Breaking Down the Surprise Twist at the End of Peacock's Apples Never Fall

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Warning: This post contains spoilers for Apples Never Fall

For the better part of Apples Never Fall, which dropped in its entirety this week on Peacock, the Delaney family—siblings Troy (Jake Lacy), Amy (Alison Brie), Logan (Conor Merigan-Turner), and Brooke (Essie Randles) and their father, Stan (Sam Neill)—has sought answers around why their beloved matriarch, Joy (Annette Bening), mysteriously disappeared. When their search for Joy turns from a missing persons report to a potential murder case that posits Stan as the main suspect after a recording of a heated (and seemingly violent) argument between them surfaces, tensions within the family flare, revealing secrets and long-held resentments between the siblings and their father. Further complicating the disappearance is the seemingly chance encounter the family had with Savannah, a stranger with a murky past, who showed up on their doorstep just months earlier.

Like their seemingly picture-perfect family, not all is as it seems with Joy's disappearance—with a surprise twist in the ending that causes those closest to her to question what they really knew about her.

Read more: The 100 Best Mystery and Thriller Books of All Time

What happens at the end of Apples Never Fall?

For the majority of the show, besides the first episode, Joy appears in flashbacks and memories as recalled by her children and her husband, who fear that she may not just be missing, but dead. That all changes in the final moments of the penultimate episode, when it's revealed that Joy is not only alive and healthy, but that she's been hiding at Savannah's house in Georgia.

In the finale, it's revealed that Joy reached out to Savannah after she fell off her bike and injured herself. Immediately after her accident, she reached out to all of her children for help, but none of them would answer her call after it was revealed years after the fact that she was responsible for tennis star Harry Haddad firing Stan as his coach when he was a student at their tennis academy, an event that had larger repercussions for their family and the academy. It was also a longtime source of tension in their household. After Stan and Joy have a heated argument following her fall (which leads to the sounds on the recording, which turn out to be their tennis trophies falling to the ground and not domestic abuse), she comes across a thank you note from Savannah, who had left the Delaney home in disgrace months earlier after she instigated the reveal that Joy was the one who told Harry's father to stop working with Stan. In the thank you note, Savannah includes her phone number, which Joy calls on a whim, leading to her meeting Savannah at a bar—and leaving her cell phone at home.

At the bar, Joy confronts Savannah about lying about her identity and leaving, but because she is tired of her family taking her for granted and doesn't believe that they will search for her, she decides to go with Savannah to her remote home in Georgia, to take a "vacation from being Joy Delaney;" there is limited cell reception and Savannah cuts the cord to the landline once they arrive at her home.

Joy is blissfully off the grid in Georgia until she finds out from one of Savannah's neighbors that there's been a hurricane that hit Palm Beach and tells Savannah she needs to go home. Savannah attempts to keep her from leaving, but finally agrees to drive her back to Florida. During the drive, she reveals her true identity and why she came to the Delaneys' house, eventually getting so worked up that she crashes the car and flees the scene of the accident.

Read more: Big Little Lies Author Liane Moriarty on Why Her Story Is Universal

What is Savannah's actual identity?

While looking for a bag to pack her things in to return home, Joy discovers a tote bag filled with fake identification cards, a restraining order against a woman named Lindsay Haddad, and a gun—confirming her suspicions that Savannah has never been who she said she was. Meanwhile, her family back home has also discovered that Savannah was never a woman who was being abused by her boyfriend (Troy discovers that she had stolen her backstory from a daytime talk show) but is instead Lindsay Haddad, the little sister of Stan's former student, Harry. The family confirms this after finding a photograph of her as a child at their home with Harry.

The Delaney siblings and Stan reach out to Harry, who explains that he has a restraining order on Lindsay, who has been unstable since he and his father left home to further his tennis career, a situation made worse by Harry and Lindsay's abusive mother. When Lindsay drives Joy home, she reveals why she targeted the Delaneys. She wanted to break up their seemingly perfect family because she blamed them for her unhappy childhood with her abusive mother. She believed that because Harry stopped working with Stan, it gave her father and brother a reason to leave home to find a new coach—and left Lindsay alone with her mother, which made her feel abandoned and unlovable. While Joy and Lindsay have found common ground both feeling unappreciated by their families, Joy realizes that Lindsay is unstable and would rather hurt her than lose her.

What does the ending of Apples Never Fall mean for the Delaney family?

Although the car crash was severe, Joy is rescued by the police and is able to return to her family in Palm Beach, where she surprises them by reappearing alive and healthy. After Stan is released from prison, the family is forced to reckon with their many secrets in the open. Logan decides to move to Washington to be with Indira, Brooke confronts her misgivings about her engagement, Troy agrees to let his ex-wife have their frozen embryos, and Amy seems to continue her romance with Simon. Stan reveals his father's abusive tendencies and why he "disappeared" throughout their marriage to avoid repeating his family's history and Joy is honest with her family about feeling underappreciated and taken for granted. The Delaneys agree to work together about being more open about their feelings and having fewer secrets from one another.

Write to Cady Lang at cady.lang@timemagazine.com.