Netflix’s Inside Man follows a U.S. prisoner on death row trying to solve a British woman’s missing case with his brilliant criminology knowledge and induction skills.
Warning: This article contains heavy spoilers
Jefferson Grieff is a U.S. prisoner on death row and has an incredible knack for opining on unsolvable cases, thanks to his criminology degree and being a law lecturer for years before killing his wife and decapitating her head post-mortem.
Many people seek him out, requesting special visits just to hear from him a possible helping word, hoping that his experience in similarly gruesome and criminal acts must make his opinions especially educated.
Beth is a journalist who has a brush-off with a harasser on a train when a courageous and clever woman named Janice helps her out. They become friends afterwards.
Janice is the maths tutor to Vicar Harry Watling’s son, Ben. One day, Harry helps his verger Edgar out by hiding his flash drive full of porn from his strict mother.
Later on, he takes the drive home where, while he’s busy doing something else, Janice plugs the drive into a laptop for her use.
What she beholds disturbs her to the core, and unbeknownst to Ben, who jokingly covers for his father by saying it’s his porn drive, the contents of the drive are far worse than simply pornography.
It’s child pornography in the flash drive and Janice shows it to Harry, who’s similarly aghast looking at the disturbing contents. Janice misunderstands and believes the flash drive belongs to Ben.
Harry tries to clear the air and tell her that it’s not Ben’s, but also, stupidly, doesn’t tell her that it belongs to Edgar, in order to save the man with evident suicidal tendencies.
Knowing that Janice will head to the police with the misunderstanding, and what it’ll do for his kid, he tells her that the drive belongs to him. However, Janice only deems his efforts as a desperate father’s coverup for his son.
One easily avoidable thing leads to another and Janice ends up tumbling down the basement stairs and suffers horrible injuries. The situation has worsened beyond repair for Harry, who locks Janice down in the basement.
Meanwhile, Beth receives a photo from Janice at the time of her scuffle with Harry. Beth is suspicious of this message as it’s rather odd for Janice to have sent it to her.
Before receiving that message, though, Beth visits Grieff to interview him for an article. Later on, she goes to him with a case that has moral worth, as that’s the only criterion for him to pick a case.
Harry tells his wife of the debacle and together, the couple tries their best to see a way out of this mess. While Mary is quick to entertain the idea of killing Janice as their only way out, Harry can’t bring himself to do that.
He tries to get Edgar to confess but pities him again after seeing how much of a mess he is.
He then decides to frame himself for all of it, only to witness the whole debacle get more complicated when Edgar commits suicide.
He leaves a note that still doesn’t help the Vicar’s son from being implicated, should Janice go to the police. Mary and Harry decide to kill her, with the latter carrying the whole task and blame upon himself.
He tries to snuff Janice out with carbon monoxide but unbeknownst to him, Ben has also let himself into the basement after being suspicious of his parents.
Grieff’s investigations proceed and Beth ends up inside Janice’s apartment without knowing, following Grieff’s directions. Meanwhile, Mary arrives at the apartment too, to plant back Janice’s laptop that could’ve implicated them.
Beth and Mary have a struggle and Mary ends up a victim of a crash, dying instantly. Meanwhile, the clever Janice keeps encouraging Ben to call the police but he’s disoriented by all the monoxide inhalation.
Before Harry learns where his son is and comes rushing down to save him, Ben has hit Janice on her head with a hammer. Harry tells him he’ll take the blame as Ben regains some composure and runs away from his unrecognisable father.
Beth arrives and stops Harry from giving Janice the fatal blow upon learning she’s not dead yet. Meanwhile, Grieff’s efforts lead some men he misled to arrive at Harry’s basement at the right time as well.
Inside Man ending explained in detail:
Does Janice survive at the end?
Janice ends up surviving at the end of Inside Man, despite receiving numerous violent blows to her body, unintentional and otherwise.
She tries different ways to pit Harry and Mary against each other and take advantage of the rift to escape her dire circumstances.
Later, she manages to hold off Ben from contacting his father, albeit to her own detriment eventually. She suffers a lot of injuries in the meantime.
Tripping and falling down, first in the kitchen and then at the basement stairs — rolling down the steps, ending up with several bruises, cuts, and bleeding.
She even bashes her own head on the pole to break free of her cuffs at one point, adding to her head injury. If all that wasn’t enough, Ben arrives and inflicts one final blow to her head with a hammer, appearing to be fatal but Janice lives still.
How does Janice survive?
The most prominent aspects of Janice’s survival are perhaps Beth and most importantly, Grieff’s intelligent induction skills and resourcefulness. Right before Harry goes to deal the final blow to Janice, Beth arrives and tackles him.
Harry dominates the struggle, picking up a hammer, trying hard to convey that he’s not the monster he has been made out to be.
It’s imminent that he attacks again but then Grieff’s brilliance intervenes again and the men he misled into Harry’s house arrive and Harry’s stopped in his tracks.
Before the epilogue, Inside Man ends with Harry being arrested as Janice is escorted to emergency care.
What happens to Ben?
Tragedy is what happens to Ben, as is the case with most other characters in Inside Man, but especially the Watling family.
However, more than tragedy, or perhaps in equal measure, his father happens to Ben. Harry is the root of all the stupid devolution into madness — madness that ruins not one but at least 3 lives.
Without clearing the air right away, Harry makes poor decisions at a staggering rate.
Ben, in the meantime, lives in the bliss of ignorance, not knowing that his parents have fallen so far in an abyss of desperation that they’ll even kill someone overtaking a rational route that may, at worst, impact their image in society.
In the end, Ben can’t recognize the father he once knew. Probably partly because he’s disoriented after inhaling so much carbon monoxide, but definitely mostly because Harry has devolved into a maniac trying to save a life by brutally ending another.
At the end of Inside Man, it’s revealed that Ben is living with his uncle, recovering from the traumatic horror show that just transpired and changed his regular life into a nightmare.
Why does Janice visit Grieff at the end?
In the mid-credits scene of Inside Man, Janice is shown to have gone to visit Grieff. She appears to have recovered from her injuries, even though some scars remain still.
It also appears that she might have emotionally recovered from the traumatic incident as well.
She is shown to be quite an anomalous human in the series, so it wouldn’t be far-fetched to posit that she has moved on to green pastures inside her head after the incident.
Probably because she has recovered, or maybe the incident has worsened her mental health, Janice approaches Grieff with an unusual request.
Normally, people that visit him have some investigations that they need to be done on a matter personal to them. Grief can lend knowledge gained from his experience with Criminology studies and committing crimes as well.
However, instead of imparting said knowledge and experience on cracking a case, he is requested by Janice to give her advice. Janice needs him to tell her how to kill her husband.
It was clear from her conversations with Ben earlier on in the series, that some parts of her personal/love life have been sour and she isn’t speaking the whole truth to Ben.
It becomes clear why that’s the case, albeit not entirely. Although the reason why she wants to murder her husband isn’t revealed, it is certainly big enough for her to say that her husband deserves to be murdered.
As to what it could be and what this visit would entail, is up to a sophomore instalment in the Inside Man series, should the makers decide to follow up on it.