‘The Clearing’ Episode 1 Recap & Ending, Explained: Who Is Freya Heywood?

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Episode 1 of The Clearing begins with a little girl walking home from school. She notices a teenager carving her name in a tree. Amused by the activity, the girl stood by and watched. The little girl did not approve of it; she believed trees had feelings, and by carving names on them, the blond-haired teenager was hurting the tree. Amy, the teenager, compared the name carving process with tattooing and showed excitement to carve the name of the little stranger. She spelled out her name “S-A-R-A” proudly and added that she was eight years old. Amy asked Sara to guess her age, and while Sara assumed she was twelve, Amy, with pride in her voice, corrected her, stating that she was thirteen and her mother believed she was a grown woman. Immediately, a white van we saw coming from a distance came to a halt, and Sara was kidnapped.

Spoilers Alert

The Clearing Episode 1 sets the tone within the first few minutes. From the first scene, we get the idea that the series will deal with a kidnapping case that involves children. It is possible that the children were groomed when they reached a certain maturity. And they were used to manipulate the potential targets of the ‘cult.’ The pride in Amy’s voice when she discussed her mother also suggests that the mother is an important figure in her life.


Why Was Sara Kidnapped?

Initially, Sara had too many questions, and it took a good dose of sedatives to calm her down. But the moment she realized that she had been kidnapped, she was smart enough to notice the name of the street they crossed. Sara was surprised when she was introduced to a bunch of blonde-haired children. She tried to convince everyone that she did not belong there, but when she was forced to dye her hair blonde like the rest, she realized she was not going home anytime soon.

Sara had reasons to hate Amy, but at night, when she could stop sobbing, Amy snuggled her to sleep. Amy gradually became the elder sister to Sara, even though the little one refused to settle in. It is gradually revealed that Sara was the first kidnapping victim of the cult. Tamsin and Hannah were responsible for the daily activities of the children, while Henrik helped with their outdoor needs. It was Tamsin’s decision to kidnap Sara to please their supreme leader, whom they respectfully referred to as Maitreya. Maitreya Adrienne wanted more children to grow her clan, and to make Maitreya happy, Tamsin kidnapped Sara without consulting anyone else. From the conversation between Henrik and Hannah, we get to know that the rest of the children were adopted from hospitals. They faked papers to bring home the children, but that method could no longer be used. Henrik believed they could have come up with a better solution than agreeing to a kidnapping, but Hannah did not feel the same way. Hannah was tired of the sins she was forced to commit, and she agreed to Tamsin’s plan not to please Adrienne but in the hopes that kidnapping would bring to light the secret cult. Hannah desperately wanted it all to end, and it seemed she was stuck in the loop as well.


Did Sara Manage To Escape?

Tamsin was heavily criticized by Adrienne for her reckless decision, which could land the cult in trouble. Sara’s parents were desperately searching for her, and the police were conducting a door-to-door investigation. Hiding Sara was a challenge, but they could not risk letting her go. She knew the location, and she had seen too much already; returning her to her parents meant risking the cult. Adrienne chose Amy to discipline Sara, aka Asha. Amy had recently turned thirteen, and she was the oldest ‘daughter’ of the Maitreya. Amy’s eyes glowed when the mother discussed her future. Amy was certain that there was no honor greater than becoming a mother and raising her children for the advancement of the cult. Amy could only become a mother if she proved to be an efficient caretaker for Sara and she was ready for the task.

Amy was determined to protect Sara from all harm, but she soon realized that Sara was not ready to become a part of the family. Sara did not mince her words, and she made it quite clear that she would not adjust to the ways of the cult. She constantly protested and, at times, landed in quite a bit of trouble. Amy stopped Tamsin from hurting Sara when she disobeyed and tried to calmly help Sara adjust to her new home. Sara argued that her real home had a television set, dolls, and toys; it had a refrigerator that she could open and grab any food she wanted; she had friends at home; she could go to school; and she was kissed goodnight. Amy could not imagine having such privilege, even though it sounded tempting. Amy convinced herself that Sara was lying. Meanwhile, Sara noticed the keys that Tamsin mistakenly left unsupervised. She stole the key to the window lock and left the rest as they were. At dawn, she used the key and jumped out of the window. Within a few seconds, Amy woke up from her sleep and watched Sara run away. She could have stopped her, but Amy chose to remain silent. Maybe she believed that if Sara truly lived at the home she described, then she deserved to leave and return to her real home.


Who Is Freya Heywood?

Along with the unfolding of Sara’s kidnapping, we are also introduced to a woman named Freya in the first episode. Freya lives with her son, Billy, in a cottage tucked away from the crowded neighborhood. She is overprotective about Billy, and the sudden news of a young girl gone missing starts to haunt her. Freya seemed to have a connection with the cult— she knew about the white van and always panicked about her baby boy getting kidnapped. She seemed to be one of the victims of the cult, and somehow there was a connection between her past and the present scenario. She called up a man named “Joe” and asked him to look into the white van she often spotted in her neighborhood. She sensed something was wrong, and she believed that the recent kidnapping was conducted by people she knew in the past.

Towards the end of episode 1 of The Clearing, we learn that Amy grew up to become Freya Heywood. Considering that the cult continues to haunt Amy, it is possible that a fragment of it still operates. Amy continues to share an affectionate relationship with her mother, Adrienne. Adrienne is old and requires constant assistance. She has a tracker fixed around her neck, and her thoughts no longer seem coherent. She recognized Amy, and she was proud of the woman she had become. Before greeting Amy, Adrienne stated that a mother bird knows when to push their baby birds out of the nest, and maybe it was her indirect way of advising Amy to let go of her little boy. We also notice that Amy continues to use Sara’s key chain, suggesting that Sara always remains close to her heart. The first episode of The Clearing ends with too many questions left unanswered. We are yet to know what happened to the cult, what led to Adrienne’s condition, where Sara was, and what the reason behind the recent kidnapping was.


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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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