The 'Dead to Me' Twists to Remember Before Watching the Even Twistier Season 2
A quick refresher about what went down in the Netflix show's first season.
There's a scene in Season 2 of Netflix's dark comedy Dead to Me where Jen and Judy, the messed-up protagonists played, respectively, by Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini, are eating pie at a diner just hours after burying a body. "We are not in Snow White," says Jen. "This is fucking Scarface." When Judy says she's never seen that Al Pacino movie, Jen quips that she hasn't either and that "no girls have," which, although not true, sums up how these two middle-aged Laguna Beach women are at a complete loss with how to deal with the blood on their hands.
The critcally acclaimed series, created by Liz Feldman and executive-produced in part by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, returns with even more twists. While Season 1 focused on boho drifter Judy's attempts to atone for being involved in the hit and run that killed Jen's high-strung luxury realtor husband, Ted — which she did to an overbearing extent by lying to, befriending, and moving in with Jen to the point of it all blowing up in her face — Season 2 finds Jen struggling to make a similar confession to Judy about having killed her ex-fiancé, Steve (James Marsden). Now that the total amateurs who've both committed felonies have to cover up their crimes, the comedic crime thriller veers into outlandish territory by ratcheting up the scandalous revelations.
The result is that Season 2 is even easier to guzzle than the glasses of win Jen's perpetually downing. But with so many plot points in motion, there's also a lot to remember from Season 1 that will help you as you watch the new episodes. (Some minor spoilers ahead — you've been warned!) Here's what you need to know before binging Dead to Me Season 2. And once you're done with the new episodes, check out our discussion of the finale.
How did Jen's husband Ted die?
Season 1 hinged on the hit and run that killed Jen's (actually kind of terrible, cheating) husband Ted, and left her a lonely, angry widow. The show is of course about how Jen's new BFF Judy was involved in the incident — but the details were pretty murky and only revealed near the end of the Season 1 finale. Judy was at the wheel, but as soon as the accident happened, she felt compelled to pull over and get help. But she wasn't alone in the car; Steve was riding shotgun, and yelled at her to drive away, and then afterward counseled her to act like nothing had happened. Given that Judy is at times too conscientious and that Steve is connected to money-laundering and the Greek mafia, it checks out that Steve would ultimately be most to blame for trying to cover up the incident.
Why did Jen kill Steve?
In the Season 1 finale, Steve came over to Jen's unannounced, looking for Judy in a rage after finding out that she'd told the authorities about his money-laundering scheme. At the time, Jen was also livid with Judy, having just learned that she was involved with the accident that killed Ted, which made it easy for her to talk to Steve despite his intrusion on her property. But by apologizing for Ted's death, Steve unintentionally revealed he was also in the car with Judy the night Ted died, which caused Jen to deduce that Steve had manipulated Judy into fleeing the scene. The two started to argue, with Steve making cruel comments about how Ted must have wanted to die, and Jen forcefully asked him to leave by drawing her dead husband's gun on him. And then something happened offscreen that led to the shot of Steve's dead body floating in the pool. While it's clear going into Season 2 that Steve is dead, that Jen did the deed, and that Judy is aware of Steve's death, since Jen called her over — but both Judy and the audience are in the dark about what exactly went down.
Did Jen kill him in self-defense?
Here's where things get confusing: Season 2 picks up immediately the morning after — but it's instead spent over scrambled eggs in Jen's kitchen rather than on detailing what happened the night before. Once the kids are off at school, Jen and Judy finally talk about Steve and Jen says she already told Judy what happened: Steve allegedly strangled her and she killed him in self-defense. It seems plausible, given that we don't know what really happened either. But flashbacks show that Steve only verbally provoked her and that he never actually laid his hands on her. And it turns out, Jen didn't use the gun she drew on him, but instead killed him by braining him with a bird figuring, the baptism gift Judy had given her son that is apparently very sturdy. With Jen and Judy's friendship in shambles but on the mend at the start of the season, this lie starts to eat at Jen, as she knows she isn't being truthful with Judy, or, of course, the authorities.
Are the cops finally onto Jen and Judy?
While Season 1 focused on how Ted's death affected Jen as she was grieving and the culprits trying to cover up what they'd done, you may also remember there was also an active police investigation involved. The detective on the case, Agent Ana Perez (Diana-Maria Riva), found Judy insufferable personally, but information disclosed by Judy caused the detective to circle in on Steve as the prime suspect behind Ted's death. In anger, Jen went to Agent Perez at the end of Season 1 to say that Judy had confessed to her, but the detective stresses she cannot arrest Judy due to an ongoing investigation into Steve. With Steve dead, though, things have gotten even more complicated, and leads the agent to suspect something's likely up with the two women who seem to be at the center of every SoCal tragedy.
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