Unbelievable Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

On the morning of August 2008, the police department in Lynnwood, Washington received a call from a girl named Marie Adler (Caitlin Deaver) who reported rape. Marie told the arriving policemen that when she woke up at night, she found a man in her room, whose face was covered. The man, threatening with a knife, tied the girl up, put a gag in his mouth, and then raped her for several hours. After that, he took a picture of Marie and threatened to distribute these pictures on the Internet if she told anyone about what had happened.

Patrolmen did not find any traces of the attacker in the room, nor did they manage to find any evidence to make a DNA profile of this person. During the conversation with the patrolmen, Marie behaved surprisingly calmly, which amazed both the policemen and the two former adoptive mothers of the girl, who came on her call.

Marie was taken to a medical examination, where she had to repeat the story of what had happened, after which for another twelve hours she repeated her story several times: to two different detectives, set out what had happened in writing, and so on. At the same time, the detectives acted with the survivor of the violence as if they were a criminal giving evidence: they forced to tell about what happened again and again, trying to catch Marie in contradictions and lies.

And in the end, under pressure from the police, Marie first said that it might have been just a dream, and eventually signed a paper stating that she had made it all up. After that, her already very gloomy life became completely hopeless.

In 2011, Colorado detective Karen Duvall (Merritt Weaver) investigates the rape of a student named Amber (Danielle McDonald). She, too, woke up to find a man in her room who tied her up, raped her for several hours, photographed her, then sent her to the shower with the order to wash herself properly. While she was in the shower, the man left. The investigation showed that the perpetrator carefully cleaned off all the traces that he could leave, as a result of which the police were not able to compile a complete DNA profile.

Karen’s husband, who also worked as a police officer in a nearby town, when he heard about this story, advised Karen to contact Detective Grace Rasmussen (Toni Collette), who handled similar crimes. Two detectives, united, found several more similar stories from this district, after which they began to search for the criminal.


At the beginning of the series there is a warning that this is all set based on real events, but I rarely pay attention to such inscriptions, because there are many cases when real events in the production leave horns and legs.

Moreover, after watching the first series, I was even going to say goodbye to this series. The first series made a somewhat depressing impression, the direction of the series was not clearly indicated in it, and I already decided that everything would be there about this unfortunate girl who invented rape so that they would pay attention to her and take pity on her.

However, thank God, I decided to give the series a chance and watch at least the second episode, and there, firstly, it became clear how everything would develop further, and secondly, the series from the second episode immediately hooked so that I watched it literally in one sitting and now I can say that he made a strong impression.

After viewing, I began to study the materials and was surprised to find out that it was not just based on real events, but these events were actually recreated with documentary accuracy.

There was an investigative report published in 2015 for which the authors received a Pulitzer Prize: it was called An Unbelievable Story of Rape (an incredible story of rape). Writers and screenwriters Michael Chabon and Aileth Waldman (they are husband and wife, by the way) read the article and decided that this was a finished series.

They were joined by screenwriter Suzanne Grant (in particular, she wrote the script for “Erin Brockovich”), it took them a whole year to develop the script for the series, after which the streaming service Netflix agreed to finance the project.

This mini-series was directed by three directors: Lisa Cholodenko (director of the wonderful series “What Olivia Knows”), Michael Dinner (he worked on many famous TV shows) and Suzanne Grant.

The series focuses on the painstaking investigation of two female detectives, Karen Duvall and Grace Rasmussen, who are certain they are dealing with a serial rapist whose crimes are always the same. The task of the detectives is to find and arrest the criminal. However, this is incredibly difficult to do, because the criminal knows well what he can give himself away, and carefully takes care not to leave any leads for the police.

But the detectives consider his capture their own business, so they conduct an investigation with extraordinary thoroughness.

At the same time, Karen Duvall and Grace Rasmussen are almost complete opposites. Karen is calm, gentle and friendly, she is also a believer and goes to church. However, her softness should not deceive anyone: she has a fairly strong character and she knows how to achieve her own. Grace is a kind of police “bulldog” (she, in fact, is called that): very straightforward, sharp and cynical. She has nerves of steel (she worked undercover for several years and is a legend for Karen Grace), fearless and smart. And she doesn’t believe in God.

It turned out that these two completely different people perfectly complement each other, as a result of which the investigation began to move forward quite quickly.

Karen Duvall played Merritt Weaver – I’ve never seen her before. Good actress, love it. The character is very cute, while it is clear that she has all the qualities of a good detective.

I had previously seen Toni Collette in small cameo roles in “The Long Fall” and “Little Miss Sunshine”, and she also played the Tseraushnitsa in “Three X: World Domination”, and then I was amazed at how repulsive a character they made of her.

Here Collette liked extremely! Grace Rasmussen has a not too attractive appearance and a tough character, but there is something very charming in her manner of communication. Which is once again emphasized by the trusting and somewhat touching relationship that she and Duval developed as a result of the work. Grace is smart and sarcastic, when she looks at a person with her unblinking iguana gaze, she sees right through him. Great character, just great! I am glad that this actress has finally managed to turn around and show her outstanding level.

Marie Adler played Caitlin Deaver. I had never seen her anywhere before, but this young actress, at her twenty-three years old, played in two and a half dozen films and TV shows. I liked it too, but the role was difficult. A girl with an unfortunate fate (there, on the series, they gradually talk about her life), so to top it all off, after the rape, she was also accused of making it all up, and this spoiled the relationship with the few friends she had.

Deaver interestingly showed Marie. The girl had to go through so much that outwardly she looks very unemotional and apathetic. It seemed like nothing could move her. And even about such a terrible event as rape, she talks detachedly, as if it did not happen to her.

Why did she sign the paper that she made it all up? Yes, because she was interrogated for twelve hours, the police did not believe her, and her whole life experience showed that if something is required of you, then it is better to do it so that they finally leave her behind.

And how well the series shows the huge difference between the way Washington police officers work with victims and Colorado ones. And there it’s not at all that in the state of Washington it was two male detectives, and in the state of Colorado it was female detectives.

As far as I read in the original investigation, at some point the police were given training on how to deal with rape victims. The fact that the victims do not necessarily have to fall into hysterics and behave inappropriately: it is not uncommon for them to talk about what happened calmly enough, despite serious psychological trauma. About how they should be questioned, and about the need for great delicacy on the part of a police officer when discussing what happened.

The Washington police officers were not trained, had no such experience, and behaved with Marie in the way they usually acted when interrogating suspects. But Karen and Grace had a lot of experience in handling such cases and behaved in a completely different way.

Despite the fact that the series shows, in general, quite routine and painstaking work during the investigation, it looks extremely exciting. And by this he somehow reminded another no less wonderful series “Mindhunter”, where, too, there seems to be more and more conversations, and it is almost impossible to tear yourself away from it.

An excellent series, simply excellent, I watched it with great pleasure and I strongly recommend not to miss it.

PS The real prototypes of Duval and Rasmussen are Detective Stacy Galbraith and Sergeant Edna Hendershot.

Pictures of the white Mazda of the rapist, partly thanks to which he was identified.

Things that were found on the rapist during the search.


Incredible / Unbelievable serie meaning

Director: Lisa Cholodenko, Michael Dinner, Susannah Grant Cast: Toni Collette, Eric Lange, Dale Dickey, Caitlin Deever, Merritt Weaver, Blake Ellis, Lisa Lapira, Kai Lennox, Omar Muscatati, Austin Hebert, Danielle McDonald

Series, USA, 2019, 60 min. Season 1 8 episodes (miniseries)

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