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Stay Close ending explained: What happens to Megan and Dave?

Harlan Coben's latest Netflix thriller Stay Close comes to a dramatic end. **SPOILER WARNING**

Cush Jumbo stars in Stay Close
Published: Monday, 17th January 2022 at 5:27 pm

Netflix’s Stay Close, based on literary mastermind Harlen Coben’s 2012 thriller of the same name, has come to an epic conclusion with its eighth episode.

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The series follows mum-of-three Megan (Cush Jumbo) whose life is thrown into chaos when her dark past returns to haunt her.

After twists and turns galore, the finale tied up all the loose ends and finally revealed the identity of the serial killer who had buried corpses in the woods. So, who is the killer?

Read on for everything you need to know about the ending of Netflix’s Stay Close – and decide what you think for yourself. (Be warned: full spoilers for Stay Close follow.)

Harlan Coben's Stay Close ending explained

Who killed Stewart Green in Stay Close?

Jo Joyner and James Nesbitt in Harlan Coben's Stay Close

Stay Close cast members Jo Joyner and James Nesbitt

One of the biggest mysteries in this series has surrounded the fate of Stewart Green, an abusive man who became obsessed with nightclub dancer Cassie (Cush Jumbo), before mysteriously disappearing one night 17 years ago.

The cold case roars back into life when Broome notes that several other men have vanished on the same night in subsequent years, with the latest being Carlton Flynn, the son of a wealthy businessman.

He hires murderous private investigators Ken (Hyoie O'Grady) and Barbie (Poppy Gilbert) to get to the bottom of the case – and in a certain sense, they do.

Ken closes in on Vipers owner Lorraine (Sarah Parish) for information on Carlton's whereabouts, with the brute expecting to easily overpower her as he has done so many others in the past.

He gets more than he bargained for when Lorraine proves to be rather lethal herself – that's right, Lorraine is the one who murdered Stewart Green (and several other men before him, hiding their bodies in an underground bunker near the club).

However, Green's remains are not found among the corpses, as it turns out that Ray had stumbled upon his body that fateful night and disposed of it in the river, hoping to protect Cassie as he feared she would be involved somehow.

DI Broome walks in on Lorraine, his lover, mere moments after she killed Ken, and she confesses that she has an annual tradition of murdering abusive men, as revenge on a former partner who caused her to have a miscarriage.

Read more: Stay Close stars talk Ken and Barbie – the 'musical theatre murderers'

Who killed Carlton Flynn in Stay Close?

Poppy Gilbert (Barbie) in Stay Close

Poppy Gilbert in Stay Close

Broome takes Lorraine into custody and she admits responsibility for the death of Carlton Flynn, claiming she put his body with the others in the bunker and has no idea why it is no longer there.

We later learn that she's lying to protect Kayleigh Shaw (Bethany Antonia), who she spotted being chased by Carlton that night and most likely figured had something to do with his disappearance.

Given that she is terminally ill and has a genuine fondness for Cassie, Kayleigh's mother, it makes sense that this is the decision she would make.

Little does she know that Kayleigh was not directly responsible for Carlton's demise.

Shockingly, it was her all-around nice guy father, Dave (Daniel Francis) – and he doesn't even know it.

On the night of Carlton's disappearance, he rushed out to pick up Kayleigh and her friend Bea, who had been left stranded in the woods, asking no questions about what could possibly have led them to that predicament.

As he pulls away from the scene, he spots a bright orange car, which is later featured in a news report about a missing person (aka Carlton), causing alarm bells to go off in his head.

Fearing that his daughter might be involved in something serious, he drives back to the spot and pushes the mysterious vehicle into the river, to keep it hidden from authorities and his daughter out of trouble.

Big mistake! As it turns out, Kayleigh had put Carlton in the boot of his own car, as he had been chasing her through the woods after mistakenly drinking a spiked beverage he had attempted to give her.

No one ever let him out, so Carlton was still in the boot when Dave returned to push the car into the river, meaning he drowned inside the vehicle without anyone ever realising.

That is, except Cassie (now known as Megan), who has been a confidante for both her husband and her daughter, piecing together their separate stories to learn the horrifying secret they contain.

Richard Armitage in Netflix's Stay Close

Richard Armitage in Netflix's Stay Close

Stay Close star Richard Armitage praised the ending in an interview with RadioTimes.com, admiring the parallels it creates between Cassie's journey and that of her abandoned lover, Ray.

"The viewer and the main players think that the story is over, but really it's only Cassie that has that knowledge and that understanding of what her husband did. So she's going to have to carry around that burden," he said.

"In a way, it's not dissimilar to what Ray's been going through. Ray has had to carry around this heavy memory of something that happened and has had nobody to sort of share it with, so that's now her ball and chain."

Co-star Bethany Antonia, who plays Kayleigh, revealed that the final scene was actually one of the earliest the crew filmed, meaning by the time they revisited it at the end, she had forgotten the gravity of the reveal.

"For me, it just epitomises the whole show," she told RadioTimes.com. "It's like, you can create a world that looks so calm and peaceful and all the waves have settled, but underneath there's fish swimming about going crazy.

"And that is what the whole show is about: how well can you really know someone? We started the show with one person we knew kind of nothing about, and now we've got three people who are all hiding their own little secrets."

Will Megan and Dave get their happy ending in Stay Close?

This last-minute twist puts the fairytale ending of Megan and Dave in serious jeopardy.

It looks for a moment as if everything will work out for the couple after Dave comes to terms with the past life she had hidden from him for so long and the wedding goes ahead as planned.

But now, Megan is the only one aware of the terrible crime that her husband committed – and if Stay Close has a message to send, it would be that secrets never stay buried forever.

Is this the last we have seen of Megan and Dave?

Will there be a Stay Close season 2?

Sarah Parish in Stay Close

Sarah Parish in Stay Close

"I think that it will come back to haunt them, but in a long time," Antonia theorises. "It will be Kayleigh's wedding when she's like 35, and then she'll see a yellow car and it will bring back all the memories."

Co-star Armitage agrees that the twist does leave a "tiny little door open" for a potential follow-up, which could begin with Dave finding out that he is an unwitting murderer.

He added: "It's such a brilliant twist and one of the things that I like about it is the fact that you don't really see what he's done. You just know that there was somebody in the boot of that car.

"You don't see him in the car, you don't actually see the thing happen; it's all in the viewer's imagination. And of course, he doesn't know what he's done either, which I think is another brilliant opener for maybe Stay Close 2 – who knows?"

Stay Close is available to stream on Netflix now.

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Read our guide to the best series on Netflix, check out more of our Drama coverage or visit our TV Guide to see what's on tonight. 

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