‘Mea Culpa’ Ending Explained & Movie Spoilers: Did Ray Incriminate Zyair?

Mea Culpa can be seen as many things. It is a legal drama of sorts, but it’s an adult thriller as well. It titillates in some parts while creeping us out in others. It is damagingly dull in a few places, and in others, it surprises us. This new Tyler Perry film is definitely one of those films that could have benefited from a writers’ room, and I mean an intense few brainstorming sessions as to how to get the characters in the film to have believable motivations that seem creatively justified and not just a result of ‘oh, that’s what characters do in an adult thriller’. 

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Spoilers Ahead


Plot Synopsis: What Happens In The Movie?

Mea Harper, an ambitious young lawyer, was having a bit of a rough patch in her marriage. Her husband Kal was a mama’s boy of the nth degree, and the marriage counseling sessions were not proving to be fruitful. Mea’s mother-in-law, Azalia, had cancer, and hence, Mea couldn’t say too much about the unfortunate woman who was ruining her married life. The whole family, in fact, was proving to be a bit of a troublemaker for her, essentially encroaching upon her life. Ray, Kal’s brother, was a lawyer by profession as well, but he was a much more powerful figure than Mea, as he was the assistant district attorney. The only friend she really had was Charlise, Ray’s wife. The family problems were exacerbated when Mea agreed to represent Zyair Malloy, an artist accused of murder, when Ray decided to prosecute him.

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Why Did Mea Take The Case?

Mea always had a firm belief in the maxim that one should presume someone innocent unless they are proven guilty. Even in the case of Zyair Malloy, she was ready to give him the benefit of the doubt, even though he was accused of having murdered his girlfriend, Hydie. She was interested in taking the case, even though many were against it. The pressure was coming from Ray himself, who didn’t want the case to become a family feud. Ray was going to run for mayor, and a win in the case would make him look good in front of the people as a beacon of hope and justice. When Mea was approached by Ray directly and given an ultimatum of sorts to drop the case, and seeing Kal not saying anything back to Ray, she decided it was high time to do her job, and she took on the case and began to research further into the life of Zyair Malloy.


Why Did Mea Sleep With Zyair?

Mea had hired Jimmy, a private investigator, to get the nitty-gritty details of Malloy’s life. From the onset, Malloy looked like a shady figure. He lived alone in his studio duplex apartment, busy making art, and came on as too straightforward, trying to dominate Mea into giving him her number. When Jimmy met Zyair, he too couldn’t figure out if Zyair was lying. Zyair maintained that he didn’t kill Hydie, even though there was a video she had made where she had clearly said that Zyair was going to hurt her. This was overwhelming evidence, and Mea needed Zyair to drop all seduction games, like helping teach her to paint and taking her out on bike rides and get to the truth. Zyair was Zyair, though, and he rarely answered the questions that mattered, and instead of telling Mea what had happened, he decided to go dancing in an underground sex club. Mea followed him, and perhaps she was thrown off balance, which is what paved the way for him to seduce her. The rest was done by Kal. Jimmy sent him the photo where they could be seen together going into a room with Charlise. Mea was distraught, and she came back to his apartment to sleep with Zyair, even though he had busied himself with another woman.

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How Did Mea Figure Out That Zyair Is Innocent?

The only thing Zyair had told her was that his ex-girlfriend, who was going to be a witness for the prosecution, was a controlling woman and was still furious over the fact that he had gone his own way. This woman named Renee had bought his paintings and made him who he was today, and according to Zyair, she expected him to live under her thumb. Now that he didn’t, she was spewing all the rotten things about Zyair—that he was a sadistic sexual deviant and a killer who had bashed Hydie’s brains out and used the remains as paint. Renee wasn’t an eyewitness, but she had been in a relationship with Zyair, and her testimony held weight as she was the credible owner of a distinguished art gallery. Mea needed some kind of evidence to build up Zyair’s case, which is why she sent Jimmy to Mexico, Hydie’s birthplace. There was no record of her being born there, and doubts began to grow. She might have made a breakthrough in the case, but the domestic problems were gnawing at her soul as she realized that she had made a terrible mistake. She had slept with Zyair, partly out of revenge and partly because she had been seduced, but the fact was that Kal had never slept with Charlise. They had gone to meet Azalia, whose health had gotten worse. Feeling guilty, she realized that, in a lapse of judgment, she had slept with the man who she was supposed to represent. She had crossed all professional boundaries, and the best way to get away from it all was to give up the case to someone else, and so she did. She went away to the Dominican Republic for a holiday, where she saw Hydie, the same girl Zyair was accused of murdering. Now she knew that Zyair was being set up by someone.


Why Did Ray Incriminate Zyair?

Mea had been constantly bombarded with all the theories that Zyair was the killer. She had met Renee and was told how Zyair seduced women with his painting of them. Renee had fallen for them, and she had told Mea to check the layers of the portraits, and she would find the portraits of all the women he had slept with some of whom he had killed, Hydie being the latest victim. This was one of the main reasons why she had given up the case. Renee was describing the exact process Zyair had used on Mea. Mea checked the portraits and found that underneath Mea’s portrait there were many layers that had the faces of other women, including Hydie’s, which had a sort of confession written on it. This was one of the main reasons she gave up on the case and went away. But now that she had seen Hydie alive, she knew that someone was framing him. It wasn’t Renee, but Ray, who wanted Zyair behind bars for false reasons, but why?

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This is where the film leaves much of the logic out the door, and we are given the explanation. Ray was going to run for mayor, as he had said earlier, and he wanted to send Zyair behind bars because he represented evil in society. But the main reason for the animosity against Zyair was that he had slept with Charlise, Ray’s wife, and this only became clear to Mea when she found out about Charlise’s portrait, which was painted by Zyair. He made portraits of all the women he slept with, and one of Charlise’s as well, but somehow Ray had managed to get it, or perhaps it was Charlise herself who had hidden it in her storeroom.

At the end of Mea Culpa, Jimmy told Mea that he wanted to make up for destroying her married life by sending her that photo of Kal with Charlise, which is why he had done some digging and found out that Azalia didn’t have any illness, and she was faking it for the sympathy votes Ray would get. Ray was the mastermind who was doing all this for power and punishing Charlise. Ray and Azalia gave Charlise one last chance to prove her loyalty by killing Mea, who was nothing but a disgrace to the family. Charlise chose to attack Ray, and thus Mea got a chance to escape. She met Kal on the way, and she thought he was one of the good ones and would help her even though he knew she had slept with Zyair. This wasn’t the case. He was just like his brother and wanted to take her back to the family house, where she would have been killed. Mea, however, fought back and survived. Jimmy helped Mea by sending an anonymous email to all the authorities, telling them about Ray’s deceitful plans to incriminate Zyair. Ray was arrested, and Zyair was free again, as all charges were dropped given that Hydie was alive. Why Ray took such a long time to hurt Mea and Charlise is beyond me, but he was caught in the end. How Mea found Hydie in the Dominican Republic, all because of chance, is lazy writing, and yet that is how she found out that Zyair was innocent. She would definitely not meet with Zyair again, as he had used his seduction techniques, which he used on every other woman, to sleep with her, and Mea had no time for womanizers. 

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Ayush Awasthi
Ayush Awasthi
Ayush is a perpetual dreamer, constantly dreaming of perfect cinematic shots and hoping he can create one of his own someday.

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