Let's Talk About That Twist At The End Of Dear White People

Photo: Adam Rose/Netflix.
In the last seconds of the Dear White People finale, something weird happens. The narrator, a heard-but-not-seen force throughout the series, suddenly appears. He enters the basement of the Winchester bell tower, right where Sam (Logan Browning) and Lionel (Deron Horton) thought the Order of X would suddenly materialize. He doesn't have a name, so we'll call him Giancarlo Esposito for now. Giancarlo enters, addresses Sam and Lionel by name, then says, "I see you've been watching closely." He's talking to Sam and Lionel, but he's also talking to us, the viewers, who maybe should have been paying attention to season 2's wild conspiracy theories as they come about.
Season 2 of Dear White People tells a number of immediate, important stories. Joelle and Reggie! Coco! We get to know Kelsey! Tessa Thompson's electrifying return! With all this delicious drama, the underlying "mystery" of the season is easy to ignore. But, for much of the season, it's Lionel's reason for being. He's a journalist and writer. Last season, he investigated the Hancock family and discovered that his newspaper was funded by an alt-right billionaire. This season, he digs even deeper, and that brings up the Order of X.
Every episode of the second season devotes a little time to the history of Winchester. The show insists that the history of Winchester has secrets that will somehow inform the unfurling mystery at the core of the season. It's difficult to tell what information is purely expositional, and what is pertinent to the mystery at hand. For the sake of understanding Giancarlo's entrance, I have collected the information here. Let's parse it out.
The History of Armstrong-Parker
Established in 1837, Armstrong-Parker House was a place at Winchester for the "ethnic" students. In 1837, this meant it included Irish and Italian immigrants in addition to former slaves. In the 1920s, the narrator tells us, the Irish and Italian students graduate to "white," thereby obfuscating their need to live in AP. By 1965, Armstrong-Parker becomes the house of choice for Winchester's "burgeoning" Black population.
Donald Hancock, the right-wing philanthropist who funded the Independent, disapproves of AP.
The History of the Bugle & the Independent
In 1924 — the same era in which Italian and Irish immigrants left AP — the Bugle publishes a tell-all on secret societies at Winchester. William Landis writes it, and it's so breathtaking that it earns him a spot at the New York Times. It is, in the words of the narrator, a "master class in shade." The secret societies listed in the exposé include:
Eucleian Society
The Rosievusians
The Elders of Zion
The Order of X
The Knights of Templar
Seven Society
The Order of the Bull's Head
Lock and Key
Knights Of Elan
Some of these societies are based on real secret societies, others, like the fabricated Elders of Zion, are problematic. In 2014, The Atlantic published an exposé of sorts on the Eucleian Society, proving that, even in the 2010s, secret societies hold an allure. The Atlantic piece mentions that the Eucleian Society emerged in the 1830s, right around the time most secret societies started forming on campus.
Later, in 1965 — the same era in which AP becomes predominantly Black — Donald Hancock founds the Independent and publishes a piece on the "takeover" of AP.
The Secret Library
In the basement of Armstrong-Parker, a group of students discover a library that holds clues as to which members of the university administration "can be trusted." The year is 1947, and the library gives way to the Black Students Union, which, in turn, gives birth to the Coalition for Racial Equality. In episode five, Trevor shows Joelle (Ashley Blaine Featherson) a similar secret library on campus, a collection of books that tell the true history of Winchester. When the truth is suppressed, it doesn’t die. It just goes underground.
In episode nine, Sam uncovers this library in her father's home. Her father found them in a bookstore in town when Sam was just a freshman. In the book, there are photos of the various secret societies — giant "Xs" decorate the page, declaring who among them aren't allies. Sam also finds a pin with an "X" on it.
Spencer Wood
He seems important. First, because the narrator told us to listen closely. And second, because he's Winchester's first Black alum. In 1840, he decides that Winchester will never accept him, in part because the school is still teaching the racist theories of phrenology. This would also be the time most secret societies are forming on college campuses.
The Legacy Admissions Program
Perhaps the closest we get to seeing the Order of X in the flesh occurs in episode 7, when Troy's (Brandon P. Bell) father introduces him to a group of shadowed figures who appear to hold a lot of power. In fact, when Troy asks if they're the Black Illuminati, one remarks, "those amateurs." The person who made the remark is likely a congressman.
The same episode, the narrator reveals that Dr. Henry Adams, the scientist behind phrenology, established the "Legacy Admissions Program," a secret society of sorts that ensured nepotism would keep the community at Winchester white. Put up against the elite society that confronted Troy, this detail is telling. Who's to say Woods, a contemporary of Adams, didn't do the same?
The Order of X
The first glimpse of "The Order of X" comes in episode eight, when Gabe (John Patrick Amedori) is looking through footage of old Winchester documentaries. He seemingly stumbles across film of the Order gathering under AP, where they've decorated the walls with Xs. This is the same spot that, according to Joelle, was a stop on the Underground Railroad.
So, what does this mean about the narrator?
The narrator is a member of the Order of X, a keeper of the keys of Winchester's sorted racial history. He recruits Sam and Lionel in the finale of season 2 — according to the book Sam finds, the Order of X meets on the first midnight of finals under the bell tower. That's where she finds Giancarlo Esposito, as well as Sorbet the dog.
What does this mean for Sorbet, the dog?
Well, I really hope it means Kelsey (Nia Jerver) is a member of the Order of X.
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