• Tue. Jun 25th, 2024

‘A Man In Full’ Shocking Ending Explained & Unpacked

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“A Man In Full” is the latest Netflix outing to make waves in the world of business and politics, with biting satire that has audiences laughing, crying, and searching for a place to process the show’s shocking conclusion. The series was developed for television by David E Kelley, based off a 1998 novel of the same name written by Tom Wolfe. Kelly previously helmed a number of limited series’, including outings such as “Anatomy of a Scandal,” “Love & Death,” and “The Lincoln Lawyer.” “A Man In Full” premiered all 6 episodes on Netflix on May 2, 2024, before rapidly taking over the pop culture conversation.

Given that the brief mini-series has such a bizarre and polarizing ending, it only seems appropriate to work through the final moments of the show together, and analyze the themes and ideas at play. Without any further preamble, let’s dive into the plot and analysis of “A Man In Full.” Just be advised that there are heavy spoilers ahead for the entire show, so if you haven’t caught all 6 episodes just yet you may want to bookmark this page and come back once you’ve witnessed the explosive conclusion.

What Is The Plot Of The Netflix Series?

“A Man In Full” follows two separate but thematically-tied plot lines, which center on corruption in the field of business, law enforcement, and politics, and the impact that corruption can have on our daily lives. One key plot line centers on Jeff Daniels’ Charlie Croker and Tom Pelphrey’s Raymond Peepgrass, as they vie for financial and political supremacy over one another. At the start of the series, Croker is a wealthy businessman with millions in net worth, and tons of swaying power over his community, while Peepgrass is regarded as a lowly peon who works at the bank, handling Croker’s money for him. As the series progresses, it is revealed to the audience that Croker’s wealth is built on pillars of salt, as the real-estate mogul has multiple massive lines of unpaid credit, creating an impending bubble in his personal holdings.

The second major plot line of “A Man In Full” centers on Jon Michael Hill’s Conrad Hensley, who is a black man unjustly imprisoned and put on trial for the assault of a white police officer. In reality, the officer was engaged in a foul act of racially-motivated police brutality when the incident took place, and Hensely was simply defending himself. Throughout the series, Hensley is mistreated and kicked around by the justice system, facing discrimination from systems designed to keep him and other black Americans down, as well as individuals involved in the case. The judge himself is a vehement racist, who all but hurls slurs at Hensley as he continues to deny him any chance at mounting a successful defense.

Hensley’s lawyer, Roger White, is also a black man, though he comes from a more affluent background, and has managed to be lucky enough to avoid dealing in criminal law for most of his career. As the trial rages on, White sees the systemic issues within the justice system first-hand, reshaping the way that he looks at his own community.

What Happens At The End Of A Man In Full?

After tugging on these threads throughout the entirety of the series, the final episode of “A Man In Full” diverges vastly from the book it was based upon. For Conrad Hensley, this means a miraculous last-minute heel-turn from the judge, who confusingly lets Hensley off at the eleventh hour. As Hensley, and presumably, the viewers watching at home, celebrate this major personal win, Roger White is left to confront the failings of a system of law he has invested his life into. The experience forever changes White’s perspective, and sends him on a path of introspection and growth.

While the judge’s miraculous turnaround was quite shocking, bordering on absurd, the true insanity comes in the final moments of Charlie Croker. Over the course of the series, Croker suffers an incredible fall from grace, resulting in Raymond Peepgrass taking over Croker’s home, his business holdings, and even entering into a romantic and sexual relationship with Croker’s ex-wife. The last scene of the series sees Croker forcing his way into his former wife’s estate, only to walk in on her and Raymond having sex.

The Shocking Final Moments

The entire series has been building up to this confrontation, as Croker demands an explanation from Peepgrass. While he’s perturbed at Peeps’ perverse interest in his former wife, Charlie is even more furious about the once lowly bank employee taking control of his business. Peepgrass emerges from the covers, baring his full manhood in an animalistic display of dominance, which has left audiences everywhere with their jaw on the floor. For a brief moment, it almost seems like the two men are going to get intimate with each other, which would only be fitting considering their bizarre mutual obsession. Instead, Charlie grabs Peepgrass by the throat, stripping the nude man of any power he may have held.

Croker’s hand stiffens due to an undiagnosed illness of some kind, perhaps arthritis, leaving him unable to unhand Peepgrass. As Charlie’s naked interlocutor strains for his last breaths, Charlie suffers a heart attack, and the pair both keel over in a “Rocky 2” style mutual knockout.

Breakdown & Analysis

As Charlie Croker and Raymond Peepgrass are removed from the scene in body bags, viewers at home were left completely stunned by the fatal scene. Series creator David E Kelley recently sat down with Netflix’s Tudum to discuss the animosity and character building which led to the final moments, explaining “I think the seed of the disdain both have for each other was self-loathing. The measuring sticks they use to take value of themselves are such folly… Charlie’s jumping through the right hoops. He has a son, he has a family, he goes to work, he’s good at his job, but that’s not what drives him. It’s a greed and an envy and a lack of esteem, a hole he’s trying to fill.”

Kelley continued to elucidate “Raymond Peepgrass, similarly, is trying to somehow fill this void that Charlie serves to excavate. On the one hand, he is envious and jealous of Charlie Croker. On the other hand, that’s the ghost he’s chasing. He wants to be him. That ferments a compounding of his contempt, that the very person that he loathes, he finds himself wanting to be.” The psychological implications of these two incredibly damaged characters are foiled by normal, everyday characters like Conrad Hensley and Roger White, who suffer at the hands of systems designed by other wealthy, psychologically damaged white men with fragile egos.

What Happens To Conrad?

Conrad’s story in “A Man In Full” may only relate to the main plot of the series tenuously, though its examination of the racial construction within the American justice system serves as a major highlight of the show. Charlie Croker appoints Roger White to represent Conrad in court, in an extremely rare moment of pleasant humanity from the otherwise boorish real-estate mogul. Though Conrad ultimately receives a happy ending, his success is a brief reprieve from the experiences he suffered. Any way you slice it, Conrad was done wrong by the state, unjustly forced into prison, and suffered through his time because his bail was set at a ridiculous $1 million. Does it really count as justice that Conrad ultimately has all charges thrown out, when we factor in the trauma he faced while awaiting trial?

Conrad achieving his freedom won’t undo his suffering, nor will it correct any systemic racism on a grand scale. Other young black men just like him will continue to be unjustly tried and charged with crimes they never committed. All of this dawns on Roger as the series progresses, even though the judge’s contrived change of heart offers something resembling a happy ending. At an individual level, the scales of justice allowed Conrad to see his family again, and return to his life, even if he’ll probably need some therapy after this.

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