The show had to tie most events to Danny’s perspective to keep most things as mysterious as possible. It was more of a weakness than a strength for the first half of The Crowded Room Season 1.
The format, however, paid off on The Crowded Room Season 1 Episode 6 when the story was told from Rya’s perspective, focusing a little on her personal life and what was at stake in dealing with Danny’s case.
The show introduced her both personally and professionally. She was a mother going through a divorce which didn’t do anything to serve the story, even if it felt like a personal touch to give depth to the character.
Her primary shortcoming was her lacking abilities as a mother. She was always focused on getting through the immediate moment to leave for work. If a parent won’t spend time with their child, the bare minimum would be ensuring they eat healthily, and a Coke and cereal was not it.
Was it a surprise that the child was suffering from constant stomach pain?
The 1970s was a weird time when women were thought of as nothing more than child-rearing machines, and any deviation from that made a woman’s life significantly harder.
Dean Hughes: Rya, you’re a great teacher. If any one of you deserves tenure…
Rya: Any one of us? A woman, you mean?
Rya was focused on getting tenure which would open more doors for her to pursue even more complex psychological studies. Yet she was overlooked by the virtue of being a woman.
While it unraveled one of the earliest mysteries about Rya’s identity, Rya’s introduction should have happened as early as The Crowded Room Season 1 Episode 1.
If that had happened, then it would have made us care more about her and where she was coming from; instead, she came off as just another antagonist who was not worth thinking about, and if we’re being frank, her line of questioning was more annoying than anything.
It was for that reason that this episode felt irrelevant for the first half because why should we care about her?
Yet, this was probably the most important The Crowded Room Season 1 episode since the pilot because, for the first time, we saw events unfold in what would be termed a more realistic manner.
It became clear that we couldn’t trust most of what Danny was saying because he appeared inconsistent.
Through Rya, we saw the real Danny and his most recent identity and how that affected how he saw the world.
Much about the human brain was unknown in the 1970s, and it’s fairly true that we still don’t know a lot about it today. It’s ironic because it is the most robust part of the human body, and it would stand to reason that more focus would be paid to it.
I’m very sorry, Rya, but if you want the department to support your grant, you’re going to have to find something else. Okay?
If the human brain was a mystery, mental health was unheard of in how it’s discussed today.
Apart from crossing the restrictions placed upon her by society because she’s a woman, Rya was fighting another battle of trying to beat ignorance.
Like Danny was unaware that he had split personality disorder, the rest of the world was in the same boat because many people with any mental illness were unaware, and even more, the mentally healthy ones were unwilling to entertain the idea of mental illnesses.
Even though most of the events that had happened so far were tied to Danny’s point of view, there were little moments like in The Crowded Room Season 1 Episode 4, when we’d see things from another person’s perspective, especially Rya’s and we saw a side of Danny we’d never seen.
That side was the sassy and chatty Danny.
In his own eyes, Danny saw himself as this weak undesirable person who kept his head down as much as possible to be able to move in the world without drawing attention to himself.
When Rya first met Danny, he was quirky, talkative, and unnerving to a stranger. One could tell that Tom Holland had fun playing that because, so far, he had kept the same persona.
What was unclear was whether the first person Rya met was Danny, Jack, or someone else. That other persona differed because Danny was soft-spoken and introverted, while Jack was firm, hard, and self-aware.
Rya had suspected that something was off with Danny, but when the condition he was suffering from had never been diagnosed, it was hard to pinpoint the precise problem.
Visiting the boarding house and talking to Candy clarified some things.
Emmy Rossum got to shine alongside Amanda Seyfried as she dug more about Danny’s supposed twin brother, Adam.
Ms. Seyfried had been doing a phenomenal job with Rya, even when she had to sit down and listen.
The writers tried to maintain an air of mystery surrounding Danny, Adam, and the events in the boarding house. It would have been impressive if we hadn’t figured out what might have happened.
Rya: Do you know who lived with him across the street?
Candy: I don’t know who was full-time. There was a girl there a lot. People come and go.
The second half of “Rya” was exciting as everything clicked in place. Even if we had guessed most of what was happening, it was exciting to be confirmed right.
Danny recounting what had happened with Adam and Marlin was heartbreaking to hear, and it was no surprise that Rya broke down crying after the session.
To imagine a child having to go through something so traumatic to the point of developing a coping mechanism in the form of split personalities is too much to bear, even when thinking about it as a viewer.
A lot came up in this episode that left something to ponder over.
It was evident that Candy knew what Danny was going through with Marlin. Denial is a strong thing, and while she might have reveled in it then and was trying to remain strong in it, how much longer will she keep it up?
Rya: Maybe he’s unaware of his actions when he’s Jack. Or he thinks somebody else is doing them.
Matty: You’re serious.
Rya: Matty, if I’m right, Danny may be innocent.
Matty: How the hell does that work exactly?
Rya: Because it’s his other personality who’s the criminal.
Matty: Right. Good luck telling that to a jury.
I’m not conversant with how the law treats cases of Dissociative Identity Disorder currently. Without precedent, it will be interesting to see what the justice system decides to do with Danny and his multiple personalities.
How would you approach this if you were a judge or part of a jury?
On the one hand, every crime was committed by someone resembling Danny, but on the other, it wasn’t Danny really. Who did Rya meet this time, do you think?
“Rya” was the most eye-opening episode, and the show’s format didn’t constrict it. Unfortunately, it could feel redundant at some points when scenes we’d already seen kept coming up.
What did you think? Let us know in the comments section.
Denis Kimathi is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. He has watched more dramas and comedies than he cares to remember. Catch him on social media obsessing over [excellent] past, current, and upcoming shows or going off about the politics of representation on TV. Follow him on Twitter.