‘Dead to Me’ Finale Recap: Yet Another Bittersweet Ending

netflix Dark comedy Dead to Me faced a tough prospect with its third and final season. Not only did the pandemic delay filming for years, but she co-directed Christina Applegate was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis halfway through production. Still, all scripts have been written and Applegate was determined to end the show the way creator Liz Feldman intended it to end.

Warning: Spoilers from now on.

The last 10 episodes of Dead to Me have concluded the story of Jen (Applegate) and Judy (Linda Cardellini) in a bittersweet way. The decision to have Judy killed might have come as a surprise to some. The crux of the trauma is the friendship between Jen and Judy, each helping the other deal with grief and trauma, buckets of wine included.

Still, looking at the show as a whole, a painful ending involving death is consistent with the first two seasons. The reason Jen and Judy meet is because Jen attends a grief counseling group after the sudden death of her husband Ted. At the group, Jen meets Judy, an anxious and serious human golden retriever.

Judy helped Jen get out of her spiral of resentment and back into the world, where her two sons needed her. Then, at the end of Season 1, Jen killed Judy’s ex-fiancé, Steve Wood (James Marsden). Yes, there’s a lot of death in this comedy, but it’s called Death to Me after all.

Michelle (Natalie Morales) and Judy have a sweet time in a parking lot.

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It was Judy’s turn to suffer even more heartbreak – going through five miscarriages in addition to the death of her relationship with her scumbag ex-fiancé. She found new love with Michelle (Natalie Morales), which was rekindled in Season 3 after a hiatus.

This is where the choice to have Judy die gets a little dicey. One could argue that Judy played a part in Ted’s death and was doomed from the start to pay the price. She did her best to pay for this penance by bringing joy and light to Jen’s family, but everything was always destined to catch up with her. This peaceful sunrise boat trip off the coast of Mexico was the option she chose for herself. Saying no to Jen’s wish to enroll in a cancer clinical trial showed that she had grown as a person.

Still, as some have pointed out on Twitterhis tragic end echoes the disappearance of Villanelle in the final season of Killing Eve earlier this year. Spoiler: Villanelle (Jodie Comer) sacrifices herself to save the life of her lover Eve (Sandra Oh). The conclusion of Dead to Me also echoes another show that saw one woman sacrifice herself for another: In The Haunting of Bly ManorDani (Victoria Pedretti) submits to her death, despite her romantic relationship with Jamie (Amelia Eve).

While death is in line with the themes of Dead to Me, Season 3’s execution doesn’t seem entirely convincing. On the one hand, it engages the bury your gays trope, where gay characters in movies and TV shows often end up being killed off. Not only that, the tone of Season 3 seems a bit off. It opens on a glowing beach with Jen and Judy drinking cocktails. It’s not the melancholy-tinged world set up by the very first episode of Season 1.

Season 3 has more of a soap opera tinge than ever, more punctuated by the biting dark comedy and high-stakes twists that made the first two seasons sing. Jen and Judy solve all the problems with relative ease – the Greek Mafia pretty much takes responsibility for each of their problems. Surely this could have extended to the murder of Steve Wood, instead of Judy being blamed and sentenced to death in the form of terminal cancer.

Surely Jen and Judy have suffered enough trauma to hammer home the show’s dark premise. But no, to bring us back to the grief that Jen feels in Season 1, Judy has to go. It remains to be seen if knowledge of Judy’s death negatively taints rewatches of the series. Nonetheless, Dead to Me successfully leaves a lasting impact. Just like in the show, it invites us to mourn Judy’s death with the help of friends, family, a twisted sense of humor, and wine.

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