Warning: Major spoilers ahead for The A List season 1.
From the moment you watch the trailer for Netflix’s latest BBC import, The A List, you know something is wrong with Amber (Ellie Duckles). “That girl is gonna be drama,” protagonist Mia (Lisa Ambalavanar) announces seconds into the clip. Mia has no idea how correct she is. Although the British teen is just looking for a good time at an idyllic summer camp, she and her friends find mind control, gruesome wild life, and Midsommar-y games instead.
As Mia first predicted, enigmatic Amber is at the center of The A List’s great, spooky nightmare. Thankfully there is one key to understanding Amber’s machinations hiding in all the Lost-meets-The Society drama. And, that key is a dead girl named Midge (Indianna Ryan).
Because, Amber is Midge. It all comes down to a year-old accident, an experimental brain procedure, a fictional chemical called animosine, and a vendetta.
We get our first hint that the darkness of Amber is related to the mystery of Midge’s death in sixth episode “Far From Home.” Mia calls her friend Lils, who is still on mainland England, in the first act of the installment. Lils explains someone died at Camp Peregrine the year prior. Mia’s phone dies before she can find out who the casualty is (seemingly due to Amber’s power to control most people and all things on Peregrine). But, when Amber is injured, the phone comes back to life and Mia learns a girl named Midge died. Immediately, Mia remembers seeing Midge’s name on a piece of paper in her cabin.
Camper Kayleigh then fills in a big chunk of the story in “Who You Used to Be.” Although Kayleigh starts the series as Amber’s right-hand woman, she realizes everyone is being mind controlled after she bumps her head on a branch (only in a YA sci-fi show). Kayleigh shows Mia and Alex (Rosie Dwyer) a photo from last year’s midsummer party as proof the entire group, save for Amber, had been at the camp before. Mia was queen of the party and crowned Peregrine hunk Dev (Jacob Dudman) king. That night, they became an official couple. Kayleigh had been Mia’s best friend and was dating cutie Zac (Jack Kane). Midge was an unpopular loner lurking in the back of the group photo.
For some reason, Amber made everyone forget this history.
The final three episodes of season 1 explain why. After Amber, who suspiciously never sleeps, pushes too hard to get into the mind of Petal (Georgina Sadler), she passes out. When Amber goes to sleep, physical manifestations of Midge’s memories begin to appear all over the island. The final and most important one shows a hospital gown-clad Midge in a mirror. “I got lost once. Now it’s like I’m trapped,” Midge says in voiceover, confirming she’s been A List’s narrator all along. With that very revealing piece of information out there, the hallucination mirror flashes between Midge and Amber until Midge’s face fully transforms into Amber’s.
“I still haven’t found my way back,” Midge says in narration to close out the episode. This is our confirmation Midge is trapped inside of Amber.
“Camp Counselor” Mags (Nneka Okoye) explains how any of this is possible in penultimate episode “Run, Mia, Run.” Mags, now out of Amber’s thrall, says she was part of the team who treated Midge after her accident. An accident, as we see in the finale cold open, that occurred after Kayleigh told Midge everyone forgot about her during the annual Peregrine Hunt. Rather than catch Midge, her fellow campers started a party on the cliffs. Midge fell off those cliffs on her way trying to find the party. However, Midge didn’t die. Rather, Mags and her team tried an experimental procedure to regenerate Midge’s heavily damaged brain.
The procedure worked too well. Because, animosine, a chemical only found on Peregrine, entered Midge’s bloodstream during her accident. The animosine, which “boosts communication between plants” according to Mags, reacted with Midge’s biology during the regenerative procedure. “The Amber personality emerged. Not just mentally, but physically. Like Jekyll and Hyde and with incredible powers,” Mags explains of the results.
The animosine created Amber, the queen bee persona Midge always wanted to be and never could achieve. In the process, Midge was sublimated and trapped inside of Amber (hence all her yearning narration). Now that Amber is an all-powerful being, she is using her abilities to create a world where she is the popular girl and campers like Mia and Kayleigh, former Peregrine A-listers, are her subjects. And, in an extremely strange twist, Mags’ shadowy and unnamed true employer allowed all of this to happen under their watchful eye. The company was looking to study how Amber would behave in the environment, Mags confirms.
The answer, it turns out, is absolutely horribly. It's official — Amber is the kind of topsy-turvy teen TV villain Pretty Little Liars' revenge-loving A could get behind.