‘Modern Love’ is a romantic series that explores the various forms of love, its fleeting nature, and its volatile definition through diverse standalone stories. These stories are more like vignettes of life as they are based on the weekly column of the same name published in The New York Times. The show’s second season continues the trend of telling bite-sized and feel-good stories about love from a fresh perspective.
‘On a Serpentine Road, With the Top Down’ is one such moving entry in the second season. The episode written and directed by John Carney follows a middle-aged woman forced to sell her vintage car, which is the last connection she shares with her deceased husband. If you are looking for a detailed summary of the episode’s events and some insights about the ending, here’s all that you need to know. SPOILERS AHEAD!
Modern Love Season 2: On a Serpentine Road, With the Top Down Recap
In ‘On a Serpentine Road, With the Top Down,’ we meet Stephanie, a doctor and a generous woman who owns a vintage car. On Stephanie’s way home from work, the car breaks down as it is old and in bad condition. Inside the car, we see Stephanie muttering to herself. Stephanie returns home, and we learn a little more about her life. She lives with her husband, Niall, and her daughter. She also has an elder daughter from her first marriage named Shannon, who has moved away to attend college.
Niall tells Stephanie that their savings are drying out, and they need to sell some of their stuff. Stephanie begins to consider selling her car. After the car breaks down once again, she puts it on sale. Stephanie has also been dealing with separation anxiety from Shannon being away. She finds a buyer who offers her good money for the car.
It is revealed that the car originally belonged to Stephanie’s first husband, Michael, and she and Shannon both are attached to the car. When Stephanie tells her daughter that she is selling the car, Shannon reminds her of all the memories that are sealed inside the car. Before selling the car, Stephanie takes it out for one last drive and reminisces about her past life with Michael. The drive forces her to examine whether she has really come to terms with her first husband’s death or if she isn’t ready to move on.
Modern Love Season 2: On a Serpentine Road, With the Top Down Ending: Does Stephanie Sell the Car?
Towards the end of the episode, we learn that the car is Stephanie’s way of keeping the memory of her deceased husband alive. When she is driving the car alone, she can feel Michael’s presence. She talks to him and updates him about the various events in her life. Ultimately, Stephanie decides to let go of her past and hands over the car to the buyer. She comes back home and has a deep conversation with Niall. She explains what the car means to her and how it transports her back to the time she shared with Michael. Niall reassures Stephanie that how she is feeling is perfectly normal.
A few days later, Niall buys back the car from the new owner. Shannon arrives home for the holidays, and Stephanie surprises her daughter by picking her up in the car. The episode ends with Stephanie and Shannon driving through an open road listening to Michael’s favorite song. In the last shot, we see Michael in the backseat. The story is essentially about the grief of losing a loved one. Throughout the episode, we see how the car helps Stephanie remain connected to Michael even after his death. It does not mean that she hasn’t moved on or is living in the past. It simply means that Stephanie loves Michael. The car allows for that love to persevere. After all, grief and love are two sides of the same coin. The ending also underlines that some things in life though materialistic are close to our hearts and therefore invaluable.
Do Niall and Stephanie Stay Together?
During her conversation with Niall, Stephanie explains how important the car is to her. Initially, we are given the impression that Niall is forcing Stephanie to sell the car, and he does not understand the sentimental value attached to the car. Stephanie fears that if she tells Niall how she feels about the car, he might think she is crazy or feel cheated and leave her. However, Niall turns out to be extremely understanding and supportive of Stephanie. He shares that he deals with the loss of his mother in a similar manner.
Niall tells Stephanie that she has one of the biggest hearts in the world, and he is happy to have a place in it even if he has to share it. The manner in which Niall reassures Stephanie is particularly enlightening because of the lack of open communication in modern relationships we see around us. Niall does not see Stephanie’s need to keep Michael alive in her heart as a personal attack, nor does he see any fault in Stephanie. Ultimately, a situation that could have driven a wedge between the couple ends up bringing them even closer.
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