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The Ending Of Swarm Explained

The following article contains references to domestic violence and self-harm.

Prime Video's "Swarm" is a twisted concoction from the minds of Donald Glover ("Atlanta") and Janine Nabers ("Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce") that explores the horrors of fandom going too far. The show follows Dre (Dominique Fishback), a young woman whose obsession with the fictional pop star Ni'Jah (Nirine S. Brown) leads her to commit horrific acts and fall into a downward spiral. As Dre's grip on reality starts to slip, she finds herself entrenched in conspiracy and on the run from those who see her for what she truly is. 

"Swarm" is a fever dream of one person's fixation turning into a total nightmare. Dre's undying devotion to Ni'Jah hits some disturbingly real levels of deep obsession, and Fishback's performance is as captivating as it is chilling. Glover and Nabers craft a thrilling horror series that also acts as a great character study on modern toxic fandom. The clear inspiration in "Swarm" from Beyonce's "Bey Hive" fandom helps evoke some grounded horror, making Dre's perspective more realistic and terrifying. 

However, there are still some aspects of Dre's story that viewers might be a little hazy on. After all, the series does take some ambitious story routes in its final few episodes and constantly blurs the lines of reality as Dre falls deeper into her obsession. With that in mind, let's delve into everything that happens at the end of "Swarm."

The Swarm

Dre isn't the only one obsessed with Ni'Jah and her music. There's a dedicated fanbase known as the Swarm that protects the singer at all costs. These fans are known for terrorizing people online who openly dislike Ni'Jah, and their sting can be pretty nasty. They attempt to assassinate the character of whoever is "attacking" their "Queen Bee," often saying damaging things that could drive someone to depression or even self-harm. While most members of the fandom are just harmless trolls who wouldn't do anything they threaten in real-life, Dre is more of a killer bee. 

She uses the online attacks of her fellow stans to fuel her frustration and anger, but she also finds new targets to take her rage out on. The fandom allows Dre to validate her obsession, and it's sort of a guiding force for her in her murderous path of destruction. The Swarm also acts as a symbol in the series for all toxic fandom and how social media can empower fans to take their obsessions too far. Whether the other Ni'Jah stans are mindful of it or not, they certainly empower Dre. With their encouragement, she takes her fixation to horrifying levels to "protect" her beloved idol, punishing anyone who slanders her name. 

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

Dre's mission

With the Swarm targeting different people on social media who talk badly about Ni'Jah, Dre essentially is given a hit list to work with as she goes on a mission to protect her queen bee's reputation. When Dre learns about someone who's posting about Ni'Jah, she researches their whereabouts and does virtually anything in her power to get them in her grasp. There's even a point where Dre becomes a stripper just to get close to someone she's looking to kill. Then, once she finds them, she begins her gruesome ritual. 

Dre generally starts these interactions by asking her victims who their favorite artist is, and if it's not Ni'Jah, or if they say something bad about her, then things take a dark turn. Dre will pull up their social media posts, which she defines as "receipts," and then proceed to beat them to death. As she becomes more immersed in this cycle, her killings become much bloodier and more brutal, making her personal mission to "defend" her idol's honor absolutely mortifying to watch. 

Therapy session

About halfway through "Swarm," Dre finds herself at a house with a bunch of women who try to empower her in a more positive way. Led by the mysterious Eva (Billie Eilish), the women at this secluded home go on small hiking retreats and participate in therapy sessions that help them move past personal issues to find inner strength. Although Dre initially joins them solely to escape a suspicious cop and get an entry bracelet for an upcoming Ni'Jah concert, she becomes happily integrated into the group. That is, until she has a therapy session with Eva. 

After seeing that her car has been cleaned, Dre is suspicious that Eva knows she's a killer, and things take a wild turn once they start talking. Eva's personal questioning really gets inside Dre's head, and she's able to get Dre to say things she's been trying to keep secret. Eva quickly compels her to reveal her real name and eventually has her talk about her past. Dre mentions a story about hurting someone at her grandmother's house as a child and openly discusses how it feels to kill people. The mix of calm and pure panic in Fishback's performance is truly unnerving here, and even though her time at the retreat ends in horrific bloodshed, Dre's conversations with Eva foreshadow what we later learn about her. 

Fandom gone foul

Dre's devotion to Ni'Jah is at the center of "Swarm," encapsulating her personal arc and evoking the very real danger of fandoms turning foul. Dre's desire to hurt those who simply dislike Ni'Jah or her music drives much of her life, and the way she brutally murders her opposers is downright disturbing. It's wild to imagine Dre's breed of obsession being real, but "Swarm" is a scary reflection of reality. 

While Ni'Jah and the Swarm are clearly inspired by Beyonce and her Bey Hive, the series represents a wider problem with toxic fanbases harassing and targeting people on social media who don't agree with their views. Whether it's Swifties targeting Taylor Swift's exes or the A.R.M.Y. "protecting" the beloved K-Pop band BTS online, toxic fandoms are becoming more common and volatile on social media. 

Even outside of music, fanbases have shown how quickly their group opinions can turn into cyberbullying. Just look at the "Star Wars" fanbase targeting Kelly Marie Tran after "The Last Jedi." While Dre undeniably takes the fandom's online actions and her love for Ni'Jah to the extreme, her character is deeply rooted in reality and represents the hateful energy of stan culture, making "Swarm" a horrifying sign of the times. 

Did this just become a documentary?

In the penultimate episode of "Swarm," the series makes an ambitious left turn by taking on a true crime documentary style and focusing on a new character, Detective Loretta Greene (Heather Simms). The episode embraces a meta approach by delving into Loretta's investigation of Dre's murders and backstory. It's a hard shift, but one that offers a different and often comical perspective, with Loretta leading the charge that eventually gives us some real answers on Dre. 

This big genre switch-up is both fun to watch and a nice lighthearted break from the horror of Dre's killing spree. It's an effective parody of the modern true crime doc formula led by a tongue-in-cheek performance from Simms. The shift also fleshes out Dre's story without needing her to be involved. Plus, there's a fun meta moment where Donald Glover makes an appearance in an interview talking about a show he wants to make about Dre. So although the episode takes a big break from Dre's personal arc, it ends up finding interesting ways to expand and freshen up the story. 

Dre's backstory

Through Loretta's investigation, Dre's trip back to Houston, and her discussion with Eva, her backstory becomes a little clearer. First and foremost, Dre is actually adopted, and the events that happened before she joined Marissa's family are unknown. Her old case worker doesn't give any details to Loretta about Dre's life before being adopted, so the origins of her trauma are left a mystery. However, Dre does mention hurting someone to Eva, giving us a small glimpse into her past and showing that her violent behavior was present long before she joined Marissa's family. 

Once Dre became Marissa's sister, the two siblings became inseparable and often protected each other. While Marissa was more of a social butterfly, Dre was quiet and often labeled "weird" by others, causing Marissa to come to her rescue. One night during a sleepover, Dre attempted to do the same for Marissa, but she misunderstood the situation and reacted violently toward a girl, ultimately sending her to the hospital. Dre's adoptive father already had reservations about her, to the point that he made her sleep in the attic. However, this was the last straw, and Marissa's parents sent Dre back into the foster system. 

Clearly, this wasn't enough to keep Dre and Marissa apart. Dre goes through quite a lot leading up to her becoming a serial killer, and with Marissa dead and gone, she finally snaps. 

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Bad breakup

By the time we catch up with Dre (going by Tony) in the final episode of "Swarm," she's in a relationship with a woman named Rashida (Kiersey Clemons), and it's actually going incredibly well. Although Dre runs into old problems with keeping up financially, they appear to be very happy together. Dre even gets the approval of Rashida's parents. Unfortunately, the good times don't last forever, as Dre's gift to Rashida doesn't go as planned. She attempts to give Rashida tickets to a Ni'Jah concert for their anniversary, but Rashida isn't happy about it. 

Obviously, there are better things that Dre could've spent the money on, like her half of the rent or something that she knows Rashida likes. She already told Dre that she doesn't like Ni'Jah, after all. Rashida goes off on Dre, and the tension instantly starts boiling until Dre finally snaps. Frustrated by Rashida treating Ni'Jah tickets like they're nothing, she starts to choke her until she can't breathe anymore, ultimately disposing of the body by burning it on the side of the road. Rashida's death is easily the darkest of the series because of how good she was with Dre. Their relationship seems like it could've potentially gotten Dre out of her murderous cycle, but as soon as Ni'Jah reenters the picture, it's only a matter of time before Dre goes back to her old ways. 

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

Getting into the concert

After Dre kills Rashida, the Ni'Jah concert is the only thing on her mind, but she makes one crucial mistake. She never took back the tickets from Rashida, so they burn to a crisp along with her. Dre's rage clearly fogs her thinking, and she finds herself in a terrible predicament. As she arrives at the concert, she tries everything she can to see if she can get in, including posing as Rashida. If she hadn't been so cruel and violent throughout the series, the dejected look on her face when she's turned away might actually make you feel sorry for her. That isn't the case though, and while it's a little satisfying to see her dreams crushed by her own actions, she ultimately gets what she wants. 

Dre spots a scalper selling tickets at an unreasonably high price and gets him to go back to the privacy of his own car to make a deal. The only deal that Dre is looking to make, however, is with her knife, and she wastes no time stabbing the scalper to death. It's crushing that Dre's murderous mentality once again gets her what she wants, but with a ticket now in hand, her fantasies of seeing Ni'Jah onstage again are about to become a reality. 

Storming the stage

With Dre getting tickets that land her toward the front row, she gets a clear view of Ni'Jah and is truly in awe. Her idol is mere feet away from her, and she enters an obsessive, trance-like state. Since Dre is still reeling from biting Ni'Jah at a party in an earlier episode, she desperately wants to talk to the star and mend their "bond." So, with little security there to stop her, Dre is able to storm the stage. Although she's stopped by dancers and security, Ni'Jah has other plans for her. 

Instead of having security cart her off, Ni'Jah actually moves to support Dre. But as she walks toward her, Ni'Jah's face becomes Marissa's. Although Dre should be shocked by this, it doesn't seem to phase her at all. Instead, she's just filled with emotion. When Ni'Jah hands Dre the microphone and tells her to sing, she simply tells everyone that she loves them. Dre's moment onstage with Ni'Jah doesn't go as expected, but there's more going on when she sees Marissa's face. 

Ni'Jah's deeper importance

Dre seeing Marissa's face on Ni'Jah is highly significant, and it plays into the deeper meaning that both women hold in her life. Dre's journey in "Swarm" sees her go on a murder spree targeting those who diss Ni'Jah and attempting to fix the "bond" that she believes is broken between them. When she and Marissa were kids, they did the same for each other, minus the murder. When you look at how Dre reacts when people insult or target either Ni'Jah or Marissa, it's not that different. For Dre, the two women are one and the same — not in the sense that they're the same person, but in that they hold the same meaning for her. 

Both women fill a deep void in Dre's life when she's at her loneliest, and when either isn't around or happy with her, she feels like she needs to mend that relationship. Looking back at how Dre kills Khalid (Damson Idris) for hurting Marissa and not attending her funeral, it's actually similar to how she kills people who hate on Ni'Jah. In this way, it makes a lot of sense that Dre would see Marissa's face on Ni'Jah, as they both represent the bond she desperately craves in her life and would kill to maintain.

Fulfilling fantasy

After meeting with Ni'Jah onstage, Dre is taken to her limo for some personal time. However, this moment plays out quite differently than what's described in the previous episode. In the true crime documentary, Loretta finds out that Dre has been caught and detained by police for jumping onto the stage during the concert. She's then shown rushing to the jail to see Dre. Some text prior to the credits states that Loretta hopes to present her case and connect Dre to the murders, revealing her to be a serial killer. The ending in the final episode is vastly different, likely signaling that it's actually Dre's fantasy. 

Once Dre and Ni'Jah are in the car, they give each other some solemn looks and Dre puts her head on Ni'Jah's shoulder. Their fates aren't disclosed, and the series ends with Dre just crying into her idol. This fantasy seems like it's just Dre trying to give herself a happier ending — one that sees her finally being accepted and recognized by both Ni'Jah and Marissa. While Dre's real ending likely sees her in jail or on trial for her crimes, it seems like she simply wanted to see her greatest fantasy fulfilled. 

Could there be a second season?

As of this moment, there's no news of a "Swarm" Season 2 being in development, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it couldn't happen. Critical reactions to "Swarm" have been pretty positive so far, and if viewership numbers are high, it wouldn't be surprising to see Amazon greenlight the show for another season. In terms of Dre's story continuing, however, the options seem limited. As previously mentioned, she likely gets caught for her crimes and imprisoned, so the series might have trouble picking up where it leaves off. There's always the idea of her escaping and embarking on another murderous warpath, or a second season could also follow another member of the Swarm whose obsession goes too far. 

It would be interesting to see a "Swarm" Season 2 dive a little deeper into the fandom and maybe touch on someone trying to stop or dissect who's really behind it all. Loretta could even lead the story, with viewers following her as she goes deeper and deeper into her investigation. It's unclear if we'll see another season of "Swarm" any time soon, but if it gets enough love from viewers, then anything is possible.