Firefly Lane Season 1 Episode 2 picks up with a high school-aged Tully heading to a party with her “boyfriend” Pat.
It’s clear that Tully will do anything to fit in and keep up her “cool” persona including drinking way too much. But when Pat comes on a little too strongly, she does her best to push him off.
We see Tully get raped as she desperately pleads for Pat to stop. After the act, as she lays in the forest broken, Pat tries to justify his vile actions by victim-blaming and saying she asked for this by leading him on.
It’s a heartbreaking scene but one that helps illuminate Tully’s decision to sign off on Marah’s birth control form for Planned Parenthood. As someone who had their choice taken away, Tully likely thinks that she’s doing a good thing for a young girl who wants to be protected and informed.
Obviously, that’s not the way Kate sees it. Instead, she flips out on Tully for going behind her back and crossing the line. Her reaction is valid too as she feels like once again, everyone is choosing Tully over her. Even her own daughter couldn’t confide in her. And at a time when her life is falling apart, this is yet another instance where she loses control.
Kate’s anger carries on for much of the episode, which drives Tully crazy; she’s very dependent on her best friend to be there for her.
On Firefly Lane Season 1 Episode 1, Johnny returned from New York and visited Tully first. He informs her that he got the job and will be going to Iraq soon, which she’s slightly upset about.
He reminds her of something she said during a coke-binge in the 80s that he believes still rings true today: “People like us can’t live regular lives. When we try, it kills us.”
Tully laughs it off, but there’s a hint of truth to the quote as both Johnny and Tully haven’t really found much success in the 9-to-5 lifestyle; they both feel suffocated.
We see Tully and Johnny’s relationship on a deeper level in both the past and the present. During the coke-infused party back in the day, Tully injures herself dancing on a table, which almost leads to the two sharing a kiss. In the present-day, they still banter like an old married couple. There’s certainly an enormous amount of chemistry here for a girl and her best friend’s ex-husband.
Johnny pays Kate a visit eventually and it seems like they’re pretty amicable exes. He mentions in passing that they divorced because she flirted and developed feelings for a PTA parent (maybe Travis?) but it’s unclear if that was the catalyst. Since divorce is such a big and serious decision, there likely had to be something else contributing to their fallout, especially since they’re on such good terms and seem to support each other in their new career endeavors.
Kate starts her new job as Kimber’s assistant and it offers the series a few moments of levity: think middle-aged woman consoling a bratty 29-year-old with a “major hangover” who asks her to express her pooches glands. All in a day’s work, right?
Kate, however, also proves that she can walk the walk by saving Kimber during a meeting with her boss and providing her with a good article pitch about modern dating. See, despite the gaps in her resume where she dedicated her whole life to raising Marah, she did stay “in the loop.” Once a good journalist, always a good journalist.
While dealing with the dog, Kate also has a run-in with a photographer, who later asks her to “test the lights” and calls her beautiful. It’s a special moment and quite possibly the first time that Kate has felt “seen.” She’s so used to being in Tully’s shadows that she doesn’t even realize her own beauty. But, she’s reminded of it when the photog sends over the headshot.
In the flashback scenes, Kate’s brother, Sean, comes back from the navy and it’s a happy moment for all. Everyone parties in the newsroom till the wee hours of the morning, and Tully gets the scoop about his older boyfriend, who he believes is the one. Sadly, at the time, coming clean about being gay could get him discharged, so Sean is forced to live in secret. He considers telling Kate the truth, which means Tully has kept his secret since seeing him and Robbie making out. However, he decides against it when Kate keeps asking about his “girlfriend.”
As a journalist myself who has spent quite some time working in newsrooms, I can’t help but notice that they don’t seem to work all that much. I guess back in the day, you didn’t have 24/7 news stations focusing on digital, but they really are going hard in the workplace.
It’s in this moment that Kate also realizes that Johnny can see through Tully’s allure; he sees a girl that’s deeply saddened. This moment leads me to believe that while he had feelings for Tully once upon a time, he also loved her because she was so broken. And it’s a different kind of love than the feelings he developed for Kate over time.
In the present, Tully once again hooks up with Max, the 29-year-old former one night stand, who we learn is an EMT. We don’t really know much about Max yet, but he seems good for Tully in the sense that he’s “normal.” Hopefully, she doesn’t push him away like she’s pushed away everyone else.
During their brief chat, Tully informs him that her mother died when she was 15. But something about that doesn’t strike me as true. Of course, her mother had plenty of vices and questionable boyfriends, so her death wouldn’t be surprising, but the way Tully said it made me think that she meant “death” metaphorically as in “she’s dead to me.” Regardless, I can’t wait to find out more because Tully’s troubled childhood informs her current person.
By the end of the episode, Tully and Kate make up after Tully throws rocks at Kate’s window just like she did when they were young girls on Firefly Lane.
And then, the series introduces yet another timeline two years into the future.
Kate is looking out at the horizon when Marah approaches her and they think back fondly on “Aunt Tully.” It’s a cryptic scene, but the somber tone of their conversation and the black outfits suggest that Tully passed away.
There are many avenues that can be explored here, but thinking back on what we’ve seen and how Tully briefly considered jumping off her building balcony in the pilot episode, I’m inclined to think it was suicide.
And it all brings me back to the quote from the 80s that Johnny mentioned upon his return: “People like us can’t live regular lives. When we try, it kills us.”
Was the series teasing Tully’s death throughout the episode with her reckless and destructive behavior? She avoided a regular life because she was running away from her demons and was too afraid of commitment. Did it finally catch up to her?
There’s also the very real possibility that the series is trying to fool us with comments of Tully, but it isn’t actually her funeral. Weigh in with your thoughts.