The Hard Cell finale offers a decent amount of payoff and closure, but also takes a hard swerve into very different-feeling territory for a last-minute twist better suited to a different show.
This recap of Hard Cell season 1, episode 6 contains spoilers, including a discussion of the Hard Cell ending.
If I’m being honest, I really wasn’t expecting Hard Cell, of all shows, to deliver a pretty significant last-minute twist. And yet here we are, in a relatively decent finale that offered up a surprising amount of closure and payoff while also becoming The Usual Suspects virtually out of nowhere. For a show that hasn’t really had much of a narrative beyond the will-they-won’t-they matter of pulling off Songs from the Inside, it’s quite a surprise to now be in a position where I’m genuinely curious how a few of these subplots might develop.
Hard Cell season 1, episode 6 recap
Of course, that would require a second season renewal, and if we’re being honest, Hard Cell isn’t likely to get one. But wouldn’t you also like to know the outcome of Laura being sued by Maya Angelou’s estate for plagiarizing the title of her TED Talk from Angelou’s landmark 1969 autobiography I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings? Wouldn’t you like to know if Laura and Dean end up together? And what’s going to happen to Charlee’s baby?
I suppose if I’m asking these questions Hard Cell has done its job, even if it hasn’t been very good for the most part. The relative success of Songs from the Inside, even despite Charlee going into labor and having to be replaced by the previously-mute Suds, felt unsurprising, since the whole season has been building towards it. But Catherine Tate sneaks some unexpected moments of pathos in there. When Ros receives a letter from her mammy describing how she’s cutting her off completely and absconding with the camper van that Ros’s unwitting boyfriend has paid for, Ros’s illiteracy means that she can’t read it, so she asks Laura to read it to her. And Laura retains the sentiment but rewords everything in a much more loving and considerate way — she creates exactly the kind of letter Ros wanted to receive. After that, it’s less surprising when Charlee wants Laura to be there with her during childbirth, meaning she’ll miss the performance of Songs from the Inside.
Hard Cell ending
But it’s the twist that everyone will be talking about. Throughout the season, Ange’s transition from being massively out of her depth to more or less fitting in has been a satisfying arc, and I thought for a moment that Tate might have been building towards Ange perhaps wanting to remain incarcerated rather than return to her meek life in the outside world. But the real revelation is that Ange doesn’t have a meek life in the outside world — she’s really a villain, and smugly leaves prison in much the same way Kevin Spacey left the police station in The Usual Suspects, having conned everyone, slipping into the back of a chauffeured car to disappear into the night, with nobody any the wiser about who they really are.
But what Ange got up to inside has a pretty major knock-on effect. We see she was the one who stole the puzzle piece, but we also see that she swapped the prop knife from the musical so that the scene in which Ros “stabs” Anastasia becomes a real knife attack; revenge, one assumes, for Anastasia having set Ange up to be attacked by Viv. The musical is forced to end midway, with Anastasia bleeding to death on the floor and Dean sprinting down the corridors to summon Laura, who Charlee has just asked to raise her child. It’s quite a place to leave things, and after an up-and-down season, it feels almost a cruel note to end on. Perhaps it’ll be worth returning to HMP Woldsley again after all.