanted him to take on more responsibilities at the end. Somewhere Robert Rayburn rolls around in his grave.

There’s chit-chat about whether or not to have a service. Robert didn’t want any fuss but people expect something. Sally tells Danny she’s glad he and Robert had some time together and everyone in the room (and me here at home) gives a full body eyeroll at Sally’s utter cluelessness. Sally pulls John aside to tell him she wants him to speak for the family at the service.

Danny is still Mr. Hospitality at the inn, chatting up the newlyweds, and generally being creepy when they pay their condolences. So there’s that.

Sally and Meg go through old photos, trying to pick a few to display at the reception. Sally holds up a picture of Sarah. Meg is all, barf, not this again. There’s more where that came from—a whole stack of awesome good-time pictures. “They had a special bond,” says Sally. “I remember,” says Meg. Man.

Meanwhile, hot Alec does not seem to want to leave Meg alone. She is somehow not feeling it. Meg, he has a plane!

Chelsea and Danny sit at a diner together and all seems well until he gets completely spooked by the man we met in the beginning of the episode. Suddenly he gets mad about the state of the eggs (I love Danny’s random food snobbery) and insists on leaving.

John sits and tries to write a eulogy to no avail. “Please don’t say I should write whatever I feel,” he tells his wife. Heh. For me, nothing annoys me more than when people tell you to follow your heart: what the hell good does that do anyone? Danny shows up and like a typical big brother and grabs John’s notebook and starts making fun of it. Danny wants to talk at the service, not knowing Sally doesn’t want anyone but John. John dances around it. Danny names the mystery man finally: Lenny Pots. Old friend of Robert’s. John has a similarly spooked out reaction to hearing Potts is in town. Danny tells John to wing the speech and John smiles the smile of a man who has never winged a single thing in his entire life.

John goes to see his mother, pulling out his dad’s not-so-secret stash of booze. He’s remembering being questioned by the police at age 14. Vintage John—no offense to the actor—does not look like he’ll grow into the fineness that is Kyle Chandler. Sally interrupts this trip down trauma lane and they have a glass of brown liquor together. John is all, listen, Danny wants to talk and quit putting me in a weird spot with my siblings. John is still stressing about his speech and how he didn’t even know anything about his dad’s childhood. Turns out there’s a terrible backstory for poor Robert Rayburn. Long story short: grandpa Rayburn was from a cattle ranch in texas and beat the hell out of Robert’s stepmother and locked her in a cellar. High school student Robert attacked his dad with a grilling fork and stuck it in his old man’s throat. Texas forever! Let’s hear it for generational violence. Sigh.

Danny comes home and gazes at the picture of Sarah. She really is/was a pretty little girl. He remembers his dad in a holy rage coming home and seems generally shook.

At Robert’s service no one seems to know how to dress appropriately for a funeral. And I mean no one. (John is the best, wearing a blazer.) O’Dirtbag and Chelsea show up. Kevin says he told Belle not to show. But she does, and so does Lenny Potts.

At the actual service John indeed wings his speech and does quite nicely—though things get a little dicey as he thinks about how demanding Robert was and how hard he used to rage. Danny shakes off the opportunity to talk after all.

Lenny Potts skulks about. Sally looks like she’s avoiding him, choosing the O’Dirtbags to talk to instead. Wow, Sally. Wow. Chloe Sevigny wins funniest line reading in this whole series so far when she tells Sally, regarding her own mother’s drinking, “It’s a disease.”

Detective Potts, as we learn to call him, corners John to talk about how Robert Rayburn used to get a lot of skirt back in the day. Duh. I don’t care what these Instagram reenactments are trying to tell us: we’re talking young Sam Shepard so yes. Diana encourages her husband to talk to Lenny about the case that’s driving him nuts.

Kevin and Belle fight senselessly in the kitchen. These guys make me sad. Kevin tells her to leave in not such a polite way. Belle leaves in a fluster, waving Meg off. Meg watches her mom with Marco, sees how great her boyfriend is with her family and feels guilty. With breathtakingly bad timing Alec calls. Meg goes nuclear on him, never call again etc etc.

NEXT: Let’s learn about Detective Potts, shall we?

Potts and Danny chat briefly about weather, water color, etc. After a long silence, Potts gives up and leaves. John watches with a look of concern from a distance.

Many of the Rayburns—Meg, Kevin and Danny—hit a bar post-funeral. I approve. Danny and Meg gossip about whether or not Chelsea and Danny (who are hanging all over each other) are together. Kevin decides he doesn’t care who knows about him and Belle. He gets more and more riled up. He drinks more and talks more adamantly about how awesome it is to be free. Keep talking, big guy.

John tells Potts about the dead girl and his theories. Potts remembers a study in the archives that might help. How useful! They sit in a weird silence for a while. John tells Potts he became a policeman because of Potts. He has fond memories of Potts taking himself and Danny to the gun range (neat) and how much Robert respected Potts.

Less respectable is Kevin who is now hammered and being generally nuts. Danny swats him away in a believable big brother way. Kevin tries to buy coke from O’Dirtbag, uselessly flirts with Chelsea by trying to remind her of a school dance way back when at Frog Baylor’s house party. Aw, Kevin. Danny peaces out and takes Chelsea with him. Hilariously, after O’D takes the moral highground on the Danny/Chelsea thing, he’s all: so wait, did you really want blow? Never change, O’Dirtbag!

John asks Potts what happened between he and Robert Rayburn. They had a falling out around the time of Sarah’s death. John says it was tough but the family worked it all out. And then his nose grows a few inches. Potts knows everything, is my guess.

Drunk Kevin drives (!) to Belle’s, begging under his breath for her to be home. She comes to the door and he runs to her and apologizes. He apologizes a lot and she just hugs him. Ugh, these two.

Danny is in bed with Chelsea but goes outside. To smoke? To leave? Unclear. She follows him out and tells him he can stay. “That’s not what this thing is,” he says. Nice manners, Danny. He leaves.

John goes to the archives and looks up the case that old Potts told him about. While he’s there he decides, hey, why not check out my horrific family backstory? So he goes to the appropriate box and file, which contains information on that clearly false hit-and-run report on Danny.

At the same time Potts comes to talk to Danny. Potts apologizes to Danny for not doing his job better. “I know what happened to you, Danny. I know how you got hurt. I knew it at the time but I couldn’t prove it.” Danny is all pishaw. “Your father had a mean streak,” Potts continues. “What happened to your sister was an accident, but your father took it out on you.” Potts goes on to say that he wishes that he done more than just talk to the family about it. Danny is all, say what now? Oh, says Potts, there’s something you need to hear.

John pulls out the file that has pictures of his battered brother (woof) and a transcript from his younger self, staying on message, lying that it wasn’t Robert Rayburn who beat the hell out of Danny, but that his brother got hit by a car. And at the same time, Danny listens to the actual tape. John figures out pretty quickly that Potts gave the tapes to Danny and this episode ends with a pretty good uh-oh face on John.

Episode Recaps


Netflix’s family drama features Sissy Spacek, Kyle Chandler, Sam Shephard and the list just keeps going.
  • TV Show
  • 3
  • In Season
  • Netflix