The Spectacular ‘Daisy Jones and The Six’ Finale Finally Finds Its Voice

·10 min read
Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Amazon
Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Amazon

Sex, drugs, and rock and roll are all but guaranteed when setting a series in a no-holds-barred ’70s music scene. Considering Fleetwood Mac’s tumultuous trajectory provides the foundation for Daisy Jones & The Six, there is an increased expectation for band-destroying hot and heavy hookups that provided the fabric of this adaptation of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s best-selling novel. One big question is how much the show deviates from the source material regarding Daisy Jones's (Riley Keough) and Billy Dunne’s (Sam Claflin) mutual physical attraction. No, reader. They do not fuck in this version, either.

It is no secret that the group will fall apart, as this is made abundantly clear in the opening sequence depicting the meteoric highs and guitar-smashing lows. Rewatching the carefully selected shots after finishing the finale underscores the punchiness of a carousel that plays like an abbreviated Daisy Jones & The Six visual greatest hits. Flashes of creative exuberance sit alongside blazing arguments offering the broad brushstrokes of this rise and fall, all packaged in a music doc structure that immediately pulls us out of the grimy glamor—yes, both things can be true at once.

(Warning: Spoilers for the first season of Daisy Jones & The Six.)

While the series initially took time to find its rhythm, the concluding double-bill confidently barrels toward the crescendo and is Daisy Jones & The Six at its most captivating. Events in the penultimate episode indicate this unraveling will stem from lines about to be crossed (and maybe snorted) between the singers. Whereas Daisy and Billy’s ongoing bickering during the middle run strays into repetitive territory, as soon as Daisy kicks her no-good husband out of the hotel, it lights a fire lacking since her quickie marriage.

<div class="inline-image__credit">Lacey Terrell/Prime Video</div>
Lacey Terrell/Prime Video

It is also impossible not to take note of the Fleetwood Mac song accompanying this scene. “Gold Dust Woman” is the final track on Rumours, and here it is used like a siren call to wake Daisy from her drug-induced stupor. You can certainly read it as an on-the-nose choice (ditto Patti Smith’s “Dancing Barefoot” in the opening credits) that reveals the gulf between the inspiration and this rendering. Still, I appreciate that music supervisor Frankie Pine isn’t pretending these indelible tracks don’t exist.

Hurtling toward the already disclosed band breakup means this is not a secret plot twist that plays out in the final act. Additional clues to the why are sprinkled in the opening sequence of the finale, pointing to the fractured state of the band barely being held together by Timothy Olphant’s permanently on-edge tour manager, Rod—the volume of his wig adds to his frazzled state. Bass player Eddie (Josh Whitehouse) has a fresh black eye, Billy’s sobriety is out of the window as he takes slugs from a hip flask, and Daisy is back to mid-show bumps of cocaine.

Unlike previous tour stops that saw Daisy forget lyrics and fall over equipment, the swirling chaos in Chicago is manageable, giving Keough and Claflin new shades to play as they teeter on the edge of professional oblivion. But it is also unsustainable, and Daisy’s gold showstopper silhouette resembles a butterfly about to take flight. Something has to change in one way or another, and “Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide” depicts the emotional end of the road with a highlights reel of “Aurora” tracks.

The Secrets Behind ‘Daisy Jones’s’ ’70s-Chic, Yet Modern Brilliance

Even characters who round out the ensemble, like drummer Warren (Sebastian Chacon), get some beefed-up screen time beyond being the happy-go-lucky member of the group. For most of the 10-part series, Warren is the no-drama band member, and Chacon makes me want to spend more time with the easy-going (and sartorially adventurous) stoner. He isn’t as oblivious as his book counterpart, and at the poorly attended Chicago sound check, he tells the permanently bitter Eddie they “are the luckiest motherfuckers in the world.” In a sweet touch during the final roundup, you can see Warren in the background as Daisy’s session drummer long after The Six has disbanded.

Keough makes it near impossible to look at anyone else during the Soldier Field concert, and not just because the lamé Halston pleated caftan-turned-cape is a focusing-pulling triumph from costume designer Denise Wingate. Whether lifting her arms high in the air to the unending rapture of the crowd or using the ethereal material to envelop her microphone, this performance taps into Daisy’s magnetic presence. At times she looks like a woman possessed, and there is nothing I want more than to see all of the concert footage cut together and given the Last Waltz documentary treatment.

For the last couple of weeks, lyrics from the band’s fictional-turned-real-life debut album Aurora have played in my head on a loop. Even before the first episode debuted, I had listened to “Look At Us Now (Honeycomb)” enough times to guarantee its place on my Spotify Unwrapped come December. Suffice it to say I am already waiting for B-sides, unreleased cuts, and the live versions.

Of course, this episode has a story to tell beyond the catchy songs that make up the band’s setlist. Reid’s book deploys an oral history format that showcases how memories don’t always match, whereas the show’s “Behind the Music”-style talking heads of the band 20 years in the future often veer into unnecessarily laboring a point. The purpose of this narrative device is to give perspective. Instead, it offers clunky exposition. Appearances have barely changed beyond hairstyles and clothing, making it seem like less time has passed, but I also think heavier aging techniques would’ve been more distracting. Either way, I want to know Daisy’s post-rehab skincare routine.

<div class="inline-image__credit">Lacey Terrell/Prime Video</div>
Lacey Terrell/Prime Video

Another reason for this framework becomes apparent in the finale when the person behind the camera is revealed to be Billy’s now-adult daughter, Julia (Seychelle Gabriel). Unpacking the past is a deeply personal project, and this final act twist includes a message from beyond the grave. Gaps from the last two decades are briefly filled in, including the recent death of Camila Dunne (Camila Morrone). Without a flicker of resentment, Camila tells her husband to contact Daisy—and tells Daisy to answer—offering a neat happy ending to the story. Well, happy for everyone who isn’t Camila.

The finale toggles between the Soldier Field concert, the talking head footage, and the events of the day leading up to the implosion. Tension is visible from the jump as Camila’s barely concealed anger toward Billy bubbles over minutes after their arrival. Playing the supportive wife is a pretty thankless role that Morrone infuses with grace and disappointment. Camila has made mistakes, as she delicately puts it, and she alludes to an off-screen hookup with Eddie (yes, the one band member who loathes Billy). Despite the palpable lust when sharing a mic, Billy and Daisy’s affair is more emotional than physical.

Earlier in the season, a Rolling Stone reporter is convinced the duo is sleeping together, but intimacy doesn’t have to involve sex. However, I can’t be the only one who wants to see Daisy and Billy bone. Sex in the Prime Video series has been perfunctory to downright bored, with Daisy stopping mid-thrust so she can write lyrics earlier in the season. Sure, it is kind of the point that the singer-songwriters never cross that line, but boy do I wish they did. When they get hot and heavy backstage, Billy immediately fucks it up by telling her they can “be broken together,” which is not the fiery romantic selling point he thinks it is.

Creating a ‘Nicotine-Stained’ Homage to the ’70s in ‘Daisy Jones and the Six’

Daisy has already put up with several terrible guys, from the one who stole her lyrics to the husband who left her to OD in the hotel bathroom. Billy swooped in to save the day, but he is not the white knight, and Daisy ultimately rejects his sloppy attempt at a romantic overture. No matter how much I want to see this couple cross the line beyond getting handsy amid the amps backstage, this is a far more satisfying pause to this relationship than the book’s choice to have Camila tell Daisy to leave the band. Yes, Camila does it to “save” Daisy, but Keough’s version saves herself.

Showrunners Scott Neustadter and Will Graham have taken the original tracks of the novel and remixed the material leading to a more satisfying conclusion. Billy starts drinking before the show, and his off-kilter demeanor lends itself to the loose self-destructive mood. Anything could happen, and the familiar songs are electrifying in this powder keg environment. Okay, everyone is falling apart, but it is impossible to look away.

At the same time, director Nzingha Stewart captures the fluid moments of the two lead singers and adds to the unpredictability of this foreplay in front of thousands. It is pretty dumb of Billy to beg Camila to come to the show and grind up on Daisy—it’s no wonder his wife doesn’t even last a song. Yes, the sex scenes have been lacking, but eye-banging hits new heights during the Soldier Filed performance.

It isn’t all about Billy, and two standout moments are a reminder that Daisy’s connections exist outside of the lead singer. Karen’s (Suki Waterhouse) relationship with Graham (Will Harrison) went from blissful to breaking down after having an abortion and realizing their dreams don’t align. During “Two Against Three,” Daisy sits next to the keyboardist, giving an image of a no-longer isolated Karen. They don’t play up a faux sisterhood, and while the pair aren’t particularly close, this gesture speaks volumes.

<div class="inline-image__credit">Lacey Terrell/Prime Video</div>
Lacey Terrell/Prime Video

One song I desperately need the entire cut of is Daisy’s BFF Simone (Nabiyah Be) making a live appearance on “The River” (another track stuck in my head for days). Daisy has never looked happier than sliding up to her disco-sensation bestie. Intimacy comes in many different forms, and bringing Simone on stage for the finale is another welcome change. Before the concert, she updates Daisy about choosing her girlfriend, Bernie (Ayesha Harris), over the lucrative but personally restrictive record contract of her dreams. More time with Simone would make her story feel less like an add-on, although it is thrilling to see the spotlight shine on her during “The River.”

After the concert, Simone is the one who stands by Daisy as she makes her plans to go to rehab, which is a more fitting narrative choice than if Camila aided this decision. Hours early, Daisy was twirling around her hotel room, swigging from a bottle of champagne before snorting copious lines of coke. Keough’s been a force throughout the limited series, and the finale is a culmination of her ability to swing from wounded and wasted to magnetic. She is a star, whether channeling every guttural emotion into song or reacting to her estranged mother’s cold cruelty on the phone.

<div class="inline-image__credit">Lacey Terrell/Prime Video</div>
Lacey Terrell/Prime Video

Using a ’70s technique to apply heavy eyeliner increases the unhinged move as a lighter is required to soften the cosmetic—a real hack that makeup department head Rebecca Wachtel taught Keough. Daisy’s show looks have become increasingly bold, and the gold glitter on her face is a tell-tale sign later on when Billy returns to Camila. The sparkly flashes mixed with his sweat are more subtle than a lipstick-on-your-collar moment, and anyone who has worn glitter will know that shit gets everywhere. Considering how ready he was to set fire to his life, it makes sense that he would overlook this evidence of his indiscretion.

Claflin also digs deep during his emotional breakdown (and breakthrough), and “Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide” showcases Daisy Jones & The Six at its best. Now, perhaps this affair can shift from emotional to physical. After all, we know a reunion tour can be very lucrative.

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