Warning: contains major spoilers for the Chloe finale
The latest buzzy drama from the BBC is Chloe, from creator Alice Seabright, a deliciously twisty six-parter which sees a young woman in Bristol become obsessed with a woman she follows on Instagram and insinuate herself into that woman’s social circle after she is found dead. Only it’s not as simple as that… Over the course of the series Chloe messes with our perceptions of who is doing what, and why, as our protagonist Becky Green – ostensibly a con woman, turns out to have more complicated motivations at heart.
By the end of the show all is revealed – or rather as much is revealed as can ever be when we are talking about human emotions and drives. You can never truly know who someone really is or what they were thinking, which is a big theme of this drama.
So where does that leave us? We explore the major questions of Chloe. Needless to say, many spoilers to follow.
Why is Becky obsessed with Chloe?
When the show starts it looks as if Becky (The Crown‘s Erin Doherty), who works as a temp and lives with her mum who has dementia, is simply jealous of Chloe’s life. Chloe (Stay Close‘s Poppy Gilbert) is beautiful, married to a handsome councilman and surrounded by friends in glamorous and creative jobs. Later we learn that Chloe and Becky were best friends as teens and lost touch after an incident at a party. Chloe’s life looks like the one Becky could have had. When she learns of Chloe’s apparent suicide, Becky fakes her way into Chloe’s former life, under the name Sasha. Sasha gets a job in events working for Chloe’s fancy friend Livia, she sleeps with the lovely Josh (who knows her game) and gets together with Chloe’s widowed husband Elliot, moving into his posh apartment. But Becky’s real mission (or is it? More on this later) is to find out what happened to her former friend.
Did Chloe take her own life?
Well, we don’t know for sure. She posted a quote from The Smiths’ song ‘There is a Light That Never Goes Out’: “To die by your side, what a heavenly way to die”, her mother literally saw her jump off a cliff… But did she, in fact, jump? Becky’s investigations uncover evidence that Elliot was coercive and Chloe was unhappy. She’d faked his signature to take out £5,000 from his account, made plans to go to stay in a mobile home away from him. The quote could have been a cry for help, but it is also from a song that Chloe and Becky loved and shared as teenagers – it could have been a nod at Becky to come and find her.
Did Elliot kill Chloe?
Becky certainly thinks so. When she eventually speaks to Chloe’s mum, she realises that there’s actually some doubt there. When Chloe is on the cliff top and sees her mother, she approaches her, but when she sees Elliot she turns and runs. Elliot chases after her – to stop her jumping? To push her? Or did she fall while running from Elliot? Only Elliot really knows. When Becky confronts him, he chokes her and tries to lock her in the house, which he has already done once before. At the very least he has a furious temper and the capacity for violence against women. We also know he was gaslighting Chloe, telling her that Livia had said mean things about Chloe’s relationship with her son.
Why did Chloe phone Becky?
Throughout the show, various explanations are offered (all in Becky’s head). Was it a wrong number? Was she trying to dial her lover Richard? Or was she in fact reaching out to Becky deliberately for help? The fact that Chloe posted the song lyric, went to the location where she and Becky used to meet, and wrote a letter (never sent) to Becky apologising about the party and hoping to reconnect suggests that she might actually have been calling Becky, who is outside the friendship group Chloe obviously can’t trust. She had asked Richard for help already – to borrow his car – but he got stoned and didn’t show up. It might be that Becky was one of the few people she felt comfortable with.
Was Richard having an affair with Chloe?
It was a theory of Becky’s but it actually doesn’t look like it. Richard doesn’t have any real reason to lie to Becky by the end. His shame is his failure to show up for her when she needed him. He knew Chloe was unhappy with Elliot. He says he forgot to show up for her because he was high. But Becky realises that Rich knew Chloe was planning to leave but didn’t lend her the car out of loyalty to Elliot – something he carries a lot of guilt for.
Why does Elliot’s mum hate Becky/Sasha?
Presumably in part because she liked Chloe and feels like Elliot is moving on too quickly. But also possibly because she can sense that Becky/Sasha isn’t the same class as her. She and Elliot and Elliot’s friendship group are people who have grown up with money and privilege, so much so that they can no longer see it. Becky has to take out a loan to afford gym membership and new clothes and she and her mother are eventually evicted from their home. Tiggy is arrogant and cruel which provides some insight into why Elliot is the way he is.
Is Becky a hero or a villain?
One of the best things about Chloe is the line it treads with this very theme. Becky/Sasha lies through her teeth to Chloe’s friends. She clearly enjoys the fancy wine and canapes. By the end she is drawing a wage from Livia and living with Elliot. She has a whole new life built on lies. Another version of this story would be about the undoing of a con woman (or indeed something wonderful and subtle such as Dead to Me which begins as a sort of con story, though the reasons, again, are complicated). Instead Becky/Sasha becomes a detective, searching for justice for her former best friend. If she was unable to answer her call while she was alive, Becky would uncover the truth of her death. But it’s not that black and white.
“What sort of person does that? Track down the grieving friends of a dead girl,” Livia says in episode six. Becky objects that isn’t what she did. But it is. Becky’s version of this story is that Elliot is an abusive husband who, one way or another, is responsible for his wife’s death. She is the surviving friend who won’t let it go, rejected at 17 when Chloe went to a new school and made new friends, but always loved, always important, a hero in her own story. And this is Becky’s story. Because the other version – that she lied her way into a dead girl’s life and tortured her friends and widower because she wanted to feel important – is almost unbearable.
All episodes of Chloe are available to stream on BBC iPlayer now.