Netflix’s Brazen, directed by Monika Mitchell, is a romantic thriller film based on a novel written by Nora Roberts. Brazen follows a pulp-fiction narrative with a webcam girl at the center of the conflict, who gets murdered by a masked serial killer. Her sister, a bestselling author, helps to solve the case and, yes, also sparks a romantic relationship with the detective because he is a handsome detective in a romantic thriller.
There are not many layers in the story except for the identity and the motive of the serial killer. So without any further ado, let’s catch the killer.
‘Brazen’ Plot Summary
Kathleen Miller Breezewood is a 31-year-old divorced mother who works as a webcam performer for an online adult website called Fantasy Inc. Kathleen puts her drama degree to some use and develops an intriguing character named “Desiree” that makes her one of the most popular webcam girls on the website. However, for Kathleen, the online portal is a way to earn enough money to get custody of her young son, Kevin, from her wealthy and well-connected husband, Jonathan. Kathleen stays alone in a house in Washington, DC, and has a sister named Grace Miller, one of the best-selling authors, popularly known for her romantic thriller novels centered around women.
The film begins as Kathleen calls Grace and requests her to visit her immediately. Grace meets her sister after five long years and feels Kathleen needs money or has started taking pills again. That is why she has contacted her. To her surprise, Kathleen is pretty sober and wants to fight Jonathan in court for Kevin’s custody. The two sisters converse at length, yet Kathleen struggles to reveal her secret life as “Desiree.” However, Kathleen informs Grace about her job as an English and drama teacher in a school so that Grace doesn’t worry about Kathleen’s finances.
While staying at her sister’s house, Grace meets a charming neighbor, Ed Jennings, who works as a homicide detective. Ed is already a fan of Grace’s fictional novels and recognizes her instantly. Grace gets intrigued with Ed’s last homicide case and asks him out for dinner to get material for her new novel. When Grace returns home at night, she finds Kathleen dead inside the house and quickly calls Ed for help. Brazen further explores Kathleen’s murder investigation and her secret online identity, hidden from the real world.
Who Killed Kathleen, A.K.A. Desiree?
Being an astute profiler, Grace Miller started looking for the motive behind Kathleen’s murder. Initially, she was certain that Kathleen’s ex-husband, Jonathan, hired a hitman to kill Kathleen because she had gathered evidence against him that proved Jonathan was stealing from the family trust fund. However, when the masked killer killed another webcam girl named Roxanne (real name: Carol Hayes) and attacked a webcam girl named Bethany Knowles, the detectives concluded that it was the work of a serial killer.
The killer attacked Roxanne while she was on a live webcam show, and thus the struggle was recorded in the Fantasy Inc system. When Grace and Ed scrutinized the recorded footage, they heard the killer murmuring “Desiree” before killing Roxanne. They were certain that the killer was obsessed with “Desiree.” He was killing webcam girls, believing that they were all “Desiree.”
Testimony from Bethany Knowles led the detectives to a high school student, Rand Morgan. He wore the same size footwear (based on footprints left by the killer), sported an expensive watch, and was a trained wrestler. Grace and Ed had reason to believe that Rand killed these women because his partner, Richie Gorman, worked at Fantasy Inc. and shared the personal details of the performers with his cousin and Rand. But there was one more student, from the school itself, who fit the bill but was overlooked by the detectives.
In school, Jerald Baxter, son of Senator Baxter from Missouri, and Rand entered a violent brawl in the locker room. Rand knew that Jerald was obsessed with Kathleen. When he stressed upon the fact, Jerald took it personally and attacked Rand violently. Rand survived the attack and informed the detectives about Jerald’s psychotic behavior that killed Kathleen and Roxanne.
Why Did Jerald Baxter Kill Kathleen?
Though Grace claimed that she could get inside the mind of a killer who preys on women, the ending of Brazen was so rushed that she didn’t get enough screen time to show off her expertise. Hence, let’s start from the beginning while trying to understand Jerald’s psychology and his motives for killing Kathleen and Roxanne.
Jerald lived with her dominant mother, Martha Baxter, who was strict and emotionless. She had set several rules for her son that he should follow to become a perfect man in her ideal world. Martha treated her son like a warden rather than a mother, which probably was the root of Jerald’s hunger for affection. In Kathleen, Jerald found a mother-like figure who actually cared for him. Kathleen embodied everything that his mother wasn’t, and thus, he felt more at home in Kathleen’s care than in his actual house.
The webcam guy, Richie, told his cousin Billy Sachs about Kathleen’s secret identity. Billy worked as a janitor at the school and confronted Kathleen about it. Jerald, who obsessively followed Kathleen, heard this conversation and hacked the Fantasy Inc website to dig deeper. Through the admin login, Jerald found out about Kathleen’s secret life, i.e., “Desiree,” and her work as a dominant performer. Because of her strict mother, Jerald despised the word “dominance,” and thus decided to kill the world’s controlling women. For him, all these dominant women were like Desiree.
Jerald’s physical strength helped him kill his victims, while his sharp-wits helped him get away with murder. He tried to frame Rand for the murder of Kathleen by sending a Memoriam card to Kathleen’s funeral. Jerald or the killer shared physical traits with Rand, hence, he believed that the detectives would certainly suspect Rand for the murder of Kathleen and Roxanne.
Jerald had even planned to push his mother down the stairs and kill her. With Martha dead, Jerald would have been free from all the strict rules in his world. And that might be the end of all his struggles. But he was mentally unstable, and only death or prison would have stopped him from committing brutal crimes.
‘Brazen’ Ending Explained
Grace Miller decided to step into the character of “Desiree” to bring the killer out of his den and arrest him eventually. However, Jerald made a grave mistake by letting his anger overcome his judgment. He attacked Rand in the locker room, and Rand finally testified against him. Ed and Ben went to the Senator’s house, where they found Jerald’s basement, where he used to plan his murderous schemes. On a screen, Ed saw Desiree’s video (portrayed by Grace), which made him certain that Jerald had sneaked out of the house to kill Grace.
At Kathleen’s house, Jerald finally removed his mask and revealed to Grace his hatred towards dominant women, which probably made him a serial killer. Grace gracefully recorded Jerald’s confession on a live webcam show that was always stored in the website’s system for creativity purposes.
At the end of Brazen, Jerald attacks Grace in an attempt to finish his killing business. During the struggle, Grace finds a gun behind a mannequin that was hidden by Kathleen at the beginning of the film. She tried to shoot Jerald, but he got hold of the weapon. However, Ed arrived at the scene and shot Jerald to end his crimes. After Kathleen’s murder case was solved, Grace moved in with Ed to begin her happily ever after.
Brazen is a 2022 romantic thriller film directed by Monika Mitchell. The film based on Nora Roberts‘ novel is streaming on Netflix.