Season 2 of Netflix’s Dead to Me, starring Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini dropped on Friday, which means fans of the show about women who killed men and became best friends, got to go on another wild 10-episode ride with Judy (Cardellini) and Jen (Applegate) as the death of a dead man looms over their heads.
Last season’s big drama point was that Judy killed Jen’s husband, Ted, in a hit-and-run accident. But she doesn’t tell Jen until long after she’s moved into Jen’s guesthouse, befriended her, and bonded with her sons. This time, it’s Jen who, at the end of season 1, kills Judy’s former fiancé, Steve Wood (James Marsden), who truly says some horrible things to Jen that would drive just about anyone to the brink.
Jen tells Judy that she killed Steve out of self-defense, which isn’t entirely the truth, but Judy, who’s a kind, loving, and innocent soul, does what she can to help Jen and cover up the murder. This involves us seeing what is supposed to be James Marsden’s lifeless body facedown in a pool and scrunched up in a freezer more than once, which is a real bummer for any hardcore Enchanted fans. Never fear, though! Marsden comes back as Ben, Steve’s “semi-identical” twin brother. He’s there to help his heartbroken parents while the family searches for Steve. Ben also appears to be Steve’s exact alter-ego—he’s thoughtful, selflessly charming, and he likes Jen.
The season finale is truly a twisted collection of plot lines all contributing to a riveting final episode. Here’s what happens.
Jen tells Judy she’s going to turn herself in
Now Judy finally knows the secret Jen’s been keeping from her the entire season: that she didn’t kill Steve out of self-defense. In fact, Steve was about to leave Jen’s property when she starting going at him with the little ceramic bird that Judy gave to Jen’s younger son, Henry. Jen is convinced that she’s a no-good person whose husband hated her, whose kids also can’t stand her, and who betrayed her best friend. She writes a letter to Judy, and one each for her sons, Charlie (Sam McCarthy) and Henry (Luke Roessler). She makes an emergency kit for Judy and tells her she wants her to be her kids’ guardian.
Judy tries to keep things cheery for Jen’s sons, but Charlie knows something’s up
A big motivator for Jen to turn herself in is that she knows that the police have a photo of Charlie on a joyride in Steve’s car. Charlie had found it in Jen’s storage, where she was hiding it, and he and his girlfriend took it out on the road. Charlie doesn’t know exactly what his mom did, but he does have a black case from Steve’s car that seems to contain information about Steve’s dealings with the Greek mafia.
While Judy is trying to pretend like nothing is wrong, Charlie pulls her aside and gives her the thumb drive from the case that contains all the evidence against Steve. She runs the drive to the police, and it turns out it contains a voice recording of the police chief (Jere Burns), which connects him to all of Steve’s shady mafia dealings. So, the chief is for sure going to prison.
Jen goes to Detective Perez and tells her the truth
Jen goes to Detective Perez’s home and finds her emotional. Perez (Diana Maria Riva) tells Jen that her ex, who also happens to be Judy’s love interest, Michelle (Natalie Morales) has moved out of their shared home together. So, let’s just say Jen catches Perez, a no-nonsense cop, in a vulnerable moment. Jen tells Perez everything, including that Charlie had nothing to do with the murder and was only a dumb kid who saw a shiny car and wanted to drive it.
Jen takes Perez to the forest where she and Judy buried Steve’s body in a previous episode, but she can’t find the burial spot. They leave the forest, and Jen tries to call her boys, but she doesn’t have cell service. “You’ll get better reception when you’re out of the woods,” Perez tells Jen. Her comment means that Jen will literally get better reception when she gets out of the woods, but it’s also a metaphor about fresh starts. Truly profound.
Perez pulls an uncharacteristic move
“You said he was threatening you,” Perez tells Jen. “You said you asked him to leave. He has a history of abusive behavior. That’ll carry weight in a courtroom.” Perez shares with Jen that her own mother had died while trying to protect her from her abusive stepfather. Her stepfather murdered her mother. Jen had been trying to protect her sons from an angry Steve, whom she feared would hurt her boys.
Jen asks what’s going to happen to her next. Perez tell her that standard procedure would be for her to go to the police station, turn herself in, and be formally charged with the murder of Steve Wood. But that’s not what’s going to happen. Perez tells Jen that what they would never talk about what they “didn’t find in the woods” again and that she is going to take Jen home to her family so she can start over. Jen gets home just before Judy is about to tell the boys the truth about what their mom did.
Jen comes home, and she and Judy fight some old personal demons
Now that Jen isn’t concerned she’s going to prison for murdering Steve, she and Judy can move on with their lives and work through some other old baggage. This includes Jen going back to her grief group, where she talks about losing her mother to breast cancer when she was 19 and the effect that’s had on her since. Judy goes to visit her manipulative mother (Katey Sagal) in prison, where she tells her she isn’t going to write her a character reference and help her get out. This is a big step for Judy, who’s spent her whole life being kind to and doing things for people who don’t deserve her love.
Also! Judy finds a ton of cash in the backs of paintings that Perez returned to her from the police station. This is never explained, but it clearly has something to do with Steve’s money laundering. Judy knew Steve’s hiding place. She gives some of the money to Jen’s mother-in-law, Lorna (Valerie Mahaffey), to pay Lorna back for the down-payment on the house. Now, Jen officially owns her own home.
Things are really looking up
Judy and Jen can finally breathe again after they are out from under the weight of all the murder and general family trauma in their lives. They are driving home a brand-new car for Charlie. On the way home, they see a new stop sign in the road; it’s the sign that Jen had fought city council to install to make the road safer following the emotional toll of her husband’s hit-and-run death. She won! There’s a stop sign!
But just as Judy and Jen are celebrating this new victory, Ben comes speeding down the road. He’s just found out that someone found his brother’s body in the woods (we see a dog digging up the remains in an earlier scene). Ben’s a recovering alcoholic, and he’s not looking where he’s going. He slams right into Judy and Jen, comes to at the wheel, sees what he’s done, and frantically drives off, bringing the whole hit-and-run plot line full circle.