Episode 10 of Panic season 1 begins this tense finale with one final challenge – Joust. Two players face off at the Phantom Hill straightaway. This happens to be a half mile stretch of road where two people go head-on in a game of chicken. The victor is the one who doesn’t turn the wheel.
Before that though, Heather shows up at the hospital where she reveals to Ray that Cortez is the one behind everything. Upon learning this, he contemplates whether to just throw in the towel to stop anyone else from getting hurt. Heather immediately goes to Natalie, who’s obviously one of the judges, and tries to figure out what to do next.
Speaking of which, Melanie speaks to Jessica, revealing that her husband is the one behind everything. James Cortez is in severe debt and even took out loans in Jimmy’s name. Thanks to his eye-watering debt, he composed the threatening notes and sent them on to Abby as a way of getting her to quit. In doing so, this would have boosted Cortez’s chances given he bet on Jimmy.
Langley feeds this back to John, as the pair remain focused on figuring out what else he knows – and bringing the sheriff in for questioning.
Back at the farm, Anne sits Heather down and confronts her about the tiger and what’s happening. She admits that she’s been playing Panic, as Anne tells her to focus on what really scares her.
Speaking of scaring, Dodge and Ray catch up after confirming the joust signal has been raised. Dodge has a plan though, and he’s going to let Cortez drive for him while simultaneously driving for Ray. I’ll tell you what, any rules that may have been in place for these games have well and truly been thrown out the window now!
Anyway, while they argue about this, the pair realize that someone may be out in the woods with them and they scraper, going their separate ways. Whoever this person is, they blindside Dodge when he’s alone and knock him out with an ore.
Dodge awakens to find himself sitting opposite Ray, who’s alive and well. They’re floating out in the middle of the lake on Ray’s boat and Ray was the one who actually knocked him out.
Ray questions Dodge about the bomb under his car, having seemingly figured out that Dodge intended to kill himself in order to take out Cortez, killing them both recklessly in one fell swoop. Well, Ray was wise to what’s been going on and switched the bombs, putting it under Dodge’s car instead.
As everything looks set to spill over, all the kids convene at Joust. Heather shows up in Ray’s car ready to drive, while Cortez is in Dodge’s – which has the bomb placed underneath. This game of chicken gets underway but the tiger suddenly charges out in the middle of the road. Cortez loses control of the truck, spinning out and away from everyone else. Heather meanwhile, casually steps out and walks toward the tiger.
Dodge’s car explodes, sending the tiger scarpering, as police show up at the hill. Cortez survives the blast – and the crash – but he certainly doesn’t survive the tiger. However, it’s Melanie who shows up with her rifle first, shooting him in the chest. She and Jessica both leave, letting this tiger have his way with Cortez’s dying body.
With Cortez gone and the game done, Sarah and Ray both head to the hospital where they see Luke is still alive and he flips the bird at them both while lying in bed.
Meanwhile, Heather decides to start her new novel, called “The Phantom Game.” Within this, it depicts a group of ghost teens all playing a crazy game together. After saying goodbye to Bishop, Natalie admits she had to say the things she did on the bridge in order to keep this whole game going. Heather is aware of this and accepts her friend’s explanation.
Anyway, Natalie admits that Heather has an email waiting for her. This happens to be a video of Ray from the train tracks. He’s asked whether he loves Heather, but he dodges the question and calls himself deadweight “which is bad news for a girl with wings.”
Smiling, Heather notices another email. This one confirms she has a package. On the bed, and tucked inside a book, happens to be a set of carefully rolled up bank notes.
A note accompanies it, reading: “After careful review this year’s judgement has awarded you the winning pot” It seems like Heather has won Panic while also being awarded the winnings thanks to Bishop replacing the pot. He sold his Audi and managed to repay Heather that way.
Dodge and Natalie patch up their differences too, with the former thanking the girl for helping to give his family some closure. With Dodge on the way out, Ray approaches Heather while she’s down by the shore. Heather admits she’s seen the video and kisses him.
As they sit together, Ray admits that he’s scared of what may be coming next. He’s finally allowing himself to open up.
In town, it seems like the game of Panic is due to continue. Despite Heather winning, the final shot shows a truck driving up alongside her and throwing a scarecrow on the hood of her car. This scarecrow sports a red sketched eye on the forehead and a sheriff badge in its mouth.
The Episode Review
Panic bows out with a conclusive chapter that just about wraps everything up but also leaves things open for a possible second season too. It seems like Cortez is dead as well, but given we didn’t actually see what happened with the tiger, we can’t completely rule him out from coming back either.
Heather wins the money in the end and seemingly decides to stick around after all and hang with Ray. She’s found a newfound passion with her writing and will undoubtedly now use that as a driving force going forward.
This sets things up nicely for a potential follow-up, especially with that ominous conclusion leaving a scarecrow on Heather’s windscreen. There’s also the little question of exactly who the other judge was as well. It’s hinted throughout the season that it’s Bishop but it seems that he’s not, especially if the “trivia” portion of Amazon’s interface is anything to go by.
Either way, the ending leaves things open for a possible follow-up, with lots of intriguing ideas in the mix. While this has been a pretty turbulent season overall, and one that forces viewers to seriously suspend your disbelief with, there’s definitely some intriguing parts to this drama that just about warrant a second season.