They talk to her like she’s Beverly, but it doesn’t make sense. Beverly Mantle, last seen lying in a massive puddle of her own blood, couldn’t have survived the cesarean section performed by her sister. Elliot, last seen lying collapsed at the foot of the stairs after carrying her sister’s twins while wounded by a self-administered and self-sealed incision across her abdomen, couldn’t have simply disappeared. The other twins, the ones grown to full term in tanks by Elliot, couldn’t have just up and vanished either. I don’t know how Elliot hid the tanks from the center’s employees, or herself for that matter given that she was apparently going there with some frequency. I don’t know where Elliot’s acolyte Tom was driving to, or why.
Still, we could reasonably say that the twin who wakes up in a hospital bed surrounded by Rebecca and Susan Parker is not Elliot. That incision in her stomach wouldn’t be enough to convince doctors she’d just carried twins to term, for one thing. Then there’s the fact that she was barely coherent when the surgery was performed, and had been living in an apartment full of filth; it’s hard to imagine her turning on a dime, pulling herself together, and successfully fooling everyone for the rest of her life — especially not Beverly’s wife Genevieve, who by this point it can be expected knew enough about the two of them to tell the difference. Tom was probably just trying to outrun the whole mess, not make some rendezvous or ferret an unseen passenger to safety.
But I do wonder.
The twin who wakes up in that room is inside the birthing center, not a hospital; it’s likely EMTs were never contacted. The people who greet her are the owners of the birthing center, not nurses or doctors or police; it’s likely the police were not informed.
The twin is also a lot happier than you’d expect a suicidally depressed woman who’d just told her sister to kill her so that there would only be one twin left, only to wake up very much still here, would be.
Beverly had already publicly ended her sister’s career, but even that wouldn’t have stopped the government from shutting the center down had 9-month-old living fetuses floating in tanks been discovered at a scene where one of the co-founders had murdered the other.
And the self-administered incision on a non-just-recently-pregnant torso might not have fooled anyone, but you’d have to want not to be fooled.
Maybe the Parkers needed to stave off disaster. Maybe addressing the woman in the bed as Beverly was coaching. Maybe they asked her where her sister was not because they didn’t know and wanted to find out if she did, but because they all knew, they were all in on it now.
Maybe that final “Congratulations, Beverly” should include italics: “Congratulations, Beverly.”
Maybe Rebecca is just getting back in business with the twin she preferred all along.
(Deep breath. Let’s pause here to reflect on Jennifer motherfucking Ehle giving the scariest grin I’ve seen on TV this side of House Bolton.)
Or maybe not. It doesn’t all fit. There’d still be no real explanation for where Tom was going, or how Genevieve couldn’t tell that her beloved wife had been replaced by the woman she hates more than anyone in the world, or how she’d be incentivized to go along with the ruse if she could tell.
(And there’s another mystery this final episode is more than content to clear up: Greta. In the end she’s just an installation artist, doing a piece on how her time with the Mantles triggered her own feelings about her own mother’s death giving birth to her. The way that arc ends isn’t just dispositive, it’s wholesome. Her dad shows up and tells her she looks like her mother. “That’s the idea,” she replies, in the only good-natured joke in the entire show. They’re last seen eating happily together. This show can be crystal clear when it wants to be.)
I should also note the confusion I’ve had about the bereavement group. On that point in particular, it now seems likely I’ve been reading too much into that one fade from the twin in the group to Elliot looking out the window of the car, and the woman in that group definitely was Beverly, who really was fantasizing about a life without Elliot, rather than Elliot pretending to be Beverly pretending to fantasize about a life without Elliot so she (Elliot) could give voice to her own worst fears about what Beverly thinks about her, or her own guilt about how she knows she’s behaving. When that woman in the park approaches the surviving twin about her participation in the group, then, she’s delivering this information to a woman who had no idea it was happening.
Finally, isn’t the use of the Doors’ “The End,” one of the most legendary needledrops in the history of cinema, intended ironically, as self-satire, as a parody of completion? Specifically since it uses the part of the song most famously played by Apocalypse Now at the beginning of the story? If Beverly had survived it would simply be happily ever after. Eliot in Beverly’s skin is something new, something that mocks the very idea of the end.
In all honesty, I prefer being a little bit confused. Elliot is what Beverly and Genevieve’s relationship has been about from the start — Genevieve says so herself. She’s what Beverly’s whole life has been about from the start — as the younger sister she has never known a second of life outside the womb without the other. Even when they’re apart Ellie is the constant buzzing of an unanswered phone, everywhere, at all times, inescapable, even in the audience you just want to turn the goddamned thing off it’s so fucking anxiety-inducing, but you can’t any more than she can. She seeps through cracks, around corners, over boundaries, until she’s all that’s left. If that clouds how we read the actions of the women closest to her, Beverly and Genevieve and Rebecca, well, that’s Elliot for you.
Even on a narrative level, the Mantle twins cannot be separated. After watching this exceptional show, I’m going to have a hard time separating them from me.