The Apple TV+ drama miniseries, The Crowded Room follows a young man getting arrested for a shocking crime, and an unlikely investigator who tries to unsolve the mystery behind it.
Episode 1 recap: Exodus
In 70s New York, a young Danny Sullivan boards off the subway train with his friend Ariana to follow a strange man while she pushes him to pull the trigger and kill said man. Sullivan hesitates, causing the man to bolt and Ariana to pursue him while trying to shoot at him too.
Danny goes home where Yitzhak asks him where Ariana is, before giving him money and a passport to go find his father. However, before he can do that, he’s arrested by the police. Professor Rya agrees to see his case and sit down to talk to him, hopefully putting to rest the theories about him being a serial killer, that some of her colleagues believe in.
Danny eventually starts talking and the flashbacks ensue. Danny talks about how he was a moody, silent person from the start and his stepfather hates it. At school, he’s the typical outcast and others call him and see him a “freak” but not his two best friends Johnny and Mike.
At a party, Danny eyes the new transfer student Annabelle. Johnny pushes him to hit her up and later he and she meet, but the meeting is soon disrupted. Johnny later comes up with a plan — they steal from Danny’s stepfather Marlin and use 100 bucks to buy weed, sell it at a higher price, and rack up a profit, resulting in money and some weed.
Danny uses this weed to hang out with Annabelle and they share a kiss too. Meanwhile, her school jock boyfriend tries to bust his weed dealings to the principal, failing to do so. It is later revealed anyway after Danny’s told by Eden that Annabelle wants him to know she doesn’t want to see him again.
With his weed operation revealed, Marlin finding that his money is missing, and his heart broken, not to mention Bill trying to take revenge for getting him suspended, Danny is at his lowest. That’s when he’s saved by Yitzhak, the Israeli that recently moved into the “ghost house.”
Rya asks him the whereabouts of Ariana and Yitzhak but he keeps feigning ignorance regarding it.
Episode 2: Sanctuary
Rya visits the ghost house and witnesses all the blood spattered across the walls, amid the sounds of someone walking, running, and stumbling from downstairs. She later grabs Danny’s sketchbook and takes it with her.
Meanwhile, Danny moves in with Yitzhak and reassures his mother that he’s safe there when she comes around with Marlin looking for him and getting him to come back home. He meets Ariana, another troubled person who’s rooming there. He tells Rya that he began feeling like he’d found a family there.
Ariana and Danny gradually hit it off and later Danny throws a party that Annabelle also attends, as she gets the invite directly from Danny earlier when they bump into each other at the supermarket. They get close to each other at the party but Ariana interjects and begins making out with Annabelle, and while both try to get Danny to join, he doesn’t.
Later, Ariana asks if he’s cool with what happened last night and he says yes. Later, they hang out with each other, going to the movies and eating burgers. When she’s bumped into by a man she knows, she tries to flee and avoid him, and when Danny asks her if she knows him, she pushes him away and runs off.
Danny tells Rya that Ariana is a being of the night and would go away at night and come back the next day, also crying often, which he’d overhear. Ariana is shown to go to the club where she hits it off with a girl named Grace but when Jerome shows up, she meets him and it’s made clear that he loves her.
However, the feelings are something she confesses to him that she’s not good at. When she later begins making out with Grace, Jerome gets a bit violent and he and she are thrown out, causing Ariana to finally break up with him and run back home, where she cries before asking Danny for help.
Episode 3: Murder
Danny tells Rya that Ariana was molested as a child, which is the cause of her ineptitude when it comes to following through with her feelings for someone. The traumatic childhood experience that her father’s friend gave her prevents her from accepting a relationship as soon as things start to get real.
Danny relates to Ariana, revealing how the same thing happened to his brother Adam, and that he took his own life because of it. He later tries to procure a gift for Ariana, so he asks Johnny to hook him up with Angelo, the drug dealer. He meets him but Angelo wants more than just money in exchange for a firearm, and it’s fellatio.
Danny resists and refuses but Angelo forces him at gunpoint before Johnny arrives and beats Angelo with a club, making him bleed from his nose. The two then bolt and after some playing, Ariana hands the gun back to Danny, saying she doesn’t want it. Angelo later comes back for revenge while Annabelle and Danny sleep together.
Annabelle is asked to hide in the closet but Angelo gets to her. Before he can inflict any harm, Yitzhak comes and beats the daylights out of Angelo, sparing his life as he cowers and whimpers while peeing his pants. He then kicks Danny out for breaking the house rules, after Annabelle runs off scared and angered by Danny.
Danny prepares to leave when Ariana says she won’t feel so scared of her molester if they put the gun to use. The two follow the man and Danny is supposed to scare the man, but he freezes at the moment while Ariana pushes him to pull the trigger. The events of the first episode transpire as Rya has a hard time entertaining theories.
The man that he’s supposed to shoot at is none other than Marlin, a coincidence Rya can’t seem to digest. Meanwhile, he says this was likely a setup by Yatzhik and Rya to get him to meet his father, for which he boards the flight as The Crowded Room episode 3 rolls the credits.
- The Crowded Room turns out to be a slow burner with a couple of intriguing elements and a couple of annoying ones, the latter being the parts of it that seem to drag on while adding little substance, narratively speaking.
- Tom Holland surfaces as the true star of the whole affair as he puts out a physical and emotional performance worthy of all praises. It’s also a grim and much darker place than the audience perhaps anticipates, and to nail those scenes with that kind of conviction is really special.
- The core components have already started to form shape and the slow burner has finally started cooking.
The Crowded Room
Kornél Mundruczó, Brady Corbet
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