Murder, money laundering, and people trying to one up each other—that’s how I would describe ITV’s latest crime drama Payback. The plot of the show is extremely dense and often confusing. But it does offer clarity to the audience in the end, nonetheless. In this article, I am going to make an attempt to simplify things for you and analyze the Payback‘s twisted ending.
Lexie Noble’s seemingly normal life turns upside down when her husband Jared gets murdered by random goons while buying cigarettes. She witnesses the whole thing going down and fails to save him. Jared was an accountant who seemed to be doing really well with the accounting firm, which he started with Lexie, an accountant herself. But Lexie soon finds out that she is in severe monetary trouble, as Jared apparently hasn’t left her anything.
Who Is Cal Morris, And What Is His Connection With Jared?
Unbeknownst to Lexie, Jared was sending some suspicious texts about a certain financial deal, minutes before he got murdered. It is soon revealed that he was involved with Cal Morris, a notorious crime boss who pretends to be a regular businessman. One DCI, Guthrie, has been on Morris’ tail for at least a decade, but he hasn’t been able to connect anything criminal to the man. Just before his death, Jared was supposed to do one particular deal for Morris, which would have made an island Morris’ property. The transfer of the money was rather complicated as it involved a holding account in Cyprus in the middle, which was supposed to receive the amount from a Maltese account and then transfer it to Edinburgh, where this tale is set. But that didn’t happen, and now the money is untraceable, and Cal wants it back. So he orders his right-hand man, Malky, a stoic older dude with a calm, non-threatening face, to contact Lexie and be subtle. Well, subtlety to these people involves randomly snatching away Lexie’s bag and then approaching her. Lexie, who has just discovered Jared’s diary at their firm, claims to not know anything. Morris also fails to get anything substantial after going through that diary, which is filled with cryptic codes and passwords.
Anyway, Lexie does manage to find information which effectively helps Morris find the money and go forward with the deal. But things get really tricky for Lexie when Morris finds out that Jared was not only doing his money-laundering; he was stealing from Morris as well, to the tune of a whopping twenty-eight million dollars. With Jared now dead, the only way for Morris to get his money back is through Lexie. And a man like Morris does exactly what you would expect him to do, threatening Lexie and her kids in order to get what he wants. To make sure Lexie doesn’t get to do anything that might jeopardize things, Morris hires his nephew Aaron, a hot-headed young man, as her chauffeur and watcher.
Why Do The Police Suspect Lexie Of Jared’s Murder?
I am not here to question the storytelling, but the entire arc of DI Royce, chief investigator of Jared’s murder case, advocating for the theory of Lexie murdering her husband because she’d found out about he was having an affair is simultaneously frustrating and ludicrous. Especially when it is already told to us that Jared was not having an affair, but he was planning to move to America, and the mysterious “Sarah Blain,” with whom Jared was having the affair, according to Royce, happens to be the alias he used for Lexie only in her US passport. Realizing her husband was not cheating on her, Lexie breathes a sigh of relief, but she still has to find the money he stole from Morris.
Meanwhile, DI Khan, who works under Guthrie, manages to figure out Jared’s involvement in Morris’ shady business, and he puts a bug in Lexie’s house to gather more information. Not to mention, he does it in the most ridiculous manner by creating the facade of a smoke alarm emergency. He does hear Lexie talking to Morris on the phone, but as she is using a burner phone, Khan doesn’t get to listen to Morris. Lexie soon finds herself in between the two sides, as she is ambushed by Guthrie at a parking lot. After pretending to not know anything initially, Lexie realizes that it is fruitless, so she decides to hear what Guthrie has to say.
Does Lexie Start Working For The Police?
With someone like Morris hovering over her head, Lexie takes a gamble at helping the police, but only after Guthrie promises her immunity and witness protection. As Morris goes forward with the island deal, Khan and Guthrie plan to catch him red-handed during the transaction. Meanwhile, Lexie’s estranged mother suddenly arrives at the police station and paints a really damaging picture of her daughter to Royce. She feeds Royce the story of Lexie being a troubled teen who would even go the distance of having her druggie boyfriend beat up her own father. And then she has the audacity to knock at Lexie’s door, expecting a grand welcome after that! Lexie obviously shuts her mother out and shows her the door.
But this makes her already difficult life far worse as she comes under the scrutiny of Royce again, and with Lexie’s history out in the open, Guthrie now retracts his promise of giving her immunity. As things stand now, if Morris gets caught while doing the deal, he will come back at Lexie, and she won’t be able to protect herself because there’s no immunity or protection on the horizon anymore. So she does what any smart person would do in this situation, which is save Morris from getting caught. How does she do it? By convincing Morris to set up a fake Dutch company, CVB Industries, and use that as a smokescreen. The deal goes through, and the police fail to find any dirt on Morris. Guthrie understands that it is all Lexie, but he is unable to do anything about it.
Who Killed Jared Noble?
While Guthrie and Khan’s primary focus is bringing Morris to justice, Royce’s eyes are on finding Jared’s killer. She keeps working on her affair theory, which further solidifies when she finds a witness, a homeless man who happened to be present at the scene of Jared’s murder when it happened. According to this man, the murderers knew Jared’s name, and he heard them saying something like Jared was being punished for messing around. Through CCTV footage, Royce manages to locate one of the attackers, Michael, who claims that he had no idea that his mate, Conor, would stab Jared. According to Michael, they only went to rough up Jared a bit, as per their orders. He obviously doesn’t know the person who ordered them to do so. Royce believes it is Lexie, and receives more fuel when she finds footage of a blonde woman and Jared outside of a hotel. When she shows Lexie the footage, she still refuses to believe that her husband cheated on her and continues to maintain her innocence about not murdering her husband.
When Lexie tells Morris about how she is being hounded by the police for her own husband’s murder, Morris verifies the authenticity of her story from a mole he planted inside the system, because why not? Thanks to the mole, he also finds out about Michael and Connor and gives the “Morris treatment” to Michael. Meanwhile, Lexie finally finds a box carefully kept hidden by Jared, and thanks to the box, she finally manages to find a Latvian bank account where Jared had meticulously siphoned all the stolen money. But one has to go to a Lithuanian legal registration company in order to get access to the said bank account. Morris asks Lexie to go, and she naturally refuses, as it is quite impossible for her to leave the kids and also very risky to go abroad considering she is a murder suspect after all. But it has been established by now that saying “no” to Morris is never an option, so Lexie eventually has no choice but to go when Morris kidnaps her kids and their nanny. Before leaving with Aaron for Vilnius, she texts Guthrie that she is in danger and Morris has her kids.
Khan plans to intercept them at the airport and get Lexie out of danger, but Guthrie intervenes and lets Lexie go to Vilnius. He does inform the Lithuanian authorities to keep an eye on Lexie and Aaron. Clearly, Khan and Guthrie have very different kinds of safety concerns for Lexie. While Khan genuinely cares for the safety of the woman who accidentally got into all this trouble, all Guthrie cares for is getting Morris. In fact, Guthrie reveals that his immunity promise was basically fake and just to keep Lexie on their team. Khan later warns Lexie anonymously about it and asks her not to do anything for Guthrie until she gets the promise in writing. In Lithuania, a police officer bugs Lexie and Aaron’s suite so that Guthrie and company can listen to what’s cooking there. Lexie and Aaron do manage to get access to Jared’s bank account, but they are shocked to find out that Lexie’s dead husband had already drained the money and bought a whole lot of expensive jewelry. What is even more baffling is that Jared happened to donate all the jewelry to different charities, which Morris later finds out after interrogating the auctioneer, Gregor Beaumont.
Once Lexie is back, she finds a furious Morris, but she gets away by feeding him the story of Jared cheating with a certain blonde woman, which Morris can verify through his mole. The police, which now include DI Royce, who has now been folded into the investigation, come up with a solid plan when Aaron asks Lexie to look into a particular shipping container and asks not to tell Morris about it. While on a retreat to the island that Morris bought under the pretext of CVB industries, Lexie discovers a shocking truth. The blonde woman in the footage with Jared is none other than Aaron’s girlfriend, Manda. However, Jared was not having an affair with Manda. He was only protecting Manda from the abusive Aaron. It doesn’t take much effort for Lexie to add up what really happened to Jared after all. Aaron got pissed at the idea of Jared having an affair with his girlfriend and hired the hooligans to do what they did. And the particular blue pair of earrings that Jared bought was for Manda only, after she accidentally lost similar-looking earrings that she got from Aaron.
It becomes very clear that the title of the series, Payback, refers to Lexie paying it back to Aaron for what he did. But Lexie needs to do it in such a way that Morris and Aaron both go down for long and Lexie and her kids get to take a complete exit from this entire unfortunate thing. However, in a situation like this, there is always an unavoidable risk factor. But the plan works out, after all. Lexie, while wearing a wire, spills out Aaron’s secret about the shipping container to Morris, who confirms his ownership of the container. She also lets Morris know that it was Aaron who murdered Jared, as an act of vengeance. Realizing Aaron is a loose cannon, Morris takes care of him, which effectively gives Jared justice. Guthrie arrests Morris thanks to Lexie’s recording of his confession regarding the container as well as a questionable money transfer of 250 thousand dollars in order to save Bianca, who was in charge of Morris’ legitimate business.
During Payback‘s ending, Lexie realizes that all the charities where Jared gifted the jewelry are actually for Lexie and the future of the kids. This only makes Jared a genuinely great husband and father, who unfortunately got in bed with someone like Morris. Jared’s plan of getting out and taking his family to the US would have worked out if Aaron hadn’t done what he did. The only person who figures out the whole thing is Khan, but seeing Lexie and the kids happy, he lets them go to the US without any interference. Things end up good for Lexie, which she totally deserves after everything.