‘Ripley’ Series Recap & Ending Explained: Does Tom Kill Dickie And Freddie?

The latest Netflix series Ripley is a reimagining of the quintessential character ‘Tom Ripley,’ starring Andrew Scott. If you’ve watched Matt Damon’s The Talented Mr. Ripley, then I must say that it is not a possible feat to compare the two portrayals. Even though Damon perfectly played this sociopathic character with his 90s boyish charm, Andrew Scott might yet again prove that he’s one of the greatest actors of this generation. Ripley follows the same plotline as the 1999 movie, but it does have its own details and differences, which I feel is quite justified. Moreover, the monochrome just adds to the grittiness of the narrative and keeps you hooked on the screen despite the Tarkovsky-esque slowness. 


Spoilers Ahead

What’s The Plot About?

Tom Ripley is a young con artist who lived in New York in 1960. He runs a fake credit collection agency called McAlpin and scams people into sending him checks for their missed payments. While drinking in a pub, a private detective approached Tom. He had come to see Tom on the order of his boss, Herbert Greenleaf, the owner of a ship construction company. The detective doesn’t reveal Greenleaf’s motives but mentions that it’s a personal matter. When Tom’s business is on the verge of being uncovered, he finally visits Herbert, who explains the situation with his son, Richard ‘Dickie’ Greenleaf. 


Dickie left New York a few years ago to travel around Europe and now resides in Atrani, a commune near Naples. Herbert believes that Dickie, who is of a mature age, should abandon his bohemian lifestyle and return to New York to assume a role in the family business. Despite previously dispatching Dickie’s acquaintances to persuade him, Dickie remains resolute about staying in Atrani. Consequently, Herbert turns to Tom, an old schoolmate of Dickie’s, for assistance. Herbert offers to cover Tom’s expenses and provide him with a salary to cover his journey to Atrani in an effort to convince Dickie to return.

Even though Tom hardly remembers Dickie, he takes up the opportunity, believing that he can take advantage of this situation. Upon reaching Atrani, he finds Dickie and his girlfriend, Marge Sherwood. Tom makes it seem like their first meeting is a coincidence, as if he ran into them, but soon after Dickie invites Tom for lunch, he reveals the truth about his visit to Atrani. Mesmerized by the beauty of the Italian Riviera, Tom adds that he understands why Dickie has been living in Italy. Following this revelation, Tom and Dickie start to hang out regularly. Dickie even invites Tom to live in his villa; Tom overstays his welcome, and Dickie no longer wants to associate with him. 


Why Does Tom Kill Dickie?

After Tom moves into Dickie’s villa by the cliff, their relationship blossoms into a close friendship. Dickie understands Tom’s situation and doesn’t have any hard feelings for him, even though he was sent by his father to change his mind and get him to return to New York. Dickie even adds that he too would have taken the money if he were in Tom’s place. However, Marge is distrustful of Tom’s sudden closeness to Dickie. Of course, she also suspects that Tom might have even had feelings for her boyfriend, which isn’t entirely incorrect either. In the 1999 movie, this aspect of Tom and Dickie’s relationship was quite obvious, but in Ripley, it is much more subtle. 

Gradually, Tom becomes obsessed with Dickie. He stalks Dickie and Marge to the villa where she lives and stays aware of everything they do. This is until Tom is caught wearing Dickie’s clothes and impersonating him, which creeps him out. After about 2 months of staying together, Tom receives a letter from Herbert revealing that he won’t be sending him money any longer since he has failed his objective. Meanwhile, Dickie disinvites Tom from his friend Freddie’s party in Cortina, which weighs further into Tom’s discontentment. Dickie suggests they part ways, but before doing so, he offers to take Tom on a final vacation to San Remo, where Dickie rents a boat and takes Tom to the middle of the sea. However, seeing his steady source of money walk away from him scares Tom. He doesn’t want to give up the luxuries he was becoming used to, and to go back to New York meant getting arrested for fraud. Therefore, Tom takes action and kills Dickie with an oar, bludgeoning him to death. He disposes of his body in the sea, tying a rock to his feet to drown his body. He even drowns the boat on a cliff in San Remo. 


Following the vacation in San Remo that consumed Dickie’s life, Tom returns to Atrani and tells Marge that Dickie had abruptly moved to Rome. Creating an elaborate lie, he tells Marge about how he had been entrusted with certain errands by Dickie, which Marge doesn’t entirely believe in but has no choice either. Tom moves to Rome after he picks up Dickie’s belongings from his house, deeming them necessary for him to impersonate Dickie’s persona.

Why Does Tom Kill Freddie?

While in Rome, Tom assumes the identity of Dickie himself, checking into a hotel under Dickie’s name. However, to avoid arousing suspicion, he also checks into another hotel using his real identity. Tom resorts to forging Dickie’s signature to cash checks to maintain the lavish lifestyle he has adopted. In a bid to solidify his guise as Dickie Greenfield, he fabricates a passport bearing Dickie’s name. Tom meticulously writes letters to Dickie’s parents and even to Marge, aiming to avoid any suspicions regarding Dickie’s disappearance. In these letters, he portrays himself in a favorable light, hoping to dispel any misconceptions about his true identity as Tom Ripley.


Some days after moving to Rome, Tom moves into a lavish apartment, paying upfront for two months in advance. He tries his best to lay low in Rome, however, he is found out by Freddie. Freddie is a British citizen who was a good friend of Dickie’s. He had invited Dickie and Marge to Cortina for Christmas. But not hearing anything from Dickie, followed by his abrupt disappearance, made Freddie worry for his friend. 

Freddie tracks down the address, which was registered under Dickie’s name, using the phone company, and arrives at the location to find Tom. Tom fabricates the lie that Dickie has stepped out, but Freddie is a naturally skeptical man. Even during their previous meeting in Atrani, both Tom and Freddie did not like each other. Tom thought that Freddie was a phony rich snob who thought he owned the world, while Freddie guessed that Tom was only there to take advantage of Dickie, which was actually quite true. 


After a long interrogation, Freddie leaves the apartment; however, Tom’s landlady tells Freddie that Dickie is indeed at home. Freddie, figuring out that Tom is lying, threatens to call the cops; however, to stop Freddie, Tom kills him by bludgeoning him to death using an ashtray. Tom is aware that he must get rid of the body without drawing suspicion, so he drags it out of the apartment late at night. He drives the body off to a location far from the apartment and leaves it in the car itself. Freddie’s body was later found by the police. This incident catches the attention of Officer Pietro Ravini, an intelligent but eccentric detective in the Italian police. 

How Does Tom Evade The Police? 

Following Dickie and Freddie’s murder, Tom checks the newspaper everyday to keep track of further developments in the case. Meanwhile, Ravini narrows down Freddie’s movements from the evening to Tom’s apartment, which he’s using under the guise of Dickie. The officer pays a visit to Tom and interrogates him about his whereabouts. Quite naturally, Tom/Dickie is a suspect in this case, but again, he is innocent until proven guilty. 


Following the developments in Freddie’s case, Marge, who is still eagerly waiting to see Dickie, finds the address where he’s presumably living, only to find Tom there. Tom cooks up another lie, stating that he is merely visiting Dickie, who had to leave suddenly as he’s been feeling unwell since Freddie’s murder and the allegations against him. Though it does not remove the suspicions Marge has about Tom, it makes her write a letter addressed to Dickie about how she feels betrayed by his actions. At the same time, Ravini finds out about Tom Ripley being a friend of Dickie’s. He once again visits Tom/Dickie to inquire about Tom Ripley. Tom fabricates another lie, claiming that he saw Ripley a few days ago. Unable to find Ripley, Ravini assumes that he’s missing and fears him dead, which is also published in the paper. 

Eventually, the boat which Tom drowned after Dickie’s murder is found by the police, and at the same time, the bank through which Tom cashed his check declares fraud about his signature. These instances further tighten Ravini’s grip on Tom. With all the evidence pointing fingers at Tom/Dickie, Ravini sends a message to him asking him to come to Rome for questioning, implying that failure to do so would lead to an arrest. However, Tom, who is in Sicily by now, makes it seem like he’s depressed and inquires to the manager about buying a ticket to Tunisia. In reality, Tom instead ends up going to Venice and assumes his real identity. Perhaps he realizes that even though impersonating Dickie has been very profitable for him, doing so has also brought unexpected problems. 


Now that he knows his real identity, he informs Ravini that he’s alive and doing well. Even when Ravini visits him at his apartment in Venice, Tom disguises himself to avoid being identified as Dickie, which seems to work for him as well. Ravini eventually comes across the testimony from the manager in Sicily implying that Dickie seemed depressed when he left for Tunisia, which makes Ravini wonder if Dickie had committed suicide. 

Meanwhile, in Venice, Marge visits Tom and, while going through his belongings, finds Dickie’s ring. Dickie would typically never part with his ring, but when she confronts Tom about how he came into possession of it, he claims that it was given to him by Dickie. Tom almost considers killing Marge as well after this revelation. Marge had always been a thorn in his side as she had always been suspicious of him, and it’d be convenient for Tom if Marge was out of the way permanently. However, when Marge mentions that Dickie would only give up this ring if he knew he wasn’t coming back, Tom reinforces the idea. They come to the conclusion that Tom has indeed killed himself. 


What Happens To Tom In The End? 

Marge finally believes the lies that Tom created for his own profit. However, by now, Herbert Greenleaf, concerned about his son’s whereabouts, has also arrived in Italy. Herbert summons Tom along with his private detective, who wishes to speak with Tom privately. Seeing the wealth that Tom had amassed, the detective asked him to come clean if he had actually killed Dickie. Tom claims that Dickie took him out on the boat to confess his feelings to him, but Tom harshly turned him down and wanted nothing to do with Dickie any longer. This instance, along with Freddie’s death, must’ve pushed him further into contemplating suicide. The detective buys into these lies and reveals a letter that Tom wrote as Dickie to his landlady in Rome. The letter made it seem like he was indeed going to commit suicide, which closes the loose ends and makes everyone conclude that Dickie indeed died by suicide. In the end, the lies that Tom Ripley has created become his reality. Tom pays an expert to forge him a UK passport, implying that he intends to leave Italy for good and head to the UK under a new name, Timothee Fanshaw. 

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Shrey Ashley Philip
Shrey Ashley Philip
A teacher, photographer, linguist, and songwriter, Shrey started out as a Biotechnology graduate, but shifted to studying Japanese. Now he talks about movies, advocates for ADHD awareness, and embraces Albert Camus.

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