The Good Mother Movie Ending Explained

By Russ Milheim Posted:
Hilary Swank, The Good Mother

Those who just made their way through The Good Mother might be looking to explore what exactly happened during its ending.

The story follows Hilary Swank’s Marissa, a journalist whose son, Michael, is murdered in a drug-related incident.

It does not take her long to want to find out who was responsible, which leads her to work with his pregnant girlfriend, Olivia Cooke’s Paige. She also has the help of her last living son, Toby, played by Jack Reynor, who is a police officer.

The Abrupt Death of Paige in The Good Mother

The Good Mother movie
Prime Video

The turning point in The Good Mother, which sets up the big ending, happens around two-thirds into the film.

After finding Michael’s best friend, Ducky, dead, Paige (played by Olivia Cooke) goes to Toby’s for help. While there, she calls an unknown number that previously spoke with Ducky on the night Michael was murdered.

To her surprise, she hears a phone going off in Toby’s house.

Her search leads her into his basement, where she finds the cell phone in question. Before she can escape, Toby corners her, trying to explain how she doesn't understand what’s happening.

Paige, now very stressed, tries even harder to get past Toby, but she accidentally (or purposely?) gets pushed off the stairs, where she slams into the floor below. Toby starts to panic, not knowing what to do with her, as she won't wake up.

He eventually decides to frame it all as an accident. After injecting her with drugs, he claims she OD’d and fell, which isn't a far-fetched story due to her past.

Sadly, Paige passes away at the hospital. However, her baby can be saved and goes on to be taken care of by Marissa.

The Good Mother Ending Explained: The Truth Is Revealed

Toby looks like he’s going to get away with everything, but then his partner, Gina, finds a necklace belonging to Paige in her basement—alongside some blood.

Gina shows Marissa the discovery and admits she cannot bring herself to question Toby. Instead, it is up to Marissa to find out what happened.

After discovering a hidden bag of Mother’s Milk (the drugs Michael died for) that Paige failed to disclose, Marissa hands it over to Toby.

From there, she then follows her son, and she eventually sees him exchange the drugs with a mysterious subject—one who has a tattoo on his hand, just like the person who supposedly killed Michael.

After the exchange, Marissa goes and sits next to her son, who starts crying. He admits both Michael and him were involved in some deep stuff and that there was nothing he could have done to prevent his brother’s death.

It’s important to note how it doesn't seem like Toby killed Michael himself or was ever against his brother. That milestone still belongs to the tattooed man.

From what audiences learn, Toby and Michael were involved in a bad situation with the wrong people.

Following Marisa’s confrontation with her son, she decides to finally write again: a feature focused on her two children and going into the details of everything that happened, including Toby’s role in the proceedings.

If the information were ever to get out, his life would be ruined.

Did Marissa Publish Her Article?

The final scene of The Good Mother sees Hilary Swank’s Marissa sitting, glaring over her unpublished feature—one that will ruin her son’s life while revealing the truth about Michael’s death. But, the film never gives audiences an answer as to whether she decides to publish it or not.

It does make viewers question her, however.

Marissa takes a match and lights it, alluding to her either lighting her cigarette or the article lying next to it. The movie ends before a clear answer is given.

However, it's worth noting how there is a close-up shot of the cigarette lighting up right before the film cuts to black. Many have taken this to mean the article is still alive and well and that she went on to publish it.

Publishing the article makes the most sense from a story perspective. While it will ruin her son’s life, Toby did betray his mom and was directly involved in the events that led to Michael’s death.

That is not to mention he killed Paige, which Marissa heavily suspects to be the case. There doesn't seem to be much reason for Marissa to let that fade into the background.

But, then again, perhaps her being a mother to Michael’s son is something that would lead her to be okay with the new status quo—even if it means the truth about her late son and his girlfriend is never revealed.

The Good Mother is now streaming on Hulu.

- About The Author: Russ Milheim
Russ Milheim is the Industry Relations Coordinator at The Direct. On top of utilizing his expertise on the many corners of today’s entertainment to cover the latest news and theories, he establishes and maintains communication and relations between the outlet and the many studio and talent representatives.