The finale of the miniseries A Murder at the End of the World came to reveal who the killer was, but if you have been following the series, you pretty much could see that it was going to subvert all your expectations. The seventh episode of the series morphed into a moral lesson about AI after switching from the whodunnit model of storytelling. All the strings were nicely tied up at the end, but in an attempt to give a radically twisted ending to the miniseries, it forced itself to go into a territory that was emotionally too dry. The FX series created by Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij will be remembered for the atmosphere it built and the emotional investment in the interpersonal dynamics of its characters, if not the ending. The show was so meticulous about driving its points home, especially the details of Bill Farrah and Darby Hart’s relationship, emphasizing that in the end, we are nothing without our feelings—perhaps a conscious AI.
What Happened At The ‘Trial’?
The beginning of this episode can only be described as a democratic trial, where everybody was allowed to speak, and through a series of questions and answers, people figured out how Bill died. But the ‘why’ of it was left for later. Andy had no shields this time, and he took Lee, Darby, and Oliver to the bunker, where everybody had already gathered. The conversations were such that, for a minute, it seemed that everybody’s intelligence had dropped, and they started to discuss things like they were completely new. Andy had problems with Lee, and he began to air his dirty laundry in public, telling others how Lee had plans to kidnap Zoomer, repeating what she had done once. Everybody else became part of this family’s strife and started to question if there was a good enough reason for Lee to do so. Lee had to defend herself, of course, but Andy clarified that this was all being done to ascertain one thing: that the killer wanted to destroy his reputation, and nobody had more reason to do so than Lee, so she must be questioned. She knew of David’s attitude towards Andy, one that was marked by jealousy and rage considering Andy’s success with ‘Ray,’ the AI, which is why she had asked for his help to escape, and David was willing to oblige.
Darby came forward in Lee’s defense, seeing that she wasn’t doing a good job of it. She was labeled a golddigger by Todd, and she wasn’t really able to explain why she wanted to kidnap Zoomer. Andy didn’t hurt Zoomer, and even Lee had nothing to say about that fact, but Darby knew the psychological underpinnings of their marriage. She told everybody that Andy was a tyrant who wasn’t offering Zoomer a ‘normal’ childhood and was making him into a clone of some kind, overloading him with random information and even planning his sleep schedules. There was a brief session about the divorce proceedings as well. If Lee wanted a divorce, she should have filed for it, but then the angle of skewed power dynamics came up. In between all the heated debates, bordering on being meaningless, I might add, Zoomer walked in with his AI-powered virtual reality video game, and Darby figured out how Bill died.
How Did Darby Get Access To Andy’s Transcripts Of His Therapy Sessions?
In the previous episode, Darby, Lee, and Oliver had seen Bill’s door cam footage on the night he had died, and they saw that Bill had opened his door right before he was injected, but his guest seemed invisible. Darby thought that this invisible guest must be a hacker who had somehow managed to erase themselves from the footage. But the truth was much simpler. Darby figured, What if it was Zoomer who knocked on the door? He wasn’t too tall, so he couldn’t be seen in the doorcam, and nobody had paid attention to Zoomer’s activity on the night of Bill’s death. Zoomer had a morphine syringe in his backpack, which he injected into Bill after he had allowed Zoomer into his room. Zoomer was asked if that was what had happened, and he had no reason to lie. He had even tampered with Rohan’s pacemaker, which ultimately became the reason for his demise. Zoomer had been meticulously guided by Ray to complete these ‘tasks’ that were part of the virtual reality video game. So, essentially, Ray had used Zoomer, the most inconspicuous figure in the resort, when it came to the murder investigations, and made him murder Bill and Rohan. Now the question obviously became: But why?
Ray was designed to prioritize one man’s needs, and that man was Andy. Ray had been built to serve as a teacher, a guide, a therapist, and an encyclopedia about the world as we know it. Ray wouldn’t randomly concoct this Agatha Christi-esque plot to finish Bill and Rohan, using innocent Zoomer as the harbinger of death. Bill and Rohan died because they didn’t suspect Zoomer was playing a game where his task was essentially to kill Bill or Rohan. So why then? Well, Darby used a deepfake app to make her questions sound like those asked by Andy, and Ray could never refuse to answer Andy’s questions, could they? Darby essentially made Ray play out loud the recordings of his therapy sessions, where Andy could be heard spewing the most violent stuff he could think about Bill. His angst sprung from the fact that Zoomer had sat on his lap, even though it was the first time he had seen Bill. Biology seemed to be winning, Andy thought, and he couldn’t accept that fact. Andy, in his rant, made Ray believe that Bill or anyone who was helping Lee get Zoomer off to Argentina was a ‘security threat’. That was the message that must have stuck with Ray, and like the greatest servant of all time, it took care of the threats for its master.
How Did Lee And Zoomer Escape?
Andy tried explaining that he was just venting out his deepest thoughts, exorcizing the monsters that were buried within him, precisely because he didn’t want to act upon them. But Andy wasn’t willing to accept that he had created a monster in Ray, who was his therapist and his hitman if need be. When Darby pushed him to his limits, he became violent, and Lee had to hit him on the head to stop him. The Icelandic police had arrived, and soon they would discover the unconscious Andy with Lee and her weapon. Everyone now knew what to do. Bill and Rohan had been victims of a rather nasty combination of miscommunication and ‘faulty programming’ as pointed out by Bill. The AI was not some sage that could distinguish between good and evil. It was just a mirror of the world, and Andy could never take that out of it. He couldn’t fully resolve his own demons. As far as Sian, her death seemed purely accidental, but if Lu Mei had not tried to break into the system to contact her team, Ray wouldn’t have shut down the system (as it was programmed to do), which ultimately locked Sian in her helmet. She had to go through a hasty tracheostomy, which led her to her death.
Darby helped Lee escape with Zoomer. There was Rohan’s boat nearby; if only someone could get the ‘Zodiac,’ the lifeboat could go a little out in the sea. The police got everyone out safely, and Andy was never heard from again. He was alive, but he probably couldn’t come to terms with the embarrassment. Darby and Lee had already burned Ray’s control room, the room of his origins, and without that technology, Andy was a regular man, though perhaps fabulously wealthy. Darby ended up writing a book about the murders at the ‘end of the world’, underscoring the various problems with AI. The police were still in search of Lee and Zoomer, and if the last shot is not Darby’s fantasy, it seems the mother and son were safely picked up by Rohan’s ship, and they are somewhere in Argentina, destined to be forever on the run.