The Underground Railroad – Season 1 Ending Explained

The Story

The Underground Railroad is the brainchild of Barry Jenkins, the man responsible for bringing Oscar-winning Moonlight to the big screen. Much like that picture, The Underground Railroad is a project oozing with symbolism and thought provoking themes.

At the center of this is young Cora, a woman bubbling with anger and devastation at the situation she’s found herself stuck in.

Deep in the heart of Georgia, Cora works the cotton fields on a plantation, overseen by the cruel and sadistic Terrance Randall.

Eventually she has enough and, alongside friend Caesar, the two escape and set out to travel along the railroad. They intend to seek a safe refuge from the oppressive slave trade that threatens to gobble them up again at any moment.

After 9 episodes of exhausting drama, nail-biting tension and absolutely gorgeous cinematography, The Underground Railroad bows out with an epilogue of sorts after wrapping up most of the big plot points across the season.

Does Grace/Fanny Briggs survive?

During episode 7, which serves as an interlude of sorts, we see Grace escape from the burning house and make it to the railroad. Heading up the darkened train tracks, she makes it to the end carriage of a train.

There, she reveals her name is actually Fanny Briggs. She signs her name in the ledger and the train departs. This is the last we see of her so we’re led to believe she did survive this and managed to find her way to freedom.

What significance is the snake?

Cora’s Mother, Mabel, is bitten by a sea snake and this is what causes her to die. Interestingly, we also see a sea snake at the start of episode 1 when Cora leaves the plantation.

More often than not, snakes are a symbol of fear. Our primal instincts as human beings is to look at these slippery serpents as an uneasy and foreboding warning. Given how symbolic this series is, it could be argued that this snake is a positive symbol of sorts.

In symbology, snakes are intimately associated with the soul’s journey toward self-realization. Viewing the snake in that respect could lead to debates over whether this is actually representing Cora shedding her proverbial skin and starting fresh.

What does the knocking mean?

This is a bit more of an ambiguous note and definitely up for debate. Throughout Ridgeway’s journey to his demise last episode, knocking is a recurring motif in his journey. Although this does represent his relations with his Father, it could also be a premonition of death.

The most telling instance of this is during the 38 minute mark where Tom Hardman rapped at his door three times. In superstition, it’s foretold that three knocks are a sign of death coming for you. Given how Ridgeway meets his end not long after, this could all be connected.

What happened to Homer and Ridgeway?

Ridgeway dies at the end of a very dramatic episode 9. Cora lands on top of the hunter and eventually shoots him. The gun, of course, is representative of power.

Cora’s chat with Royal in Valentine while they’re out shooting together is indicative of that and Ridgeway being shot is symbolic for the balance of power shifting to Cora.

The last we see of Homer he’s cradled over Ridgeway’s lifeless body. It’s unknown what happened to him after that. One would assume though that he’s making his own way in life and striving toward truly being free.

How does The Underground Railroad End?

The finale essentially serves as an epilogue of sorts, with Cora and Molly surviving the Valentine tragedy and heading back on the run again. Before they do, Cora plants some seeds and buries them in the dirt, covering them up and preparing to head out on the road.

As they walk, Molly and Cora come across a man named Ollie. He promises not to hurt them and intends to travel off toward several different places, eventually ending up in Missouri. He helps the pair up onto his wagon, offering them water and blankets as they ride off.

Will there be a season 2 of The Underground Railroad?

It’s highly unlikely. The series ends with a nice sense of ambiguity while wrapping up a lot of the big plot points.


To read our full recap for episode 10, feel free to click HERE for a more in-depth breakdown of everything that took place over the hour long chapter!

Thanks for reading our Ending Explained article! What did you think of The Underground Railroad’s ending? Have we missed anything? Let us know in the comments below!

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