‘The Clearing’ Ending, Explained: What Happens To Adrienne And Freya?


The Clearing, the new Hulu series is loosely based on the findings of the 1960s cult, The Family. Led by Anne Hamilton-Byrne, the cult believed in creating an alternate society, and children were an important part of the plan. Some of the children were born into the cult, while others were adopted through questionable methods. Torture and punishment were used to discipline the kids. From Valium to LSD, chemical drugs were used to manipulate the children. Sara, a teenage member of the cult who was expelled for disobedience, informed the police, and the property was raided. Unfortunately, Anne Hamilton-Byrne fled the country during the raid, but she was arrested in 1993 for fraud in New York. Her arrest did not guarantee any jail time. Even after all the crimes that she committed, she only had to pay for the damages. On June 14, 2019, at the age of 97, Anne Hamilton-Byrne passed away. She suffered from extreme dementia, making it impossible for her to remember how she destroyed several lives through psychological torture.

The Clearing imagines an alternative conclusion to the story even though the characters and concepts are obviously inspired by the cult. The timeline is divided into The Kindred’s past and their present condition. We follow Freya Heywood, who was named Amy by Maitreya Adrienne. The cult was all that Freya knew as a child, and she barely had any knowledge of the outside world. Her life changed when a little girl named Sara was kidnapped by Aunt Tamsin. Tamsin was one of the aunties responsible for taking care of the children. She was in charge of bringing new children to the cult, and she resorted to kidnapping to please Maitreya. Amy was taught that the world outside was dangerous, but when Sara discussed the abundant life she lived before getting kidnapped, Amy became curious.

Spoilers Alert

‘The Clearing’ Plot Summary: What Is The Series About?

Sara was a rebellious little girl, and it almost became impossible for Adrienne to discipline her. Amy was in charge of realigning Sara, but she sympathized with her situation and struggled to punish her. On the night of Amy’s first clearing, Sara disappeared. The next morning, Amy was told that Sara had returned to her home. And Amy’s desire to explore the world beyond Blackmarsh started to grow. The police were planning to raid the property, and Adrienne knew about it. Amy’s escape escalated the process, and the police entered Blackmarsh. Hannah and Henrik were living at the property at the time of the raid, and they were arrested. Tamsin managed to escape, and Adrienne fled the country. Amy’s diary was monitored by Adrienne, and she knew that it would be used as evidence once the police raided the property. It was under her instruction that Amy blamed Henrik for Sara’s kidnapping. He was accused of being the last person Sara was with. Amy was taught not to trust the police, and she lied to them to protect Maitreya and Tamsin.

Amy was adopted by Christine, the social service worker who was responsible for finding adoptive parents for the rescued children. Amy grew up to become Freya, and even though she had changed her name, she continued to live under the influence of Adrienne. After Adrienne was arrested by Interpol in France, she was brought to Australia for trial. But by proving in court that she suffered from dementia and was unfit for trial, Adrienne’s legal team managed to keep her out of prison. Adrienne’s dementia was a lie, and Freya knew about it. Freya believed that it was impossible to destroy Adrienne, and she decided to comply with her instead of fighting her.

Even though Freya had agreed to testify against Adrienne in court, she reached out to Freya when she was suffering. Freya did not completely recover from the damage caused by Adrienne when she was a child. Even after falling in love and starting a family, Freya often felt overwhelmed. One day, when she was in the car with her baby girl, Max, she started to feel overwhelmed and claustrophobic. She left Max in the locked car and walked away from it. Luckily, Wayne arrived within a few seconds and rescued Max. Freya had lost custody of Max, and she was admitted to a mental institute. She had given up on her life, and it was Adrienne who showed her hope. Using her connections, she managed to discharge Freya from the institute. But with the medical power of attorney, Adrienne could make decisions for Freya. She had no choice but to remain silent since Adrienne could destroy her life if she ever dared to speak against her. Now that Freya had Billy to take care of, she did not intend to offend Maitreya.

Where Was Billy?

During the course of the series, we get to know that Freya is Hannah and Henrik’s daughter, and Anton is their son. They gave up their children to the cult in the hopes of building a better society, and when they realized that they had made a mistake, it was too late. By the time Henrik was released from prison, Hannah had passed away. Henrik’s only responsibility was his daughter, and he decided to live in the tree house next to Hannah’s place. At the end of episode 7, Billy suddenly disappears, and in the final episode of The Clearing, Freya finds Henrik’s belongings in the tree house. She was confident that the Kindred had sent him to kidnap Billy. Even though Freya tried to explain that Adrienne had restarted her cult, the police were interested in only blaming the parents for Billy’s disappearance. They implied that it was Freya’s carelessness that led to the incident. The police also had their doubts about Wayne. Since Freya had only recently introduced him to Billy, they assumed that he kidnapped Billy to keep him safe from his mother. Freya decided to take matters into her own hands and search for Adrienne.

Adrienne’s house was empty, and upon questioning Mo, all she got to know were a few words that Adrienne used a number of times. She informed Joe about Adrienne and Billy, and he allowed her to stay in his cabin. He sought help from Colin, but Freya did not trust him. She was worried that the police would try to bring her to the station, so she decided to sneak out. She drove to The Lodge to find some clues, but instead, she came across Henrik. She accused him of kidnapping her son, forcing Henrik to finally admit the truth. Freya was shocked to learn that her parents saw her being tortured every day, yet they did nothing to protect her. Freya left the property frustrated and disappointed. On her way out, she went through the mail and came across documents with phone numbers and locations. She was surprised to see repeated calls made to someone in Corella. Freya remembered that Mo had written Corella in his notebook as well. She drove to Corella, hopped on a boat, and arrived on a remote island. She saw little children playing, and she knew that the island was where the Initiates (revised Kindred) were planning on starting the alternate society.

As Bryce Latham lectured on his end-of-the-world theory, Freya looked for her son. Adrienne was surprisingly welcoming toward Freya. When Freya asked her about Billy, she did not give a straight answer. She blamed Freya for not looking after her children, and she implied that she was not a good mother. Freya could never forgive herself for risking Max’s life, and her guilt made her imagine that she must have been responsible for Billy’s disappearance. Adrienne knew her way with words, and no matter how hard Freya tried, it was impossible to not fall under her influence. Freya was convinced that she had repeated the same mistake she had made with Max, and she was afraid of facing the truth. When Anton entered her room, he informed her that he had involved Max, and she, too, was mesmerized by Adrienne’s power. Freya realized that it must have been Max who had kidnapped Billy to bring him to the island, but strangely, Max had not arrived yet. By the time Freya connected the dots, Anton had already drugged her.

What Was In Amy’s Video Recording?

Freya stumbled upon her video from the Kindred days in the office room on the island. Perhaps Adrienne and Bryce wanted her to see the video, and they manipulated her to do so. The video had Amy confessing that she had murdered Sara. Adrienne had asked Amy to punish Sara by pushing her face forcibly into the water. After doing it a few times, they realized that Sara was not moving. She died during the punishment, and Amy blamed herself for her death. This explains why Freya (Amy) practiced staying underwater as an adult. It was her survival instinct that kept the practice going. Adrienne blamed Freya for killing Sara, and Freya succumbed to the guilt. 

When Freya woke up after being drugged by Anton, she realized that she was not responsible for Billy’s disappearance. Billy was with her daughter, and she was determined to find them both. Her boat was taken away, so she walked into the water. When Anton tried to shoot her from a distance, she went underwater. By the time she surfaced, Joe and Colin, along with a few police officers, had arrived on a boat. As it turns out, Henrik had informed them about the island. Freya updated them about Adrienne’s plan and informed them that Max had taken Billy away.

‘The Clearing’ Ending Explained: What Happened To Adrienne?

Soon helicopters arrived at the scene, and even though Adrienne tried to make a run, she did not succeed. Adrienne’s wig came off just like her entire cult scam, and she now has to face the law. Henrik blamed himself for destroying the lives of his children. He knew it was impossible for him to reconnect with them after all these years. With no one to call his own, Henrik hanged himself from the tree where Amy and Sara met for the first time. The police found out that Sara was buried in the same spot. Colin notified Freya about Max’s location, and she and Wayne reached there. While Max was assigned to bring Billy to Adrienne, she chose not to. Even though she initially showed interest, she ultimately realized how important freedom was.

The Clearing ends with Freya, Wayne, Max, and Billy finally spending time together. Now that Freya has her family back, she will hopefully find a way to heal from her childhood trauma. It was not just Freya’s life that Adrienne destroyed but also the people around her. It was almost impossible to break contact with Adrienne since she knew the strengths and weaknesses of her followers. Bryce Latham truly believed in Adrienne’s power since she proved his theories and fueled his ideas. She was his only opportunity to find an alternate society. Tamsin was in a happier place after she distanced herself from the cult, but she did not hesitate to join Adrienne when she arrived at her farmhouse. Adrienne’s magnificent aura was impossible for the likes of Tamsin to ignore. More importantly, Adrienne targeted those individuals who were suffering in their personal lives in one way or another. She broke families and couples by inspiring them to be independent, whereas in reality, she was making them weaker and, therefore, easier to influence. She could easily figure out the insecurities of her followers, and she used that to her advantage. She wanted her followers to be helpless since only then could they be completely devoted to her.

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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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