‘Clickbait’ takes us into the dark realm of hidden online identities and the base impulses that users give into from behind the curtain of anonymity that the internet provides. The Netflix miniseries centers around the kidnapping of Nick Brewer, who then shows up on a video holding a placard saying, “At 5 million views, I die.”
As his family and the authorities scramble to unravel the mystery and track down his kidnappers, the view count of the viral video rises ominously fast as more and more people continue to watch it. The show itself is a warning as to the dangerous real-life effects of online activities, and Nick’s kidnapping throws several people’s lives into limbo. So what finally happens to him? Let’s dig in and find out. SPOILERS AHEAD.
Who Kidnaps Nick?
After Nick is kidnapped, an investigation into his online activity reveals that he had multiple profiles on online dating platforms where he was in contact with several women. One of these women, Sarah Burton, suffered from mental illness and found solace in the romantic online relationship she had with Nick (the two never actually met, and Sarah knew Nick by the fake name Jeremy). When Nick stopped responding to her, she threatened to take drastic measures.
Through the online platform they communicated through, Nick told her to “go ahead,” which seemingly drove Sarah to suicide. When Sarah’s protective brother Simon found out about how Nick treated his sister, he vowed to get revenge and traced him through the photos on the dating app his sister was using. Simon and a friend then kidnapped Nick and held him hostage in a truck, where they recorded the infamous video that later goes viral.
In it, Nick holds placards that condemn him of being an abuser of women and say that Nick himself murdered a woman. Clearly, Simon thought that it was entirely Nick’s fault that his sister Sarah was dead. However, in a massive twist, we then find out that Nick was never in contact with Sarah, and the picture of the two of them together, which Simon found, was a photoshopped image of Nick with his wife, Sophie.
When Nick explained the same to his captors and implored Simon to reconsider his murderous plan, Simon hesitated. Later, when the authorities eventually apprehend him, Simon confesses to kidnapping Nick and planning to murder him. However, in a follow-up twist, the kidnapper also says that he finally realized that Nick was not the one that was communicating with his sister and let him go. Though the authorities initially refuse to believe Simon, Nick’s sister Pia does and is eventually proved right. Simon, who initially kidnapped Nick, later let him go.
Is Nick Dead or Alive?
After escaping from his captors, Nick heads to his colleague Dawn Gleed’s house. Through all the allegations made by Simon, Nick is able to deduce that it was, in fact, Dawn that had stolen his identity and communicated with Sarah pretending to be him. Dawn, who works with Nick, had initially offered to set up his work computer and had gotten access to his files as well as his phone.
It is slowly revealed on the show how she first came across a few messages that Nick had exchanged with a woman on a dating website, which likely gave Dawn the idea to continue doing it. Bored at home and feeling unloved, it seems like Dawn got carried away and formed deep online relationships with multiple women under the guise of Nick by using his personal photos and information. One of the women Dawn became involved with (as Nick, but under the name Jeremy) was Sarah, who later committed suicide.
Dawn’s husband, Ed, who is introduced as a calm man with a penchant for model trains, eventually found out what his wife was up to and was shocked. He called her online activities “evil” and asked her to stop them at once. However, when Nick shows up to confront Dawn for stealing his identity, Ed realizes that his wife has continued the online relationships through her fake persona. While Nick and Dawn argue, Ed comes up from behind and bludgeons Nick with a hammer, killing him.
Though this might seem excessive on Ed’s part, we begin to understand his motivation when he tells his wife that he doesn’t want to go to prison. Ed seemingly believes that because of his wife’s fraudulent online activities and their unexpected repercussions (Sarah Burton’s suicide and Nick’s subsequent kidnapping by her brother Simon), his wife Dawn and possibly him too will end up going to prison.
It is to avoid this unthinkable fate for the elderly couple — who so far seem to have had a simple and content existence — that Ed kills Nick. Considering how quickly it all happens, it also seems to be a spur-of-the-moment decision by the husband and one that goes on to have disastrous consequences for him and his wife.
Read More: Where Was Clickbait Filmed?