High Desert – Season 1 Episode 8 Recap, Review & Ending Explained

I Need a Hero

Why does the police officer stop the trailer?

Arman and Heather hit the road after taking Denny’s trailer. They use Bob’s stolen Mercedes to hitch it. Arman gets shaky when he sees a police patrol car up ahead. The officer stops them and reports them to the precinct. Now interestingly, he doesn’t stop them because it looks suspicious. The reason they are stopped is because of what Peggy said in the previous episode. Before leaving to dispose of the gun she asked Bruce and William to describe Bob’s car if the police came around.

They certainly did and that is the real reason why Officer Milton stopped them. Heather killed the officer as he tried to shoot her. She comes back to the car, ready to go, but is shocked to see that one of the bullets has hit Arman. He is dead.

Why did the Gatchi brothers kidnap Peggy?

When Carol drops by at Peggy’s house to give her the photos, she senses something is wrong. Denny, who has been released from jail, is inside when Carol says she thinks Peggy has been kidnapped. Interestingly, Denny calls her Nia, which she does not deny. All she asks is for him not to bring it up at that moment. While Denny thinks Heather and Arman took her, Carol thinks it was the Gatchi brothers. She leaves the house looking for help as Denny tries to locate Peggy on his own.

We learn that the Gatchis have kidnapped Peggy and Bob as well. He was high on drugs while hiding in the wine cellar. They take them to the desert and ask them to dig up Dona’s body. There is in-fighting as Leo wants to execute them for killing Dona but Nick is more practical about it.

What actually happened to Dona?

Peggy tries to play a trick and tells them about Kachel, her friend who would buy Dona’s fakes. Nick is intrigued and Leo jostles with him. In his anger, Nick beats him to a pulp and shoots him in the chest. Leo falls to the ground but is able to get hold of the gun. He shoots Nick in the head before dying of his wound. Bob asks Peggy if she was telling the truth about the paintings and she replies affirmatively. Carol and Bruce discover that the thing in the photos is actually a skeleton, which belongs to Dona.

Bob told the real story of what actually happened to her. The day Bob won an important award, Dona found out that Bob had sold her life’s work (the fake painting). She became really angry at him and they started fighting. She declared the marriage to be over and Bob accidentally pushed her down the stairs, where her neck was impaled by the very same award.

Denny is terrified as he sees Heather dismantle Peggy’s house. She is heartbroken and even more unhinged after Arman’s death. She takes off in Peggy’s buggy. We learn that Denny’s relationship with Ethan isn’t great either.

Ending Explained: The chaos at Pioneertown

Peggy calls Bruce and he pretends to be Kachel. They set a meeting at Pioneertown for the painting. Peggy is doing this because Bob has a gun and she wants to be sure she’ll live. She asks Dianne to bring the painting from her house to Pioneertown, where Owen is losing his mind.

It is the opening day of the “play” Peggy promised to make for him (“Hamilton” in the Desert). Denny reaches the spot as well. He meets with Peggy and Bob. He is still holding the gun on his person.

To get him away from Peggy, Denny invites him to take the money from the car after Dianne delivers the painting. With help from Richard, Denny is able to take control of the situation and Bob scampers for his life. He runs toward the desert but Rich and Denny don’t give chase. Owen confronts Peggy and berates her for “failing to deliver on her promise.” Dianne tries to defend her when Peggy tells the story about how Roslyn died.

Did Peggy kill Rosalyn?

In a way, Peggy did kill Roslyn. The night she died, Roslyn got very sick. She became unwell when Peggy left her alone to get high. When Peggy woke up, she saw that Roslyn was dead. Perhaps, if she would have taken Roslyn to the hospital, she might have lived.

Near the end of the episode, Peggy grabs the costume from Owen’s hands and volunteers to be put in a cannon. This is Peggy’s ultimate act of redemption. Everyone tries to stop her – except Owen – but she is determined to end it once and for all. Before we can see what happened, the screen turns black.

The Episode Review

With its existential and cathartic ending, High Desert’s finale feels incomplete. There are a lot of unanswered questions about the subplots and certain characters. Peggy readying to be launched to her death felt a little like Birdman’s ending, where Keaton’s character jumped from the hospital room to become as timeless as his character. Will she achieve salvation? That is left up to us to decide.

Questions like what is Carol’s true identity, where did Heather take off to, and why did Kachel not arrive for the deal, will remain unanswered for now. Unless we have a second season, we will never get them.

The finale seems like an attempt to salvage High Desert from its mediocre rut after a promising start. The makers just couldn’t figure out the priorities of their narration and botched the job big time. Even though the finale was good as a standalone, the overall first season of High Desert was a disappointment. The jarring turn of events at the end felt uncharacteristic, ill-thought, and hastily executed without the solid finale one would expect.

The attempts to make the show offbeat are in tradition with every other show today. The truth is, High Desert never really gets the foundation right. The disconnect from the overall show proves to be the reason why this finale doesn’t hit as hard as it should.

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