Everything That Happened in The Clearing Season 1

By Ricky Valero
Published: April 8, 2024
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The Clearing Season 1 Recap
The Clearing Promotional Image (Credit - Hulu)

The Clearing is a limited thriller series produced for Disney+ and Hulu. It follows a woman who faces the demons of her past to stop a cult from kidnapping children. The story is a moving, psychological story spanning eight episodes. While the story feels familiar, it’s not based on real events but is inspired by the Australian cult The Family. I’ve giving a breakdown and recap of each episode to serve as a guide while you watch the series.

Episode 1

The Clearing Season 1 Recap

The Clearing Season 1 (Credit – Hulu)

The series begins with a young lady in the water of this lake with the sun starting to rise. We see Amy carving something into the tree while a little girl named Sara arrives to ask her what she is doing. The conversation ensues when we see a van pull up and kidnap the young girl. We see them arrive at a camp with other kids who each introduce themselves to her.

We meet Freya and Billy, mother/son, at a lakehouse and go into town. While at a store, Freya sees breaking news that another kid has been kidnapped in the town. She freaks out, grabs Billy, and heads home.

While the “cult” is prepping Sara for meeting their mother, Freya is watching the news about the missing child.

We get a montage of people looking for Sara while she is being taught the daily activities of her new surroundings. An officer visits Henrik’s house to ask if he knows the little girl’s whereabouts.

The family is hiding on the inside, and Sara attempts to speak up, but they threaten her life. The officer asks if he can look around, but Henrik says only if he has a warrant.

Upon getting home, Freya sees a white van pass by her house. While inside, Billy asks his mom for his grandmother to stay for dinner, but she says no. Freya has a bit of a moment after seeing a white van passing in town and asks Billy to come out of her room.

He refuses, and she accidentally storms into his room and hits him in the face.

What does Matriah decide to do with Sara?

While Henrik and Hannah debate dropping Sara off somewhere, others say they must tell Matriah what is happening. Tamsin is in trouble because she is the one that snagged Sara, and Matriah snaps at her calling her names. However, she makes the call saying that Sara must be made one of them now.

Freya calls Officer Joe to tell him about the white van that she saw outside. He is a bit hesitant, causing her to ask if he believes her, and he says hasn’t he always. He follows by telling her he will get the cops to do a drive-by.

Later that night, Freya is having a restless night of dreaming of that white van.

Who does Matriah put in charge of Sara?

After deciding to keep Sara, Matriah brings in Amy, who took Sara. She applauded her for her work and told her that she was on the cusp of womanhood. That one day she will have a child of her own, that they will raise at Blackmarsh. But before that happens, she must prove she can care for someone. So she puts her in charge of caring for Asha (Sara’s new name) and ensuring she gets up to speed on their ways.

At dinner, Tamsin tells Sara her mother is on the phone. An excited Sara heads to the phone, only to be disappointed that it is Matriah. Tamsin tells Matriah that Amy had disappointed her leading to her getting a spanking from Tamsin while Matriah was on the phone.

In the middle of the night, we see Sara sneak out of the house while Amy gets up and sees her gone. Everyone freaks out and says for them to find her now.

Episode 1 Ending Explained

We see Freya chasing down this little girl in the woods resembling Sara. However, it causes her to rush home to ensure that Billy is still in the house. The pilot comes to a close with Freya heading to this home to meet with “her mother” inside, which we find out is Matriah.

Episode 2

The Clearing Episode 2 (Credit – Hulu)

Episode 2 begins with us seeing Amy looking at the lake, where she sees people on the hunt for Sara. She tells her brother Sara told her how she could eat whenever she had toys, etc.

However, he tells her it was all a lie, and the devil made her say it. Matriah calls Tamsin to say she is coming to gather the kids. As the hunt continued for Sara, Amy found her in a tree but tried to let her go, but her brother found him and told everyone.

Freya brings Billy to school, and one of the teachers pulls her aside to ask about his black eye. She mentions it was an accident, and her mother was there, and the teacher asks if her mother’s info is on file, and before this goes any further, she gets a call from the home informing her that Matriah had run off.

We’ve begun to unpack more and more that we are balancing between two timelines.

Who reveals that Sara ran away?

Matriah arrived at the house to do a once-over on each kid. She isn’t thrilled with them, from nitpicking their looks to asking what they’ve eaten. As she is set to walk away, Anton speaks up to inform her that he is the one that found Sara after she ran away. She thanks him for what he did and snaps at Tamsin as they enter.

Matriah sits down with Amy to discuss her fumbling about caring for Sara. Freya heads over to meet with Joe to confront him about why he didn’t call the police like he said he would. He tells her he doesn’t have the pull she thinks he does over there.

The pair have lunch together. Upon returning home with Billy, her gate is open, and he talks about a person at school that was talking to him over the fence leading to her freaking out.

While Matriah hits the stage for church, she delivers a speech about how she’s saved so many people, and everyone is clapping. Things quickly change when Sara grabs the mic and screams, “She’s not my mother.”

Tamsin snatches her and gets her out of the building. A frustrated Matriah heads outside for a smoke and runs into Detective Joe. The two have an interesting exchange, with Matriah knowing more about Joe than he even realized.

Detective Joe is searching for evidence to give him enough to get a search warrant for Matriah’s property. The officers around him tell him that he isn’t able to drum anything up, but he insists on doing so anyway.

Who is the heir of The Kindred?

Matriah sits down with Amy to discuss her lack of doing what is needed to help Sara. After saying she might have put too much pressure on her, she looks her in the face and tells her she is the heir of The Kindred when she is no longer able. However, she must be initiated and cleared of all her sins.

For this, we see Matriah give some drugs to Amy, which makes her head down this trippy road.

After the night of tripping, Amy hunts for Sara, and she finds Dr. Lathan, who informs her that she is gone. Back to the present day, when Freya gets a phone call, and it’s Wayne. She hangs up on him.

Freya calls her mom and freaks out on her for giving Wayne her number, and when she says I’m looking out for you, “I’m your mother,” she responds, “No, you are not.”

Who is Wayne?

Wayne is the father of Billy but hasn’t been in his life much at all. However, he is back in the picture because Freya’s mother has called him because of Freya’s actions as of late.

Episode 2 Ending Explained

Freya sits down with present-day Matriah to tell her about Wayne and how her mother called him to come and take Billy away from her. Matriah looks her in the eyes and says, “Wayne will never take Billy from you, I promise.”

The episode ends with Matriah calling someone to ask if they are there, and the person is sitting at the school looking at the playground and saying they are there.

Episode 3

The Clearing Season 1 Recap

The Clearing Episode 3 (Credit – Hulu)

Episode 3 begins with a baby crying in a car and a younger Freya getting so frustrated it wouldn’t stop crying that she leaves the vehicle. In the present day, the people that bought the house that Freya’s living in arrive to measure the second bedroom, but she freaks out on them, telling them to leave. We see her confront her mother about the sale, but she doesn’t want to hear it.

Freya arrives at The Kindred household looking for Dr. Lathan. When nobody answers, she sees herself, and her memories of her time in the house are voiced in her head. After lurking around, Dr. Lathan arrives to say it’s a surprise to see her. Freya asks why Dr. Lathan sold the house from under her, and he thinks she must not have possessions. He said she should’ve seen this coming, and she can’t suck on Mommy’s tit forever.

Why does Amy get in trouble at dinner?

While everyone is eating, Amy mentions that Sara eats whatever she wants at home. She followed this up by saying she could go into the fridge and make a sandwich whenever she liked. This pisses off Tamsin and Hannah, leading to her getting thrown out of the house.

Dr. Lathan comes outside to talk to Amy, who asks how Sara was when he dropped her off, and he says they left her asleep on the doorstep. We see Joe trying to talk his bosses into giving him the warrant to go into The Kindred household to get the kid out.

Who tips off Matriah?

After Joe pushes his boss for the warrant, we see a detective eavesdropping to hear what is being said. Now this detective arrives at the house to talk to Matriah, informing her about Joe’s suspicion of them having her. He asks if they have the kid, and all she says is, “You made the right move,” and rolls up her window.

When Freya arrives at the playground to look after Billy, she sees a white van outside, forcing her to pick him up early from school. After this, she begins to chase down the van, and a car is following her and blinks her lights to tell her to get out. Wayne confronts her about their kid Max, who ran away, and wonders if Freya has been in contact with her. However, he asks about Billy, and she says he will not get him and leaves.

Matriah arrives to take the kids outside, where she sings and lets them play. We see Dr. Latham going through some of the belongings inside the house to get rid of the evidence before the cops arrive. Back outside, Amy has gone missing, and everyone is freaking out. While on the run, a man stumbles across Amy who recognizes her from the haircut and brings her with him in the truck. As she is eating at this man’s house, the cops arrive, leading to Amy going on the run, but she runs into a tree knocking her out.

Who is driving the white van?

Freya calls Joe to tell him she believes that it is Max that was driving the white van. When Billy and Freya get home, Max is waiting for them. Max confirms her suspicion by confronting her mom, saying that her dad told her she left cause she didn’t know how to be a mother, but she had been watching her for weeks being a mother. Wayne arrives to pick up Max, demanding she introduce him to Billy, but she refuses.

Episode 3 Ending Explained

The cops arrive to raid The Kindred household, and they take all of the kids. Inside, Joe is lurking around, trying to find Sara, who is not around. He found an underground tunnel area but was unable to find her. As Henrik and Hannah are being put into the cop cars, Joe confronts them, asking where Matriah is, and none speak a single word. We see Matriah at the airport, dropping a piece of mail off, while Tamsin runs in the woods. The episode ends with Anton arriving at present-day Matriah’s house.

Episode 4

The Clearing Episode 4 (Credit – Hulu)

All of the kids from The Kindred are at the hospital getting a once over their entire bodies. At the hospital, Colin informs Joe that Matriah has fled customs without any flags. Joe realizes that someone tipped her off.

Did Henrik take Sara home?

Joe heads into Amy’s hospital room to ask if she recognizes the girl in the picture and whether it is Sara. She hesitates to speak as Anton sits in the room with her. Joe mentions that she wrote about Sara in her journal that Henrik told her he took her home. Joe reveals that Henrick never took Sara home and needs her help to find her.

Dr. Lathan to Hannah and Henrik are being questioned about the kids, Matriah and Sara, by Joe and Colin. None of them gives pertinent information about the case or admits to anything.

What does the letter that Matriah sent Joe say?

“And on you is this curse until the day of recompense.” — Surah Al-Hijr Verse 35.

Social services are trying to reunite the kids from The Kindred with their biological parents. However, Anton and Amy claim to be the kids of Matriah, but she refuses her rights to them and makes them go to the state.

Freya heads to the jail to visit Henrik. Henrik said he’d waited a long time for her visit. She asks him if he has been in contact with Matriah, and he says it’s been 22 years and not one visit from anyone. She asks him the truth about what happened to Sara, and he flips out, saying she doesn’t want to know the truth.

Anton shows up at Freya’s doorstep, and she allows him to come in and hang out with her and Billy. He lies to her, saying that he hasn’t seen Mom yet. Anton thanks her for looking out for her but also is upset that he never got any piece of the pie as she did. Freya and Max were supposed to sit down for lunch, but she didn’t show up, and Freya was worried that she wanted nothing to do with her.

After Freya tells Billy that Wayne is his father, she takes him to the soccer field to spend time together.

Who does Freya think kidnapped the missing kid?

While visiting Matriah, Freya realizes that Anton is now living with her. During her visit, she sees the man folding up a jacket she recognized from a police video. She steps outside to rewatch the video and sees it’s the same jacket and now believes that Anton is the one who kidnapped the missing kid.

As Joe begins to investigate Anton, the missing girl Carrie Anderson is found in the woods, and while Freya is relieved, she is still sure there is more to it.

Episode 4 Ending Explained

Henrik heads to the police station and confesses to the kidnapping of Sara. He tells them he wanted a daughter, and The Kindred had nothing to do with the abduction.

The episode ends with us seeing Dr. Lathan preaching about reopening their world when Anton walks in, and we see that he has Billy with him.

Episode 5

The Clearing Season 1 Recap

The Clearing Episode 5 (Credit – Hulu)

It’s 1973, and we are with Adrienne (Matriah), who is doing housework for another family. Shortly after leaving the house, she stops by a studio and does some yoga. After returning for a second class, the instructor asks them to close their eyes and envision their own perfect future. Upon doing so, we see Adrienne “crying” over a grave as a preacher says Thomas has died.

After coming home from yoga, Adrienne walks into her house too, which is a bit of a mess, with Tom sitting at the table visibly upset. He freaks out on her because he discovers she has been taking birth control pills and lying about it. He stormed out of the house.

Who dies in “Maitreya”?

As Adrienne sits at the table knitting, she hears a knock at the door. It is the police who inform her that her husband Tom had passed away in a car accident. They explain further that they believe he was under the influence of alcohol. Of course, she remembers that moment at the Yoga class and is shocked that it came true.

Adrienne sets off to America, where she meets Dr. Lathan for the first time to get him to sign his new book. After getting to know one another, Adrienne warns him not to go on this trip he and his wife are taking. Shortly after, we see that Adrienne has since opened her own Yoga studio, teaching the same principles she was taught back home.

Adrienne arrives at Dr. Lathan’s house and realizes that Dr. Lathan’s wife, Tamsin is severely sick from their trip. However, a few days after Adrienne spoke to her, Tamsin was up and moving like never before. Adrienne uses this to her advantage with Dr. Lathan and Tamsin, reeling her into this little world she is building.

Why do Dr. Lathan and Tamsin split up?

The two haven’t been happy for a long time. Adrienne enters the picture and sits with Tamsin one night, saying she deserves much better than he is giving. A few days later, Dr. Lathan and Tamsin sit down with Adrienne to inform her of their split, and she is happy for them.

Slowly but surely, Adrienne begins to meet everyone who helped lead The Kindred. She gathers with everyone individually and shows her this new future (drugging them) that she can provide them. A woman speaks up against Adrienne, saying she isn’t who she claims to be, only to be shooed away. Outside, Hannah tries to stop the woman to ask if her statement is true. She said yes and that The Kindred is a cult.

Episode 5 Ending Explained

We now see Adrienne, Dr. Lathan, and the rest of the crew find the house where they will begin raising the children. As they look around, Hannah attempts to call the lady she met at the party, but Adrienne overhears it, explains that that woman is sick, and puts her hand on Hannah’s belly, saying I don’t think you are doing very well.

Episode 6

The Clearing Episode 6 (Credit – Hulu)

The episode begins with the cops sending a delivery driver to find Adrienne, leading to her arrest. She spent six years on the run, and they finally arrested her and extradited her to the country to face charges. Wayne and pregnant Amy are watching the big news unfold in front of their eyes on the TV.

Dr. Lathan visits Adrienne in prison, where we discovered they denied bail because she is a flight risk. As a result of the arrest of Adrienne, Dr. Lathan is forced to resign from the college he worked at. He calls Colin at the police station to ask why he betrayed Adrienne and says they have him on tape and will send it to the police.

What does Colin admit to the inspector?

After the phone conversation with Dr. Lathan threatening him, Colin walks into his boss’s office to tell him that he is gay. The inspector asks him if there is anything else, and he says no.

How does Adrienne get out of jail?

The case was stacked against Adrienne until she and her team could pull strings to get her driver Rowan on the jury. As a result, her attornies claimed that there was a rigged jury, and they declared a mistrial. Since they didn’t have any jurors to pull for the case, she was released on bail until they could retry it.

Freya arrives to confront Anton about how he kidnapped the little girl. Of course, he denies it and brings up feeling sorry for Billy having her as a mom. She starts hitting him until Adrienne arrives to stop her. Freya tells her she is leaving to go to the cops, but Adrienne talks her off the ledge by telling her to be kind to her brother.

Freya heads to the hospital to try and talk to the little girl that was kidnapped. She rolled over, and Freya asked if the man in the picture (Anton) was the man that kidnapped her, and she said, “The light shines on me,” which triggered Freya because it was something they said when she was younger.

Who does Anton take to meet Adrienne?

Anton is sitting outside a house where Max is sneaking out of her dad’s place to get in the car with him. He tells her on the ride that she will meet her grandmother today. Adrienne breaks her down by mentioning how her mother wasn’t there for her. Max gets quite emotional and heads to a room where Anton is watching old videos of the kids at The Kindred.

Episode 6 Ending Explained

After discovering that Henrik has been released from prison, Freya decides to hunt for him but realizes he has left his apartment. It triggers her to head to a house where she sees Adrienne and Dr. Lathan gathering with a group of men and women (we see Anton and his kid seated) in what looks like a meeting to bring back The Kindred. Dr. Lathan turns around and sees Freya, and she runs as the episode ends.

Episode 7

The Clearing Season 1 Recap

The Clearing Episode 7 (Credit – Hulu)

Episode 7 beings with Amy reliving the court case that saw her lose custody of Max after leaving her in the car alone in the middle of the day. We move to the present day, where Wayne is seeing off Max back home while he deals with Billy and Freya. Freya tries to talk to her before she leaves, and Max wants no part of her.

Freya heads to talk to Adrienne about her reopening The Kindred, and she won’t speak quietly about it. However, Adrienne reminds her of what she can do if she doesn’t keep her mouth shut. It leads to a flashback with Adrienne visiting her in a psych ward, where she helped her get out after losing Max.

What secret does Freya reveal to Joe?

Freya showed Joe they were trying to recreate The Kindred house. However, when they arrive, the house is cleaned out. Joe mentions she has Alzheimer’s and that Freya has made this all up. Freya tells Joe the truth and informs him that she doesn’t have Alzheimer’s and that they lied about it. He is upset because he could’ve put her away, but Adrienne blackmailed Freya into putting her back in the psych ward.

We move back to when Freya first got out of the psych ward and meets with Wayne for dinner. It leads to them sleeping together. That night, Freya had asked Wayne if he could see them slowly get back together and build a future together. He is very hesitant and says that he must protect Max.

How did Joe figure out that Colin was The Kindred’s inside man?

Joe found a picture on Colin’s desk that showed a picture of a car parked outside the lodge in 1989, and the car was registered to Colin’s wife in her maiden name. Joe put two and two together and confronted him. Colin explained that Adrienne blackmailed him and couldn’t help but do what she said.

Adrienne is invited to a wedding by Abigail, and everyone has a mixed reaction to her being there. Joe takes the opportunity to grab the mic and announce to the entire party that Adrienne is faking her disease and that she belongs in jail. Anton takes off to the stage punching Joe, and Freya freaks out and leaves. Outside, Anton’s wife, Ebonie, is sitting in the car and introducing herself to Freya, saying they are the initiates. Before Freya can confront her on what she said, Anton comes outside, saying Adrienne is ready to go.

Episode 7 Ending Explained

Freya returns home, as does Billy, after staying the night with Wayne. The duo heads out to the lake like they always do, where Freya holds her breath underwater, and when Freya comes back from underwater, Billy is gone, leading to mass panic by Freya as the episode ends.

Episode 8

The Clearing Episode 8 (Credit – Hulu)

Freya is standing in the woods with cops around her, screaming for Billy now that he has gone missing. She is frantically wandering the woods to see if she can find him. We see Wayne arrive home to the cops waiting to take him down to the station for questioning.

What does Freya find in the treehouse?

As he hunts to find Billy, the dog barks at the treehouse, and Freya rushes up. When she opens the door, she sees a sleeping bag on the ground and a tape player, which plays an old song that would play at The Kindred House.

Freya escapes her house away from the cops and heads to where Adrienne is staying, and everything is gone. Her caretaker arrived and said everything was just there yesterday. Freya heads to Joe’s, where she pleads with him to help her. She awakens from sleeping to overhear him talking about how she’s on the run and they need to get her. Freya thinks he’s talking about her and runs.

Who is Freya’s father?

Freya finds Henrik at the old Kindred House looking through some files. He admits to staying in the treehouse in hopes of protecting them. Henrik follows by saying that he thought what Adrienne was doing was for good, and they had two kids and hoped they made the right choice. Freya asks where his two kids are now, and it’s revealed that Henrik is Freya’s father.

After digging through some old mail, Freya is able to locate the newest place where The Kindred is starting to form. She overhears Dr. Lathan speaking to a group of people and begins to hunt through the house, looking for Billy. Adrienne finds her lurking around and calls her out for being unable to look after her children. Adrienne tells Freya if she wants Billy, to go find him.

Who killed Sara?

Freya’s search around the house comes with flashbacks of her past and uncertainty about what is real and what isn’t in front of her. She finds an old tape, and when she plays it, she sees her younger self admitting to Adrienne that she killed Asha. A flashback shows her repeatedly putting her head into the water, leading to her death. As she’s watching the tape, Adrienne walks into the room and begins to take control of Freya.

Anton visits Freya, where he tells her that Max is on her way, and Freya thinks that Max has Billy. As Freya starts to drift off into a drugged state, she tells Anton that Henrik and Hannah are their real parents.

The Clearing Season 1 Ending Explained

Freya convinces Hannah to help her get out of the house. She spots a boat in the distance, but at the same time, Anton spots her. Freya dives into the water, and Anton begins to shoot at her, but she goes underwater and is able to make it to the boat that has Joe and the cops on it. Shortly after, we see the cops raid the new Kindred place.

We get a montage of the Henrik marking where Sara’s body is and the cops starting to dig her up. As that happens, Freya and Wayne are reunited with Max and Billy. Max had taken Billy to protect him from The Kindred. The season ends with Freya and Max embracing with a hug.

And that concludes my recap of The Clearing. What was your favorite episode? Comment below.

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