In Prime Video’s ‘Expats,’ the lives of three women collide in an emotional and heart-wrenching story that poses a lot of questions for the audience. In the first two episodes, the ground is set for what will turn into a complex tale of friendship and relationships in the aftermath of a terrible tragedy. This tragedy is related to Margaret Woo, who is still trying to process the loss of her youngest child, Gus. His absence becomes a gaping hole in Margaret’s life, and with time, she only sinks deeper into it, which also affects her other relationships, leaving her on the brink of a breaking down. But what exactly happened to Gus? Is he found? SPOILERS AHEAD
Gus Never Comes Back Home
The events in ‘Expats’ begin almost a year after the disappearance of Gus Woo. His parents, Clarke and Margaret, moved to Hong Kong when Clarke was promoted. It was supposed to be for just three years, so Margaret decided to sacrifice her career and focus entirely on her children. To take care of them, she hired a woman named Essie, but then Gus got too attached to her, and Margaret felt that things were becoming less professional between them. While Margaret always said that Essie was family, she didn’t like the fact that Essie had started to act like she belonged with them, especially when she would say something to undermine Margaret’s authority over her children.
At a boat party, Margaret crosses paths with a young Columbia graduate, Mercy, who seems to have a way with children. She is a bit lost about her career choice but seems to bond easily with children, and Gus seems to like her, too. With another option in sight, Margaret starts to wonder if it’s time to let Essie go and hire another sitter. One evening, she calls Mercy for what is basically an interview where she will gauge whether Mercy is up to the job. She also takes her three children, including Gus, and meets Mercy at the market.
As the evening moves forward, both Margaret and Mercy start to believe that the latter is going to take the job. Mercy consults with her friend on the phone over text. At one point, Margaret stays behind at a shop with her daughter while both her sons go with Mercy, who holds Gus’ hand. They stop at one shop where the boys look at the stuff, and Mercy’s attention turns to her phone, still talking to her friend. In a momentary lapse of attention, Gus is lost. He’s last seen disappearing into the crowd while trying to catch a ball.
The cops are soon called, but by then, it’s already too late. Gus is nowhere to be found, so it remains for the next year. The investigation into Gus’ disappearance doesn’t stop. At one point, it looks like he might be dead, but when there is no confirmation of that, Margaret stoically believes that her son is still alive and around. When the time comes for her husband to go back to his job in the States, having finished the time he was supposed to work in Hong Kong, Margaret refuses to leave because she thinks that leaving Hong Kong would mean entirely giving up on Gus. How could she leave the place when she knew he still was there somewhere?
The show is based on the book, ‘The Expatriates’ by Janice Lee, which is focused more on Margaret’s grief, Mercy’s guilt, Hillary’s (Margaret’s best friend) loneliness, and her desire to have kids. Gus remains a ghost, a perpetual shadow cast on Margaret and Mercy’s lives. Considering that the show has made some changes to the show, starting with the small tweak in the manner of Gus’ disappearance, it wouldn’t be a surprise if they take a different approach from the book when it comes to closing his arc. Still, the improbability of him returning to his family remains very low.
Gus could be dead, but there is a greater chance of him being somewhere else, possibly abducted by someone when they saw an unsupervised child running around. Or perhaps he strayed too far from the market and was found by a kind soul who took him in, not knowing that his parents were missing him. There could be any number of things that could have happened to him, but the story is less about his case and more about the impact it has on the lives of the people connected to him.