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The Ending Of Mammals Season 1 Explained

Where one door closes, another one opens. For James Corden, that's taking the lead role in the Amazon Prime drama "Mammals." The show explores the flaws and problems within monogamous marriages, focusing on the story of Michelin-star chef Jamie (Corden) and his wife Amandine (Melia Kreiling). After finding out she's having an affair with a man only known as ”Paul," Jamie sets out to find the truth with the help of his brother-in-law, Jeff (Colin Morgan). At the same time, Jeff's own marriage isn't exactly rosy, as he's growing distant from his unsatisfied wife, Lue (Sally Hawkins).

It's good news for fans of the JC, who romps back to acting with an incredibly complex story. Teaming up with esteemed playwright and longtime friend Jez Butterworth, Corden delivers what could be the first role in his return to the world of full-time acting, as his tenure as a late-night talkshow host is coming to a close in 2023. "Mammals" is certainly different from a lot of things we have seen before, leaving fans guessing until the very end thanks to its many twists and turns. But what does it all mean? Here's a breakdown of the Season 1 finale. Spoilers ahead.

The cheater becomes the cheated on

One of the central themes through Season 1 of "Mammals" is just how much everyone enjoys having extramarital affairs. While Lue's lack of lust for her husband Jeff never goes further than her imagination, the majority of the show focuses on Amandine's mystery man. With Jamie sending himself in circles to try to figure out who the mystery guy is, his outburst at the restaurant opening throws his marriage into even further jeopardy. The story itself seems straightforward until the final twist in Episode 6 — Amandine's cheating has a purpose. Jamie has been seeing another woman, and Amandine has known the entire time. It seems the cheater has become the cheated on.

Right at the last moment, this twist turns everything we know about our cast of characters on its head. Jamie can now be perceived to be an unreliable narrator who's only acting in his own best interest, as opposed to the genuine victim we previously believed him to be. It also gives us an unusual sense of respect for Amandine, who's been painted as the villain of Season 1. What she's really looking for is peace, excitement, and a fresh start — and who couldn't be forgiven for wanting that? Amandine revealing the recording she took of Jamie and another woman proves how unfulfilled the pair are, and how unfair it is for Jamie to take a moral high ground.

The meaning of the whale

The most obvious piece of visual symbolism used in "Mammals" is that of the whale. In the show's finale, we see a whale in the middle of the road after Jamie learns Amandine knows about his infidelity, but whales also appear as early as the first episode. After initially spotting a whale from the yacht during the pair's first encounter, we see a whale again when Jamie tries to book spa treatments later on in the season. It's not totally outlandish to think this could be the very same whale making repeat visits to Amandine and Jamie. But what does it mean?

Thematically, the whale could mean one of many things: being alone, wisdom, or the ability to transform over time. The whale is known for its unique and mysterious nature. The whale is a creature that never stays partnered, possibly hinting at Jamie and Amandine's need to be fulfilled by other people. What is key to remember is the fact that a whale isn't a fish, but a mammal. This threads back to Jamie's comment that "They have to surface to breathe. That's all it was." Whether it's purely based on animal instinct or asking the audience to lean into the impossible, the whale's inclusion is never explained outright.

Does James Corden prove his acting chops?

It's been a good while since we've seen James Corden on our screens as an actor. With his departure from "The Late Late Show" announced back in April, it's possible that he could be planning a big return to the stage and screen. Known for his roles in the play "The History Boys" and the BBC series "Gavin & Stacey," Corden has primarily been juggling voiceover roles with his hosting duties since the mid-2010s. In "Mammals" Corden manages to bring the sense of comedy that fans know and love him for while venturing into new, darker territory by going full-on stalker mode.

In short, Corden easily lives up to the acting expectations he set for himself many years earlier. Speaking to The Telegraph, Corden said, "I love acting, and I love actors, I love being in the presence of actors." Thanks largely to "Mammals," it certainly feels as though Corden is coming home to try his hand back on British TV — though given his behind-the-camera experience with shows like "Gavin & Stacey," it wouldn't be a surprise to see him wearing many different hats down the line.

Jamie has a lot to process

The bombshell at the end of the Season 1 finale — that Amandine knows about Jamie's infidelity — leaves Jamie trying to process all the drama there is to deal with. This has arguably been building up since midway through Episode 1 where Amandine has a miscarriage. It's easy to forget that while the relationship drama takes center stage, Jamie is still coping with his seemingly squashed hopes of fatherhood. Given how quickly his life appears to have fallen to pieces, it almost explains why he is so hell-bent on finding Paul's true identity — success could allow him to gain some form of control back over Amandine and their dysfunctional relationship.

That being said, by the time audiences realize the bigger picture in the season finale, we have a different idea of who Jamie is. In fact, it's possible that we don't know Jamie at all. There's an argument to be made that he doesn't deserve time to process what Amandine tells him in those final moments, given the fact that his own actions are what set off the chain of consequences. He is lacking as a romantic partner by being unable to provide what Amandine needs, but also holds a hypocritical mindset by fulfilling his own unmet needs elsewhere. It offers up a lot of questions for a possible Season 2, leaving us wondering if he'll be able to talk his way out of his hidden secret.

Why is Tom Jones there?

It's not unusual to wonder why a celebrity has a cameo as themselves in a TV show, but Welsh singer Tom Jones' inclusion in "Mammals" feels particularly random. Fans meet him in the show's first episode when he introduces himself to Jamie and Amandine as they try to enjoy their coastal getaway. Having recently undergone hip surgery, it's even more of a surprise to see him make a rare appearance in the world of acting. At 81, why is Tom Jones making an appearance in "Mammals?"

Though no reason for why has been given outright, the answer might be found in a recent Esquire interview with co-writer Jez Butterworth. Speaking about Tom Jones, Butterworth said, "He spent his entire life with the same woman and slept with 10,000 other people. It's almost like a holy visitation." Described as "the patron saint of the away game," it's Tom's appearance as a ladies' man while remaining devoted to one woman that might tie in with the show's themes. Tom's ability to lead a double life echoes what Jamie experiences throughout the show, as well as the overarching ties to marriage.

Paul's identity makes waves

Towards the end of Season 1 of "Mammals," Jamie finally finds out who Paul really is. Jamie initially thought he had tracked him down and warned him to stay away, only to later find out that he has the wrong man. Paul's identity is actually Jeff, the brother-in-law who has been helping Jamie solve the case the entire time. Considering that we know Amandine is trying to find a feeling of peace and fulfillment, keeping things in the family doesn't seem like the best way to go. Up until this point, Jeff has also come across as a victim, trying to do right by Lue as she grows more distant from him. As is the case with Jamie, our perceptions of Jeff and Amandine completely turn on their heads.

As finding out Paul's identity takes up most of the season's narrative, it begs the question of where a Season 2 could go from here. Jeff certainly has a lot of explaining to do, but so might Lue, who had previously let it slip that her dreams told her about the "terrible things" Jeff has been up to. Whether she means the affair itself is unclear, but the revelation of Jeff as Paul raises more questions than answers.

The web of other partners expands

Thanks to the bombshell in the Season 1 finale, we learn that there are even more extramarital partners than we might think. Of course, the main narrative of "Mammals" focuses on Amandine's mystery partner Paul, though we later find out that she has also been potentially seeing a striking violin player. By the end of Episode 6, viewers learn that Jamie also has an extramarital partner after being caught flirting during a holiday break by Amandine. The events of Season 1 feel like the tip of a marital iceberg, leaving us wondering if even more partners have yet to be discovered.

Speaking to the Evening Standard, creator Jez Butterworth talked about his ideas to explore relationships outside of monogamy. "The original idea was this: what if you had a story that was about relationships, sexual and emotional, but the motor of that story was plotted and paced like a thriller." With this in mind, it's possible that future seasons of "Mammals" could reveal more character infidelities — particularly during the early stages of Jamie and Amandine's relationship.

Lue and Jeff aren't the perfect couple

While Jamie and Amandine immediately appear to be a couple on the rocks, the same can't be said outright for Lue and Jeff. By the time viewers reach the final episode, Jeff and Lue are distant, but not necessarily in trouble. Lue dreams of being fulfilled by other (sometimes imaginary) people, but she never shows any intention to act on it. That all changes when it's revealed that Jeff is in fact Paul — sleeping with Amandine while claiming to help Jamie the entire time.

Clearly, there are more problems between Lue and Jeff than we see acted out on-screen. In future seasons or spin-offs, the focus could indeed shift to unpicking Lue and Jeff's marriage, bringing in a therapist angle just like we saw with Jamie and Amandine. For most of the first season, the two try to brush their problems under the carpet, but the finale proves their relationship is well past ignoring what isn't being said.

Revenge is a dish best served cold

Sure, Tom Jones, restaurant openings, and oddly placed whales are all well and good, but "Mammals" returns to one thing time and time again — revenge. The season finale proves that Amandine's journey from Episode 1 was plotted around an ultimate revenge we didn't see coming. Her delivery of the knowledge she has around Jamie's affairs is almost cold and callous as it distances her from him and her own actions. Even though we've been rooting for him to get to the bottom of Paul's identity, it's incredibly enjoyable to see revenge as a dish served cold.

In the same vein, Jeff could be seen to be on a journey of revenge, too. Having completely changed his character since the start of the season, it could be argued that his act of infidelity is getting back at Lue for becoming increasingly distant. At the same time, there's as of yet no valid reason why he'd want to harm Jamie — there could be feelings of jealously or a twisted sense of wanting to take control. Either way, this strand of the "Mammals" story is something ripe to be explored in Season 2.

Everyone knew about everything already

What's particularly clever about Season 1 of this show is the way it gradually drips information to the audience. By the time we watch the final episode, we're still none the wiser about exactly what is going to happen next. With the entire cast of "Mammals" continuing to be so secretive towards each other, it comes as a surprise to learn that all of them pretty much already know what's going on. It's this twist that changes our perceptions of our four main characters. We've been rooting for Jamie to find his truth, yet his character development turns sour and reveals him to be a hypocrite. Amandine is too wrapped up in her own emotions and her extended knowledge finally pushes her to the breaking point. While Jeff is clearly keeping secrets of his own, Lue's knowledge isn't as clear-cut considering that most of what she knows is actually more like a premonition.

Why does this work so well? The answer comes back to our theme of monogamy. As Jez Butterworth is trying to teach us, the socially acceptable marriage isn't all it's cracked up to be. It doesn't always function as we expect it to — and perhaps it doesn't function at all. Proving that everyone knows the truth all along only further works to Butterworth's advantage. Why are we all ignoring the inevitable, mammal behavior we all seem to crave?

It's unclear if the marriages can survive

If Season 2 of "Mammals" ever comes to our screens, it's got a lot to answer for in terms of its relationships. By the end of Season 1, it's pretty much clear that marriage isn't working for any of our main four characters — yet it's still unclear if any of them will try to save what they have. In the case of Jamie and Amandine, it seems likely that they will each go their separate ways. Jamie is possibly more inclined to try and make things work, if only to save his own reputation. Amandine, on the other hand, seems willing to leave her past behind, having already made it clear that she is searching for peace elsewhere.

It's Jeff and Lue's relationship where we are likely to see more exploration. It's possible that Jeff feels incredibly sorry for himself heading into Season 2, willing to do whatever it takes to dig himself out of the hole he's in. Lue's reserved character might also mean she is willing to forgive and forget, happy to distance herself from their problems rather than deal with them head-on. Regardless of their direction, this is where the meat of the "Mammals" story sits.

What can we expect from Mammals Season 2?

With only six episodes making up Season 1, it's understandable that fans of "Mammals" haven't quite had enough of the story. Currently, Amazon hasn't made any public decision as to whether the show will be renewed, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Because no clear decision has been made, there's still hope for a second season. But what do we want from Season 2? In short, the answer is ... well, the answer is answers. It's likely that Amandine began her affair way before she knew of Jamie's infidelity. Is she playing her knowledge off to her own advantage? Season 1 has only shown the tip of the iceberg in terms of her endgame revenge, so there are a lot of possibilities for a second season.

Meanwhile, we need to get to the bottom of exactly what it is Lue knows. What else has Jeff done so terribly wrong? Is Lue referring to the affair, or is something even more sinister lurking beneath their marriage? Out of the four main characters, Lue is the one who has the most to give. We're keen for her to move from a side plot into the main storyline, while simultaneously finding out what really happened with Amandine.