It’s break out time for our friends in Red Oaks and our season one finale starts with Judy taking her first steps to independence. She is a Real Estate Agent now and in her excitement, she offers her poor son some advice.
“Change is good for all of us.” —Judy to David
But David is nearly inconsolable. He’s lost his job. He lost both of his girls. He lost the bonus that was going to pay for his apartment in the city and in sum, he’s lost his future and his father is almost at the same point. He looks on helplessly as his wife wriggles out of the life they built together for the last 20 years. Neither David nor his father quite understand how they got here or what they can do to get out of their situations.
For Sam, it won’t be until the third season that he finds his groove again, but for David, Wheeler throws him a lifeline from Getty’s car only a few hours later. They stand outside and catch us up on the situation. Barry won’t press charges but David has to buy a new camera. All his money is gone. All Wheeler’s money is gone. Misty is pissed and stopped talking to Wheeler. Moving to the city is out without Getty’s bonus. They are both back to zero.
“Fuck our attitudes, man. We’re a bunch of crybabies…You’ve gotta at least try. That’s what life is man; it’s a game.”” —Wheeler to David
Sam comes out to tell David that it’s time to get back to work, but David just hugs his father and walks away from this prison. Instead of being angry, his Dad is proud of him, smiling as he watches his son pull away in another man’s luxury car.
At the Club, David lays it out on Getty and he sells his comeback hard. Getty opens the door back up. You get nothing for life that you don’t ask for. This made me think of the famous Steve Job’s video about this.
Wheeler supplicates himself at Misty’s feet. He engages her about her college career and tells her she inspired him to give school another try. They reconnect briefly. She sees her better self in his reflection.
David looks at Karen teaching kids how to dance like he’s looking at her through bulletproof glass. They exchange pleasantries and she admits that she talked Barry out of pressing charges. He admits that he needs to grow up and that thinking of the future isn’t as easy for him as other people. He knows that he doesn’t want the same things as Karen and is now brave enough to tell her. This is a big movement for David. Karen admits her fear, that he knows he doesn’t want her and that’s what broke her heart.
Nash and Getty have a chat and Nash admits he sold the Galexa stock in the middle of a rally. Getty dismisses him as an idiot and Nash knows at this point that he will never be successful at Getty’s level. This begins a grand re-evaluation of his existence that will last through the final episode of Season 3.
Skye confronts David about not contacting her since their night out in New York. David reveals that he’s pissed about the boyfriend he never told her about. She claims that she and Mark are not together but also reveals that she doesn’t challenge her father’s assumptions because it has become a convenient shield to keep him out of her business. David challenges her interest in him as the result of her being, “Bored and spoiled. And you like to use guys to piss off your folks.” He asks her to leave him out of it. David managed to crawl out of hell and is finally standing up for himself to everyone in his life. Skye is not used to being spoken to like this, to being so naked and exposed in front of a man and it throws her into turmoil.
Barry starts working on Karen to heal her soul and it is working. He’s not just trying to get laid; he’s looking to build a legacy of love here.
Nash, the Country Club Shaman, croons for the crowd to kick off the luau and the mood rises for everyone.
The Championship begins and David imparts his final coaching instructions, which Getty responds to by asking him if he’s seeing his daughter. David tells him they only hung out once and that she’s just doing it to piss him off. Getty responds that it’s working. David is on very shaky ground here. Getty and Feinberg square off at the net and prepare themselves for battle on the court, while the crowd sips their melting mojitos.
Skye is lost in thought and David is laser-focused on Getty’s performance, cheering him on, while Skye watching him and draws heavy breaths. Has anyone ever looked through her so clearly before and set her in place like a little girl who wandered out of her backyard?
And here the world turns upside down. FBI Agents roll into the club and storm the tennis court, interrupting the game as it reaches its climax. Wheeler thinks they are there to arrest him at first, his life passing before his eyes. Getty has no idea of the shit storm barreling down on him, an event that will overshadow everything in his life for the entire remaining episodes of Red Oaks. Insider Trading Securities, Mail Fraud, Aiding in the Filing of False Documents, Providing False Statement To the Government. Nash rushes in to comfort Fay Getty and Skye drops all pretences of the wall between her father. She is truly frightened and runs to hug him. Stop for a moment and consider where Skye Getty is emotionally right now. One man in her life levels her while the other gets leveled. She is defenceless, scared and shaken to her core and Alexandra Socha perfectly evokes that reality at this moment just by the look on her face as Skye runs to hug her father.
Getty maintains the smugness that only millions in the bank can justify. Fay is outraged that the FBI couldn’t do this at Doug’s office, that they waited to embarrass him publicly in front of all of their friends, and rants at the FBI, even calling them, “Piece of shit.” Skye wheels around, looking for some solace anywhere, a ship tossed at storm, but David has no solace to give her. He too is shaken to the ground. This formidable opponent, this unclimbed obstacle of Douglas Getty was just removed from the game board of his life by a hidden hand he didn’t even know was there.
And for one of the few times in Red Oaks, the scene fades to black.
The evening is over and the tiki torches are being put out. The Red Oaks staff is packing up and closing down the club for the season. Wheeler says goodbye to Steve who does not respond in kind, but Misty does. He tries to play it cool with her and she doesn’t respond well to this. David tells him he’s being an idiot and to go after her. Note that Wheeler and David lift each other out of stupidity in this episode, their friendship driving them towards achieving what they actually want in life. Good friends are essential to Good Love and a Good Life. Wheeler runs after Misty and towards his future.
Nash engages with David as Wheeler runs to her. He asks David to come to Boca with him for the Winter season. Nash admits he purchased a new car for his wife instead of the boat and the car has the vanity plate of “Wyndfall.” Let’s hope that Nash never changes.
“Club President hauled off in handcuffs – that’s one for the newsletter!” —Nash to David
Herb gives David one final piece of advice, “Don’t become a bean counter just to please your old man…He lived his life. You live yours.” David considers this deeply.
And this season starts its close the same way it opened, David and his father playing night tennis in the public court. Sam tells David that he and Judy are going to be getting divorced. David may need to transfer to a Community College and he will need to find another place to live since they’re selling the house. Another male titan brought down to the ground in this episode. It’s at this moment that David tells his father he doesn’t want to be an accountant, but Sam already knew that. And so it’s all laid bare. There are no more winners and losers, no more tyrants and heroes. As the song, “Burning Heart” from Rocky IV claims, “It’s you against you; it’s the paradox that drives us all.”
The final scene of Red Oaks Season 1 takes place outside David’s house, where Skye waits for him standing outside and leaning against her father’s car. She is nervous, arms folded, exposed in a way we haven’t seen her before. She greets him and hands him an envelope with the bonus money from Getty. The house is crawling with lawyers and she had to get out, but she also wants to clear something up and this is where the last game stops being played this season. Skye Getty takes off her mask and drops her weapons and shield on the ground. She walks to the middle of this battlefield of their young hearts and she metaphorically exposes her belly to David, inviting him to do the same.
She didn’t ask him to New York just to piss off his father. She can’t look him in the eyes yet but tells him that he’s funny and very cute when he’s confused (which is a lot of the time) and she thought it would be fun. It’s this last one that gets her, I think. There don’t seem to be that many fun people, let alone men, in Skye Getty’s life right now. And David, in spite of his moping confusion and near-poverty working class lifestyle, is fun. He’s a fun guy to Skye Getty. And when she finally does look him in the eye, she looks to kill him with that nuclear furnace inside of her, the one burning across the entire spectrum of their existence in this New Jersey late Summer moment. And so he does what the Universe wants, what Skye wants and what we want him to do. He leans in and kisses her and, as Stephen King writes about young Bobby Garfield’s first kiss with Carol Gerber in the book Hearts in Atlantis: “It was the kiss against which all other kisses would be judged and found wanting.”
And so they fall into each other, but this is difficult for Skye because she’s leaving for France. Getty changed his mind about this, probably wanting to spare her from the trial. She’ll be gone a year, which means she’d miss the next Summer at Red Oaks. David sullenly says that he guesses he’ll see her when she gets back. But then Skye says something that changes both of their lives, something that unlocks the next phase in David Meyers’ Hero’s Journey. She says, “No. Come find me in Paris.” And she leaps to kiss him and the Red Oaks reveal locks in this freeze frame moment.