Episode 4 of Apple TV+’s The Crowded Room both raises and answers questions as Danny’s narrative begins to unravel.
In The Crowded Room, things in Danny Sullivan’s (Tom Holland) world and mind just keep getting stranger and stranger, indicating that he is, in fact, not well … but then, some of you may have already picked up on that earlier on. Have all of the events he has been narrating to Investigator Rya Goodman (Amanda Seyfried) really happened? Episode 4 certainly begins to unravel this tangled ball of mystery but by its end leaves us, of course, with more questions, yes, but also with a solid foundation for understanding what actually may be at play here.
To recap, the end of Episode 3 sees Danny in a panic and fleeing the country after Yitzhak (Lior Raz) shoots Angelo (Stephen Barrington), the drug dealer from whom Danny stole the gun, then kicks Danny out and hands him money, a passport, an airline ticket, and information on where to find his father, Pete. Because Danny is so frozen in a state of panic, he questions nothing and does what he’s told as he hops a plane to London, and this is where Episode 4 begins.
Danny arrives in London and goes straight to the address Yitzak gave him for Pete’s job, the Royal Travel Agency. The receptionist says no one by that name works there, then a man named Jack (Jason Isaacs, of the Harry Potter series) appears saying he and Pete were business associates who operated out of the back of the office. Jack then takes Danny to a bar for a drink, where he explains to Danny he has not seen his father for quite some time due to a business deal abroad that went awry. As a result, this caught the attention of the authorities and Pete decided to go on the run instead of returning to England to avoid arrest. Jack assures Danny, though, his father is not dead.
At this bar full of wealthy Englishmen, Danny sticks out like a sore thumb and runs into trouble when a customer calls him a “wanker” and embarrasses him. Jack takes offense to this and confronts the dude by brandishing a knife and encouraging him to apologize loudly so the whole bar can hear, which he does. Again, we have another instance where Danny is faced with trouble and someone steps in to save him. Later in the scene, we see a private phone call between Jack and Pete where Pete is telling Jack he must “prepare Danny for the mission.” What mission? We wonder. As they leave the bar, Jack makes sure to lead Danny past a certain business so that he sees Reggie Silver (Gary Milner, of John Carter), who turns out to be a former associate of—you guessed it—Danny’s father and Jack.
Back to present day, Danny is with Professor Goodman in interrogation. The fact that other cops refer to her as professor indicate she is not law enforcement but is, perhaps, a psychological professional brought in to assess him. Rya continuously asks Danny questions about the coherence of his narration, implying to him he is not seeing that everything happening to him is too much of a coincidence to be true, that maybe it has been the plan from the get-go.
“I don’t know,” Danny replies. “I guess my father, Yitzhak, and Jack did work together. They did have a plan, it’s just that that plan was not to protect me. I mean, how many times can you think somebody is gonna come save you until you realize that no one really is?”
Ouch. These deep realizations are palpable. Seems everyone’s efforts to protect Danny thus far were just premeditated steps to get him where they needed him, which was in London to retrieve “an awful lot of cash” owed to his father as a result of the business abroad. Jack tells Danny the job was an illegal import for Reggie. Pete couldn’t claim his share of the money because he’d be arrested if he returned to England and all this time, Reggie has had it. Jack grooms Danny into retrieving it by further earning his trust by helping him identify his courage and use his confidence to face the consequences in these situations of life.
He then tells Danny Reggie is more of a family man than a businessman, so if Danny goes to him and simply reveals who he is and asks for the money, Reggie is likely to just hand it over. Of course, things don’t go down like that. Reggie has Danny thrown out on the street after denying knowing Pete or anything about any money, and when Danny turns to look for Jack, to no surprise, he is gone … disappeared just like everyone else he has ever learned to trust. As Danny’s panic sets in and begins to grow when he cannot find Jack anywhere, he magically appears at Danny’s hotel room at just the perfect moment, then works to encourage him to go back home and confront what awaits him in regards to the shooting incident.
So what does Danny do? Exactly what Jack tells him he should: He goes home. Upon returning, however, there is no trace of either Yitzhak or Ariana. Rya asks Danny why he thinks they would just disappear and leave everything they owned behind, and Danny responds through hints of sadness and sincerity that he does not know. The more Rya begins to push with her questions and accuse him, once again, of being the mastermind behind this operation, Danny snaps and moves his chair intimidatingly close to her as he tries to justify all the details he has shared, explaining to her that Ariana, Yitzhak, and Jack all schemed to use him for their ulterior ends, including the shooting of Marlin. And on that note, he reminds her that he himself is a victim in all this.
“Do you really think I killed both of them? Why? Why would I do that? I loved her!” he says before questioning why anyone would do that … “invest all these years” in something like this and for what? “Your story does not make sense,” he tells Rya. “Unless all this wasn’t for three-thousand pounds … unless there was more at stake.”
Rya sees this as an opening and takes the opportunity to ask again about how Adam, Danny’s deceased twin, died. Danny immediately shuts down and ends the interrogation. The next morning, we see Rya coming in for her session with him but as she walks into the room, she finds Jack, who has seemingly “taken over” for Danny for the time being. Something is off, though, because she’s not surprised in the slightest to see Jack sitting there instead of Danny. She’s doesn’t even balk in the pace with which she enters the room and carries on a dialogue as if it’s absolutely normal. When she suggests to Jack they tell Danny “the truth,” Jack leans forward and sternly warns her that doing so would be “a catastrophic idea.”
“What if it’s his only way out?” she asks. “What then?”
And that’s where we’re left with Episode 4.
It’s becoming clear, now, that what Danny is narrating to Rya is likely just all in his head and that Jack, Ariana, and Yitzhak might just be figments of his imagination. While The Crowded Room appears hesitant to say this very thing out loud for the time being, it’s clear this narrative is recognized for some reason because it does offer insight into how Danny got to this stage in his life. Why else would Rya not balk upon seeing Jack, then carry on the conversation as if it’s normal. And, if the whole “figment of Danny’s imagination” scenario is the case, is his father being on the run as a result of a bad business deal abroad just a figment, too? And furthermore, what about Adam? Did Danny ever really have a brother, or is he himself really Adam and maybe he splintered off into Danny to be able to deal with his childhood trauma of both his father’s abandonment and his stepfather’s abuse? If all these people are not real and Danny is setting all this up, how is he able to pull all this off?
The real tragedy here is that Danny doesn’t seem to realize what’s happening within and around him, and sadly, he is devoid of the fact that his condition is a ripe breeding ground in his mind for fear and paranoia about others. As for what unravels next in Danny’s awareness, we’ll have to wait ‘til next week.
The Crowded Room airs on Fridays on Apple TV+.
Episode 4 of The Crowded Room is now streaming on Apple TV+.