Clickbait ending explained: What happened to Nick in the Netflix cyber thriller?

*Warning: spoilers ahead for Clickbait*

CLICKBAIT (L to R) ADRIAN GRENIER as NICK BREWER in episode 101 of CLICKBAIT Cr. BEN KING/NETFLIX © 2021

By: Jon O’Brien

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After seven episodes of cyber twists and turns, Netflix’s latest jaw-dropping miniseries Clickbait wrapped things up with the most unpredictable of the lot.

Yes, consider yourself a first-rate armchair detective if you somehow figured out who was responsible for the central mystery before the dramatic big reveal.

If you’re still trying to process how they got involved, how their victim ended up in such a predicament and how the name of a childhood pet hamster proved integral to both of their downfalls, here’s a look at what went down in the final 45 minutes.

Kai’s quest for revenge backfires

Clickbait had put everyone from sister Pia (Zoe Kazan) and wife Sophie (Betty Gabriel) to best bud Matt (Ian Meadows) in the frame for the murder of Nick (Adrian Grenier). But the true culprit (well, kinda) proved to be someone who barely got more than a minute’s screen time in the previous seven episodes. That’s right: it was the seemingly kind-hearted, middle-aged school admin officer Dawn (Becca Lish) all along.

No doubt everyone was expecting Nick’s youngest son Kai (Jaylin Fletcher) to show up at Matt’s house following the previous episode’s cliffhanger. Having intercepted a message intended for brother Ethan (Camaron Engels) revealing the address of the dangerous catfish, Kai had snuck out of the house in a quest for vengeance. And Matt’s threatening behaviour towards Pia, not to mention the incriminating photos on his work computer, suggested he would soon be getting hit with a baseball bat.

But Kai is caught off guard when his furious knock on the door is answered by Dawn and her seemingly mild-mannered husband Ed (Wally Dunn). In fact, he believes his sibling must have played a prank until it become clear that their offer of a ride home is simply an opportunity for abduction. The teen isn’t being taken back to his family, who on realising that he’s missing gets the police involved. He’s being taken to a trailer on a secluded farm while the unlikely criminals figure out what the hell to do next.

How it all began

“You and your God damn game,” Ed barks at Dawn in the previous scene while an unwitting Kai waits downstairs. “You got us in this mess. I’ve got to get us out of this.” Clickbait then intersperses the present-day action with flashbacks of Dawn’s game-playing which begins when she helps physical therapist Nick sync up his work computer and phone on his first day on the job.

Like everyone else on the show, Nick has a relaxed attitude to password security and freely reveals that his is ButchBrewer. During one particularly bored evening at home, when her neglectful husband is busy working on his train set, Dawn remembers the dating app message that popped up on married man Nick’s phone. And thanks to his fondness for an old childhood pet, she manages to log into his account to discover more.

A savvy Dawn then uses Nick’s D8R pics and info to create a new profile on another fictional dating app, Smitten. There, she gets talking to a number of other users including Emma (Jessie Collins), who we’d previously seen insisting she had a romantic relationship with Nick, and the troubled Sarah (Taylor Ferguson). The latter, of course, was the woman whose brother Simon (Daniel Henshall) believed Nick had pushed her towards. A voice-altering tool also shows how Dawn had hoodwinked Emma into thinking she’d talked on the phone, and not just online, to the man of her dreams.

While working in the office outside term time, a whisky-drinking Nick confides in Dawn that he’s having trouble forgiving and forgetting about his wife’s affair. Although she seems sympathetic at the time, perhaps realising that his dating app activity was only born out of the need for payback, the catfish isn’t able to quell her new obsession.

CLICKBAIT (L to R) ZOE KAZAN as PIA BREWER and BETTY GABRIEL as SOPHIE BREWER in episode 108 of CLICKBAIT Cr. COURTESY OF NETFLIX © 2021
CLICKBAIT (L to R) ZOE KAZAN as PIA BREWER and BETTY GABRIEL as SOPHIE BREWER in episode 108 of CLICKBAIT Cr. COURTESY OF NETFLIX © 2021

How things got tragically out of hand

It certainly helps to improve her own marital problems, albeit very briefly. After one sexting session gets her in the mood, Dawn is finally able to attract Ed’s attention in the bedroom. But their rare night of passion ends bitterly when Ed discovers his wife has been whispering sweet nothings while posing as a 40-something man.

After being told she’s sick, a heartbroken Dawn has little time to respond to Sarah’s desperate pleas (“I didn’t sign up to be your personal crisis hotline”) and essentially goads her to follow through with the plans to kill herself. This, of course, sets the wheels in motion for that fateful day when a grieving Simon kidnaps Nick and threatens to kill him once his hostage video reaches five million views.

Nick’s demise

As we learn in episode six, Simon didn’t actually go through with his plans after accepting that he’d got the wrong man and allowed Nick to run free. Instead of alerting the police like any sane individual would, Nick headed straight to Dawn’s home having realised she was the only person who had the information to create the catfish profile (at the very moment she’s busy destroying any evidence that could link her to his disappearance). Nick’s heated confrontation with Dawn then ends violently when Ed brutally strikes Nick twice in the head, the second hit proving to be fatal.

The climax

Back in the present day and it’s still not clear exactly what the pair hoped to achieve by kidnapping Kai, whose whereabouts they know his family are aware of. Ed tells Dawn that he’s not prepared to go to prison, suggesting that either a) he wants her to take the rap or b) he’ll have to be taken away from the farm in a body bag. But Dawn’s proposal to confess to identity theft and have them both deny all knowledge of Nick’s death falls on deaf ears. And how would killing an innocent teen help their cause in any way?

Of course, Kai manages to escape from the trailer and swerve a gunshot from the increasingly maniacal Ed before the police arrive at the scene. But while Dawn instantly surrenders, Ed gives Kai one last scare before allowing him to return to his family unharmed. Ignoring all calls to drop his weapon, Ed pulls the trigger, ending his life.

The aftermath

Having turned all photos of Nick in the family home face down when his guilt seemed assured, Sophie is seen putting one back pride of place while reminiscing about their happier times together. She also calls a truce with Pia, the abrasive sister-in-law she’s never had a particularly good relationship with, at the funeral.

We’re left wondering whether Pia and detective Roshan (Phoenix Raei) ever got together having matched on Tinder just before all the drama unfolded. But he does show up to the service, where he also reveals that an official complaint has been filed against Matt by the student he had an affair with.

With most of the loose ends tied up, a follow-up seems both unlikely and unnecessary, although perhaps an anthology-style approach could work. If you want to find out what we thought of the series, check out our Clickbait review.

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Clickbait is available to stream on Netflix – check out our Drama hub for all the latest news. If you’re looking for something to watch tonight, check out our TV Guide.