Frybread Face and Me: What Happens to Uncle Marvin? Does He Die?

Netflix’s ‘Frybread Face and Me’ takes place over the course of a summer in the Navajo reservation, where an 11-year-old Benny spends time in the solitude of the place with his grandma, cousin, and uncle. With each of them, he develops a different relationship, which is fed by their own experiences and backstories, of which Benny has barely any knowledge. His grandma is kind and welcoming, and he and his cousin, Fry, also take to each other eventually. But the relationship with his Uncle Marvin remains strained, though there seems to be a hint of camaraderie between them in the end. What happens to Uncle Marvin once Benny leaves? SPOILERS AHEAD

The Ambiguity of Uncle Marvin’s Fate Hints at Two Possibilities

When Benny arrives at his grandma’s place, he discovers that she and Uncle Marvin live there by themselves. There is nothing but miles of desert and the road around them, which makes it seem like they are living in exile, so far from civilization. The market and other things are at a driving distance, so things aren’t actually that far. But Benny knows that life on the Rez is an entirely different thing, which is why he wonders why his grandma and uncle don’t live in the city or somewhere else for that matter.

Benny doesn’t find out a lot about his uncle, but it’s clear to him that Marvin’s inability to leave the place is one of the reasons behind his irritability and rude behavior. Aunt Lucy blames it on his half-Hopi side, but it’s understandable that Marvin holds a grudge for his siblings or perhaps for himself for staying back when all the others have moved out. He stays there because if he doesn’t, his mother will be alone, and there is no one else to take care of her. But the truth is that there is something else holding him back.

In one scene, where Marvin has a heart-to-heart in the only paper conversation he has with his nephew, Benny asks him why he doesn’t just leave if he hates it so much here. By then, Marvin had sustained an injury from the rodeo, and his dog, Reba, had also died. If he didn’t feel helpless and heartbroken before, he does so now. He remembers the time he spent with his siblings with fondness, a nostalgia perhaps ignited by seeing Benny bond with his cousin, Fry. And all of that love, which has been suppressed over the years, comes out of him in the form of a grudge.

By the time Benny leaves with his mother, things have cooled down between him and Marvin, who stopped teasing his nephew for not being man enough a while ago. They acknowledge each other before Benny’s departure, where the voiceover reveals Benny’s wish to have said a proper goodbye to his uncle because that’s the last time he saw him. While the viewer’s mind might jump to the conclusion that Marvin died soon after, there is another possibility, which hints at a different, maybe even better, life for Marvin.

Perhaps Marvin finally decided he didn’t want to leave the Rez. Despite the love for his mother, he knew he had to carve his own path and live his life the way he wanted. Maybe Benny didn’t get to see him again because Marvin never returned to the Rez. He built a different life for himself, one that was worth staying for, not something that bound him because of his expected duties or long-held grudges. Benny reveals that his grandma died soon after. The rug she made that summer was her last, following which she lost her eyesight, and Benny was there to hold her hand in her final moments. This might mean that his grandma lived with him and his mother for a while, or maybe that they moved there for a while to be with her.

His mother would have been the reason to pull Marvin back to the Rez and in Benny’s orbit again, but with her gone, Marvin would have felt the cutting of that cord and decided not to return to the house anymore. While a bit heartbreaking, this possibility offers some hope for Marvin and his future life. If not this, then the only other reason Benny didn’t get to see him again would be that Marvin died, most probably in some accident.

Read More: Why is Benny’s Cousin Called Frybread Face? Meaning, Explained