Katla Season 1 Ending Explained – What is going on in Iceland?!

Katla Season 1 Plot Synopsis

Set deep in the heart of Iceland, Katla is a moody slow-burn revolving around a small town called Vik. When Katla erupts, we cut forward 1 year to find a strange ash-covered woman arriving out the smoke and dust.

Secrets are soon revealed that turn this community upside down. Among those looking for answers is Grima, who finds herself pushed to breaking point, questioning her very existence.

Who is the ash-covered woman?

As we soon come to learn, this woman is called Gunhild and she’s closely aligned with Tor, Grima’s Father. However, the real Gunhild actually left and is currently in Sweden, with her son Bjorn. Bjorn is actually Tor’s child, which we find out during the finale.

This ash-covered Gunhild is much younger (20 years younger which coincides with when she worked at Hotel Vik in town) An extra twist reveals that young Gunhild is pregnant with Tor’s child.

Who else returns?

Among those to return from beyond the grave is Grima’s sister, Asa. She went missing a year back, around the time of the eruption, and many presumed her to be dead. So how is she walking about? Well, we’ll get to that in a moment!

The plot thickens midway through the season when Grima discovers a frozen corpse under a cabin. This corpse is eventually identified as Asa – the real Asa.

Magnea, Gisli’s wife, also returns much more healthy than her current, terminally ill state. One of the researchers, Darri, also sees his young son Mikael return, although he’s visibly shaken by this given his real son died 3 years back.

The final puzzle piece in those returned sees Grima return as an ash-covered doppelganger too.

How did these people return?

Well, we’re given a brief explanation in episode 7 when Darri heads under the glacier to investigate. After collecting up some rock samples, Darri deduces that this meteorite crashed down to Earth a long time ago and this seems too have a strange, alien, life-giving element within it.

These meteors are responsible for bringing in the changelings. The chalk-ash exterior seems to be some form of cocoon to keep the body safe while it’s grown underground.

According to Darri, this meteor is apparently using the most intense emotional feelings that each of the townsfolk are feeling to recreate the people that are missing.

Again, all of this is just a hypothesis from Darri but he goes on to mention how these replicas are molded by the thoughts people have about them. In essence, they are a more exaggerated version of their real counterparts, clinging to the main trait that made them come into creation.

What are changelings?

Changelings have been about in folklore for a long time. Historically known as an auf or oaf, changelings are basically human-like creatures that are believed to be a fairy that has been left in place of a human stolen by fairies.

There are numerous accounts throughout history of this presumably occurring and different regions have their own interpretation of these tales.

Who dies in Katla season 1?

With the continued presence of the changelings getting involved in everyday life, each of our characters make a bold decision regarding their future.

Rakel and Darri realize their son is an imposter and consumed by rage. Convincing themselves that this is definitely not their son, they decide to drown him in the sea.

Asa drowns herself in a symbolic move after Grima reveals the truth about her existence. This changeling is far more thoughtful and slips into an existential crisis. Asa’s symbolic walk into the water mirrors Grima and Asa’s Mother, who did the same thing years back. This also explains why Grima is so haunted by what’s happened.

Grima then heads home and plays a game of Russian Roulette with the changeling Grima. She’s determined to let fate decide their outcome. The real Grima survives this deadly game, with the changeling taking the final, fatal shot.

How does Katla season 1 end?

The final shots of Katla sees the Earth groan and grumble, paving way for numerous ash-covered changelings to rise up and head toward the town. The final shot sees their faint outlines on the horizon.

Could this be a manifestation of stronger emotions across town following what’s happened? If so, what does this mean for our Vik residents? We’ll have to wait and see because this one ends on a big cliffhanger!

To read everything that happened in this final episode, do be sure to check out our full finale recap & review by clicking HERE.



Read More: Katla Season 1 Review

Thanks for reading our Ending Explained article! What did you think of the ending? Did you like the ambiguity of the cliffhanger? Would you like to see this return for season 2?  Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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14 thoughts on “Katla Season 1 Ending Explained – What is going on in Iceland?!”

  1. I watched r
    That scene 10 times because I couldn’t believe that real Gilman died but it was her.
    And the ash heap Ita where the father always buried the white feathered raven who always came back to life

  2. Loved this & would 100% watch another season. I’m not sure which Grima survived at the end, maybe we’d find out in the next season & would love to find out who the next arrival of ash clad figures are.

  3. I agree that the real Grima died according to the number of shots. Remember that the clothes she’s wearing are irrelevant. She’s a duplicate of Grima and could have just taken her clothes before she buried her. The two things that don’t work for me in that end scene is how she could possibly have been able to clean the scene of the death so quickly and hide the body. Not to be dark, but I’ve seen what it looks like when someone puts a gun in their mouth and pulls the trigger. There are entire teams of people that can spend a day cleaning up a scene like that. The other reason I think the real Grima is dead is that the body was disposed of so sloppily. The real Grima would know that the body will soon be found, it was barely buried. Copy Grima might not understand the subtleties of that.

  4. I so want for the real Grima to have survived, and for her to be healed by letting go and accepting her sister’s (and mother’s) death, and for her heart to have opened to her husband after seeing him making love with the past version of herself. Could she have made such a turnaround that she would be playing piano again and smiling so serenely after everything she’s been through? That would certainly be the happy ending in my book. But like JF I too noticed her expression in the final scene and thought it was quite possible it was the changeling/ash Grima who survived and took the more traumatized Grima’s place. Which certainly feels quite creepy, especially followed by the eerie final scene of the silhouetted bodies emerging and walking toward us in the dark. This ending seemed a suitable end to the whole series. I think Season 1 works perfectly on its own, and I don’t feel that a second season is at all necessary. But if they decide to make one, I will certainly watch it!

  5. Ash Grima loved life she wouldn’t let fate decide. She shot the other Grima. The other Grima was already dead figuratively.

  6. Good thing that I am half Norwegian! This strange dark kind of mythical story doesn’t bother me at all! LOL!

  7. Real grima survived. Real grima starts the game and there’s 6 bullet chambers in the gun. The 5th shot was empty and the final 6th shot was towards the imposter.

  8. Real Grima died, watch the whole scene again. Real Grima starts the russian roulette and takes the 5th, final shot. Ash Grima buries real Grima near the house. Look also at the face expression of ash Grima when she plays Piano at the very end. No way real Grima survived.

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