The Apple TV Miniseries, The Crowded Room released its final episode today, and these past couple of months have been an emotional ride, to say the least. We witnessed how a young man named Danny Sullivan explored so many unknown things about himself and then was made a spectacle before a court because of a crime he committed without his own knowledge. The miniseries throws light on the importance of looking after mental health, putting an end to child abuse, and healing from sexual trauma. Danny suffered from differential identity disorder, a concept virtually unknown before it was diagnosed, thanks to his illness in the series, and he used to survive with several personas in his mind. Thus, the name of the show comes from the crowd that inhabited the room, which was Danny’s mind. Today, we take a look at the personas that Danny’s mind created and the purposes they served in his life.
For the longest time, Danny was the quiet, shy, and timid kid who was the favorite target of bullies because he had a hard time standing his ground or fighting back against injustice. The last episode reveals that Danny had failed to realize that it had been him who was the victim of sexual assault, and that was because his psyche had already splintered by that time so that Adam could step in and keep Danny safe. A frail and scared little boy, Danny didn’t have friends or any proper parental care while growing up, so he never knew what making friends felt like. Alone in the world and cowering into one’s shell gives the outside world the idea that this person is an easy target to prey on, and preying they did, be it the bullies in Danny’s school bus or his counselor inside the classroom. Rya Goodwin once said to Candy that predators can pick up on little clues that people like Danny inadvertently leave behind them, which is in no way their fault but makes them an easy target.
To protect Danny from such abuses, be it the kid mouthing off to him on the bus or Marlin who sexually assaulted the child, the persona of Adam existed so that Danny could find relief. Of course, there was no Adam, and it was Danny himself who was suffering all the torment, but the part of his psyche that was Danny could enjoy some moments in the evening air playing with twilight while the other part of his psyche sacrificed himself before a monster like Marlin. However, we can argue that Adam had appeared much earlier—in fact, when Danny was an infant. Candy confesses to her son in the end that Danny’s father was abusive to the child, so she fled with the little infant in her arms. What if Adam came into existence right then to protect Danny, which explains why Adam was with him for such a long time? The show doesn’t go into details regarding such intricacies, but it’s quite possible that Adam was the very first persona that Danny’s mind formed to escape the monstrous world.
Danny was a friendless person, both in his childhood and as a young adult. This explains why he sat alone in the school bus, with Adam only filling the seat in his mind and Jonny and Mike appearing to fill this massive void. Danny would realize a certain hollowness in his life, but he wouldn’t know how to fill this gaping void. This is why the personas or alters appeared, but we can say that it was Danny himself whose intensely active mind gave rise to such vibrant characters, each of whom served a very important purpose essential for his survival. Danny was ill-equipped to survive in America in the 1970s; there’s no question about that. He lacked the social skills to speak to a girl he liked; he didn’t have the educational qualifications, nor did he possess any soft skills needed to get a job. In every aspect of his life, there was a significant hole that he couldn’t fill on his own. So his mind created the personas that could fit into the roles needed for his survival.
Mike was the confident and charming guy who could swoop in and invite Annabelle to a house party—something Danny would never have the ability to do. Like Mike, Danny scored multiple hoops in the prison basketball game, a trait the timid Danny could never muster. These were traits that Danny’s own mind provided him so that he could brace the world, so in a way, it was Danny himself who was keeping him alive, and not the other way around as the alters believed. Jonny provided financial independence for Danny to live in a huge house and provide for himself, but he did so by selling drugs. Of course, the real Danny, who created portraits that were the definition of art itself, would never sell because he never had the confidence to walk up to a showroom owner and show them his paintings. Thus, it was upon Jonny to help Danny get by the best he could. However, each alter invited a vice that the real person had to suffer for. Mike lacked the guts to jump into the heat of a battle or face a daunting confrontation, while Jonny was a drug addict, making Danny do extremely humiliating actions that his real psyche felt nauseated thinking about. All these personas inhabited his mind, so if the good things came from him, so did the vices. We can say that inside him lived a confident and flirtatious guy who was nervous when trouble came knocking, and there was also an escape artist who didn’t mind selling his dignity for drug money.
There also existed Yitzhak, the muscle of the unit, whose sole function was to step in when Danny was in physical harm’s way. Having been bullied and mistreated his entire life, a time came when Danny’s mind gave rise to a protector who’d keep him safe, something the real Dan could never do. Yitzhak was fearless and powerful and did everything in his power to keep Dan safe. He was probably one of the very few who loved Dan selflessly. However, the two most complicated personalities were those of Jack and Ariana. Danny grew up without a father figure in his life, and the man that his mother brought home was a pedophile. This massive need for someone he could look up to had to be fulfilled by Dan himself and thus appeared Jack, a suave British fellow who spoke in a London accent and took himself seriously. Jack was the brains of the entire operation that was Danny’s mind, and he ran the whole ship. However, there came a time when the alters mutinied against the very person who had created them, and Jack was at the forefront of this mutiny.
The other persona that was equally complicated but existed to ensure Danny’s well-being was Ariana, a young girl of his age, who appeared whenever Danny felt lonely. Having been exposed to sexual assault at an age when he didn’t understand its gravity, Danny was severely uncomfortable when it came to being vulnerable physically and he usually crawled into a shell. Thus, Ariana would step in and take charge so that Dan himself could enjoy the solitude that he couldn’t escape. However, Ariana had a relationship with Jerome, and she was a different person as far as Jerome remembered. Then again, it was Danny wearing eyeliner who’d visited the gay bar to see Jerome, so we can also state that a part of Danny was bisexual, which he didn’t know, much like he didn’t know about any of the alters.
At the end of the day, we understand that Danny was able to assimilate all the alters that existed in the crowded room or in his mind, meaning the treatment had worked. Had he been given love and care, like every child deserves, Danny would’ve grown up to be a very confident and loving man who could draw amazingly as well. It was just the bad hand that life had dealt him at a young age, which was followed by repeated trauma, and that too of the worst kind. In the end, though, Danny could gain control of all the personalities that existed for so many years, although he never assimilated with Adam because he could never let go of the child he’d loved as his twin brother.