Themes of closure are threaded throughout this finale, which seeks to provide closure of a kind itself, but the lurid fascination with unknowable evil remains the most pervasive idea.
This recap of Dahmer — Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story season 1, episode 10, “God of Forgiveness, God of Vengeance”, contains spoilers, including an open discussion of the ending of Dahmer — Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer story.
The final chapter of Jeffrey Dahmer’s life according to Ryan Murphy doesn’t begin with Dahmer himself, but another serial killer of similar notoriety — John Wayne Gacy, the “Killer Clown” who tortured, sodomized, and killed at least 33 young men in his ranch-style house in suburban Chicago. It says a lot about Dahmer that rather than tell us this information or expect us to know it, we’re instead treated to an entire opening sequence of Gacy killing his latest victim just to make the point clear.
Gacy was a terrible monster, of course, but why is he relevant here? Well, he’s about to be executed for his crimes, which means he’s all over the news while Dahmer is serving his prison sentence as a kind of minor celebrity, pulling pranks and selling his autograph. During his incarceration, Gacy has found God and believes himself to be forgiven. When Dahmer sees his interviews, he begins wondering if he, too, could seek holy forgiveness and assure himself safe passage to heaven.
So, Dahmer meets with a pastor and then his father. He plans to be baptized, to have his sins washed away, as though it could ever be that easy. These themes of potential forgiveness and grace are threaded all throughout the episode and don’t just apply to a man who is being faced with his possible execution. Even Glenda debates the matter; she’s so consumed by hatred for Dahmer that she wonders if she’ll ever be able to move on.
On the day of Dahmer’s baptism and Gacy’s execution, which coincide, a solar eclipse begins to blot out the light, as though the sun itself can’t stand to watch.
Dahmer’s return to the lord doesn’t save him — at least not physically. While in prison he had earned the attention of a man named Christopher Scarver, a convicted murderer who had himself found God. After becoming annoyed by Dahmer’s general presence and attitude, Scarver looks into the nature of his crimes and is brought to tears by their savagery. He gets himself put on the same work detail as Dahmer and another prisoner named Jesse Anderson, and using a metal bar taken from a piece of gym equipment, beats them both to death.
There’s a theory that Scarver killed both men on racial grounds — Anderson had stabbed his wife in the face and tried to frame two Black men for it, while the vast majority of Dahmer’s victims had all been young men of color. Scarver eludes to this in a line of dialogue immediately after killing Jesse, but he frames Dahmer’s murder in purely religious terms — he believes himself to be a vessel of God’s will for vengeance, acting on his behalf to destroy evil. (He was also probably schizophrenic).
In the aftermath of Dahmer’s death, little changes. The idea of closure becomes so subjective as to be meaningless. After his cremation, which Dahmer himself had requested with no formal services or headstone, his brain is retained for scientific study. His mother, Joyce, is all for the idea, hoping to understand why Jeffrey was the way he was, but his father is dead against it. The matter goes to court, and the judge, in the interest of closing a particularly evil chapter in human history, orders the brain destroyed. We’ll never understand why Jeffrey Dahmer did what he did. And while that might be a hard pill to swallow, perhaps it’s for the best we don’t know.
The series ends with the names and photographs of Dahmer’s victims being arranged on-screen, as we’re reminded that, despite Glenda’s best efforts, no memorial for them was ever built.
You can stream Dahmer — Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story season 1, episode 10, “God of Forgiveness, God of Vengeance” exclusively on Netflix. What did you think of the ending of Dahmer — Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story? Let us know in the comments.