'The Last Word' Ending Explained: Does Stephan let Karla find the closure she needs after his death?
Spoilers for 'The Last Word'
Death is an enigma that man can barely try to understand. Its mystery remains elusive and will probably continue to remain so till the end of time. There are so many questions about death that have man pondering day and night — does death have the last word in our lives, what comes after death, is there anything beyond that? Netflix's latest German series 'The Last Word' attempts to answer these questions about the subject but most importantly, it focuses on the aftermath of death — what the deceased leaves behind and how family and friends are consumed with grief without any sight of closure.
After Stephan Fazius' (Johannes Zeiler) death, his wife Karla (Anke Engelke) decides to be a professional eulogist, in a way to overcome the grief he has left in her heart. Over the course of the six episodes of the show, we follow Karla in her new job as she assists mourners give their departed loved ones the funeral they want. But what she really intends to do (and succeeds ever so beautifully) is in providing mourners with at least an iota of closure — something that remained elusive to her.
By the time we reach the finale episode, Karla has tried long and hard to bid her husband a goodbye but he doesn't leave her — staying on in the studio that he had rented. After Karla thinks that she has done so for good, she and the rest of the family decide that they must hold an exhibition to showcase his art. Karla, Stephan's older daughter Judith (Nina Gummich) and his younger son Tonio (Juri Winkler) decide that they must showcase what Stephan had kept hidden in that studio for many years of his life.
All of family and friends are present. Judith is with Ronnie Borowski (Aaron Hilmer), Tonio with Maryam (Mia Kasalo), and Karla is sharing a drink with Andi Borowski (Thorsten Merten). Everything seems to go just as it should be — till Karla takes to sing for Stephan.
That is when she sees him again — she was under the impression that she had found her closure, but now finds herself back where it started. In a fit of consternation, she picks up the urn that contained Stephan's ashes and rushes out of the studio into the city. Clutching the urn, she walks around confused and grief-stricken as Stephan follows her. And that's where Season 1 of 'The Last Word' ends.
So did death have the last word? Did Karla come to peace with the loss of her husband? There are many ways that one can view the ending — we look at it as Stephan following Karla for a long time, or at least there is a hint about a Season 2. Creators Aron Lehmann and Carolina Zimmermann might not have left the ending that open-ended — what they instead want us to do is to perhaps dig deeper into it. While it could mean that Stephan never really leaves Karla's life, it could also mean that no matter how much she tries to flee him, he will always be behind her. The route she takes to forget him is where she finds him.
All episodes of 'The Last Word' are currently streaming on Netflix.