Welcome to the aftermath.

By Sara Vilkomerson
April 08, 2015 at 04:38 PM EDT
Saeed Ayani/Netflix
S1 E13
  • TV Show

So. We’re in the aftermath of Danny’s murder. And who else feels incredibly conflicted about it all? For the past 12 episodes we’ve learned how “good” John is, but now don’t we need to reassess? No matter how “bad” Danny has been: Did he deserve to be murdered by his brother? Was John just trying to protect his family, or was he overcome with a murderous rage (much like the one, I’m assuming, that fueled Robert when he beat Danny)?

We begin the finale with John’s voice-over from the future again, much like how the first episode started. We see him sitting on the beach looking absolutely ill, looking at the lifeless body of his brother.

Four days later: John sits in some fancy pants bar and meets some haircut called Larry, who tells him that John is on a short list to be sheriff. John is stunned. When he says he’s surprised by the timing, Larry tells him he heard that John’s brother is missing. Oh goodness. Also? Danny is still a suspect in a murder (I’m assuming for Wayne’s hired gun). Larry assures John the Rayburn name still means a lot and that he should meet with some people and go for the job. 

Kevin, meanwhile, sits down with Nicky Sports Car guy and his mom. The deal fell through and now Kevin’s in a good position to buy. He is, however, going to knock off about 10 percent. Ouch. Again we’re told the Rayburn name still means something. The show is really hammering this point home, right?

But both Meg—whom we see in New York City interviewing for that job—and Kevin keep seeing things (dead fish, tequila) that are clearly spooking them out in a PTSD manner. 

John takes good old Surf dog outside. He remembers back to right after Danny’s death. He’s on the beach when he hears Danny’s cell phone ringing from Dead Danny’s pocket. Eeeek! When he opens up the phone, he sees it’s their mother calling. That does it: As he starts pulling Danny’s body out from the water, he appears to suffer some kind of attack. It’s scary enough for him to call Kevin (passed out from his debauched night) and Meg, whom he tells to come get him.

When she arrives he’s barely conscious. He tells her it’s his chest. She then sees the body of Danny. John just shakes his head when she asks if she should call the police. She gets him to the hospital. When it comes time for her to fill out paperwork, she bolts, heading to Kevin.

Kevin is a hot mess from his solo party the night before when he hears a knock at the door. (We also get a nice shot of Butz’s butt, and I imagine the showrunners included this so that people like me could write that. Thank you!) He thinks it’s Meg, but it’s Belle: She wants to talk and he’s a jittery mess. He’s not getting the I-want-to-talk tone that she’s giving, but what I love about Kevin is that his default is to always tell her she looks nice. And you can tell he really means it! But he rushes out and Belle is a bit surprised by how underwhelmed both Rayburns are at seeing her.

John is not looking good in the hospital. It was hypertension and not a heart attack, which I guess is good but he really is looking crappy. Meg and Kevin are at the spot of dead Danny and, understandably, flip the F out. They can’t decide what to do, but the sight of people coming make them decide to move the body and put him in the trunk of a car. Yikes. These two do not seem like who you want in charge of evidence erasing, but it’s too late for that now. There’s a poignant moment when Kevin goes through Danny’s things and sees he had the seersucker jacket. But they agree they should wait to do anything else till John is back in charge.

Kevin goes to see John who is sedated. He tries to let his zonked out brother know that he and Meg are taking care of things (which should only make John’s blood pressure rise).

Meg is freaking out cause she is driving around with her dead brother in the trunk. Seems reasonable enough. She’s swerving around so much though (she thinks she hears a noise from the back) that she gets pulled over. This is terribly stressful. Somehow, Meg manages to talk her way out of it—she’s lucky she’s so pretty, even when it’s pouring on her head—and keep the cop from looking in the truck.

At the hospital Sally Rayburn can’t understand why everyone is acting so nuts. Kevin can’t deal with the questions and says he needs to go talk to Belle. “Everything is fine!” Nope.

John wakes up enough to realize his phone is dead (#reallifeproblems). Danny’s phone still has juice though and now we understand the scene we’ve seen before—Meg coming home, soaking wet, receiving a call from Danny and losing her mind. She goes to the trunk—maybe to make sure he’s actually dead? She answers the phone and tells John Danny is with her. 

Marco drives up—sweet, sweet Marco! He tells her to get out of the rain. Marco, a good cop, isn’t sure why Meg is putting her suitcases in the trunk when it’s pouring and two days before she is leaving town. She uses offense as defense, biting Marco’s head clear off and telling him to get out of the car. Sigh.

Sally sees John. She wants to know if he talked to Danny. John tells her no. Sally says she doesn’t believe him. “I know you’re keeping things from me.” Oh, Sally, you have no idea. John tells her Danny never showed up and that he can’t help him anymore. “You don’t just give up on family,” Sally replies. Poor John.

NEXT: Time to clean up this mess

John checks himself out of the hospital, against his doctor’s advice, and drives straight over to Meg’s. The three remaining Rayburn siblings try to assess how to fix this situation. When Meg asks what exactly happened, it’s Kevin who speaks up. “It doesn’t matter. We know that whatever happened out there, you did what you felt like you had to do. We all know what Danny was capable of.” Meg isn’t so sure and asks a couple of tough questions such as did Danny have a weapon or attack John. (No and no.) John admits that Danny was walking away.

Now it’s details they have to deal with: John is furious they moved the car and Danny’s bag. Meg is all, look man you weren’t around. I wonder if John would have just gone to the cops himself with this if he hadn’t suffered an attack. But now that his siblings inadvertently have become implicated you can see him wrestling with the inner forces as to whether protect them (and thus himself) or to come clean. He also doesn’t want to toss his own life down the toilet. Fair. John tells them they can be free of this and Meg, rightly, points out that Danny’s body is currently in her trunk. They are in this together.

Ooof, the mechanics of this are hard to watch. They pour ice over Danny’s body (like the fish!) and keep him in Kevin’s boat. It’s daybreak by the time they start moving in action: It involves going to Miami with Danny’s phone and going to his apartment and trashing the place. This feels awfully risky, and sure enough they’re spotted leaving his house by someone wearing a Rayburn House T-shirt. Carlos? Is that you?

At the site of the upcoming pier dedication, John engages in a little theater for his mother’s benefit: He pretends that Danny is calling—of course it is Kevin on the other line. John makes noise about making the right decisions as far as disappearing or talking to the authorities.

Back at the house: John tells Sally that Danny probably murdered the man in his hotel room. Sally wants to know how Danny sounded on the phone. John has gotten very good at lying: He goes on and on about how Danny sounded scared and that he thinks Danny will agree to come in. He tells her that they’ll allow Danny to come to the pier dedication. This is all, frankly, nuts. Poor Sally. The screaming in her mind is so loud she can’t hear the kettle. Meg says to tell Danny to wear the seersucker suit. Sally agrees. Gah.

John discovers that in some of Danny’s mailed envelopes are childhood pictures. Was Danny planning to shove off and leave his family for good? Sigh. This has become a tangled web. 

At the pier dedication there are two Rayburn sons in seersucker and one missing. Sally gives a speech: She feels like a lucky woman because of her family. She says she doesn’t know what she’d do without them and you see each of the remaining siblings come close to throwing up.

Belle is here! She tells Kevin again she really needs to talk and, even though Kevin’s eyes are darting nervously around the room like crazy, he agrees. That night of his dad’s funeral apparently things got a little hot and reckless between the two—and though Kevin is incredibly slow to catch on, Belle is pregnant. Oh god, Kevin does not react the way I’d like him to. For instance he does not grab her and spin her (carefully) around and start crying about how happy he is. Instead he blinks a lot and full on just walks away. Ugh, Kevin! He goes over to Meg and they make super unsubtle eye gestures at John, who walks over to Sally and says that Danny isn’t coming, but he’ll go talk to the DEA.

And now John is in the woods, both literally and metaphorically with Danny’s dead boy, clad in a seersucker jacket. That rain of doom starts falling.

He’s back with his siblings and reiterates they did what they needed to do and things are behind them. He tells Meg and Kevin to put all this behind them: Meg should take that job in New York; Kevin should make things right with Belle. They both deserve to be happy. He tells them in a monotone he’ll be fine. Yikes. Then he goes into a strangely formal thank you to his siblings for taking care of him. “We never say it in this family—I love you.” This should feel better than it does.

NEXT: Let’s see how everyone is doing 

Meanwhile John is at his elbow-rubbing event. He immediately cops to the fact that his surname has been in the papers in not such an awesome way thanks to his brother being wanted for murder. He tells them he wants them to understand a few things and then he launches into the speech we’ve been hearing from day one. Turns out the scary John voice of the future is a speech he is making for his own advancement and also happens to be full of lies!

In the midst of all this we see flashbacks of him carrying Danny’s body to the boat, fall in a puddle and torch the boat with Danny’s body.

This was not a twist I saw coming! He closes the speech with some nonsense about hoping wherever Danny is he’s okay and that he hopes Danny knows he loves him. Woof. The crowd goes wild for it, of course.

Meanwhile: Sally goes to see our old friend, Lenny Potts. She apologizes for avoiding him at Robert’s funeral. She tells him she was ashamed because it was Sally who told all her children to lie to him after Sarah died. She also tells Lenny that John has given up on Danny. He asks what she wants and she says she wants him to find Danny. 

A fisherman inevitably finds Danny’s remains. John gets the call and apparently so does Sally, who we see racing down the highway. It’s a truly heartbreaking scene for all involved as Sally comes undone in John’s arms.

Diana talks to John about Danny being found and how it would have been harder for Sally if he stayed missing for a long time. She asks if John has any idea what happened to him and he says no. Marco saves the day but not really because he asks John to come in for questioning. At the station they tell him Danny died from drowning, not being blown up and that all signs are pointing in the same direction.

John plays this perfectly: He gets annoyed and uses the wrong tense. He’s the picture of innocence. Even when Marco brings up the fact that Chelsea told the police that she had gone to John to warn Danny and he didn’t do anything. John is all: What’s up? Why are you treating me like a suspect?

Clay tells him the DEA found all the drugs—in Danny’s apartment in Miami. So much drugs that they realized he stole it from Wayne Lowry. The fake text message they sent from Miami backs this all up. So, the Rayburns did a really good job in the covering up department. The seersucker detail even totally paid off. Short version: John is totally in the clear.  

One month later: Meg is in New York and she’s in hot affair Alec’s gigantic office. She’s taken the job and likes the view. (I would too if it included Hot Alec!)

Belle and Kevin are cooking together and this pleases me. They have a cute back and forth about eating healthy and are generally sweet and adorable. Phew.

Sally meets with Lenny, who says he wishes he could have done more. Poor Sally, she’s still a wreck. Potts then says: “I couldn’t help Danny, but I found out some things. Your children are lying to you.” Oh boy, hi season 2.

John and the family are eating outside doing family Rayburn stuff. In the shadows there’s a lurking figure. John goes to investigate. It’s a kid and he wants to know if John is Danny Rayburn’s brother. John says yes. The kid says they need to talk—specifically what happened to him. Oh yeah, and he’s Danny’s son. Ka-boom.

So much to think about, right? Thanks so much for reading these! See you next season.

Episode Recaps

Netflix’s family drama features Sissy Spacek, Kyle Chandler, Sam Shephard and the list just keeps going.
  • TV Show
  • 3
  • 03/20/15
  • In Season
Complete Coverage