Warning: spoilers for Death on the Nile’s ending are in play.
After solving the case at the heart of Murder on the Orient Express, Kenneth Branagh’s Hercule Poirot is back in action. This time, greed, sex, and murder take the Belgian war vet turned detective to Egypt and the Nile river, where death is only the beginning to the secrets being hidden. The case of Death on the Nile is a deliciously twisted affair, and if you don’t want to ruin the road ahead, consider this your last chance to avoid the deeper details we didn't cover in the film's review.
What Happened At The End Of Death On The Nile?
After three murders, and a series of red herrings with various alibis, Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) gets to the bottom of his latest criminal investigation with a bang. Trapping the entire cast of surviving suspects in the dining room, he shoots a gun to signal for the ship’s crew to lock the entire lot together.
Parcelling out information in his usual method of step-by-step deduction, Poirot comes to his final conclusion. The murders on the ship were committed by two people who had everything to lose, as each death was meant to secure their scheme to have it all. By the time the accusations are in the open, two more people will die, and those left behind will disembark from the Karnak changed forever.
The Culprits Behind Death On The Nile’s Vicious Scheme
Throughout Death on the Nile’s maze of personal greed, two culprits are pulling the strings from frame one. The recently married Simon Doyle (Armie Hammer) was behind the major murder at the heart of this mystery. His victim was his own wife, Linnet Ridgeway-Doyle (Gal Gadot), and not even her audience pleasing claim to possess all of the champagne in the Nile could save her.
The two remaining murders are chalked up to Simon’s supposedly jaded ex-fiancee Jacqueline de Bellefort (Emma Mackey). Playing clean up to ensure their overall plan can go off without a hitch, it’s Jackie who decides to kill herself and Simon once Hercule Poirot confronts them with their deeds. If it wasn’t for those other two murders, they might have even gotten away with the money they’d intended to inherit from the late Ms. Ridgeway-Doyle.
How Simon And Jackie’s Scheme Was Supposed To Work
Jackie Bellfort and Linnet Ridgeway grew up as childhood friends, and it’s this connection that seeded the deeper scheme. On the surface, Jackie asked Linnet for a favor to her cash poor fiancee Simon. Looking to have him employed with Ms. Ridgeway, Simon and Linnet’s introduction supposedly sees him dumping Jackie in favor of his new lady love.
That was only phase 1 of a long con between Simon and Jackie, who were still very much in love. After marrying Linnet, Simon was to kill his wife, and inherit her fortune; allowing him and his true love to run away together.
However, as Hercule Poirot mused in the first act, “Ah love, it is not safe.” The drive for these two lovebirds to become part of the leisure class led to a chain of death that eventually saw Poirot enraged and determined to capture them. This scheme might have held up under the weight of one murder, but the two that followed complicated things in an unexpected way.
Victim #1 - Linnet Ridgeway-Doyle
The only intended victim of Death on the Nile’s evil scheme, Linnet Ridgeway-Doyle always knew that her financially flush upbringing would make real friends a rarity. Introduced to her future husband and murderer by one of those “friends,” Linnet tried to enlist Hercule Poirot in her protection. Her murder was the first in the three kills racked up aboard the Karnak, and it happened while she was under the effects of powerful sleeping pills.
After arranging for a fake shooting by Jackie, who would distract the “witnesses” to this occurrence, Simon took his lover’s small pistol and fired it into his sleeping wife’s temple. Shooting himself for real, Simon Doyle would reload another bullet into the pistol before dumping it into the Nile. Tied in a bundle with the scarf stolen from Marie Van Schuyler (Jennifer Saunders), the cloth was used as both a silencer and misleading evidence.
Victim #2 - Louise Bourget
Unfortunately for Simon Doyle, a witness observed his dastardly deeds: Linnet’s lady’s maid Louise Bourget (Rose Leslie). During her interrogation by Hercule Poirot and his assistant/friend Bouc (Tom Bateman), Simon could be observed trying to sway her testimony by telling her that she’d be “taken care of.” Louise was indeed taken care of, just in a manner she may not have predicted.
Stealing a scalpel from the toolkit of Dr. Linus Windersham (Russell Brand), the hot blooded Jackie Bellfort slashed Louise’s throat, just as she was paying her off. Hiding the body in the Karnak’s water wheel, another loose end seemed to be tied up. However, the final axe that fell would be the one that saw Death on the Nile’s mystery become a crusade, as Hercule Poirot would have to avenge a fallen friend.
Victim #3 - Bouc
Oh, Bouc. Poor, poor Bouc. His greatest sin would have been stealing the late Linnet Ridgeway-Doyle’s priceless necklace, in order to make his own happy ending with girlfriend Rosalie Otterbourne (Letitia Wright). That theft would eventually put him in the wrong place at the wrong time, as his efforts to hide his ill-gotten gains made him a witness to Jackie Bellfort’s murder of Louise Bourget. Marked for death, Bouc was grilled by his best friend for his transgressions, with Simon Doyle as a witness.
Just as Bouc was about to confess, a phantom assassin would shoot him in the neck, killing him upon Doyle's subtle signal. Using the .45 pistol stolen from previous suspect Andrew Katchadourian (Ali Fazel), Jackie murdered Poirot’s dear friend, sealing her fate and Simon’s in blood. Much like the changes made to Murder on the Orient Express , Bouc's death was introduced as an aspect of the film's story, landing as a tragic twist for a lovable character.
Why Hercule Poirot Was Really In Egypt, Or Poirot’s Other Case
Hercule Poirot didn’t even mean to be involved in an investigation so shortly after the events of Murder on the Orient Express. If it was up to the man himself, he’d have been enjoying strong coffee and fine pastries, while admiring the pyramids. Then again, his reason for “stumbling” upon Bouc in Egypt was, in fact, another very important investigation.
As it turns out, despite trying to hide his relationship with Rosalie from his mother Euphemia (Annette Bening), Bouc's romantic entanglement was already news to her. Hiring Hercule Poirot to investigate Rosalie’s character, Euphemia still rejects their love, even after the detective clears it. Which is why Bouc not only stole Linnet’s necklace after her death, but he also hid it in his mother’s cabin so that it would be discovered and dismissed due to her wealth.
This mini-scheme was supposed to allow Bouc and Rosalie to be able to afford running away together. Instead, it broke a friendship, and ended in a death that would break Hercule’s heart in a major way. The last time he suffered such a tragedy, it broke his faith in love.
Hercule Poirot Begins: The Heartbreak Behind The Stache
We won’t go too far into the origins of Hercule Poirot’s stache, as we’ve covered that elsewhere. The origins lie in a facial wound from World War I, and an incident where Hercule Poirot seemingly swore off of love entirely. Which changed after he made the acquaintance of Rosalie Otterbourne’s aunt/jazz singer Salome (Sophie Okonedo).
First seeing her perform the night that Simon Doyle and Jackie Bellfort took their first steps to murder, their continued acquaintance on the Doyle honeymoon tour would allow the two to flirt a bit. However, after seeing his cold and calculating ways of investigation, Ms. Otterbourne would express disinterest in pursuing their relationship any further.
Death on the Nile ends on a bittersweet note of hope, six months after the events on the Karnak. Watching Salome perform during a late night rehearsal, a clean shaven Hercule looks like he's patiently waiting for an opportunity at a second chance. Instead of a clever, book sale spiking title drop like at the end of Murder on the Orient Express, we’re given a moment of vulnerability that could go anywhere.
Whether you've seen Death on the Nile or not, it's still playing at a theater near you. One of many wonderful options on the 2022 movie schedule, Kenneth Branagh’s return to the world of Agatha Christie is as deliciously deadly to watch as it is to read about.
CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.
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