The Crowded Room – Season 1 Episode 6 “Rya” Recap & Review


Episode 6 of The Crowded Room begins with a look at Rya’s life. Rya has been seen interacting with Danny in jail till now. But in this episode, we go deeper into her struggles and motivations to take Danny’s case. She is a single mother who lives with her son, Ezra. The events in this episode pick up one week after the Rockefeller shooting. So, we are going back in time from where we were in the previous episode.

Rya’s mother, Susie, helps her out with Ezra, who misses her father more than he wants to stay with Rya. At work, she is chasing a tenure position. As mentioned before, she works at a University. But the problem is that Dean Hughs cannot sanction a grant for her research. The Psychology Department feels Rya’s proposed thesis is not realistic and won’t contribute to the progression of her field.

In class, Rya teaches the tenets of personality disorder, foreshadowing her later work with Danny. The highlight of her lecture is when she says that people with such disorders do not actually know what they’re doing. They become mentally unwell due to the severe trauma they suffered as a child. By splitting their personality, such patients find a viable way to escape the horrors that haunt them.

After class, Detective Matty, who has an off/on relationship with Rya, invites her to the station. He believes Danny is a serial killer and a “real whack job.” When we see her meeting Danny, his personality is completely changed. He has no inkling of the Danny we have seen until now. This new version is more confident, easygoing, and ruefully charming. Danny even undoes his handcuffs in a playful way to spook Rya.

When she gets back home, Susie beckons Rya to show more consistency with Ezra. The reason he wants his father is because she is rarely home. Susie mentions that Ezra talked to his father that night, which pushes Rya to meet him for lunch the next day. They maintain cordiality and belong to the same academic field. Rya asks him not to call Ezra when it “isn’t his night.” Their incompatibility when she speaks to him is quite clear.

That night, Rya watches something on television that piques her interest. She becomes convinced Danny has a personality disorder. “Sometimes I do different things” is what spurts her train of thought. Matty had said to Rya before, “I have never seen him do something like this.”

Rya approaches Dean Hughs a week later to get the green light. If she can diagnose Danny, he will give her the grant: that’s the deal. Rya visits the boarding house next and retrieves Danny’s sketchbook, as we have seen her do earlier in the season. We also see her running into Candy. They discuss Danny at her house. Candy tells Rya that he was a sensitive and bright child and does not belong in jail. Adam’s death left a big hole in his life that was never quite fulfilled. Rya tries to dig deeper and posits to Candy that Danny was sexually assaulted as a child by Marlin. But she is stout in her defence of her husband.

Rya goes through the sketchbook and finds Jack’s painting. Something about the patterns and choice of colours and the fact that it repeats in small pockets in every painting intrigues her.

For one of the first times in the series, we see Danny accepting that “he’s not in charge.” Rya asks for a meeting with Jack and someone in control of Danny accepts it on his behalf. Rya meets Matty that night and proposes her thesis to him. “Danny is Jack.” Matty incredulously looks at her. “Maybe, he is not aware of his actions when Jack does them for him,” Rya believes. But how do they get to a real diagnosis? Rya says that they must convince Danny of his condition. To do that, she needs to become the person he trusts. She needs to play along with everything he says and nudge him in that direction of acceptance.

A week later, Rya meets Stan Camisa, Danny’s legal counsel. She tells him about Danny’s condition but Stan is only interested in not expanding his work burden. He cannot argue in court that Danny has a split personality. Rya tells her it stems from the sexual trauma Danny experienced as a child. She asks for sessions with Danny at the Rikers Prison, where he has been transferred. He agrees to this. We then dive straight into the moment Rya met “Jack” for the first time. This happens a week later from her meeting with Camisa. It is surreal to watch Danny become Jack, convinced to the hilt he is that very being.

Rya does not seem surprised but wants Jack to help Danny. Quite astonishingly, Jack also suggests that he is real and not a split personality. He uses “quantum entanglement” to back up his claim. Jack also rejects the idea that Danny needs Rya’s help.

A week later, Rya finally convinces Jack to give up control so she can talk to Danny. In another astounding moment of acting, we see the real Dnny emerge. The accent’s changed, the confidence is lost, and Danny is utterly scared. Rya calmly talks to Danny, who says his “blank spots” have never been this bad.

That is when Danny takes over and we see Rya having regular sessions with him. The montage is made up of moments from previous episodes where Rya and Danny discuss his life. The episode ends with a heartbreaking scene where Danny tells Rya about Martin and how the guy raped him consistently, but “Adam” took the assault for Danny. Rya is emotionally wrecked after the revelation and breaks down in tears in her car.

The Episode Review

Episode 6 recontextualized the story for the viewers with Rya’s perspective. A lot of things that were believed about Danny’s condition and life until now were proven right. Many hunches were proven wrong as well. But beneath all of it, at the core, we have the story of a beleaguered young man. This is someone who suffered unspeakable tragedies and horrors as a child. The worst part of his suffering was that he could neither do anything about it nor share his pain with others. So, he concocted them in his head and dissociated from reality.

Episode 6 truly brought out Tom Holland’s shining moments. He has been consistently fantastic throughout. But his transitions from Jack to Danny were eye-catching. Holland brought a whole new layer of understanding to his character with the renewed perspective of storytelling. Seyfried, who plays Rya, also got a chance to explore the meaty substance of Rya’s life and she took it with both hands. This is arguably the best episode of the series, elevated by two electric performances.

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You can read our full season 1 review of The Crowded Room here
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