Hulu's Little Fires Everywhere Finale Throws a Major Curveball — Let's Discuss

Apr 22 2020 - 8:45am

Hulu's adaptation of Celeste Ng's Little Fires Everywhere [1] has been revving up the drama since its premiere, and we've officially reached a fever pitch. The limited series's finale, which dropped on April 22, shows the culminating events [2] that lead up to the Richardons' house fire — and if you've read the book, you'll be surprised at who the arsonist is.

Near the beginning of the episode, we see the McCulloughs and Bebe Chow continuing to fight for custody of baby May Ling (aka Mirabelle). Meanwhile, the Richardsons and Warrens deal with frays that are rooted in overlapping conflicts between their families [3]. Pearl and Mia are at odds (after Elena tells Pearl the truth about Mia's past [4]), Elena and Bill's marriage is cracking under pressure, Lexie is dealing with the emotional aftermath of her abortion and breakup with Brian, Moody figures out that Pearl is dating Trip, and Izzy continues to feel frustrated by her family. Eventually, it all comes together in a shocking reveal about how the Richardsons' home is destroyed.

There's a lot that happens within the hour-long finale, but, don't worry: we're breaking down all the details. Keep reading to see everything that fans the flames in the concluding installment, then find out if there's potential for a season two of Litte Fires Everywhere [5].

What Happens to Elena Richardson at the End of Hulu’s Little Fires Everywhere?

Pretty much every single facet of Elena's life comes crashing down. Tensions between her and Bill are still high as the trial continues to create a wall between them (so much so that Bill is sleeping on the couch and refuses to have a real conversation with Elena). Still, Elena can't help but overstep her boundaries to help the McCulloughs maintain custody of May Ling. She goes to an abortion clinic to see if her friend Elizabeth, who works there, can tell her if Bebe tried to abort her baby before giving birth. If they can confirm this happened, perhaps the judge will be more easily convinced that May Ling should be with the McCulloughs.

However, Elizabeth refuses to disclose any information because, you know, confidentiality and ethics. But when she receives a call and leaves her office, Elena sneaks onto her computer to look in the system. She doesn't find anything on Bebe, but she sees a file with Pearl's name on it. Believing Moody got Pearl pregnant, she confronts her youngest child. Moody, who had just gotten into a physical fight with his brother, Trip, over Pearl (more on that later), is just as surprised when he hears the news. He tells Elena that Pearl has actually been seeing Trip and they both believe that the jock got Pearl pregnant. Neither one of them know that Lexie is actually the one who got an abortion.

After Moody drops that truth bomb, the verdict for the McCulloughs vs. Bebe case comes in. Elena is delighted to hear that Linda and Mark will get to keep May Ling. However, things between her and Bill are still strained and they get into an intense argument back home. She says Bill wasn't there for her when she got pregnant with Izzy and had to give up her dreams (we're seeing the root of Elena's inherent resentment toward her youngest child here). Bill, who tells Elena that he knows about her dinner with Jamie [7], quickly snipes back that the only person Elena is unhappy with is herself, but she can't take responsibility for her own actions.

Reeling from the dispute, Elena goes to Mia's apartment to tell her that she and Pearl need to be out of the building by morning. Of course, they have a war of words and when Elena insinuates that Mia is a bad mother because of Pearl's abortion, Mia tells her the truth about Lexie. Elena leaves and runs into Pearl outside but doesn't say anything when Pearl tries to speak to her. Back home, Elena continues to spiral and begins drinking.

That evening, things between Elena and Izzy come to a head when Izzy — who knows Elena kicked Mia and Pearl out — tries to burn her own belongings in her bedroom. They exchange some heavy words, but Elena delivers a major dagger, blurting out, "I never wanted you in the first place." Lexie, Trip, and Moody are all taken aback and begin to see Elena's true colors. Izzy decides it's time to leave once and for all. Elena doesn't go after her and continues to cry in her room until Trip comes in to tell her the house is on fire and they evacuate.

When the police arrive, they suspect Izzy is responsible. But when they ask Elena who started the fire, she takes the blame. Although we know that's not true, it's an emblematic moment in which Elena finally recognizes her faults. She goes to Mia and Pearl's now-vacant apartment to see if Izzy is there. But all she finds is an art project Mia left on the table: a diorama of Shaker Heights covered in white flour with a bird cage holding a single feather. She tearfully takes the feather in her hand, alluding it to her missing daughter (the episode begins with a flashback in which a younger Izzy mothers a wounded bird to the annoyance of Elena). The last word she whispers — and it's the final word of the season — is simply, "Izzy."

What Happens to Mia Warren at the End of Hulu’s Little Fires Everywhere?

Mia is still getting the cold shoulder from her daughter after Elena told Pearl the truth about her family: Mia was supposed to be a surrogate for a couple who was unable to have a child, but she told the couple that Pearl died and decided to raise Pearl as her daughter. The mother-daughter duo have a screaming match, leaving Mia heartbroken. At Pearl's request, Mia calls her daughter's would-be parents, but hangs up when the wife recognizes her voice. While balancing all these different emotions, Mia begins to work on the aforementioned diorama of Shaker Heights.

After Bebe loses custody of May Ling, she goes to Mia's apartment, where the artist comforts her as she cries. Izzy also shows up to Mia's place and is sad to see Bebe so shattered. When Bebe leaves, Izzy expresses concern over whether the young mother will be able to move on without May Ling. Mia tells Izzy about the symbolic implications of a fire she once witnessed: everything was seared, but it made way for new, richer beginnings. "Sometimes you have to scorch everything to start over," she says. "And after the burning, the soil is rich and life can grow there — life that is maybe even better than what was there before. And people are like that, too. They are resilient. Even from total devastation, they start over, and they find a way. Bebe will find a way and so will Pearl and so will you." (Yes, this is indeed foreshadowing, but there's a twist later on.)

Once Izzy leaves, Mia is home alone until an irate Elena stops by to tell her that the apartment lease won't be renewed, giving her and Pearl less than a day to move out. In the foregoing snippet about this scene, we mention that Mia tells Elena the truth about Lexie's abortion, but now it's worth adding exactly how she told her. Mia bellows, "If she'd have the mother she deserved, she might have had the courage to put her own f*cking name down at the clinic and she might not have needed to spend the night here in my arms when her own f*cking mother was galavanting at my parents' house." Mia might have some of the best lines of the episode.

When Pearl comes home, she and Mia have a heart-to-heart conversation. Mia tells Pearl that her father's name is Joe Ryan. She also reveals everything about her past (how she confided in her late brother, Warren, about being a surrogate and how her parents disowned her after they found out about her pregnancy). She tearfully explains that she adamantly advocated for Bebe to prove to herself that keeping Pearl was the right thing to do. Pearl forgives her mother, and they have a quick photo shoot before packing their things and leaving.

After dropping their apartment key off at the Richardsons' mailbox, Mia asks Pearl where she wants to go. Pearl chooses her non-surrogate parents' house. When they arrive, at Pearl's behest, Mia reads her daughter's journal entry in which Pearl questions the construct of her life and her place in the world. After reading it, an emotional Mia gets out of the car and looks pensively at the Ryans' home.

What Happens to Pearl Warren at the End of Hulu’s Little Fires Everywhere?

At the beginning of the finale, Pearl is still angry with Mia for not telling her the truth about her father. Pearl becomes even more upset when she goes into Mia's studio and sees that Mia has been stealing things from the Richardsons' home (e.g. Elena's medication) since she started working there as a "house manager." Pearl is also enraged by a photograph of Elena that Mia burned.

After a quarrel with Mia, Pearl goes off to meet up with her boyfriend, Trip, but is surprised to see Moody there. Moody confronts her and Trip about their relationship and lashes out at Pearl. When he's gone, Pearl and Trip talk about their romance and their guilt behind lying to Moody. Pearl then rethinks the way she's been treating Mia. She returns home and reconciles with her mother before they move out of their apartment and leave Shaker Heights without saying goodbye to any of the Richardsons. Pearl then meets the couple who would have been her parents.

What Happens to Bill Richardson at the End of Hulu’s Little Fires Everywhere?

Although Bill helps the McCulloughs win the custody battle against Bebe, the rift between him and Elena is widening. Bill's mounting frustrations cause him to snap on Izzy after he sees that she's thrown out a bag of her belongings. Everything finally boils over when he gets into a blowout fight with Elena in which they call out each other's pitfalls in their marriage. Bill angrily storms out to go for a drive. When he returns, the house is up in flames. He talks to the police and learns that there were "little fires everywhere." He admits that neither he nor Elena know Izzy's whereabouts before exchanging a somber glance with his wife when she takes responsibility for the fire.

What Happens to Lexie Richardson at the End of Hulu’s Little Fires Everywhere?

Lexie is crushed after she and Brian break up following an argument about their future and their inability to see eye to eye on racial issues. Lexie seems to grasp a slightly better understanding of Brian's point of view, but they still call it quits. She also decides not to tell him about her abortion. Izzy, however, figures out Lexie's secret and tells her older sister that Elena thinks Pearl is the one who had an abortion. She urges Lexie to tell Elena the truth, but Lexie is too scared. Lexie notes that if Izzy says anything, Elena wouldn't believe her anyway.

Still, we see that Lexie does have a soft spot for Izzy. When Izzy is preparing to burn her clothes after finding out Mia and Pearl moved away, Lexie is the first one in her room, trying to stop her. She calls for help and Trip, Moody, and Elena come in. But when Elena derides Izzy in their final argument, Lexie is genuinely shocked by the depth of Elena's contempt for Izzy and is worried when her sister runs away.

Tired of living in her mother's facade, Lexie reveals all of her wrongdoings to Elena, shouting, "You think Izzy's the f*ck-up in this family, but she's not. I am. I used Pearl. I stole her story to get into Yale, I wrote her name down at the clinic. Mom, I got pregnant. I got the abortion, not her. And, I mean, I tried — I really tried to tell you everything. There's all of this pressure to be all of these things, to be f*cking perfect, but I'm not. I'm not f*cking perfect."

But when Elena refuses to acknowledge Lexie's imperfections (and therefore her own), the eldest Richardson child reaches her breaking point and decides to finish what Izzy started: the fire. She convinces Trip and Moody that it's the only way their family can start over and depart from their picture-perfect life that's hiding their deep-seated issues. "Maybe Izzy's the only one who actually had it right," she says. To everyone who read the Little Fires Everywhere book . . . surprise! Izzy's not the culprit in this adaptation.

What Happens to Trip Richardson at the End of Hulu’s Little Fires Everywhere?

Trip's romance with Pearl wanes when Moody catches them during a rendezvous. Trip tries to calm Moody down but loses his temper when his little brother insults Pearl for being with him. Trip throws the first punch, and the two Richardson boys duke it out while Pearl desperately tries to get them to stop. Trip gives his brother a black eye before Moody finally leaves. He and Pearl then discuss their relationship, and Pearl decides to end things. But she also advises Trip to make amends with his brother, and Trip encourages her to forgive Mia. Back home, he witnesses Elena and Izzy's confrontation, helps Lexie and Moody set their house on fire, and evacuates Elena while everything burns down.

What Happens to Moody Richardson at the End of Hulu’s Little Fires Everywhere?

Moody's suspicions about Pearl and Trip lead him to their secret hideout. When he sees them together, he lashes out at Pearl and gets into a physical fight with Trip. When he returns home, Elena accuses him of getting Pearl pregnant after she sees Pearl's name on a document at the abortion clinic. But Moody — not realizing at the time that Lexie got the abortion — reveals to his mother that Pearl has actually been seeing Trip.

He later broods about Pearl while watching a news segment showing the McCulloughs' victory in court. After griping to Izzy about how "rich people, beautiful people, popular people" always get what they want and think they own everything, Izzy gives him a reality check, saying that he's no different for believing that he's entitled to Pearl's affection. Ouch.

The next time we see Moody, he's in the room during Elena and Izzy's last showdown and begs Izzy to stay before she leaves for good. He then assists Lexie and Trip in their act of arson to burn the remains of their fabricated lives.

What Happens to Izzy Richardson at the End of Hulu’s Little Fires Everywhere?

We don't really see what Izzy is up to until mid-episode when she puts Moody in his place for thinking Pearl should be with him. Their conversation also helps Izzy unveil a major revelation: Lexie got an abortion (Moody says it was Pearl, but Izzy uses common sense to deduce that it was her sister). She demands Lexie to tell Elena the truth, but Lexie rebuffs her.

Izzy goes to Mia's apartment where she finds Bebe hysterically crying after losing May Ling. She embraces Bebe alongside Mia and is worried about Bebe's ability to move forward. But Mia, citing the healing effects of fires and turmoil, assures Izzy that Bebe will be OK.

Later, back at her house, Izzy sees Mia and Pearl, who are putting their apartment key in the Richardsons' mailbox before driving away in a packed car (this, of course, takes place after Elena kicks them out). Completely distraught, Izzy takes Mia's fire analogy to heart and begins pouring gasoline on her bedroom belongings. Lexie, Trip, and Moody try to stop her but are stunned when she tells them that Elena forced out Mia and Pearl.

Izzy and Elena then get into a screaming match and Izzy reveals she had a girlfriend named April for a year. This is the first time she's openly addressed her sexuality in front of her family. She also says Mia was the only person who truly cared about her and wishes Mia was her mother. That's when Elena delivers the final blow, yelling that she never wanted to have Izzy. The youngest Richardson child leaves the house — before Lexie, Trip, and Moody set it ablaze — and catches a bus heading to an undisclosed destination. While she's riding toward her unknown future, Izzy dreams of hitching a ride with Mia and Pearl.

What Happens to Linda McCullough at the End of Hulu’s Little Fires Everywhere?

Linda has a tough day in court as Bebe's lawyer, Ed Lan, questions her aptitude as a mother raising a Chinese baby. Ed wonders how the McCulloughs can ensure that May Ling understands her heritage and identity. Linda is visibly conflicted and grapples with the idea of being "colorblind" while recognizing the importance of May Ling staying connected to her culture [8] — a culture the McCulloughs know nothing about. After taking the stand, Linda talks to Elena about how exhausted she is from the custody battle. During their chat, they hear May Ling call Linda "mama" for the time, which rejuvenates the hopeful adoptive mother.

Linda ends up winning the case and seems less willing to allow Bebe to see May Ling. Near the end of the finale, we see Linda and her husband, Mark, sleeping before they're awakened by May Ling's crying. Mark insists that they should let the baby get settled in and convinces Linda to go back to sleep. But Linda wakes up again and decides to check on May Ling, only to find out that the baby is gone. She's immediately devastated and breaks down in tears.

What Happens to Bebe Chow and Her Baby at the End of Hulu’s Little Fires Everywhere?

Bebe loses custody of May Ling in court and has a difficult time processing the official separation from her daughter. She goes to Mia's apartment where Mia and Izzy console her. However, Bebe ultimately decides to take matters into her own hands. She breaks into the McCulloughs' house and takes back May Ling. By the time Linda and Mark see that the baby is gone, Bebe is already elsewhere, joyfully cradling her daughter.

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