Mary Kills People Season 1 Finale Review: Riding the Chaos

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The episode titles in this short series have held all sorts of crazy references which hint at deeper meanings. The final two are no exception.

For example, Mary Kills People Season 1 Episode 5 is entitled "The Judas Cradle" which, on the surface, points at a theme of betrayal which totally works since Des goes ahead and wears a wire for the cops to get evidence on Mary.

 A Quiet Goodbye - Mary Kills People Season 1 Episode 5

But Google the term and you get an eye-opening description of a horrific medieval torture device which Morgan, the patient of the week, has an encyclopedic knowledge of. So, betrayal AND torture. Awesome. Remember, this show is technically categorized as a dark comedy...

Morgan isn't a comedic character but, as befits a character that actually recurs in half the episodes, he imparts a lot of wisdom while on screen. Some of it funny.

Not a bad way to go, huh? Clean sheets, nice view, free hair products. I always pictured drowning in my own mucus in the ICU. This is better.


Some of it just wise.

Morgan: When I was younger, I developed this obsession with medieval torture, like the Judas cradle...
Mary: Why are you telling me this?
Morgan: Because in a hundred years, they'll look back at now and say that the most popular form of torture was refusing to let people die. Dragging it out. Give people false hope, false relief, hook them up to machines. Something that should take months to kill them would take years. Those people? They're the bad guys. But you? You're one of the good ones.

Des always pulls his weight when it comes to injecting humor into a situation. High as a kite while Ben is fitting him with the wire, he dubs the cop "Benvolio" (a tip of the hat to the rather ineffectual peacemaker character in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet) and asks his plan for dealing with betraying Mary.

Ben: My plan? I'm just... doing my job.
Des: Throw yourself into the work. It's a good, solid plan. But it's the same things, really. The drugs, the law, it's all just an attempt to control the chaos.
Ben: Ever think Mary's the one that creates the chaos?
Des: Yeah. She's good at that.

"The Judas Cradle" systematically tears all the show's pairings apart in dramatic, almost Shakespearean, fashion.

Mary spots Des' relapse into drug use and it should've clued her in that all was not right with him.

Des: I slipped up, okay?
Mary: Not okay. When did this happen?
Des: Today. I'm an idiot. I'm sorry.
Mary: Why? What triggered it?
Des: I'm an addict. I don't need a trigger. Everything's a trigger.

Ultimately, he reveals his wire to Mary before she can incriminate herself but the betrayal still cuts her to the bone. After she revives him from his overdose, I wasn't surprised that she couldn't stop beating on him once he was out of the woods.

Partners - Mary Kills People Season 1 Episode 5

Frank and Ben have a falling out, with Frank abandoning Ben to debrief the delay in the case with Judge Grant. Ben flashing his puppy dog eyes at him when he brings his peace offering search warrant is about as bromance-y as these guys ever get.

Jess - Mary Kills People Season 1 Episode 5

Naomi and Jess have a full-out brawl and when Mary tries to reach out to her daughter, Jess bites her head off.

I'm so sick of people talking about love when they have no idea what it means. You know, if you love somebody, you don't lie to them. You don't tell them you care about them when all you care about is yourself.


Even Louise and Kevin show a little crack in their happy little love nest when their daughters face discipline for their fight.

What amazes me about the writing of this show is that all of this damage is calculated to lead elegantly into the second half of the finale, Mary Kills People Season 1 Episode 6, an episode cheerily entitled "Morning Glory." Of course, it turns out to be a dark metaphor.

Mary: Remember when Mom had that problem with the morning glories?
Nicole: Yeah, she was obsessed. I mean, they're beautiful but she said there's too much of them, too much beauty.
Mary: Yeah, if you don't control them, they end up taking over the whole garden, strangling all the other plants. So you have two options. You can either pull them all out, start fresh, or you can ride the chaos.

Mitchell Sisters - Mary Kills People Season 1 Episode 6

Despite only appearing in two episodes, Mary's sister Nicole is probably my favorite character in the show.

She not only rocks the devil-may-care attitude, her straight-shooting (no pun intended) clear-sightedness serves as the perfect complement to Mary's convoluted life.

Their shared traumatic history and obvious affection for each other also highlights Mary's need for support and reassurance.

Mary: As a doctor, I remain a member of society with a special obligation to all of my fellow human beings.
Nicole: I don't think you have to be a doctor to have that obligation.

When she proposes joining Team Death as the "receptionist," Mary may look skeptical but I am intrigued. It would not only put Nicole in more episodes in a potential Season 2 but I, for one, would love to see her interact with Des.

Especially after his scenes with Annie in the finale.

Annie Angel - Mary Kills People Season 1 Episode 6

Des: Did I order you?
Annie: No, Mary did.

Des: I don't know if I'm hallucinating or dying, but either way, I like the view. Hello, Angel.
Annie: It's Annie. And you look exactly like I thought you would.
Des: Dashing.
Annie: Depraved.

There is much to admire in this tight, dramatic, ambitious series. It is anchored by Dhavernas' amazing performance but wouldn't be as appealing without Richard Short's versatile Des or Jay Ryan's nuanced and conflicted Ben.

Close-up on Ben - Mary Kills People Season 1 Episode 6

I still find Naomi and Louise painful as character obstacles but they are genuinely believable in their delusions and conceit.

However, the gold star for awesome this season goes to Greg Bryk as Grady. 

Going over the details - Mary Kills People Season 1 Episode 6

Mary: First, you have to find a good vein. Press up and down gently. This will expand the vein and make it easier to see.
Grady: Just like people. You apply enough pressure and they show you what they really are.

In Grady, we were chilled by the perfectly combined visage of an accomplished criminal with the far more frightening intellect of an entrepreneurial genius. 

Grady: How do we find our patients?
Mary: They come to us.
Grady: Well, we're going to have to do something about that, maybe hire some death dealers.
Mary: I'm not soliciting death.
Grady: You should be.

Knowing he has family that he treats with tenderness does nothing to diminish the sense of danger he embodies. The fact that Mary manages to outmaneuver him is far more impressive and satisfying than her ability to confuse and frustrate the police. She really is a monster-slayer at her core.

You know what I do when I have a bad dream? I go right back to sleep or the monsters win.


Who could have predicted that a show about assisted suicide could be so life-affirming? It really says something that the clients are the most at-peace characters we meet, culminating in the zen-guru Morgan, who would rather talk about Mary's pain in his last minutes alive.

Mary: You know, the first time I did this, I was sixteen. It was with my mother.
Morgan: She was sick?
Mary: Yeah, she was depressed. She wanted to die more than anything. So each day, I'd come from school not know what I'd find. And my mother was good at a lot of things, but she was terrible at suicide.

And his friends are awesome too. Gotta wonder what sort of license you have to apply for to set a boat containing a body on fire as it sails off of a public beach...

Morgan's Farewell - Mary Kills People Season 1 Episode 6

With only the six episodes, it's no hardship to watch Mary Kills People online and consider the many twists that a subsequent season might take:

Casper the Cat's reappearance puts Mary back in Jess' crosshairs. Meanwhile, Cambie's really delving into tween-er emo poetry. Yay?

Cambie: The sun is in our eyes and in our hearts/Even when it's night and when it's dark/The moon still glows, the stars still shine/Now and forever until the end of time. What do you think?
Nicole: I think you need to dig deeper.
Cambie: What does that mean?
Nicole: I can't tell you that. It's just, like, part of the journey.

Louise's knowledge about the investigation into Mary is an ethical quagmire.

Nicole's involvement with the business would be freakin' awesome.

We gotta wonder how Larissa's going to retaliate for Des throwing her out while he was strung out.

And Mary? Brilliant and slightly compulsive about life and death. She could definitely carry this Dr. Death bit for a while longer. After all, it seems like it's the rush AND the calm that she's addicted to.

I love funerals. Nothing like staring death in the face to make you feel alive.


Reconsidering Her Operation - Mary Kills People

I remember, oh, the relief. No more waiting, no more wondering. And for a moment, everything was calm.


How did the finale feel to you? Where does it go from here?

Who are you most interested in seeing again? Is Mary truly one of the good guys?

Morning Glory Review

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Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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Mary Kills People Season 1 Episode 6 Quotes

You know what I do when I have a bad dream? I go right back to sleep or the monsters win.


Grady: Do you think our past dictates our future? Everything that's happened in our lives has brought us to this moment here, you asking me to help you kill people?
Mary: That would be the past dictating the present, and no, I think we have more control than that.