I Came By debuted on Netflix in September 2022 and follows graffiti activist Toby (George MacKay) as he breaks into the home of a powerful judge. This mistake could bring about the demise and destruction of all those around him. The I Came By ending leaves viewers to ponder about a system that fails many.
I Came By is a thriller that is not afraid to have a point of view and make commentary on systems designed to serve and protect. I Came By is one of the best films to watch on Netflix right now because of the film’s strong narrative, overall message, great acting, and the bitter-sweet conclusion.
Let’s discuss the I Came By ending and some of the film’s overall themes and messages.
Warning: I Came By spoilers ahead. Proceed with caution.
What Happened At The End Of I Came By
Jay (Percelle Ascott) discovers that Lizzie (Kelly Macdonald) hasn’t been home in what seems like days or weeks. He then returns home to Naz (Varada Sethu), who tells him that one of them needs to move out. Jay breaks down crying over Lizzie.
Some time passes and Jay is now living alone while sharing custody of Aydan with Naz. When Naz comes to pick up Aydan, she shares with Jay that Hector Blake (Hugh Bonneville) will be reading her dissertation and attending the tercentenary celebration at his alma mater.
He’s being honored there so she’s certain that he will show up. Blake is shown accepting his award, receiving Naz’s dissertation (which he throws away without reading it), and then driving home. Jay follows him.
While Blake is in bed, Jay attacks him with a bat. The two men engage in physical combat. Blake has the upper hand at first because he’s more familiar with the layout of the house and can pick up weapons to help him beat Jay.
However, Jay eventually overpowers Blake. As he hits him, he screams about the whereabouts of Lizzie and Toby and what Blake did to them. He then goes to the basement and releases another man that Blake has imprisoned.
He also calls the police. DS Lloyd (Franc Ashman) finds Blake tied up and the words “I Came By” graffitied on the walls of Blake’s home. Jay is also seen crying as he drives his car away.
What The “I Came By” Graffiti Means
For Jay and Toby, tagging “I Came By” in the home of the rich symbolizes gaining some power. Home invasion allows them to show these powerful figures that they’re not invincible. Their actions, deeds, and potential crimes are not going unnoticed.
It also seems like a superhero stamp for Jay and Toby.
It’s how they make their mark and not just passively observe what’s happening in the world. This is why when the “I Came By” tag resurfaces at the end of the film, it’s like Jay is putting back on his superhero suit. It seems like once again, maybe not in the same way, he wants to do something to show these rich, powerful men that they don’t have all the control. There are people out there that will do what’s necessary to try to stop them.
Jay could have also left this tag so that it’s associated with the “I Came By” movement. It may inspire others to take action against these powerful men, either by doing something similar or finding other, legal, ways to try to combat this abuse of privilege and power.
It Shows How institutionalized Systems Can Fail People
One of the film's seemingly throwaway moments is Blake watching one of the best episodes of Rick and Morty. It’s the “The Ricklantis Mixup” episode. In a Digital Spy interview, I Came By director and script co-writer Babak Anvari mentions that the episode has a lot of overlap with the themes of the movie.
This small detail highlights how much the film drives home the message that sometimes the justice and political system harms those it's designed to help.
In I Came By, the three people who eventually take down Blake are people of color. Naz, DS Lloyd, and Jay all actively play a role in bringing Blake to justice. I believe that Anvari makes the choice to have people of color as the ones to take down Blake because it makes a bold statement.
Often, people like Blake, those in power who abuse their powers, hurt people of color the most. The I Came By ending, in a way, allows people of color to take the power back. One of the main reasons that Jay initially refuses to help Toby and Liz is because he knows that the justice system is not kind to people like him. As a Black man with a record, he knows that if caught committing another crime, his life could be over.
I Came By is a great social justice movie, even if it doesn’t outright label itself as one.
Blake has specifically targeted, murdered, and abused those seeking permanent settlement in the U.K. Blake parades himself as someone who seeks to help minorities in all factors of life. He even states that everything he does in his career shows that he’s not racist. However, his actions in his personal life contradict his career actions.
I believe that this is showing how some politicians, law enforcement, government officials, business tycoons, etc. may publicly say one thing but their actions may show another. For example, a politician may say he’s all for all people but then passes laws that specifically target one group or another.
Blake is the physical embodiment of someone who is racist, xenophobic, and possibly even homophobic. Blake is just as terrifying as some of the great movie villains. One thing that makes him so frightening is that he can wear a mask and hide behind his power as a former judge.
Blake, Toby, and Jay also share in the absence of their fathers. Jay has no family besides Naz, Aydan, Toby, and Liz. His real family has abandoned him. I Came By also starts with Naz’s parents disowning her because of her pregnancy. We see Liz helping young adults who have issues with their own parents, specifically Faisal (Antonio Aakeel).
He even states that he wanted to kill himself to show his parents that they failed him. The failure of the family system, or parents, in particular, is a big part of I Came By.
In an interview with Sight and Sound, Babak Anvari explains more about this theme in the film.
I Came By definitely makes a lot of statements about how a system can fail those it's meant to protect, including children.
The Importance Of The Changing Narrator In This Movie
I Came By has three distinct narrators: Toby, Jay, and Lizzie. It also sometimes switches to Blake’s perspective.
This changing perspective is interesting because it kind of follows a hierarchy of privilege in western countries. It starts with the arguably most privileged group, a white man, then ends with one of the least, a Black man.
Jay is always painted as the reluctant hero of I Came By. He wants to do right by both his family with Naz and his found family with Toby and Liz, but he’s in a difficult position because of responsibilities, race, and the societal hierarchy. He doesn’t always make the right choices, but ultimately decides to avenge his family and take action against Blake, even if that could cost him.
It also ties into the themes of failing institutions. The justice system is likely not going to help them stop Blake, so it’s up to these individuals to take action. This is basically what Babak Anvari sums up in a Metro interview.
I Came By shows three different types of people, who represent three different groups in society, trying to take down a man who represents an unjust system. Two fail until one can finally achieve enough to at least start his demise. It’s a powerful message and ending.
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Spent most of my life in various parts of Illinois, including attending college in Evanston. I have been a life long lover of pop culture, especially television, turned that passion into writing about all things entertainment related. When I'm not writing about pop culture, I can be found channeling Gordon Ramsay by kicking people out the kitchen.