The SBK accomplice you least expected (plus, Phyllis returns for a final appearance!)

By Christina Ciammaichelli
September 08, 2016 at 06:01 AM EDT
Iden Fordl/CBS
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Not too long ago, I spoke to American Gothic showrunner Corinne Brinkerhoff, who promised me the show is “a wild and freaky tale, but it’ll all make sense in the end!”

Has anyone ever been SO RIGHT? The last two hours of American Gothic was full of more suspenseful twists, turns, and punches than my heart could handle, plus the return of several beloved characters (PHYLLIS!) and some of the best ‘Honorable Mention’ material to date. And, as promised, it did all make sense in the end. I’m so sad to say it, but let’s recap the finale of American Gothic!

To start, we see the Hawthorne family and Brady still reeling from last week’s big reveals about Madeline, Mitch, and Garrett’s involvement in the murders of David Morales and SBK. Brady brings Madeline and Garrett down to the police station to question them about the real SBK, considering they’re the only people on record who’ve seen him and lived to tell about it. They’re not much help, though, because they describe two different people.

Garrett recalls a tattoo on SBK’s body of what they determine to be a Brigid’s cross. Dana (through her DNA magic) determines the accomplice was female, and concludes from SBK’s bones that he once broke his femur. With those two details, Brady, Cutter, and Garrett take to a large medical database of Irish, broken-femur patients until they find a name and face Garrett recognizes from that fateful night: John Martin.

Meanwhile, the box of bells and newspaper clippings from the first episode (which Madeline claimed she’d given to Gunther to get rid of) are discovered in the house, and Alison is baffled. She once again approaches her mother and asks for an explanation. But Alison figures it out for herself — Madeline killed Jennifer and Gunther…and Mitchell, too.

Madeline tries to justify her actions by once again explaining she did it to protect the family and to help her children get where they wanted to be (like Alison as the mayor of Boston), but Alison won’t have it anymore. She’s completely disgusted and disturbed by Madeline’s behavior, and tearfully tells her mother that “Everyone’s so afraid of the accomplice, and we have a serial killer right in front of us.” She finally leaves Madeline with the threat of turning her in.

Naomi comes back into the picture in this episode and tells Alison she’s in town for a wedding. Naomi calms down Alison and reminds her why she wants to run for mayor, but also tells her not to let her mother’s transgressions get the best of her and her campaign. Alison takes Naomi’s advice and chooses to throw the box and bells in the river, saving her mother from being arrested and tried for murder.

NEXT: The SBK accomplice no one saw coming

Cam takes Jack to Sophie’s apartment to get him out of the Hawthorne mansion and away from the looming threat of the SBK accomplice. While there, Sophie sneaks out with Jack when Cam isn’t looking and takes him to the aquarium. Apparently, the custody lawyer Madeline got for Cam was going to keep Sophie away from Jack entirely, and Sophie wanted one last day with her son. Cam tells Sophie she’s “a lost cause” (pretty harsh, Cam) and leaves her in the aquarium.

Did you think that was the last we were going to see of Sophie? Well, clearly, if you’ve read this far, you know you’re dead wrong. She may have been the last SBK anyone saw coming.

“Whistler’s Mother” starts with the return of a character near and dear to our (my) hearts, blessed old Phyllis. The American Gothic writers heard our cries and brought her back for one last round of craziness! This time, it’s Election Day and she’s behind Madeline in line to vote, at which point she tells Madeline the cops outside their house have been ruining her flowers. (But how is Caramel’s tail, I can’t help but wonder.)

Garrett, Cam, Tessa, and Alison are all at Alison’s campaign headquarters. Alison and Naomi have worked out a deal with a union that’s basically secured her the election, and everyone’s in good spirits. Even Christina arrives, and she and Garrett patch things up. What could possibly go wrong?

Brady, Cutter, and the rest of the precinct watch a deposition tape of John Martin. Apparently, shortly before the SBK murders began, John Martin was on the losing end of a malpractice lawsuit. His wife died in the hospital as a result of what he claimed was poor care and the hospital’s preferential treatment of richer patients. Now we have a motive: SBK, a.k.a. John Martin, was targeting rich hospital donors, and this included Mitchell and the Hawthornes.

Brady and Cutter visit the grave of John Martin’s wife, Brigid, looking for more answers. Brady notices the cherry blossom trees around her gravestone, which reminds him of some cherry blossoms he’s seen before…

That’s right, SOPHIE’S CHERRY BLOSSOM TATTOOS. Sophie shows up at the Hawthorne mansion and somehow takes down Madeline’s giant new bodyguard before stabbing Madeline, incapacitating her long enough to tie her up. She then lays out her whole life story.

Sophie is the daughter and accomplice of SBK, and a woman who lost both parents at a very young age. She went through the pain of losing her mother and seeing her not get the care she deserved, later assisting her father in getting the revenge he wanted. She got very good at breaking into houses (see: her showing up just about anywhere, including getting into the therapist’s office); she would also borrow a car from a friend (the old blind lady in the woods) and wait for her father’s signal before going in to help him.

John Martin could have taken his young daughter to, like, a father/daughter dance or some other fun “daddy and me” activity. Not SBK, though. Nope, the activity he had in mind was having his preteen daughter assist him in several serial murders, making sure she left behind the silver-bell calling card — “just out of the victim’s reach,” as she puts it.

NEXT: A showdown at the Hawthorne house

Sophie also calls out Madeline about how she treated her, turning both Jack and Cam against her. She reminds Madeline “You used my father…his name…his legacy…to get rid of your own enemies.” She’s right about that one, but how did she know? Hmm.

It’s at this point Cam returns to the Hawthorne house in search of a teddy bear Sophie bought for Jack. He’s completely unaware that his mother is bound to a chair in their living room when Sophie attacks him in his bedroom. Sophie says he was her “way into the family.” Her father never came out of the Hawthorne house that night, so she had to find a way to get to them. But she fell in love with Cam, and she wanted to be with him and Jack more than she wanted revenge. However, now that Cam was leaving and keeping Jack from her, “All I have left is revenge.”

Sophie handcuffs Cam to the dead(?) bodyguard (who’s so large he can’t be easily moved), leaves them in the room, and heads back downstairs to finish Madeline off. Cam struggles to free himself, but can’t. In what may be the absolute best scene and general concept of the series, Cam maneuvers the bodyguard onto a blanket, drags him down the hallway, and then rides (on his belly) said bodyguard down the stairs like a human sled. Truly epic!

He grabs the bodyguard’s gun and heads for Sophie in the living room, but he’s too late. Despite Madeline’s promises of giving Sophie anything she wanted, full custody of Jack, “$500,000 in cash,” etc., Sophie wasn’t having it. She killed Madeline, SBK-style.

Cam lingers in the doorway, gun pointed at Sophie, and screams at her for being so insane. He can’t bring himself to pull the trigger, though, and Garrett shows up and begs him not to ruin his life the way he did. Eventually, the cops burst in and Sophie basically disappears into thin air.

Tessa gets the news of her mother’s murder just as Alison is announced as Boston’s first female mayor. However, the four siblings have some nice moments together, supporting each other and promising to be there for each other in all future endeavors. Aww!

One year later, we see everyone living great lives. Cam and April are finally able to be together; Alison and Naomi are in a relationship (but what happened to Tom?); Tessa and Brady are celebrating their little baby girl; and Garrett and Christina are celebrating their baby as well. Everyone meets on the beach for a lovely gathering, and it’s the most heartwarming this show has been in the past 13 weeks.

Then we see Alison doing an interview and reminiscing about her first months as Boston’s mayor. As she describes her life, aspirations, and future plans, we see flashbacks of her from one year ago. As it turns out, Alison discovered Sophie was SBK’s daughter before Brady or the police ever did. Alison told Sophie all about Madeline’s murders and made a deal with her to kill Madeline. Alison told Sophie that instead of turning her in, she’d help Sophie with this opportunity to take Madeline out. She even gave Sophie one last silver bell, from Madeline’s collection, for her to leave at the scene.

Alison says that despite the fact her mother’s killer is still at large, “Today our family is thriving… I think our mother would be proud.”

NEXT: Honorable Mentions

That’s the end, ladies and gentleman. Are you running through all the details you might have missed that led us here? Do you feel compelled to immediately re-watch all 13 episodes knowing what we know now? ME, TOO.

Eps. 12 and 13 Honorable Mentions

  • “I can’t believe there wasn’t one of me.” —Jack on his missing, dead clay figure. “Well, maybe next time, bud.” —Cam
  • Both Garrett and Alison swearing their children won’t know their mother. Sound familiar? I bet Madeline was having some déjà vu with that one.
  • “Usually it’s just sex toys or pot. Which, you know, is pretty fun too.” —The cable guys
  • “It’s an old Irish symbol. Every other drunk d-bag we drag in here’s got one tattooed on his calf.” —Cutter, whom I’ll maybe miss the most.
  • “Have you watched any good TV lately? I only ask because it can be very soothing and get your mind off things… I’ll tell you what show I LOVE! Boston Legal, have you seen it?” A subtle nod to Boston Legal! Did a certain showrunner also work on that hour-long drama? Plus, the advice the lawyer was giving through the description of her favorite show was hilarious.
  • “Sure, Garrett why not? You need anything else? Maybe Hillary’s emails or Trump’s tax returns?” —Brady’s response to Garrett’s request for Christina’s address. American Gothic getting political, I like it!
  • “The polls also said Brexit wasn’t going to happen.” —Naomi. American Gothic getting topical, I like it!
  • Dana returned…and not only that, she got her boat!
  • “I’m sorry your flowers are struggling, my family and I are receiving psychotic death threats from a killer.” —Madeline. At least she’s sorry?
  • “I’m kind of rooting for the doll maker.” —Sleeping cop.
  • “You’re not exactly in a position to judge parenting skills.” —Sophie, pre-murder.
  • Perhaps the second-best scene of the series: The flashback of Cam — shirtless, waving around watermelon, and drinking a heavily garnished drink — describing to Brady how he used to see Sophie around a lot before they were together.
  • “Your incredibly annoying persistence and pathological inability to let anything go is what got us the answers.” —Cutter
  • “I was worried about Jack having psychopathic genes because his grandfather was SBK…and he was…his other grandfather.” —Cam
  • Can you believe who dun it? Did things turn out the way you thought or hoped it would? Let us know in the comments, and thanks for your contributions all season!

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