Jen Harding (Christina Applegate) and Judy Hale (Linda Cardellini) return this Friday with season two of the Netflix hit Dead to Me, a show about friendship, forgiveness, and cover-ups. In the premiere episode, the writers, led by creator Liz Feldman, waste no time jumping back into the action, opening the season right on the heels of last season’s cliffhanger finale. The year that’s passed between seasons has been a longer one than normal — or at least felt like it — so it would be understandable if you’ve forgotten a thing or two about this plot-heavy show in the interim. We’re here to help. Here are the plot points, big and small, you’ll want to keep in mind heading into season two. (Needless to say, spoilers for all of season one lie ahead.)
Judy Hale killed Ted Harding (and Steve was in the car).
The initial conceit of Dead to Me was the story of a woman, Judy Hale, trying to atone for the hit-and-run death of a man she didn’t know by befriending his widow, Jen Harding. The exact nature of what happened that night was revealed piecemeal through most of the first season, but we now know that while Judy was driving, it was her slimy husband, Steve (James Marsden), who told her to do the run part after the hit. Would Judy have stopped that night if Steve wasn’t in the car? Based on what we’ve learned about the relentlessly empathetic Judy, probably. But the fact remains that Judy killed Ted, and most of the plot stems from that one event.
Jen knows about what happened that night.
The major action of season one’s climax was Jen finding out that the woman she allowed into her life and home is the same one who killed her husband. She found out and pushed Judy away, burning her stuff and trying to get a restraining order — she even told Detective Perez (Diana Maria Riva) about Judy’s confession, but the beleaguered officer couldn’t do anything about it. In the final episode, it looked like Jen was ready to completely burn Judy, even telling her she could die, and Judy was ready to let it all happen, telling Jen at an open house that she was ready to turn herself in before preparing to kill herself in the same spot Ted died. And then Steve confessed to Jen that he was in the car, too — which turned out to be one of the last things he’d ever do.
Judy tore apart Steve’s life.
A lot of Judy’s actions in the season finale feel like they will have ripple effects into season two, even after Steve’s death. She turned Steve in for money laundering, revealing the location of a storage unit as well as the fact that he was the cash guy for the Greek Mafia. She also emptied his account, leading him to Jen’s pool on that fateful night, wherein …
Steve was killed, but we don’t know exactly how.
In the final scenes of season one, Steve came to Jen, looking for Judy. He talked about the night Ted died (making it all about himself, of course), but was more upset about Judy emptying his account. After Judy nearly jumped in front of a car, she was called to Jen’s pool, where she was greeted with the scene of her ex doing a real dead man’s float. Exactly what happened that night, and how Judy and Jen are going to deal with disposing of Steve’s body, is the most pressing question going into season two.
Abe is gone, too.
A much nicer male figure in Judy’s life was Abe (Ed Asner), a resident at the nursing home where she works. Abe passed away near the end of season one, and the lack of a moral sounding board for Judy could lead her even further into an emotional tailspin. Judy could use a friend right now, and may have literally no one now that Steve and Abe are dead and Jen apparently wishes Judy would join them.
Lorna is suspicious, awful, and may be an addict.
Lorna Harding (Valerie Mahaffey) is Ted’s mother and grandmother to Jen’s children. She’s also a Realtor like Jen, and it appears she’s always had an antagonistic relationship with her son’s wife. However, she seems to genuinely care about her grandkids, Henry (Luke Roessler) and Charlie (Sam McCarthy), so don’t expect her to just be written out of the show. In the season finale, Charlie came back from temporarily living with Lorna, saying grandma has a pill problem. Her poking around in season two could cause even more problems for Jen and Judy.
Nick is heartbroken and suspicious.
Remember Nick (Brandon Scott), the ex-cop who offered a shoulder for Judy to lean on, before she ran back to Steve and broke his heart? He’s still out there, and probably still upset about how everything went down with Judy. He tried to help Perez build a case against Judy, but it’s hard to say what, if any, role he’ll play moving forward. Could Judy win him back over enough to help cover up the death of Steve? Or maybe we’ll never see him again? It doesn’t feel like the writers can ignore that he’s one of the few still-breathing people who knows what happened to Ted, and would likely be one of the first to raise alarms if he hears that Steve has disappeared. And don’t forget that there’s probably more to Nick’s backstory than we know. He lost a partner and he’s grieving — that’s how he meets Judy — but everyone on Dead to Me has a secret, and it’s safe to say we probably don’t know the full extent of Nick’s.
The Harding boys are still struggling.
These poor kids. Remember the “Dad Bird” that young Henry thinks is his reincarnated papa? Or when Charlie was caught with a gun? Judy tried to help by giving Henry a wooden bird (with a massive cashier’s check in it) at the end of the season. Henry joined the Holy Harmonies youth choir overseen by Jen’s colleague Christopher (Max Jenkins), and Charlie even told mom he loves her — but don’t expect them to be suddenly stable in season two, especially with mom distracted by that whole corpse-in-the-pool thing.