I May Destroy You: All The Ending Scenarios Explained

I May Destroy You
I May Destroy You, Image Source: Amazon

In the final few minutes of I May Destroy You, Michaela Coel‘s Arabella Essiedu begins to read from her new book, January 22nd. “Thanks for coming, by the way,” she says, nervously, to the all people squeezed into a small bookstore. She begins to read. Before the words come out, the camera cuts to Arabella, in a purplish wig in Italy, much like in the series’ opening sequences.

We don’t have to listen to her speak to know the narrative: We just watched it. I May Destroy You is a work that tells the story of its own making. Even though Arabella can never undo her sexual assault, she can now use it to narrate her own story.

Have a look at the official trailer below.


I May Destroy You: Ending Explained

The finale explores several possibilities of how Arabella ultimately gets her revenge. At the end of the previous episode, she remembered the details of her sexual assault. In this episode, Arabella faces her attacker in what first appears to be the truth but is instead her imagination. It’s the first of three scenarios that play through Arabella’s mind as she sits in her cement backyard in the peaceful companionship of her generous roommate Ben.

Arabella urges a bloody vengeance sequence, a tear-jerking drama, and lastly, a romantic role reversal that traverses clich├ęs in which no questions, no thoughts, no feelings are off-limits.


Scenario 1 Explained

i may destroy you
I May Destroy You
Image Source: The Rolling Stone Magazine

In the first scenario, upon recognizing her rapist, Arabella drags an uncertain Terry down to the bathroom of the Ego Death Bar and explains her plan: hook, line, sink him.

They call Theo, and the three of them watch the rapist, David, at the bar. Arabella approaches him, hilariously pretending to sip her drink while Terry tricks his co-conspirator with a dance, and Theo steals his drugs. David takes a spiked Arabella down to the bathroom. As he begins to undo his pants, she opens her eyes and asks, “Who is the criminal, you or me?” just as Theo reaches out from the next bathroom stall and jabs with the drugs he carries.

Her giddiness disappears when she remembers that the rapist has taken her underwear. They chase him through all around the city, and after he faints, Arabella holds his penis and beats him up. She brings him home, on the bus, a woman says to her, “boys will be boys.” Arabella shoves him under her bed, along with everything else she’s repressing. His blood flows, forming a dark circle. He’s dead, but that doesn’t mean he will be forgotten.


Scenario 2 Explained

i may destroy you
I May Destroy You
Image Source: The Medium

In the next possibility, it’s Terry who has the idea and Arabella who is unsure. Terry makes Arabella snort a tremendous amount of coke. She energetically dances in front of David, as another version of herself. The girl who was raped, in that fuzzy red jacket, with the purple hair dances behind her. This time, when David takes her down to the bathroom to rape her and opens her eyes, alert, she delivers a monologue. He grabs her face, calls her a whore, and says, “Wars are going on in Iraq, and you’re making a big old drama ’cause some bloke slipped a pill in your drink and wants to fuck your brains out in a nightclub?”.

He gets more and more vulnerable, abusing her, but with commands, he seems to have heard before. He addressed himself: “Don’t you tell anyone, David, and if you tell anyone, I will kill you. You’re worthless, David. You’re worthless.” Then he breaks down sobbing. There’s something relatively theatrical about this monologue, but that’s the point.

Scenario 3 Explained

I May Destroy You
I May Destroy You
Image Source: The Rolling Stones Magazine

Arabella drives David home, where he explains that he’s served jail time for rape before darkly but playfully listing the various kinds of rapes he’s committed. He’s getting more and more attached to Arabella, who isn’t frightened of him. Thus, she confuses him. Why is she letting him sit on her bed? Why is she letting him speak to her? It’s not right, he says.

He’s puzzled by her interest in him, by her openness, by her lack of fear. She says almost nothing, making it clear he’s the one with the problem. She’s not only in control. She’s also emotionally guarded. He pleads to stay with her, even as the police comes and takes him away.


Scenario 4 Explained

I may destroy you
I May Destroy You
Image Source: Amazon

The last scenario is the most exceptional and most whimsical. It reverses almost everything, particularly gender. It’s daytime, not night. Arabella approaches David at the bar. He, unlike her, stammers while ordering his drink. His confederate is dancing for Terry, as opposed to the other way around.

Arabella comes on to David, who does not drug her. They have a fully consensual hookup in the bathroom. She brings him home. In the morning, they wake up together in bed, and he says, “I’m not going to leave until you tell me to.” She tells him to leave eventually, and he does. She’s driving the monsters out, and she’s doing it by imagining a kind of a romantic rewrite.

The ending is rather ambiguous. In fact, there is no “ending” to the narrative of Arabella’s sexual assault. The trauma of an experience like that never truly ends. The finale captures the trauma of assault victims, and the infinitely refracting nature of such an experience. Arabella’s ending is still happy- because she derives a purpose from this traumatizing experience, coming out as a strong and brave woman.


A Final Note On The Possible Real Ending


The ending to Arabella’s book and Coel’s show is a simple, satisfying, truthful conclusion reaped even after so many loose ends. The point is that only considering anything and everything brings Arabella her peace. In Episode 9, her therapist draws an image on a piece of paper: an A for “Arabella” above a hard line over an X.

It looks like a fraction, in which Arabella feels divided by all of the terrible, complicated, painful feelings she’s pushed beneath the line. In her language, under her bed, where all the monsters go. The therapist says more or less precisely what Coel noted in her profile: that people separate themselves and the world to deflect the guilt, skepticism, and self-blame that sexual assault survivors feel and need to process to accept what had happened to them.

At her therapist’s kitchen table, Arabella makes her drawing of her own: an A, a line, and an X, all on top of one another, to make a kind of star, a symbol of an integrated self. It’s this drawing that is on the cover of Arabella’s book, a little star she gave to herself for making things work.