Did Tom Nichols Find Summer’s Killer? What Does Paraffin Wax In ‘Reptile’ Ending Mean?


Tom Nichols was one of the officers in charge of the investigation in Reptile, which aimed to find out the murderer of Summer Elswick. It was not a normal murder, and she had been stabbed so brutally that the weapon had gotten stuck in her body. Tom Nichols, together with his colleague Dan Cleary, was going through all the evidence that they had procured from the scene and they started talking to the people whom they felt could have some information that could lead them to decipher the probable motive behind the murder. Tom always said that he only loved one thing as much as he loved his wife, i.e., his profession. Tom might have had his share of controversies in the past, but he was not a dishonest man. Yes, he had made certain compromises in his life; not because he wanted to, but he had felt coerced due to some reasons. So let’s find out what kind of man Tom Nichols was, if he compromised on his ideals, and if he was able to find the murderer of Summer Elswick.

Spoiler Alert

What Had Happened To Tom In The Past?

Before Scarborough, Tom was posted in Philly, and his colleague, Corzano, was accused of taking bribes among many other serious offenses. Tom wanted to report him, as obviously, he would have known what Corzano was up to, but he was pressured by the entire police department to stay quiet and not rat one of them out. Tom knew that if he said anything against Corzano, the entire community of police officers would boycott him. Tom was not as worried about him as he was about his wife, Judy. He knew that these people could go to any extent, and by telling the truth, he could put the lives of his family at risk. Tom stayed quiet, but that entire chapter of his life haunted him for a very long time. He had a hard time coping with everything that happened to him, and now he had to move on. There was a time when Tom was so scared that he used to sleep with a gun in his bed, as he had this fear that someone would break into his house in the middle of the night and shoot him. Now, after the murder of Summer, Tom once again stood against the system, but this time, he had decided that he was not going to let go of the perpetrators, no matter what cost he had to pay for it.

What Made Tom Suspect Wally?

Eli Philips, the man who was after the Grady family and who had told Tom that it was Will Grady who had murdered Summer, had given Tom a pen drive. Through the information present on the pen drive, Tom had gotten to know that Summer had not gotten any commission for the last six deals she had brokered. Tom came to know that all the houses sold by Summer were somehow seized by the authorities, as they had found drugs on the premises and then a company called The White Fish bought them all at a discounted rate.  On further investigation, he found out that another company called Active Duty Consulting had the same post office address as White Fish. Also, a man named Rudi Rakoczi had been taken into custody by the police as a huge amount of heroin had been procured from his possession. Tom realized that it was the same stash that the police had recovered from Sam Gifford’s house.

When Sam Gifford had been accidentally killed by Tom in his house, approximately 13 kg of heroin had been seized from his place. On asking one of the officers, Tom found out that it was Wally who had disposed of the drug, and somehow Rudi had gotten his hands on it. Tom knew that in this field, coincidences were rare, and that is why he believed that Wally had something to do with the murder of Summer. But Tom still didn’t have any conclusive evidence, so he had to keep his speculations to himself and not point fingers at anybody.

How Did Tom Find The Killer Of Summer?

The biggest revelation is made in Reptile when Tom and Judy go to Allen’s house for a party. Tom finds the car, a Chrysler Imperial, which he knew had been used by the murderer when he had gone to kill Summer. For a moment, Tom didn’t know what he should feel, as all this while, he had never entertained the thought that Allen could also be a part of the conspiracy. Tom connected the dots and he realized what Wally and Will were up to and how his seniors were also reaping the benefits of their fraudulent transactions. He realized that Wally used to plant drugs at the properties that Summer was sealing and then White Fish, the company run by Wally and Will used to buy it at a much lesser amount as compared to the market price. Then Will used to sell the same property and earn huge profits from it.

Now Allen knew that, at times, Tom’s righteousness could overpower him, and that is why he told him that things were not as he believed them to be. Allen knew that Tom would be putting his life at risk if he tried to report Wally and Will, and that is why he asked him to forget whatever he had seen and come to his house the next day at 9 a.m. to discuss things over. But Tom committed a blunder, and he ended up trusting one of the senior officials named Marty, and he told him the entire thing in addition to handing him the pendrive. Tom had also told Judy about her uncle Allen being involved in the entire drug and property scam, and she just couldn’t believe that he was capable of doing such a thing.

Tom, at the end of Reptile, went to Allen’s house with Marty. Marty went to the washroom, and Allen signaled Tom to leave the house and escape from there immediately. Before Tom could understand anything, Wally shot Allen point blank, and that’s when Tom realized that Marty was also involved in the conspiracy. Tom killed Marty, and he also gravely injured Wally by firing a bullet at him. Tom called the police and told them everything, after which they took Will Grady into custody.

Why did Judy put wax on Tom’s hand?

Tom loved being a cop, and people probably cast aspersions on his integrity, but he was just a victim of the circumstances. He had not been able to speak up for the cause of justice earlier, and that phase of his life still haunts him. At the end of Reptile, we saw Judy dipping Tom’s hand in what looked like wax and then peeling off the layers to probably speed up the healing process. During World War I, many factors made use of paraffin wax for a lot of medical purposes, and Judy, too, used it for the same. The way that wax peeled off, it felt like Tom had not only healed his hands but also cured himself internally. For months, he had been aching from within, and he was desperately looking for a way to redeem himself. After finding Summer’s killer, it felt like the man had attained salvation, shed off his old skin like a snake, and was ready to start afresh with a clean slate.

Tom needed to make up for what he had not been able to do back in the day, and so, when Allen and others believed that he would stay quiet, Tom went out all guns blazing, though he committed an error of judgment by trusting Marty. But still, Tom was able to bring the truth to light, and it was because of him putting his life at risk that Will Grady was taken into custody by the police at the end of Reptile.

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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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