Why the original ending to Behind Her Eyes is so controversial

Behind Her Eyes: what you need to know about that controversial twist ending

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Warning: this article contains spoilers for Netflix’s Behind Her Eyes. Proceed at your own peril… 

Netflix’s Behind Her Eyes – aka the much-anticipated TV adaptation of Sarah Pinborough’s bestselling psychological thriller – has finally hit our screens.

And, based on the enormous social media reaction, people have a lot of thoughts about this one.

“Mind blown by Behind Her Eyes,” reads one tweet. 

“That was weird and terrifying. I don’t know what to feel with the ending…”

“I just finished Behind Her Eyes and honestly I’m shook,” reads another.

One more says: “Lord, Behind Her Eyes is the most insane thing I’ve ever watched in my life. Nothing can prepare you for the ending.”

And still one more promises: “Omg the plot twist to Behind Her Eyes has another plot twist!!!”

This all means one thing; the TV shows has 100% leaned into all of those #WTFthatending vibes of the original book.

And… well, it’s proving every bit as divisive as Pinborough’s bestseller did when it first hit bookshelves in 2017.

What people said about the original Behind Her Eyes ending

As reported on 10 February: People were incredibly divided over the book’s ending. 

Some loved it for pushing boundaries and pulling the rug out from beneath their feet; others, though, absolutely hated it, dubbing it “outlandish” and lamenting its reliance on a “gimmick.” 

In short, Behind Her Eyes was the ultimate ‘Marmite’ book. And you better believe that Netflix leaned heavily on this in the marketing for its much-anticipated TV adaptation.

Behind Her Eyes is a new thriller based on the best-selling book… yes, the book with THAT ending,” reads a tweet from the streaming platform’s official Twitter account. 

Netflix’s Behind Her Eyes: Eve Hewson stars as Adele.
Netflix’s Behind Her Eyes: Eve Hewson stars as Adele.

Now, there are two kinds of people in the world. There are those who love to go into a TV series or film with no idea what to expect – and who get irate when people start dropping spoilers left, right and centre.

Then there are those who actively goes on Google to find out a show’s ending before she’s even decided if she’s going to sit down and watch it.

Why the original ending to Behind Her Eyes is so controversial
Tom Bateman and Eve Hewson in Behind Her Eyes.

If you fall into the latter camp, then, you’re in luck; I’ve read Behind Her Eyes from cover to cover already (and watched the series in full) and I’m here to talk you through that same ending which has been discussed, debated and scrutinised endlessly since the novel’s publication.

If not, though, click away to another article now. You’ve been warned. 

What happens at the end of Behind Her Eyes?

The remainder of this article contains spoilers for Behind Her Eyes. Obviously. 

Netflix’s Behind Her Eyes: what you need to know about the psychological thriller series
Netflix’s Behind Her Eyes seems set to be a must-watch psychological thriller series.

The plot of Behind Her Eyes centres on Louise (portrayed by Simona Brown in the Netflix series), a single mother who works as a medical secretary.

During a night out at a bar, she finds herself striking up a conversation with a tall, dark and handsome stranger, David (Tom Bateman), and sparks fly. Indeed, one drink soon turns into the sort of perfect first date that has you daydreaming about which china you’ll be picking out for your wedding.

Come the end of the night, they share a kiss. The next day, though, Louise walks into work to find out that a) David is her new boss, and b) he’s married to an elegant young woman named Adele (Eve Hewson). 

David may claim he made a mistake that night, and he may say he just wants to be friends with Louise, but it’s clear that’s not quite true.

And, as they dance around one another like two Birds of Paradise caught in a courtship ritual, Louise makes things even weirder by becoming friends with David’s aforementioned wife, Adele. 

Adele seems sweet – naïve, almost. She tells Louise that she has to be home to answer David whenever he rings her, prompting Louise to assume that her new boss is emotionally abusive (not that it stops her falling in love with him).

Quickly, we realise that something sinister is going on behind the scenes. And, as the chapters whir by, it becomes increasingly apparent that Adele’s friend, Rob (Robert Aramayo) – Adele’s friend, Rob, that she met at a psychiatric facility – is involved somehow.

As it turns out, Adele, Louise, and Rob all have one key thing in common; they all suffer from night terrors. All, too, turn to lucid dreaming as a means of dealing with dealing with this. And, over time, they realise that these so-called lucid dreams allow them to trigger an intentional out-of-body experience (OBE) via astral projection.

It gets weirder, though. 

Eve Hewson and Robert Aramayo share a scene in Behind Her Eyes.
Eve Hewson and Robert Aramayo share a scene in Behind Her Eyes.

Rob moves in with Adele and David, and finds himself falling steadily in love with the latter. So, one night, he convinces Adele to swap bodies with him – temporarily, he says.

Naturally, he’s lying. In full control of Adele’s body, he murders ‘Rob’, dumps his old body down a well, and blackmails David into staying with him.

This means that when Louise meets Adele all those years later, she’s actually meeting Rob. And Rob… well, he’ll do anything to keep David to himself. Including, say, forcibly switching bodies with Louise and killing her (as Adele), too. 

The book ends on an extremely dark note; David, blissfully unaware of what’s happened, marries Louise. Rob, living within Louise’s body, darkly plots to kill his predecessor’s young son, Adam, in order to maintain the ruse. Because “children have accidents all the time,” apparently.

It’s this dark conclusion that tipped many readers over the edge, according to one book club’s spoiler discussion.

“Isn’t it bad enough that David is fucked yet again?” asked one reader angrily. “I have never been so mad at a book for wasting my time.”

“This actually made me a little sick to my stomach,” said another.

The OG ending to Behind Her Eyes caught many off-guard.
The OG ending to Behind Her Eyes caught many off-guard.

“My final feelings about this book were coloured by the last things that Rob/Adele/Louise thought about Adam and how ‘accidents happen’ to little boys,” added one more.

“For me, that was unacceptable. And majorly annoying.” 

The Netflix adaptation follows the exact same path as the book, which means we still don’t get a happy ending for David and Louise.

Thankfully, though, they swerved any suggestion that Rob/Louise might kill Adam. So it’s… well, it’s a mite less dark than the original ending, I guess.

One thing’s for sure, though, is this: this show is going to be talked about for a very, very, very long time after it airs.

Behind Her Eyes is available to stream in full on Netflix.

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Images: Netflix

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

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