Warning: contains Clickbait finale spoilers.
First up, fair play to any production that manages to deliver in the middle of this pandemic. Netflix thriller Clickbait started filming in Melbourne in December 2019, was forced to stop in March 2020, then came back eight months later and got the job done. That is no mean feat and praise is owed to all concerned.
The precise nature of Clickbait’s job was to create a twist-filled thriller, which it absolutely did. The eight-part Netflix series is thick with twists, red herrings and ‘wait a goddam minute’ cliff-hangers that ensure you do as the title suggests and click ‘Next Episode’. In its frenzy to keep us all guessing until the end though, it took a few logic-missing leaps. For anybody still not clear on the ending, or for those who gave up halfway but still want to find out how things wrapped up, here’s what went down.
Who kidnapped Nick Brewer?
Easy one. That was Simon Burton and his stoner friend Daryl. Six months before they kidnapped Nick, Simon’s sister Sarah killed herself after she was rejected and goaded to do it by her online boyfriend ‘Jeremy’. Simon and Daryl then found messages between Sarah and Jeremy on her phone, read about him in her journal, and tracked down an online photograph of him under his real name: Nick Brewer. They thought Nick was the one taking advantage of Sarah, and he was responsible for her suicide. So they ambushed Nick on his cycle to work, drugged him and tied him up in the back of a van, then filmed him holding signs saying “I abuse women” and “At 5 million views I die”, and released the video anonymously online.
Why did Simon and Daryl need the video to get five million views before killing Nick?
No reason, other than they wanted to publicly expose Nick as an abusive cheat and destroy his reputation in grand style. Whether they would have just let him go if the views hadn’t rolled past the five million point, we don’t know. Daryl, who is not bright, did get excited about the video going viral and them getting “famous”, but whether he was expecting fame as a murderer, kidnapper or the anonymous maker of a video, is not clear.
Was Nick responsible for Sarah Burton’s suicide?
Not at all. Nick Brewer had never met Sarah Burton (whose online dating profile was under the name ‘Maggie Oxley’ for reasons undisclosed). ‘Maggie’ had never met ‘Jeremy’ in real life, and was being catfished by Dawn Gleed, the receptionist at Nick’s place of work. Dawn used Nick’s photographs and personal details gleaned from their friendship to pose as versions of him on multiple online dating sites, to fulfil her deep well of loneliness as a childless woman whose husband played with train sets. It was Dawn posing as Nick/Jeremy who irritably rejected Sarah because she was smitten with new cat fishing victim Emma, and told Sarah to make good on her suicide threat.
Why did Simon let Nick go?
Because he realised Nick was telling the truth about not being the one who’d messaged Sarah, and that the ‘evidence’ beach photo of Nick and Sarah together was clearly a Photoshop fake. (As Nick pointed out, the horizon wasn’t level.) Simon deliberately left Nick alone in the truck with access to a Stanley knife so he could cut through his restraints and escape. Simon pursued Nick with a gun, but let him go because Nick promised to find the person who had really typed that message to Sarah, to take them to the police and make them pay. Handily, the kidnap truck was parked within walking distance of Dawn Gleed’s house, so Nick went straight there having realised that Dawn was the only person who had access to his photographs and knew about his wife Sophie cheating on him. (Which Sarah Burton had written about in her journal.)
Who killed Nick?
Ed Gleed, Dawn’s husband, on the spur of the moment. Months earlier, he’d discovered that Dawn had been posing as Nick online to catfish women, and she promised him she’d stopped. When Nick’s kidnap became a top news story, and an angry, blood-stained, beaten Nick showed up at Dawn and Ed’s house after escaping his kidnappers, Ed hit him twice with the hammer he’d been using to destroy Dawn’s laptop, killing him. Then Ed dumped his body by the river. Days later, when the metadata from Dawn’s Photoshop pictures led Nick’s son Kai to the Gleeds’ house, they kidnapped him, went on the run and Ed was eventually shot dead by a police officer when he refused to give up his weapon.
Who ran Emma Beesly’s car off the road?
That was Ed Gleed again. When Emma went to Nick’s office to lay flowers at his memorial and smell his scarf, Dawn ushered her away and presumably found out which hotel she was staying at in town. Ed then called her hotel room with a threat, and when that didn’t work, ran her off the road. Ed and Dawn were trying to make sure that Emma didn’t reveal she had never met Nick Brewer, so that the catfishing link wouldn’t come up, leading a trail back to Dawn.
Was Nick cheating on Sophie?
We assume not, and we never saw him cheat, but Nick did lie to Simon Burton in the back of that van when he told him that he didn’t have an online dating profile. Two years ago, before Dawn even got involved, Nick already had a dating profile on app D8R, on which he was registered under the name ‘Nick Chabot’ and pretending to be an architect from San Jose, rather than a physical therapist from Oakland. When Nick started work at the sports centre, Dawn synced Nick’s phone to his work computer and spotted a notification for a flirtatious message he’d received via the app from Mandy Harrison, who’d sent him bikini photos he complimented her on. So, Nick didn’t seem to be cheating/have cheated on Sophie, but he also wasn’t telling the whole truth either.
But Sophie had cheated on Nick?
Yes, that was all very straightforward. She’d had a brief affair with colleague Curtis Hamilton, who agreed to meet Nick in a bar and had a fight with him weeks before his kidnap, making Hamilton an early suspect in Nick’s murder.
Was Nick having sex with his volleyball students?
No, not that we know of, but his colleague Matt Aldin was having a sexual relationship with volleyball student Tara Wilson. When she broke it off, Matt became unreasonable and coercive and posted nude photos of Tara online as revenge. When questioned by Pia, Matt denied releasing the photos. He may have simply been lying, or perhaps the photo leak was also done by Dawn Gleed. The nude photos of Tara were stored on Matt’s work computer, to which we know Dawn had access as she planted the Photoshopped pictures there of Nick with Emma and Sarah, to frame Matt as the catfish who’d posed as Nick online.
Who was son Ethan talking to online?
A red herring named Alison. That was a good one. All the way through, we’d been led to be suspicious of Ethan and his online pal Al2005, but really, she was exactly who she says she was: an Oakland teen trapped inside her house due to anxiety and depression.
Clickbait is available to stream now on Netflix.