Based on the true story of the murder of Susan Smith, ‘Above Suspicion’ is a crime thriller film directed by Phillip Noyce, starring Emilia Clarke, Jack Huston, and Sophie Lowe. Set in Pikeville, Kentucky, this film follows Susan Smith, a resident with a drug problem. When Mark Putnam, a rookie FBI Agent, rolls into town intending to make a big bust, Susan strikes up a deal with him becoming his start informant for Pikeville’s illegal activities. However, things take a turn for the worse for them both when they get involved with each other in a destructive extramarital affair. The film focuses on the exploitative relationship between Susan and Mark and highlights Susan’s life of downtrodden luck and misplaced trust. If you’re curious about how this affair unravels, here is everything you need to know about the ending of ‘Above Suspicion.’
Above Suspicion Plot Synopsis
Susan Smith is a drug addict who lives with her deadbeat drug dealer ex-husband, Cash, and their two kids. For Susan, Pikeville is nothing but a town that can only provide her with a dead-end life of drugs and other unlawful job opportunities. As such, when a new ambitious FBI Agent, Mark Putnam, arrives at the scene, he’s quick to catch Susan’s attention. One night, at Cash’s place, a party full of drugs and alcohol quickly goes south when Susan’s brother, Bones, gets into an altercation with someone. Bones manages to procure a gun, shoots another man, and takes off.
Meanwhile, Mark makes the acquaintance of local cop Randy McCoy and tries to catch the criminal responsible for a series of bank robberies in town. After Bone’s violent outburst, Randy and Mark show up at Cash’s place. They take Bones into custody and find damning evidence against Cash’s cocaine business. In an effort to save their skins, Susan tries to get Cash to cut a deal with the cops in exchange for the crucial information he has. The next day, Randy and Mark meet with Cash and Susan over lunch, where Cash pitches a laundry list of demands. Mark turns his help down and instead corners Susan after calling in her welfare fraud activities.
Later the two convene in an isolated location, and Mark offers Susan a deal. At first, Susan is a bit reluctant to agree when Mark essentially asks her to snitch on the criminals of Pikeville, but she still takes him up on it. At home, Susan sneaks into the room of Cash’s guest, Joe B, and looks through his stuff. There, she finds a duffle bag full of shotguns and overhears him talking about an upcoming robbery. Susan shares this intel with Mark, and he decides to wait for Joe B to make his next robbery. After the bank robbery, Susan seduces Cash to find out about Joe B’s hiding spot. Mark storms Joe’s hideout with several other agents and makes his arrest.
Soon afterward, Mark and Susan start an affair behind Mark’s wife, Kathy’s back. During their affair, Susan befriends Kathy and finds out about her troubled past. She also tries to quit drugs without admitting herself into rehab like she had wanted. Though Susan and Mark keep seeing each other in secret, their affair starts to fizzle out after Mark finds a different exciting case in Stoneville at the tip of another snitch, Denver Rhodes. Meanwhile, Susan discovers Kathy’s pregnancy and starts to envy her relationship with Mark. As Mark continues to distance herself from Susan, she retaliates by alerting Mark’s target, international drug trafficker Rufus Green. As a result, Rufus slips away from Mark’s fingers at the last minute. Later some of Rufus’s men unsuccessfully try to burn Mark’s house down.
After Mark finds out about Susan’s double cross, he gives her the money she was owed and ends things with her. Susan splits that money with Cash and tells him she was the one who snitched on Joe B. Cash blows up at her, and the resulting violence puts Susan in a hospital. Mark comes to visit Susan at the insistence of his wife. Though he tries to detach himself from Susan, he ends up staying with her, scared that she might do something irrational and ruin the case. At the same time, Mark figures out a way to get transferred out of Pikeville. He stays with Susan until her testimony, but once the case is made, he leaves her behind and moves to Chicago with his family.
Above Suspicion ending: How Did Susan Die?
When Susan first agrees to work with Mark, she lists off a number of things she’d like to do in order to fix her life back up. Due to the dangerous risk of being a snitch in a town as unlawful as Pikeville, Susan wants to be moved and put in witness protection. She demands good schools for her kids and rehab for her drug addiction. However, after Joe B’s arrest, those things don’t come to fruition exactly how she imagined. Though she is put in witness protection in a remote cabin, she’s still nearby and accessible to the people of Pikeville. Moreover, she’s not registered in a rehab facility but is practicing control regarding substance abuse.
Nevertheless, once Mark skips town, whatever progress she makes is ruined. The government pays her money to secure a safehouse in accordance with her witness protection deal. Instead of using that money for its intended purpose, Susan blows it all up on drugs. Furthermore, Susan has now become a giant target for the residents of Pikeville, who physically abuse her for betraying one of their own. With no one else to turn to, Susan once again reaches out to Mark. She gets his contact info from another agent and reveals to him that she’s pregnant with his child.
Mark returns to Pikeville on FBI business. Still, he assures Susan that they will talk about their situation. They go out to pick up a meal, and on the drive back to the hotel, Mark asks Susan if she wants Kathy and him to raise the kid. As a result, Susan attacks Mark, and their car swerves off the road to a forest path. Susan wants Mark to leave his wife and kids and raise their baby together. Mark is vehemently against the idea, and the two get into a physical fight. In the end, Mark beats Susan up and snaps her neck against the car’s door. Susan dies, and her remains are found ten months later in the same forest.
What Happens To Mark?
After strangling Susan to death, Mark gets rid of her body and travels back home to Chicago. However, her death remains on his mind, and months later, he decides to share the incident with his wife, Kathy. When Mark tells Kathy about Susan’s death, he paints a slightly different picture of a more violent Susan. When he recounts the event to Kathy, he almost makes it sound like he is less in control of his actions, and he believes Susan’s murder to be an accident. An accidental murder in the middle of a fight is still considered manslaughter, so Mark kept quiet about it at first.
Nevertheless, Susan’s death takes a toll on Mark’s conscience. Kathy doesn’t want Mark to turn himself in and urges him to keep this ordeal between the two of them. However, Mark believes his father wouldn’t have wanted him to keep it a secret. Therefore he confesses his crimes to the police and turns himself in for Susan’s murder. He also shares the location of her dead body. Mark gets served with thirteen years in prison and serves ten. By the time he gets out, his wife has died, and his children have grown up under the care of their grandparents.
Read More: Is Above Suspicion Based on a True Story?