The following article contains spoilers for A Murder at the End of the World S1E5, “Crypt” (written and directed by Brit Marling).
Welcome, dear reader, to another installment of Third Day Theories, a review of the latest theories, analyses and predictions from A Murder at the End of the World Episode 5, “Crypt.” This episode was full of a lot of symbolism and a lot of repetition of themes. Circles everywhere continue to hint at the circular nature of time in this series. Bits of dialogue are being volleyed back and forth between the two story lines. Fire featured prominently in both past and present, but so too did water and drowning.
The big reveal of last episode quickly unraveled into meaninglessness, seeming to only open new mysteries, rather than resolve existing ones. “All the pieces are there. You just got to put them together.” This is what Darby tells herself back in her room, but I think it is also a message for us as well. With five of seven episodes now behind us, we likely have all the clues we need. Let’s see what we can figure out.
Who’s Your Daddy?
Back to the segment that just will not go away: Zoomer’s parentage. When Darby confronts Andy with her wild accusations, Andy confirms that he’s known all along that Bill was Zoomer’s biological dad, but he does not care. That kid is his son in every way that matters. Recall that we suspect Andy is adopted himself, so his reaction is well grounded.
However, when Darby goes to apologize to Lee, her first reaction is to laugh at the very idea. Then Darby overshares that Andy is sterile, and all the humor drains out of Lee. Judging from her reaction, which seems genuine enough, she has believed all this time that Andy was the biological father. At the very least, she did not think Bill was the father. We have to consider the possibility she was telling the truth about her failed hookup with Bill. Meaning there is yet another potential baby-daddy out there yet to be revealed.
Given the timing of the pregnancy, it had to happen while she was still in hiding. At least, that’s the story as we’ve been presented it. Lee told Darby that Bill was “one of a few people who found me.” Andy would be included in that list, apparently, but who else? It seems possible that David, as Andy’s second in command, might know of her.
Do You Have a Cold?
While we’re here, let’s mention one other little weirdness that we were presented with in this episode. The action picks up more or less where we left off, with Darby connecting the dots on the Bill and Zoomer connection. If you pay attention though, the scene replays with several subtle differences. In the Episode 5 version, Darby inserts a question, “Do you have a cold?” And in Zoomer’s answer, he says “I sneeze in the light,” instead of “I sneeze from the light” as he did at the end of Episode 4.
Sue, the fellow sleuth who helped them with the Carmen Perez identification in Episode 4, said “You have a cold?” to Bill. That line seems to have been plucked from the past and added to the present. Likewise, in Bill’s response to Sue, he says that he sneezed “in” transitions from dark to bright light, so Zoomer’s response may have been similarly modified.
What does it mean? I have no idea, but they clearly took the time and effort to film two different versions of this scene and present them to us. This wasn’t done for no reason.
We find out that Lee is carrying around a wig and identification in the name of Marie Larson. Not tucked away in a drawer, but right there in her bag which she has on her, ready to go. Catching Darby in the act of snooping, Lee is not mad. She wants to unburden herself of all the secrets she’s been keeping. Unfortunately, Andy interrupts them and is talked into letting Darby go back to her room for some rest. Where, I might add, she is later attacked.
One possibility is that this is a fake ID and passport to get away from Andy. We have the words of Lee’s toast, “To…finding a way out,” that left us wondering if maybe she wanted out of her marriage to Andy. Sian says she used to think Lee loved the money, but now she’s not so sure. What if Bill was being literal when he told Darby that he came for Lee? To smuggle her out of the retreat in the zodiac, disappearing off the radar on Rohan’s ship, Last Chance.
So Many Secrets
Another possibility is that this is her real ID. Wait, what? Yeah, this is another theory floating around and I think it has some legs. Folks have been scraping through all the earlier episodes looking for clues, and one thing was spotted on the wall of Darby’s apartment. This was another of those nice lingering shots, specifically designed for the obsessive fan screen capture. A wall full of missing women on the wall behind Darby. One picture in particular looks quite a bit like Lee. The weird thing being that she doesn’t have an identifying name like all of the other pictures. She’s simply labeled “Jane Doe.” The date of disappearance is 4/25/16, roughly a year before Zoomer was born.
We’ve been told that Lee was attacked with fake porn spread all over the internet. “It looked so real, I-I thought it was real,” she told Darby. Consider, what if the revenge porn part of the story was instigated by Lee? With the intent to establish someone else as the face of Lee Andersen. That someone disappears, presumed to be one of the 40,000 per year unidentified dead, but reappears as Lee Andersen. Lee and her hacker co-conspirators then target and land Andy Ronson, in one of the greatest whale phishing attacks ever. Maybe planned, maybe not planned, their “Lee” gets pregnant, and Andy proposes. Not part of their initial plan, but they roll with it.
She’s kept so many secrets.
Is Bill Dead?
Well, here we are again. Another segment that just won’t go away quietly. We were teased twice with the idea that Bill might not be dead in this episode. First, the gloved figure tells Darby that even if she reaches the center of the labyrinth, see will not get Bill back. Perhaps implying that there is some other way that could get Bill back. The second comes during Ziba’s remembrance ceremony, when everyone looks to Darby to give Bill his send off. She can’t do it because if she says his name, he won’t come back. Again, with the thought that Bill could somehow come back.
I still have a hard time with this theory, given that Darby examined his body the next morning after his death. If not an expert, she is certainly a well-trained medical examiner. Though to be fair, she only really looked at his arms, and of course never cut him open or anything definitive like that. His body having been whisked away does leave some wiggle room.
When the killer (we presume) attacks Darby in her room, they only deliver a warning. Why not just kill her and be done with it? The simple answer is that it is someone who cares for Darby and does not want to kill her. Though if the car was hacked, both Darby and Sian were targeted. Are we dealing with two killers, with potentially differing agendas?
The Unreliable Narrator
Here’s an interesting theory that has been brought up after the events of Episode 5. We’re all perplexed as to how Darby and Bill escape the basement of the Silver Doe Killer’s house. What if the answer is that it never happened? Because, after all, that was not actually a flashback scene, that was Darby reading from her book. A book that Bill considers “art.”
Several things have been pointed out to be unrealistic about that scene. Why did they leave themselves with no way out? How did they not end up waking up the entire neighborhood? Is calling out the victim names a realistic response to the life-or-death situation they faced? Who just happens to pack a jack hammer and pick axes for a road trip?
Maybe Darby skips to this end in the book reading exactly because this is the fictionalized part of the book. She’s not comfortable sharing the true autobiographical parts of her book with a room full of strangers—the stuff from before the case, growing up without a mom—that Bill thought was “beautiful.”
Given the question from the audience as to why Bill wasn’t with her at the reading, she obviously did not include him leaving her in the book. In her story, he threw the keys out into a field, a jerk move but they made up on the drive to the killer’s lair to the refrains of “No More I Love Yous.” In the flashback, he left her the keys and the message on the bathroom mirror, and walked out of her life. It’s the same hotel room where her crazy conspiracy wall photos catch on fire.
Oliver continues to be my number one suspect, and this episode gives us the most screen time we’ve had for him since the welcome dinner. First, we get his chip-on-the-shoulder performance during the Andy and Darby interviews. Oliver is flat out lying about the timeline of his and David’s liaison (more details on that below), and we culminate his interview with the revelation that he can walk, just “not very far and not for very long.” And yet somehow, the tread on the bottom of his sneakers is pretty worn.
Then we get his fifth-wheel performance at the bonfire. He provides the first dissenting opinion of the conversation, saying that they’ll be glad someone thought to build a “safe harbor” if the climate changes quickly. Luckily for him, the conversation turns to a sendoff for the recently departed, and even though he initially scoffs at the idea that they “bless the wind,” he falls in line and participates with everyone else.
The attacker in Darby’s room uses a text-to-voice app on their phone to deliver the warning. First of all, Oliver is one of the few folks we’ve confirmed still has his cell phone. At least until Todd went around collecting them. More to the point though, Oliver’s demonstration of deep fake audio was also a text-to-voice app. Maybe a red herring, but maybe not.
Lee’s freaky Stepford Wife performance after Darby discovers her fake identity has people wigging out over her as a suspect. As I noted, Darby is attacked in her room right after Lee talks Andy into letting her go get rest. She’s definitely keeping secrets, but is being the killer one of them?
Todd continues to be another fan-favorite candidate, though Andy rules him out as not having the skills for hacking Rohan’s pacemaker and Sian’s suit. Still, we got confirmation from Eva that the morphine pen from Bill’s murder came from the med bay supply cabinet. Todd’s little story while walking Darby back to her room made it clear he is capable of murder, and he has fierce loyalty to this family.
Ray is also a fan-favorite, though the continued introduction of physical elements to the murders, like the morphine pen and the pacemaker monitor, make it hard to see how he could orchestrate anything without human assistance. Or more likely, a human killer making use of Ray to assist them.
Of the rest, I feel like the bonfire scene, right after Sian tells Darby to find the people she can trust, establishes Lu Mei and Ziba as non-suspects. Their abandonment of technology, retreating to simpler days of sitting around the campfire, signals to me that they are those people Darby can trust.
We don’t know a lot about Martin yet, but by that same nature I rule him out. Unless he’s dropped in as the mastermind behind everything ex machina style, which I simply do not expect. David is also still a bit of a mystery, but I’m looking more for him to have a moment of redemption from his asshole ways. We’ll see.
A couple of quick takes on the rest of the episode:
- Darby’s hair is seriously bugging me. While I know there are not supposed to be time travel / multiverse type shenanigans in this series, being more grounded and all, her hair coloring and styling are constantly changing.
- Bill is to Darby as Lee is to Andy. Trying to pull back their obsessive partner from the brink. Just a higher class of drugs (Adderall versus “life extension therapy”).
- Lee’s passport is for Argentina. David is from Argentina. Hmm.
- A sharp-eyed redditor caught that Sian Cruise was on the TV in the background of the Ray’s Tavern scene. So much detail in all these sets.
- Oliver says he and David had sex in David’s room “probably around 11:30” that was interrupted by a phone call, after which David told him he had to go. That phone call would have to be the one from Bill’s room, placed at 11:07 pm by the hotel records. Hmm, Oliver’s timeline is pretty far off. Likewise, he says David was knocking on his door a half hour later, which would make it around midnight by his claimed timeline. Actually, that would have to be after Darby runs into David at 12:15 am, a little over an hour after the 11:07 pm phone call.
- Darby says the killer “deleted themselves from Bill’s door cam footage.” Is that because she saw no one she hasn’t yet accounted for in the footage she (and Andy) reviewed? Or is this supposed to be our interpretation of that one instance in the footage where the door opened and shut without anyone there?
- I’d say the killer was already in Bill’s room, just as he was already in Darby’s room in this episode (look closely and you’ll see him).
- Was David’s reference to Darby being a “non-player character” meant to invoke thoughts of all this being an AR game or simulation that Darby is plugged into? Because there has definitely been a lot of theorizing along those lines, which I’ve largely been discounting as too fantastical, as well as cheap and easy, for that to be what Brit and Zal are going for here.
- Andy says that only David and Lee know he is “leveraged to the hilt,” yet Sian also knew. Did he just forget to mention her, or did he not know she knew?
- That term, “leveraged,” implies Andy is even using borrowed capital to invest in something he expects to yield great profits. Is this underground silo truly just an apocalypse timeshare for millionaires?
- There’s a bit of strangeness around Sian’s death in this episode. She seems to know she is going to die, first sending away Eva and then likewise sending away Darby. As Darby turns to go, Sian says, “What a way to go.” She’s not lamenting her life of excitement and adventure brought low by a mere infection. She seems happy and content with her death. She also dies right after revealing yet another “family secret” to Darby. Just another coincidence, I’m sure.
- Could Todd have encoded greater access into the ring he gave back to Darby? Because he admires her loyalty?
- One older timeline disconnect that I’ve failed to mention thus far. In Episode 1, Darby received Ray’s text at 6:00 am on Saturday, January 28, as clearly seen on her phone’s lock screen. During their discussion, Ray tells her the plane departs in two weeks. Yet we established that the welcome dinner, day one of the retreat, was held on February 3, just 6 days later. Ray is supposed to be very literal. Did the timeline get moved up, or was he misinformed? Or something else?
- At the welcome dinner, Andy describes Ray as “personal assistant, teacher, therapist.” Now we know why one of his roles is therapist. Ray isn’t going to sell him out for a stock play.
- They gave us another one of those weird lingering shots, this time of Darby’s shoes as she puts them on in the elevator. What’s it mean? Sorry, I got nuthin’.
- The Marie Larson credit card shows that she has been a member since 2021. Likely June 2021, since the card expires 06/23. If this is a fake identity, it’s been established for a year and a half now, at least. Maybe waiting for Andy to hold this retreat, which he has said took two years to organize. Though the passport was just issued on 10 JAN 23.
- Is Andy sick, or getting life extension therapy? Does any of that have something to do with the oxygen tank brought to Lee and Zoomer’s room? Or is that something else entirely?
- Andy accidentally demonstrates to Darby that he has access to parts of Ray that the public does not, when he re-submits her request to rule out staff from the night of Bill’s murder. The Above the Garage podcast pondered whether you could use that deep fake voice technology to spoof Ray into giving you Andy level access?
- Double P Podcast says that the combo to the morphine cabinet is also Zoomer’s birthday. You gotta be kidding with the security around here.
- When Darby was telling Bill about the Ancestry.com research she had been doing, she conveniently names everyone in the family except the actual killer. Is there a reason why we shouldn’t know the name just yet? Though given that she did plum his entire family tree, it should be unlikely that he’s related to anyone we know, from past or present.
In the News
Here I’ll link you to some additional tidbits and interviews from around the internet related to the show.
- Let’s begin with another round of interviews. Not a lot of new tidbits here, but it’s nice to see Brit and Zal, and our other actors, getting a lot of well-deserved attention:
- Brit and Zal on JoBlo Celebrity Interviews (video).
- Harris Dickinson (Bill) on The Standard (text) – This is a particularly good one.
- Clive Owen (Andy Ronson) on Uproxx (text).
- Brit Marling on Elle (text) – One I missed from three weeks ago, but a lot of good stuff.
- Emma Corrin (Darby Hart) on Collider (text) – Also an older one, but a good one.
- Emma, Brit and Zal on Consequence (text) – Drills into the Annie Lennox song choice and tattoos.
- YouTube reviewer One Mike has an absolutely hilarious recap of Episode 5, going on a total rant about all the stupid things Darby does. Don’t worry, he loves the show, it’s all in good fun. If you can laugh at the show, I highly recommend it.
It was kind of fun to see Darby pairing up with Andy this time in her continued investigation. Of course, all of her previous team-up partners—Bill, Rohan and Sian—are now dead. So that’s not a good sign for our host.
What about Darby? Is her death one of the “twists” we’ve been told to expect in the final few episodes? Highly doubtful. Though maybe she’ll have a NDE and meet Bill at the center of the labyrinth after all. Personally, I’ve had all The OA expectations hammered out of me thoroughly, so I’m not expecting that. But if that’s where they go with this, I’ll happily follow.
That’s all for this week. Please let us know any theories you have, on what we’ve seen and what’s to come, in the comments below. Be sure to catch Caemeron Crain’s recap of Episode 5 as well.
All images courtesy of FX Networks