The man in the shadows turns out to be the Byrdes’ tenacious nemesis, detective Mel Sattem (Adam Rothenberg), cradling a cookie jar filled with cremated ashes belonging to Wendy’s murdered brother.
Mundy and his team carefully choreographed Mel’s surprise return. “We had Mel exit in episode 12 so people wouldn’t be thinking about him anymore. The idea was to clear him off and get him back to Chicago so you’d think he’s gone. We also set this up with two previous scenes where Mel very clearly notices the cookie jar, so it’s almost inevitable that the jar would work its way back into the story. You don’t earn any of these moments unless they happen within the logic of the universe you’ve constructed for the show.
Mel refuses a bribe and tries to shame Wendy and Marty over their ill-gotten gains. Wendy refuses to show contrition. “Don’t come at me with this fairy-tale thing about right and wrong, and that those who cheat get punished,” Linney says, slipping into her Wendy character. “ ‘Are you kidding? Watch the news. What world are you in?’ That [reaction] was not a very big leap, for me.”
Next comes a “click” off-camera followed by quick cuts. “We show Jonah cocking the rifle,” Bateman says. “Mel sees the gun. Jonah looks at Marty and Wendy. They look proud. It’s almost like they’re at their kid’s soccer game watching him score that final goal, you know: ‘Atta boy.’ Then Jonah closes his aiming eye.”
Cut to black and the sound of gunfire.
Bateman muses, “It’s a bittersweet ending. Their son has killed a law enforcement officer, and the Byrdes are going to continue running, or at a bare minimum, they’ll be carrying this eternal scarlet letter of guilt for the rest of their lives. So did Marty and Wendy really get away with it? Or did they just hand it over to the next generation? We don’t have clear closure but rather an open question: Yes, they got away with it, but at what cost?”