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7 unanswered questions about The Replacement – explained by the show's writer

Joe Ahearne's on hand to solve the BBC1 thriller's final mysteries

Published: Friday, 10th August 2018 at 9:37 am

After three thrilling evenings on (or behind) the sofa, we've finally discovered who killed Kay in BBC1 thriller The Replacement.


But just because Ellen and Paula's tale has now come to an end, it doesn't mean all our questions about what was really going on have been answered, so we caught up with writer and director Joe Ahearne, to get to the bottom of the story...




Right then, let's get down to business.

1. What drove Paula to push Kay off that roof?

Ok, we know Paula pushed Kay off the roof because she "wouldn't shut up" about Caris. But the bereaved mum was exhibiting some odd behaviour long before Kay crashed through that skylight, so we have to wonder why Ellen's decisions about her unborn child's future mattered so much to her?

"The reason why Paula is being driven crazy by Ellen’s behaviour is because she comes into work every day and she sees this woman, in her eyes, who’s not putting the daughter at the centre of her life and doesn’t understand that to lose your daughter is the worst thing in the world", explains Ahearne.

That despair and frustration ultimately pushes an already fragile Paula to act incredibly irrationally – on more than one occasion.

2. How did Ellen know where to find baby Leah?


Paula trapped Ellen in the car in the garage and forced her to take an overdose of pills, all the while lambasting her for being undeserving of her child. By the end of their conversation all hope seemed lost, so how did Ellen turn things around and find her baby girl? Did her hallucination about the skylight help?

"The situation in the car, as I’m trying to lay it out, is that essentially she knows that Paula is not going to reveal where the child is and therefore she has to do what Paula says," Ahearne tells "But then in that hallucinatory experience she sort of has a very good guess and realises that’s where the child is, in the library, because Paula says things like, 'I’ll take her back there' and gives a couple of unconscious clues about where the child is."

3. Did Paula hand herself in?


We know the police came calling to the office looking for someone and we saw Paula mournfully stroking Caris's gravestone, so how did they catch up with her in time to deliver her to the library and arrest her?

Well, she made it easy for them by handing herself over to the authorities, Ahearne says.

"I think what I try and make clear in the climax is that she knows that she can’t have Leah – that’s not what this is about – but she’s got herself into such a state about it. It’s not that she wants to steal the child, it’s that she wants to make sure that Ellen is not the mother of that child because she perceives Ellen wrongly as a terrible mother so she’s trying to remove Ellen from the equation."

4. What becomes of Ellen?


"You make these things and people receive them in very different ways. I can tell you what my intention was, to say that Ellen had received closure with her daughter and she’s not going to give up," Ahearne explains.

"She’s very clear to her ex-client that she’s juggling three job offers so she’s not going to become a stay at home mum, she’s absolutely going to carry on with her career and you last see her sitting with her daughter showing her a book about buildings and helping to inject that passion into her daughter. The solution to her situation is not whether she ended up with a man or whatever. Her baby and her career, she can have both."

5. Did Ellen reunite with her husband Ian?


"Unfortunately he didn’t support her in quite the way that she needs and deserves," Ahearne says. "I think Ian does a very good pitch in his last scene at the house and it’s very hard for Ellen to close the door on him. Who knows? Maybe in a year or two’s time they might get back together again. Who knows?"

6. What about David? Did Ellen end up with him instead?


One of the last shots of the drama features Dougray Scott's David watching Ellen and her daughter play before walking towards them. Could that be a hint that his unrequited passion for his brilliant protégé was finally returned?

"She ends up in a horrible place with a lot of the people she knows and I think of all the people, perhaps in the drama, David sinned against her less," says Ahearne.

"The worst thing he did was he had an unrequited passion for her and that set off some kind of horrible circumstances so all I’m intending with that ending is to say that there could be hope for them as friends. I’m not saying that she’s going to end up with anybody because having a man is not the solution to the problem of this drama."

7. What happened to Paula?


We caught up with Ellen one year on, but Paula's fate remained a mystery. What does Ahearne think happened next for her?

"I hope that she’s got the help she needs. She’s done some pretty extreme things but I would say the balance of her mind is temporarily disturbed. I mean, how much of a prison sentence she did, I don’t know. Perhaps she got some professional help."


Read more: The Replacement viewers react to "confusing" finale


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