When we first saw “Dead to Me,” we were beyond wowed by the show because it is not often that you come across an attempt to present the comical and selfish side of grief. The series did it masterfully. One might think it was also about the strength of female friendships, but we beg to differ. Yes, the friendship of Jen and Judy was central to the show, but what really brought them together as each other’s ride or die was not just them as people but their history with trauma and sadness throughout their lives. We had previously mentioned that the real strength of the series was not the investigation of the murder or the plotlines themselves. It was the chemistry between the characters themselves. However, it looks like that was taken for granted in the 3rd season of “Dead to Me,” the one that should have been the strongest and had us wishing that the series should have ended on the cliffhanger of the 2nd season. Don’t get us wrong, it was not bad, but it lacked the spectacular quality of the first two seasons. When it comes to a series like “Dead to Me,” the average doesn’t cut it for us because of how high it has previously set our standards. Let us go through the series to see why we feel this way.
What Happens After Jen And Judy’s Hit And Run?
“Dead to Me” Season 3 picks up where Season 2 left off, with Jen and Judy ending up in the hospital. Jen is quite badly hurt, whereas Judy just has a few scratches. They are both advised to go for a CT scan, during which Judy uses her street smarts to steal some of the pain medications from the pharmacy. While she is there, she runs into Ben. He was the one responsible for their hit and run, and he ended up at Jen’s house looking for her, delirious and drunk. Charlie drives him to the hospital, and on the way, Ben ends up remembering that he had crashed his car into Jen’s car. When he meets Judy at the hospital, he is unable to tell her about this and instead tells her that Steve’s body has been found in the woods.
Meanwhile, Jen is sitting on Judy’s bed when a doctor comes and tells her that some shadows have been found in her CT scan. The doctor has mistaken Jen for Judy and tells her to get it checked asap. Jen is heartbroken, as this is not the first time that she has seen cancer up close. She also had to take care of her mother as a child, which led to this very thing. Jen doesn’t tell Judy right away about this, and when the two of them reach home, Charlie is waiting with an issue of his own. He had seen the letters left by Jen for them before she went to turn herself in and had misunderstood some of their contents to mean that Judy had an affair with his father. He is furious, and Jen, unable to explain the truth to him, plays along with his misconception and tells him that she has forgiven Judy since. That day, she also told Judy about the CT scan, and she was understandably angry and scared. Both of them decide to get through it together. Also, Charlie forgives Judy when she tells him that their affair is just a one-night stand, and she is not aware that Ted has a family. In the meantime, Jen’s son Henry gives the bird with which Jen murdered Steve to Ben. The issue with the murder weapon was that the tail of it was left stuck inside Steve, and that could prove to be incriminating. Ben forgets the bird at a bar, where it is picked up by Officer Nick. He returns it to him the next day and comes to know that he had gotten it from Henry, who had told him that it was a gift from Judy. Ben takes the bird to Judy and takes her help to repair the tail of it. He gives it back to Jen, and that night, the two women set it on fire, believing that they have erased all evidence. However, Nick has figured out that the murder weapon must be from Jen and Judy, and he asks Detective Perez to take this to Glenn Moranis, who is the FBI agent on the case. She promises him to do so but obviously doesn’t. While all this is taking place, Judy gets her reports, and it is confirmed that she has cancer. But she plays it close to her chest and lies to Jen that she is okay. During this time, she also gets fired from her job and reconnects with Michelle. They spend the night together when she reveals that she has cancer, but Michelle has fallen asleep and does not hear her.
Judy tells the doctor that, while she is ready to start her treatment, she doesn’t want to lean on anybody for it. Hence, she lies to Jen that she will be going to Sonoma with Michelle. The next day, Michelle comes to visit her and apologizes for pretending to have fallen asleep when Judy makes the confession. She forgives her, but soon enough, she lets Jen know that she has cancer. Let us take a moment to understand Judy’s point here. Anybody else who receives such a diagnosis will no doubt start leaning into their support system. Yet Judy was hesitant to do so. It can feel baffling, but a look at her history would show us why she did that. As a child, her needs were often neglected by her mother, and she only had herself to turn to in case of any problem. She was in an emotionally abusive relationship with Steve for years. Judy is a woman who has always had to rely on herself for support, no matter the situation since she was constantly let down by the people closest to her. Therefore, even when she had someone like Jen by her side who was ready to move heaven and earth for her best friend, Judy was unable to accept her support before she ultimately caved.
Judy’s chemotherapy starts, and during this time, she works on folding 1000 paper cranes as decoration for Henry’s recital. She gets quite attached to her nurse; therefore, it comes as a shock to her when she dies right before her last chemo session. Heartbroken, she and Jen do mushroom that night, which results in the latter getting extremely paranoid and ending up in the hospital. But as luck would have it, it turns out that she is pregnant. Jen had slept with Ben after his brother’s funeral when he confessed to his hit-and-run with Jen. Since then, another drinking incident prompted him to end up in rehab. Therefore, it was not an ideal situation for Je to be in. On the investigation of Steve’s death, things are further escalating due to Nick being convinced that everything happening is connected, as well as Glenn Moranis, whose investigation is centered around Jen and Judy. Jen comes to know that he has taken her water bottle out of her garbage, definitely to match her DNA to the one found on Steve’s body. To divert suspicion from her motives, she tells him that she and Steve were having an affair.
On the other hand, Judy comes to know that Jen is pregnant and is upset because it is another reminder of what she has been denied in life. But Judy being Judy, comes to terms with it soon enough. A few days later, she was also informed that her cancer was terminal and that she didn’t have that long to live. When Jen learns about this, she is angry and decides that Judy must get into a clinical trial in San Francisco, but they missed the deadline for it. Judy has taken all these developments in a freakishly calm way. We believe that she is done fighting for everything and has resigned to whatever fate has written for her. She is done fighting to save her mother, to save her relationship with Steve, a fight against the disappointment of not having children and never ever having been understood by the people she loved and cared for. She was tired and had decided that she would take care of her affairs and spend the rest of her days peacefully, away from the fighting. She informs Ben about Steve’s hand in Ted’s death, and he apologizes to Jen about it. The night of Ted’s accident, Steve and Judy had been taking Ben home. Not just that, it was the night when Judy had her miscarriage.
Soon after Ben’s apology, he is taken to prison by Perez and Nick. As these things are happening, Judy goes to Nick and confesses that she is the one who killed Steve and that Jen is completely innocent. When Jen learns this, she is furious and tells Judy that she must not give up. She requests that Nick allow her to get treatment in San Francisco before she is put in jail. Nick agrees. Back at home, Judy’s mother is waiting for her. She takes her tracker and drives to San Francisco while Jen and Judy make their way to Mexico. They are going on vacation for three weeks and have decided to let things take their course. While on their way, they run into members of the Greek mafia who want Judy to return the money Steve stole from them that she had stolen from him. Judy tells them that she spent it on her chemotherapy. She pretends to be a little sick and uses the opportunity to grab a gun from the car. She threatens the men to let them go and punctures the tires of their car with the bullets before she drives away with Jen. This is a side of Judy that we have never seen before. Someone so bold and decisive and a true badass. We are just as wowed as Jen is by her. Both of them reached the villa in Mexico, where they had decided to spend their holiday. As they settle into a rhythm of sunbathing and just generally exploring the place, Judy looks more happy and free than she ever has.
‘Dead To Me’ Season 3: Ending Explained – What Happens To Judy? What Does Jen Say To Ben?
When at the beach villa, the one thing that we come to know about Judy is that she craves freedom above all else. She has spent her entire life minimizing herself for the benefit of others. She was always a nice girl, and anger wasn’t an emotion that came naturally to her. It is an unfortunate part of human psychology that we take others’ needs into consideration more out of fear of their anger if we don’t, than out of basic empathy. This was primarily why Judy was taken for granted so often. She just wanted to live a life where she could be with herself in peace without having to constantly bear the disappointment of people doing this to her. She tells Jen that she wants to stay here forever, but Jen doesn’t want to let go of her best friend. While they are having this argument, Jen starts bleeding and has to be rushed to the hospital. Luckily, it turns out that the baby is fine and that it is a girl. This is the first time Jen admits that she wants the baby. She also tells Ben that he is the father of her child, and she is looking forward to seeing him again.
Another crazy thing that happens during their time in the villa is that the women come to know that Steve never really got rid of the 66′ Mustang, the car that killed Ted. Jen is initially shocked and speechless, but she tells Judy that she doesn’t want to destroy the car as it was this very thing that brought Judy to her. It is a touching moment indeed because this is where we realize the full extent of what Judy means to Jen. She has not just forgiven her for that night but also loves her more than she grieves the loss of Ted. She loves her more than she is angry at her circumstances, and she will always want the best for her. For a person like Jen, who is always on edge and is generally repulsed by some of the gentler emotions like love and romance, possibly due to the responsibilities she took on at a young age that introduced her to the harsher realities of life a little too early, she was never accepted as completely by anyone as she was by Judy. Judy never asked her for a single thing and was probably the only person she had met who could look beyond her own wants and needs and find it within herself to understand another person and be there for them. Jen loved Judy, and for that, she respected the car that brought her into her life.
As for the case of Steve, Glenn Moranis was killed by the Greek mafia, and when the police deduced this, they believed that they must be responsible for Steve’s death as well. Upon coming to know this, Jen and Judy realize that they might just have gotten away with it all, albeit they would still need a little help from Nick to cover up Judy’s confession. But Judy has made her decision. She tells Jen that she is staying back in the villa. The two of them would continue to be friends, but Judy was not going to be an active part of anything now. She wanted her peace. Teary-eyed, the two friends confess how much they love each other. The next day, when Jen wakes up, she finds a note next to her. As she steps out, she sees footsteps going into the sea, along with tracks of the boat being dragged inside. Judy is probably sailing, as she had previously mentioned that she had always wanted to sail away, as it felt like the ultimate form of freedom.
Though it was not shown in “Dead to Me” Season 3, we believe that Judy must have come back to see Jen. She gifts her the 66′ Mustang and stays back in Mexico while Jen drives back home. She reaches just in time for Henry’s recital, and true to Judy’s word, her presence is all around, as is her memory, and the 1000 paper cranes that she has folded are everywhere in the church. Ben has also been released from prison for his good behavior, and he directly comes to meet Jen, having been sent an invitation by Judy quite a while back. She had promised that she would always be there, and she is fulfilling that. Months go by, and Judy gives birth to a baby girl, whom she names Joey. She has also rejoined her grief group. This could be an indication that Judy has passed away from cancer, and Jen is trying to move on. It could also mean that Jen is trying to deal with the loss of Judy in her life and not the actual loss of Judy’s life. It is an ending open to interpretation.
The final scene of “Dead to Me” has Jen looking fondly at her new family. Ben, Charlie, and Henry are having a good time in the pool while Jen is taking care of Joey. She still misses Judy, and it is evident by the way she looks at the cat she has adopted and how she repeats what Judy used to say about Deja Vu being our brain, reminding us to remember. The series ends with Jen telling Ben that she has to tell him something. What it is is not shown. It could be a confession that she killed Steve. If it was that, then the reason could be that Jen believes this would bring Judy back. This line of thought would indicate that Judy is still alive. The two had become friends due to the chaos around them. Reopening the can of worms might be Jen’s way of bringing Judy back. Or it could be something entirely inconsequential because we find it hard to believe that Jen would undo everything Judy had done for her for something so selfish. We prefer the second theory simply because it respects the character growth of Jen and Judy throughout the seasons.
Final Thoughts: What Works For ‘Dead To Me’ Season 3?
We are inclined to believe that the second half of “Dead to Me” Season 3 was way better than the first half. However, the writing still lacked the tightness in the plot that we had seen in the previous seasons, especially on the investigation front. Why on earth did it take Nick three months to follow up on the investigation of the bird? We understand its relevance to the plot, but it was a very convenient thing to happen. The show had a zing to it because it did not care about convenience, and it sort of lost that in “Dead to Me” Season 3. Also, we enjoyed seeing Judy in her element with the Greek mafia. Why was more of her backstory not covered this season? How did she learn Spanish, and why is she such a good shooter? There is a lot more to Judy than just her high levels of emotional intelligence and exploring that would have made the show a lot more interesting.
Overall, it was not a bad season. It was better than a lot of what we have seen recently. It’s just that it was not on par with its previous seasons. “Dead to Me” as a show deserved a lot more, much more. And we can’t help feeling that it did not get its due. The creators could have just ended the series with the second season. It was a hit-and-run, and we would have theorized that the women were alright. But obviously, you stretch a masterpiece long enough, and it ends up extending into the average. We suppose we will just go back to rewatch the first two seasons because they are what we fell in love with, and we refuse to move on from them. To sum it up, the third season was… nice, but it didn’t have our hearts. It belongs to “Dead to Me” Seasons 1 and 2, and that is what the show is going to be remembered for.
“Dead to Me” is a 2019 Drama Crime series created by Liz Feldman.