‘The Good Mother’ Ending Explained & Film Summary: What Happens To Marissa & Toby?


The Good Mother, directed by Miles Joris-Peyrafitte, is the story of a woman who is a mother of two and who is put in a situation where she has to make the most difficult decision of her entire life. She could either choose love or go with what her conscience was telling her, but either way, she couldn’t get rid of her grief, which had become her constant ally. So, let’s find out what was happening in Marissa’s life and what choice she ended up making.

Spoiler Alert

What Happened To Michael?

Marissa was a journalist who worked at the Times Union, and her boss often told her that she was the best writer he had. But Marissa had stopped writing a long time ago, and by the hungover look on her face, one could guess that she had already given up on life. Life wasn’t supposed to be this hard, but here was a mother of two grown sons who held a cigarette in her mouth just so that she could get satisfaction without becoming an addict again. Marissa was sitting in a meeting when Toby, her son, who was a police officer, came and informed her that Michael had been murdered at 4 a.m. that morning in Arbour hill. Marissa didn’t cry; as probably after years of crying, her tears had dried up. She was perfectly under control because grief was an old friend, and she probably accepted the fact that Michael had signed in his own doom a long time back.

During Michael’s funeral, Marissa saw Paige, his girlfriend, sitting and crying there. Marissa believed that Paige was equally responsible for her son’s death, and she went to hit her, not knowing that she was pregnant with Michael’s baby. Marissa brought Paige home, as she felt guilty and asked her how Michael had been in his last days and what they were up to in life. Paige told Marissa that she, Michael, and their common friend Ducky were going to buy a farm and get rid of their addiction and start afresh. Paige believed that now their lives would come back on track when suddenly, one night, Michael received a call, and he rushed out of the house, only to be shot dead on the street by some unknown man.

Paige went back to her home, and she found out that in Michael’s leather bag, there were two small plastic bags with drugs in them. There was a logo, MM, printed on it, and Paige realized that Michael had messed with the wrong people and he was probably killed because a deal had gone wrong. That night, a group of men broke into Paige’s house to get the drugs, but Paige escaped from there just in time, and she also carried the leather bag with her. Paige went to Marissa’s house, as she didn’t know anybody else who was reliable in the town. Paige told Toby and Marissa everything and decided that until things calmed down, she would stay at Marissa’s place. It was hard for Marissa to have Paige around her, but slowly, her misconceptions started going away, and she realized that Paige was, after all, not such a bad person.

What Did Paige Find Out About Toby?

Toby had told her mother that the police were considering Ducky to be the prime suspect, as he was the one who was entrusted with the responsibility of selling a drug called Fentanyl in the area. Ducky was hiding, and he was not answering anyone’s calls, even when Paige tried to contact him multiple times.

Paige had posted on social media about her partner’s demise, and she had asked people to approach her if they knew anything about it that would lead her to find the killer. One guy named Jeremy contacted her and told her that his grandfather had seen Michael in front of his house that night. Marissa and Paige met Jeremy’s grandfather, but they didn’t get a lot of information from him. One day, when Marissa was coming back from her AA meeting, she spotted Ducky at the safe injection site, and she followed him. Ducky started running, and he assaulted Marissa because he was too scared and thought that she would give him to the police.

When Marissa regained consciousness, she found Ducky sitting right in front of her, and she asked him why he had killed her son. Ducky told Marissa that he was her son’s best friend and that he would never do such a thing. He said that a man who had a tattoo on his hands and who owned a white truck had shot him dead. Something inside Marissa told her that Ducky was not lying, and she went to Toby’s and told him everything about it. Toby went searching for Ducky, as he was convinced that the man had killed his brother, but he couldn’t find him there. Paige went to the abandoned house where Toby once used to stay, believing that she would be able to find him there. She went upstairs and saw Ducky lying dead. It seemed like he had died by suicide, as he probably knew that the people with whom they had messed with, would not leave him alive.

Paige recovered Ducky’s mobile, and she found out that, apart from Michael and her, he had received messages from an unknown number. The person who had sent the messages was asking Ducky to bring Michael to a specified location, as the people who had given him drugs to sell wanted to meet him once. Probably, some issues arose between them, and Michael went into hiding, believing that they would kill him. Paige went to Toby’s house directly, and she informed him about Ducky’s death. Toby asked her to calm down, and he went to inform the police so that they could recover his body. That was when Paige called that anonymous number from which Ducky had received a message, and she found a mobile vibrating somewhere in the basement. She went downstairs, and what she saw shocked her beyond any measure.

It was Toby who had asked Ducky to bring Michael to meet the drug dealers, and he probably knew that they were going to kill him. Paige tried to escape from there, but Toby accidentally pushed her down the stairs, and she became unconscious. Toby knew that he couldn’t let Paige escape, as she would tell everybody he was also involved in the drug deal. So, he injected a large amount of drugs into her body so that she would die by the time she reached the hospital. He knew that Paige had a history of drug abuse, so it wouldn’t be very difficult to frame her like that. Meanwhile, Marissa, in The Good Mother, found out that one of the packets of drugs that were kept inside the leather bag was missing. She called Toby to tell him about it, and that was when he told her that it was Paige who had taken it and that she had started using it again. Though the doctors made sure that Paige delivered her baby, they weren’t able to save her. Toby thought that now nobody would be able to know about his involvement in the entire thing, but fate had something else planned for him.

Does Marissa Get Her Article Printed?

Gina was cleaning her basement when she found Paige’s locket behind the stairs with some blood on it. She didn’t know what to think of it, so she went to Marissa and told her everything. Marissa decided that she would follow Toby and see for herself what he was up to. Toby came to meet Marissa, and he took the leather bag in which the other packet of drugs was kept. Marissa went after him, and she saw that he met the same guy with a tattoo on his hands and handed him over the leather bag. The guy left, and that was when Marissa went and met her son. Toby started crying as he realized that there was no point in hiding the truth.

Toby finally revealed in The Good Mother that Michael, after he got to know what was inside the packet, decided that he would not sell it and was not ready to give it back either. Toby told his mother that he couldn’t do anything, as that was the fate Michael chose for himself. Marissa went back, and after ages, she decided that she would write an article. She wrote whatever had happened between Michael and Toby and handed it over to her boss so that he could get it published. Marissa’s boss advised her that she should take something and think about what she was doing. Publishing an article meant that Toby would be charged for his involvement in the entire drug scandal and would also end up losing his job if the charges were proven. Marissa took her article, and she went back to her home. Marissa didn’t know what she should do as, on one hand, she wanted to honor the memory of her dead son, and on the other, she knew that if she did that, she would be ruining the life of her second son.

During The Good Mother‘s ending, we see Marissa light that cigarette that she used to carry with her, and I believe that she mustered the courage to let the truth get out in the open. It would have been the hardest decision for her as a mother, as she knew what would happen to Toby from thereon. Marissa had tried to convince herself not to get her article published, but I believe that something inside her stopped her from doing so. Marissa was aggrieved when she found out that she had been deceived by her own son. Toby said that he didn’t have any option, and Marissa wouldn’t have denied it, but the fact that he kept on playing the innocent guy and pinning all the blame on Ducky was what hurt her the most. She lost her trust, and she started seeing Toby in a very different light. In the fight between selfish love and consciousness, the latter won (at least that was what I presumed since we were never shown if the article had actually been published or not) and probably the best takeaway from the entire thing was that Marissa had once again started writing.

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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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