The Crowded Room ’s Episode 5 offers some insight on why Danny’s room just seems to be so crowded and how it came to be that way.
Well, The Crowded Room finally confirmed my suspicions with the release of Episode 5, entitled “Savior,” that Danny (Tom Holland) did, in fact, suffer some horrible childhood trauma that is directly related to everything unfolding the way it is in his present-day life, and that trauma is both heartbreaking and eye opening.
Episode 5 opens with another session between Danny and Special Investigator Rya Goodman (Amanda Seyfried). Rya again presses him about his return from London to find both Ariana (Sasha Lane) and Yitzhak (Lior Raz) completely gone– why would they just disappear without so much as a word? Danny picks up on what she’s hinting at and leans in to ask her if she really thinks he killed them both out of revenge for sending him to London. Is Danny really the kind of guy who creates this elaborate story of an alleged roommate’s sexual assault and need for protection by murdering her attacker just so he can have a shot at killing his stepdad? And if so, why? After this episode, that answer is quite clear.
In interrogation, Rya presses Danny about his twin brother Adam even more, wanting to know what happened to him, and that is what this episode sort of revolves around. Rya gently guides Danny back to childhood and he begins narrating a happier memory of when Adam was still alive, and he and Danny were headed into third grade. Adam is headed off to London to be with his father for a little while, but Danny is being left behind. Why? Is Danny remembering this specific moment because it happened right before Adam died, and is this the moment that triggered Danny’s first appearances of a dissociative personality?
With Adam away, Danny faces bullying at school and has a tantrum as a result. He’s sent home with a note for Candy (Emmy Rossum), but he does not give it to her. It’s clear he’s lonely and doesn’t want to be separated from her, so he begs her to take him to work with her at her evening job, which is bartending, and she does. But it winds up being a traumatic night when four Black patrons enter the bar and they’re confronted by a bigoted racist and a fight breaks out. Punches are thrown and blood is splattered across Danny’s face, both scarring and marking him. He confesses to Rya that historically blood has meant something ominous in works of literature and art.
“In the age of Judaism and Shakespeare,” he says, “blood spilled in violence has mystical powers. It can ward off evil or even summon it.”
Danny believes the blood that marked him summoned the evil that ensued in his life and everything that happened after that moment was not just a coincidence. His dad leaving left Danny, Adam, and Candy vulnerable, and Candy was “always perpetually disappointed” in Danny, thinking that she wanted someone who could fix things or make life turn out the way she’d expected.
“We needed a savior,” Danny says.
And this is when Marlin (Will Chase) enters the picture. Remember, he’s the abusive jerk stepfather. Presumably, in Danny’s mind, it’s the string of events of Pete running off that made Adam leave, made Danny throw a tantrum that forced him to cling to his mother for protection, and that only landed him in a traumatic situation where he was marked by blood, and then the presumed-savior-turned-pedophile Marlin showed up.
See, Marlin was a juvenile detention center counselor who wound up meeting Candy at the bar where she worked. All it took was a simple night of flirting, drinks, and dancing, then yada yada yada. Candy eventually introduces Marlin to Danny and after a fun night out at dinner, Candy brings Marlin home and straight bones him out in the open like no one’s around, and of course Danny both sees and hears the atrocity. What’s worse is that Marlin sees Danny watching them and grins about it. Gross. And awkward.
Rya interrupts Danny’s narrative to ask how he can know their story happened the way it did.
“You can’t know it happened like that, not really,” she tells Danny, who responds with, “No, not exactly. But there’s a difference. There are things you know because you’ve lived them, because you’ve read them, or because you’ve been told them a thousand times. They told it to us [Adam and Danny] over and over,” and in that way, Danny says, he lived it.
He then tells Rya both he and his mother thought Marlin would be the one to protect them and “keep the monsters out,” but the truth is they never stood a chance because the monster was already there. It was Marlin.
The morning after the sex incident, Adam mysteriously shows up on the bus to school, which is weird because we didn’t see him in the house with his brother and mother, and to me this just confirms Adam is, in fact, a figment of Danny’s imagination. At school that day, the guidance counselor keeps Danny behind at the end of the day and we don’t have to be a genius to see where this is headed. However, before anything starts to cross any lines, Marlin arrives to pick Danny up, thereby “rescuing” him.
On the drive home, it’s even clearer Adam really is just a part of Danny’s imagination when Marlin only talks to and acknowledges Danny. Marlin says he’s thinking of proposing to Danny’s mother because she works so hard and if it’s left up to just her, she may not be able to keep Danny, but Marlin says he has mixed feelings—feelings that Danny could help solve if they made a pact together.
This poor kid.
Marlin pulls off the road and tries to coax Danny into a barn with him. Danny pauses right before entering and feels Adam behind him. To protect him, Adam winds up going into the barn with Marlin instead and Danny is left watching helplessly. Back in the interrogation room, Danny tells Rya that Marlin kept up the sexual assaults and physical abuse of “Adam” for years, and that is how Adam became Danny’s savior. So, if Adam is a figment of Danny’s imagination, it’s safe to assume Ariana and Yitzhak are, too. But who else is? How many other people whom we’ve been introduced to in Danny’s narrative are figments and why? Are they all saviors?
Regardless, it’s clear that Danny has some serious psychological issues going on that pull him in and out of reality. His story continues to delve deeper into tragedy, and the more we learn, the more empathy we feel. No child should have to go through any traumas of any kind, then feel forced to keep them quiet for the sake of his/her mother’s happiness; that’s just heartbreaking but it’s a potent reality for too many kids today.
The Crowded Room ’s Episode 5 really gives us the sense of how all this must have felt for Danny as a young child. Prepare for the show to get darker from here as Danny’s dissociate personality awareness unfolds even more and we begin to see how that affects his fate in the Rockefeller Center shootings in questions.
Stay tuned, my friends. Things are starting to heat up.
The Crowded Room airs Fridays on Apple TV+.
Episode 5 of The Crowded Room is now streaming on Apple TV+.