Luke Arnold’s latest thriller, Scrublands, sees Martin Scarsden’s investigation into the tragic church killings orchestrated by Pastor Byron Swift. Those who knew Pastor Byron Swift (Jay Ryan) said he was a generous and kind-hearted man. He treated everyone with respect and was always the first to volunteer to serve the community. He preached the teachings of Christ but never forced or pressured anyone to follow suit. Maybe that’s why no one would have suspected what was going to happen next. One day, while everyone gathered around the church for their morning prayers, Pastor Swift went berserk. He cold-bloodedly murdered Craig (Martin Copping), Tom (Scott Major), Alf (Fletcher Humphrys), Hugh (Ben De Pagter), and Gerry (Adam Morgan) with his long-range rifle. Robbie, the cop, arrived at the scene, shot Pastor Swift, and ended his killing spree.
Who Is Martin Scarsden? Why Did He Visit Riversend?
Scrublands began with Martin Scarsden (Luke Arnold) arriving in the town of Riversend one year after the tragic incident. Martin was a journalist and was on the brink of losing his job. He hadn’t turned in a great story in months and was thus asked to write an anniversary piece about the killings. Martin’s original idea was to gather any information he could find and pen a decent article to leave the town. If the piece worked, he’d get to keep his job; if not, he might have to look elsewhere. But curiosity got the better of him. Martin couldn’t understand why a man as kind as Pastor Swift would one day choose to kill five people without any reason. Moreover, there were rumors that Bryon Swift was a pedophile and preyed on children. For Martin, things hardly made sense. If Byron Swift was a murderous maniac, why would he stop after killing just five people? Byron had the chance to kill many more, so why did he falter and sit on the church’s jamb? Plus, he didn’t harm any women or children, something a mass murderer wouldn’t care about. Maybe there was more to the story than meets the eye, Martin suspected.
Who Do The Dead Bodies Belong To? Did Byron Kill The Missing Couple?
Martin launched a full-fledged investigation into the church killings. Unlike many in town, he wasn’t convinced that the killings were random. Everyone who died that day was shot in the head. Also, every shot was fired from a considerable distance by Byron Swift. They were in no way random targets; maybe Byron Swift had a reason to kill those five people. Moreover, Byron Swift had ample chances to kill Robbie, but he didn’t. Also, Byron Swift told Robbie to investigate Harley Regan (Robert Taylor) before he died. Martin visited Harley to know his take on the matter, but he kicked him out of the house. While Martin was returning from Harley’s estate, he stumbled upon two skeletons trashed inside a well. He also found a cartridge shell of the same caliber as Byron Swift’s gun. Martin suspected that the bodies belonged to Jill and Damian. They were a couple who went missing just days before the church killings. Jill and Damian were the same people we saw getting chased and shot at the beginning of episode 2. After the bodies were found, everyone asked the same question: Did Byron Swift kill the couple as well? No, Byron Swift didn’t kill the couple. He was in Melbourne with Mandy (Bella Heathcote) right when Jill and Damian went missing. Both Byron Swift and Mandy were in love and were planning to elope, but their plan fell through the roof. Also, Liam, Mandy’s son, was born of their union. Mandy never told anyone about this. She feared that if anyone came to know about her relationship with the pastor, the town would cast her out. Mandy was sick of people seeing Byron Swift as some sort of monster. No matter how hard Martin tried, he couldn’t stop the news. Thanks to a news article, everyone in Riversend found out that Byron Swift had a secret lover.
Who Is Miss Coulson? What Did She Tell Martin?
One night, while Martin was sharing stories with Maddy, he found a duffle bag hidden behind a table. It contained loads of money and a British passport. Martin also found a photograph of Byron Swift sporting combat gear, which explains the latter’s shooting skills. However, when Martin made inquiries, he found out that no Byron Swift had ever served in either the Australian or British military. This made Martin suspicious, and he started to speculate that Byron Swift had lied to everybody about who he was and where he came from. Therefore, Martin got in touch with Miss Coulson (Louisa Mignone), a military investigator. Coulson was the same woman who called Byron on the morning of the massacre. So, what did Martin learn from Coulson? Byron Swift wasn’t Byron’s real name. He was Julian Flynt, a part of the SAS team that was sent to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border on a classified mission. The mission went awry, and almost everyone on his team was wiped out. The mission also resulted in the deaths of multiple civilians, including women and children. Lily Coulson was sent to investigate when the last remaining member of his team turned on Julian. He was responsible for all the deaths, they said. Julian escaped custody and was never heard from again. As for Byron Swift, he was a pastor whom Julian met while he was on the run. After Byron’s death, Julian took his identity and came to Riversend. Up until that point, Julian was considered MIA, but the federal government finally found him. Coulson warned Byron about the cops coming to his doorstep. She figured Byron would run, but the latter killed those five men instead. Afterwards, he committed suicide by cop.
Why Did Byron Swift Kill Craig, Tom, Alf, Hugh, And Gerry?
As the Scrublands nears its conclusion, it becomes clear how Byron Swift and his five victims are connected. When Byron arrived in the town, he found it in a rough state. There were schools, but they had no supplies or resources. Thus, the kids of the town spent their days wandering around town doing nothing and smoking. Byron wanted to change that and started raising funds. But it wasn’t even enough for the schools, let alone to change the state of the rugged town. Fortunately, he stumbled upon a load of marijuana plants planted by Craig Landers and the others. Byron decided to turn a blind eye to their illegal doings in return for a decent cut. They all agreed and paid Byron. This was the same money Byron used to pay for school supplies. After everything was settled, the group needed someone to courier their drugs out of town. This was where Jill and Damian came in. They were hired by the group to smuggle their drugs into different towns. With time, they got ambitious and started stealing. Craig wanted them to pay, but Byron told him to just fire them. Craig, on the other hand, had different plans. He and Tom killed Jim and Damian and dumped their bodies. Jamie was hiding in the back of Craig’s truck and saw everything.
Jamie agreed never to share this with anyone but eventually told Byron about it. This angered Byron greatly, and he blamed himself for those teenagers’ deaths. In anger, Byron burned every single one of the marijuana plants. But why kill everyone when he had already destroyed the crops? And why like that at the church? Byron Swift was tired of running away and always looking over his shoulder. He also figured that if he was arrested, Craig and the others would once again start their drug dealings. Thus, Byron made the decision to finally end it. But what about Harley? How was he connected to all of this?
During Scrublands‘ ending, it is revealed that Harley was the mastermind of everything: the marijuana, the lies of child abuse, everything. Harley was drowning in debt and had hit rock bottom. Therefore, he decided to clear his dues via drug dealing. Unfortunately, this plan went kaput when Byron Swift burned his crops. They knew they would end up in prison if Byron told the cops about their marijuana dealings. Therefore, he tried to discredit Byron’s image. Craig even used his own son and forced him to lie, saying that Byron tried to rape him. Harley thought this would scare Byron away, but it backfired on him. Byron killed all of Harley’s associates and then committed suicide. After that, Harley started manufacturing meth in his basement. He hired Shaz (Ella Ferris) and Jason (Liam McCarthy) to do his bidding. Unfortunately for him, Martin arrived in Riversend to write his article. Little did he know that he would stumble upon a huge conspiracy marred with deceit, betrayal, and corruption.
Even though what Byron did was wrong, he was using the money for the greater good. Rather than using it to buy cars and land, Byron was using it so the kids of the town could have a better future. He could’ve gone to the cops but saw this as a way to change Riversend for good. Unfortunately, his good intentions were met with the selfishness and corruption of Harley, Tom, Alf, Hugh, Craig, and Gerry.