The final episode of Apple TV’s The Crowded Room shows a major tussle between Danny Sullivan (Tom Holland) and Jack (the immaculate Jason Isaacs), an entity that never existed beyond Danny’s mind. From the very start of the episode, Jack seizes power over Danny’s body after he slits his wrists in the previous episode, and now it’s up to Danny himself to escape from his own mind. But who was Jack, and why had he been created? Read on as we explore the existence of Jack, one of the most complicated and morally gray characters in the thriller miniseries The Crowded Room.
Danny Sullivan had been lost in a sea of strangeness and cruelty, mistreated, rejected, and pushed around because he came off as ‘weird and ‘a freak.’ The first protector in every child’s life is their father, who shields them from oncoming troubles and keeps them safe until they’re old enough to stand up for themselves. Danny was significantly lacking in this primary aspect of the family; he never had a father. His biological father abused him when Danny was an infant, and the stepfather his mother Candy brought home did worse. Marlin, the stepfather, would sexually assault Danny, and this was a repeated offense, and the pedophile always got away scot-free, without any consequences at all. Danny’s life had left him wide open for the predators to swoop in and take out chunks of his flesh. When a person is pushed to the extent that they aren’t equipped to handle, their mind shatters. This is what counselor Rya Goodwin says about Danny during his trial in the witness box. Danny had been subjected to brutal sexual assault numerous times by a person who was supposed to be his father figure, while in every other situation, he was left to fend for himself with no one to look after him.
When Danny went to England to find his father, he met a suave English fellow named Jack, who seemed very eager to help Danny sit straight, speak loudly with a clear voice, and learn to take matters into his own hands. Moreover, Jack silences a bully who scoffs at Danny at a pub and later buys the young American fish and chips. In every way possible, Jack acts like a guardian to Danny in ways he’d never imagined. As the audience would only come to realize several episodes later, Jack wasn’t real; he never had been, but he was just a figment of Danny’s psyche, formed to give him the sense of a protective father that he’d craved his entire life. Jack tried to make Danny a confident and resilient young adult like every father tries with his children, and when this truant ‘son’ found himself in trouble, Jack stepped in to keep Danny safe from the prying talons of strange women like Rya. That’s how Jack perceived the counselor initially, anyway.
Seen from a certain perspective, Jack was the father Danny never had, and hence it’d have been nice if he could stay and look after the boy until he realized it was time for him to let go. But herein lay the problem: Jack wasn’t ready to let go after all. After a certain age, every parent needs to let go of their child for them to go out in the world and face the tides themselves, but there are some who can’t let go, and mostly it’s out of their own insecurities. This was the case for Jack; he couldn’t let Danny be cured lest Jack be wiped from Danny’s psyche. The sole reason Jack had come into existence was to ensure Danny never felt stranded and abandoned, but he overstayed his welcome and started taking over when he actually had to step back. Yitzhak, the Israeli muscleman who shared the room with Jack and the other personas inside Danny’s mind, understood their purpose had come to an end and wanted to let go. However, Jack removed the voice of opposition by killing Yitzhak and seizing control of Danny’s body because, by now, he’d started enjoying his existence.
Soon, he’d surpassed the noble purpose of being the protective father figure of a young man in need of saving and had become the dictator who’d snatched the position of power and was refusing to let go. Now why did Jack change his goals and seize control of the ‘son’ he was supposed to protect? Who knows? He was but a figment of Danny’s psyche. The human brain has billions and billions of neurons, and one tiny little electrical impulse can abruptly change an entire personality, so how could anyone say for sure why Jack acted the way he did? The only plausible explanation was that these personas knew they were only guests whose sole purpose was to help Danny and that they’d have to leave when he no longer needed them. Somehow, Jack got greedy for this newfound freedom of being a person and inhabited Danny’s mind. We can argue that Jack was the domineering, dictatorial, and dogmatic side of Danny’s psyche that had certainly gained a lot of power. After all, the personas were just different shades of human emotions that had formed their own personalities inside Danny’s mind.
The last-ditch attempt by Danny to slit his wrists and escape being sent to prison irritated Jack to the point that he became absolutely totalitarian and locked Danny inside a cell, INSIDE Danny’s mind! This situation truly gave shape to the expression that the mind is one’s greatest prison. Jack was bent on not letting go of this body, and he was enjoying the powers that it gave him, even if it meant sending Danny Sullivan to jail. No amount of therapy, treatment, or cure could wipe Jack off Danny’s psyche unless the creator could destroy his strongest creation. The fuse for this destruction was lit when Danny’s counselor, Stan Camisa, showed Jack a portrait of Danny with his twin brother Adam as children.
As the lawyer kept bombarding Jack with evidence that questioned Adam’s existence, Danny thundered and roared inside his cage, trying to escape. Finally, Danny broke out of his greatest prison and looked into the face of his brother Adam, submerged in the waterlogged room with the rest of the deceased personas. The realization that Adam had never been real shattered every bit of doubt that’d clouded Danny’s mind, and he’d broken free of Jack’s grasp. Danny had come to terms with his greatest secret and understood that he’d been alone his entire life. It’d always been him against the world, and he’d never had a savior. So, he himself had been his savior all these years, and in the future, he needed to continue doing so. This realization effectively ended Jack’s necessity inside Danny’s mind, and just like that, his reign of terror had ceased. Thus, the human mind is the greatest box of mystery in this world, and unveiling secrets about it can always be immensely fascinating.