‘Firefly Lane’ Season 1: Recap & Ending, Explained: What Happens To Johnny? Why Did Tully Lie About Cloud?


Based on Kristin Hannah’s novel, Netflix series “Firefly Lane” revolves around the thirty-year-long friendship, from the 1970s to the 2000s, between Kate Mularkey and Tully Hart. The two vastly different teenagers found comfort in each other and decided to stay friends forever. Throughout her life, Tully struggled to get over her traumatic childhood with an addicted mother and an absent father. While Kate had loving parents, she discovered secrets that she found hard to deal with. Tully was an extrovert, while Kate was a shy teenager who preferred spending her time reading books. Somehow their differences helped them appreciate each other all the more. The ten-episode series is divided into three timelines: one focuses on the teenage years of Kate and Tully, another on how they landed their first job in television, and the third is about their lives in their 40s. Towards the end of the series, a future is also shown that is indicative of how the Kate-Tully friendship might come to an end.

Spoilers Ahead

‘Firefly Lane’ Season 1: Plot Summary – What Is The Series About?

Tully’s biggest fear was loneliness. When Tully was young, she remembered her hippie mother, Cloud, taking her away from her grandmother. Her mostly absent mother decided to take care of Tully from then on. While taking her to her new house, Cloud decided to join a march for peace in between. Tully struggled to keep up with the pace of the crowd, and she was left behind. The chaos that her mother brought into her life that day was something that she could never get over. She remembered lying on a park bench and curling up, fearing the uncertainty. She returned to her grandmother that day, but she was scared that her mother would come again to take her with her. During her teenage years, her mother came back to take her. Tully did not want to go, but she was left with no choice. That was how Tully moved to Firefly Lane. She learned to be independent at a young age because she could never rely on her drug-addict mother. She was so embarrassed by her mother’s condition that she often resorted to saying that her mother suffered from cancer, which was why she behaved strangely.

Unlike Tully, who was instantly surrounded by people right after she started living in Firefly Lane, Kate did not have any friends. She was the school nerd who preferred books over people. She was loved by her parents, Bud and Margie. Even though she adored her brother, Sean, they were not close to each other. Kate had her eyes on Sean’s best friend, Robbie, though unbeknownst to her, he was Sean’s lover. Sean never came out to his parents and sister, fearing the consequences. Tully was the only person who knew his secret and supported him all his life. Kate and Tully’s friendship began when Kate helped her sneak out of a convenience store with cigarettes. Tully was desperate to grow up, and she often tried to be the “cool” kid in school just to surround herself with people. When she was invited to a party by Pat, a school senior, she instantly agreed. Kate wondered from afar about how different her, and Tully’s lives were. At the party, Tully was offered alcohol, and to keep up with the crowd, she decided to give it a go. After Pat noticed that she was drunk, he asked her to come along with him to a comparatively secluded area where they could spend some time together. Tully and Pat kissed, but she soon realized that he wanted more from her. When he tried to pin her down to the ground, she resisted. She was clear about not wanting to participate, but he did not listen to her. He raped her and then left her on the ground. Tully could never get over this trauma. She struggled to form meaningful relationships with men due to her past. That night, she returned to Firefly Lane and noticed Kate in the backyard. She walked up to her and shared what Pat had done to her. Kate wanted Pat to be punished, but Tully knew that she would be slut-shamed by the adults for accompanying him to the party.

While they could not instantly come up with a plan to deal with Pat, Kate became Tully’s shoulder to cry on. And eventually, Tully made it obvious that Kate was her best friend. Kate was on top of the world, knowing that the most famous girl in school was her best friend. From then on, they shared every secret and promised to be best friends for life. Even in their 40s, Kate and Tully sought each other whenever there was any minor inconvenience in their lives. Their friendship was picture-perfect, but there were complexities that they always had to deal with.

Who Was Johnny? How Did His Relationship With Tully Affect Kate?

After graduating from college, Tully joined the television news channel KPOC in Seattle. She requested that Kate join the network even though there was no real requirement for a producer. Tully and Kate had always dreamed of working together, with Tully as the anchor and Kate as the producer. Tully introduced Kate to her manager, Johnny. Kate was swooned over by Johnny’s looks and charms. Tully managed to convince Johnny to hire Kate. While they waited on the sidelines, hoping to get their big break, Kate had her eyes on Johnny. She even discussed her infatuation with Tully, but she eventually assumed that he might not be interested in her. Meanwhile, after injuring herself at an office party, Johnny helped Tully with her injury, and he felt attracted to her. Just when they were about to kiss, Mutt (the cameraman) entered the room, and the kiss was left unfulfilled.

Kate was visibly excited when Johnny returned from El Salvador. Even though she pretended that his return did not affect her and that she was in a fulfilling relationship with Mutt, Tully could sense the truth. Johnny had a change of heart while living away from his team; he could not stop thinking about Kate. After returning, he realized that Kate was already in a relationship with Mutt. He chose to refrain from expressing his true feelings for her. The death of his friend/ brother, Father Ramon, affected Johnny. He was frustrated when no one was interested in covering his story. As he was sitting in his office room, drunk, Kate entered the room to help him out. He expressed that in El Salvador when a soldier had held a gun to his head and he was convinced that he was going to die, he thought of Kate. She was the person that came to his mind knowing that it might be his last thought. He wanted to kiss her, but she stopped him because he was drunk. She wanted his love from the moment she met him, but she wanted it when he was in his senses. She asked him to kiss her the next day if he still had feelings for her. The next morning, Johnny had no memory of what he had shared with Kate. He believed that whatever he might have said that night should be forgotten, given how drunk he was. Kate had lost hope, and she wondered if there was any truth in what he had said to her the previous night.

The night Tully and Kate managed to produce their first television report, they celebrated with Mutt and Johnny. Kate realized that her relationship with Johnny was almost impossible and that she must focus on what she has with Mutt. She decided to make out with him and left the party early. Tully and Johnny were left alone, and after a few shots, they could not keep their hands off each other. Tully decided to take him home, knowing that Kate would be at Mutt’s place. She did not know that Kate had returned home and was in her room with Mutt. What Kate thought would be an erotic night turned out to be quite a dull one. She suddenly heard Tully and Johnny making out, and she was completely shocked by it. The next day she could hide her disappointment in Tully; Kate believed that Tully simply made out with Johnny because she liked him. But Tully had assumed that Kate was happy with Mutt and had gotten over her feelings for Johnny. After realizing how Kate felt about the entire situation and how Johnny had tried to kiss Kate after returning from El Salvador, Tully decided to take a step back.

At Sean’s wedding, Kate had the chance to confront Johnny about his feelings. He explained that what he had said that night was the truth; he had indeed thought about her, but he was not sure of his feelings. He believed Kate was too easy to decipher, whereas Tully had a sense of mystery that he wanted to learn more about. Kate was disgusted upon learning what Johnny thought about her. She was not an angel who needed to be protected, and she was tired of waiting for someone like Johnny, who never appreciated her. Days after Sean’s wedding, Johnny and Kate were again forced to spend time together as a result of their work. Johnny apologized for his behavior at the wedding and admitted that he was not good at maintaining relationships. They mutually decided to start over as friends, but Tully poked fun at how that was almost impossible between the two. When Kate’s father suffered a heart attack on Christmas, Johnny was there to support her, and he decided to spend the night with her. The attraction between the two was undeniable, and they proceeded to make love. That was how Johnny and Kate started their relationship. They went on to get married and give birth to their daughter. Though in his 40s, Johnny started to feel that he was always playing it safe because he had a family to look after. He wanted to be a real journalist and report news that truly mattered. He decided to travel to Iraq, leaving Kate completely devastated. Tully and Johnny remained friends, and when his marriage with Kate was shaky, he spoke to Tully for support. Even though they had a fling, they did not allow it to affect their future. Johnny, too, had to adjust to the constant intervention of Tully, who was authoritative as the best friend. Even with their complexities, the three shared a beautiful friendship that they cherished always.

Why Did Tully Decide To Become A Mother?

Tully always believed that she did not have motherly instincts, and she preferred to be childless all her life. She was always driven to make it big in life, and she directed all her energy into becoming a prominent television anchor. After being shot while doing her job, Tully became a popular journalist, and her career took a turn from then on. But even after becoming a popular television show host and living in a luxurious apartment, Tully suffered from loneliness. Whenever the emptiness of her house overwhelmed her, she would either call Kate to her place, or she would prefer not to stay at home. On one such lonely night, she met Max at a bar. He was 29 and recently divorced. He was absolutely smitten by Tully’s beauty and intelligence. But from the very first night, Tully made it clear that she was not looking for something meaningful and was only interested in a quick hookup. Even after knowing that Tully was not interested in making a serious commitment, Max never gave up on her. He was a romantic at heart and believed that love would change Tully Hurt. But the moment he tried to demand affection from her, she pushed him away.

Tully soon started to feel sick and wondered if it was her menopause striking. The thought of never being able to give birth to a baby somehow left her feeling empty. She always enjoyed having the choice, but now she could not have a baby even if she wanted to do it. She decided to take a pregnancy test just to be sure, and she learned that it was not menopause that made her feel sick; it was because she was pregnant. Tully could not decide what she wanted to do with the baby. But before taking any decision, it was also important for her to inform Max about it. She gathered up the courage and disclosed the truth. He was glad to have her back, and he was delighted after finding out that she was pregnant. Though he wanted her to make the decision.

Tully never had the perfect mother figure in her life, and she knew what it was like to live with a mother who did not care about fulfilling her duties. So, when it came to giving birth, she wanted to be sure that she could be the ideal mother to her baby. Though with Kate’s constant support and Max’s undying love, she felt that maybe she could actually perfect the role of a mother. Max proposed to her for marriage, and she was absolutely shocked by the sudden gesture. She did not believe that they needed to get married just because they were having a baby together. But throughout the day, there were enough indications that made her think otherwise. She started to believe that maybe the universe was asking her to reconsider her decision. So she went to his workplace, got down on her knees, and proposed to him. Max happily agreed, and they were married the same day. On their wedding night, when Tully went to the bathroom, she sensed a sudden pain and noticed blood streaming down her legs. Tully went unconscious for days after losing the baby. She struggled to heal from the trauma, and in a moment of rage, she stated that their marriage no longer made sense to her now that they did not have the baby. Even though losing the baby was painful for Tully, she did not try to understand how it had affected Max as well. And instead of healing together from their loss, Tully had once again pushed him away. By the time she realized her mistake, Max was determined to get an annulment. Throughout their relationship, Tully was the one who made the decisions, and he figured that maybe their marriage was truly a bit too hurried for him to realize what he was signing up for.

‘Firefly Lane’ Season 1: Ending Explained – Why Did Tully Lie About Cloud? Does Johnny Die In The End? 

Whenever Tully was asked about her parents, she stated that her mother had died when she was fifteen and that she had never known her father. But as the audience, we are aware that Tully’s mother did not die when she was fifteen because, after joining KPOC, she visited her mother in the hope of making her proud. Even though Tully despised Cloud all her life, she could not help but feel the need to be appreciated and validated by her. She wanted to show that she turned out to be a successful woman even though her mother neglected her all her life. But Cloud did not think much of Tully; she believed that she was selling propaganda by working in the television industry. She borrowed money for drugs from her, but she did not have a single word of appreciation for her daughter.

During Tully’s teenage years, Cloud used to date a singer named Leon. He worked at a fancy restaurant and often showed up at their place to get high. Cloud wanted to become a performer, and she believed that she and Leon could become famous with their music. Of course, Cloud was mostly high and had no real-world ideas about making it big in the music industry. They mostly survived on their grandmother’s money, but even that was late during Christmas week. Cloud explained that she was the one who had cashed out the check to buy a new amplifier for their band before she and Leon broke up. The money that was meant to buy groceries was spent on a man who never cared about Cloud. Tully wanted her mother to take responsibility since they barely had anything to eat, and they had even run out of electricity. Cloud came up with a plan; she intended to sell the drugs that Leon had left behind. But the deal did not go as planned. She brought two men to her house to sell the stash, but the men were with the police. The police arrested Cloud, and Tully was to be sent back to her grandmother’s house. Tully was not ready to leave Kate, but she was forcefully taken away. We can assume that after this incident, Tully considered her mother dead, and even if Cloud tried to make contact with her, she must have never been ready to take her mother back. But no matter what, the two teenagers managed to maintain their friendship even though they were forced to stay apart.

Kate’s boss, Kimber, digs into Tully’s past and makes contact with Cloud, who worked at a café. The fact that Tully Hurt had been lying about her mother and had abandoned her was published in the magazine. Tully met with Cloud to confront her about why she chose to ruin her reputation, but according to Cloud, she never shared any feelings of resentment about Tully. Cloud had managed to bring her life under control. She had gotten off the drugs and was living clean. When Tully lost her baby, she screamed for Cloud unconsciously. Kate and Max called Cloud, and even though Tully could not entirely forgive her mother, she started to appreciate her presence in her life.

With Johnny’s decision to fly to Iraq and Kate’s romantic text exchange with Travis, a parent of one of Marah’s classmates, they knew that their marriage had hit rock bottom. They decided to live separately and visit Marah on alternate days. Marah struggled to cope with her parent’s sudden change in dynamics, though she secretly hoped that they would be back together. Even though there was a distance between them, Johnny and Kate were attracted to each other. Johnny could not help but feel possessive when he saw Travis and Kate together. He punched Travis, thinking that he was the one coming in between him and his family. But later, he realized that his action was uncalled for, and that Kate had the liberty to choose to be with a man now that they had decided to go their separate ways. Signing the divorce papers was not easy for Kate, but she knew it was a decision that had to be made sooner or later. On Christmas Eve, when Kate thought about whom she wanted to spend time with, she could only think about Johnny. They had been together every Christmas, and it felt strange that they were spending their first Christmas apart. Kate was about to leave the house to meet Johnny, and she found him standing at the door. He, too, wanted to spend his Christmas with Kate. Before leaving for Iraq, Johnny and Kate made out with each other. They had a certain understanding that no matter what, they would always have each other by their sides and that their love would not die simply by signing a piece of paper.

Johnny left for Iraq to fulfill his goal of making a meaningful contribution to journalism. But unfortunately, we find out that he was a victim of a bomb blast. From what it appears to be, Johnny might be extremely wounded, if not dead, after the blast. Meanwhile, Tully chose to leave the show when Wilson King tried to make decisions without her permission. She was tired of him mansplaining how to run a show, and she chose to face legal action instead of working for him. “Firefly Lane” hints at the distance that will eventually grow between Kate and Tully. At Bud’s funeral, Kate shames Tully for having the courage to meet her even after what she has done. We are yet to find out what Tully has done to upset Kate to the point that she prefers not to talk to her best friend, so we can expect season 2 of “Firefly Lane” to be about what caused the distance between Kate and Tully. It will also feature how Tully will deal with her career; with the talk show now gone, she will be forced to look into alternatives. Will Max return to Tully’s life? And will Johnny return home to his family? Will the Kate-Travis romance continue? We hope to find answers to all our questions in the sixteen-episode-long final season of “Firefly Lane.”

See More: ‘Firefly Lane’ Season 2, Part 1: Ending, Explained – What Caused The Distance Between Kate And Tully?

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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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