No good deed goes unpunished. Good pyshcological thrillers are a dime a dozen, but ones that deliver a truly unexpected final twist are a rare breed. Inheritance, the twisty thriller starring Lily Collins and an almost unrecognizable Simon Pegg, is a wild ride. A wealthy, politically powerful family is rocked when patriarch Archer dies. Family resentment runs deep in this family, and when the inheritance is revealed, Lauren(Collins) is given a much smaller piece of the pie.
She assumed this was because she has the audacity to become a civil servant. We later learn Archer got her the District Attorney’s office job. She wants to distance herself from her family’s legacy by being morally disciplined. However, all of that is threatened when she is given a key that unlocks decades of deception and worse.
The key unlocks a bunker with a man claiming to be Morgan, a friend of Archers. He claimed he was put there because, after a night of drinking and gambling, he witnessed the accidental murder of a man. Instead of going to the police, Archer chained him in the bunker and kept him there. Morgan claims that is how he knows so much about all of the Monroes. He tells Lauren about the crime, her father’s feelings about her, and Archer’s mistress and son.
Throughout Inheritance, Lauren is haunted by what her father did to Morgan and constantly talks with him to the detriment of her work and family. He uses her sense of righteousness against her. Morgan also uses enough of the truth along with his lies to make himself seem honest. He knew where the dead student was buried and Archer’s mistress’s name because that part of the story was true. Very little else was, though. Here’s everything you need to know about the ending of Inheritance, the man in the bunker, and that bizarre key lime pie recipe.
The ending of Inheritance explained
At the end of Inheritance, Lauren lets Morgan go with 100 grand in cash and another million in an untraceable bank account. She enlists the family lawyer’s help to provide him with papers so he can go away and stay gone for good. Unfortunately, Morgan is not an innocent man who Archer kept chained in the backyard bunker for thirty years to cover up the death of a college student. Morgan is actually Carson, a sadistic rapist who drugged and raped Lauren’s mother thirty years ago. When Archer caught him, he intended to destroy him, but he hit the student before he could follow through with it. The man didn’t die, though, and Carson snapped his neck and buried him. That dead student is the real Morgan.
Knowing he had leverage, Carson threatened to blackmail him indefinitely. Archer chained Carson up in the bunker and has been keeping him there, beating him ever since. The problem is Archer never told anyone about what was in the bunker, so when he died and left Lauren the keys to the bunker, she had no idea what she was walking into. At first, she thinks he gave her this burden because she was the most pragmatic of the group. It was the same reason she thought he didn’t love her as much as her brother. In reality, Archer didn’t treat her the same because of something entirely different. She is manipulated by Carson going by Morgan into believing he was an innocent man in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Lauren had no trouble believing her father chained a man in the bunker to protect his family’s money and power because she had just learned about all her family’s misdeeds. Her brother was currently securing his political position through payoffs her father started, so lying and cheating seemed to be part of the family business. In reality, her family wasn’t great, and one man died when Archer hit him, but Carson was worse.
He was a master manipulator who pried information from everyone one piece at a time to be used later. He knew just when to push and pull Lauren and, likely, Archer as well. Archer used Carson as a diary. He confessed all his sins. This is how Carson knew so much about the entire family. Why Archer was dumb enough to tell Carson about his family, I can’t imagine. Probably, Carson tricked Archer like he did Lauren. He was biding his time, waiting for the right opportunity to strike.
Instead of leaving on the plane, Lauren arranged for him; he returned to the Monroe home and chained Lauren and her mother up in the bunker. By this point, Lauren knew Morgan was Carson and that he had raped her mother because she had seen the police file and freaked out. Unfortunately, she realized this too late.
While Carson was pontificating about how awful her family was and how tough and brilliant he was, Lauren’s mom grabbed a gun and managed to get untied. While Lauren and Carson exchanged barbs and jabs, Catherine prepared to kill the monster who raped her all those years ago. In one final twist, Carson reveals he isn’t just the sadistic twist that raped Lauren’s mother; he was also Lauren’s biological father. Carson and Lauren fought with one another, and while he was distracted, Catherine shot him dead. The two women then made a pact to cover it all up and keep the family secrets. They burned everything in the bunker and presumably moved on with their lives.
How did Archer die?
We know he did not die of natural causes, as reported. We see him stumble out of the woods, and after seeing what is in them, it becomes clear he was visiting the bunker. Morgan/Carson admits that he had been holding small amounts of poison that Archer would inadvertently leave behind. Archer kept trying to kill him but could never go through with it. Over time Carson was able to steal enough of the poison to kill Archer. According to Carson, while they were playing chess one day, he injected Archer with the poison and managed to stumble out of the bunker and into the car before dying. It is possible this is a lie, though, and Archer died of a heart attack after being told something terrible by Carson.
Why did Archer leave the bunker to Lauren?
Archer didn’t kill Carson all those years ago because he believed it would be more hurtful to keep him alive and chained in the dark. He thought torture was a fate worse than death. He was probably right. However, it did leave him vulnerable to Carson’s machinations and created a mess for Lauren to sort out. Archer left the bunker to Lauren because he believed it was now her burden. Not only is that cruel, but it is unfair. It was not her fault that Carson raped her mother, and she should not have to deal with her father’s mistakes.
What’s with the key lime pie recipe?
No one counted on Carson’s mental resilience. He wasn’t broken by his time in captivity. His resolve was strengthened. The constant recitation of the key lime pie recipe was a defense mechanism to keep him calm and focused. It was a meditative chant that kept him going in his darkest moments and helped him make plans and remember details. This is why we see him reciting it while preparing things, making plans, or trying to remain calm in his cell. He tells Lauren the idea of eating “freedom pie” once he escaped is what kept him going. He didn’t eat it when Lauren got a slice for him in the bunker because he wasn’t free yet.
Inheritance is about the many forms Evil takes. It is the rapist who takes pleasure in others’ pain and in the entitled man who thinks he can and should cover up the death of an innocent young man. It can also be found in the affluent who flaunt their wealth and protect themselves with the power it provides them. Lauren was the best of them, but she wasn’t squeaky clean either. She didn’t imprison Morgan/Carson, but she did try to force him to run away forever. Lauren threatened him with cold cases and told him she would pin them all on him if he ever returned. Lauren also covered up her family’s involvement with the Ponzi scheme she was prosecuting. She used her position just as her family used theirs. I guess Archer would have been proud of her after all.
Inheritance is streaming on Netflix right now.
As the Managing Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre entertainment. I grew up with old-school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. My work can be found here and Travel Weird, where I am the Editor in Chief.