Warning: this article contains spoilers for the eighth and final episode of BBC One’s Dublin Murders, so do not read on unless you are fully up to date with the crime show…
BBC One’s Dublin Murders has been a big part of our lives over the past four weeks, with new episodes dropping every Monday and Tuesday night – and giving us an extra reason to stay in on those colder, darker nights.
Last night’s episode, however, marked the end of the series. Rosalind Devlin (Leah McNamara) was exposed as the evil mastermind who orchestrated the murder of her sister Katy, having manipulated Damien Donnelly (Jonny Holden) into doing the dark deed for her. Cassie Maddox (Sarah Greene) left the police force, travelled to the UK for an abortion, and vowed that she would never see Rob Reilly (Killian Scott) ever again. Rob, meanwhile, was publicly unmasked as Adam, bringing his police career to an end, potentially invalidating every single case he has ever worked on, and breaking the “terrible heart” of Conleth Hill’s Superintendent O’Kelly.
All in all, the episode tied up a lot of loose ends and answered a fair few questions, too… or did it? Because, let’s face it, there’s still a lot we don’t understand.
Here, Stylist’s digital editor Kayleigh Dray does her best to find the answers we’re all searching for. You’re welcome.
Was Rosalind a troubled child, or a malevolent demon?
Rosalind is pure evil, isn’t she? She convinced Damien and the police that she was being sexually abused by her father, prompting the former to murder her sister Katy at her behest, and the latter to consider her dad a prime suspect in the case. She exposed Rob as Adam, and his disastrous one night stand with Cassie, to all the officers listening in. And she did it all because… because she didn’t like her parents?
“I was proud of Katy,” she told Cassie during the interview. “She was a sweetheart, and I didn’t hate her at all. It was them. Mammy and daddy. I hated them [and] their miserable joyless marriage… they had to get married because of me. Being with them is like having a bag held over my head.”
She took Katy because Katy was the golden child, the special one. “Now all they have is the unwanted Rosalind and the defective Jessica… they have nothing. Now they know what it’s like to be me.”
All of this points to Rosalind being a psychopath: she lacks empathy, and feels little in the way of emotion. And yet… well, there’s a lot more going on here, isn’t there? How did Rosalind sense that Cassie had killed someone during the period they hadn’t seen one another? How did she know about Cassie and Rob’s affair? And why did she take such delight in torturing Rob afterwards?
Well, Mr Devlin hints that Rosalind isn’t human. He was there the night Adam and his friends fell foul of a demonic spirit in the forest (more on that later), because he was holding down Sandra as his own friends raped her. Margaret, who would later become Mrs Devlin, gave a false statement ensuring that Mr Devlin and his friends were not implicated in the crime.
“She used to say we raised the darkness with what we did to Sandra,” he tells Adam/Rob later. “And we did. Rosalind, my daughter.”
And on that note… what happened to Peter and Jamie?
The show’s ending heavily implies that this isn’t just a detective drama, but a gothic Irish fairy-tale. Go figure.
Mr Devlin, in a clandestine confession, admitted that he and his friends had run down Adam/Rob, Jamie and Peter in order to give them “a kicking” after learning that they had witnessed the rape of Sandra.
“You were there, all three of you,” he says, voice shaking on the memory. “And then you weren’t. And then we saw one of you by the tree with your shoes full of blood and your shirt fiull of holes.”
It was at this point, Mr Devlin said, that an inhuman voice began to laugh and echo all around the forest, prompting him and his friend to “shit ourselves”.
“I swear to you, I swear, we never touched a hair on your head, nor your friends’. They were just gone.”
Mr Devlin then adds that he and his friends - wife Margaret included - raised a darkness that day. Some foul spirit, which he believes took on the form of his murderous daughter, Rosalind.
It fits with what fans of the books have suggested previously. “The old gods have a portal between their world and this within the woods,” said one, in a comment on GoodReads. “Woods are actually a place where an alternate universe does exist, in the form of the lives the animals lead, which we humans rarely see. The hint would then be that Peter and Jamie were sacrificed on the stone. So that Adam could live?”
Another agreed, adding their own theory around which of the old gods this could be.
“Cernnunos, as The Horned God, Lord of the Animals is portrayed as human or half human with an antler crown,” they said. “While He is recognised most often through his connection to animals and our own deeply buried, dimly recalled, instinctual animal natures, Cernnunos is also a tree, forest, and vegetation god in his foliate aspect of The Green Man, Guardian of the Green World. His branching antlers symbolise the spreading treetops of the forest as well as his animal nature. As Master of the Sacrificial Hunt, His is the life that is given in service of new life. His wisdom is that the old must pass away to make way for the new.”
We originally classed this as a bonkers theory, but… well, based on that small icon which Frank unearths at the archaeological dig (it looks an awful lot like a carving of a horned figure) we’re on board.
But seriously, what happened?
We have no idea, to be honest, and we sort of expected that might be the case. After all, fans of the books had previously criticised author Tana French for leaving things so ambiguous. The author, though, isn’t all that bothered about the complaints.
“Some people hate [the book’s ending] and I don’t blame them for being annoyed with it, but I think it lies in how the book was positioned,” she said. “It was positioned as a murder mystery, which was a good call… But that means that people are expecting it to fit in with the genre conventions, which do include, if you set up a big mystery, you’re going to give us the answer. And people feel cheated if you don’t.”
So wait, who was Lexie?
No clue. Cassie scatters her ashes as a Jane Doe in the Irish Sea, and that’s that. We don’t know why she a) looked so similar to Cassie, b) had the same name as Cassie’s imaginary friend, and c) mirrored the injuries and bodily changes seen in the real Cassie, seemingly by coincidence.
Could it be that Lexie, as we previously suggested, was a ‘fetch’ or changeling after all? It’s as good an answer as any, at this point.
Will Cassie and Rob ever reconcile?
Doubtful, especially considering how they left things.
“I fucked up,” Rob tells Cassie.
“We both fucked up,” she replies. “You and me. We were just feeding off each other, our festering secrets. I should never have done that to you… I need to get off that road, and you need to leave those woods.”
While Cassie is ready to move on and forwards, though, Rob is not.
“How do I leave them there in the dark?” he pleads, and it is at this point that Cassie knows they can no longer be friends. Or lovers. Or colleagues. Or… well, or anything.
“We won’t see each other again,” she says. “I’ll miss you, though. Very much. Be careful with yourself Rob.”
As she walks away, to a future which sees her seemingly reconcile with O’Neill, Rob stares into the void.
“The message I left you,” he says, to an empty room, “what I wanted to say, was that I love you. You are the only person in this world that I love.”
The only person to take note of Rob, though, is a younger apparition of himself, cycling around and around his desk. He is trapped among the shadows of the past, whereas Cassie has unshackled herself from the mystery that was Lexie. How can they ever be together?
What was the wolf about?
Your guess is as good as ours. A wolf is popularly used to represent a loner, so perhaps it symbolises Rob, who has alienated himself from everyone he knows. It could represent the unidentified predator lurking in the woods, which spirited away Jamie and Peter all those years ago. It could be a reminder that Rosalind is a wolf in sheep’s ckothing, or an unexpected villain. However, this writer believes it to be the embodiment of old Ireland: after all, the Irish word for wolf is Mac Tíre meaning literally the Son of the Country(side), and it would explain why it flees as the forest is torn down for the motorway.
Will there be a second season?
There aren’t any more books in the Dublin Murder Squad series which focus on Cassie, but that doesn’t mean we won’t get a second series. The cast seem to be up for it (Sarah Greene exclusively told Stylist that she’d love to work on the show again) and there are plenty more books which could be adapted to suit our current ruling detectives.
We guess it’s all in the ratings, huh?
Read all of our Dublin Murders episode recaps here.
Image: BBC One