Reality shifts in the final episode of Shining Girls

Shining Girls
Elisabeth Moss

Warning: This article contains spoilers for the Chicago series Shining Girls

On Friday the final episode of Shining Girls streamed on Apple TV+ giving viewers one of the most satisfying endings of a TV series in a long time. While IMDb shows there is a possibility of a second season (or more), the show really seemed to have a definitive ending, much like the original 2013 book of the same name written by Lauren Beukes. The book is completely stand alone and is not part of a series. 

The 8 episode TV series follows protagonist Kirby Mazrachi (Elisabeth Moss), a Chicago Sun-Times research assistant who years earlier suffered a brutal attack that “left her in a constantly shifting reality.” After learning that a recent killing is linked to her assault, she teams with reporter Dan Velazquez (Wagner Moura) to solve the mystery around the murderous Harper Curtis (Jamie Bell). 

In the beginning of the season Kirby seemed to be at the mercy of the timeline shifts, never knowing where she lived, what her job was, whether or not she had a pet, and even if she was married. It seemed that she believed it was some kind of mental illness she was suffering from as a result of her brutal assault which nearly killed her. As the series progressed and she and Dan dove deeper into their newspaper story, revealing the full scope of the serial killer’s victims as well as how long he had been murdering women, Kirby found her footing and her voice.

As Kirby finds her internal stregnth throughout the ever changing landscape of her reality, the sadistic murderer, Harper seems to be losing his own grasp on reality, noticing that he, himself, is also experiencing similar time shifts and he doesnt like it one bit. Kirby and Dan don’t quite understand how Harper has been able to murder so many women over such an immense time period, but Dan believes Kirby, and the two of them do their best to track down Harper. Unfortunately this leads to Harper murdering Dan instead of Jin-Sook, aka Jinny (Phillipa Soo), who Kirby was desperate to save.


When the timeline is disrupted by Dan’s death, Jinny finds herself suffering from the same dimensional shifts and is confused and terrified. Kirby tries to explain how to manage it, but the two get separated as the time shifts increase and Kirby desperately attempts to figure out how Dan was killed. Jinny explains to Kirby that now instead of just Kirby and Harper being attached on some kind of dimensional string, the three of them are connected on that same string and the only way to stop it is to cut one of them off. 

By the last episode Kirby seems to sail smoothly between the timelines. She speaks to one medical examiner about Dan and then as she leaves the room, she acknowledges a completely different medical examiner and refers to him by his name, as if these time shifts are completely normal now.

Kirby then figures out where the time traveling house is and uses it to see how each timeline occurs, eventually manipulating Harper to come to the house where she is waiting, leaving him a polaroid of himself with the address of the house written across the bottom. Kirby has been very busy using the time traveling house to track down Harper’s first victim, who also used the house in previous episodes. Kirby apparently tells Klara (Madeline Brewer) about all the lies Harper intends to tell her so when he approaches her she can tell him exactly what he was planning on saying to her. She calls him out on his lies and basically tells him to go pound sand. 

When he arrives to the house with his buddy to burglarize it, much like Harper smugly telling a young Kirby that she would take the horse (actually pegasus) and that she always does in the first episode, Kirby smugly tells Harper that she can kill him and that she has already killed him. Because she time hopped herself back to the first time Harper came into the house, he is completely confused and terrified by her words. She tells Harper to never return to that house and that it is hers. As she settles into her much needed closure, she hears a scratching at the door. Lo and behold it is the very same dog from the first episode, and she remembers him and his name as she welcomes him into their home. 

Once Kirby fixes the timeline we are shown that the women who were murdered are living their lives completely unfettered without any knowledge of being stalked and murdered in the timeline we witnessed throughout the series. Kirby then tracks down Dan, who is still very much alive and plays some flirtatious mind games with him, telling him that if he remembers her, he knows where to find her.

The Shining Girls ending was perfectly wrapped up. We watched a sadistic killer lose all of his power and strength. Kirby saved women who didn’t even know they needed saving and everyone really truly lived happily ever after. 

Fans of Lauren Beukes’ storytelling might be excited to hear that three more of her works are currently being adapted for film and TV. According to her website, the CW is developing a TV series based on the Survivor’s Club horror comic and Village Roadshow is working on a series based on Beukes’ 2014’s Broken Monsters. Her 2016 short story Slipping also could be getting greenlit for the big screen in the future.

Shining Girls is streaming exclusively on Apple TV+


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