Tell Me Your Secrets Ending Explained- All Those Questions About Theresa, Jess, Karen, and St. James, Lousiana
Amazon’s latest sudsy thriller, Tell Me Your Secrets, was destined for success. There was virtually no way it could lose. The cast is phenomenal. Amy Brenneman(Mary Barlow) was fantastic as a tragically obsessed mother whose daughter went missing years ago. She brings much of the same brittle energy as she did to The Leftovers. Matching her intensity is fragile Emma Hall, aka Karen Miller, played by American Horror Story alum Lily Rabe. Rabe could easily get overshadowed by Brenneman but manages to hold her own in the same way she did against powerhouse Jessica Lange.
Finally, Hamish Linklater who proved he could play very dark in Hulu’s Monsterland, is every young woman’s nightmare. His pleasant demeanor and vanilla looks hide a beast waiting to strike. Mary’s sweet son Jake(Elliot Fletcher) is empathetic and soulful as he tries to hang onto the only part of his family he has left, and psychologist/handler to Karen Pete(Enrique Murciano) is so ambiguously creepy he lights up every scene.
Karen, who is now Emma and in Witness Protection, was released from jail after providing testimony about her boyfriend Kit Parker’s crimes. Years ago, they had a passionate affair. Karen doesn’t remember most of their time together but was convicted of murder along with Kit. As she slowly begins recovering her memories, she finds Jess, a teen girl she recently met, dead in an abandoned cabin.
Her new boyfriend, police officer Tom, a supremely earnest Marque Richardson(Antebellum), becomes involved when she finally tells him near the end of the series. Mary Barlow(Brenneman) hires John Tyler(Linklater) to track down Karen because she believes she knows where her daughter is. Her theory is it takes a monster to catch a monster. Along the way, John falls back into bad habits; Karen remembers she has a child, and another body is found.
Show creator and writer Harriet Warner put together a tight puzzle of interlocking pieces. Like the best mysteries, with each clue came as many questions as answers. The ending of Tell Me Your Secrets Season 1 left no doubt that the hit series will be back for Season 2. Here’s everything you need to know about that wild finale.
Who Killed Jess?
Just one of the many murders to be solved in Tell Me Your Secrets was the missing teen girls in St. James, Louisana. Rose killed Jess to protect her father. The St. Jerome Foster Home was a hunting ground for Rose’s father, who had been experimenting on the girl’s fertility in a fit of religious fanaticism. Mary suspected Karen and Kit of killing her daughter and those other missing girls from St. Jeromes, but it was all the work of Rose’s Dad.
Rose is a chip off the old block and has no issue cleaning up family blood. She falls in love with Emma, but she snapped when she rejected her and told her about her father. Pete worked at St. Jeromes and was fired for inappropriate behavior. He explains everything weird about his connections, but his troubling behavior towards Karen and his wife speaks volumes about where his moral compass reads. He has been involved with Bodie since the very beginning. Pete’s wife knows Pete never stopped the experiments with Bodie. He has been lying to her this whole time.
What Happened To Theresa?
The biggest twist came at the end of Tell Me Your Secrets when it was revealed Theresa is not dead but a predator herself. She was having an affair with Kit and became jealous of Karen, who was pregnant with his baby. Karen fought back, injuring but not killing Theresa. Theresa’s swim coach had been molesting her for years. That abuse turned her into a monster. She is a psychopath who is now going under the name Karen and has kidnapped real Karen/Emma’s daughter Freya. In the final moments, she tells Freya she isn’t what people say she is. Maybe there is more to this story than we thought.
What she intends to do and where she is going are left unanswered. When Theresa’s necklace was found with another woman’s body, that should have raised red flags that Theresa may not have been a victim. According to journals and letters Mary found, Theresa had violent thoughts since at least 13 and was with Kit well before Karen came into the picture. Mary knew her daughter was probably troubled but hasn’t been willing to admit it. She wouldn’t let her daughter quit swimming. It was better to keep up appearances than face the awful truth. That decision cost many people their lives.
What About John?
John has a nasty little rape habit which is becoming uncontrollable. He went to jail for raping several women and was recently released. Mary’s job helped him go right back to his old ways. He has now added multiple rapes, a potential murder, and kidnapping Tom. John is a wild card that has his own agenda that includes plenty more raping and killing. He and Mary are the only ones who know what the other is, so their ongoing relationship will be fraught with peril. They both have a lot to lose from anyone finding out who they really are and what they have done. By staying silent, Mary puts more women at risk. She can’t say anything without putting herself at risk, though, and she killed Esther Moses. The only thing we know for certain is Mary and John are both coming for each other.
John and Emma finally meet in what felt like a terrible inevitability. These two represent the dark and the light of the story. He is pure evil. She is good, with Mary the very gray middle. The Trinity comes together in Karen’s cabin. John restrains Karen and the entire messy story comes out. John was beaten and shot by the women but when Bodie goes to the cabin looking for Emma he finds John instead.
Did Karen/Emma know what Kit was?
Karen never killed anyone. She finally remembers she wasn’t involved in any of the murders. Karen’s friend from before her arrest helps fill in some of the pieces Karen can’t remember. Namely, that Theresa was having an affair with Kit and tried to kill Karen to have him to herself. After Karen found Amy Walker’s dead body, Theresa convinced Karen to run. She never intended to escape with her, though. She took the bloody hammer and chased Karen. When she attacked Karen, she fought back. Theresa was knocked out but not killed.
As a result of her amnesia, we still don’t know how much she did or did not know about Kit and Theresa’s crime spree. Karen has flashbacks of Amy Walker, but we don’t know if she knew about anything else. Karen is an inherently good person who wants to see the best in people, even when there is none. She was a damaged soul and may have stayed with Kit because she was desperate to have someone love her.
There is a lot of story left to tell. Plenty more secrets need to be whispered. The success of Season almost guarantees Season 2. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait too long to return to St. James, Louisiana, to hear them.
As the TV/Streaming Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre tv. I grew up with old school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. When I’m not watching and writing about my favorite movies and series, I’m introducing my family to the wonderful world of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. My only regret, there is not enough time in the day to watch everything.