The following recap contains spoilers for A Murder at the End of the World Chapter 3, “Survivors” (written by Brit Marling & Zal Batmanglij & Melanie Marnich and directed by Zal Batmanglij)
Just because a guy is wearing a creepy mask, that doesn’t mean he’s a bad guy. Stop being so prejudiced.
As A Murder at the End of the World Chapter 3 begins, Darby (Emma Corrin) isn’t sure she trusts Lee (Brit Marling) because it’s not clear why this renowned hacker didn’t hack into the retreat’s security footage herself. Why did she get Darby to do it? And how do we know that she wasn’t the figure in the mask?
Anyone in the group could be, as symbolized during Darby’s bout of paranoia in the library where she imagines everyone wearing the blank mask that created such a startling image on her screen.
But when Darby finally decides to trust Lee and show her the video, Lee notes that this is a particular kind of mask intended to disrupt facial recognition. So whoever was wearing it in the hallway knew that the hotel runs footage through software… but that’s basically everyone. I mean, even someone who hadn’t been told explicitly could guess this pretty easily given that the place is serviced by an omnipresent AI named Ray (Edoardo Ballerini).
The mystery deepens when Darby sees a figure trudging off into the snow outside of her room and decides to follow him. It turns out this man is wearing a mask just like the one she saw on the surveillance footage, and she sees him raise a red flashlight into the air to send a message in Morse code: “One down. Still a go.”
By the end of the hour, we’ve learned that this was Rohan (Javed Khan) and that he was also the one outside of Bill’s room the night Bill (Harris Dickinson) died. But Rohan loved Bill, and he isn’t a suspect.
Andy (Clive Owen) takes the group on a hike to see the robots Oliver (Ryan J. Haddad) has invented for him, which can apparently do things like build bridges and make tunnels. They’re self-organizing and self-repairing, which isn’t scary at all. Let’s focus on how they could free human beings from our irksome labor so that we can… contemplate the void?
Anyhow, even though he notes that Darby is good with kids, and, more specifically, his son Zoomer (Kellan Tetlow), Andy thinks that Darby should leave the retreat because she’s grieving and he can’t have her interrogating the guests and staff. He insists that there is no mystery about how Bill died, and what’s interesting here is that I think I believe him.
To be clear, I don’t mean that I believe that he is correct; I believe that he believes that he is correct. He’s so confident in his technology that he thinks a further investigation into what happened is unnecessary. Bill’s heart rate spiked four minutes before the masked figure appeared in the hallway, and blood tests showed a morphine overdose. Case closed. Ronson simply isn’t willing to consider other possibilities. Either that, or he’s the killer.
Andy offers no explanation of the detail Darby discovered in Chapter 2: that Bill (who was right-handed) was injected in his right arm. Perhaps he doesn’t know about that, or perhaps he doesn’t care. Or, again, maybe he’s the killer, but the end of Chapter 3 has me doubting that.
Darby talks to Rohan on the phone, telling him that she knows he loves Bill because she does, too. They still do. And then Rohan tells her that he and Bill had some kind of plan, but we don’t get the details.
Further, there’s a detail that Rohan had to infer for himself, because Bill was going to tell him something in person in his room that night and didn’t get a chance. I have to figure that this is the big thing that Darby will have to figure out for herself, which will unlock the whole mystery of the show.
Because Rohan is dead now. Darby rushes from her room to his but doesn’t find him there. She finds him collapsed on the floor by the bar of the hotel, where all of the guests gather around him. Sian (Alice Braga) pronounces him dead. And Andy tells Todd (Louis Cancelmi) to get everyone underground.
This implies that Andy is freaked out now and that he may be on board with investigating the strange happenings that are afoot on his retreat. It also definitely seems to imply that Darby won’t be forced to leave, since they’re all to head to whatever kind of basement or bunker he’s equipped the hotel with.
It is possible that he won’t be going with them, and that they’ll emerge to be told that the investigation is complete and there’s nothing more to it than heart failure, or something like that. We did learn in this episode that Rohan had a heart problem.
Regardless, if we’re thinking about who killed Bill and who killed Rohan—presuming that these were murders—I’m not sure whom I most suspect at this point.
I don’t think we can rule anyone out entirely, but it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to me for Andy or Lee to be behind these killings given the way they behave in Chapter 3. Could Zoomer’s VR game hold a clue? Could the kid be the killer? He did play doctor with Bill at dinner before he died, but I nonetheless doubt it.
The biggest thing to note in the wake of the revelation that the masked man in the doorbell cam footage was Rohan may be that this footage didn’t include anyone else entering the room. It’s possible that someone came in from the door that leads outside into the cold, but that door seemed to be locked from the inside when Darby got to it that night. I think we’ve got a locked-room mystery on our hands, which makes me wonder if Oliver’s robots may be involved.
With a second person dying on this retreat, I find myself thinking about Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. Are there more deaths on the horizon in this story? Should we continue to suspect those who have already died?
By all accounts, Bill’s art was in opposition to the kinds of things Ronson does more than anything. If he and Rohan had a plan, what was this plan, and who was Rohan communicating with out there in the dark? Is the plan still a go now that they’re down two?
In flashbacks, the younger Bill and Darby continue their investigation into the Silver Doe case, which is interesting in its own right, but I wonder if there are clues in this storyline I’m not sufficiently mining. Will these events in the past tie into those of the present in A Murder at the End of the World, or is this more of a separate mystery that also provides background on our central characters?
I’ll admit that I have been taking it as the latter, but given that Bill apparently decided to track Lee down fairly directly after he left Darby, it’s worth wondering about why, and we shouldn’t forget that it’s not entirely clear why Darby is a part of the group at the retreat in the first place. If Lee and Bill bonded over their fears about tech and the coming world, as she says, how does that connect to him laying out Polaroids on the table to talk about Darby?
Check back later this week, as Brien Allen gives A Murder at the End of the World the Third Day Theories treatment.