Major spoilers below for Netflix's Dead to Me Season 2, so beware!
Dead to Me was easily one of 2019's biggest breakout debuts on the small screen, with Netflix providing the perfect binge-friendly platform for the pulse-pounding murder-mystery fronted by esteemed TV vets Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini. Season 2 recently debuted and, to the surprise of no one, Applegate's Jen Harding and Cardellini's Judy Hale remained mired in stressful situations and shocking close calls. By the time the finale's credits started rolling, Dead to Me seemed to wrap up several major plotlines, only to punctuate everything with near-tragic TV irony.
So much happened in Dead to Me's final act that we need to break it all down to see where things left off for Jen, Judy, James Marsden's Ben and more, and how it would all play into Season 3 if Netflix makes the decision to renew it. (The biggest twist of all would be if the show gets cancelled after that jaw-dropping finale.) Let's start off with that oh-so-worrisome discovery.
Steve's Body Was Discovered
After spending the early chunk of Season 2 stored inside Jen's garage freezer (and was nearly chomped on by rats), Steve's body was later painstakingly transported out into the woods and buried by Jen and Judy. All was well on that front for a while, and it might have stayed that way if it wasn't for a meddling jogger and her bone-sniffing dog. Alas, the authorities located and dug the body up, offering the bleakest resolution for his family and "business" associates.
Unfortunately, few details about the finding were revealed, so it's not exactly clear whether or not evidence from Steve's corpse can directly tie Jen to the crime. There's bound to be at least ONE incriminating detail, though, right? Could that broken piece of Henry's bird still be wedged in Steve's head?
Judy Learned The Truth About Steve's Death
In a reversal of Judy confessing that she'd killed Jen's husband, Jen made the hard choice to tell Judy the truth about how Steve died; that his assault on Jen wasn't a physical one, but rather a verbal and emotional one. Having considered herself the cause of Steve's death, Judy was initially crushed and thrown for a loop that Jen had been lying for so long.
But as someone only too familiar with Steve's insults and anger, Judy was able to find it in her heart and head to forgive Jen without any of the completely justifiable histrionics that Jen reacted with in Season 1. And Judy's faith in Jen's redemption was strengthened by the latter's attempt to turn herself in. If Dead to Me reaches Season 3, it will be interesting to see how that relationship continues developing without at least one of them keeping murderous secrets.
Perez Apparently Let Jen Get Away With Steve's Murder
After one guilt-easing confession, Jen wrote emotionally charged letters to Judy, Charlie and Henry before arriving at the doorstep of Diana-Maria Riva's Detective Ana Perez in order to continue spreading the news about Steve's death. At any other moment, it might have landed her quickly in jail. However, Jen caught a grief-stricken Perez soon after her beloved ex Michelle packed up and moved out.
For what it's worth, Jen tried showing Perez where she buried the body (keeping Judy's name out of it), but failed to remember where it was located. But while driving back to town, the women bonded in part over the power of motherhood, having both lost their mothers while young. And after Nick Prager alerted her of the case blowing wide open concerning Steve's illegal operations, the detective made the unpredictable choice to avoid standard procedure by giving Jen a free pass. The big question, though, is whether or not that immunity will remain intact now that Steve's body was found, and whether or not Perez's choice will come back to haunt her in a potential Season 3.
Drunken Ben's Hit-And-Run By Jen's Stop Sign
Obviously, Dead to Me had to stun viewers with a monumental zinger in the end, and boy, did it. The increasingly fractured Ben, who'd already lost a lot of his optimistic verve after Jen's romantic dismissal, took an even deeper emotional dive after getting the news about Steve's body. Purposefully hiding the update from his mom (played by the great Frances Conroy), Ben hit the road with his new friend, a bottle of whiskey. Sadly, Ben plowed into the car Jen and Judy were driving, meant as a gift for Charlie, and proved himself no more morally stable than his brother by quickly driving away from the accident.
Both Judy and Jen were still alive when the episode cut out, so creator Liz Feldman gets credit for not leaving us with that kind of cliffhanger. But Jen is no doubt going to be very peeved in Season 3 when she grasps that the crash was partially due to the new stop sign that she'd fought so hard to get installed. Considering how many traffic and security cameras there are in the area, it's likely that Ben won't get away with his actions, but that's assuming he doesn't get into an even worse accident after fleeing the first one.
The Cops Having Steve's Phone May Be Bad News For Charlie
Fuckin' Charlie, man. The impulsive teenager nearly ruined everything for everyone by stealing Steve's car from storage to go on joyrides with a vindictive fling. While he miraculously escaped all of that without repercussions, Charlie wasn't done making dumb decisions. While still in possession of Steve's bag o' goodies from the car, Charlie used the phone to unwittingly call Jere Burns' Howard Hastings, which proved the police chief was in cahoots with Steve and the Greek mafia.
Charlie eventually did the "right" thing by giving the bag to Judy, who then took it to Prager at the police station. Obviously this was a smart move, since it was the wrap-around proof needed to posthumously nail Steve and others. However, as soon as they look into the info on Steve's phone, they'll discover Charlie's phone call (and possibly his fingerprints), thus prompting deeper questions into the situation for Season 3 that Judy probably won't be able to bullshit her way through.
No More Money Problems For Jen And Judy...For Now
As cool and interesting as Judy's "hole in the heart" art was from a visual perspective, the paintings were quite important for a far different reason. It turned out the canvases were used as storage for the huge piles of cash that Steve was dealing with. After finally getting her paintings back, Judy liberated all that money from those hiding spots. She not only shared the lucrative AF news with Jen, but the money as well, which was used to pay off Jen's house with her mother-in-law Lorna. Not to mention the car they got for Charlie.
While the money situation could possibly be a non-starter issue for Dead to Me Season 3, it's more likely that someone dangerous will come looking for all those stacks of cash, whether it's the increasingly suspicious Prager or someone directly involved with the Greek mafia. Considering so much of it is already gone, Judy would need to stumble across another dramatic payday to make up for the lost funds.
Charlie Found Jen's Letters
Even after the car debacle, Charlie once again set himself to get nominated as Most Frustrating Teen Snoop of the year in the finale. Though he was only attempting to mooch a joint from Judy's not-so-secret stash, Charlie happened upon the letters that Jen wrote before attempting to turn herself in. It wasn't clear whether she kept them as a reminder of the turmoil, or if she wanted blackmail-esque collateral in the case of her and Jen's friendship imploding in Season 3.
Regardless of why the letters were kept, Charlie found them. It would be nice and respectful if he put them (and the weed) back in Judy's cigar box, of course, but that's just not the way Charlie is wired. Chances are, he's going to read all three and learn some very disturbing truths about both his mom and Judy, whom Charlie was never too keen about in the first place.
Judy Already Cut Ties From Her Mom Again
Dead to Me's penultimate Season 2 episode set up the surprising reunion between Judy and her mother Eleanor, whose existence was a big mystery for viewers prior to that. As portrayed by Sons of Anarchy and The Conners vet Katey Sagal in a surprise guest role, Eleanor was living not-her-best life behind bars, and it clearly wasn't her first rodeo. Eleanor lightly preyed on her daughter's vulnerability, and Judy nearly became convinced that she would free herself from immoral burdens by joining her mom in jail.
Of course, by their second meeting, Judy had learned about what really happened to Steve, and she could more clearly recognize her mother's selfish machinations. Though she now had the money to help Eleanor find solid legal representation, Judy didn't offer it, and also refused to pen a letter of recommendation. She left her mother stranded in a way similar to how Eleanor left Judy behind as a child, and felt all the better for it. This storyline may not continue in a third season, but I'd love to see Katey Sagal return to cause chaos in Judy's life in the outside world.