‘Sugar’ Episode 3 Recap & Ending Explained: Who Killed Clifford Carter?


Sugar is the new crime thriller series streaming on AppleTV+, starring Colin Farrell as the titular detective, John Sugar, who is currently appointed to search for a young woman named Olivia Siegel. With the woman missing for weeks now, Olivia’s film-producer family members have very different reactions to the matter, confusing the protagonist even more. But the identity of a dead man found inside the trunk of Olivia’s abandoned car now gives Sugar a direction to follow, as he recognizes the man as Clifford Carter, a man with a list of crimes like assault and rape against his name, also including a possible murder he had recently committed.

Spoiler Alert

How does Sugar help Melanie?

The ending of the previous week’s episode 2 had shown a few gangsters breaking into the house of a woman named Teresa, threatening her to reveal information about a man they had been looking for. Teresa was actually the sister of Carmen Vazquez, the woman whom Clifford Carter was believed to have murdered, and Sugar had found out that Olivia had been meeting Carmen almost regularly before her disappearance. The gangsters were looking for Clifford, not knowing that he had been killed, and they came looking for Teresa because she was the only connection between Carmen and Clifford. They had received photographs of Carmen and Melanie Mackintosh from Clifford over text, and so they had been looking for these very people. Having found out about Carmen’s death, the goons wanted to find Melanie next, and they now use Teresa to get to their target.

Sugar episode 3 begins with Melanie receiving a call from Teresa, and it is clear that they are very well acquainted and quite close to each other. Teresa says that she had been recently visited by a man who wanted to know about Carmen, and although she had tried convincing him that there was nothing shady about her life or death, it had not really worked out. Melanie gets immediately concerned by this news, for she guesses that some dangerous men were trying to hurt Teresa, not knowing that the goons were actually the ones making Teresa call her. Sensing the fear and danger in the younger woman’s voice, Melanie rushes over to Teresa’s house, only to realize that she has actually stepped into the trap set by the goons.

The leader of this gang, later revealed to be named Byron Stallings, now interrogates the two women together, still trying to find out what happened to Clifford. Although Melanie actually knows that Clifford is dead, she naturally hides the fact since revealing it would only make the situation worse for them. However, the interrogation also gets more intense, with Stallings about to put Teresa’s hand into a grinder to make Melanie talk. Around this very time, John Sugar learns about Melanie’s suspicious movements, for he had asked a friend of his to stalk the former rockstar at all times. After his last encounter with the woman, in which she had simply refused to reveal anything significant about Olivia’s disappearance and had even forced him out of her house, the detective felt it necessary to have her followed.

Sugar’s friend, Charlie, had been naturally tailing Melanie, so she informs him that she has visited a random apartment, which could be a spot where she was keeping Olivia captive. The protagonist immediately meets up with Charlie and drives over to the apartment, where he also spots two identical car models, only of different colors, parked outside. Inside one of these cars is a suspicious-looking man, and based on his vast experience, Sugar figures out that the man is keeping a lookout on the apartment for someone. He decides to investigate further and quickly understands that Melanie must be in Teresa Vazquez’s apartment because she has the same surname as Carmen. Since the front door to the building is being watched by the man in the car, Sugar climbs up through the fire escape at the back, and after struggling through another sudden nervous fit in his hand, he is finally able to reach Teresa’s apartment.

He suspects that something very suspicious is in the works, and so he immediately takes on the pretense of being an officer of the law. As Teresa opens the door and Sugar is let inside, he pretends to be her parole officer and acts as if she has forgotten about a court appearance she had to make. He also states that officers from child protective services will also be arriving very soon, making it known that other people associated with the law are also on their way towards the apartment. Sugar does not ever question who the men in the apartment are or what they were doing with Teresa, and he simply treats them as her friends. Teresa and Melanie also make use of the situation and play along with the fake scenario, leading to the gangsters actually getting up to leave.

Stallings suddenly suspects that Sugar is lying about his identity based on the watch and suit that he is wearing, both of which are too expensive for any normal parole officer to own. However, a different distraction that Sugar had planned now comes to his rescue, as Charlie had fitted one of the cars on the street with a smoke dispenser. Naturally, the man on surveillance reported the smoke to his boss, Stallings, and the gangster rushed down to protect his car from any damage. As the situation turns in their favor, Sugar brings down a single guard left at the apartment, who then leads Teresa and her children downstairs. They are put inside Charlie’s van and are driven away from their apartment and from any imminent danger. Sugar and Melanie then leave the apartment in his car, and he successfully protects her from grave danger.

Who killed Clifford Carter?

Melanie now finally reveals the connection between her and the Vazquez sisters, as well as how Olivia got associated with the whole messy situation. Melanie admits to being a regular volunteer at a shelter that works for the safety of women facing domestic violence, as part of which she often works with women by helping them get out of abusive relationships. She had met Teresa through this shelter, as the latter had been in a terribly abusive relationship at the time and had helped the woman escape along with her children. A few weeks earlier, Melanie had been contacted by Teresa’s sister, Carmen, who was also in a similar situation and wanted help with her abusive boyfriend. Melanie decided to help, and she was also accompanied by Olivia at this time. She reveals that Olivia really enjoyed volunteering for the shelter, as the work helped her stay away from her own personal troubles, especially with drugs.

When the two made acquaintance with Carmen, Olivia quickly developed a very strong bond of friendship with her, and this is seemingly why she had been going over to Carmen’s house so regularly. However, the situation took a very dangerous turn one evening when Carmen was not answering the doorbell, and Olivia entered the house through the open door. She found the woman lying dead in a pool of blood, with someone else clearly inside the house. Olivia started to dial the police helpline number on her phone when she spotted a man walking into the room, and she immediately armed herself with a gun kept on the mantel. It was evident to her that this man had killed Carmen, for he was carrying a body bag to dispose of the corpse, possibly with the very gun that was now in her hands, and so she acted on her impulse. As the man had not noticed her presence in the room yet, Olivia shot him dead with the same gun and then called Melanie in a panic-stricken manner. When the older woman drove to the place, they packed up Clifford’s body together, put it into the body bag, and then stowed it inside the boot of Olivia’s car. 

Sugar understandably questions why Melanie did not call the police after the incident since it could have still been presented as an act of self-defense on Olivia’s part. Moreover, Clifford Carter’s criminal records made him quite a target for the police, so they would not be too harsh on Olivia after finding out about the incidents. However, as Melanie reveals, the young woman was extremely concerned and protective about her family, and she did not want the Siegel family to be mentioned in the tabloids and magazines because of her. The Siegels had successfully avoided being mentioned in tabloids for the last two years, and Olivia was too scared to break that streak, especially since being associated with a murder would surely cause scandal. This was why she convinced Melanie to not inform the police, and the latter left the place after helping with Clifford’s corpse. At present, Melanie once again states that she truly does not know where Olivia is but genuinely wants her to be found, as she loves the young woman like her own daughter.

What happens at the secret meeting?

In the earlier episodes of Sugar, the protagonist had received an invitation to a party, which mysteriously had no mention of any place, date, or time but only had a symbol printed on it. It was almost as if the recipient would know about the details of such a party by simply receiving the invitation, and this had dumbfounded David and Kenny, as they had found it lying inside Sugar’s hotel room. In this episode, John Sugar finally decides to attend the party after much deliberation since he does not like such public events. The party is held at Ruby’s house, and it actually turns out to be a secret meeting of a group of international spies who all work together as private agents. Ruby is the handler of all these spies and the only connection between them and the higher powers in control of the group, and she does a sort of evaluation test on each of them.

Every spy agent is supposed to keep a very objective record of the cases they are assigned to, and this record is to be maintained in a small pocket diary provided by the agency. It is Ruby’s duty to go through these records and issue fresh diaries for the agents, and she does so at this very party. During Sugar’s evaluation, Ruby is quite frustrated at the fact that the agent has been getting extremely attached and personal with his recent cases, and she is also still bitter at him for accepting the Siegel job. She reads out the records maintained by Sugar in recent times, and they truly lack objectivity and are mostly filled with very subjective and personal observations. The handler and friend once again insist that Sugar consults the doctor the very next day to get his hand checked, but is then seen contacting the same doctor, Dr. Vickers, when the protagonist has left the scene.

Ruby has been informing someone else about the movements and progressions of Sugar in the Siegel case, and it now seems likely that this contact is Dr. Vickers himself. Along with being a medical practitioner, Vickers is probably a higher, more powerful individual in the spy agency, and he and the other officials are somehow involved in Olivia’s disappearance. This is perhaps why Ruby rejected the job on behalf of Sugar in the first place and is frustrated at him for having taken the case. Vickers tells Ruby to inform the others about Sugar having found out about Stallings, and this might bring some trouble against the protagonist in the upcoming episodes.

On the other side, David and Kenny’s ongoing personal investigation into Sugar’s past also creates a troublesome situation. David makes Kenny get intimate with a contact from the National Security Agency in exchange for information about Sugar, and it seems like the two often keep such measures handy. Bernie is still determined to relaunch his son’s acting career, despite being wary that his acts of sexual harassment against various women will cause some problems. David and Kenny find out about the only living relative of Sugar—his mother, who lives in Flagstaff, Arizona—and they decide to drive to the place in order to put some pressure on the detective. However, Sugar had earlier called up a woman named Helen, who is falsely mentioned to be his mother in all the official records, so the two men’s drive to Arizona will possibly lead to some comedic failure in the next episode. 

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Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya keeps an avid interest in all sorts of films, history, sports, videogames and everything related to New Media. Holding a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies, he is currently working as a teacher of Film Studies at a private school and also remotely as a Research Assistant and Translator on a postdoctoral project at UdK Berlin.

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