Surface Episode 1, 2 and 3 Recap and Ending, Explained

Created by Veronica West, ‘Surface’ is an Apple TV+ psychological thriller series. Set in San Francisco, the story follows Sophie Ellis (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), who seems to have a perfect, affluent life. And yet, she nearly died after what seems like a suicide attempt. Because of the incident, Sophie now suffers from severe amnesia. As Sophie tries to figure out what happened to her, conflicting memories begin to surface, making Sophie question herself and those around her. Here is everything you need to know about the ending of ‘Surface’ episode 3. SPOILERS AHEAD.

Surface Episodes 1, 2, and 3 Recap

Episode 1, titled ‘Ictus,’ begins as Sophie has yet another nightmare about the incident. She falls into the water from a ship’s deck and is gradually drawn into the propeller. We learn the extent of her trauma the following day when the driver of the cab she was in decides to take a shortcut over the bridge. She has an emotional breakdown just as they near the water and screams at the cab driver to let her out.

During her session with her therapist Hannah (Marianne Jean-Baptiste), Sophie asks the pivotal question of the show: If her life was so perfect, why did she try to end it? She is married to investment manager James (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), who appears to love her. She is surrounded by friends who seem to adore her. She evidently had a busy, bustling life before the incident. So, understandably, Sophie continues to return to the question of why she tried to take her own life, despite Hannah telling her that she might never remember that particular day.

Sophie discovers that she was having an affair with a police detective, Baden (Stephan James), and what she thinks is her suicide note might be a goodbye letter to James as she was leaving him. She gains a modicum of control over her fear of water and encounters the Coast Guard that saved her life that day. From her, Sophie learns that right after she was rescued, she claimed that a man pushed her and that her name was Tess.

In episode 2, titled ‘Muscle Memory,’ Sophie visits her and James’ property in Marin County with her friend, Caroline (Ari Graynor), and realizes that she used the house to meet Baden. Sophie seems to remember that she was indeed pushed, though her therapist tells her that what she is recalling about the day is most likely a false memory. Nevertheless, Sophie starts to suspect her husband, believing he pushed her because he found out about the affair and that she was leaving him. Sophie also discovers that she loves horse riding, which, if Caroline is to be believed, she never did before the incident. She also starts to regain an old memory involving a girl from when she was in England.

In episode 3, titled ‘New Person, Same Old Mistakes,’ Sophie discovers that James doesn’t even know who Baden really is, so he can’t possibly know about the affair. However, when she learns that someone embezzled millions at the investment firm James works at, Sophie starts to believe that James was responsible, and he tried to kill her after she found out.

Surface Episode 3 Ending: What Happened to Sophie?

As mentioned above, the central mystery of the series revolves around the reasons behind Sophie’s attempted suicide. The more we, the audience members, learn about it, the more it seems unlikely that Sophie tried to take her own life. The problem is that Sophie serves as the point-of-view character in the show, with her amnesia making her an unreliable narrator, and the series writers predictably explore this as much as they can. So, much of what we see in the first few episodes can potentially be red herrings.

The early episodes paint James as the culprit through Sophie and Baden’s suspicion and a mountain of circumstantial evidence. The combination of those two ultimately leads Sophie and Baden to conjecture. James comes off as controlling. After the incident, he has conservatorship over Sophie, making it nearly impossible for her to leave him. When Sophie goes to Marin with Caroline, James spends the entire evening watching her through the CCTV cameras. He also convinces Caroline to report to him everything that happens when she is with Sophie. It’s understandable that he might be worried after what happened, but this doesn’t seem like normal behavior.

The extent the show goes to make its audience think that James pushed Sophie leads us to believe that he isn’t the one responsible. Now, the series writers might have decided to follow the example set by shows like ‘The Undoing,’ where the original suspect is ultimately revealed to be the culprit, but that seems unlikely in this case. The truth is probably buried deep within Sophie’s past, and that fleeting piece of memory from England from episode 2 might hold the key to it.

Did James Embezzle Money from His Farm?

The moment James learns that there will be an investigation about the missing funds, he becomes visibly uncomfortable. Before the revelations toward the end of episode 3, it’s easy to disregard this believing it to be yet another red herring. However, it turns out that he is indeed responsible for what happened, though he claims that it was an honest mistake and that he trusted the wrong people. James breaks down when his friend Harrison (François Arnaud) becomes concerned about him after finding him crying. James seems to represent what the public perception is about investment highfliers — from using cocaine with his clients to secretly living in a perpetual state of emotional upheaval.

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