Inventing Anna Series-Finale Recap: There’s a Little Bit of Anna in All of Us

Inventing Anna

Dangerously Close
Season 1 Episode 9
Editor’s Rating 3 stars

Inventing Anna

Dangerously Close
Season 1 Episode 9
Editor’s Rating 3 stars
Photo: Nicole Rivelli/Netflix

The Inventing Anna finale — and with it, Anna’s court date — has arrived. What follows is a bit of an unwieldy courtroom drama that wraps up key players’ stories, featuring lots of fights and lots of fashion and occasionally fights about fashion along the way.

Neither the nitty-gritty details of Anna’s trial nor the many minutes the episode spends on both Todd and Vivian’s personal lives and reactions to the trial feel all that necessary to recount in detail here. What interests me more is how the episode wraps up various threads and themes/questions the show’s been exploring all along.

There’s what Anna did, for which she’s eventually found guilty on eight counts out of ten and sentenced to four to 12 years in prison. There’s how Vivian (and Scriberia — love you, Scriberia!) reported Anna’s story and made Anna famous, just like she said she would be in episode one. There’s how Vivian and Todd both came to care about Anna and how even though they’ll both benefit professionally from their Anna Delvey connection, none of it totally sits right with either of them. There’s how Anna’s friends react to the whole trial circus and eventually, in Kacy and Neff’s cases, how they’re able to care with some distance, moving on from the chaos/mess, and in Rachel’s case, how she writes a book about her Anna story.

And then there are the competing stories about who Anna (Sorokin) Delvey is and what — important in the legal context — her intention was when it came to all this. Catherine paints a picture of Anna as a cunning con artist who lied and ripped off her friends and banks and more. Todd — against Anna’s wishes — fashions an image of Anna as a naïve striver with big dreams that were never even close to becoming a reality. He tries to show the jury that we’ve all got a little Anna Delvey in us, and while they may judge her for faking it till she made it, she never actually came close to stealing one dollar from anyone. Anna and Neff, with a little help from Vivian, are meanwhile trying to tell a story that upholds Anna’s brand through her wardrobe choices for court, an ordeal that leads to many a courtroom delay, tons of media attention, and Vivian rifling through her own closet in the middle of the night.

There’s also how Anna reacts to the trial, to hearing these competing stories told about her. She is as insistent as ever that SHE WAS TRYING TO BUILD SOMETHING, that her father will wire the money for her trial stylist (a friend of Neff’s) and a new lawyer (when she momentarily tries to fire Todd), and that her reputation and brand are at stake — so she does NOT want Todd portraying her as an amateur who never got close (even though that may be her best shot at avoiding conviction). She’d rather spend time in prison than be seen as a wannabe, as a “useless, incompetent excuse for a con artist,” as Todd calls her in a particularly heated moment. Well, that’s certainly a choice. And it tracks with all we’ve learned about Anna so far.

During that epic screaming match, Todd finally asks what I’ve been wondering all season: Does Anna believe her lies? How deep does her delusion go?

We don’t really get a clear-cut answer, all credit to Julia Garner’s performance as an enigmatic Anna. Verbally, Anna sticks to her guns, er, lies. After the verdict comes down, she tells Todd that the jury saw her … they saw that she was dangerously close. And now the world will know that she’s not a dumb socialite; she’s a player. But even as she says all this, she’s sinking to the floor in tears. Even as she imagines herself strutting into the courtroom on the first day of trial, she’s shaken by how empty the room is — of the press, but also of people who care about her, including her father. Even as she’s railing at Todd about how he’s messing up her reputation with his “in over her head” defense, she seems nervous in the courtroom. Even as she’s reminding Vivian that their relationship was transactional and Vivian held up her end of the deal by making her famous, she’s holding back tears and reaching out for one last hand grasp and asking Vivian to visit her in Bedford.

And then, even as she’s riding the bus to her new prison home, she looks straight into the camera, face inscrutable.

So who is Anna Delvey? Criminal mastermind or a naïve, ambitious young woman who got caught up in the glitz, glamour, and grift of New York (as so many others have before her)?

I’m no psychologist, I’m just your loyal TV recapper, but it seems like the Anna Delvey of the show is a con artist who may also have been in over her head, which may also be lonely but is also a little bit mean. It’s been a fun ride watching Inventing Anna puzzle over that very question over nine episodes; building a fictionalized case/story, examining the Anna Delvey tale from all sorts of angles, including an unsympathetic one and a sympathetic one, and including one that reminds us that Anna Delvey is merely one example of the chronic scam culture we’re living in.

And what do we do with that information? Well, as the clever “where are they now?” Instagram posts at the end of the episode tell us, if you’re Kacy or Neff, you move on with your life and your own pursuits. If you’re Rachel, you sell your Anna experience story. If you’re Todd, you become the it lawyer for fraudulent scammers and also take a family vacation once in a while. If you’re Vivian (or Jessica Pressler, Vivian’s inspiration and the reporter whose article was the inspiration for this whole show), you move onto the next story — as journalists do. If you’re Anna, you get released from prison in 2021 and then picked up by ICE for overstaying your visa.

If you’re the rest of us, you get to watch an entertaining show, sure, but you also are maybe going to think a little bit about what it means to “fake it till you make it,” and why we seem to rabidly gravitate toward these scammer stories in the first place, so much so that articles become books become shows become podcasts become T-shirts, and so on. Just some lighthearted food for thought to close out these Inventing Anna recaps, no biggie. Catch you in March for Hulu’s Elizabeth Holmes show? Wink, wink.

Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous

• Anna-ism of the Episode: Anna’s pep talk to Todd’s son is one for the ages: “People give other people money for all sorts of reasons. Guilt and love are two of the biggest. And you’ve got both. You should ask for the moon.”

• Wink Wink, Nudge Nudge: The Instagram cataloguing Anna’s courtroom style? It’s real.

• Fashion Is Life: One word (well, one account name): @annadelveycourtfashion. Neff is a good friend.

Inventing Anna Series-Finale Recap