Jen Switching Cars In Mexico Was Judy’s Plan

Jen Switching Cars In Mexico Was Judy’s Plan

Warning: Spoilers below for the Dead to Me series finale!The Dead to Me series finale saw Jen drive Steve’s ’66 Mustang back to California, and there’s a theory that her decision to switch cars and leave her Mercedes in Mexico was Judy’s idea. The Netflix show, which ended in heartbreaking fashion with season 3, featured one last shock twist in which Jen and Judy found the ’66 Mustang in pristine condition. In Dead to Me season 1, Judy and Steve had disassembled the car, and Steve had supposedly disposed of the parts in Mexico. The discovery of the Mustang gave rise to a few questions, one of them being why Jen would choose to abandon her Mercedes and drive the Mustang back to Laguna.


One theory about Dead to Me‘s emotional ending assumes that Judy (Linda Cardellini), always looking to protect her best friend, realized that the police may question Jen (Christina Applegate) about Judy being able to abscond to Mexico in order to avoid prison. But if Jen took the Mustang home, then she could reasonably claim that Judy had stolen the Mercedes and driven it to Mexico. Jen could even plausibly assert to the police that Judy still had claimed to be going to San Francisco and instead went to Mexico, unbeknownst to her. Judy may have understood that Jen’s happiness and security depended on the closure of Steve’s case. Thus, this Dead to Me finale detail begs the question of just how clever Judy had been in her continued efforts to protect Jen.

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Why The Mustang Is So Important In Dead To Me Season 3

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Prior to the events of Dead to Me season 1, Judy was driving Steve’s ’66 Mustang when she hit and killed Ted, Jen’s husband. As Jen later said, the Mustang brought her and Judy together, as the latter actively sought out the former in the wake of Ted’s death. In Dead to Me season 1, Jen’s determination to find Ted’s killer was almost as fervent as her anger at the unknown perpetrator; when a driver unrelated to Ted’s death almost mowed her down while driving dangerously, she took a golf club to his car — a crime for which Judy took the blame. Then, in the Dead to Me season 1 cliffhanger ending, Jen killed Steve due to his role in Ted’s death.

This fury was contrasted by Jen’s outright refusal to trash the Mustang when she and Judy discovered it in the garage of Steve’s Mexican villa. In a tearful moment that punctuated Jen’s character growth over Dead to Me‘s three seasons, Jen told Judy that she could never destroy the car, as it was the very thing that brought the two of them together. The very existence of the Mustang was a surprise, however; prior to his death, Steve promised Judy that the car had been destroyed. Thus, the discovery of the car not only elucidated Jen’s growth but also emphasized Steve’s manipulative nature.

Dead To Me Season 3 Theory: Judy Instructed Jen To Take The Mustang

In this theory about the Dead to Me season 3 ending, Judy suggested in her goodbye note that Jen drive the ’66 Mustang back to California and leave the Mercedes in Mexico. The idea was that Jen would have plausible deniability in Judy’s escape from charges in Steve’s murder. In Judy’s last living act, she wrote a note and left it on the bedside table for Jen to find when she awoke. The contents of the note aren’t shown, but given Judy’s nature, viewers can surmise that the letter was an expression of love, friendship, and her lasting presence in Jen’s life.

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For as kind and compassionate as Judy was, she was equally devoted to protecting Jen and, in this pursuit, she often proved incredibly clever. Considering that, Judy was supposed to be in San Francisco at a clinical trial, she likely wondered what would happen to Jen when the police discovered the truth. After Judy decided to die in Dead to Me‘s finale, the character may have also chosen to advise Jen to take the Mustang and leave the Mercedes. The reasoning may have been partially sentimental, but it also had a more practical application: with the Mercedes in Mexico, Jen could plausibly claim to the police that Judy had stolen the car, driven to Mexico alone, and ended her life. If anyone checked, they would find the Mercedes in the driveway and Judy’s final footprints in the sand.

Related: What Did Jen Tell Ben At The End Of Dead To Me Season 3?

How Judy Protected Jen In Dead To Me Season 3’s Ending

Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini laying in bed in Dead to Me season 3

Dead to Me ended with a few cliffhangers, the conclusion having been left intentionally ambiguous. If Judy did hatch this car-switching scheme, it would’ve been her last act of selflessness, after having confessed to Steve’s murder, folding all of Henry’s cranes, and inviting Ben to the recital, ensuring his reunion with Jen. Perhaps the greatest evidence for this theory’s veracity, outside of it answering one of Dead to Me‘s burning questions, is that it is completely in line with Judy’s character; from the moment she met Jen, she tried to protect the other woman. Some of Judy’s acts of selflessness can be attributed to her guilt — such as taking the blame for vandalizing the car in season 1 — but she continued protecting Jen even long after being forgiven for Ted’s death.

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By the time Judy confessed to Steve’s murder and insisted that Jen was in no way complicit in the crime or the coverup, she was acting not out of guilt, but out of love. Having been raised by a mother who willingly betrayed and scapegoated her, Judy (ultimately Dead to Me‘s real main character) grew up to be the exact opposite. She found in the Hardings the family she always wanted and resolved to protect them at any conceivable cost. Even when she believed she’d spend the rest of her short life in prison for Steve’s murder, Judy confessed to the crime.

Therefore, it’s entirely logical that Judy would, in her final mortal act, devise a plot to once again protect Jen and her family. To do so exhibited the essence of Judy’s lasting legacy and fulfilled her promise to be with Jen always, no matter where she ended up. Even for a cynic such as Jen, Judy’s actions compelled ruminations on the nature of mortality, spiritualism, and fate. Ultimately, Dead to Me was a love story between two best friends, one of whom left too soon but whose impact will continue to echo far beyond the credits of the last episode.

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