Warning: contains finale spoilers for Pieces of Her.
“Mother. Hero. Liar. Killer” reads the caption above a picture of Toni Collette on the TV tie-in cover for the Pieces of Her novel. Colette’s character in the Netflix series is all of those things and more. We first meet her as Laura Oliver, a speech therapist, cancer survivor, divorcee and mother to 30-year-old Andy – a woman yet to find her feet in the world. When Laura’s act of bravery at a mass shooting thrusts her into the public eye, Andy starts to piece together the truth about her mother’s past. By the end of the eight-episode Netflix series, Laura is revealed to be Jane Queller, a concert pianist, billionaire’s daughter, former member of a radical leftist terror group, and yes, a killer.
By the end of the finale, Andy has learned all of her mother’s secrets, including the identity of her real father – a terrorist on the FBI’s most-wanted list – and the one secret that only he knew all these years. Let’s dig in to that ending and tackle any lingering questions left behind by Pieces of Her.
Why was Jane afraid of Nick Harp?
Firstly, because he was controlling and physically abusive, and a multiple-murderer who threatened to hunt Jane down if she ever left him, but also because until his arrest, Nick was the only person who knew Jane’s biggest secret: that she was the one who planned her father’s murder.
Nick (played in his younger incarnation by Joe Dempsie) went into hiding after big pharma billionaire Martin Queller was shot dead on stage at the 1988 International Economic Forum in Oslo. Nick had been accused of plotting the murder with Martin’s killer Grace Juno, a widow with a grievance after her husband killed their children and himself under the influence of dangerously untested Quelcorp drugs. Nick’s ‘Army for the Changing World’ had kidnapped real Berkeley professor Alex Maplecroft and held her to ransom, in order to put Juno in her place at the Forum.
We saw Nick train Juno to throw a bundle of money concealing a red dye pack onto Martin during the forum. From the audience, Nick would then detonate the pack leaving Martin covered in symbolic ‘blood money’ as a stunt. Instead, Juno pulled out a gun and shot Martin and herself dead. It was always assumed that Nick had switched the tactic and given Juno the gun, but it wasn’t him.
What really happened in Oslo?
Jane Queller (played in her younger incarnation by Jessica Barden) spied an opportunity to rid herself of her controlling father, who knew that she was pregnant by Nick Harp and didn’t want her to continue with the pregnancy. Martin had tried to make Jane miscarry by spiking her drink with a mystery powder, but it hadn’t worked. Jane knew that her father would never allow her to carry the baby to term, and so plotted to have him murdered. She approached Juno before the Forum, told her of her predicament and said that nobody ever stopped her father, offering her a gun in her handbag. Juno agreed, took Jane’s handbag containing the gun on stage, and killed Martin and herself. The only person who knew for certain that it wasn’t Nick who’d provided the gun was Nick himself.
When Nick was arrested at Clara and Eli’s farmhouse, Jane asked her powerfully connected businessman and politician brother Jasper (David Wenham) to use covert means to find out what he was saying to the FBI. She wanted to know if Nick had told them that she was the one who provided Juno’s gun. Jasper did listen in, and told Jane that Nick had informed on her, but he was willing to use his influence to silence him in exchange for a future favour.
Was Martin Queller sexually abusing Jane?
The TV show never explicitly says so (though Karin Slaughter’s book does) but there are suggestions throughout. In an extract from Jasper Queller’s memoir read by Andy, he notes that his father adored Jane “and treated her as an adult from an early age.” Young Jane appears to be blank and traumatised, and is clearly in thrall to her powerful and suffocating father, whom she calls Martin and not dad. She says that Martin can’t know about her and Nick because “he doesn’t share”. On the night of her last piano performance, Martin puts a heavy gold necklace on Jane, resembling a chain around her neck, which she recognises as having belonged to her mother. (We saw in flashback the night when the children’s mother tried to escape Martin, but was stopped. We later learn that she passed away, but whether that was suicide or murder we don’t know.) On the night that Jane deliberately slams her hand in the car door, it’s after her father tells her to cancel her summer plans because he’s added extra dates to her tour and that it will just be the two of them together.
Is Jasper what he seems?
Not at all. The vice-presidential candidate rehabilitated the family’s bad reputation after his father’s murder by starting the Queller Foundation as “A way to ensure that no American was left alone in their time of need.” Really, Jasper started the Foundation because Jane blackmailed him before entering Witness Protection. She had the audio tape recording of Nick and Jasper colluding on the Oslo red-dye plan so that Jasper could take over the family business, and threatened to release it if Jasper didn’t stop Quelcorp’s dangerous financially motivated exploitation.
Jane had hidden the tape, which she’d found among the ransom money Nick collected for Professor Maplecroft, in the lining of the blue suitcase Andy (Bella Heathcote) collected from the trunk of the car in the storage facility. It was her insurance policy against Nick and her brother, used to buy her “freedom”. The man who attacked Andy at the motel was one of Jasper’s security goons, and he was there to retrieve the tape. After Mike beat him up, Jasper’s man sent him with a woman to put Mike out of action using an injection that caused a respiratory collapse (administered by a fake jogger who bumped into him passing by). They stole the suitcase containing the money and the tape from Mike’s hotel room, but then were both murdered by Jasper’s head of security Arthur (played by The Cry‘s Ewen Leslie).
What deal did Jane make with Nick on the phone?
Nick had seen Jane on TV after the video of the diner shooting went viral, so found out where she lived and sent the man who strangled her. He later said the man wasn’t supposed to kill her, just to bring her to him, but Nick’s a lying bastard so probably not. After Andy accidentally killed Nick’s man, Jane decided to send Nick a message offering him a deal through her exclusive TV interview, which she coded with references to an “army of change” and an appeal to end the violence. Afterwards, Nick called her on the phone she’d taken from the pocket of his man, and offered a deal: she would give him the tape, which he could use to blackmail Jasper into getting him a pardon, if he agreed to leave her and Andy alone. That’s why she ran away from Andy at the diner with the blue suitcase, to meet Nick at the farm. Jane clearly didn’t trust Nick though (and rightly so) because she concealed a razor blade in her bandage, and tried to kill him after he shot Andy in the arm.
Was the tape really destroyed in the fire?
Jane thinks that Jasper doesn’t believe her about that, but we see nothing to contradict her story. The tape was knocked from the table after Andy started the fire, and we saw the ransom money burning.
What was Andy’s snow flashback about?
It was a traumatic memory from the day Jane arrived to remove her from the only home and parents she’d ever known and take her into witness protection. Jane turned herself in to the police (though didn’t tell the whole story, see above) and served four years in prison, during which time she gave birth to Andy, who was cared for by Clara and Eli at their farm. On the day of Jane’s prison release, she and Charlie came to collect Andy, who ran away and hid in her playhouse in the snow, wearing the yellow wellington boots we keep seeing in her mysterious flashback. When she refused to come with her mother, Jane got angry and Andy spat in her face – a precursor of their difficult relationship when the truth starts to come out.
Who was the real Nick Harp?
It’s not said. All we know is that the man calling himself Nick Harp had stolen the identity of a dead man who’d died by overdose four years before ‘Nick’ became involved with the Queller family. When Martin Queller confronted ‘Nick’ with the accusation, he didn’t deny it but stormed out of the house, manipulating Jane as he went..
Will there be a season 2?
Karin Slaughter’s Pieces of Her novel, published in 2018, is so-far standalone meaning there’s no published source material for a second season as yet. As the engine of this story was largely about the discovery of Laura Oliver’s original identity and the whole Queller story, it’s doubtful that there’d be a reason to return. That said, the Netflix series does end with a few threads untied. Jasper’s on his way to becoming Vice President, and tells Jane that he’ll be in touch about what she owes him for keeping Nick quiet about her role in their father’s murder. Andy also knows that her mother arranged Martin Queller’s murder (by recognising that Grace Juno was holding her mother’s handbag on stage because she’d seen Jane holding the same one in a family photograph Andy had been sketching from Jasper’s memoir), but what she’ll do with that information we don’t know.
Pieces of Her is available to stream now on Netflix.