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Sweet Magnolias Season 1 Ending Explained: Who The Other Passenger Was

Netflix’s Sweet Magnolias season 1 ends with a cliffhanger, one that leaves the main characters worried. Here’s a complete ending breakdown.

Netflix's Sweet Magnolias season 1 ends with a dark cliffhanger - one that leaves the central female characters worried deeply about their children. Based on Sherryl Woods' eponymous novel franchise, and adapted for TV by Sheryl J. Anderson, Sweet Magnolias season 1 has been popular amongst streamers, primarily for its depiction of three strong Southern women who uplift each other while struggling with life's obstacles.

Set in the fictional South Carolina town of Serenity, Sweet Magnolias season 1 opens with Maddie Townsend (JoAnna Garcia Swisher) filing for divorce. She's legally defended by her long-time friend Helen Decatur (Heather Headley), and must deal with community gossip after her husband Bill (Chris Klein) cheated on her with a young colleague, Noreen Fitzgibbons (Jamie Lynn Spears). Throughout Sweet Magnolias season 1, Maddie and Helen enjoy margarita chats with their mutual friend Brooke Elliott (Dana Sue Sullivan), the kind-hearted owner of a local pub called Sullivan's. Together, they discuss their wants and needs, all the while knowing they haven't entirely moved on from the past.

Related: Netflix's Sweet Magnolias Cast Guide: Where You've Seen The Actors Before

In the Sweet Magnolias season 1 finale, all three of the central leads have pending romantic conflicts to resolve. Similarly, their children also grapple with interests of the heart as prom approaches. Meanwhile, the past keeps rumors buzzing at Sullivan's, especially when Dana Sue's silent partner, Micah Harrison (Marland Burke), shows up and makes a big request. All of the main characters seek a sense of stability, but they're collectively thrown off balance by small misunderstandings and a tragic event that concludes Sweet Magnolias season 1.

Maddie struggles with male manipulation in Sweet Magnolias season 1. In public, she's willing to be seen with coach Cal, which not only sends a message to the residents of Serenity but also to her kids and ex-husband. Bill plays it cool with his slow drawl and southern ways, yet his actions reveal an egotistical man who seems to prioritize his personal interests, first and foremost. Incidentally, Bill's first marriage crumbles, and his engagement to Noreen ends when she identifies and accepts his self-centered personality. Specifically, Noreen call outs Bill for buying Ty a car just to make himself look good, an act that connects to the season's ending. For Maddie, she's comfortable keeping Bill in her life for the children's sake, and also because her ex doesn't seem to be an absolute monster, flawed as he may be. As the saying goes, Maddie is stuck between a rock and hard place, which lays the narrative groundwork for her conflict with coach Cal.

The Sweet Magnolias season 1 ending shows that Maddie wants to move forward with Cal, who admits that he used to be a player "on and off the field." But his presence causes friction with Ty, whose under the impression that he can play professional baseball, based on that fact that Cal's friend has been scouting him, it seems. Since Ty already knows why Bill bought him a car (to make himself look good) and expresses that to his younger brother Kyle, Maddie naturally has loads of male energy to process. The revelation that Bill is now single makes it easy for Maddie to consider taking him back, and she may need him more than ever upon learning that at least her one of her children was involved in a car accident. In short, Cal exists in Sweet Magnolias season 1 to divide the Townsend family, and then to inadvertently lead them back together.

During Sweet Magnolias season 1, episode 6, Helen's love life trends upward when Ryan surprises her at home. At first, they seem to be on the same page, but then Ryan reveals that he must leave for work; a recurring issue that's not necessarily a deal-breaker but still difficult for Helen. In the penultimate episode, all hell breaks loose, romantically speaking, when Helen implies that she'd like to raise children with Ryan - a guy who's traumatized after seeing a dead newborn in the past. Because of Ryan's pessimism, Helen - an optimist - ends a romantic cycle that leads her nowhere, allowing for a moment of clarity. Sweet Magnolias season 1 is fundamentally about friendship amongst females, but it's a kind-hearted man, chef Erik (who's also grieving the past), that offers genuine emotional support to Helen.

As revealed in Sweet Magnolias episode 6, Erik became a chef to cope with the sudden death of his wife. He opens up to Dana Sue during a quiet fishing trip, fully aware that she needs to slow down and calm her mind a bit. After emotionally recovering from a devastating loss, Erik now seems ready to create genuine friendships, evidenced by his willingness to visit Helen and offer her a big hug. Crucially, he doesn't make any big moves, which is what separates him from a guy like Bill. Meaning, Erik represents the "proclamation of hope" that Helen references during her break-up conversation with Ryan. If she seeks "real love," then Erik seems ready to provide just that. But, they'll need some time. Together, the couple thematically represents the redemption many characters crave in Sweet Magnolias season 1.

Like Maddie and Helen, the past keeps following Dana Sue in Sweet Magnolias season 1, but she appears to embrace all the good and bad along the way. And so, Dana Sue functions as the community rock, someone who pledges allegiance to her closest friends; someone who will compromise her personal happiness in order to maintain a sense of shared harmony. Dana Sue is separated from her husband, Ronnie, and keeps a close eye on her daughter, Annie, all the while keeping the wheels spinning at Sullivan's. Her story is all about the act of giving, which could end up backfiring if she's not careful.

During the Sweet Magnolias season 1 finale, Ronnie returns and wants to resume a relationship with Dana Sue. The problem, however, is that Dana Sue needs to clean up her financials after agreeing to buy out her silent partner, Micah, who needs money for his brother's hospital bills. Not only that, her employee, Isaac, thinks he may be Dana Sue and Micah's son. Even though she attempts to maintain balance, Dana Sue's life looks to be in shambles, whether it's refusing to buy out Micah or keeping Isaac in the dark. Because Dana Sue is indeed a kind-hearted woman, that spirit transfers over to Annie, who ultimately may be the person that lends her mother the most emotional support, even if she, too, doesn't fully understand the bigger picture. And therein lies extra conflict with Ronnie back in Serenity.

Annie seems to represent the voice of reason in Sweet Magnolias season 1. As a teenager, though, she doesn't quite have the life experience to fully understand the consequences of her actions. For example, Annie agrees to hang out with Kyle when they're both grounded on prom night, but then accepts a prom invitation from Simon (Michael May). If Dana Sue is the community rock who understands the power of moral principles, then Annie is a character who needs to make a few mistakes in order to become the woman she wants to be. Annie doesn't mean to hurt Kyle, but - as a teenage girl - she doesn't have enough emotional intelligence to gauge his true feelings, even if she is indeed an intelligent character. Like her mother, Annie doesn't run away from problems but rather tries to lend help, certainly when Kyle disappears and she's forced to fill in for him during a mock trial. Ultimately, Annie may need to look inward after Kyle's car accident, as she may indeed be riddled with guilt for abandoning their initial plans to be together on prom night, if only as friends.

More: Have a Good Trip: The Biggest Celebrity Reveals in Netflix's Psychedelic Doc

Sweet Magnolias season 1 ending takes a dark turn in its final moments, as Kyle is found unconscious after crashing his brother's car. While the moment may be sudden and unexpected, the accident is previously foreshadowed. Sweet Magnolias season 1, episode 6 begins with Ty and Kyle arguing about their father buying a new car, with a sense of mutual resentment being the major takeaway. In the penultimate episode, Kyle disappears and hides in a church, believing that no one really cares about him. Later, Maddie once again tells Ty that nobody is allowed to drive his car, excepts the Townsends. The final irony is that Kyle, a Townsend, flees in Ty's car after a confrontation at a prom after party, one that begins with him defending his brother in a fight with Jackson, only to yell out "Stop ignoring me!" 

Kyle represents the archetypal Lost Child that doesn't quite understand where he fits in. Everyone recognizes Kyle's obvious talent for performing, but he loses focus when his father doesn't appear at a big show. By the Sweet Magnolias season 1 finale, Kyle briefly overcomes his grief when Bill buys Hamilton tickets and Nellie (Simone Lockhart) invites him to hang out and play video games. Knowing that, it's even suggested that Nellie is the unidentified passenger who was in the car wit Kyle, evidenced by Jackson calling out to her when she follows Kyle outside. It's worth noting that Ty jokingly says the following to his younger brother: "Well, since you're about to die, I salute you." Most likely, that line - along with Jackson's call-out to Nellie - will ultimately be red herrings or misdirection, as the main characters grapple with their memories at the start of Sweet Magnolias season 2.

Next: What To Expect From Netflix's Sweet Magnolias Season 2

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