The Essex Serpent season 1, episode 6 recap – the finale and ending explained

By Adam Lock
Published: June 10, 2022
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Apple TV+ series The Essex Serpent season 1, episode 6 - Surfacing - the finale and ending explained


More sordid romance and some shocking reveals in this gripping finale. The series continues to showcase stunning visuals and amazing performances from its star-studded leads.

This recap of the Apple TV+ series The Essex Serpent season 1, episode 6, “Surfacing,” — the finale and ending explained — contains spoilers.

Access the reviews, recaps, and news for The Essex Serpent

The Essex Serpent adaptation comes to its fascinating conclusion in episode six, “Surfacing”. Series director Clio Barnard and writer Anna Symon deliver on all that accumulated build-up with a finale that supplies some gripping reveals and satisfying resolution. This is a fitting end to the quaint period drama, one that will please both fans and critics alike.

The Essex Serpent season 1, episode 6 recap – the finale and ending explained

Cora and Luke wake with the most heinous of hangovers after their self-destructive night on the town. The widow lies in the ruins of her destruction, with son Frankie asking if they’ve been robbed. Whilst Dr. Garrett staggers about with a bandaged hand, the victim of a horrid attack, he may never perform surgery ever again. Two of our most beloved characters have been through the wringer and warrant great sympathy. In this instalment, our cast hit rock bottom, admitting their faults and then attempting to better themselves.

The third and final damaged member in this wretched love triangle is vicar Will Ransome, who keeps in contact with his mistress via the forgotten art of letter writing. He talks of his wife Stella’s failing health, how she wishes Cora would visit, but states that it would not be a good idea. Will says he’s broken and all three of these selfish lovers are for all intents and purposes shells of their former selves, damaged goods. Cora is heartbroken, having fallen for a married man; Will is riddled with guilt due to his adultery and burdened with the imminent death of his wife. Luke though, he may be the most torn of the trio, bickering with his confidant George Spencer, who tries to support his friend, who is forlorn and scarred. The good doctor orders George to leave, unable to even pick up a knife never mind operate again. It’s a sorry state to find our cast in.

An apologetic Cora visits Luke in the hopes of making amends. She offers her home to him, where they would live as companions, though not as lovers. It’s a great scene, two sparring friends, at odds with one another, lusting for different things. Cora needs Luke on her side, whilst the doctor continues to declare his undying love for her. And Martha’s story seems set to mirror this romance too, although Spencer (the kindest of souls) manages to avoid any embarrassment and chooses friendship over unrequited love.

The ending

The Essex Serpent represents some rather strange ideas of love, yet the most bizarre romance lies at the center of this gothic drama, reaching its fever pitch in our packed finale. Will and Cora are reunited once more, as the Londoner returns to Aldwinter for a sorrowful final goodbye with Stella. The dying wife has succumbed to the serpent’s spell and speaks in paranoid gibberish. The creators smartly using the beast as an analogy for death. While Stella plays with Frankie, Cora pays Will a visit. The sordid soul mates deciding to defy logic and all common decency in their love for one another. Their romance is reignited after the death of Stella, with the two Hollywood stars (Danes and Hiddleston) providing star-studded performances in those last fleeting moments. The villager’s rejoice when a whale is washed up on the shore. The serpent it appears is defeated and the simple folk can return to normalcy once again. Yet this odd, tainted romance is given the final scene of the series, as Will and Cora walk off into the sunset hand in hand. This troubled relationship will either upset or inspire you, but I think it does work in the end.

It’s a rousing and rewarding finale, with all loose ends neatly tied up. Hearts will certainly flutter at the blossoming romance on display, set against the beautiful backdrop of impressive visuals, or you may be cursing their reunion. Either way, the series delves into some intriguing character studies and addresses a handful of enthralling themes in its final chapter, with lots to unpack. Apple TV+ have done it again with another unique show to enjoy, that deserves repeat viewing.

What did you think of The Essex Serpent season 1, episode 6 (finale), and the ending? Comment below.

You can watch this series with a subscription to Apple TV+.

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