The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window spoilers follow.
You'd have thought we would have guessed that a show with a name as convoluted as The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window would have a twisty, turny and complicated story – and yet, we still weren't completely prepared for what happened.
This part thriller, part mystery and part satire of thrillers stars Kristen Bell as Anna, a traumatised mother with a drinking problem, who heads off on her own whodunnit mission after becoming convinced she witnessed a murder in the house across the street. Many are hesitant to believe her, partly because of her drinking problem, which when mixed with pills can cause hallucinations, and partly because her behaviour since the death of her own daughter is strange to say the least.
The show may be tongue-in-cheek, but it also has some fairly heavy real-world themes bubbling under the surface. Lead star Kristen Bell opened up to Insider about her approach to the character, given her tragic backstory.
"I chose middle-of-the-road sadness. But I also know – as someone who has certainly experienced grief, and suffers from anxiety and depression – there's a lot of comedy underneath these hard emotions.
"Usually, when you get to the root of it, I can laugh at myself if I've been in a dark place," she added. "I was hoping to play a woman who was in a dark place, and I guess hope that the audience was laughing a little bit."
The show keeps you guessing throughout, with a central mystery that spoofs the genre. Want a breakdown of exactly what happened? Here's the full explanation at the end of The Woman in the House... and its killer twist conclusion.
What happened to Lisa?
During a boozy night in, Anna becomes convinced she witnessed the murder of Lisa, the air-hostess girlfriend of her hot new widowed neighbour, Neil Coleman.
Neil and his nine-year-old daughter Emma have only recently moved in to the quaint suburb. Due to his dashing good looks and their shared trauma, Anna and Neil have an almost immediate bond and flirtation.
While Anna is dealing with the murder of her daughter and subsequent divorce from her husband, Douglas, Neil is still reeling from the death of wife Meredith, who drowned in a tragic accident while pregnant with their second child.
Due to the death of her mother – and her teacher less than three weeks later – Neil is fiercely protective of the sweet-looking Emma, who sells girl scout cookies around town.
But it turns out this made him a prime target for con-woman Lisa, whose real name is Chastity and who targeted him with her partner Rex in order to fleece him for cash.
However, Rex, a stripper who was dragged into Lisa's plan, had drawn the line when he realised Neil had a daughter. When Lisa goes quiet on him, he thinks she's done a runner with their shared cash.
He tries to track her down at Neil's house and instead finds Anna, who gets him to tell her more about what they were up to as proof she didn't lie about witnessing her murder.
The pair hit it off and later have sex, but he's soon arrested when Lisa's body is finally found dismembered, with their criminal plot the assumed reason behind her death.
Rex is quickly released when it's proven he was working as a stripper the night of the attack, and the weapon – an artist's palette knife – is discovered. The same kind that Anna has. Suddenly, she's in the frame and arrested. While her best friend Sloan bails her out, Neil visits her, threatens her with a gun, and tells her never to bother him and Emma again.
The truth revealed
Feeling trapped inside her home, Anna calls her therapist when she believes she sees blood dripping from her loft, and begins to feel like she's hallucinating. Turns out, her therapist is her ex-husband Douglas, who encourages her to investigate because he doesn't believe she's a murderer.
Heading up to the loft, Anna's relieved to discover it was just paint. She also finds a cut up painting of Lisa, and realises her flashbacks of killing Lisa were actually her stabbing the artwork in a drunken rage. Feeling exonerated, she goes to head back downstairs... but then notices a makeshift bed and belongings that aren't hers.
Putting together the pieces, she realises local handyman Buell, who has been fixing her mailbox for years, has been living in her loft. Douglas reveals to her on the phone that he had hired him after meeting him as his first ever criminally insane patient. After rehabilitating Buell, Douglas had offered him a job thinking he was okay.
Looking out the window, she notices Buell walking across the street to Neil's house, with what appears to be a hammer in his hand.
Despite her fear of the rain, Anna makes it over to Neil's house, only to find Buell stabbed to death. She quickly finds Neil dead on the sofa as well, as the killer finally reveals themselves.
It's Emma, Neil's nine-year-old daughter, who is a full-on psychopath. Not only did she kill Buell and Neil, she'd also killed Lisa (for refusing to buy her chocolate bars), her mother Meredith (for daring to get pregnant with another child), and her teacher.
She sinisterly tells Anna: "People always underestimate children. Underestimate what they're capable of. I even surprised myself, I mean I didn't know I was capable of murder!"
Emma framed Anna by stealing her palette knife during a girl scout chocolate drop-off, and now intends to kill her, framing her for everything as everyone already believes she's stalking the family.
The pair get in a brutal fight, with Anna stabbed and shot. Emma eventually smashes a casserole plate over Anna's head, knocking her out, and calls 911, pretending Anna had broken in and killed her family. But while she waits for the police to arrive, Anna comes around. As Emma prepares to deliver the killer blow, Anna gets in first and kills her with a shard of casserole dish.
Douglas, who had rushed to her after their phone call, witnesses the final showdown, and tells the police everything so Anna is finally in the clear. Buell makes it out alive but no one else does.
After being let out of hospital, Anna allows Buell to stay in the loft, and he later apologises, explaining he moved in to protect her when Douglas moved out. While he's still creepy, he is ultimately harmless.
Fasting forward to the future. Anna is at one of Sloan's gallery openings and celebrates selling some of her paintings. Douglas is there with a woman, and as Sloan tries to leave, she meets them. Turns out the woman, Claire, is not his date, but works with Douglas as a forensic psychologist, and he bought her painting.
It starts to pour down with rain, but Anna isn't scared anymore, dancing in it instead of getting scared. She then kisses Douglas.
What happened next?
Fast forward a year later, Anna is at the airport, heading to New York to see Sloan at her new job. She has a new baby with Douglas.
Sitting down on the airplane, she tells the attendant she no longer drinks wine, and orders a vodka instead. She takes a pill to get her through the flight, when a glamorous woman (played by Glenn Close) sits next to her. The woman claims she's flying to the city on business.
During the flight, Anna wakes up and stumbles to the bathroom, only to find the woman dead in the toilet cubicle. She immediately alerts the attendant, but the body's gone by the time they get back. As she's taken back to her seat, Anna insists the attendant find the woman sitting next to her.
She then panics when he tells her there was no one sitting next to her, and fears she's hallucinating again. However, in the final moments, Anna finds the woman's compact tucked between the seat cushions, confirming to her she was right.
With a 'bingo' the screen fades to black.
Although the ending certainly leaves scope for another season, executive producer Hugh Davidson has said that this was included just to "excite the viewer."
"It was inspired, mostly, by novels like 'The Woman in Cabin 10,' [where there is] an excerpt from the author’s next book at the end… Movies don’t generally do that, [so] we thought it was funny to do that in a show — to literally start us off on the next one in this one," he told TVLine.
"So that was by design from the beginning, [but] there was a moment where Rachel, Larry and I spent, like, two days trying to figure out the plot to that ending. So we’ve got some pages somewhere."
Rachel Ramras added: "It really was just meant to be funny. Having it end with Kristen saying 'Bingo!' also seemed like a nice end to it, because it really is Anna’s catchphrase, don’t you think? We’re going to start seeing it on t-shirts!"
And The Woman in Cabin 10 wasn’t the only literary influence on the show’s final moments. While a second season is a distant possibility, the ending was influenced by another cliffhanging conclusion that was never intended to be continued.
"It is a limited series and, in its conception, that’s how it ended. Part of the fun of the ending is that thrilling cliffhanger. It reminds me how, at the end of Gone Girl, she walks into the house, and you’re like, 'Oh my God, what is their life about to become?' But you don’t see it. That doesn’t mean there couldn’t be another one, but it is of the genre to go out with a heart-pounding bang," Davidson told Collider.
The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window is airing now on Netflix.
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