There is simply nothing better in these chilly seasons than to curl up with a great murder mystery. There’s something so cozy about watching people put clues together to solve a murder, no matter how gruesome it may be. Now that three episodes of Hulu’s snowy mystery A Murder at the End of the World have aired, it feels like a perfect time to gather together what we’ve seen so far and spin some theories about where this all might be going.
Be warned, past here are spoilers for A Murder at the End of the World.
To sum up the action so far: young writer/sleuth Darby Hart was invited to mysterious “tech king” Andy Ronson’s retreat in a gorgeous new hotel in a snow valley in Iceland where she meets several other luminaries and important people like roboticist Oliver, filmmaker Martin, smart city designer Lu Mei, political and human rights activist Ziba, and Sian, a doctor and astronaut working on a project to colonize the moon. Also in attendance is Andy’s wife, Lee Anderson, a hacker who disappeared from public life after a doxing incident, and their young son (sigh) Zoomer. While dining together on their first night at the hotel, Darby encounters her old flame Bill who is now known as a Banksy-esque artist called FANGS. Bill was Darby’s partner in sleuthing who very abruptly left her while she slept, so this brings up all kinds of emotions. They reconnect on a walk through the snow, and it seems momentarily as if they might reconcile. Alas, Darby witnesses Bill’s death, seemingly from overdose, and Sian isn’t able to save him. While investigating, Darby realizes that the overdose is a murder and sets out to determine who within their small but distinguished group is the killer.
Here are some theories I’ve come up with after the third episode!
Wild Theory #1: Lee and Bill had an affair. Yes, Lee denied they had an affair and said it was just one hook-up that was unsatisfying for both of them, but I’m not sure I believe her. Her story about meeting Bill when he found her and camped out on her front porch where she was hiding seems to suggest that beyond an interest in her manifesto against tech, Bill was interested in her. The way that Lee says to Darby, “They didn’t know him like we did” screamed “affair” to me, but I’m open to believing this is a red herring. All the same…
Wild Theory #2 Andy is not Zoomer’s father. Setting aside the possibility of an affair, I believe Bill is Zoomer’s father for a more metatextual reason. We get very little time with Bill in the show’s present before he’s dead, and the time we see him serves to emphasize three relationships: his connection to Darby, his connection to Lee, and his connection to Zoomer. When you add in how annoyed Andy seemed at Bill adorably playing with Zoomer, it feels quite possible Bill is Zoomer’s father.
Wild Theory #3: Rohan was signaling to a third party, but not the killer. Morse code really gets a workout on this show! Rohan mentioned that he and some mysterious “they” had a plan. In the next breath, Rohan mentions that Bill had discovered some kind of secret. It would seem then that Rohan was signaling to a third party we haven’t met yet, one that would’ve been interested in whatever secret Bill uncovered before he was dead. I think some other person or group is hiding, working with Rohan and potentially Bill to extract this secret. This leads into…
Wild Theory #4: There’s a conspiracy afoot to take down Andy. Lee mentions how she and Bill connected over their urgent fear of where technology is going. Lee also implies that she and Andy married because she was pregnant with Zoomer. They were dating off and on, but this suspicion of technology really gave me pause. Why would someone so critical and resistant to advanced tech marry the so-called King of Tech? From AI Ray to wireless surveillance to terrifying ant-robots operating with “swarm AI,” the show is awash in tech run amok. I think Lee is leading a group that includes Bill and Rohan to destroy Andy’s company and halt the rapacious technological advancement Andy represents.
Wild Theory #5: The rings do more than they appear to do. All the guests have rings given to them when they arrive at the hotel. We’re told they open doors like a keycard and monitor their vital signs. It seems like they may also physically track people within the hotel itself, as Ray is able to tell Darby where people are, but that could also be due to the ubiquitous cameras.
We spend a notable amount of screen time watching and learning about those ant-robots that are busy building something out in the wastes. We watch an eerie red light blink on each robot unit as they receive their orders and organize themselves. It made me think back to the morning after Bill’s death, where just about everyone in the room insists on leaving the retreat in light of what’s happened. Both Ziba and Lu Mei seem especially emphatic about it. Then it takes only a short speech from Andy, and everyone’s concerns are suddenly quieted. I think the time we spend learning about “swarm AI” is important here; the rings might also make the wearers susceptible to suggestion. It wouldn’t be the most outlandish technology on this show. Perhaps the rings were used to influence someone to kill Bill. It could be multiple people at that: Bill ordered three cups of tea to his room before he died.
What do you think? Does anyone else have hot theories to share?