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'Death and Other Details' Finale: Who Is Victor Sams?

By Sara Clements | TV | March 8, 2024 |

By Sara Clements | TV | March 8, 2024 |


This piece contains spoilers for Hulu’s Death and Other Details.

In my review of the first eight episodes of Death and Other Details, I touch on the exposition dumps, the abundance of underused characters and the side plots that have no real significance. Things that, if the show’s mystery weren’t interesting, would make it a shipwreck. Now, after 10 episodes, I can safely say that the mess cleaned up nicely but it still didn’t end up feeling like a show that anyone will remember come next year … unless its hints to a second season come true.

One aspect of the show, in particular, has kept this luxury cruise ship anchored. It’s the whodunnit. Who is behind the killings and how it ties to the death of Imogene’s mother, Kira. The show circles back to Kira’s murder frequently and the involvement of a mysterious character named Victor Sams. This elusive criminal has crafted a network built on a vendetta against the rich, with many on the ship getting caught in his web - willingly or not. But who is Victor Sams? Thankfully, the finale makes this whole trip worth it because we finally got an answer — and my jaw dropped out of disbelief.

Being able to stream both episode nine and the finale on the same day provides a bit more to chew on before the curtain drops. Last week, in episode eight, a bomb is discovered on board, and Victor Sams’s goons overtake the ship. The body bags are lined up: Keith (who we learn isn’t rich and is Rufus’s assistant named Danny), Alexandra, the Governor of Washington, Collier family lawyer, Llewellyn, and Collier matriarch, Katherine. It seems that the body count may even increase because Victor Sams wants to play a little game. He holds an auction for their lives, with each guest bidding on the nine seats available on his helicopter. It’s the only way off of this sinking ship.

While most are checking their pocketbooks to beat the highest bidder, Imogene is working to find a way off the ship. Being the cunning sleuth that she is, Imogene realizes that Victor Sams has been on the ship all along - and she confronts him. I mean, confronts her. Victor Sams is unmasked as Hilde, the Interpol agent who had come aboard to investigate the murders … or, that’s what the show made us think. In fact, Hilde is actually Imogene’s mother, Kira.

This is where the finale kind of lost me because Kira tells Imogene, “You see things that other people don’t even bother to notice.” Okay, then, how did she not know that Hilde was her mom? How did no one recognize it was Kira? But also, shoutout to the hair and makeup team because I guess a wig and some contacts can fool an audience. Even when we do get to see moments with Kira and Imogene in the past, I never connected the dots. I guess an accent does wonders too, so shoutout to Linda Emond’s performance. But, wait, didn’t Imogene see her mom blow up in the car? Actually, no, Imogene didn’t see her mom in the car. It was just her mind playing tricks. Memory is a tricky thing in this series.

This whole reveal is wild, especially when Imogene just peaces out with Kira, leaving everyone behind while the ship is going down like the Titanic. Luckily, no one sinks with it. Something else that didn’t sink with the ship is the servers that contain all of Victor Sams’s/Kira’s secrets. So, even when the show flashes forward six months, and Imogene and Kira are looking happy being reunited, Imogene is still wary of her mother. The six months later thing feels very rushed. The audience, and even Imogene, don’t get to sit down with such a shocking, and honestly heavy, revelation. There’s no exploration of how Imogene deals with this abandonment and how she reckons with her mother leaving her to be raised by awful people she didn’t trust and vowed to destroy. It would be a lot to take in, but we do get some flashbacks, expanding on previous ones, where Imogene walks in her mother’s shoes to try to make sense of it all.

“Corruption was winning and the corrupt were walking free,” Kira says. So, she decided to do something about it. It’s a fist-pumping crusade that comes out cheesy and a bit ridiculous when Kira tries to explain to Imogene why she should join her cause. In the end, we can’t really take it seriously. Just as Imogene can’t take Kira’s promise that she’ll give it up and start over seriously. How did Kira build this operation? Where did she get her resources? Regardless, even though the Colliers are now broke, she’s still not done with them. But in a final reunion between Imogene, Rufus, and many of the show’s supporting players, Kira is arrested and locked up for good…or, so we think.

Death and Other Details ends with the hope and vision for a second season. One that sees Anna Collier doing Kira’s bidding and Imogene stumbling upon more bodies. It does feel satisfying in the end for Rufus and Imogene to take down the bad guy together finally, but it’s sad, too, because a relationship Imogene longed for is truly dead now. Rufus says that he thought finding Kira’s murderer would give him peace, but there’s no such thing. “Life, I’m afraid…is a messy thing.” Death and Other Details is a messy thing, too, but ideas for season two have been mulling. “We’ve been talking about what would it look like in Season 2 if we were inspired by Sherlock Holmes?” showrunner Mike Weiss teases in an interview with The Wrap, promising a setup that would see Imogene as Holmes and her ex-best friend Anna as her Moriarty. If there is a second season, it has the potential to be great.