Based on the nonfiction novel The Minds of Billy Milligan, Akiva Goldsman and Todd Graff bring us a 10-episode anthology about a young teenager who finds himself in a heap of trouble in the Apple+ series The Crowded Room. Played by Tom Holland, Danny Sullivan is an awkward teen in the late ’70s in Manhattan who’s suddenly the center of police attention because he pulled a gun on a man in the middle of Rockefeller Center. As investigator Rya Goodwin goes into depth, trying to explore Danny’s reasons behind his actions, the series reveals certain dark secrets about the teen’s past. Here’s what happens in the first episode of The Crowded Room.
Why Is Danny Sullivan Arrested?
The first episode of The Crowded Room begins with a subway ride as a nervous-looking boy with shaggy, shoulder-length hair keeps fidgeting with a brown paper bag in his lap. A girl named Ariana asks if this boy named Danny Sullivan is sure that he wants to go ahead with the task, and he agrees, so the two step out of the subway and out on the streets. Judging by the cars, the hairstyles, and a poster of Frank Sinatra performing on stage, it’s the middle of ’79, but these two young’uns have no time to check out the scenery as they’re in pursuit of a man. Ariana agrees to cut their target off from the front, while Danny is to shoot him with the revolver in the brown paper bag right in the middle of Rockefeller Center. However, when the time comes, and their target turns around, Danny freezes in his spot and fails to shoot the person before him, despite Ariana’s request. As the target takes flight, Ariana picks up the gun and fires at their target but misses all the shots except one that nicks the fleeing target. Danny is arrested after he runs to a house where a burly man has entrusted him with a passport and some money.
What Does Danny Reveal About His Past?
Now, Danny sits before an investigator, Rya Goodwin (Amanda Seyfried), who repeatedly asks Danny about Ariana and the burly man, who turns out to be Danny’s neighbor. After much ado, Danny finally gets into his backstory. Back in ’77, Danny was an unpopular kid, at school and he didn’t have much luck at home either: Danny was often bullied by his stepfather Marlin. It was just his magician friend Jonny and his footballer friend Mike who kept this goofy and shy kid company until Jonny took him to a party where he met Annabelle Stone and instantly took a liking to her. They’d met a big man who’d moved into the empty place in their neighborhood, and the boys introduced themselves to the stranger. This dangerous-looking man was Yitzhak, an Israeli guy who seemed rather odd. We also hear about Danny’s identical sibling Adam and that he’s no longer around, but Danny refuses to elaborate about his brother to Rya. Back to the main story, Danny and his buddies realize that to make some cash, they can sell weed, and Danny can get together with Annabelle while his friends can make some profit. They encourage this shy kid to steal $100 from his stepfather, and they somehow manage to get weed from a local dealer, Angelo, and quickly start selling it for a profit at the school.
However, Danny’s attempt to ask Annabelle to hang out and smoke weed are overheard by her mean-spirited friend Eden, who wastes no time snitching on Danny, the jock who bullies Danny now and then. When the principal searches Danny’s locker, he can’t find anything because Jonny used his “magic hands” to remove the weed, but Bill gets suspended, and Danny gets to kiss Annabelle that evening. Things are probably the best at the moment for Danny, but his luck runs out fast because the very next day, Annabelle sends her jerk friend Eden to let him know she’s ending it. She slaps the envelope that Danny had brought for her friend, the same envelope with a beautiful portrait of Annabelle and a joint. The principal finally spots the joint, and Danny runs in the opposite direction, straight to his home, where Marlin’s phone arrives, asking Danny’s mother, Candy, about the stolen $100. Worse still, Bill the jock has gathered a few of his cronies, and they chase Danny down the street for getting Bill suspended and quickly pin the kid down. Bill begins thrashing the helpless Danny as he bleeds and cowers in pain until Yitzhak steps in and clears the crowd with his fists. He invites Danny in so that he can tend to his wounds, and that’s how Danny starts living in the “ghost house,” as his friends and he used to call the big building.
Where Does Danny Go After Running Away From School?
While hobbling through the halls of the ghost house with bloodstains on his face and shirt, Danny spotted Ariana for the first time, and he described to Rya that he’d quickly felt comfortable in there. Yitzhak treated his busted nose while Ariana sat at the table, watching him. However, the violent memories of Yitzhak punching someone and Danny firing a gun race past his mind as Rya reminds him of his probable fate: Danny will be going to prison, lest Ariana shows up. She asks a few more questions about Ariana, Yitzhak, and even Adam until Danny demands to know what she thinks he actually did.
Episode 1 of The Crowded Room presents Danny as a scaredy-cat who’s too shy and awkward to talk to a girl he likes or stand up against bullying. His stepfather, Marlin, mistreats him at home, while the typical school jock pushes Danny around and humiliates him. Now, Marlin wants his money back, and his school will probably expel Danny for bringing marijuana to school, so he only has one place to go: the “ghost house” where a big Israeli man helps out people who’ve had tough luck and saves them from trouble. Ariana was one such person whom Yitzhak had saved, and now Danny is going to room in the house, except for the present day when he pulled a gun on a man in Rockefeller Center. However, given how frail-hearted Danny is, unless he learns to stand up for himself and knows when to say no, he’s bound to have a tough road ahead. The first episode lays the backdrop against which Danny will have to spend the years until he finally draws a revolver on a stranger, but we can only hope that he’ll learn how to be a little more courageous from his benefactor, Yitzhak. Meanwhile, he also needs to come up with answers for Rya about Ariana and this Israeli man unless he wants to go to prison. Also, what’s the secret about Adam, and why doesn’t Danny want to talk about him? We’ll know more, hopefully, in the coming episodes.