The Staircase Ending Explained: Did Michael Peterson Kill His Wife Kathleen?

HBO Max’s dramatic true crime series The Staircase just wrapped up the provocative drama with a final eighth episode. The show has been receiving praise for its narrative to the beautiful acting performances by the actors. Created by The Devil All The Time’s Antonio Campos, the miniseries is based on the 2004 true-crime docuseries of the same name created by Jean-Xavier de Lestrade

The show covers the story of the infamous trial of novelist Michael Peterson for murdering his wife, Katheleen Peterson. The cast features Colin Firth as Michael Peterson, Toni Collette as Kathleen Peterson, Michael Stuhlbarg as David Rudolf, Dane DeHaan as Clayton Peterson, Olivia DeJonge as Caitlin Atwater, Patrick Schwarzenegger as Todd Peterson, Sophie Turner as Margaret Ratliff, Odessa Young as Martha Ratliff, Rosemarie DeWitt as Candace Hunt Zamperini, Tim Guinee as Bill Peterson, Parker Posey as Freda Black, Juliette Binoche as Sophie Brunet and, Vincent Vermignon as Jean-Xavier.

The Staircase Ending Explained: Did Michael Peterson Kill Kathleen?

The Staircase ended rather inconclusively, keeping mostly open to the audience’s imagination. At the of the finale, we saw Michael Peterson enter the Alford Plea and, following that his relationship with Sophie ended as he decided not to move to Paris with her. The Peterson children seemed settled and past their father’s court struggles and getting on with their lives- Clayton is a happy family man, Todd lives with his mother, Patricia, Margaret has her life in films and documentaries and Martha has hers in dance.

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As for Peterson, he revealed a quintessential piece of information to Jean-Xavier while filming the documentary that Kathleen never knew he was gay. Later in the final act of the episode, we are given a flashback of that fateful night when Kathleen died. In this final rendition of what happened that night, we see Toni Collette’s Kathleen and Colin Firth’s Michael Peterson having a nice time by the pool and talking about their children and life in general.

During this conversation, we see Michael say, “It wasn’t a lie. It just wasn’t the whole thing.” This pretty much sums up the entire show and the case. No one knows what happened that night except Michael and there can be things he did not reveal that took place that night but, that does not mean that the things he did reveal were lies. The Staircase does not tell us if Peterson had killed his wife, pretty much like the documentary but, it works as a thoughtful drama to show the tragedy that affected many and worked like a domino effect.

The Staircase Trailer

You can watch the all of the episodes of The Staircase on HBO Max. To read our reviews of the previous episodes and other news about the show, click here.

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