John Paul’s dead. Matthew’s closer than ever to finding the killer, but red herrings abound. John Paul’s widow Grace tells a tale to her sisters. The magnificent show comes to a gripping close in typically brilliant fashion.
Bad Sisters recap: ‘Saving Grace’ (season finale)
Season 1, episode 10: In the season finale, entitled “Saving Grace,” John-Paul (played by Claes Bang) is indeed dead, apparently after some kind of ATV crash. He was cold in the woods for hours before they found his body.
Grace (Anne-Marie Duff) says they quarreled and he left her alone in the middle of the night. Her sisters Ursula (Eva Birthistle), Becka (Eve Hewson), Bibi (Sarah Greene) and Eva (Sharon Horgan) comfort her. But they’re also confounded for a host of reasons.
How, after months of trying to kill the prick, did he just kick off so inauspiciously? One thing is for sure: They couldn’t be happier. When Ursula drives Grace back to her house, Bibi, Becka and Eva stand laughing for a solid minute.
In the present, Theresa (Seána Kerslake) needs an emergency C-section. Her husband, Thomas (Brian Gleeson), can’t handle any more of the investigation as he waits by his wife’s bedside for news. So Matthew (Daryl McCormack) says he’ll sort everything out. When Becka swings by, he says he found an inconsistency in her account of the night of JP’s death, but she holds fast to her account. She’s not gonna break so easy.
Grace finally decides to throw out JP’s old clothes, so the sisters all gather to help her. Then Becka shows up and tells them that Matthew’s got an ace in the hole. They meet up and compare alibis because none of them were together the night of JP’s death. Even they don’t know who killed him … if anyone did.
Matthew finds a note on Thomas’ desk reminding him to interview Roger (Michael Smiley) again because the last time, he said some psychologically revealing things. Matthew goes over and finds a man still twisted by hatred for John Paul. Roger even goes so far as to admit that he was at the cabin that night trying to find a way to forgive JP for all the horror he unleashed in his life.
When Matthew asks Grace about her husband’s character, she doesn’t say anything. But she does finally pluck up the courage to go through JP’s drawers and finds his pornography collection. She can no longer lie to herself about what kind of a man he was.
One last look around the cabin
Closer than ever but still in a fog, Matthew heads up to Grace and JP’s cabin to look around. He finds an old newspaper with the score of the game that JP told Grace he was going to watch — but it was on the wrong day. JP lied. Or she did.
The sisters get together and start arguing with each other about their alibis and character when Grace comes in. She found out the Claffins lied to get her signature on the post-mortem request, so she goes over to ask them about it. They finally come clean about all the murder attempts. Then Grace comes clean, too.
Turns out she and JP were getting along pretty well the night he died, until she finally got him to be intimate with her. He got frustrated and freaked out. And he said that the real reason he couldn’t get it up for Grace was because Eva “seduced him.”
What he described was a rape that led to a miscarriage. She slapped him, he punched her — and she strangled him to death. Then, to calm down, she watched Karel Reisz’s film Isadora, which features a scene where Vanessa Redgrave’s scarf gets caught in the wheels of a car. And that gave her an idea. She staged the same scene with JP’s body.
The trouble is Matt found the DVD and watched it, too. He knows what happened.
That always works for women…
Man, oh, man. This cast, these directors, the photographers, PJ Harvey and Tim Phillips’ score — what a team. I could not love Bad Sisters more, warts and all, despite the occasional writerly overreach.
When Bibi hugs Eva in the final scene and they talk about how much they missed hearing Grace laugh, I was near tears. All this rigmarole, all this death and judgment and paranoia … it was, in the end, all worth it. And selling that is, of course, how much we’ve grown to love and want betters things for Anne-Marie Duff‘s character Grace.
Everyone on this show gave their all, but without a truly lovable center, without a character and performer you really wanted to succeed, Bad Sisters just wouldn’t have held together. Good on Sharon Horgan and Co. for finding Duff. Indeed, good on Horgan for never acting like she’s attempting to be the center of attention even though she’s the creator and first billed — she’s just a good, supportive utility player doing excellent emotional work when needs be. And good on the directors for helping Duff give this excellent turn.
A show like this makes you grateful that there are still people making TV that just wants to be good — not a movie in eight installments, not the next thing in a franchise, just good on its own terms. Bad Sisters is bloody good.
Watch Bad Sisters on Apple TV+
You can now watch all 10 episodes of Bad Sisters’ excellent first season on Apple TV+.
Watch on: Apple TV+
Scout Tafoya is a film and TV critic, director and creator of the long-running video essay series The Unloved for RogerEbert.com. He has written for The Village Voice, Film Comment, The Los Angeles Review of Books and Nylon Magazine. He is the author of Cinemaphagy: On the Psychedelic Classical Form of Tobe Hooper, the director of 25 feature films, and the director and editor of more than 300 video essays, which can be found at Patreon.com/honorszombie.