Major spoilers below for the finale of Dead to Me Season 2.
Considering how delectably binge-able Dead to Me's first season was, the Netflix dramedy had quite a reputation to live up to with Season 2. Thankfully, creator Liz Feldman pulled it off, giving stars Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini many more stress-inducing situations for Jen and Judy to deal with without getting arrested, killed or losing each other as friends. Two of the biggest surprises occurred in the season finale, "Where Do We Go From Here," which provided an interesting set-up for a third season, if Netflix chooses to order it.
Thankfully, Liz Feldman has revealed the thought process that went into those two bombshell twists, which we're going to go over below. No, that doesn't include an explanation for why Jen would want to give Charlie a new car as a gift, considering Charlie is a moron who exclusively makes wrong decisions. But let's dive into what Feldman did talk about.
Why Perez Decided To Let Jen Go
Dead to Me's Season 2 finale followed the previous ep's bonkers cliffhanger, in which Jen left confessional letters for her sons and Judy, with the goal of coming clean about Steve's murder. But Jen couldn't find his buried remains, and as Perez was seemingly driving Jen to the police station, they had a conversation about motherhood, and about each having lost their family matriarchs at a young age. That convo, combined with Steve's criminal acts coming to light, inspired Perez to bafflingly let Jen keep her freedom.
Creator Liz Feldman told THR that the creative team wanted to give star Diana Maria Riva more to do with Perez by adding dimensions to her story in Season 2, which really broke open at the end of Episode 6 when it's revealed she's the ex-girlfriend and roommate of Judy's new romantic partner Michelle (as played by the always enjoyable Natalie Morales). That push, combined with the season's focus on motherhood in general, inspired Perez's late-game decision. In Feldman's words:
I wanted to humanize her and make her a vulnerable person, show a side of her that you would never expect from just the cop character. We tried to essentially set her up in this way and unravel her character in such a way that you would believe that for this moment, she doesn't want to take another mom away from her kids, that she just chooses in this moment to be a human being, exactly what she says — she just doesn't want to be that person in this moment, she just wants to be a human being. So hopefully we've earned that, and I just think she's such a phenomenal actress and I can't wait for people to see her in this.
From a general plot standpoint, it does seem kind of ridiculous that Perez would choose to illegally affect a major case that has at times been the bane of her existence. But from a character perspective, Diana Maria Riva is indeed convincing enough to make the case that she so strongly wouldn't want Jen's sons to grow up with an incarcerated mother. Even after knowing about Charlie's idiotic joy ride in Steve's car, which really speaks to the depth of Perez's empathy.
Why The Finale Ended With Jen And Ben's Hit-And-Run
By and large, Dead to Me wrapped up the majority of its plot threads by the end of Season 2: the police discovered Steve's body and his money-laundering connections to the Greek mafia, Jen and Judy were (seemingly) free from criminal punishment, and Jen's successful stop-sign mission resulted in a new sign erected near her home. Unfortunately, all of the above good news actually culminated in a disaster, with a depressed and drunken Ben ramming into Jen and Judy at the stop sign's intersection, and then driving away from it.
With Jen and Judy in a new vehicle meant for Charlie, Ben didn't recognize them enough to check on them, although it's not necessarily clear that he would have done that anyway. After all, Ben's impulsive actions directly reflected those of Steve whenever he convinced Judy to drive away after hitting Jen's husband Ted. Understandably, creator Liz Feldman was interested in bringing the story back around poetically in such a way. Here's how she put it:
On this show, we're trying to outdo ourselves but in a way that still feels grounded in this world. It was pitched pretty early on in the season that the finale end in that manner, and for me it had to sort of pass the test of like, is this really earned? Are we setting this up in a way that it can be as surprising as it is inevitable? It was pitched early on and we thought about different ways of ending it, but we always kept coming back to this end because it felt like such a full-circle, karmic moment while still being able to deliver the kind of surprise and delight that I want to leave people with.
It speaks to the strength of that karma-strong twist that Liz Feldman and Co. apparently had a while to mull over the over hit-and-run ending while trying to conceive other ways for Dead to Me to fittingly close out its second chapter. In the end, though, it seems no other ideas could top the cyclical accident, which really turned Ben from a jovial good guy into a semi-monster. And as far as I'm concerned, the finale would serve as a proper end to the series as a whole if Netflix chooses not to go forward with a Season 3 renewal.
Of course, even though Christina Applegate's Jen was heard talking in the final moments, that doesn't necessarily mean everything will be hunky dory in the character's future. Without exactly confirming anything, here's how Liz Feldman responded when asked if Jen was technically okay:
I don't know that it means that.
Not an update that will immediately warm anyone's hearts, that's for sure. As well, Liz Feldman teased that the discovery of Steve's body could indeed create more havoc in Jen and Judy's lives, as injured as they may be. Whatever happens, Jen needs to survive long enough for Christina Applegate to share a scene with Season 2's surprise guest star Katey Sagal, who played Judy's mother here, and played Applegate's mom for eleven years on Married with Children (and hopefully more in the future). Sure, Jen should survive for other reasons, but that one is key!