Marcella Backland had taken a break from her job as a police detective to dedicate more time to her family. But she is pulled back into it when a case that had gone unsolved fifteen years ago comes back into the focus. A serial killer is going around town killing people by suffocating them to death. The return of the killer allows Marcella another opportunity to get closure with the case, while also distracting herself from the personal problems in her life.
Despite several fresh murders, the case takes a more urgent turn when Grace Gibson is killed. She is the daughter of Sylvie Gibson, a wealthy and influential business owner, who also happens to be the employer of Marcella’s husband, Jason. What makes things more complicated is the fact that Jason had been having an affair with Grace.
Marcella Season 1 Recap: The Suspects
There is no proper profile of the murderer, who is targeting all sorts of people, and this makes the case all the more difficult to crack. However, to kick things into motion, the cops go back to the people who had been suspects fifteen years ago. This is where the first primary suspect of the story comes to the fore. The last time, Marcella had been pretty sure that Peter Cullen was the one they were looking for. However, due to lack of evidence. She couldn’t prove anything.
It comes to her attention that Cullen had later been convicted of killing his wife and has been recently allowed out of prison, though he is still kept under strict surveillance. While chasing new leads on the side, Marcella keeps herself focused on Cullen, finding out everything she can about his new life. She comes across a woman, Maddy Stevenson, who has befriended him to study him and create a profile.
Meanwhile, a girl named Cara Thomas comes under the scrutiny of the cops. She uses the Internet to do sexual stuff for money, and through an app for cheating partners, she finds clients who pay to sleep with her. She steals valuables from these people and pawns it for money. When some of these things turn out to be mementos collected by the killer, she is chased by the police as well as the murderer. Before she can tell anyone anything, she is killed.
Anyone who had been in contact with Cara becomes a potential suspect, but this lead doesn’t take the cops anywhere. In the end, they circle around the people who were closer to Grace.
The Red Herrings
The MO of the killer is to kill the people in their homes and leave them there. However, Grace’s body is moved from her home and is disposed of somewhere else. This departure from the signature-style adds another dimension to the story. However, it is not a mystery to Marcella. In one of her blackouts, she had moved Grace’s body, but she doesn’t remember what exactly happened between them. Because Marcella is also prone to get violent in such situations, she wonders if she was the one to kill Grace. Later, she rules herself out when the memento that the killer took from Grace is recovered somewhere else.
Despite the orders of her superiors to steer clear of Cullen, Marcella keeps tabs on him. Her instincts are proven right when Cullen becomes obsessed with Maddy and kills her boyfriend. He also tries to kill her, because she had lied to him about why she really befriended him, but the cops arrive just in time to tackle the situation.
Once arrested, Cullen is charged with the murder of Maddy’s boyfriend. Knowing that the evidence against him is too much to prove himself not-guilty, Cullen surrenders, and confesses to the murders that had taken place fifteen years ago. However, new detail in the recent murders suggests that a copycat is at play this time around.
A breakthrough in the case arrives when the cops find some strands of hair in the hand of a new victim. The murder of a young girl makes things more personal for Marcella, who is reminded of her daughter’s death. The DNA results point the investigators in the direction of Yann Hall and his lover, Matthew, who happens to be the best friend of Grace’s step-brother, Henry.
The Ending: Who’s the Real Killer?
With every suspect slipping out from their hold due to one thing or another, Marcella’s suspicion finally locks in on Henry as the perpetrator. Her hunch strongly suggests that he had something to do with the murders, but again, she has no proof to support it.
Alongside the case, Jason’s life also falls apart. When the news of his affair with Grace becomes public, he is fired from his job. To get back his position, he gets involved in a shady deal that leads to the death of the person who had been causing trouble for his employers. This causes trouble for him with DCI Tim Williamson, who is also a close friend of Marcella. Trouble escalates between them when Jason discovers that Marcella had slept with Tim.
Another thing that flips the switch for Jason is when he comes to know that Henry is the one who killed Grace. He confronts him at his house but Henry stabs him. Marcella arrives at the scene and a tussle ensues between her and Henry. She has another blackout, and when she wakes up, she finds herself sitting on a sofa, and Henry is tied up with a plastic bag over his face, just like Cullen used to kill his victims.
She acts just in time to save Henry who is ready to retaliate, believing that there is no concrete evidence against him. However, he is pinned down when Marcella finds the bite mark on his shoulder, given to him by the little girl he had killed. He confesses that he killed Grace because he was jealous of her being the star-child. He killed others simply because he wanted to give the impression that Grace’s death was not an isolated event, which wouldn’t lead the suspicion to him.
The case closes with Henry going behind the bars, but there are still a lot of loose ends, some of which lead back to Marcella. Tim follows one such thread and discovers that it was she who moved Grace’s body. Apart from this, Marcella also finds her blackouts worsening and she wonders if the job has finally taken its toll on her.
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