This article contains spoilers for Beef.
Beef. It’s what’s for dinner. It’s also what’s on Netflix right now. The streamer’s latest series is a 10-episode A24-produced drama about a petty feud that completely consumes the lives of two otherwise average American schmoes.
In the show’s first episode, Danny Cho (Steven Yeun) and Amy Lau (Ali Wong)’s respective cars nearly collide in a parking lot. Car horns and middle fingers are subsequently exchanged and suddenly Danny and Amy are engaged in a years-long “beef” that ultimately destroys their lives and the lives of everyone around them.
This show, created by Lee Sung Jin (who is next set to write Marvel’s Thunderbolts), is both a creative screwball comedy and a careful meditation on the human capacity for self destruction. With that in mind, Beef has quite a harrowing tight rope to maneuver through in its final two episodes. In the end, Beef definitively ends one chapter of Danny and Amy’s story while also leaving room for more.
Here is what you need to know about the ending of Beef.
What Happens in Beef Episode 9?
Every good story about conflict must feature a moment in which it all the consequences finally come home to roost. That moment (and those consequences) arrives for Beef in its penultimate ninth episode. This is a half hour of television so stylized and violent that one could be forgiven for thinking it will all be revealed to be a dream. But it’s not a dream. The utterly preposterous events of “The Great Fabricator” actually happen somehow.
It all begins with Danny’s accidental kidnapping of Amy’s daughter June in episode 8. While Danny is preparing to get June back to her parents before going on the run, his convinced felon cousin Isaac (David Choe) and his goons Michael (Andrew Santino) and Bobby (Rekstizzy) arrive. Isaac has beef with Danny (a recurring theme, you see) for allowing Isaac to falsely take the fall on the original vandalism charges that arose from Amy and Danny’s first road rage incident.
Already with another crime under his belt, Isaac needs a substantial amount of money to fund his defense. He decides to blackmail Amy with her kidnapped daughter for said funds but Amy convinces him to rob her new business partner Jordan Foester’s (Maria Bello) opulent home instead.
It’s at Jordan’s home where everything well and truly goes to shit. Danny and his brother Paul (Young Mazino) are able to get little June away from Bobby but are soon re-captured by Michael and Isaac. As the cops bear down on the location, everyone freaks out. Jordan’s wife Naomi (Ashley Park), who she wooed away from her brother weirdly, rushes to the panic room. Jordan tries to follow her there but Naomi prematurely closes the hatch and the stainless steel doors crush Jordan in half, killing her almost instantly.
Once the police arrive Michael is shot and killed and Isaac is taken in to custody. Danny convinces Paul to leave him and escape by telling him that he sabotaged his life by throwing his college acceptance letters away so that they could stay the “same.” And that’s not even to mention the fact that it was Danny who accidentally burned their parents’ home down with a faulty wiring job. Upon escape, however, it sounds as though Paul is shot by some overzealous police (he’s not thankfully, as Danny discovers later). Meanwhile, Amy is guided out of the war zone and delivered the news that her husband George (Joseph Lee) has already taken June home and will be filing an order of protection against her so she may never see her daughter again.
In the end, what started with a simple traffic dispute has resulted in no fewer than two broken families, countless rounds of ammunition spent, property destruction on an apocalyptic scale, multiple arrests, and two moldering corpses.
What Happens in Beef Episode 10?
While episode 9 depicts the ultimate consequences for everyone in Danny and Amy’s orbit, it does not bring the destructive duo together to fully grapple with each other. That moment finally happens in “Figures of Light,” the 10th and final episode of Beef.
Following the madness at Jordan’s, Amy and Danny have a second incident of road rage as Amy pursues Danny down a dark, winding path at night, hoping to capture him and get the police involved. Instead both Danny and Amy’s cars careen off a cliff and they find themselves injured, lost, and annoyingly together as the sun rises the next day.
At this point in the story, as Danny and Amy have to begrudgingly work together to get back home, you might expect that they come to realize that they have more in common than they thought. You’d be right in that expectation but Beef at least goes about brining them together in a satisfyingly novel way. That’s right: it’s hallucination time.
At gunpoint, Amy instructs Danny to fetch them some elderberries to eat. Unfortunately, she is not a gifted botanist and the berries they find make them extremely sick. The psychedelic effects brought on by the marathon puking sessions really open up Amy and Danny’s third eyes and they come to realize they’re just equally broken people looking for external antagonists to take place of their inner demons.
Eventually the duo powers through their illnesses and make it back to civilization. Once there, however, George sees Danny with his hands on his wife and shoots him. Cut to: Amy visiting a non-responsive Danny in the hospital. Cue Smashing Pumpkins’ “Mayonnaise” and roll credits. Show’s over.
Is the Beef Eventually Squashed in Beef?
Based on that bittersweet ending, I think it’s fair to say that the titular beef in Beef has been squashed…but maybe not for the reason you think. You see, back in the woods when Danny and Amy are having their hallucination sesh, something rather interesting manifests. Danny and Amy find their words getting mixed up with each other’s and before they know if they are speaking on behalf of the other person. Amy’s “dialogue” comes out of Danny’s mouth while Danny’s “dialogue” comes out of Amy’s.
This is all likely due to the effects of the berries and Amy and Danny haven’t literally swapped bodies – though the supernatural is not completely out of the question. The first scene of the final episode actually indulges in some magical realism and provides closed captioning for a murder of crows as they recognize both Danny and Amy and decide that they favor Danny in this matchup because he fed them before.
Regardless of what’s really going on here, it serves as a surprisingly lovely moment of catharsis and self-forgiveness. It also leads to a rather touching exchanging of words:
“If God is everything. Then we’re God. He’s just like us.”
“I think we’re dying.”
“I think so too.”
“I see your life. You poor thing. All you wanted was to not be alone.”
“You don’t have to be ashamed. It’s ok. I see it all. You don’t have to hide. It’s ok.”
“Wow. There’s really nothing after this.”
“We should have done this more often.”
“What a waste.”
“At least we did it once.”
Who says what in that back and forth? It ultimately doesn’t matter because Amy and Danny are one and the same now. At episode’s end, when Amy crawls into a limp Danny’s hospital bed, there are some romantic overtones. But more than anything the action represents her learning how to forgive herself.
Truly, the beef was inside us all along.
All 10 episodes of Beef are available to stream on Netflix now.