Netflix’s ‘Clickbait’ is a tense mystery drama that dives into the dark impulses that the anonymity of the internet brings out in people. A murky kidnapping quickly takes an even darker turn when the victim’s survival is only guaranteed if a video of him does not go viral. Such are the dilemmas that the miniseries throws at us, and the mystery is rife with hidden identities and motives. The show also leaves no details out, giving audiences a 360-degree view of the crime from multiple characters’ perspectives, all leading to a truly explosive and unexpected finale. If you’re left with some questions at the end, we come bearing answers! Let’s dig into the ending of ‘Clickbait.’ SPOILERS AHEAD.
The series opens on Andrea Brewer’s birthday, where she sits around the table with her children Nick and Pia, her daughter-in-law Sophie, and her grandchildren Kai and Ethan. An argument between Pia and Nick soon shatters the affectionate atmosphere, and the former leaves, visibly upset. The next morning at work, Pia (a nurse) is shown a video by Vince, one of her patients.
To her shock, the video features a visibly injured Nick holding up placards, implicating him as an abuser of women. The next placards hold the explosive messages saying that Nick has killed a woman and that “At 5 million views, I die.” On the video, there is also a view count, which stands at a few thousand already. The news spreads like wildfire, and soon everyone in Ethan and Kai’s school has seen the video, which is up to 300,000 views.
Pia and Sophie go to the police, and detective Roshan Amir is put on the case. Based on surveillance footage, he investigates a man named Curtis Hamilton, who, it is revealed, Sophie was having an affair with. However, the man is let go due to a lack of evidence. Soon after, a woman named Emma Beesley comes forward, claiming to have had an affair with Nick. By then, as the view count has already reached 5 million, Nick’s body is found, bludgeoned to death.
As the police, Sophie, and Pia look into Nick’s online profiles, they find that he did, in fact, have multiple online dating profiles and was in touch with multiple women. A reporter named Ben Park, who is chasing the story, then learns that one of the women (Sarah Burton) who Nick was in touch with is now dead, with the cause of death being suicide. It is also revealed that shortly before his kidnapping, Nick was seen having arguments with one of the girls (Tara) on his volleyball team.
In a flashback, it is then revealed how Sarah Burton’s brother Simon Burton and his friend kidnapped Nick, held him hostage in a truck, and posted the viral video. However, when Simon is brought in for questioning, he confesses to kidnapping Nick but denies killing him. Meanwhile, Pia also realizes that many of the women claiming to have met Nick through online dating websites never actually met her brother in person. Nick’s son Ethan also begins to investigate his father’s online dating profiles and, with the help of his friend, manages to get the address of the person that made the profiles. Unfortunately, his younger brother Kai chances on the address and goes to the house alone, intending to avenge his father’s death.
Clickbait Ending: Why is Nick Kidnapped?
Kai is surprised when the house turns out to be that of Nick’s elderly colleague Dawn, who welcomes the confused young boy in. However, Dawn and her husband Ed’s sinister intentions are soon revealed when we see Ed pull out his gun before the two offer to drive Kai home. Through flashbacks, we then see how Dawn stole Nick’s personal information, created profiles, and built online relationships with multiple women. Her husband, upon finding out, vehemently protested but became a part of the crime when he killed Nick after the man came to confront Dawn for making the fake profiles.
Back in the present, Kai manages to escape from Dawn and Ed but is chased by the latter, who attempts to shoot him. Sophie and Pia, along with the authorities, show up in the nick of time and manage to rescue Kai and detain Dawn. Ed tries to fire one last bullet but is shot down by the police. In the closing scenes of the finale, we see Sophie and Pia finally at peace about Nick’s death, with Sophie once again being able to cherish the memory of her late husband without being haunted by thoughts of him being unfaithful.
As the serpentine mystery comes to a close, we realize that Nick was the victim of not just one but two unfortunate circumstances. The explosive allegations about him hurting and killing a woman (which he holds up on placards in the viral video) were actually not his fault. The woman that committed suicide is Sarah Burton, who suffered from mental illness and found solace in the online relationship she thought she had with Nick. When the person actually controlling Nick’s profile turned their back on Sarah, she committed suicide.
Sarah’s brother Simon, who was extremely protective of his sister and worked as an online content moderator (hence his internet prowess at making the viral video untraceable), then tracked the actual Nick down after seeing his pictures on the profile his late sister was communicating with. Holding Nick responsible for his sister’s death, Simon and his friend kidnapped him and held him hostage on the truck where they filmed the viral video of him holding the incriminating placards. However, later, upon interrogation, Simon says that despite originally meaning to kill Nick, he realized that Nick was not the actual person behind the profile that caused his sister’s death and let him go.
Who Killed Nick? Why is He Killed?
Nick is killed by one of the most unlikely characters in the story. Having escaped from Simon Burton and realizing his identity has been stolen, Nick heads to his colleague Dawn’s house. Whilst talking to Simon, Nick is able to figure out that Dawn, who has his phone password, access to his work computer, and knows about his marital troubles, is the only one who could have made such convincing online profiles of him. When Nick finally confronts Dawn, she tries to pacify him but to no avail.
As they argue, Dawn’s husband Ed comes up from behind and bludgeons Nick with a hammer, killing him. The couple then disposed of the body and scrub all evidence of the crime from their house. Ed, who is initially seen as a calm man with a penchant for model trains, is shocked when he discovers his wife’s online activities. Once Nick shows up at their house — and having seen how notorious the case of his kidnapping has gotten — Ed realizes that there will be massive repercussions for both him and Dawn if the authorities ever find out who was behind the fake profiles.
Therefore, in an attempt to cover his wife’s tracks, he kills Nick. We also hear him mention that he does not want to go to prison. Ed kills Nick because he wants to live out his days peacefully and doesn’t want to get entangled in the messy case, which could land both him and his wife Dawn in prison. The whole situation is highly ironic as Dawn, who started it by creating the fake profiles, never thought it would get this serious and just wanted to feel admired, even if it was by strangers on the internet.
Is Ed Gleed Dead? What Happens to Dawn Gleed?
The explosive finale finds Nick’s son Kai abducted by Dawn and Ed Gleed and taken to their trailer, where they discuss what their next move should be. Dawn wants to come clean and confess to her crime of identity theft, but her husband stops her, saying that they will also be convicted for Nick’s murder. During this time, Kai escapes but is chased by the elderly couple, with Ed even trying to shoot him but misses.
When the authorities arrive just in the nick of time, Dawn is arrested. Ed, who finally manages to catch Kai, holds the gun to the child’s head but cannot bring himself to fire it and lets him go. Ed then tries to fire a bullet in the direction of the cops but is instantly shot down by them. Though not confirmed, it is almost certain that Ed is dead as we last see him lying on the ground, bleeding out. Dawn’s fate is also not discussed, but she will likely receive a significant prison sentence that could extend to life.
Ironically, her initial crime of stealing Nick’s identity, though devastating, would have gotten her a lighter sentence. Through the actions of her husband, Ed, who murdered Nick so that their life wasn’t upturned by Dawn’s fake profiles, the unfortunate wife is now an accessory to murder and kidnapping (Kai), making her crimes a lot more serious. Dawn’s case and eventual fate perhaps most clearly enunciates how minor dark impulses — like hers, of just wanting to feel affection — can be amplified by the internet and turn into horrendous crimes.
Read More: Is Clickbait Based on a True Story?