Warning: contains The Rising spoilers.
The Rising is filled with all the twists and turns viewers have come to expect from a murder mystery drama. Adapted from Belgian crime thriller Beau Séjour, The Rising is set in small town in the British countryside, with sweeping landscapes and a thriving motocross community. The extra supernatural twist in this particular mystery is that its central character Neve Kelly (Clara Rugaard) is dead from the start, but for some reason remains on earth. She can be seen and heard by a select few, and with their help, she’s determined to figure out who murdered her and why. In this eight-episode Sky series, the first six instalments are spent making discoveries and following false leads. The show pulls no punches, and takes you on an emotional journey where no-one, for the most part, is presented as either entirely good or bad until the killer is revealed. In this way, the killer’s true identity is kept tightly under wraps until episode seven, although he is present throughout the entire series.
There are very few clues, if any, in the six episodes leading up to the reveal of who is the murderer among these neighbours and friends, so the last two episodes move and breakneck speed, divulging a lot of information along the way. This coupled with the show’s supernatural elements and the multiple, sometimes abrupt flashbacks, mean that key parts of the story can be lost, so here’s a handy breakdown of exactly what happened at the end of The Rising.
Who is Victoria?
Victoria (Laura Aikman) is Daniel’s (Alex Lanipekun) missing and presumed dead ex-wife, and the mother of Max (Cameron Howitt) and Katie (Robyn Cara). When we meet her in the penultimate episode, she is reliving her last day alive. She is preparing for Daniel’s birthday party with their children and running errands around town, all the while having moments of disconnection and a relentless itch at her wrist, implied as a mental health issue, which becomes the reason people believe she disappeared.
Aikman’s character is clearly a much loved member of the community, and she, Tom (Matthew McNulty), William (Nicholas Gleaves) and Michael (William Ash) have been friends since childhood. While we get to see the closeness of that long a bond, we also get to see the deep-seated resentments and frictions that have developed over the years, particularly between William and Michael. After a heated argument between the brothers, Victoria – ever the peacemaker – comforts Michael. Seeing an opportunity to act on a long-harboured attraction to her, he attempts to kiss her. When Victoria pulls away, he apologises and dismisses it as a drunken mistake.
Overwhelmed by the party and the arguments, and with her itch and disconnection growing, Victoria leaves and heads to Keaton Hall to get some space. She is an architect and has drawn up plans for William’s soon-to-begin renovations of the place. Assuming she is alone in the building, she lets her guard down, only to be startled by a creak behind her. Michael has followed her to Keaton Hall, and he tries to coax Victoria into admitting to an attraction between them. When Victoria rejects him again, something changes in him. Victoria goes on to say that she feels sorry for Michael, and something is triggered. As Victoria attempts to leave, Michael grabs her wrist.
The skeleton in the basement of Keaton Hall is Victoria’s and her soul, like Neve’s is occupying the space between life and death.
Who Killed Neve?
At first, we suspect Joe (Solly McCleod) is the killer, as does Neve. As most crime dramas and documentaries will tell you, the boyfriend/ husband/ lover is usually the prime suspect. He has Neve’s jacket, and worried about the implications of that, burns it. He also neglects to tell the police that he and Neve argued the night of her death and that she broke up with him. After his arrest, it soon becomes clear the only thing Joe is hiding is a misjudged night with Neve’s stepsister Kate, as a way to recover from the heartbreak of being dumped. Neve next suspects, Alex (Nenda Neururer), Joe’s cousin. She’s recently returned to town and has a troubled past that the town has never forgiven her for. Neve and Alex have an instant, undeniable connection, not least because Alex is one of the few people who can see her in her undead state. When Neve tells her someone gave her GHB at the rave the night of her death, Alex neglects to mention that it was her. She also doesn’t tell her that they kissed that night, which leads Neve to question what else she is hiding. After a brief falling out between the two, they are drawn back together. Alex remains Neve’s closest ally until the end, and from their ultimately tragic romance, Alex finds the strength to finally confront her past.
During the penultimate episode, Neve is stuck in the Keaton Hall basement with Victoria and Victoria’s remains. She walks through Victoria’s last day with her, and is encouraged to try to remember her own. She sees herself at the party, kissing and doing drugs with Alex, breaking up with Joe and starting the walk home where she comes across Michael, Joe’s father, who she asks for a lift. Once she’s in his van, she tells Michael about her and Joe’s breakup. Neve is drunk and frustrated, and unable to get the seatbelt to work. When Michael leans over to help her, she loses her temper and decides to walk instead, but Michael locks her in. Neve is visibly nervous, but she laughs, and since Michael’s temper is always on a hair trigger, to be laughed at is all he needs to lose it, and he smacks Neve across the face. Neve manages to get out of the van and run into the forest, but Michael gives chase. Neve is running for her life, but in one last attempt to get in control of the situation, she stops and tells Michael that he won’t get away with hitting her, she’ll tell everyone what he’s done. She runs again, but Michael catches up with her and knocks her down with a rock to the back of her head before strangling her with a belt and dumping her body in the river.
What is Wrong With Michael?
Where to start. Michael is the embodiment of the Margaret Atwood quote “Men are afraid women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.” Like most men who hate women, Michael feels entitled to their love, respect and bodies should he want them. Any perceived slight puts women in his proximity at risk of violence. He is obsessed with women thinking that they’re better than him, despite the whole town viewing him as a perpetual screw-up. He has grown up in William’s shadow and even his son prefers his successful uncle over his loser father. But from Michael’s perspective, a woman is usually to blame. When William decides to cut him out of the buying of Keaton Hall, it is Christine (Ann Ogbomo), William’s wife, who gets blamed. When Victoria rejects him, it is because she has always thought she was better than him. When he chases and murders Neve, it is because she has always thought she was too good for his son and this town.
When Alex comes to Keaton Hall to find Neve, she instead finds William, her dad, in room 7 – the room where Victoria was murdered by Michael. When Michael turns up, it is clear that not even his own niece is safe from his murderous ways and William, desperate to keep her safe tells her to run.
Once the truth is out there, Michael is like a rat in a trap, and there is no limit to what he’ll do to get himself free and clear. He tells William he’ll blame him for the murders, and when that threat doesn’t work, he murders his own brother. How many people Michael planned to kill to keep his secret is a mystery, but it’s fair to suspect that had he not been stopped, no one in the town would have been safe.
What Did William Know?
William knew that his brother Michael murdered Victoria and kept his secret for years. He even helped him move her body into the basement of Keaton Hall and hide all evidence of her being there. When Neve’s body is found, he knows instantly that his brother is responsible. Why he continues to keep the secret at that point is anyone’s guess. William is one of the few people who can see Neve, and even the clear guilt he feels whenever she appears, it is not enough to make him tell the truth. He tells Michael, before their final showdown, that he thought Victoria was a one-time mistake (although it’s tough to qualify the murder of a person and leaving her family with only questions and no closure as a ‘mistake’). This secret is why William is so high on the suspect list through out the series. He is trying to protect his brother, and in doing so his behaviour comes off as sneaky and cagey and even aggressive. When he is arrested one point he goes on the offensive and openly mocks DC Diana Aird (Rebecca Root). The need for dominance over women and a short temper are things that he and his brother apparently shared, and perhaps that’s why he helped him in the first place. Although William would never murder someone, maybe he could imagine why someone would.
Who Can See Neve and Why?
Neve’s father Tom is the first person who realises he can still see, hear and even touch Neve although she is dead. Tom has a problem with alcohol, so at first he believes he is hallucinating, or perhaps a punishment for being a absentee father for most of Neve’s life. Once he realises that it’s none of the above, but really Neve or Neve’s soul still walking the earth, he does everything he can to help her.
The next person Neve realises can see her is Alex. The first time, Alex doesn’t know that Neve is dead, but once she finds out and she scan still see Neve, she is understandably scared. Neve talks her down and enlists her help to go digging for the truth, particularly from Neve’s ex and Alex’s cousin Joe.
William can also see Neve, something she finds out when she is looking for clues in room 7 of Keaton Hall and William finds her there. He appears to attack her, all the while saying he is sorry, but sorry for what we’re not quite sure. Neve escapes the room and takes off on her motocross bike, only for William to chase her. This convinces Neve that he is the killer, and the attack was his attempt to finish what he started. Neve tells Alex about her father, and both girls try to force him to engage with Neve, but he tries his best to pretend he can’t see her.
Towards the end of the finale, Michael can also see Neve. He of course is terrified to come face to face with one of his victims, and is powerless to harm her when she tells him once and for all that he is and always has been nothing.
Maria (Emily Taaffe), Neve’s mother, can’t see Neve, but after initially dismissing Tom’s claims that he can, she comes around. She starts to sense when she is nearby, and even communicates with her using a candle flame that Neve is able to blow out.
Max also can’t see Neve, but he gets strong, almost paralysing sensation when she is nearby. Max is a shutterbug, and a new film development reveals blurs in some pictures – blurs that Maria believes are actually Neve.
We don’t find out why Neve can be seen by certain people until the finale. We learn that Tom and William have had near death experiences in their past, and we know that Alex almost died in the car accident that killed her little brother. Once the word spreads that Michael is the killer, Tom finds and strangles him but is stopped by Maria who performs CPR and brings him back. The connection is that they have all existed for a moment, in the realm Neve now occupies, between living and dying, or between dying and moving into the afterlife.
How Does It All End?
Alex hides in Keaton Hall until her father and uncle leave, and then calls DC Aird to inform her of all that’s transpired. With the help of Maria, they get Neve out of the basement and in doing so, finally uncover Victoria’s remains.
William tells Michael he is going to the police, that he has proof of what he did to Victoria and to Neve and that this lie cannot continue to fester. William leaves and Michael, unable to find Alex, goes after his brother. After William has gone to retrieve the evidence, he kept to prove his brother’s guilt. At the Wyatt house, Michael is hiding, weapon in hand, lying in wait. William returns, relaying the truth on the phone to his wife DC Christine Wyatt, and revealing that he knows Michael is there. William tries to reason with Michael, but it doesn’t work and a fight ends with William stabbed and bleeding out on the kitchen floor.
After Michael is almost strangled to death by Tom, he is arrested and immediately tries to blame William for the murders, citing self-defence as the reason he had to kill him. Unfortunately for him, William had the foresight to ensure that the truth would come to light no matter what, and the evidence of Michael’s guilt – the belt buckle that matches the indentations on Neve’s neck and pictures of Michael wearing the belt – are safely brought in by DC Wyatt.
Michael is led to his cell, but Neve is waiting for him. She makes sure he knows exactly what he’s done and exactly what he has taken away from her and her family. She calls him a coward, and an unoriginal one at that – men like him have been doing this for centuries – hurting people, playing the victim and making excuses to justify their actions. Neve, who knows she has the ability to kill him, chooses not to, preferring to let him live with knowledge that is now as insignificant as he always feared he was.
However, Victoria does not feel as forgiving. She appears in Michael’s cell after Neve leaves, and filled with rage, which manifests as a smoky substance for those in the afterlife, she envelopes Michael and by the time the police get to him, he is already dead.
Victoria’s body is removed from Keaton Hall, Daniel, Max and Katie watch in tears, as they finally have closure. Neve and Tom reconcile their lifetime differences and share a sweet, final goodbye. Alex and Neve talk about what could have been, grateful that they found each other, sad that it happened too late. They share final kisses, final I love yous and final farewells.
Neve makes her last stop at her home. She watches her stepfather and step siblings laugh as they wash their car, a perfect image to remember them by. She finds Maria, her beloved mother, in her art room. Maria, still grieving but at the very least aware that Neve’s soul lives on, feels Neve’s presence. She holds her hand up hoping she can feel her daughter one last time, and although Neve places her hand against her mother’s, Maria still cannot feel her. It’s a heart-breaking, but beautiful moment, as Maria’s love for her daughter and subsequent grief really is the heart of the show. Maria turns back to her painting and reveals that the wall she didn’t know what to do with at the start of the series, has become a mural of Neve’s face.
Finally at peace, and ready to move on to whatever comes next, Neve mounts her motocross bike and rides off into the unknown. The show ends with the hope of life after grief, and maybe even life after death.