American Rust Broken Justice Ending, Explained: Who Is Behind The Buell Murders?

‘American Rust: Broken Justice’ brings the follow-up to ‘American Rust’ season 1, continuing the crime thriller saga that unravels the story of a Rust Belt small town, Buell, and its residents’ sharp clash with law and order. This season— harbingering the consequences of the past— finds Del Harris back in Pittsburgh, where he faces his former colleagues and their unconventionally unique brand of law enforcement. Meanwhile, tensions run high in Buell, where Bobby and Issac attempt to move on from their dead and buried secrets. However, as the newly appointed Chief, Steve Park investigates the recent string of murders in town, crimes of the past threaten to come out in the open.

This season of the crime drama show charts an engrossing narrative about Del Harris as the two worlds between Pittsburgh and Buell collide, resulting in unexpected outcomes and lessons. As a result, viewers must be eager to untangle season 2’s mystery and intrigue-filled narrative, seeking answers about what the end brings for the small-town residents. SPOILERS AHEAD!

American Rust: Broken Justice Plot Recap

A few months after Del Harris covered up Billy Poe and Isaac English’s homicidal crime through a triple homicide of his own, the man leaves the Buell Police Force. Consequently, he returns to Pittsburgh, where he resumes his position as a detective and seeks to earn a spot back into The Brotherhood, the tight-knit community of cops who take justice into their own hands when their mission doesn’t align with the law. However, Del is really collaborating with the FBI to expose The Brotherhood by infiltrating their ranks and collecting their secrets.

Thus, Del splits his time in Pittsburgh, working on a murder via bombing case with his new partner, Angela Burgos, and seamlessly creeping into The Brotherhood, now under the new leadership of Internal Affairs’ Ramon Fisher. In the meantime, Del’s girlfriend, Grace, deals with the aftermath of Billy’s strained recovery and is left frustrated when her son accepts a bad settlement deal from the Defense Attorney Sue Herlitz, who wrongfully imprisoned him for a crime he did not commit.

Yet, Billy is only looking to move on from the past and decides to stay with best friend Isaac and old flame Lee at the English house, where he continues his physical and mental recovery. Nevertheless, the past proves to be difficult to erase for Billy, Lee, and Isaac, leading to growing complications. Additionally, Isaac’s dating life leads him to a closeted man, Russell Wolfe. Although the two men share an instantaneous connection, complications persist between the pair.

Simultaneously, Chief Steve Park refuses to give up on the West Virginia murders, firm in his belief that Del was involved in the ordeal. As such, once people, including Herlitz, show up dead around town, Steve turns his attention to Grace. For her part, Grace remains unbothered and ventures out into business with Landwill, an oil company seeking partnership with Buell landowners for fracking rights.

Meanwhile, back in Pittsburgh, Del attempts to use one of the cops, Vic, with a shorter fuse, to expose the Brotherhood. However, Angela’s coinciding move against him for domestically abusing his cop girlfriend, Cynthia, leads to a poor end for Vic, who is removed from the equation by Fisher for his liability to the cause. Consequently, Angela ends up joining Del in his FBI-approved move against Fisher and his group.

Even so, since the sting operation is covert, Del and Angela also continue working on the McKenna bombing case, which continues to bring surprising revelations. Eventually, McKenna’s unfaithful wife, Nell, confesses to the man’s murder under dubious circumstances. Furthermore, after Lee’s investigation into her law firm’s client, Landwill Energy’s shady business practices lead her to Nell, the woman becomes distressed and commits suicide.

Moreover, Del and Angela’s investigation against The Brotherhood comes to a head after Fisher assigns the former a mission, which ends up being a trap. The night ends with most Brotherhood cops, save for Fisher, arrested and Del sustaining prominent injuries. Things get complicated in Buell, where Billy deals with his trauma in unhealthy ways and decides to enlist in the army. Issac’s affair with Russell also fizzles out, and the man finds himself falling back into a relationship with Nate, his ex, who comes to visit.

Nonetheless, Russell’s reappearance leads to complications, which results in Nate’s ominous exit. Likewise, Russell’s dire disposition increases when Grace discovers he tricked her into repping Landwill and holds some secrets of his won. Yet, Grace finds herself with bigger problems once she learns that Del has left his hospital bed despite his injuries after making a breakthrough about the McKenna bombing and its connection to the Buell murders.

American Rust Ending: Who Committed the Murders in Buell?

Throughout the story, the Buell murders continue to haunt the narrative with their dangerous mystery. Initially, the murders seem to be inexplicably connected to Grace, as both victims, Chloe and Sue, remain individuals who had disagreements with the woman. The same, paired with Chief Steve’s pre-established suspicions of Del, compel the detective to pursue Grace as a suspect despite the flimsy circumstantial evidence against her. The same remains evident to Steve’s superiors, who believe the man is letting his perception of the former Buell Police Chief color his biases unfairly.

Meanwhile, Del deals with his own homicide case in Pittsburgh, where Liam McKenna died after receiving a package with a bomb inside it. Even though Del and Angela’s investigation is more by the book than Steve’s, they also arrive at a dissatisfactory conclusion when Liam’s wife, Nell, confesses to his crimes. Since Nell vehemently declined her involvement in Liam’s murder initially, her sudden confession comes as a shock. Worse yet, the woman hangs herself in her prison cell prior to the trial, rendering her actions all the more confusing.

For the same reason, once Del spots a possible connection between the two cases, he realizes something menacing must be afoot. While bedridden in the hospital, Del looks through weeks of security footage outside the McKenna house, which reveals that Sue once visited Nell in a heated moment.

As such, Del ends up slipping out of the hospital in his weakened state to solve the puzzle now that he has a crucial piece of it. His investigation takes him to Ramona, Sue’s assistant, who reveals that she and Sue were working to take down Landwill Energy, who have been employing unlawful practices to silence people who’ve been victims of their environmentally unethical methods. One prominent way in which the company screwed over the general public was through vanishing land water tests that proved their malpractice.

As it would turn out, Nell was the woman conducting the initial tests. For the same reason, Sue approached her in an effort to use her as a witness in her case against Landwill. Nevertheless, Nell’s greed got the better of her as she started extorting Landwill for money with threats to release the test results otherwise. Thus, once Nell became a big enough problem, Landwill decided to send a message by bombing her house.

Likewise, the company sent out hits in Buell to tie up loose ends and blackmailed Nell into confessing to Liam’s murder. Lee, who had been investigating Landwill’s shady connection to the water tests, traced them back to Nell and attempted to question the other woman. However, Nell mistook her for a Landwill representative sent out to threaten her. Consequently, she commits suicide to ensure the company won’t hurt her family anymore due to her actions.

Thus, the truth emerges that Landwill Energy has been behind the murders this entire time. But, of course, the company had to hire a hitman to carry out the jobs without staining the corporation’s name. In the end, the narrative ends up revealing this Landwill clean-up guy to be Russell Wolfe, Issac’s mysterious lover, who tricked Grace into becoming an unofficial sales representative for Landwill. Russell works quietly and efficiently, never leaving any evidence behind. As a result, once Del realizes the man has set his sights on Lee as his next target, the detective must move fast to save the woman’s life.

Why Did Russell Kill Lee?

Due to Henry English’s recent suicide and Billy’s traumatic experience in prison, Lee remains in an emotionally precarious situation in the second season. The woman feels guilty for everything that has happened to Billy since she decided to let him stay in prison to protect her brother Isaac. Likewise, since Henry died under her care, she can’t help but blame herself for his suicide as well. Therefore, she takes the opportunity to do some net good once she realizes that her law firm’s top client, Landwill, has been employing corrupt practices to rob numerous people.

As such, Lee begins investigating Landwill’s accounts and unearths evidence that proves their crimes. However, the woman doesn’t stop there and sends the water test evidence to the wronged landowners, causing business loss for Landwill, who have to pay settlements in numerous cases. Therefore, once Landwill realizes Lee is responsible for the same, they send out their hitman— Russell— after her. The man’s standing acquaintance with Lee through Isaac further helps him orchestrate the perfect murder.

Consequently, once Lee returns from New York following her divorce settlement, she finds Russell in the house. From there, it doesn’t take much effort for the man to kill Lee. Still, as he begins to flee from yet another crime scene, Steve and his partner, Hannah, close in on him before he can leave.

Does Steve Catch Del For The West Virginia Murders?

After discovering evidence that suggests Del’s involvement with the West Virginia murders, Steve Park becomes obsessed with exposing the former Police Chief. However, despite his best efforts, Del’s immaculate cover-up of his crime paired with his pleasant reputation within law enforcement— prevents Steve from unearthing any tangible proof to back up his claims. As such, even though Steve’s theories stand true, he can’t move against Del in any substantial way.

Yet, Steve’s circumstances change once Del realizes the dangerous situation that Lee is in after learning about her contentious involvement with Landwill. Del knows he isn’t close enough to the English house to provide any sort of protection to the woman. Furthermore, his damaged health will prevent him from undertaking drastic actions. For the same reason, he contacts Steve and requests him to check up on Lee. Since Steve isn’t in any mood to grant Del favors, the latter ends up agreeing to a full confession of what happened in West Virginia in exchange for Steve’s help.

Consequently, Steve arrives at the English house— albeit not soon enough to save Lee—and enters a shoot-out with Russell, which leaves the other man and Steve’s partner, Hannah, injured. Shortly after, Del arrives, compelling a shocked Steve to demand his confession. As a result, Del ends up confessing to the triple homicide in West Virginia. Moreover, held at gunpoint, Del also reveals the real reason behind his motives— the cover-up of Novick’s murder.

Nevertheless, even though Steve now has incriminating proof of Del’s crimes, they do him little good once the man finds himself a victim of Grace’s gunshot. After Grace realized Del left the hospital, she figured out something significant was about to go down. As a result, she followed the man into the English house. After hearing him confess everything to Steve, Grace realizes the only way to keep her loved ones safe is by killing the Police Chief and rendering Del’s confession null.

Thus, Grace shoots Steve in the back, killing the man in an instant. Afterward, she and Del move in an eerie synchronicity and manipulate the crime scene to appear as if Russell had shot Steve. Therefore, the show ends with Del’s crimes hidden and Steve meeting his demise. Nevertheless, the latter has planted a few seeds that could potentially lead to Del’s fall. Steve’s partner, Hannah, survives the incident as the sole witness of Grace and Del’s crime and confession.

If Hannah chooses to come forward, she could continue in Steve’s footsteps and go after Del in future seasons. Similarly, Steve also shared an extensive file that detailed his theories about Del with Angela, the man’s current partner. Considering Angela’s by-the-book persona, the woman could also potentially prove to be trouble for Del despite their friendship. Ultimately, Steve dies without exposing Del. Even so, Del isn’t entirely out of the woods yet.

Is Fisher Dead?

A ten-week-later epilogue showcases another complication for Del, whose past continues to haunt him. While Del and Angela’s semi-successful operation against the Brotherhood resulted in their exit from the plot, Fisher’s continued existence also plagues the story. Fisher was always extremely careful about The Brotherhood’s operations. As the newly-appointed leader, he deeply cared for the cause. Yet, he also maintained several safety protocols to ensure their anonymity.

Therefore, Del makes a dedicated enemy out of Fisher by exposing the organization. Thus, weeks after his initial escape from the law, Fisher returns to threaten Del and his family. The man stakes out near Del’s cabin, training a sniper over his loved ones while they unwittingly enjoy a family meal together. Nevertheless, Billy, a new military man, spots the sniper’s aim and decides to confront Fisher outside the house. The show ends with the suggestion of an altercation between Fisher and Billy, leaving the plot point to unravel in potential future seasons.

Read More: Is American Rust: Broken Justice Based on a True Story?