Episode 10 of Them begins with Betty in the underground bunker. Eventually she climbs up the steps and realizes the hatch is actually unlocked. Has it been unlocked all this time? Well, Betty isn’t waiting around to find out.
She climbs out and rushes away from George’s farmhouse without looking back. She charges across the countryside, past cows…before she’s shot dead. George fires a deadly sniper from his house and watches her fall to a heap on the ground.
Meanwhile, Lucky outsmarts the orderly at the institute, stabbing him with a syringe and heading out the room. She manages to outsmart the staff too and through a series of nicely shot scenes, leaves the therapist there a bloody heap on the floor. The security guard – tellingly black too – lets her walk out unscathed.
Back home, Ruby uses an axe to slice Earl dead, watching him crumple to the ground in a heap. Henry coughs and sputters, eventually heading out and shooting Marty in the leg. Kicking the man in the stomach, this commotion spills out into the street. It’s enough to bring the whole neighbourhood out their houses as they watch this transpire silently.
Henry holds Marty up at gunpoint as his wife arrives and calls him the N word. As she does, Henry raises his gun and looks set to shoot the pregnant woman. Thankfully Gracie and Ruby arrive at the entrance, which is enough to snap Henry out of his entranced rage.
Back in the house, a series of rotating camera shots see Ruby face Doris back at school. She talks to Ruby and antagonizes the girl, encouraging her to look in the mirror. When she does, a distorted version of Lucky stares back.
A reinvigorated Henry heads back into the house and is forced to face the Tap Dance man. It turns out Henry’s issues stem from his guilt over that horrific night in North Carolina. He left an hour earlier than anticipated and this is what led to the crooks showing at his house. This allowed for Vera and the others to show up and resulted in his son’s death.
Lucky returns to the neighbourhood with a vengeance, walking through a crowd of people who swarm and surround her. They question her over Betty’s location and plead with her to return the woman to the neighborhood.
Lucky screams at them to stop as a sudden – and inexplicable – line of fire rises up in front of the Emory house. Lucky heads back inside and finds Gracie in the clutches of Mrs Vera. Gracie suddenly realizes what’s happening and grabs her book, ripping out the pages. This seems to do the trick and causes the apparition to vanish.
Next, Lucky and Gracie track down Ruby in the bathroom, snapping her out of her trance. Lucky promises she’d never hurt her daughter and brings Ruby back to the real world.
Henry however, is wrapped around the thumb of the Tap Dance man, who encourages him to embrace the beast inside and hit back at those who would oppress him.
With a gun in hand, Henry prepares to hit back. Only, Lucky suddenly shows up and kisses her husband, sharing in his grief and managing to bring him back from the brink. Henry kills the Tap Dance man and leaves him a crumpled heap on the floor.
With fire still raging outside, Henry heads outside with the family, ready to face whatever comes their way. They’re not running anymore.
Before Lucky can join them, she heads down to the basement where she finds Epps and his cronies. He tells her he wanted to keep the community pure and that’s why her family has been targeted. Stepping away, he shows her deceased child alive and well in the crib.
As Lucky cradles the baby, Epps mutters under his breath. This is, of course, all a big vision as Lucky hits back and tells Epps that she sees him. Grabbing the cross and throwing it on the floor, the devil’s promise comes back to haunt Epps. He’s forced to face his own demons, and that begins with him being burned alive.
Day 10 begins and the family all join together in front of the line of fire. The flames subside and eventually go out as three police officers stand with guns pointed at them. While everyone else watches on, the episode comes to a close.
The Episode Review
Okay let’s start with the good before we dissect this final episode. The themes around race, the thriller elements and the aesthetic have been absolutely stunning throughout. The camera work is sublime too, with some gorgeous cuts and some wonderful imagery that feeds into the whole idea being set here.
The underlying themes around grief and having that channeled through the characters and their own insecurities works really well. However, this is hardly a horror series in the conventional sense, and aside from a couple of jump scares early on there’s been absolutely nothing terrifying here.
Instead, the show channels its horror through disgusting imagery like a baby being swung around or body mutilation which – while difficult to watch and horrific- don’t quite hit the scary heights this is trying to hit.
The biggest problem here though comes from the story itself, which relies on these frightening visions far too much and at times, loses sight of what sort of show it wants to be.
There are several episodes here (excluding episode 8’s trip down memory lane) where the show has leaned into slow burn drama and forgotten that it’s trying to be a horror. In the end, the show pulls a Buffy Season 7 with its antagonist.
For those unaware, the final season of Buffy revolved around the Hellmouth opening and plunging the town into darkness. At the last minute, the show introduced Caleb as a villain, who’s eventually defeated by Buffy and her prospective slayers. I appreciate this isn’t exactly the same but Epps certainly marches to the beat of the same drum – especially given Vera and the Tap Dance man have been the main frightening presences.
It also doesn’t help that Betty’s story has been completely butchered. Early on, the show has some really interesting juxtapositions between her and Lucky. But yet, right at the end it renders everything about her progression pointless if she was just going to be killed off unceremoniously like that.
What was the point in her asking for a loan with her parents? What about Clarke and the funds in the bank? What about the George Bell incident? Is George just leaving her body on the grass now? Have the townsfolk given up trying to find Betty?
Speaking of which, the ending doesn’t really resolve anything, with the police seemingly ready to arrest Henry for killing Sergeant Bull and firing his gun while Lucky is likely to end up in care again. This would then, presumably, bring Gracie and Ruby into foster care. It’s hardly a happy ending, although to be fair episode 9 did foreshadow this.
In the end, Them is a show big on themes but lacking in substance. Behind the glossy façade and gorgeous aesthetic is a show that slips up where it matters most – the story. The plot isn’t outright bad, but it does have a bad ending which makes for a bit of a sour experience overall.