There are very few episodes left, and while we’re consistently weeding out the characters who aren’t Danny’s killer, we don’t seem to be moving any further toward who it actually is. In a crime drama, one that gravitates toward the “whodunnit” motif, it’s not all that surprising, and it’s likely we won’t get a concrete “who” until the latest moment possible. Still, I’m surprised they’re not planting the seeds for more characters at this point, especially as we say goodbye to Jack.
Episode six is the fallout of last week. Mark and Beth need to face Mark’s infidelities, Ellie deals with her sister being back in town and disrupting Owen’s life, and Owen and Renee deal with their Jack expose story that got grossly rewritten before print. The real fallout, however, regards Jack and the released information of him having been imprisoned due to statutory rape.
It turns out that Jack used to teach piano lessons and had a relationship with one of his students. He says that it was a mutual affair and that it was her father who reported him. He tells Carver and Ellie that the police wanted to make an example out of him so he served his two years, he nearly didn’t make it out alive, and he got on with his life. He tells the two of them that she was sixteen years old and eleven months, and they were four weeks away from being okay.
Okay meaning legal in this case.
When they ask him if he ever saw the girl again, he tells them he married her. He was forty and she was eighteen. Entirely legal, yes, still a little off-putting due to how they met and how their relationship evolved, but legal is the key term that they must listen to.
Listen, does the idea of a teacher dating a student gross me out? Yes, absolutely, because in my opinion there will always be a power imbalance. However, the facts of his deviance, so to speak, are far less sinister than the papers are making him out to be, and he’s so obviously being turned into the community scapegoat so they have a way to prove their righteous anger that it’s appalling. It’s frightening to see what a small town hive mind mentality can do, and it pretty successfully makes Jack’s life miserable. There’s Mark’s partner Vince who is all riled up about it, telling him they have to do something as a community until Mark tells him to shut it. There’s the man with a petition to kick Jack off of the wildlife crew and the hound of reporters waiting for Jack to step outside of his house.
These people jumped at the scandal; they jumped at it because it allowed them to feel a sense of importance, a sense of indignant horror that they could parade around their small community so that all the onlookers would know they were doing their civic duty.
Vince later brings a lynch mob of sorts to Jack’s front door and it’s up to Mark to go and break it up, and for a second you see him give into the collective anger, asking Jack what he’s supposed to think. Jack tells him what he told Ellie and Carver, but adds that they had a son. But, the son died in a car accident and their marriage couldn’t survive the grief. He tells them that he created the Wildlife club because he misses his son, and has no other motives. It’s an interesting dynamic, and Mark sees Jack’s pain, the pain that comes from a parent who outlives their child, and he tells the crowd to go home. He then adds to Jack that the community has made up its mind about him, and in order to be safe he should move far, far away.
Jack was never going to face a fair fate after the town learned about his past, and after a night where his home is defaced and he sees his ex-wife and deceased son’s faces plastered all over the next day’s paper, he takes his fate into his own hands and walks into the ocean to drown himself.
It’s an unceremonious way to go, leaving the world in disgrace to his community, with few friends left. Nick Nolte gave a tremendous performance, and I’m sure I’m not the only one wishing he’d been allowed more than simply gruffly grunting before this episode.
It’s a stronger episode than the others, one that opens up some potential new storylines with Susan inviting Tom to walk her dog, Beth and Mark having a moment of shared grief and peace at the episode’s end, and Carver’s continued health struggles and his secrecy.