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The Ending Of Nine Perfect Strangers Explained

Contains spoilers for "Nine Perfect Strangers"

After a season of unorthodox treatments and shocking breakthroughs, our stay at Tranquillum House has come to an end. Before checked out, though, "Nine Perfect Strangers" delivered what turned out to be a series of happy endings for each of its central characters.

The final episode began with Carmel (Regina Hall) and Masha (Nicole Kidman, who has another David E. Kelley collaboration on the horizon) having an open and honest discussion about the fact that Carmel is not only the one who shot Masha and changed the course of her life, but also the person behind the threatening text messages the wellness guru has been receiving throughout the retreat. Masha gives Carmel as much attention as she can but there are other guests to attend to. 

She and the Marconi family have a journey to go on aided by a heady dose of psychedelics. They all hope to have an experience that will help them cope with the loss of their loved ones — the Marconi's son Zach (Hal Cumpston) and Masha's daughter Tatiana, who died in an auto accident many years ago.

Meanwhile, the other guests endure the final and most taxing of Masha's therapies, which elicites some surprising revelations from each of them. Here's how everything came to a head in the finale of "Nine Perfect Strangers."

Carmel learns the power of forgiveness

The lead-up to the finale revealed the series' most shocking twist: Carmel was the person who shot Masha, which she did out of rage after finding out that Masha was sleeping with her husband. In a different type of series, this revelation may have led to a tense or violent confrontation, but in the wellness focused "Nine Perfect Strangers," the two women sit and hash things out.

Masha not only forgives Carmel, she thanks her. "This whole place is because of you, Carmel," Masha tells her. "Because of my near death experience ... This is because of you."

This type of radical forgiveness was not what Carmel was expecting and, in fact, at one point in the conversation, she even begs Masha to turn her over to the police. More than most of the other characters on the series, Carmel has led a double life. There is the side of her that is chipper and goofy, and the side of her that is erratic and violent. After her violent outbursts, she not only shows extreme remorse, but also fear that her inability to control herself makes her dangerous. After 10 days in Tranquillum House with no major transformation, Carmel believes she is beyond help. But Masha isn't willing to give up on her.

She subjects Carmel to two additional therapies: one involving a sensory deprivation tank and the other a locked, padded room (we'll come back to that). While Carmel's claustrophobia makes these experiences unpleasant, they do force her to dig deeper than she has before and confront the fear and pain that has controlled her life. As we see in a flashforward at the episode's end, Masha's forgiveness has had a profound effect on Carmel, and she's even shown leading a group therapy class.

The Marconis make peace with themselves

Not that it's a contest, but of all the guests at Tranquillum House, the Marconi family are the ones dealing with the saddest set of circumstances. Napoleon (Michael Shannon), Heather (Asher Keddie), and Zoe (Grace Van Patten) are grieving the death of Zoe's twin brother Zach, who died of suicide. Each of the Marconis has found a way to blame themselves for Zach's death and are weighed down by their guilt. When Masha sends them on an intense psychedelic trip, she hopes it will not only allow them to speak with Zach directly and make peace with his death but also to absolve themselves of their self-imposed shame.

Like many of the treatments at Tranquillum House, the trip is a rocky road that ultimately ends in profound success. The family is able to have a group vision of Zach and each of them asks him to confirm or deny whether their actions had something to do with his decision to kill himself. The conversations are painful, with each Marconi bringing up what they believe to be their own failures in how they were communicating with Zach during his final days. Napoleon is even tormented by the alarm he kept snoozing through on the morning that Zach died.

Ultimately, though, Zach has a message for them that cuts through it all: "You guys are all trying to attach reason to an illogical act. There's no logic and no blame ... It wasn't any of you. Okay? I mean, it wasn't even me ... It's something that just happened to me ..."

This experience obviously did not bring Zach back, nor does it erase the pain of his suicide. But it does help the Marconis let go of their guilt and cross an important hurdle that was preventing them from healing.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

A near death experience brings Tranquillum House's lessons to the surface

While the Marconis are in the woods, the rest of the guests are trying to get into the room that Carmel has been locked in. Masha eventually lets them all in, but then seals the doors behind her. Soon, they begin to smell smoke coming in through the vents and despite their screams of panic, nobody comes to help. Believing that they are on the verge of dying, each of them has their own small breakthrough. 

Lars (Luke Evans) takes accountability for how he treats people; Ben (Melvin Gregg) admits that winning the lottery and quitting his job hasn't brought him happiness because he misses his connection to the real world; Jessica (Samara Weaving) sets an intention to stop tying her own feelings of self-worth to what other people think about her; Carmel decides to stop holding onto the painful memories from her past; and Frances (Melissa McCarthy) and Tony (Bobby Cannavale) affirm that despite their differences, they are developing genuine feelings for one another.

Before they are consumed by flames, Yao (Manny Jacinto) opens the doors and drops a bomb: the smoke was a ruse to simulate a near-death experience, which has allowed them to cut through the BS and access what is actually important to them. The treatment is ethically dubious but the end-of-episode "where are they now" montage shows that it was quite effective.

Lars was able to mend his relationship and have the baby he's been dreaming of, Ben and Jessica have found a deeper purpose for themselves by taking over Tranquillum House, and Frances and Tony are now in a loving relationship. None of these outcomes are what any of the characters had in mind when they first arrived for their retreat. However, as Masha promised them she would, each of them has been radically transformed during their stay.

Masha makes new memories

Although Masha began the season as the enigmatic facilitator of our character's journeys, we've come to learn that she, too, is at Tranquillum House looking to be healed. In recent episodes, the painful memories of her daughter's tragic death have come to the fore. She joins the Marconis on their psychedelic journey and with some help from Zoe, she's finally able to bring forth a vision of her daughter.

Masha's vision of Tatiana is simple and pleasant. Even when the cops arrive, summoned by Delilah (Tiffany Boone) who has become concerned that things are swinging out of control, Masha appears to be genuinely at peace when it comes time to say goodbye to Tatiana. There is no great moment of catharsis or revelation, but rather, an opportunity to remember her daughter as she was during life, as opposed to the tragic flashes of her death she had been seeing earlier.

In Masha's flashforward, she is driving Ben's Lamborghini fast down the highway. She imagines that Tatiana is in the passenger seat and that they are enjoying the ride together, laughing and giddy, throwing their arms in the air like they are on a rollercoaster. Like the Marconis, Masha hasn't necessarily gotten over the sadness she feels surrounding her daughter's death, but what she has gained is the ability to enjoy the memories of her daughter, as opposed to keeping them tied to a traumatic moment. In this way, she's able to bring Tatiana back into her life without being consumed by her grief.

This emotional and heartwarming ending might not be what we expected going into "Nine Perfect Strangers," but Masha — and the show — clearly knew what was best.