Danny Sullivan has two mother figures in his life in Apple TV’s The Crowded Room, his own mother, Candy, and his counselor, Rya Goodwin, who’s brought in after Danny is arrested for shooting up the Rockefeller Center. However, the two women differ starkly in their attitudes, beliefs, and the way they treated Danny. That forms the central idea of this article, where we look at how Candy failed in the worst possible way as a mother. Meanwhile, a woman Danny didn’t know until he was arrested ended up being his guardian angel. Read on to explore the two contrasting female characters that Danny encountered in his troubled life.
A child’s mother is the closest person they’ve had for the earliest and most vulnerable years of their lives. A mother protects, cares for, and nourishes her child, at times going beyond her capacities to ensure that her offspring is cared for in the best possible way. Danny Sullivan never knew his birth father because his mother, Candy, had taken her child away from her husband after finding out that he had been abusive to the infant. Danny grew up with only his mother to keep him company, further pushing him into a depth of loneliness that Candy could never fathom. Danny’s requests for Candy to take him to her workplace weren’t because he wanted to be in a café and enjoy the bustling crowd. Danny was breaking apart on the inside and was so terrifyingly lonely that he grabbed on to his mother tighter with each traumatic event that impacted him. Bullied at school, irritated by his peers, and dealing with a feeling of immense loneliness, Danny only had Candy to care for him.
However, what Danny was too young to understand was that Candy, too, was breaking apart. She was pulling two jobs to support her only son and herself, but even then, it wasn’t proving to be enough. Candy’s biggest priority was providing for her child and herself, and she failed to realize that her son was emotionally at his breaking point. When she started dating Marlin, Candy finally breathed easy, knowing that the financial burden had been lifted off her shoulders and she could finally kick back and relax. What she didn’t realize, however, was that her newest husband was a pedophile, a child abuser who sexually assaulted her son Danny several times. Marlin, an adept predator, had won the child’s silence by telling him that he’d save him and his mother from the financial burden if the 9-year-old allowed that adult man to do unspeakable things to him.
For the longest time, though, we, the audience, were under the impression that Candy had no idea of the horrible things that happened to her son because of her husband, Marlin. However, towards the very end, it was revealed that Candy knew everything—how her son was sexually abused by her husband—and that she stayed quiet about it. When she finally decided she’d go and testify against her husband, he blindsided her inside an elevator and threatened horrible consequences if she testified against him. So, Candy walked up to the witness box and lied, saying that her son had never been sexually abused. This makes her one of the worst characters to exist in the show, right alongside her dumpster fire of a husband. Candy, a mother, not only stayed quiet about her son’s sexual abuse but also lied when the chance arrived for her to come clean because she didn’t want to be ridiculed by society for staying quiet. Also, it had a lot to do with her being unable to be left alone, and she’d rather live with the rapist of her child than side with him and keep her conscience clear. Candy deserved far worse than the way Danny left her, without a word but letting her know she wasn’t welcome to see him anymore. She’s on one side of the spectrum: a biological mother who does nothing for the well-being of her child.
On the other side was Rya Goodwin, a mother to a 5-year-old boy and the counselor who was brought over to look into Danny’s case. Rya was a psychology professor at a university in need of a grant to ensure her tenure. The recently divorced woman was also in need of funds to provide for herself and her child, and she took on Danny’s case because she felt it could give her the material to write a new thesis that’d guarantee the grant. But that was the initial plan. Soon afterward, though, Rya started treating Danny like less of a case file and more of a human; she’d begun seeing him in a light that Danny had rarely experienced in life. Rya treated Danny like a human. She’s the biggest contrast to Candy, who stayed silent on her son’s abuse to ensure her financial well-being, while Rya quit her job at the university to ensure that Danny found justice in the court case.
During her initial weeks with Danny, Rya stressed about getting to the end of the mystery so that she could solve the case and be done with it. However, as the symptoms of Danny’s illness started revealing themselves with every passing week, Rya’s professional curiosity grew, and so did her maternal instincts to treat this young man with the type of kindness that she knew he was a stranger to. It cost her nothing to speak to him gently or ask him if he’d watched the solar eclipse, but she treated him as a human with respect. As time went by, Rya witnessed the many shades of personalities that resided inside Danny, and she made it a mission of her life to help this young man when he begged her to. She felt an enormous swelling sense of need for help from this man who pleaded with her for help, and it went beyond her professional duty. Rya sacrificed hours upon hours to find every little tip that could help Danny’s case. She withstood backlash from Danny’s mother, who blamed her for failing to do the best for her son. Still, it was none other than Rya who came up with the brilliant way to help Danny see the truth. Had it not been for her, Danny would’ve remained in the darkness of his mind for the rest of his life, being too far gone for anyone to help.
This wasn’t lost on Danny. When Rya came to see him, he admitted to her that she was his guardian angel in moments of extreme hardship, and it was she who had saved Danny from the darkness. Rya sacrificed her career as a teacher to be present at Danny’s testimony because she realized the necessity of saving a life and also because she felt a motherly affection towards Danny. He himself referred to her as his “Mother Mary” while speaking to her two years into his therapy. Thus, there were two mother figures in his life. One, his biological mother, whom he refused to keep any company with, and another, a psychologist Danny never knew before his case, who became his savior. Now it’s up to you, the reader, to decide which of the two women deserves more affection from Danny and why.