‘Reptile’ Ending Explained & Movie Summary: Why Was Summer Killed?

Shady small towns, a dashing middle-aged detective, and a woman murdered—this is all very by the numbers for detective procedurals, but it’s also the premise of Reptile, starring Benicio Del Toro (with a very handsome mustache), Justin Timberlake, Alicia Silverstone, and more! Read our full review to get a taste of what the film has to offer, or tread along for full spoilers for Reptile. Will Grady and his girlfriend Summer do up old houses to sell them for Will’s dad’s real estate company. Will and Summer are going through a rough patch when we’re introduced to them at the beginning of the movie. Summer seems afraid of something while at the same time hiding something from Grady. One fine day, Grady finds Summer’s unmoving body in the middle of the hall of the house they’re fixing up. Stunned to silence, Will stares at her crooked body with a knife jammed into it as the title credits roll in.

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What Happens In The Film?

Tom Nichols has just moved to Scarborough with his wife, Judy. The hardened detective is trying to make a spot for himself amidst the already tight-knit bunch of slightly less interesting and slightly more masochistic cops that he has to work with. Judy’s uncle Allen is Tom’s captain, and he tells Tom in confidence that he’s sick. Allen doesn’t want Judy to know about it, though. Tom has a somewhat shady past that everyone keeps talking about, but something tells us that it’s not as bad as it seems. He immediately gets sucked into Summer’s case, and the first suspect is, of course, Will Grady, the boyfriend.


Suspect No. 1: Will Grady

A real estate agent and a jealous boyfriend, Will seems to be the innocent boyfriend who has been walked all over by his girlfriend because she’s still seeing her ex. Will and Summer have been fighting recently, and she didn’t go to an important event where he was speaking, which hurt his fragile feelings. Will admits this to Tom and tells him about how Summer may have been seeing other people at the house. He then claims that Summer was the one for him, and he would’ve married her if she hadn’t still been married to her husband who she’s separated from. We saw Will leave the house and meet some people about some new supplies for his work. He got a text from Summer to visit her at the house, and while he was driving with somebody, he took a detour to meet her. When he got there, he found her dead. Hmm, shady. 

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Will has a weirdly close relationship with his mother, who nitpicks on small things like him wearing a tie or not shaving off his beard. Will’s dad’s not around, so he and his mom take care of the business together. Although he looks only slightly disheartened that the love of his life is dead, it feels as if he’s been putting on a show. 


Suspect No. 2: Sam Glifford

Summer’s husband, Sam, is in trouble all the time because he’s an artist who collects people’s blonde hair for his work. He’s been seen cutting the hair off of people on public transport and looks really shady to Tom. When Tom and his subordinate Dan visit Sam, he tells them that if he doesn’t get to hear his rights from them, he won’t answer without a lawyer. At the same time, though, Tom is still pretty keen on pegging Will as the suspect, suggesting faking a polygraph test. Sam’s DNA is found on the victim, and he knows it’s because they were sleeping together, but he still makes a run for it when the detectives visit with an arrest warrant. He steals Dan’s gun and tells Tom to stand back. Because he has a gun pointing at him, Tom ends up shooting and hitting Sam in the back. This kills him instantly, to the surprise of Tom himself. A lot of drugs are found in Sam’s house, making it almost an open-and-shut case for the cops (hmm, almost as if this was all planned from before), but Tom isn’t satisfied.

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Suspect No. 3: Eli Philips

Back at Will’s mother’s apartment, a man named Eli shows up and gives Will their mail. When Will says he doesn’t remember Eli, the guy tries to prevent Will from shutting the door. He claims that Will’s family stole everything from him and that his father died because of Will’s father. Eli’s very vocal about his hate for Grady Real Estate because he claims they stole his dad’s land. He’s even made videos and posted them online. When Tom and Dan visit Eli, he claims he respects cops and cooperates as best as he can. He strangely knows a lot about Tom, even the fact that his partner back in his previous big city station was caught for bribery and drug abuse. Tom gives Eli his card and tells him to call if he needs anything. On the other hand, Will tells Tom about Eli trying to barge into his house and calls him a threat. Tom says there’s not much they can do unless he tries it again, and if he does, Will should just call Tom.

Instead of being reprimanded for shooting a civilian, Tom finds it a bit strange that he gets awarded a badge of honor for “saving Dan’s life”. He’s suspended for a few days, but that’s all forgotten rather quickly, and he gets his gun back. Tom used to have weird dreams where he can’t save people because he can’t pull the trigger, but after shooting at Sam in real life, he’s able to do it in the dreams. In the meantime, he also seems like an attentive husband who thinks the person fixing up his home is hitting on his wife. He talks it out with the guy, basically threatening him to stay away. There’s another guy named Wally on the team, and Tom doesn’t seem to quite understand the man. They’re quite different from each other, and there’s some tension there. Tom figures there are bite marks on Summer’s hand and gets Judy to help him figure out if they are. He then uses her handiwork to get a dental check done on Sam’s body to see if it’s a match. While watching TV, Tom sees that the packaged drugs found in Sam’s house have been found somewhere else too. Dan had taped up one of the packages and the same taped package showed up on TV. 

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Eli tries to lurk around Tom’s home, and Judy pulls a gun on him. Although there’s no proof he’s done anything bad, there’s something about Eli that doesn’t allow anyone to trust him, including Tom, especially after he pulled this stunt. Still, Eli leaves a USB drive for Tom in his house when he gets arrested for trespassing. Tom finds a company named White Fish Assets and connects the dots to the houses sold by Summer. The Gradys claimed that Summer’s commission was invested as per her request rather than going to her in cash. It’s quite evident that there’s something severely shady about Will and his mom. Eli gets bailed out, and he seems to be quite paranoid, asking for his knife first thing at the police station when he’s been in handcuffs for a while.

Will shows up at Eli’s house, asking for the drive he stole from his office. Eli doesn’t really care for what Will is saying because he’s holding a knife behind his back. But, unfortunately, another person shows up from behind him. At this point, it’s made clear that Will is the one who killed Summer, and now he and somebody he knows (probably Wally) are going to kill Eli too. In the meantime, Tom feels uneasy about this whole thing and wants to dig in further, but he has no idea who to trust. He sees Will at a restaurant, and he’s already got a new girl on his arm.

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How Did the FBI Get Will?

Throughout the Reptile, there’s one clue that the guys are looking for. A car that was found through CCTV footage went to the house that Summer was at when she was killed. Tom is invited to celebrate Allen’s birthday, and he sneaks into the basement to find that same car. While driving back home, Tom and Judy get stopped by a patrol vehicle and get followed all the way home. He even congratulates Tom for the award he’s receiving. Tom tells Judy everything that he’s found out, especially the part where everyone is involved, including her uncle. White Fish is collectively taken care of by Wally and Will. Wally plants the drugs, and when the houses get seized, Will buys the houses through White Fish. Summer found out the truth about all this, and she was going to tell the FBI about it; that’s why Will killed her.

Tom makes the decision to go to the chief and tell him what he’s found. Allen invites Tom over to his house to “talk,” and Tom takes the Chief with him. The chief goes to the restroom when Allen gives Tom the chance to run. Now that he’s involved with another person, there’s no way they’ll spare him. Before Tom can really do anything, though, Allen gets shot in the head by Wally. Tom pulls a gun on the Chief, and when the Chief is about to pull out his, Tom shoots him in the head. This leaves Wally, whom Tom wounds badly. Wally asks to be freed, but Tom wants him to face the consequences of what he’s done all this time. Wally says he can’t feel his legs anymore, and Tom just takes the gun away and sits and watches him, calling the FBI. At the end of Reptile, the FBI gets to a clueless Will while Judy helps Tom tend to his palm, which was shot by Wally. He then uses the same faucet that he had seen in the house where the murder took place. Is that being fastidious or just weird? We’ll never know.

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After witnessing the death of Judy’s uncle and killing the captain, Tom made a call to 911 but seeing the kids outside choked him up, making him realize the massive consequences of his actions. He definitely feels a little bit guilty, but at the end of the day, we know he’s gotten the information to the FBI and done the legwork to get Will arrested. Will hasn’t just scammed people, he’s also a murderer. Wally, who can’t feel his legs, is probably paralyzed from the gunshot. Tom makes the decision to leave him alive so he repents his mistakes and gets a proper trial for what he and Will did.

Additionally, Sam would’ve been the perfect suspect and they even managed to get an arrest warrant for him, but the man made a run for it. What we don’t know is if Dan was with the other cops or Tom. It’s possible that he allowed Sam to run away with his gun because they knew that Tom would pull the trigger if need be. He could’ve just been killed in the crossfire so the case would’ve been closed. It’s really interesting how Will left Eli because he was overconfident the man wouldn’t do any actual damage. With Tom’s entry in Scarborough, Will should’ve realized that he could’ve been in trouble but he got cheeky and that’s when all the mistakes happened. What we can imagine is that this whole endeavor was planned by Will’s parents. As we know, he’s got an almost Norman-Norma relationship with his mother, which is probably why he just does everything his mother says. Even with the girls, everything is picked up by his mum.

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Tom may have wanted redemption for having lied about his previous partner, who got arrested. It’s also extra charming that Judy ends up siding with Tom, even though it’s her uncle he’s against. The trust between them is unmatched. At the end of the film, because Tom has shot two cops in self-defense, he’ll probably be suspended for a little bit. It’s time for him to retire anyway, so maybe this would be his badge of honor at the end of the day!


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Ruchika Bhat
Ruchika Bhat
Ruchika, or "Ru," is a fashion designer and stylist by day and a serial binge-watcher by night. She dabbles in writing when she has the chance and loves to entertain herself with reading, K-pop dancing, and the occasional hangout with friends.

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