‘Will Trent’ Ending Explained & Season 1 Recap: Who Killed Will’s Mother?


With the 13th episode aired, the first season of ABC’s detective drama series “Will Trent” comes to an end, and it does finish on a high note with criminal and personal matters put to rest. Episode 12 presented a grand mystery when a serial killer who was active during the 1980s killing sex workers was now on the prowl once again. However, this time the victims were all related to GBI special agent Will Trent’s childhood and past, and it was now that the protagonist also learned that his mother was a sex worker named Lucy Morales, who had also been murdered by the serial killer. At the end of episode 12, Angie Polaski had been kidnapped by the same perpetrator, and the season finale now deals with all of this, as Will and his team have forty-eight hours to find Angie.

Spoilers Alert

Story So Far In ‘Will Trent’ Season 1

The “Will Trent” series has presented the titular detective, who is a special agent of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), as an exceptionally skilled but socially awkward individual. Pushing most people away, Will has managed to become close friends with his partner, GBI agent Faith Mitchell, and boss Amanda Wagner by now. There is also Detective Angie Polaski of the Atlanta Police Department (APD), who is the romantic partner of Will, even though their relationship is always on the curve, and the two have broken up and patched up multiple times throughout the season. Angie’s detective partner, Michael Ormewood, had initially been skeptical of Will Trent owing to the protagonist’s unusual methods and personality, but by now has become friendly towards him. As Will has been solving different cases in each episode of this season, the underlying common factor has always been issues of social injustice, abuse, and a sense that the very system is letting its people down. Will and Angie were both orphans who had grown up in a children’s home and then in foster care, which had left a terrible impact on them. Angie had been raped and sexually abused by their foster parent multiple times, while Will had been ignored and mistreated for most of his life. At present, though, the two, along with the rest of the detective and police forces, are in crisis when a serial killer kidnaps Angie from Will’s house.

What Leads Do Will And The GBI Find Through Their Investigation?

Using his sharp skills, Will goes through his house, where Angie had been kidnapped. From the clues strewn around, he deduces that Angie had been dressing up to attend her hearing and was preparing breakfast when the perpetrator disabled all the security in the house and entered. They attacked Angie from behind, but she was able to break loose. However, the kidnapper had Will’s beloved dog, Betty, so Angie returned to rescue her and headed for a gun kept on the table. Both of them fought to reach the gun, and Angie then ran into the bathroom with Betty. It was here that the woman had been overpowered and kidnapped by the perpetrator, and Betty was safely placed inside a basket. Will notices that he cannot find his recorder and understands that Angie must have hidden it somewhere. Following the track he understood Angie to have followed, Will finds the recorder inside a cabinet in his bathroom, and the woman has left the physical description of the kidnapper. Will rejoins the case after Amanda left him out in the previous episode, and now Amanda and Evelyn Mitchell share their findings from the case in the 1980s. Together, the three review all the evidence of that case, in which possibly the same serial killer had been murdering sex workers, and find that a common element found was a car, a golden Jaguar, that was seen close to the sex workers. Amanda and Evelyn had tried to investigate the car, but their male colleagues and superiors, Butch and Rick, had taken over the case and pinned it on the pimp, Juice.

At the same time, Faith Mitchell and Michael Ormewood look into the recent murders, and the same common element is found in all of them, too—a golden Jaguar car had been spotted around the victims. However, nobody had spotted the number on the car, either in the past or at present, so finding the car is a difficult feat. Will decides to have a word with the sexist police detective Butch Bonnie, who is now retired. Butch is brought in for assistance, but the man still maintains his demeaning attitude towards women, especially sex workers, to whom Butch refuses to show any respect. The former police detective’s physical appearance also somewhat matches the description Angie had provided, and Will is ready to look at Butch as a suspect too. Soon after, Faith finds a crucial lead in the investigation in the form of an elderly woman who is willing to talk to the police about the case.

Kitty Treadwell, the witness, has clear signs of deep cuts around her mouth, and she reveals that she had been a victim of the serial killer. During her younger days, Kitty used to work as a sex worker when she met the man in question, who asked the woman to take a ride in his golden Jaguar car. After Kitty went with him, the man started to choke her during their sexual acts, and he kept doing this until Kitty had to scream out. But the vile perpetrator hated the screams so much that he literally sewed Kitty’s mouth shut. He kept the woman at some place for a few days but forgot to lock the door when he left. Kitty took her chance and was able to escape the place, but the trauma of the incident has lived on inside her till now. Will asks the woman to help them find the murderer, as a police lineup with suspects is being organized. However, Kitty is too scared to be any more involved in the matter, and she pleads to be let go. This does not work well either, as the woman is later found murdered by the serial killer.

The next major breakthrough seems to come when the detectives search through the case notes of the old investigation. A note made by Juice’s lawyer, James Ulster, is found in which he expressed his suspicions about police detective Butch Bonnie, for the man had a history of assaulting sex workers multiple times. This immediately makes Butch look like the perpetrator, and Will, Faith, and Ormewood corner the man outside of a pub he frequents. Butch keeps claiming that he is not the perpetrator, but he does pull out a rifle and threaten to shoot the detectives. Ormewood finally injures him with a precise gunshot, as told by Will, and Butch is taken to the hospital. During this time, Amanda and Evelyn had returned to have a conversation with James Ulster, who had also been seen in episode 12. Ulster now reveals that Butch used to misuse his professional identity to force himself on the sex workers and would beat up anyone who refused. But as Butch is in the hospital, the body of Kitty Treadwell is found, and the time of death makes it impossible for Butch to have committed the crime. After all, Butch Bonnie was not a serial killer, but he was surely a rapist, and this was why he tried to flee the detectives, as he knew he could still be punished for his crimes.

Who Was The Real Serial Killer, And What Was Their Motive?

After these heated events, Will Trent is frustrated at the fact that they have not yet been able to find Angie, and there is a possibility that she has already been killed. The fact that Will had now suddenly come to know about his mother and had seen her for the first time through the photographs of her dead body had been troubling him as well. The detective now has an imaginary conversation with Lucy Morales, and it is through this discussion that he finds inspiration. Will takes another look at the old case files and finds a crucial discrepancy. The note about James Ulster’s suspicion of Detective Butch had been highlighted with a red marker circle so that it would draw the attention of the reader. Although this document was dated to be from the 1980s, the red marker circle left a stain on the back of the page. However, a similar red circle drawn on a different document at the same time did not have any such stain. In a flash, Will realizes that the red marker circle drawn over the first document had been done in recent times, which meant that someone wanted to mislead the GBI into believing that Butch Bonnie was the serial killer.

From the very beginning of the episode, Will and Angie’s childhood friend, Paul Campano, had also been present at Will’s house. From the recreation of events Will had made inside his mind of Angie’s kidnapping, it was evident that the perpetrator had touched Betty’s head. Taking a sniff of the dog’s head, Paul claimed that there was a very distinct smell that he knew, but he could not really remember where he had smelled it. Paul spends the whole episode trying to figure out this mystery, and now he finally solves it and shares the result with Amanda. The smell was of the distinct soap kept in the restrooms of a local steakhouse. Amanda and Evelyn immediately figure out who the perpetrator is, for they themselves had gone to speak with the man at that steakhouse multiple times.

It was the lawyer James Ulster who was the real serial killer, both in the 1980s and now. Ulster was a perverted man who enjoyed killing sex workers in an extremely cruel manner, and during his acts in the ’80s, he fell in love with one of his victims, Lucy Morales. While he kept torturing the pregnant Lucy, he did not directly kill her, as Lucy had died during childbirth since there was no medical attention given to her. Ulster was extremely angry at this child for having snatched his beloved away from him, but he had to flee the scene as young Amanda and Evelyn had found his hideout. James Ulster had left baby Will in a dumpster and fled the scene. It is not made clear whether Ulster was Will’s biological father, but the question did cross Will’s mind. Ulster denies so, and it also does not seem very likely. During the present time, Ulster had found out that Will Trent was the same child through the magazine report about him solving the Paul Campano case, and the man wanted his revenge. James Ulster had been targeting people linked with Will’s childhood because he wanted to bait out the detective and then kill him.

In the end, Will solves the case and goes to Ulster’s house by himself. He finds Angie alive but gravely injured, and he also has a confrontation with Ulster. Although Will arrests the serial killer, the man had already poisoned himself, and he has to be rushed to the hospital along with Angie. Finally, the doctors reveal that James Ulster is indeed alive, much to everyone’s pleasure, as they want the man to be punished by law. Angie Polaski also survived the ordeal, but the doctors reveal that there is a chance that she might be paralyzed for life from her serious injuries.

What Does Will Find Out About Amanda Wagner?

With the criminal case finally solved and Angie also rescued, “Will Trent” ends on an emotional note, as Evelyn Mitchell takes some time to have a conversation with Will. The titular detective had been extremely angry at Amanda for having hidden the truth about his mother for all these many years, but he now learns some more about Amanda herself. It was Amanda who had found baby Will in the dumpster at Ulster’s hideout, and she had taken him home for the night. The woman genuinely felt attached to the baby and could not give him up to child protective services for the next three weeks. Every day she would think of giving up the baby, but she just could not bring herself to do it. But eventually, Amanda did have to give up the child since the law in the 1980s did not allow single women to adopt and raise children, so she could never become the child’s mother even though she desperately wanted to. Before giving him up, though, Amanda had given the baby all that she could—his name. Amanda’s father was named Wilbur, and her mother’s maiden name was Trent. She had named the baby Will Trent and given him up to the protective service. After that, Will had to grow up in the treacherous conditions of Atlanta’s foster care system, but Amanda had no idea about any of this, and neither could she have done anything about it.

It was truly coincidental that Will had been caught stealing as a teenager and had been brought to the same police station where Amanda Wagner used to work. Since then, she has cared for him once again, like the true mother that she had always wanted to be. Will now acknowledges all of this, and even though he does not say anything to Amanda, it is clear that he looks up to the woman as his mother now. For a show like “Will Trent,” it is impossible to predict what greater crime will be dealt with in the next season (which has already been confirmed), but Will and Amanda finally becoming family to each other is very much possible.

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Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya keeps an avid interest in all sorts of films, history, sports, videogames and everything related to New Media. Holding a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies, he is currently working as a teacher of Film Studies at a private school and also remotely as a Research Assistant and Translator on a postdoctoral project at UdK Berlin.

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