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The Ending Of American Rust Season 1 Explained

The 1st season of Showtime's crime drama series "American Rust" has come to an end, and with the less-than-stellar response the series has garnered from both fans and critics alike, there's a possibility that this season might also be its last – which is unfortunate, considering how many questions are left unanswered by the Season 1 finale.

Based on the 2009 novel of the same name, the series follows police chief Del Harris (Jeff Daniels) as he investigates a murder within the dying Rust Belt town of Buell. Life is hard in Buell, and many of the townsfolk have turned to crime as a way to survive. Indeed, a large part of the story is focused on Harris' own struggles to maintain his morality as his investigation drives him further and further to the breaking point. As it happens, Harris' breaking point comes In the Season 1 finale: when he decides to turn his back on the law and take justice into his own hands.

Del tracked down Steve's killer, but ended up helping him in the end

The 1st season of "American Rust" follows Del's investigation into the death of corrupt police officer Steve Novick. The investigation becomes complicated when it turns out the prime suspect is Billy Poe (Alex Neustaedter), the son of Del's love interest Grace (Maura Tierney). Over the course of the story, Del discovers that Billy is actually innocent, and that it was his friend Isaac (David Alvarez) who killed Novick in an attempt to protect Billy. Novick was selling drugs alongside two men known as Bobby Jesus (William Apps) and Jackson Berg (Dallas Roberts), with the former actually witnessing Novick's murder. In the season finale, Del decides to help Isaac cover up his tracks — and manages to track down Bobby Jesus and Jackson to a cabin.

After a brief squabble, Del shoots and kills both Jackson and Bobby, and begins staging the two bodies to make it look like they killed one another during an argument. Unfortunately, he finds out too late that there is another person still in the cabin — an old woman with a shotgun, who shoots Del in the shoulder. Del guns her down in cold blood, and rearranges the scene to appear like she died in the crossfire of Jackson and Bobby's bloody duel. He returns home, his tracks all but covered where Grace assures him that he did the right thing.

Billy is in a coma

Back in prison, Billy Poe is released from solitary confinement and returned back to the general population -– where he is immediately beaten within an inch of his life by members of the Aryan Nation. He is taken to the hospital and placed into a medically induced coma.

This is an especially tough part of the story, as (with the death of Bobby Jesus) the DA was on the verge of releasing Billy from prison. He was about to be given a fresh start, and it's heartbreaking when Grace goes to visit him later on in the episode and sees her son lying on the hospital bed bloody and bruised.

There is no guarantee Billy will survive, and after all that Grace has suffered thus far, it makes sense that seeing her son like this is as much a breaking point for her as the cabin shootout was for Del. She was days away from getting her son out of prison and back into her life, and now she has to wonder whether or not he'll even live long enough to make it home. It's no wonder why she decides to enable Del's reckless behavior.

Del Harris' breaking point

Speaking of Del's behavior, the entire finale is capped off by a visit from two detectives out of Pittsburgh, who question Del about the death of his former partner Chuck (Danny Mastrogiorgio). Del blatantly lies to the detectives, claiming he has no idea what happened to Chuck, despite watching the man die by suicide back in Episode 6. At this point, it's clear Del has finally decided to embrace his own immortality -– he no longer feels a need to adhere to the law or to his own morality, and that makes him perhaps even more dangerous than any of the other characters in the series.

Del's meeting with the detectives is cut short by the arrival of Isaac, who has returned to Buell with plans to turn himself in for Novick's murder. Del intercepts him before he can admit his guilt to anyone else, and when Isaac shows him the wrench he used to murder Novick, Del tells him calmly to put the wrench away and never show it to anybody.

The finale is all about Del's point of no return. If there is a Season 2, Del will most likely have to contend with the consequences of his actions, and one can only hope he doesn't hurt anyone else trying to cover up his tracks.