Stay Close is a drama mini-series based on the novel of the same name written by Harlan Coben. It follows the story of three individuals whose lives become intertwined with the disappearance of a young man one night.
Megan Pierce (Cush Jumbo) heads out for her hen night with her friends and on her way back she receives a card addressed to ‘Cassie’ and some champagne to congratulate her. The next day while she’s at her daughter’s tennis tournament, she catches a glimpse of someone from her past.
That person is Lorraine Griggs (Sarah Parish), who knew Megan back when she used to go by the name ‘Cassie’ and worked as an exotic dancer at a club called Vipers. She tells Megan that a dangerous customer from her past, Stewart Green, has returned 17 years after he went missing. Megan had run away back then to start a new life, something she was successful in doing.
Del Flynn (Ross Boatman) enlists the help of the police when his son, Carlton (Connor Calland) goes missing on the night of the carnival. Detective Michael Broome (James Nesbitt) and detective Erin Cartwright (Jo Joyner) are put on the case by their superior, Brian Goldberg (Jack Shalloo).
Broome had also worked on the case of Stewart Green’s disappearance all those years ago, and a light goes on in his head when he realizes that Carlton disappeared in the same area as Green on the exact same date. He is convinced that the two might be connected even though he does not have a lot of evidence.
Ray Levine (Richard Armitage) is a photographer who does low-level gigs to pay the bills. He’s headed back to his car after one such gig when a hooded figure hits him on the back of the head and steals his camera. Later on, when he checks on the photos that he had back up, he finds some dark pictures taken in the ruins near Vipers with one of them showing Carlton Flynn.
He revisits the location during the day and takes a few more pictures, including one of some blood on a rock. He then drops off the photos in a squad car in hopes of aiding the police anonymously. Broome’s investigation begins to gain steam when another man is reported missing on the same day.
He and Erin decide to list out the various missing person cases from around that time and conclude that there is a high probability of a serial killer being active for all these years in the area. Meanwhile, Megan is still freaked out about the appearance of Stewart Green and reaches out to her old friend, Harry Sutton (Eddie Izzard) for more information and help.
Ray gets a visit from an old sergeant of his who enquires about her partner who was the second person reported missing since he was with him the night he disappeared. He tells her that they all got very drunk and that he doesn’t have a great memory of the night. He’s only able to remember it in bits and pieces.
When he tries to go back to that night in his head, all he remembers is that a fight broke out, coincidentally in Vipers. He goes out to Vipers and meets Lorraine and asks her about that night but she says she has no recollection. He then asks her about Cassie, since the two of them were deeply in love before she ran away.
Megan’s eldest daughter, Kayleigh (Bethany Antonia) is very suspicious of her mother because she caught her stealing one of her dresses. When following her one night, she finds Megan going into Vipers in disguise. Kayleigh and her friend, Bea (Rachel Andrews) decide to revisit the club on carnival and get in with the help of Carlton Flynn.
Carlton spikes Kayleigh’s drink but Bea finds out and switches it with his own. They try to run away but Carlton comes out in his dazed state and runs after them into the woods. That was when Ray manages to grab the picture of him while he was drunk.
Megan is spooked by sightings of a man matching Stewart and decides to go to the police. Harry sets up a meeting between her and Detective Broome. Before he can head out for the meeting himself, however, he is interrupted and chased by a couple referred to as Ken (Hyoie O’Grady) and Barbie (Poppy Gilbert).
Ray runs into Kayleigh and Bea at Vipers and tracks them leading to Ray and Megan seeing each other. Megan reaches out to Ray to clear things out but they are interrupted when Kayleigh shows up. She insists on knowing the truth about her mothers past.
Broome gets involved with Lorraine and it really puts a spring in his step. Their investigation leads them to an old case where there was a conviction but when they meet the accused it brings up more questions than answers. Ken and Barbie finally trap Harry at his place and question him about Carlton Flynn before murdering him.
When the police question Megan about Harry, she does mention the couple and gives them the description. At the same time, Ken and Barbie visit Megan’s house and kidnap Kayleigh. When Megan reaches back home and finds out, she calls them and is given instructions on where to meet.
Dave is out for stag night where Ray decides to crash their gathering. He gets into a tiff with Dave and they exchange blows before Ray stops himself and then runs away. Megan manages to rescue Kayleigh and they head straight to the police. Broome and Erin realize that Ken and Barbie have a leak in the police station who keeps leading them to key suspects.
The leak turns out to be Brian Goldberg, with Ken and Barbie employed by Del Flynn to find his son. Broome and Erin find an underground shelter near the ruins outside Vipers and inside it, there are many bodies. Ray’s memory clears up and he tries to meet Megan to share the truth with her.
If you have any more questions about the final episode, written below is a thorough explanation.
Stay Close ending explained in detail (Episode 8):
A fight to the finish
Broome and Erin go over their findings from the shelter. There are several bodies going back so many years, but no sign of Carlton Flynn. There is no confirmation about Stewart Green either. Del Flynn comes out to the burial ground but Broome tells him that his son is not accounted for.
Megan is going to meet Ray when she gets a call from her mother in law. She gets diverted and after she makes sure her mother in law is fine, she is attacked by Barbie outside. The two of them really get into the thick of it with Barbie stabbing Megan in the back but Megan finally comes out on top by killing Barbie in the end.
Ken is visiting Vipers to keep an eye on Lorraine who is the next target in their investigation. He questions her about him in the club but she brushes it off. He decides to wait for her to leave and follows her back home.
Ray waits out for Megan at the pier but instead, he is met by the police who arrest him as the key murder suspect. He denies any wrongdoing but agrees to share everything he knows in exchange for a meeting with Megan.
Tale of revenge
Ray gets his meeting with Megan, where he suspects that she killed Stewart Green. She states that she didn’t and believed that he was the culprit.
Revisiting that night, Ray tells her that he found Stewart’s body and in an effort to protect her he took the body and chopped it up before disposing of it in a remote lake.
Broome is informed that Ken’s car got a hit near Vipers and he immediately realises that they were targeting Lorraine so he rushes out to her house. When he gets there he finds Ken on the floor with his throat slit open and Lorraine with a knife.
She tells him to put his weapon down and call off the backup so that he can join her for a drink.
She then admits to being the one responsible for all the murders that took place during the carnival as she wanted to rid the world of horrid abusive men like she did when her own husband beat her years ago. She feels no remorse and claims to sleep well at night.
Marriage without secrets
Broome is able to tie up the case and most of the unanswered questions with Lorraine’s final testimony. However, she claims to not know where Carlton’s body is. She tells them it was probably washed off or carried away by an animal.
Ray tells the police where he had dumped the chopped up remains of Stewart Green and after doing minimal time, he decides to go on a trip and start afresh to rediscover his love for photography.
He stops off at Megan and Dave’s wedding before leaving. Dave shares a wonderful speech expressing his feelings for Megan. Then when they have a moment to themselves, he tells her that the night Kayleigh had gone to Vipers with Carlton, she called her dad. He noticed Carlton’s car and later got rid of it by dumping it in the lake.
Megan recollects what Kayleigh told her about that night early on. Kayleigh thought she had lost Carlton in the woods but he showed up just as she was opening up the boot of his car and she ended up locking him in it. She wasn’t able to tell anyone because she was scared. Megan contemplates what her husband just told her, thinking about how he unknowingly drowned Carlton while Lorraine took the blame for his murder. This brings an end to her problems and the series.