The Tourist Season 2 Ending Explained: Helen’s Dream, the Feud, the File, and the Finale

Binged The Tourist season 2 and still have questions? Spoilers below.

The Tourist
Photo: bbc

Warning: contains major finale spoilers for The Tourist season two.

In The Tourist season one, Jamie Dornan played Elliot Stanley, an amnesia sufferer who pieced together unsavoury details about his life before he lost his memory in a road collision. Elliot had been the accountant of an international drug baron named Kostas, from whom he’d stolen $1 million in cash in collusion with Kostas’ con-artist fiancée ‘Victoria’. He’d forced vulnerable addicts including a Russian woman named Lena Pascal to become drug mules, resulting in the deaths of two of Lena’s friends. Elliot had also fallen for Australian traffic cop Helen Chambers, whose forgiveness of his past misdeeds gave him enough hope that he chose not to take his own life in the season’s final moments.

By the end of The Tourist season two, everything had changed. Jamie Dornan was now playing Eugene Cassidy, part of one side in a multi-generational Irish feud between the Cassidys and the McDonnells. Eugene had skipped town years earlier after fathering a child – Fergal – with the wife of a McDonnell man, who’d shot Eugene’s brother Joe dead in revenge, having mistaken him for Eugene.

In the twist-packed second season finale, Elliot learned that his mother Niamh Cassidy, a criminal kingpin who’d spent decades waging war against the McDonnells, was in fact a McDonnell herself and the biological sister of her mortal enemy Frank McDonnell. Niamh’s mother and Frank’s father were a secretly-in-love Romeo and Juliet deal back in the day, and they’re all really one big unhappy family.

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What Eugene doesn’t know at the end of season two is that the real Elliot Stanley – a local scuba diver who’d disappeared in 1981 after Eugene’s mother killed him – is likely his biological father. He and Helen also don’t know, after they decided not to read the file on Eugene’s pre-amnesia life, that he’s a deep cover secret agent, which explains his driving/fighting and speaking-Russian abilities. Additionally, he’s a trained ballet dancer, but let’s not focus on that just now.

If any of The Tourist’s second season left you scratching your long and healthy beard in confusion, we break it all down here.

The Real Elliot Stanley, the Sunk Plane, and the Stolen Love Letters

In the 1950s, Niamh Cassidy’s mother and Frank McDonnell’s father were in love but couldn’t be together because of the longstanding feud between their families. They secretly had a baby together – Niamh – who was raised to be a McDonnell-hating Cassidy, despite being a biological McDonnell herself. In 1981, Frank’s father was on his deathbed in Boston, US, and decided to lay bare his secret perhaps in an attempt to finally stop the bloody feud between the two families. He sent a bundle of love letters Niamh’s mother had written him, to his son Frank.

The plane containing the letters went into the sea. Awaiting an important parcel from his father, Frank hired scuba diver Elliot Stanley to search the wreckage. Stanley, whose widow hinted had been having multiple affairs including with Niamh and possibly resulting in Eugene’s birth, found the submerged plane with Niamh but she cut his oxygen tube and stole the parcel. When she read the letters and realised she was a McDonnell, she buried them and the feud continued for over 40 years.

Eugene and Claire’s Affair, Fergal, Donal and Joe

History repeated itself to some extent with Eugene and Claire’s story, but instead of a love affair between a Cassidy and a McDonnell, theirs was between a Cassidy and the wife of a McDonnell. Eugene and Claire had an affair that resulted in the birth of Fergal, who was raised as the son of Donal McDonnell. Donal was a violent man who physically abused his wife, and he was eventually shot dead by Niamh Cassidy – who turned out to be his biological aunt. That made Eugene and Donal first cousins, meaning that young Fergal is indeed a blood relative of Donal and Frank McDonnell, just a first cousin once removed/great nephew instead of a son/grandson.

When Donal discovered that Fergal was biologically Eugene Cassidy’s son, he planned to kill Eugene but mistook Eugene’s older brother Joe for him and killed Joe instead.

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Helen’s Coma Dream, Book, Private Detective and the Cowboy’s Return

For anybody checking their phone during episode five, it could have been quite the stumper. In it, Helen had surgery after being shot in the stomach by Lena Pascal and seemed to recover at remarkable speed. She and Eugene flew to Australia, where they rented an apartment with a dodgy oven and started a new life. She was at home writing a book while secretly investigating the secret of Elliot Stanley and the missing parcel from Frank McDonnell’s father, while the couple grew further and further apart. Then the dead Cowboy from series one turned up to torment her, the walls started closing in, and nothing made any sense.

If it seemed odd, that’s because none of the Australia stuff was real – it was all a dream Helen was having while in a coma after Lena had shot her; she and Eugene had remained in Ireland the whole time. Helen’s subconscious was working out her mistrust of Eugene, her need to dig up the past, and her instinct about Eugene’s mother Niamh with the private detective story, while the beeping oven alarm she kept hearing was actually the beep of her heart monitor in the hospital.

Did DS Ruairi Slater Kill Mary?

No, she died of cancer, but he did break the law by failing to have her body collected and keeping it in his basement in a rebuilt museum of their home, along with a mannequin dressed in a wig and Mary’s clothes. He also broke the law when he kidnapped Helen and held her against her will in the creepy basement, and despite promising to turn himself in, didn’t. At the end of season two, Ruairi was still a free man and acting as a police detective, along with his new-found pal Ethan Crumb – Helen’s newly reconstructed ex-fiancé from season one.

Why Did Lena Pascal Collude With the McDonnells?

Absolute nonsense, that bit, wasn’t it? It would have been much simpler for Lena to get her revenge on Eugene for all the drug mule horrors when they were still on the same continent. Instead, she bafflingly contacted his enemies in Ireland, got them to send her a photo of Eugene as a younger man, which she then sent to the police station in the remote Aussie town where he’d unexpectedly ended up with amnesia, to lure him back to Ireland, where she later followed him, just so that she could shoot his girlfriend in the stomach and disappear. Transporting all that heroin must have addled her brain.

Finally, Eugene is Really a Deep Cover Secret Agent?

That’s what the file he was sent by an anonymous stranger said – not that he knows about it because he’d (apparently) burned it before reading.

Season three, anyone?

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The Tourist seasons one and two are available to stream on BBC iPlayer now.