Warning: This article contains major spoilers for Netflix's "Behind Her Eyes."
I watched Netflix's Behind Her Eyes earlier this year, and I still can't stop thinking about it. As someone who has always been obsessed with stories about dreams, fractured realities, and flawed memories (somehow always involving fires and mental institutions, both of which the show features as well), the show seemed right up my alley. In many ways, it was exactly my kind of show — a twisty blend of drama, psychological thriller, romance, and surreal world-hopping.
Yet I can't stop thinking about the plot holes, specifically those that took place at the end of the show. Was the ending believable and mind-blowing? Or was it completely batshit, absurd nonsense? I was mind-blown when I first saw it, but I'm starting to honestly think it was the latter.
Behind Her Eyes is a very binge-able and very frustrating Netflix drama about a woman named Louise (Simona Brown), a dedicated single mother who works as a secretary at a therapist's office. When she feels a spark after meeting a new man named David (Tom Bateman) on the rare night out, she's quickly enchanted — only to discover (the next day) that he is actually her brand new boss.
Behind Her Eyes | Official Trailer | Netflix www.youtube.com
Louise quickly becomes entangled in David's life, and the two — spurred on by their burning chemistry — inevitably start an affair. She also becomes entangled in the life of David's strange wife, Adele, played by a magnetic Eve Hewson.
Hewson, who happens to be Bono's daughter, is magnificently eerie as David's heavily medicated, extremely wealthy, ostensibly perfect housewife. She meets Louise on the street (Louise runs into her and knocks her down), and the two strike up a friendship.
Their relationship is largely orchestrated by Adele, who double-texts her, pressures Louise to go to the gym and spend days off with her, and bans her from saying a word about any of it to her husband. Of course, Louise also can't tell Adele she's sleeping with her husband. The love triangle forms the show's central tension, but of course things are never as they seem.
Eve HewsonThe Irish Sun
Louise is also plagued by intense night terrors. She confesses this to Adele, who immediately attempt to teach Louise how to control her dreams. She gives Louise a book written by Rob, her best friend from her time as a patient at a mental hospital.
She also tells Louise about the reason she was in the mental hospital — both her parents died in a fire that tore up their massive, castle-like mansion in the English countryside. We also learn that Rob, a working-class gay heroin addict who seemed to love Adele beyond measure, is currently dead, lying at the bottom of a well.
Along the way, we discover that Adele has the ability to astral project by imagining a door in her lucid dreams and walking through it. She teaches Rob to lucid dream and astral project as well, and the two flutter around her estate in the form of colored orbs, flitting like fairies through the woods.
But there's something very, very wrong with Adele in the present. She constantly seems on the edge of snapping. She does heroin and seems to be deeply terrifying to her husband. Her husband, in turn, tracks her every move, drugs her, and bans her from seeing anyone at all other than him. She makes him elaborate dinners, which appear to amount to psychological torture to him; their relationship is not exactly fine.
Then things really go haywire.
me still processing the plot twist at the end of behind her eyes 48 hours after i finished watching it https://t.co/A3w3NIsRvd— annabel (@annabel)1616904748.0
Here is the twist, with major spoiler alerts as a caveat (seriously, stop reading if you even might watch the show):
While they were astral projecting, Adele and Rob switched bodies (you can do that while astral projecting, apparently). Then Rob (in Adele's body) killed Adele (in his body). All this was because Rob wanted to steal Adele's life and marry her boyfriend, David.
I take issue with the fact that the show just wants us to accept that Adele has actually been Rob this entire time. Apparently Rob has blackmailed David into staying with him (in Adele's body, of course) by threatening to frame him for Rob's ( actually Adele's) death.
Things actually get weirder at the end of the show. Adele has apparently known about David and Louise's affair from the beginning, and she has proper vengeance at the end. She sets her house on fire, somehow knowing that Louise would attempt to save her by astrally projecting. (This is one of the biggest issues I had with the show: Instead of, you know, calling the fire department when she realizes her friend's house is on fire, she manages to fall asleep by counting back from 10 — on the stoop of a burning building — and astrally projects herself up to Adele's room).
Once there, Rob-as-Adele manages to switch bodies with Louise. By the end of the show, we see David and Louise driving off into the sunset, while unbeknownst to David Louise is still Rob — though we, the audience (and Louise's poor son, Adam) can tell because of the crazed new look in Louise's eyes and her new love for heeled sandals.
It's an odd, twisty labyrinth of a show, but its plot holes make it incredibly difficult to follow and even harder to make peace with after the flames have cooled.
Eve Hewson Behind Her EyesBustle
To begin with, there are some major problems with this ending. The fact that "Adele" has been a gay man in a woman's body this whole time is a theme that some see as both homophobic and transphobic. The whole thing is messy and makes no sense, and one primary issue is that Rob-as-Adele seems nothing like the Rob we met in the show's flashbacks.
In addition, it's never explained exactly why David drugs and controls his wife so much. It's not explained why it takes Louise so long to get to the end of Rob's diary, or why Rob and Adele were in the same mental hospital, or what actually happened to Adele's parents (we never really find out what happened to them in the fire, though it's heavily insinuated that the fire was not an accident).
In some ways, though, the twist works well with the show's deeper themes, operating on a kind of dream logic that fits within the show's central themes. Behind Adele and David's apparently perfect marriage are deep wounds, psychological flaws, heavy drinking and overmedication, so ultimately the whole world of dream logic really manifests itself as icy, WASP-y tension and surveillance state-like control.
Even David's therapeutic knowledge and Adele's money can't heal the unbreachable gap between them. Rob has to climb inside the body of someone else — in this case, fitting with a theme, that of a Black woman — in order to evolve and fit his new ideal.
That Louise gets caught up and ultimately devoured by Adele, Rob, and David is the heart of the show's conclusion. Buried in the plot holes are moments where the weirdness aligns and you can see the flaws in the whole system; it becomes a show about the ways people hurt and lie and steal from each other in order to escape their own pain. It becomes a show about the way secrets calcify and destroy others.
If only the plot holes weren't so big, so clunky, so nightmarishly exaggerated, perhaps it would all be easier to believe. But then again, sometimes it's easier to live inside our illusions — to inhabit other lives, other bodies, other narratives — rather than to see the truth.