The season 1 finale answers all our questions with one last major reveal that was one too many.
This recap of the Amazon original series The Terminal List season 1, episode 8, “Reclamation” — the ending explained — contains spoilers.
The Terminal List season 1, episode 8 recap – the ending explained
Reece and Ben have their sprinter van and are on the run. The Commander catches himself on a gas station television that the authorities are looking for both men. (This is a surprise because up until this point, we thought Ben was under the radar). Ben is changing his CIA disguise. He heads back to the van and gives Reece some food. Ben tells him that he has information about where Hartley is hiding.
The last episode ended with what I interpreted as Secretary Hartley offering Katie a break with teeth. I mean, this is a threat to write a different coverup. We now see Katie being driven to the Secretary’s version of Camp David. Hartley tells Katie she has the correct facts but the wrong conclusions. Katie tells her it is hard to believe she was not the unnamed shareholder since all the conspirators had a share and made a profit. Hartley explains that it was not a coverup because she authorized the experiment.
The reason? She is well known for wanting to reduce the number of troops to record lows. It has been studied that 17 to 22 veterans a day commit suicide. Can you imagine those numbers being applied to active troops? That is the equivalent of two 9/11 disasters per year. She tells Katie. I read that if they can reduce trauma pathways, there would be less need to cycle soldier after soldier into combat. Hartley allows her to add what she has told her into her story.
Later, she talks about why she is doing this. Her father had PTSD. She had to protect her mother and found her father had committed suicide in the attic. This brings up the moral complexities of testing subjects without their consent. Because it works better blind, Hartley responds. I wanted Katie to ask her why not use it on herself since she had trauma issues as a child, but shows like this never ask. Hartley also confirms for Katie that she had no idea the experiments caused brain tumors until she saw the video of Katie berating Horn before his death.
On their way up to Hartley’s, Katie texts him not to come because she needs more time. They are two or three hours away and are stopped at a police checkpoint. This is when we tell ourselves never to underestimate someone’s incompetence. As Ben sits in the front of the van, the cop searching inside never looks at the vent under the bed or lifts the mattress, which seems like the most obvious hiding spot. After Ben’s CIA capabilities clear the van and the driver when checked in the database, she is about to lift the mattress but leaves it be.
Ben takes one last stab at convincing Reece to stop this course of action. They can take the boat down to Peru. James says no. Ben can go with him. Reece says no, he needs him on the 50-caliber watching his back. Ben then, emotionally, says, “You don’t have to die alone.” The Commander tells him he won’t be alone. He then dives into the water and heads to the Secretary’s bunker.
Katie finishes her story, is about to leave, and changes the headline, “Lorraine Hartley’s Legacy and her Private War for Special Operators.” Is this for her to make sure she gets off the island safely? Not sure, but she sits down to tape Hartley one last time with questions about the mission timeline. Hartley is defensive, including the conversation about not noting Pillar’s defense reports and the coverup investigation if it was before or after Steve Horn’s death.
Why is the reporter asking this? Because she sees a contradiction. This is two stories, not one, as Hartley insists. In the first story, she did not know how RD-4895 caused tumors. This was an unintended consequence of tackling a mental health crisis in the armed services, but she put her faith in the wrong people. In the second story, she created a criminal investigation into Horn and the coverup before San Francisco. Then, in a scene like Katie being Caffey and Hartley now being Jessup, the reporter tells her she sent a platoon to die.
The Secretary angrily replies she did it to save lives! Her actions saved 40 lives daily and even more when the drug was approved. Katie, though, leaves her with this, murder is murder, whether she got paid for it or not. Her response? She won’t let Katie advance her career based on the sacrifices those men made. To which I say, kind of like what she is doing?
Either way, Reece makes his way onto the island, and Ben has him covered. The FBI team sees the gunfire, explosions, and muzzle flash from a distance behind them. They send two men to deal with Ben and take over the operation for private security when they arrive. Meanwhile, Reece has made his way into the estate. Hartley, Katie, and two bodyguards enter a safe room. When they hear James outside, she panics and demands both men leave the room to deal with him. He continues his ascent up to the room.
Reece kills everyone, all that is left is one hired hand. He puts down his weapon and raises his hands. He unlocks the safe room door as Reece asks, and then he coldly shoots the unarmed man in the head. When Reece enters, he sees Katie and Hartley. Katie tells him she made no profit off it, and she is not the last shareholder. It doesn’t matter, he says, because she set the fuse. But before he could kill her, Hartley puts a bullet in her head. Reece, even though he is bleeding, escapes because Tony lets him go when on the beach.
The story ends with a revelation. Katie is in a hotel room, and her story is published. She texts Reece that the last investor has something to do with Obercon Analytics, and they are based out of Peru. Yes, that’s right, where Ben secretly goes to hide out on that beach. Katie leaves that hotel room, and we see Ben climbing onto his boat with a surfboard. He is in Peru. When he walks down below, he senses someone is there. He turns around, and it is Reece. He admits that he was the CIA agent who Pillar had to elevate the fake report of Kahana. Why? Because he was told that all of them are dead, let them die with their boots on.
But what about the 20 million dollars, Reece asks? He admits that was part of it too. He assured him that he had nothing to do with the killing of his girls, and when he found out, he wanted to set the world on fire right along with him. Reece is understanding, but the time is up. Ben says it’s okay, brother. Let’s finish the list. Reece pulls out his weapon, and the camera cuts to the beach, where we see the boat in the distance and hear a gunshot go off.
The series ends with Reece letting the drawing/list go into the ocean. He then reflects on when the starling broke its neck by crashing into the window. Along with Lauren, Reece tells Lucy about death and his job; if he does not return home one day, he will always be there in her heart. She cries, and they all embrace.
Reece then sails Ben’s boat into the sunset.
What did you think of the Amazon original series The Terminal List season 1, episode 8, and the ending? Comment below.