Red Rose Season 1 Ending Explained – Who is the Gardener?

February 19, 2023
Jonathon Wilson 0
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This article contains major spoilers for Red Rose Season 1 Episode 8, including an open discussion of the ending of Red Rose Season 1.

Part Derry Girls, part Black Mirror, with a sprinkling of Unfriended for good measure, Red Rose went from being a BBC drama to a Netflix original in just a year. A horror-drama about a group of teenagers being tormented by a mysterious app, it’s a cautionary tale about the dangers of technology and our always-online way of living, and the plot sure takes some twists and turns before it’s over.

Luckily, we’re on hand to break down the drama, unpack some of the real-world ideas, and speculate on some of the matters left unresolved – which, in true Netflix fashion, is quite a few. So, let’s get on with it.

Red Rose Season 1 Ending Explained

What is Red Rose?

The titular Red Rose is a mobile app, though an unusually intrusive one. We’re introduced to it primarily through Rochelle as it rapidly takes control of her entire life since so much of it is contained in her phone. It manipulates her texts, calls, and camera, pushing her into increasingly precarious social predicaments, and while her death early on is supposedly a suicide, there’s a strong sense that the app itself is responsible for it.

While Red Rose toys with supernaturalism in its early episodes, this is misdirection. As the show progresses it reveals a much more human and arguably more terrifying origin for the software. The brainchild of a Manchester-based high school student named Jacob, it began as, simply, a way for a lusty young boy to accumulate information on his crush, Alyssa. However, with input from various online co-conspirators, it grew in scope, eventually becoming an all-consuming bit of tech that could access every detail of a person’s life.

However, having access to this information did little for Jacob, who still couldn’t win over Alyssa. A laughing stock, he handed the keys to the kingdom to an enigmatic figure called “The Gardener”, which would turn out to be, if we’re putting things mildly, quite a mistake.

The Gardener uses the app to torture and eventually murder Alyssa, and then Jacob, and then Rochelle. But why? Somewhat predictably, for entertainment. Red Rose is being used on the Dark Web to torment people for the enjoyment of sickos watching online.

Who is the Gardener?

Red Rose plays a bit of a double bluff with the identity of the Gardener. In the finale, Wren’s father, Rick, is kidnapped by a man who is assumed to be the enigmatic figure, and Wren eventually kills him in a scuffle. However, it is later revealed that the Gardener is actually a woman who earlier spared Noah’s life and suggests to Wren that she led her to her father’s kidnapper to keep the story spicy. The Gardener has been playing everyone all along, though there’s still a little ambiguity in their real identity. The woman might be another red herring, but that’s for subsequent seasons to explore.

Is Red Rose destroyed?

While Jaya manages to delete almost every trace of Red Rose, as the Gardener puts it, she can’t delete an idea. There will always be an appetite for the macabre, and at least for now, the Dark Web will be the best place to find it. While Red Rose might not be able to continue to exist in its previous form, something very much like it will always spring up in its place, as evidenced by the final scene, in which a young man in Tokyo gets a link to download Red Rose, beginning the cycle anew.

You can stream Red Rose Season 1 Episode 8 exclusively on Netflix. What did you think of the Red Rose Season 1 ending? Let us know in the comments below.

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