Marcella season 3 recap: 5 big burning questions we still have after that explosive finale

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Warning: this article contains spoilers for Marcella’s third season, so do not read on unless you are fully up to date with the ITV crime drama

Updated on 3 March: The third season of ITV crime drama Marcella came to a dramatic close last night (Tuesday 2 March) in the form of a tense double-episode finale. And far from neatly tying things up, last night may have just left us with a few more burning questions than when we started…

But never fear, Stylist’s digital editor-at-large Kayleigh Dray is here to help unravel them.

Anna Friel promised us redemption, but did Marcella really find it?

When we spoke to Anna Friel before the third season of Marcella aired, she hinted that her troubled detective would find absolution this time around.

“I wanted a season about redemption because she’s not made the best choices – but, while I can’t understand some of those decisions, I don’t blame her for them,” she said.

“Thankfully, this season is very much about Marcella redeeming herself. Yes, she might not be any good at giving herself advice, but she’s very good at taking the bad people down.”

Hmm. Well, if orchestrating a fatal shootout, leaving a mass of Maguire corpses in her wake, draining their bank account of £24 million, and stealing away a baby girl (the only survivor) is a form of redemption, then mission achieved, I guess. 

Anna Friel in Marcella season 3 episode 8
Did Marcella (Anna Friel) really find redemption?

Fine, strike the redemption angle; is Marcella happy?

Come the end of the episode, she’s dyed her blonde hair back to brown, she’s no longer referring to herself in the third person, she’s acknowledged that she’s a “good detective”, and she’s jetting off to sunnier climes with a cute little baby she’s plucked out of a crime nest. 

Sure, she won’t see her biological children ever again, but maybe that doesn’t matter. They’ve grieved her, they’ve moved on. And now, Marcella has a… well, a sort of daughter to replace the one she lost.

Did DI Rav Sangha survive the shootout?

Rav is a really, really, really good guy. He’s put up with a lot, including a) Marcella knocking him out with a toilet seat, b) thinking she was dead and delivering a eulogy at her funeral, and c) running into her in Belfast, only for her to pretend she had absolutely no clue who he was. Rude.

It seems so unfair that he should die in the Maguire shootout… but did he really? Let’s think back over it: Finn shot Frank, Frank stabbed Jack, Stacy shot Rory, Finn killed Stacy, Marcella killed Finn, and poor old Rav got caught in the middle of it all.

But here’s the thing; this writer doesn’t think Rav died. Why? Because Marcella described him as “an officer down” rather than another fatality. And because I strongly suspect that the mystery caller at the end of the episode was… well, that it was Rav. Obviously.

Ray Panthaki as Rav in Marcella
Did Rav (Ray Panthaki) actually die in the shootout? We're not so sure...

Will Katherine report Marcella to the police?

Semi-paralysed and barely able to talk after her two strokes, Katherine was forced to watch in wide-eyed horror as Marcella, fresh from the Maguire shootout, strode into the room with Rory’s eye (yes, she hooked it out of his dying corpse) and used it to bypass security measures and transfer all the Maguire family’s millions into her own bank account. Then, just like that, Marcella was gone… and she was holding Katherine’s baby granddaughter in her arms as she went.

Sure, Marcella says she has Katy’s best interests at heart, but it seems highly unlikely that Katherine will believe her. Then again, she’s not exactly fond of the police herself, is she? And even if she wanted to tell the authorities what Marcella had done, could she actually do so?

It would make an interesting hook for a fourth season, maybe…

So, will Marcella return?

That remains to be seen, I guess. At the end of this season, Marcella, now going under the name Miss Hart, is seen receiving a phone call while waiting at the airport. However, before she can be persuaded to begin working on another case, she hangs up the phone and leaves to board her plane.

She’s in demand, then, but seemingly done with her former life as a detective. She wants to start afresh, with all her millions and her new baby.

Then again, though… well, she did say she was a “good detective”, remember. This writer can’t help but wonder if Marcella will be able to resist the lure of a new case (and another stint on ITV) for all that long…

Episode 6

Updated on 24 February: Marcella is back, and our TV schedules are all the better for it. And the fourth episode of the ITV crime drama (starring Anna Friel as our deeply troubled undercover detective) has proven itself to be an absolute humdinger.

But have Marcella Backland/Keira Devlin’s exploits left you scratching your head in bewilderment? Are you wondering if her mission to expose Belfast’s infamous Maguire family has been knocked sideways by her growing attachment to the criminal clan? And do you suspect, as this writer does, that there’s more to that sinister-looking dummy than meets the eye?

Let’s unravel the burning questions…

Is Frank the real villain of this twisted story?

Look, we get it; Frank is Keira/Marcella’s handler, and her only real link to her past… but episode six shot us back in time via a series of flashbacks, and now we’re not so sure he’s a good guy after all.

Firstly, his only real interest in Marcella is that she’s a “dead copper”. Secondly, he waited until she was literally at rock bottom before scooping her off the streets. Thirdly, can we just talk about his response to Marcella’s deep-rooted grief over the death of her daughter?

“I can’t move on. I can’t forget. I can’t feel anything. I can’t think straight. It’s just nothingness,” she told him.

Rather than get the woman a therapist and help her process this trauma, though, Frank simply asks her why she didn’t kill herself.

And is he brainwashing her?

During Marcella’s convalescence, Frank has her listen to a voice recording over and over again. And, get this, it’s his own voice, repeatedly telling her to “let go of the past” and “let go of Marcella”.

Which probably explains why she’s so adamant she’s Keira now, eh?

Where did Keira’s tattoo come from?

That’s right, she’s only gone and got herself a new tattoo that spells out…

Well, it’s spells out M-A-R-C-E-L-L-A. Which would probably blow her cover bigtime if anyone sees it.

“She’s talking to her, and doing things to me,” Keira tells Frank worriedly.

Could it be that Marcella’s subconscious is trying to warn Keira about something.? Her mission, maybe? Or even Frank?

What does that big plot twist mean for Keira?

Anna Friel and Amanda Burton in Marcella Season 3 Episode 5
Will Katherine and Keira/Marcella join forces in Marcella season 3?

Episode 5

As reported on 16 February: Look, this writer isn’t usually prone to bouts of smugness but… you have to admit, I 100% called it when I suggested that Keira was her own stalker. 

That’s right, everyone; as the last few minutes of tonight’s episode make all too clear, Keira – or, rather, her inner Marcella – pinned the music to her car, dressed up a dummy in her own clothes, and dropped off some damning newspaper clippings from her old cases.

Frank, rightly, seems concerned about this. However, it’s safe to say he hasn’t always had Keira’s best interests at heart during this case; in fact, he was the one who trained Keira to refer to Marcella in the third person as her dissociative identity became more and more severe.

So, what will he do now that he knows the truth? Will he take Keira off the case and get her the help she clearly very desperately needs… or will whatever’s driving him to personally bring down the Maguire family stay his hand?

This writer votes the latter. 

What does Katherine’s illness mean for the Maguire family?

Katherine’s a truly demonic force of nature, but she’s been getting frailer and frailer as the series has unfolded. Now, she’s very ill – and, naturally, Rory and Finn are already squabbling to seize control of the situation in her absence

Rory, of course, has a bit of an axe to grind with Keira. Finn, too, claims to love her but literally said he was going to “dig a hole for her” if he discovered she was cheating on him, so god knows how he’ll react when it eventually comes out that she’s an undercover police officer.

Perhaps her best bet is to forge an alliance with Katherine, or… 

Is it time to team up with Stacey?

Look, Keira and Stacey haven’t spent all that much time together, but they’re both afraid of what the future holds, both women struggling to make their voices heard in a crime family filled with violent men, and both desperate to ensure a happy future for Katherine. Baby Katherine, not the terrifyingly murderous matriarch.

Time for a team up, maybe?

Anna Friel as Marcella/Keira in episode 5, season 3
Is a happy ending in store for Marcella? Sorry, we mean Keira?

Is Bobby really and truly dead?

Fine, yes, there’s a lot of evidence to suggest he is. But… it just seems so sudden. And this writer never ever trusts a death that occurs offscreen.

Can Marcella ever have a happy ending?

It seems unlikely at this point, doesn’t it? However, Anna Friel promised us previously that this season will offer her troubled detective a chance at redemption.

“I wanted a season about redemption because she’s not made the best choices – but, while I can’t understand some of those decisions, I don’t blame her for them,” she said.

“Thankfully, this season is very much about Marcella redeeming herself. Yes, she might not be any good at giving herself advice, but she’s very good at taking the bad people down.”

But… what is happening to Marcella/Keira?

Marcella season 3: Anna Friel reveals what we can expect from the dark new series
Something is deeply wrong with Marcella/Keira (Anna Friel).

Episode 4

As reported on 9 February: It’s all too easy to see that Marcella/Keira’s mental state is beginning to fracture. All she wants to do is become Keira Devlin and let her past go, but in this episode alone she slips into a psychogenic fugue state, gets increasingly panicky about the clues being left for her, and proves herself to be completely fine with brutal violence.

Is her dissociative disorder growing worse? Or is there something else at stake here…?

Will Finn have Matthew killed?

Ah, Matthew; when will you learn?

The very same guy who got throttled for calling Keira by her old name is back in trouble after running into our favourite detective and her dangerous new beau, Finn. Not only does the latter punch Matthew in the face (jealousy isn’t a good look on anyone), but, now beginning to suspect the legitimacy of her past, he asks Jack to investigate Marcella/Keira’s old school friend.

What will he find out, we wonder? And will it be enough to get both Matthew and Marcella/Keira killed?

Is Katherine the most terrifying woman ever to grace our TV screens?

Honestly, she’s a monster and Keira/Marcella is slowly getting to be on her bad side. And, as Katherine’s dealings with poor Alexander Monroe have well and truly proven, you really don’t want to be on Katherine’s bad side.

Also, what happened to Katherine’s husband? Asking for a friend…

And who dressed up that sinister-looking dummy for Marcella/Keira to find?

As we saw in this episode, Marcella returned to Lawrence’s house to discover a body. But, as she crept over to the corpse, she realised that it’s a mannequin dressed in her clothing. With a plastic bag over its head (a clear mimicry of the season one murderer MO).

So, who left it for her? This writer is becoming more and more convinced that Marcella is Keira’s new worst enemy. Think about it; all this weird stuff started happening after Matthew used her old name on her and sent her rocketing back to the past.

Throw in her dissociative identity disorder and blackouts, and is it really so much of a stretch to suggest that Marcella is taking over and leaving clues for Keira to find and unravel?

Ray Panthaki as Rav in Marcella season 3.
Ray Panthaki as Rav in Marcella season 3.

Episode 3

Will Rav expose Marcella/Keira?

As reported on 2 February: At the community memorial for Jessie (RIP), Rav learns that Marcella/Keira is the undercover operative. He’s shocked, because he didn’t just think she was dead; he’s actively mourned for her. He even delivered the eulogy at her funeral! 

In a bid to get her alone in an interview room, he issues a warrant for the arrest of the Maguire family, where it quickly becomes apparent that he is torn between anger and concern. He knows, much as she does, that the Maguires are dangerous. He knows, too, that she is deeply unwell. 

Despite all of this, though, Marcella is steely and composed… she is Keira. And so Rav lets her go, without exposing her. After Danny’s death on his turf, though, might he be inclined to change his mind? 

Erm, was Katherine fat-shaming Jack?

“Whatever they were feeding you in there, you’re looking very well,” she tells the man who just spent a long time in prison covering for her son. 

He laughs it off, tells her he shared a cell with a chef. But still…

And does Jack have a problem with Keira/Marcella?

She’s a stranger, we get that, but there seems to be more to Jack’s suspicions over Keira/Marcella than just that.

“He’s very territorial about my brother,” says Rory, his voice loaded with meaning.

Is there more to Finn and Jack’s relationship, then, than meets the eye?

Bobby (Martin McCann) is quickly proving to be a chaotic villain in Marcella season 3.
Bobby (Martin McCann) is quickly proving to be a chaotic villain in Marcella season 3.

Who sent Keira/Marcella the fob to the Metropolitan Arts Centre?

Marcella/Keira receives a mysterious package at the Maguire mansion. Inside is a fob for a locker at the Metropolitan Arts Centre… and yeah, you better believe that Katherine is suspicious.

Utterly dumbfounded, Marcella/Keira heads to the gallery and finds a locker containing newspaper articles reporting on her death. Who knows the truth?

It’s doubtful that Rav is messing with his old colleague, especially as he knows about her condition. Maybe newcomer Jack, though, knows more about “the girl” then he’s letting on?

Then again, as I previously suggested, it could be Matthew, or one of the Maguires, or even (and perhaps this is a stretch) Keira/Marcella herself. 

She does, after all, suffer from dissociative identity disorder – including blackouts. Is it really so much of a stretch?

Did Keira/Marcella arrange Danny’s death?

Look, I know how it looks; she fought tooth and nail to deliver her “vulnerable witness” into police protection. But also, she took that toy gun away from Danny when she first picked him up… and he mysteriously had it back in his hands when she sent him off alone to meet Rav.

Did she set Danny up? Or did Bobby take it upon himself to kill off his eyewitness, without any nudging from Keira/Marcella?

I’d like to think that she was genuinely trying to do right by the young man, especially as she looked so sickened and devastated when those gunshots rang out. I really would like to think that. But that’s the thing with Marcella/Keira; she’s made up of many, many shades of grey and you never quite know where you stand with her…

All I’ll add is this; she’s now got Rav back on side and Bobby/the Maguires think she’s been working for them, too. Intriguing.

As reported on 26 January (following the UK premiere of Marcella season three):

Why does Finn murder Lawrence?

It all starts sweetly enough; Keira and Lawrence are celebrating a happy 10 months together with a glass of champagne at the beginning of the episode, when he presents her with a ring.

“We can’t get married,” she tells him gently, although she promises to wear the diamond all the same.

Marcella season 3: don’t get used to poor old Lawrence being around...
Marcella season 3: don’t get used to poor old Lawrence being around...

It’s pretty clear that Lawrence knows there’s more to Keira than meets the eye – although it’s unclear how much he knows. After a tense dinner with the Maguire family, Finn invites the couple outside to show them a bundle of mistletoe growing in one of the property’s more magnificent trees.

Couples kiss under it at Christmas, he tells them, but it’s a parasite. Because mistletoe draws vital nutrients away from the tree, which usually results in the latter’s death.

It’s clearly a metaphor, although this writer (wrongly) assumes Finn’s talking about Keira. Cue him pulling out a gun and firing a bullet straight into poor old Lawrence’s head (Lawrence, we barely knew you), under the watchful eye of his Machiavellian mammy, Katherine.

Seemingly horrified, Keira rips off her high heels and staggers home on foot, all covered in blood. Later, we learn that Lawrence was well aware of Keira’s past; he was her informant. Which means that, yes, he was feeding her information about the Maguire family. And he still fell in love with her in the process.

The feeling clearly wasn’t mutual, however, as it’s Keira who informed the Maguires that Lawrence was fiddling the accounts and stealing from them – something which she doesn’t tell an aggravated Frank when he asks if there was anything she could have done to save her late lover.

Hmm.

Why did Keira hide the laptop in the dishwasher?

Keira sneaks back into the house, makes a big show of unlocking a secret cabinet, spiriting a laptop from it, and hiding it in the dishwasher. She gives up all of Lawrence’s other bits and bobs when Finn demands that she do so, so why not this? We can only assume it contains information that may expose her true identity…

What happened to Jessie?

Look, we know that Jack is in prison for an assault. And we know, too, that Katherine has repaid his loyalty with a promise to take care of his mother, Megan, and daughter, Jessie. But… well, there’s more to Jessie than meets the eye, it seems, as the teen is deeply disturbed by the idea of her father returning home.

She’s not going to school; instead, she’s spending time in an abandoned building and allowing boys to pay her so they can… well, that horror is left to the imagination. But we know Jessie is using the money to pay for drugs and, come the end of episode two (just as Jack is released), she dies from an overdose.

Anna Friel as Marcella in season 3
The third season of Marcella is currently airing on ITV,

Considering her dad wasn’t in prison for his own crimes, but because he took the fall for Finn, we have a feeling this is going to feed into a nightmarish vendetta of sorts.

How is the Maguire family making its money?

In myriad nefarious, naturally. The most shocking, though, is underlined in episode one, when an abandoned lorry is found filled to the brim with liquid nitrogen.

When emergency services investigate, they find a false panel in the lorry’s trailer, which hides the frozen bodies of 10 migrants who paid extortionate prices in order to escape their home countries to a better, happier life.

The Lord Mayor of Belfast, horrified by the case, announces his intention to find those responsible for the incident and bring them to justice.

“He just declared war on us,” says Katherine grimly. 

Clearly, then, this is what everyone meant when they said that “Bobby’s responsible for the docks.”

Who is Matthew, and how does he know Marcella?

Keira is clearly rattled when a man named Matthew waves her down on the street and happily refers to her as Marcella. “You’re mistaken,” she tells him hotly, as she marches past him to meet with Frank.

Whoever he is, it’s clear Matthew hasn’t seen Keira/Marcella for a very long time – a fact made abundantly clear when he refers to her a) by a different surname, and b) spends time googling her after their conversation.

Could they be old school friends? Or is there more to Matthew than meets the eye…?

What’s with the mysterious music notes pinned to Keira’s car?

Keira pulls a scrap of paper from her windshield, only to discover it’s filled with a string of music notes. Later, she asks Stacey to play it for her on the piano, and the tune has an extraordinary effect on the troubled undercover cop; her eyes grow wide and fill with tears, her mouth falls open, and she becomes breathless.

“That’s enough!” she snaps, snatching the music away from Stacey and rushing from the house.

Marcella season 3: who left that mysterious note on Keira’s car?
Marcella season 3: who left that mysterious note on Keira’s car?

While we don’t know much more than that, it’s clear that this piece of music is triggering Keira’s PTSD. And this writer assumes, based on the simple lullaby-like melody, that it’s a song that Keira (back when she was Marcella) used to sing to baby Juliette. Or the tune from her baby mobile, maybe.

Which brings us to our next question…

Who is stalking Keira?

Someone left the note on her windshield, after all. And someone knows enough about our girl’s past to hit her where it hurts most; with memories of the beloved baby daughter she accidentally smothered.

Could it be Matthew? Frank? One of the Maguires? Or maybe even (and perhaps this is a stretch) Keira/Marcella herself? She does, after all, suffer from dissociative identity disorder – including blackouts – and the scars on her face are all too stark a reminder that she likes to lash out at herself.

Throw in the fact that she’s having terrible nightmares and only ever answers to her new name, and you have someone who’s very clearly unable to deal with the shadows of the past. Perhaps, then, those same shadows are coming to deal with her?

How long have Finn and Keira been in a relationship?

Finn is terrifying and, for much of the first episode, it seems as if he hates Keira’s guts. Under the cover of darkness, though, she visits his bedroom for a passionate rendezvous – and it’s clear from the way they are with one another that this isn’t the first time.

“I’ve missed you,” he says tenderly afterward, holding her in his arms. “I’ve missed this.”

Marcella season 3: can Keira trust Finn? And can he really trust her…?
Marcella season 3: can Keira trust Finn? And can he really trust her…?

And why does Rory spy on them as they have sex?

There’s a hole in the ceiling above Finn’s bed, and Rory (the brother struggling with OCD) is shown lying on top of it and staring down at Finn and Keira as they have sex.

Why, though? What’s he up to? Is he just a pervert or is there something more sinister going on here? Or is he just obsessed with Keira (there’s a very similar hole in her bedroom ceiling, after all).

Which is the most dangerous member of the Maguire family?

This writer originally had Finn as the most dangerous Maguire; he’s hot-tempered, and violent, and he shot poor Lawrence in the head. But, then again, he is working under the orders of his mother, Katherine – and she’s very clearly pulling all the strings in the family.

Sure, she’s “weakened” and walking with a cane. With so many sons and sons-in-law willing to do her deadly bidding, though, she’s clearly a force to be reckoned with. Keira should be more than a little worried that the Maguire matriarch has admitted that she doesn’t trust her…

Is Keira in too deep?

She’s doing cocaine, she’s attending Maguire beatings, and she’s even helping Bobby cover his tracks after he murdered that unlucky foreign diplomat’s son back in London. She’s hiding things from Frank, she’s assaulting people of her own accord, and she’s clearly seeking more than just comfort in the arms of Finn.

Could it be that, as Frank suggests, Marcella is “a little too happy being Keira Devlin?”

Will Rav run into Keira?

It seems a guaranteed cert that DS Rav Sangha will run into Keira at some point, especially as he’s now in Belfast and trailing Bobby after his murderous antics in London. Will he expose her to the Maguires, though?

Well, he has good cause to hate his old colleague after she (ahem) knocked him unconscious and left him handcuffed to the precinct toilets back in season two. But, then again, Rav is a good guy, and he knows that Marcella was dealing with a whole lot of emotional baggage when the events of last season’s finale went down. Maybe he’ll wind up helping her in her investigation, in return for a little information on Bobby?

Marcella season 3: which of the Maguires is the most dangerous, really?
Marcella season 3: which of the Maguires is the most dangerous, really?

And, finally, is the black duffel the new green parka?

We were all obsessed with Marcella’s green parka in the first two seasons of the ITV crime drama. Now, Keira has a whole new wardrobe – our favourite piece of which is a heavy black duffel coat (with hood! How practical!).

Only time will tell if this hot new bit of outerwear will capture the public’s attention quite as much as the OG coat, but here’s hoping…

The first two episodes of the new series of ITV’s Marcella aired on 26 January at 9pm and 10.05pm.

All eight episodes of the series will be available to view on the ITV Hub the same night, but they will be shown weekly on Tuesdays at 9pm, too.

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Images: ITV

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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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