Warning: Spoilers for Dead To Me season 1 are ahead.
Netflix’s new dark comedy Dead to Me is easy to accidentally binge in one sitting, so if you're already at the end, you're in good company. Christina Applegate, Linda Cardellini, James Marsden, a murder plot, and humor, all in 10 quick 30-minute episodes? Sign me up.
And sure, the series about a recent widow named Jen (Applegate) who builds a friendship with a Judy (Cardellini) after they meet at a support group for people who have lost loved ones, reveals a twist at the end of the pilot (Judy grappling with guilt, not loss, after hitting Jen’s husband with her car). But the real twist comes at the end of Dead To Me season 1.
The whole season 1 finale is set in motion when Judy confesses to Jen in the penultimate episode of Dead to Me. And like all well-made TV thrillers should do, the finale provided a rush of answers while adding a whole new layer of questions. Let's pull on some of those dangling threads now that the season is over.
Is Judy Definitely Ted's Killer?
In episode 9, “I Have To Be Honest,” Judy isn’t the only one dropping truth bombs. It is revealed that Jen and Ted had an explosive fight around 1 a.m. that led to Ted take a walk on a dark road and ultimate get run over by Judy. But is that all that happened that night? In the finale, Judy attempts to recreate Ted’s death by deliberately walking in the road, but a car swerves and misses her. We know Ted was sober and Judy walked pretty far into the middle of the road and still wasn’t hit, is it possible there is more to the story?
After all, Jen discovers during season 1 that Ted was cheating on her and even told his mistress he was a widow. If she found that out in a matter of weeks, it's possible Ted could have had even more secrets and enemies. If Dead To Me gets a second season, it could even be possible that someone pushed him or caused him to walk far enough into the road just before Judy struck him with her car.
Is Steve (James Marsden) Really Dead?
Ted isn’t the only casualty this season. Jen shoots Steve with Ted’s gun in her own backyard. (This is gun in the safe that Jen originally claims she doesn’t know the combination to, as mentioned early on in the season.) Earlier in the season, Judy's boyfriend, detective Nick (Brandon Scott) mentions how dangerous the weapon is and it turns out it's pretty dangerous for Steve. The final shot of the series is Steve face down in Jen’s pool with blood coming from the back of his body. His eyes are wide open and he's motionless, so it’s safe to say Jen really did kill him.
But if you're still convinced there could be something else going on, the scene is paired with shots of Judy attempting to get run over like Ted, but she survives. Their fates were foreshadowed episode 7, “I Can Handle It,” when Steve admits to Judy that he stole a rock from sacred ground during one of their vacations. Judy believes the rock cursed them with bad luck, but Steve thinks she is being irrational. Judy was right. Steve really was cursed.
Why Did Jen Kill Steve?
There are a few reasons. In one of the funniest scenes in the finale, Jen’s neighbor comes over for some wine and they have an unbearably awkward conversation before Jen ends up asking her neighbor how to shoot a gun. The neighbor also provides a (significant) fun fact: If you ask someone to leave your home and they don’t, you can shoot them. Jen must have had this fact ringing through her mind when Steve dropped by later to find Judy.
The other factor is that Steve mistakenly revealed to Jen that he was in the car with Judy the night Ted was murdered. When Jen pushes Steve to explain why he didn’t tell Judy to stop the car, he claims he doesn’t really remember, which makes her correctly assume that Steve convinced Judy not to help Ted. Jen now considers him responsible for Ted’s death, and to boot, Steve doesn’t leave when she tells him to leave. Hello, handy rule about trespassers.
Jen having a violent reaction to learning about Steve’s involvement is shocking, but the groundwork was laid earlier in the show. She has bouts of aggression throughout the episodes and her co-worker Christopher (Max Jenkins) points out that Jen’s anger is becoming an issue. Also, the poster for Dead to Me shows a bottle of red wine spilling into a pool, eerily resembling blood.
Does Jen Forgive Judy?
It's not that simple since it takes more than some new information to forgive someone who murdered your husband. But, Jen does appear to defend Judy (she tells Steve "Judy would have stopped") and later calls Judy, as the one person she can trust, to help her deal with Steve's body. Jen also has a few reasons to find that forgiveness for one-time BFF. Judy feels like a part of Jen’s family; Jen’s youngest son, Henry, tells her that he misses Judy; and Jen and Judy are each other's only real friends. Judy also came clean about Ted, showed extreme remorse, and emptied her bank account to give Jen over $500,000 to help with her financial problems, many of which are caused by the grief she felt after losing her husband (and, you know, finding out her best friend is the killer). Jen also killed Judy's version of Ted (remember Ted was a cheater and a liar) when she killed Judy's callous, lying ex, Steve, so in a way, they might actually be kind of... even?
Of course, on the flip side, logistically, Jen also needs Judy right now, specifically to help dispose of Steve’s body. Considering their troubled history, it’s also possible Jen could use this opportunity to pin Steve’s death on Judy. Jen is clearly still angry, hurt, and determined and let's not forget, she tells Judy that she wishes Judy would die in episode 9. But was that anger speaking or did she really cut Judy off permanently in that moment?
Will Judy Still Go To Jail For Ted's Murder?
We have a big problem, because at the end of the first season, multiple people know Judy killed Ted: Jen, Nick, and Detective Perez (Diana Maria Riva), who probably shared this information with the other police officers working on the case. Detective Perez tells Jen that she isn’t arresting Judy because she involved in another case — Judy is testifying against Steve about his money laundering business — and that a confession offered to a civilian (Jen), and not the police, is not enough to convict Judy. But what will change now that Steve is dead and his conviction is no longer a win for the PD?
Well, the police still lack physical evidence to convict Judy, so unless Jen keeps hounding them or Judy actually confesses to the cops, it's looking unlikely that Judy is going down. Plus, Judy knows Jen killed Steve, and whether or not they become friends again, Jen probably shouldn't take down the person who knows she killed someone too.
But there's one huge problem left: Judy's ex, Nick. He's an angry, jilted boyfriend who already tried to get Judy to be arrested and shows no signs of stopping that mission in the future. He's also a problem for Jen because Nick also pieced together that Steve was in the car with Judy when she ran over Ted (Detective Perez never mentions Steve’s role in the hit-and-run). Because he knows (or at least suspects) the connection between Steve, Judy, and Jen, Nick probably won't take that long to connect Judy and Jen to Steve’s murder if season 2 happens.
Is There Any Way Jen Won't Get Caught?
Nick is obviously a huge problem, but he's also not an on-duty cop at the moment, so his investigations don't always turn into action. If he gets reinstated though, things could change.
There is also the issue of Jen’s mother-in-law Lorna (Valerie Mahaffey). Lorna is "consistently disappointed” in Jen and between her disdain and her desire to have Jen's son move in with her, Lorna clearly isn’t on Jen’s side. She also knows that Jen was upset with Steve when his payment for one of Lorna’s properties fell through, which could give her a reason to name Jen as a murder suspect to the police.
Basically, if it happens, there's no way Dead To Me season 2 won't be a complete and total nightmare for Jen and Judy — just like viewers have come to expect.