‘Them: The Scare’ Ending Explained & Series Summary: What Did Da Tap Dance Man Mean?


Racism continues to be the crux of Them, and in season two of the anthology horror series, a Black cop and a struggling artist cross paths in the most unexpected way to reveal a traumatic past. There are moments in Them: The Scare that will make you root for it, only to be left disappointed. The way the story unfolded at first was interesting, but by the time we reached the climax, the series stopped making much sense, and everything seemed a little too convenient.

LAPD homicide detective Dawn Reeve had a tough time navigating the police department as a Black cop in the early 90s. Her community despised her for the badge she carried, and her racist colleagues never missed an opportunity to discredit her. Life was tough, but Dawn always reminded herself why she chose to become a cop in the first place. She strongly believed that only by getting into the system would she be able to fight for her community. After coming across two homicide cases where the victims were Black individuals, she assumed there was a race angle to it, only to later realize that the matter was a lot more complex and personal than that.

Spoiler Alert

Who was Edmund’s first murder victim? 

After numerous failed auditions, Edmund Gaines was hellbent on bagging the role of a serial killer. He got a little too invested in perfecting the role, and he started to enjoy the power that a serial killer possessed. Edmund tried to be all sweet and nice, but he realized that his timid nature had gotten him nowhere. He lost his job, and he never got the roles he auditioned for. He started to lose control of himself after he was denied auditions for the role of the killer. His erratic behavior left the entire casting company petrified, and they threw him out of their office. After the embarrassing episode, he felt the need to punish someone, and he found his victim in a sex worker. He drove to a shady spot and insulted her for her life choice. With a serial killer on the loose at the time, the woman was afraid of being harmed, but thankfully, the police came to her rescue.

Edmund’s performance during the interrogation convinced the police that he was indeed the killer they were hunting for, only to later realize that he was simply repeating the lines from his audition tape. For a minute, Edmund felt important, with everyone in the room paying attention to every word he said. But all of a sudden, it was snatched from him, and that was when he decided to kill a man. He had been keeping a close watch on the casting assistant, Donavan, who had made the mistake of laughing at Edmund’s acting skills during his previous audition. He had been longing to seek revenge on him, and it was only fitting that Donavan was chosen to be his first murder victim. After breaking his bones, Edmund drove to the desert to dump his body. Deep down, Edmund was hesitant to kill the man; he knew it was so wrong, yet it turned out to be the only way to deal with the multitude of emotions that he experienced, and Donavan was ultimately bludgeoned to death. 

How were Dawn and Edmund related?

Dawn and Edmund’s story unfolded side by side, giving us the illusion that it was all happening at the same time. Gradually, it was revealed that Dawn was investigating the murder cases in 1991, and Edmund was experiencing an existential crisis in 1989. Edmund did not consider the consequences of his actions, and it was only after returning home that he decided to run away. Just as he was packing his bag, he received a call from the Department of Child and Family Services confirming the address of his long-lost twin sister. One of the most crucial revelations in Them: The Scare was that Dawn and Edmund were twins, and Edmund had tried to contact his sister two years before the murders began.

Dawn was still married at the time, and her husband, Cory, mistook Edmund for their new neighbor. Edmund did not correct him, perhaps because he was not entirely sure about how he was going to introduce himself to Dawn, who had no recollection of him. He was envious of how sorted out her life was, while he struggled to keep his sanity. He was emotional when he saw her, but he did not have the courage to tell her the truth because she was still unaware that she was adopted and had a brother. Dawn was Edmund’s last hope in life. Everyone in his life had disappointed him in one way or another. His adoptive parents gave up on him; he did not have any friends; his boss scolded him; and his casting agents laughed at him. Nothing in his life was worth looking forward to, and when he got Dawn’s address, he assumed she would recognize him and welcome him into her life with open arms. But instead, she threatened to have him arrested when she realized he had lied about his identity. Edmund knew he would either be arrested by the police or he could kill himself, and he chose to do the latter.

Why was Dawn suspended?

The one thing that was common in the murder cases was that the victims saw a red-haired man before they were killed most brutally. Dawn initially had doubts about her White supremacist colleague, Ronald McKinney, but as much as he deserved to be punished, she figured out he was not the killer. The first victim was a foster mother who mistreated the children who lived under her care; the second was a man who complained about someone watching over him. Dawn later learned about the Asian twins who were killed the same way. They made several video recordings to document their experience as well as to get a grasp on their reality. In the videos, they spoke about seeing a red-haired man staring at them from across the street. They were afraid of him, and it was evident that he killed them. Dawn learned about a little boy, Benny Alvarez, who was going through a similar experience, and his family sought help from the church and conducted an exorcism. When Dawn spoke to Benny, he complained about the same red-haired man watching him. Benny also added that he missed his brother, who was sent to Mexico after he failed to adjust in LA and got himself in trouble. Dawn waited outside Benny’s house that evening to catch the killer red-handed if he attempted to strike.

Chaos broke out when Benny suffered a seizure during the exorcism, and Dawn ran to his rescue. Without thinking much about the consequences, she sat him at the back of her car and drove him to the hospital. On the way, Dawn was surprised to witness Benny go through an other-worldly experience. There was no killer at the scene, yet Benny dislocated his bones and jaw, and he was killed the same way as the other victims. Dawn realized that there was something supernatural at play, and she failed to explain what she had witnessed to the investigation panel when she was accused of killing Benny. The investigation was no longer about finding the killer but about Dawn discovering details from her past. She was surprised when the panel asked her about the time she spent at Modd’s foster home. They had documents suggesting that Dawn had spent three years of her life at the foster home, but she had no recollection of it. She never realized how personal the investigation was. Dawn had only recently learned from her mother that she was adopted, but she did not know about her connection with Modd. Dawn was suspended from duty, and most of her White colleagues were delighted by the news.

What secret did Dawn’s adoptive mother hide from her?

Dawn’s adoptive mother, Athena, experienced the supernatural phenomenon that her grandson, Kel, did. It was almost as if the ghost knew her personally, and he reminded her of a past that she tried hard to bury. The spirit directed her to the black box that she had kept hidden, suggesting that she must confess to Dawn that she was her adopted child. When she came across Raggedy Andy in the basement of her house, she knew it was time that she confessed another life-altering truth to Dawn. While the audience was already informed about Edmund’s connection to Dawn, it was only in the penultimate episode that Dawn found out that she had a twin brother. Her mother brought home the twins, and she remembered how inseparable they were. But Edmund was a difficult child, and she hated the fact that he was so deeply attached to his dirty, Raggedy Andy doll. She tried to get rid of it, but Edmund always brought it back home. The last straw for Athena was when she took Dawn to the park and her husband, William, stayed home with Edmund. He had a heart condition, and by the time she returned home, she found him lying on the floor while Edmund played with his medication by his side. She could not erase the memory from her mind, and even though Edmund was little, she deeply blamed him for not helping her husband with the medication. She eventually made up her mind to return him to the foster home. Even though it broke her heart, she had to let go of him. Dawn kept crying for her brother, and to help her cope with his absence, she was told that he was her imaginary friend.

Dawn’s mother believed she was being punished by Edmund for the decision she made years ago. When Dawn figured out that her brother died two years ago, she knew it was him who was trying to reach her. She concluded that every murder was somehow related to her life, or at least they told a similar story—the twins, the kid who was separated from his brother. Edmund was now after her family; he decapitated Athena, and his next target was Kel. Dawn was desperate to protect her son, and the only way she could do so was by confronting her brother. 

How is the Raggedy Andy doll significant?

The Raggedy Andy doll is significant in season two of Them both for its racial innuendo and also because of the horror element attached to it. The Raggedy Andy and Ann dolls are considered racist because of their facial features and hair. Also, the soft texture of the doll resulted in violent children’s play, and the doll was often beaten, thrown, and hanged. The horror element comes into play as a result of the 1953 murder case, in which Douglas P. Adams brutally murdered his wife and daughter without any motive. What was striking in the murder case was that a life-sized Raggedy Ann doll was found seated on a chair, looking down upon the dead body of the child. It only makes sense that in “Them: The Scare,” the ghost is a cross between Edmund and Raggedy Andy. The doll was evil, and it encouraged Edmund to surrender himself to the devil and become a heinous, monstrous spirit capable of tormenting the lives of mortals. Edmund was desperate to be acknowledged by his sister, and the murders helped him grab her attention.

What was Edmund’s ultimate wish?

In the final episode of Them: The Scare, Edmund kidnaps Dawn’s son to bring her close to him. He brought her back to their foster home to remind her of the time that they had spent together there. She was transferred to an alternate reality where she found little Edmund helping her hide from their angry foster mother. Dawn realized that their hiding spot was under the sink, and that was where Modd’s body was found. Edmund reminded Dawn about the trauma inflicted upon them when they were little. There used to be a small red box where Modd would lock Dawn to punish her, and Edmund would help her to the best of his ability, risking himself at times as well. After everything they had been through, he could not accept that Dawn did not remember him. She was the only one he had in his life, and she too turned her back on him.

When Edmund’s ghost confronted Dawn, she sympathized with him. His wish was to suck her soul from her body and create a similar supernatural evil version of her, and in that way, they could be together forever. Dawn reminded Edmund of his good qualities and how he had been an ideal brother to her when they were together. Their lives did not pan out the way they would have wanted, but Dawn was grateful to him for taking care of her during their time together. Towards the end of Them: The Scare, when Dawn accepted Edmund as her brother and stated that she loved him no matter what, the demonic body started to collapse. The good within Edmund became more prominent, and the evil lost its control over him. Dawn confessed that she did not forget him by choice; she was told he was an imaginary friend, and she believed her mother. She reminded him that he was not the evil he had become and that she would always remember him as her one true best friend. The evil left Edmund’s body, and Dawn finally got to meet her brother’s actual spirit. The reunion helped Edmund feel complete, and before leaving the face of the earth, he expressed his love for Dawn. All he wanted when he was alive was to be loved by his sister, and while that did not pan out the way he imagined it would, in the end, Dawn’s mortal self met Edmund’s spirit. She recognized him and expressed her admiration for him. Edmund’s last wish had come true, and he no longer needed to stay back in the mortal world. After the confrontation, Dawn brought Kel back home.

What happened to Ronald McKinney?

Dawn shot McKinney dead after he attacked her and shot Detective Diaz. Dawn later presented the evidence she had against Ronald McKinney to justify her action, and she was cleared of all charges. Them: The Scare‘s ending suggests that in the real world, where supernatural explanations would not be accepted, the police force could blame Ronald McKinney for the series of murders. Mckinney was dead, and he matched the description of the killer; as a White supremacist, he also had the motive, making him the ideal person to blame the killings on. 

How is Dawn related to the Emory family?

Them: The Scare‘s ending suggest that Dawn, Kel, and Corey were once again a happy family. But all would not be well for long. In the end, Dawn decided to open the Black box, which consisted of every little detail from her past that was handed to Athena. She came across photographs of her and Edmund, but she soon realized that there was another photograph pasted behind the one she was holding. Upon opening it, she found a black-and-white picture of the Emory family from season one. It was established towards the end of Them season two that Dawn and Edmund were Ruby Emory’s twins, and she decided to give them up, fearing that she would never be a good mother to them and that they needed to grow up in a better environment. Before leaving, she handed them the Raggedy Andy and Ann dolls, and that was perhaps why Edmund had always been so attached to the doll. Maybe it was because the dolls came from a place of evil that they ended up consuming Edmund in the very end. The dolls also possibly represented how Dawn could let go of the past but Edmund held onto it. The doll was not possessed per se; it simply reminded Edmund of a possible family and parental affection that he was always denied. It mocked and enticed Edmund to give in to his evil, which he ultimately chose to do. 

With the discovery of the photograph of the Emory family came the ghost—Da Tap Dance Man from season one—to visit Dawn. He was a White man with a Black face who constantly instigated Dawn’s grandfather, Henry Emory, to seek revenge for the sake of his family. The supernatural entity is known for encouraging and validating extreme reactions, and we can assume that he will perhaps influence Dawn as well. Maybe he will exploit her insecurities as a Black woman and instigate her to seek revenge on all those who have wronged her. Dawn had recently faced racist treatment at her workplace, so she was an easy target. The ghost of the past (literally and figuratively) continues to haunt, or so it seems, by the very end of Them: The Scare.

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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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