We can say for sure that when the trailer of “Beef” dropped, we were all expecting an enemies-turned-lovers story. It will forever be one of our favorite tropes: two people who are so different from each other on the surface but find common ground once they give themselves and the other person a chance to open up, just once. Something similar happens with Danny and Amy as well, except that we don’t think they fall in love.
Danny and Amy are two people who have struggled their entire lives with trying to find love and approval for their authentic selves. When it comes to Danny, he was bullied as a kid and found it difficult to make friends. That turned him into an insecure and toxic person who did everything in his power to keep his brother close to himself, who was the only person he could rely on to treat him well, including his parents. Maybe that is why Danny found it so hard to let go of his attachments, even though he knew that there was no possible future with them. Danny’s cousin, Isaac, betrayed him and cost his parents the motel, where they had worked their entire lives, but Danny did not cut ties with him. Not only that, but Danny was also never able to completely move on from his ex-girlfriend, even though it had been years since they had anything between them, and she is currently married and pregnant. To top it all off, Danny’s dependency on relationships is most evident when he tells Paul that he has thrown away his college applications so that he will remain with Danny. Danny never fights against the circumstances because he is scared that if they change, he will lose his only source of love and validation, no matter how unhealthy and toxic they get.
One thing we have understood about Danny is that he is not the smartest person there is. He knows all the wrong facts and is generally a bad judge of situations. But he is also ambitious and wants to open and run a construction company that would make its mark on the world. However, the cocktail of his insecurities and his continued failures, combined with his reluctance to confront the source of them, meant that he was emotionally unfulfilled. He tried to fill that by gaining his parents’ approval and building them back the house that had been lost because of him. Paul even says to Danny at one point that he should not base his life on such arbitrary rules and just follow his heart. Danny couldn’t do that, but a man can’t suppress himself entirely. Some time or another, he needs an outlet, and that happened through his beef with Amy.
Danny tells Amy that he was in the supermarket to get stuff to try and kill himself. However, he saw Amy flip him off, and that proved to be a tipping point for him because a man who had been struggling to live now found within himself a burning desire to get even. He need not have followed her car so recklessly just because she gave him the finger. He also need not have ruined her bathroom as revenge. He could have just confronted her about the road rage incident, and everything would have been fine. But we suppose he relished the idea of giving back what he was getting instead of constantly taking the high road, which had been costing him his mental health. As Amy tells George about the handyman who peed across their bathroom, Danny was smiling from ear to ear when he was driving away.
Danny and Amy’s petty revenge against each other just keep escalating—that is, until they call a truce. Amy offers to give Danny money to make the whole robbery fiasco go away. But that falls through when Fumi does the job for Amy. However, a truce is a truce, and Danny knows that he has taken it too far by hurting Amy’s mother-in-law. Therefore, instead of rescinding the truce, he does the next least sensible thing, which is stealing money from Isaac and getting him out of the way. That works and helps propel Danny to a semblance of success, with him being able to buy the house he always wanted and having his business get somewhere. With a degree of calm and fulfillment in him now, Danny is finally able to look beyond his petty anger, which is why he smooths things over with Amy once and for all. It is a different matter that things get ruined once again, turning these two against each other to the point that they end up hurt and stranded in the middle of nowhere. Both are at a point where they literally have nothing to lose. Even their anger serves them no purpose, and they have no choice but to work together if they are ever to see civilization again.
At this point, as two people who have seen hell and put each other through it, they have no reason to keep up their defenses anymore. Add some naturally occurring hallucinogens to the mix, and Danny and Amy both realize that they are not that different from each other. Whether we like it or not, humans thrive on the acceptance and love of others. That is why there is so much joy in finding a kindred spirit. We tend to look at others a lot more kindly than we look at ourselves. Seeing Amy as himself and knowing that she did the best she could and that she was a good and complete person herself helped Danny look at her and himself in a new light. Therefore, when they were leaving the forest, they were not just two enemies or friends, but each other’s mirror or at least two parts of one. When Danny is in the hospital, Amy is heartbroken and worried for him because she has finally seen that he is not that different from her, and if she can care for him, she can care for herself. Danny sees something similar. Typically, George shooting at him should have reopened their beef, but Danny had learned to own up to his own actions and respect the people around him, free of obligations (Isaac) and coercion (Paul).
We don’t believe that Danny was in love with Amy, but he had found a soulmate in her. She was someone he could always count on to understand him, and in a way, she was probably his first real friend. We never thought we would say this, but this enemies-to-friends development is far better than any enemies-to-lovers storyline the writers could have come up with.