The Netflix crime flick, ‘Reptile,’ charts the course of a murder investigation during which it brings various characters into the narrative. The leading man, Benicio Del Toro’s detective Tom Nichols, hardened under years of experience, comes in as the lead investigator on young real estate agent Summer Elswick’s murder. Although the man finds an immediate suspect in Summer’s boyfriend, he soon realizes things are not as simple as they seem. As the case progresses, it uncovers something much more sinister than Tom could have thought.
During the investigation, Eli Phillips, the strangely odd and dodgy fellow with a distant connection to Summer’s boyfriend, Will Grady, becomes one of the scant suspects in Summer’s murder. However, the man is pursuing another secret with Will at its center that might just blow Tom’s case wide open. Yet, Eli Phillips’ fate remains inexplicit and inconclusive, leading to some intrigue surrounding the man. As such, if you’re curious to discover what happens to Eli, here is everything you need to know. SPOILERS AHEAD!
Is Eli Phillips Dead?
Eli Phillips is introduced in the plot through Will Grady due to his less-than-pleasant disposition toward the man and his family. Eli Phillips’s grudge against Will Grady is generational, emerging years ago. Back when Will’s father owned the Grady business, he wanted to buy out Eli’s father’s family-owned farmland. However, Eli’s father, Mr. Phillips, was vehemently against the idea and declined Grady’s offer. Nevertheless, the farmer lost his land without a choice, and the Gradys bought the land.
As a result, Mr. Phillips committed suicide with a gun in his mouth. Following his father’s untimely death, Eli started blaming the Grady’s for his family’s predicament, branding the entire family unethically crooked. Therefore, Eli continued looking into Will’s family years after in a continued family feud. Somewhere along the line, the man caught wind of Will’s girlfriend, Summer, getting suspicious of her boyfriend’s business practices.
As such, on the night of Summer’s murder, Eli arrived at Whitcomb to gather intel about Will and his crimes. Summer likely shared her suspicions and theories with Eli. Nonetheless, the woman didn’t have enough information herself. Afterward, Summer met a bitter end in a brutal murder, jumpstarting the narrative and Tom’s investigation within it.
Naturally, while looking into the case, Tom came across Eli, mostly due to the latter’s insistent interference in Will’s life. Eventually, Summer’s husband, whom she separated from before starting an affair with, Sam Gifford, earns the blame for her murder, bringing her case to a close. Still, Tom recognizes that the entire thing fails to add up.
That’s when Eli Phillips re-enters the picture. Having heard something shady on the news connecting the Gradys to drug trafficking, Eli breaks into their office and steals a thumb drive’s worth of information about Will’s scam involving Summer and her business. Afterward, Eli slips the thumb drive into Tom’s position before getting arrested by the police for breaking into the detective’s house.
Soon, someone bails Eli out of jail, and the man returns to his home. However, that night, Will breaks into Eil’s house, demanding Eli return what he stole from his office— i.e., the thumb drive. When Eli shows no sign of cooperation, some other figure enters the room, a menacing air instantly overtaking the scene.
That is the last we see of Eli, but it’s not hard to imagine what future the man must have in store for him. Eli’s continued interference with Will and his business is starting to pose a serious threat to the latter. While it’s unknown whether or not Will knows how much damage Eli has done by supplying the thumb drive to Tom, the man is aware of how much of a threat Eli can become in the future.
Furthermore, the next day, when Tom visits Eli’s house, he finds the place deserted, with a big, empty bottle of bleach in his sink. The uncanny focus on the bleach holds certain implications. Someone— Will and his accomplice— could have possibly killed Eli in his house and then bleached the place clean of any evidence. Furthermore, the likelihood of Will getting caught depends on the identity of whoever helped Will resolve his Eli problem.
Next-to-nothing is known about the man who entered Eli’s house on the night of his disappearance/murder. Still, through Will’s own admission, we can conclude that the stranger and Eli knew each other beforehand. So far, apart from Tom, Eli only interacted with the detective’s partner, Dan Cleary, for substantial amounts of time.
Therefore, it is possible that Cleary, who remains faultless for most of the film, unlike his co-workers, is actually not that clean and is involved with Will. The same would also explain how Sam Gifford was able to overpower him so easily and steal his gun. Nevertheless, despite the speculative nature of Will’s accomplice’s true identity, one thing is for sure: Eli Phillips met a dark end and is likely dead by the time the story ends.
Read More: Reptile Ending, Explained