The Pale Horse Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

Pros: Luxurious 60s vibe. XX century; good acting; scenery and costumes Cons: The authors clearly went too far with mysticism; the film adaptation does not have the spirit of Agatha Christie at all; strange ending The Pale Horse / “White Horse Villa”

Genre detective
Creator Sarah Phelps
Starring: Rufus Sewell (Mark Easterbrook), Georgina Campbell (Delphine Easterbrook), Bertie Carvel (Zachary Osborne), Kaya Scodelario (Hermia Easterbrook), Sean Pertwee (Inspector Lejeune), etc.
BBC channel
Year of release 2020
Episode 2
Site IMDb

The novel The Pale Horse, which received the neutral title “Villa “White Horse”” in the Russian translation made back in Soviet times, is one of the strangest works of Agatha Christie, which even the writer’s devoted fans treat with some bias. It’s all about a thick layer of mysticism, which is completely uncharacteristic of Christie’s detective stories. However, Christie would not be Christie if there were not a completely rational explanation for all the mysticism in the book.

Unlike And Then There Were None / Ten Little Indians, which have already been filmed ten times (the total circulation of this novel has exceeded 100 million, which makes it the most popular non-religious book in history), The Pale Horse is the first time for television They took it on only in 1996, and even then this film adaptation turned out to be frankly weak. The second attempt was made in 2010 by the same ITV as part of the fifth season of the famous series Agatha Christie’s Marple. This time it turned out better, but the plot of the novel itself was significantly redrawn, introducing new characters. In the end, Miss Marple herself was not in the original work. The Pale Horse in a two-part miniseries format is the third attempt made by the BBC this time.


According to the plot of the television adaptation, which only vaguely resembles the plot of the novel on which it is based, wealthy antique dealer Mark Easterbrook, who recently experienced the death of his young wife and married for the second time, finds himself connected with another death. A middle-aged woman died on the street, and in her shoe a list of a dozen surnames was found, among which was the surname Easterbrook, the only one with a name and a question mark next to it. The biggest problem is that almost all the people on this strange list are already dead, so Mr. Easterbrook himself is probably in danger. It is possible that the danger is of a mystical nature. Mark Easterbrook begins his own investigation and comes to conclusions that are quite unusual for a convinced materialist.


The Pale Horse is undoubtedly a very beautiful and colorful film. The BBC knows how to make costume series, and in this case, the design of interiors, cars, dresses and the very atmosphere of the 60s. The 20th century only contributes to the creation of a juicy and memorable picture. The casting is also successful – Rufus Sewell and Kaya Scodelario are ideal for the roles of slightly arrogant and vicious aristocrats. In a word, we have no complaints about the work of actors, costume designers, set designers, cameramen and lighting technicians. I have questions for series writer Sarah Phelps.


As an author who is no stranger to the works of Agatha Christie, Phelps has written scripts for the British miniseries The ABC Murders (2018), Ordeal by Innocence (2018), The Witness for the Prosecution (2016) and And Then There Were None (2015) based on Christie’s novels of the same name, could the mountain produce a text that is so contrary to the spirit of the writer? Yes, and in the original The Pale Horse there are elements of mysticism, but not in the same doses! It should have been a light mystical flair, and not a suffocating atmosphere through which it was difficult to break through. This is, after all, a detective story, not a horror film, and in the new film adaptation of The Pale Horse, the detective elements are pushed not even into the background, but into some kind of third place, instead, everything connected with witchcraft, obsessive states of the characters and their dreams is emphasized .


And, unfortunately, here, as in the original novel, everything will not fall into place at the very end. The ending of The Pale Horse (2020) could be called strange, but it’s more likely just nothing. A mystical trick purely for the sake of tricking. Well, for the extremely bloody death of one of the minor positive characters at the very end of the film – special thanks! Agatha Christie would never have allowed herself anything like that.

Well, we have to admit that the BBC turned out to be a very beautiful and atmospheric film adaptation, but there was only a little bit of Agatha Christie left in it, to put it mildly. It’s more of a variation on the theme of True Detective or Sharp Objects with a viscous, gloomy atmosphere and a heavy dose of mysticism. Highly not recommended for Agatha Christie fans.


A beautiful and atmospheric series, which, unfortunately, has little in common with the work of Agatha Christie

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