‘Expats’ Episode 5 Recap & Ending Explained: Does Mercy Keep The Baby?


Not often does an episode leave as much of an impact as “Central” does. Expats Episode 5 is cinematic, and every minute is well utilized, with the focus not being on the finish line but rather doing justice to every character in the show. Lulu Wang’s camera lingers and takes note of the little details that are often missed, adding depth to the visuals. She brings out the beauty in cramped-up Hong Kong apartments, and the set is designed to perfection (take note of the hanger hooked to the window grill in a tiny apartment on a rainy day in the background). “Central” focuses on the contradictions; the expats are so caught up in their misery that they fail to recognize the struggles of those around them. 

In “Central,” a tornado brings the city to an almost standstill, with the 2014 Umbrella movement occupying a major portion of Hong Kong. We spend a rather short time with the three central characters and instead navigate the city through the eyes of Puri and Essie, who work at Hilary’s and Margaret’s, respectively. The house helpers were mostly migrants from third-world countries (both Puri and Essie are from the Philippines), and in Hong Kong, they have created a network of their own. They build temporary resting spots with cardboard boxes and spend their leisurely hours playing bingo, gossiping, eating, and spending time together.

Spoiler Alert

Is Hilary seeking a divorce?

It took some time for Hilary to realize that she and David were not meant to be together. She tried to make their marriage work, but it soon became evident that their mentalities no longer matched. It was not just the misunderstanding that occurred during the initial stage of Gus’ disappearance that kept the couple apart. David and Hilary’s life goals no longer matched, and after giving it some thought, Hilary decided to file for divorce. Meeting her mother might have also reminded her of the kind of relationship she never wished to settle for. While everyone around her warned that being divorced in her 40s could never be an easy journey, Hilary was up for the challenge. She was not ready to spend the rest of her life in a loveless marriage simply out of fear of ending up alone.

Hilary’s friend, Olivia, advised against a divorce, but Hilary no longer cared about others’ opinions. Olivia was stuck in an empty marriage as well, but she did not have the courage to move out. She knew that her husband was having an affair and there was no romantic affection left between them, but divorce always seemed like a drastic step she was not ready to take. During the storm, when the lights went off, and a chunk of the ceiling in her drawing room fell in, she decided it was time for her to walk away. The rotting hole in the ceiling symbolizes the condition of her marriage. She tried to leave, but she could not. Olivia ended up fixing the hole by stapling a plastic cover. Just like the hole, she decided to ignore the rot in her marriage and continue to live her life as usual.

After finding out that Mercy was pregnant, David decided to have a word with Hilary. She was furious upon hearing the news. Even though leaving David was a freeing experience for Hilary, she was caught up thinking about how those who knew them would end up blaming her for the divorce. People would not care to find out the actual reason and would gossip about how Hilary failed to become a mother, compelling David to look for someone outside their marriage. She believed David only made matters worse, and even if it might not have been intensional, she assumed that a part of him was happy with the way things turned out. David left the apartment with his coffee machine, the only thing he truly missed from his marriage.

Why does Margaret decide to head back to the United States?

Father Alan reached out to Clarke after noticing that he had stopped attending service. Clarke was hesitant to allow Alan to enter his apartment because, deep down, he was afraid of showing his vulnerable side. Traveling to the Mainland to identify a body took a toll on Clarke. He was ashamed of wanting the body to belong to Gus. Clarke could not forgive himself; he believed he was a terrible father for wanting to see the deceased body of his son. Alan believed that Clarke was searching for a resolution to carry on with his life, and it was not unjust. Even though death is considered the worst resolution, at least it was some form of closure, and wanting it was not terrible.

Margaret was not happy to see a pastor in her apartment. She made it quite clear that they were not religious people and that she had witnessed the harm religion caused. Alan realized that Margaret was living in denial when she warned him that she was not grieving yet. She refused to be sympathized with, and instead of accepting that Gus would perhaps never return home, she calmed herself, thinking that someday he would return, and till then, she would keep searching for him. Margaret failed to realize how her decision was affecting those around her.

Margaret was hellbent on staying back in Hong Kong and continuing the search, while Clarke once again mentioned how they were being unfair to Phillip and Daisy. It was during dinner that Margaret realized how Gus’ absence had affected her children. They were worried about being taken away like Gus, and Margaret, too, was frightened thinking about losing her children. Margaret immediately decided that it was time for them to head back home. She had not realized how difficult it had been for her children, and all she wanted for them was to feel safe.

What happens to Puri’s dreams?

Hilary’s house-help, Puri, dreamed of becoming a singer. She had a mesmerizing voice, and she was determined to participate in a talent competition. While the other nannies and domestic workers warned her not to dream so big, Puri refused to settle for an average life. Living with Hilary had taught her to see dreams. Her boss encouraged her to be her own person and not limit herself to the work that she did. Puri was proud of the relationship she shared with Hilary, even though her friends thought it was never a good idea to be too close to one’s employer.

When Puri returned to the high-rise apartment, Hilary offered to drink with her. She was in a terrible mood after David left, and she desired company. For a few hours, Puri became Hilary’s plaything. She dabbed make-up on her face and dressed her in a gorgeous outfit. She inspired Puri to take the plunge and dream of the impossible. At that moment, Puri felt like an equal. Hilary requested that she address her by her name, and she went on to speak about her journey from Harpreet Singh to Hilary Starr. It was a strict policy among househelps not to disclose any secrets to their employers, but to Puri, Hilary was more of a friend, and she wanted her to know the truth. Puri went ahead and told Hilary that David was sleeping with Mercy. Hilary was devastated and ended up wasted the next morning.

Puri prepared to leave for the audition, but soon, Hilary called for her. It completely slipped out of her mind that Puri had someplace to be. Hilary asked for breakfast, and Puri had no choice but to head back to the kitchen. She went back to referring to Hilary as “ma’am” the minute she realized that they could never be equals. She would always be the one to take care of Hilary’s whims and wishes, and she was never truly her friend. Puri’s dreams remained unfulfilled, and maybe that was the day she learned that she must not dare to dream too big. As much as Hilary spoke about liberation and rights, she could not see beyond her privilege.

Will Essie return home?

Essie shared a special bond with Gus, and losing him all of a sudden left her with a heavy heart. No one cared to ask Essie how she was coping with the loss, and when Puri did, she experienced a burst of emotions. She had treated Margaret’s children as her own, and the loss was extremely personal. She partially blamed Margaret for not taking her along to the night market; she was confident that Gus would have been still around had she been there.

Essie’s son wanted her to return to the Philippines for good since she had saved enough money to spend her retired life back home. After the Gus incident, Essie felt responsible for looking after the Woo family, and she could not think about leaving the job all of a sudden. Essie experienced mixed emotions when she heard Margaret suggest that they move back to the United States. She had developed an attachment to Phillip and Daisy, and she was used to the life she had built in Hong Kong. At the same time, she looked forward to meeting her grandson, and she shared the news with her family.

The next morning, Margaret had a word with Essie. She was mentally prepared to lose her job, but there was a twist. Towards the end of Expats episode 5, Margaret proposes that Essie come along with them to the United States. She could not imagine managing everything on her own, and she looked forward to Essie making the transition smoother. Essie was surprised by the offer, and she promised to think about it. Margaret never cared to find out what Essie wanted for herself. Essie loved the kids, but maybe it was time that she prioritized herself. After years of living life a certain way, will Essie have the courage to reject Margaret’s offer?

Does Mercy keep the baby?

In Expats episode 3, Mercy stormed out of the pub Charly had invited her to. In the new episode, Mercy gathers up the courage to text the stranger-turned-friend. Charly was surprised to receive Mercy’s message asking her to join her at an eatery. She decided to give their friendship another chance, and even though things ended on an awkward note last time, they picked up from where they had left off. Mercy took Charly along with her to the hotel David was staying at. She was David’s guest, and she enjoyed a few perks as a result. Mercy showed Charly to the swimming pool, and her new friend was surprised by the lengths she went to impress her. The two dove into the pool, and they admitted their feelings for one another. Mercy left the pub that evening because she was afraid of hurting Charly. They kissed in the swimming pool, but Mercy once again tried to push her away, afraid of bringing her bad luck. She blamed herself for what had happened with Gus, and Charly comforted her, reminding her that it was just an accident. This time, Charly got to know Mercy a little better, and she understood where the fear had stemmed from. After spending the night together, Charly headed out to help Tony’s mother find her son, who had been a part of the Umbrella Movement.

Expats Episode 5 ends with Mercy returning home and staring at her protruding belly in the mirror. There was another secret that she had yet to confess to Charly, and she was afraid that it could be a dealbreaker. As someone so young, Mercy perhaps has no clue what she plans on doing with the baby. Is she looking forward to motherhood or living a carefree life like she used to? Perhaps Mercy is also afraid of her unborn child being as cursed as she was. Mercy has decided to keep the baby, or at least not do anything about it yet.

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Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni has worked as a film researcher on a government-sponsored project and is currently employed as a film studies teacher at a private institute. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies. Film History and feminist reading of cinema are her areas of interest.

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