Third Day Theories: A Murder at the End of the World, Episode 6

“Crime Seen”

A Murder at the End of the World S01E06 - One hand reaches down through dark water to grab one of two hands floating upwards
Courtesy of FX Networks

The following article contains spoilers for A Murder at the End of the World S1E6, “Crime Seen” (written by Brit Marling & Zal Batmanglij 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 6, “Crime Seen.” The episode title looks to be a reference to Bill talking about the Silver Doe killer, saying the he wants to be seen so bad. Is that also true of the retreat killer? Is there a trail of silver earrings that we just haven’t noticed yet?

We invested a lot of time and effort last week into the theory that Darby’s reading was not necessarily a flashback, and all of that went up in flames with this episode. On the positive side, we did correctly predict that the killer would turn the gun on himself. Given that this is the penultimate episode, this will be a long one, as we look back through everything and see if there’s anything we can correctly predict about the present-day killer as well.

 Looking up at Lee and David looking at each other intently
An unexpected ally

Who Invited Who?

So we have some new information this week that forces us to reassess where we left off with this topic in Episode 3. So, at that time, we thought Team Andy consisted of Oliver, Ziba, Sian, David and Bill. Now we find that it was actually Oliver, Ziba, Sian, Bill and Darby, with Team Lee consisting of David, Rohan, Martin and Lu Mei.

David’s switch from Team Andy to Team Lee is about as unexpected to me as that hug was between him and Lee. Here I was hoping for him to have a redemption arc and it was completely unnecessary. That may have been the greatest twist of this entire show, at least through the current episode. David is quite the actor.

This also forces us to reassess Lee’s other two invitees. Since Rohan and David were aiding in finding a way out for Lee, are Martin and Lu Mei also involved? Could they be part of a second phase to the “Free Lee” plan? That would be much more of a blindside to Andy, and exactly what it would take to pull this off.

Darby sits in a chair and Lee is pulled down behind her, both looking forward
Darby pulls Lee in close

Team Lee

We’ve never gotten a payoff on Martin’s clenched fist nightmare on the plane. He was reading Darby’s book, serendipitously given to him by his assistant. He’s also been trying to develop a film about all the missing black women in D.C. All very coincidental.

Perhaps he has childhood experience of domestic violence in his past that makes him a good candidate to want to help Lee. One that continues to give him nightmares to this day. We already commented that his attempt to make a movie partnering with Ray was comically bad to anyone with a modicum of critical taste. But it was everything Andy wanted to hear from a front-line beta tester.

Oliver has been trying to throw Lu Mei under the bus for two episodes now, emphasizing that it’s really David’s idea, he’s just coming around to it. If you didn’t catch it, he starts out saying she knew Bill, but then backpedals it to her only knowing of him, from his work criticizing smart cities. Though in Episode 3, they made a point of telling us that Lu Mei shared a very long plane ride with Bill in 2018. Maybe she did know him.

Her explanation of the Minority Report style monitoring for Chinese smart cities certainly sounded sinister, but it could also be viewed as telling Andy exactly what he wanted to hear. Conveniently just before his “I cannot trust a single f—ing person” tirade, set off by someone tipping off the Wall Street Journal. She has a security detail nearby, that she claimed she was unable to contact. What if that was a lie? This plan could certainly use a calvary riding in at the last minute to save them.

Todd, Lee and Andy (just off screen) sit in Andy's plane, Lee has been crying
You can go

Team Andy

Even though Lu Mei thinks it would be a clever plot to lure some of your greatest competition to a remote retreat and dispatch of them one by one, I tend to agree with Lee’s reasoning that Andy is too smart to do so. Andy’s a bad guy, but he’s not the bad guy. So, let’s take Andy at his word that he is being framed by someone who has betrayed him, and look through the remaining folks he invited.

We get the reveal in this episode that Ziba was not the third teacup. It was David, who was in turn working with Bill and Rohan. Her visit to Bill’s door may have legitimately been to express her fangirl adoration, at least until she heard something that made her scurry away. She is morally against Andy’s kind of wealth, which gives her some degree of motivation, but she’s not a secret hacker.

Oliver, of course, remains my number one suspect, so everything he does is suspicious to me. He continues to get more and more screen time as we approach the finale, which might be a tip off to us in and of itself. The big clue of this episode though is the page Bill highlighted for Darby. Oliver is initially against the “book club,” but then rolls with it and inserts his Lu Mei interpretation at the end.

What does Bill know of Oliver? Well, there was Oliver’s tweet, where he called Bill a “failed programmer.” Not too far off from the “faulty programming” remark of Bill’s monologue. Many want to interpret that as being indicative of the alternative intelligence assistant, Ray, who might be acting on faulty programming from Andy. I won’t say that’s impossible, but I think a more likely candidate is Oliver’s swarm robots. Bad robots programmed by Oliver to do bad things.

Scene at amusement park turnstiles, Lee looking up directly into camera, her glasses glaring to obscure her face
It was a good plan


OK, so while I remain firmly convinced Oliver is the killer, let’s take a look at the rest of our suspects and various theories about their guilt. As we do so, let’s take into consideration Bill’s words about the Silver Doe Killer, applicable to the present by Bill’s bloody bookmark left for Darby to interpret:

“Who cares about him? He’s nothing. He’s the result of faulty programming. He’s the juice concentrate of a system that needs to be fed dead bodies in order to survive. He’s boring and predictable, like the most basic code cycling over and over again until all the women are destroyed and the world just burns. […] You want the killer to have meaning and he doesn’t have meaning.”

Marius – Marius is such a nobody that Lu Mei didn’t even notice that he left their poker game around 12:15 am. Though to be fair, she had been drinking. His nobody status is about all he has going for him as a suspect though.

Tomas – Even more of a nobody, but he was at least helpful to Darby. Highly doubtful.

Todd – Certainly capable of violence, had access to the med bay, and presumably has in depth knowledge of the hotel’s security. Seems highly motivated by “loyalty” to “this family.” Though as we said last time, not a hacker, so he’d need help in that area. Could be the real killer’s muscle though.

Eva – Like Todd, has the access and knowledge. Recall that we were a little suspect of her hesitation to administer the tracheotomy on Sian. She may also be in love with Andy and have some motivations around that. Though if true and Todd knows about that, he could turn against Andy.

Ray – As we said above, this could also be where Bill was trying to point Darby with his highlighting of the “faulty programming” passage. While we’ve never actually seen Ray engage in “hacking,” it presumably would be well within his skill set. The only question is, what kind of fail-safes does he have built in and who can override them? He’d also still need human counterpart to interact with the physical world, handling the morphine injection and the pacemaker monitor. Though as I’ve pointed out, we do have a small army of “programmable” robots in the next valley over.

Zoomer – Yes, Zoomer. The going theory is that Zoomer could have been the one who entered (or left) Bill’s room well under the view of the doorbell cam, potentially being used through the AR video game to inject Bill unknowingly. Just playing doctor, you know. I’d point out though that the med bay cabinet combo was way up on the top, pretty hard to reach.

Lee – While I believe Lee’s story of her abuse and attempted escape from Andy, she still has been keeping a lot of secrets, and that’s never good. Right at the end of the episode, Lee says Darby was held up at knifepoint. I didn’t even realize that, had to go back and rewatch that scene. Sure enough, the attacker pulls a knife out right at the end before Darby passes out. Did Darby even know she was held up at knifepoint then? We also got confirmation via Lee’s story that she is still capable of hacking, as she hacked the DMV to swing her first fake ID.

A Murder at the End of the World S01E06 - Close up of the killer's wallet opened up to his Nevada driver's license
He’s nothing

Understand the Victim

Let’s not make Darby’s “big old mistake” and try to also understand the victims. We’ll work backwards through them and see what we can ferret out.

Sian’s death had nothing to do with the “Free Lee” conspiracy. She told Darby that David would kill Lee if he were the killer, and she’s pretty darned far off the mark on that one. By all appearances, Sian was an Andy loyalist, to the point of continuing to be the face of the empty PR campaign that was his space program. I think we’ve all kind of gotten the vibe that she, more so than Eva, might have been in love with, or even having an affair with, Andy.

So, why was she killed? Her death means the killer is not killing people for trying to help Lee escape. They have a different motivation. The car flipped off the road right after Sian told Darby about Ronson Industries’ coffers being dry. That is when she crossed the line.

Why was Rohan killed? Bill had discovered something, and was going to tell David and Rohan, and possibly even Darby, had she shown up earlier. Again, it was something he had to show them, not something he could just tell them. Rohan was the only one of those three who actually entered Bill’s room, so the killer has to assume knowledge was transferred in that interaction. Thus, Rohan had to be killed.

A Murder at the End of the World S01E06 - Looking slightly down on a young Bill, splattered with blood and a stunned look on his face
I thought we were gona die

Kill Bill

Which brings us to Bill. If we hold to the idea that the three deaths are tied together (and committed by the same killer), then Bill was killed for what he discovered. The thing that made him late to the welcome dinner. The thing that was weighing on his mind out in the snow when he and Darby were talking. Possibly the thing that Lee was searching for when she ransacked his room the next day.

Why was Bill even invited? Darby posits that Andy wanted to know his son more deeply. Which sounds good on the face of it, but we have to ask, does Andy really care a wit about Bill? He only provided the hardware. Andy clearly looks down upon his own biological parents as addicts, with flaws he has overcome. Leaving him susceptible to writing off Bill’s death as a mere overdose. Just another former member of Lee’s gutter punk salon.

Another potential reason given is that Andy wants to keep his critics close. We do hear about Bill’s performance art pieces against technology, targeting Shell and Silicon Valley more generally. However, we haven’t heard of any targeting of Ronson Industries specifically. Maybe Bill was even purposely avoiding doing so, since he was friends with Lee.

Could Ziba have been right? That Bill was bait for her, as Darby was bait for Bill. Is Ziba somehow that important to Andy? It’s hard to see how that could be.

A Murder at the End of the World S01E06 - Darby kneels at the bathtub, holding Bill's laptop in her hands, "FANGS" written on the bottom facing her
The birth of FANGS

One Down, Still a Go

I keep going back to the message Rohan signaled. “One down, still a go.” As if they expected Bill’s death, and even anticipated more deaths, i.e. “two down” would be next. If it were not part of their plan, wouldn’t Rohan have immediately called it quits upon Bill’s death, rather than it still being a “go?” He warns Darby to be “careful girl,” but is not careful himself. We now know the “good plan” they had was to get Lee and Zoomer out, but were they really willing to lay down their lives for that? Would Lee really have been willing to let them do so?

In light of all these questions, we have to ask if they could somehow still be alive. Sian is the one who declared both dead, and while she didn’t seem to be in on the plan, she too is now dead (“three down”). However, Darby, a trained medical examiner for all intents and purposes, and not part of the plan, examined both bodies well after their death. How could she make such a mistake? If Sian was somehow involved, how could they have counted on Sian being the one to pronounce in both Bill and Rohan’s cases? There are also the hotel staff EMT and Eva who could have also been the ones put on the spot.

If Bill, Rohan, and by extension Sian, are all really dead, why is the show called “A Murder…” instead of “Murder…” or “Murders…” to indicate multiple murders?

A Murder at the End of the World S01E06 - Lee, Oliver, and Darby are silhouetted in the doorway of a dark room, doorbell cam screen just to the left
All three are visible on the doorbell cam screen

Quick Takes

A couple of quick takes on the rest of the episode:

  • So now it seems like Andy was not secretly capturing samples of everyone’s DNA, as our over-theorizing minds predicted. He’s just super paranoid about Zoomer and/or himself getting sick. Sometimes a health check swab is just a health check swab.
  • One clever Reddit sleuth discovered a musical cue that potentially connects Bill to the gloved attacker in Darby’s room. Could Bill somehow be alive and trying to protect Darby? It still seems such a stretch, but we can’t close the door on it entirely.
  • The crew of Rohan’s ship, Last Chance, could also provide a last-minute cavalry to ride in and save the day.
  • I would venture to guess that Andy used his new “alternative intelligence” assistant Ray in helping him figure out where Lee was going when she fled to Nova Scotia.
  • Bill calling David via the hotel phone system to ask him to come to his room seems wildly foolish. Lee told Darby the phones aren’t safe, and she surely must have expressed that to Bill and David. Was it done on purpose to call attention to themselves? A feint to distract from the real “Free Lee” plan?
  • Does the killer now have the thing Bill wanted to show Rohan, David, and Darby? Is that why Lee could not find it the next day?
  • There’s an interesting parallel here with Season 1 of The OA, where the school shooter was a complete unknown. We never even got a hint of his story throughout the series until he showed up at the end. Here again, the Silver Doe killer is essentially an unknown. Purposely not named when Darby is telling Bill about the data. He is a nobody. I don’t know if this is going to carry over into the retreat killer. For that to be true, it would have to be somebody we know nothing about, like Ziba, Martin, or one of the hotel staff. While not very satisfying, it would be in keeping with the themes of this show.
  • Lee says, “I can’t let Zoomer grow up in a house of pain like I did,” showing that the cycle of abuse can be perpetuated on both the abuser’s side and the victim’s side.
  • Ray has been missing for two episodes now. Though recalling what Martin said in his presentation, Ray is always present.
  • When they enter Bill’s room, Oliver can clearly be seen on the doorbell cam, his full head and even a bit of his shoulders. The image captured everything from just slightly above Lee and Darby’s waist. This rules out the theory that either he or Zoomer could have been the ones at the door when the security cam footage shows no one there.
  • Darby declares that the killer must have edited themselves out of the footage, but that’s not a “hack.” That would take some serious video editing software and the skill to use it. Maybe someone in the movie industry could possibly have those skills though.
  • Another clever Redditor discovered that Lee’s friend was actually a cameo, played by Moxie Marlinspike, the creator of Signal (an encrypted messaging service) and former head of Twitter security.
  • How did the killer know Rohan even had a pacemaker? Darby only knew because he told her on the hike. It’s not like you can tell.
  • Why on Earth was Oliver wearing those enormous headphones in the spa? If he’s really paranoid that he could be next, would he be cutting himself off from hearing someone sneaking up behind him? Perhaps he’s talking to Ray through them or commanding his swarm robots.
  • Lee’s flashback is the first and only time we’ve detoured away from our Darby-centric perspective on this show.
A Murder at the End of the World S01E06 - The neighbor lady talks to Darby from slightly behind her door, a stunned look on her face
They found Patty

In the News

Here I’ll link you to some additional tidbits and interviews from around the internet related to the show.

  • AwardsDaily has a fun little interview with costume designer Megan Gray that actually has a few clues for us. The idea of Darby as Little Red Riding Hood was indeed a specific image Zal had in mind. Also, the past timeline is about earrings, but the present timeline is about footwear, with many mentions of Oliver’s ability to walk specifically.
  • Rolling Stone interviewed Brit Marling where she talks in depth about the reveals of Episode 6 and several inspirations that directed their development on the series. Mandatory reading for us sleuths.
Andy stands in the hallway with a stern look on his face
There’s my wife


It seems impossible that this will all wrap up in the next episode, and even more impossible that the next episode is only going to be 40 minutes long. Both the showrunners and the network have expressed mild interest in telling future stories with Darby, so I don’t expect her to die, nor for the world to literally end. But I do expect twists, plural. This is one of those rare times where I want to be wrong, wildly wrong if at all possible.

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 6 as well.

All images courtesy of FX Networks

Written by Brien Allen

Brien Allen is the last of the original crazy people who responded to this nutjob on Facebook wanting to start an online blog prior to Twin Peaks S3. Some of his other favorite shows have been Vr.5, Buffy, Lost, Stargate: Universe, The OA, and Counterpart. He's an OG BBSer, Trekkie, Blue Blaze Irregular, and former semi-professional improviser. He is also a staunch defender of putting two spaces after a period, but has been told to shut up and color.

One Comment

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  1. Id like to point out that the dumbest thing I’ve yet seen in this show is Lee saying she hacked the NJ DMV to search for someine who looked just like her and with a son, and then she went to the dmv to get an ID in her name.

    1. The dmv doesn’t keep records on the people’s children. So how’s did she find a woman who both looked like she did and also had a child Zoomer’s age?

    2. You can’t just roll up to the DMV in NJ and say “hi! I promise I am this person! I’ll take a new ID please!” And walk out with one.
    There is something known at the 6 point system that everyone with a drivers license in the US knows. It means you need a physical copy of someone’s Social Security Card, a physical copy of someones Birth Certificate, and a utility bill in the name and address of that person in order to get a new license at the DMV.

    To get the birth certificate with the required seal, you *also* need multiple pieces of physixal info, and you need to know the hospital and county the person was born in and then go to those places to get a physical copy. Similarly for the social security card. You have send in physical copies of documents to obtain one.

    She did hack these places because 1) she wouldn’t be able to hack the soc sec admin. Not possible. But for the sake of argument, say she did, she 2) wouldnt be able to print out either the birth cert or a soc sec card. …after ALL of this. THEN she woukd have to get a legitimate passport…

    3)…which brings me to 3. You *can’t* cross the border into Canada with a child without a passport FOR that child.

    Having been a child myself, a child smuggled across the border into Canada after my parents drove 8 hrs to the border only to realize they forgot my passport, I can speak to this with personal experience. To get zoomer a passport, she woukd need proof of the birth of the child whose identity he would be assuming, and then need to know the hospital and county he was born in and get him a physical birth certificate and then use that to *apply* for a social security card and then use birth of those to *apply* for a passport.

    Her story is simply not possible. It’s one of the laziest things I’ve ever seen in tv. A total disappointment.

    *nevermind how impossible it woukd be for Andy to know where Lee was headed in Canada before Lee ever got there herself. You can’t track someone to a place that person hasn’t gone to yet. So..

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