Panic – Season 1 Ending Explained

The Story

Panic is a series about adrenaline-soaked games and testing your nerves. In essence, this is Hunger Games, Fear Factor and Saw all rolled into one. For those unaware, this game of Panic takes place in a quiet Texan town called Carp.

Each year, all graduating seniors are eligible to enter a competition and within that, there’s only one winner. New judges and challenges come forward to keep things fresh, but the game is also mired in controversy. Numerous people have died over the years, with the previous year actually sporting two dead bodies in the form of Abby and Jimmy.

What are the roles in Panic?

The Judges are selected by the previous year’s Judges one year in advance. These new Judges appoint and assign roles for the Collector and Emcee. The latter is essentially the presenter and needs to be charismatic. This year’s choice was Diggins.

There’s also the Collector too, who happens to tally up points and make the final rulings in regards to the game. They’re also in charge of creating challenges and collecting money all year round from potential players. Apparently this equates out to around “$1 a day.”

The Emcee remains in contact with the Judges, who in this case are Natalie and another unknown face we haven’t actually seen this season.

Another role here is that of the Bagman, who’s in charge of moving about the money. In this iteration of the game it was Bishop, whose identity is kept secret as they control the money. They tell the collector where to drop the cash and keep the money safe ready for the winner at the end of the game.

What happened to Jimmy and Abby?

One of the biggest mysteries woven through the series comes from what happened at last year’s games. Specifically, the death of both Jimmy and Abby. With Sheriff Cortez in the driving seat, he sends Langley and John off on a goose chase across town as a distraction from what really happened.

As we soon come to learn, Abby was actually pregnant at the time that she died. Jimmy killed himself in a game of Russian Roulette after the gun was switched out from a training pistol to a real one that was kept in his Dad’s safe.

Abby meanwhile, wanted to leave the game but received harassing letters calling her out for the pregnancy and promising to expose her secrets. This pushed Abby over the edge, forcing her to continue competing in the games. This blindfolded challenge then saw her step out into traffic and die.

What was Cortez’s motivation for doing all this?

James Cortez ended up in eye-watering amounts of debt. In fact, he even took out loans in Jimmy’s name too. In order to try and win back his money, he decided to start betting on Panic, attempting to fix the game by taking out the different players who threatened his odds – including Abby. Although it’s hinted that Jimmy was the one who switched the guns, later we learn that it was actually Cortez’s doing.

What was Bishop hiding?

Well, it turns out Bishop was the bagman in all this; the man responsible for holding the prize money for Panic safe. He was the one who graffitied the wall during the party and he was also careless enough to allow Sarah to track him and figure out where this was stashed. She took off with his money, leaving Bishop with no choice but to sell the Audi to recover the lost funds.

Who was the undercover player?

Cortez manipulated Dodge into believing that Ray and his family were responsible for crippling his sister Dayna. In doing so, he concocted a plan with him to allow Dodge to enter Panic and get revenge. Cortez then placed a bet on Dodge winning, using all his tricks to try and take out the other players, just like before.

This time though, Heather figures it out thanks to matching handwriting from betting slips and a letter given to her sister Lily. Cortez enticed the girl to wait in the tiger enclosure, but Heather obviously showed up and managed to hold her nerve. She didn’t panic, if you will. This also allowed her to feed back the truth to her friends and stop Cortez before it’s too late.

Who won Panic in the end?

Well, if we’re getting technical then no one really wins. The rules are skewed and broken long before the final Joust match so technically everyone’s involvement is basically void. However, Heather basically wins the challenge.

After a series of mishaps and false starts, both Heather and Cortez wind up squaring off in the final challenge. Cortez is driving Dodge’s car, unaware that there’s a bomb underneath. Given he swerves first off the road, thanks to the approaching tiger, Heather wins Panic.

Is Cortez really dead?

Well, this crooked cop survived a car crash and the subsequent explosion from Dodge’s truck after crashing. He stumbles into the woods, only to receive a gun shot to the chest for his troubles from Jessica. As he doubles over, the tiger comes to dine. However, we cut before actually seeing him dying so there is a faint glimmer that he could still be alive.

How does Panic end?

Dodge and Natalie patch up their differences, 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 of him confessing by the train tracks 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. What could this mean? Is another game on the horizon?


To read our full thoughts on this season, check out our spoiler-free review HERE!)

Thanks for reading our Ending Explained article! What did you think of Panic’s ending? Did you figure out Natalie was one of the judges? Do you think you could win Panic? Let us know in the comments below!

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