The season-two finale of Dead to Me ends with a sudden, literal bang, and not the fun kind that our gals might appreciate after a few glasses of Chardonnay: Jen (Christina Applegate) and Judy (Linda Cardellini), triumphant that they’ve seemingly — nay, finally — been cleared by the police for their respective crimes, get into a brutal car crash at the hands of a very intoxicated Ben (James Marsden). Yes, that Ben, whose appearance this season as Steve’s identical twin proved to be quite a goofy roadblock for the ladies’ chances of getting away with murder. That the crash occurred at the intersection where Jen successfully petitioned for a new stop sign, and in a new car she and Judy just bought for Charlie, were extra twists of the knife.
While there are several loose threads that Dead to Me will have to deal with if — or, realistically, when — it gets renewed for a third season, here are the big ones we’ve been thinking about nonstop since Jen’s final “Oh shit.” You could say we’re … dying for answers.
How badly was Jen injured in the car crash?
Given that Jen is conscious and talking after getting totaled by Ben’s car (Judy, in the passenger seat, awakens pretty quickly and is less injured), it’s safe to say that Dead to Me won’t be killing off Applegate amid the best role of her career. Some things still worry us, though — there are shards of glass all around her face, and there’s blood trickling down her head, too. How much time will we spend watching her recover? Given Dead to Me’s recurring themes around trauma and grief, this seems like it could fuel a major season-three plotline about Jen avenging another hit-and-run, or resurface her PTSD from Ted’s hit-and-run death.
Did Ben purposely target Jen and Judy with the crash, or was it a total coincidence?
Here are the things we definitively know about Ben after it’s revealed that he’s the driver: He’s sitting next to an empty bottle of single-malt whiskey, which he presumably consumed, he has a bloody face, and he drives away without seeking help for his victims. Thanks to the smoking debris and the shock of the crash, neither Judy nor Jen seems to get a glance at the hit-and-runner or his car before he flees the intersection, and, at least going by what the camera shows us, Ben doesn’t bother to peer in and see whom he hit. Is this because he’s a fool who wants to try to avoid criminal charges, or is it because, in yet another vicious Dead to Me twist, he knows exactly what he’s done, because he pieced together the truth about his brother’s death and knows Jen and Judy are to blame? With that being said …
What exactly was Ben told over the phone?
Just before he gives Jen a call in the hopes of rekindling their relationship, Ben is instead interrupted by a call that we can reasonably assume informs him that Steve is indeed dead, and that his body was discovered in the woods. “They did?” he gravely responds. “Are they sure?” He lies to his mother about whom he talked to and deflects by saying he’ll “run out and get some ice cream,” and, holding back tears, leaves the house. (Without any of that single-malt whiskey, mind you.) While the easy answer to the questions raised by this phone call is that the Laguna PD informed him of Steve’s death and burial, we can’t help but think about Steve’s circle of shady (and well-funded) Greek Mafia pals, and whether they were stealthily doing their own digging for Ben. If so, we wouldn’t count out them discovering some dirt on Jen and Judy, adding to the theory that Ben could’ve sought out the duo for revenge.
Will Detective Perez continue to be an ally?
It was a humanizing season for the chilly Detective Perez, which began when we discovered that she was the former long-term girlfriend of Judy’s new love interest, Michelle (Natalie Morales). This was further exemplified in the season finale, when, despite Jen confessing to the murder of Steve, Perez lets her walk free due to the fortuitous combination of not finding his body in the woods (at the time, anyway) and finally being able to arrest her corrupt police chief, who was a major presence in Steve’s Greek Mafia operation — meaning that Perez could easily pin Steve’s disappearance on the Mafia and convince her colleagues.
“You’re going to go home, and we’re never going to talk about what we didn’t find out here ever again,” Perez tells Jen during their car ride home, when she also reveals that her mother was murdered when she was a child. “We were never here. I don’t want to be a cop right now. I want to be a person,” she tells Jen. Perez even brings Judy her old paintings out of the evidence locker as a peace offering, unaware there’s a ton of money hidden in the frames. But all of that goodwill might have to be short lived, due to the bigger question of …
How will the discovery of Steve’s body change things?
The final time we see Steve’s burial spot in the woods is when an inquisitive dog, on a hike with its human, begins to dig up his body after picking up on the corpse’s scent. (And no, it’s not a red herring, which we know thanks to a panning shot to the tree where Judy carved a heart.) The no-body, no-crime maxim is out. A proper murder investigation is in! For Jen and Judy’s sake, we can only hope they wiped their prints clean, mastered some tight alibis, and destroyed any evidence of their involvement. Or that Perez continues to embrace the Greek Mafia motive at the Laguna PD, solidifying her accomplice status with the women. We have a feeling Steve’s very rich family won’t be taking the murder of their golden boy too lightly, though.
And what about Charlie finding the letter?
Prior to Jen turning herself in to Perez, she pens three letters to Judy, Charlie, and Henry, but we only learn the contents of Judy’s letter, as Jen returns home just before the boys are given theirs. The letter is poignant, heartfelt, and speaks greatly to the women’s ever-evolving relationship. But it also contains incriminating evidence that she killed Steve, in addition to strongly implying that Judy killed Ted, an action that she forgives Judy for. “You’re a better mother to Charlie and Henry than I could ever be,” Jen writes. “I know they might not be the kids you dreamed of, but I’m hoping you can find it in your enormous heart to take care of them and be their legal guardian.” (Sorry to Lorna.) Charlie stumbles upon the letter while searching for Judy’s stash of marijuana in her room, but the camera cuts out just before he opens it. Should he choose to read it, he’s in for one of the rudest awakenings ever. That, and teenage boys aren’t exactly known for keeping their mouths shut.
Will we ever see flashbacks with Ted?
Dead to Me periodically offers a flashback or two about the night Ted died: We see him when Jen shouts “I never want to see you again!” before his fateful last run, and in the aftermath of Judy and Steve striking him with their car. (We’ve never seen his face, just his bloodied body in crime-scene photos.) With Jen choosing to return to her grief support group to process the untimely death of her mother years prior, along with Ted’s, it could present an interesting opportunity for flashback stunt casting, and to let us see what the couple’s dynamic was like before the events of the show.