The Widow, now available for streaming on Amazon Prime, plunges Kate Beckinsale into the Democratic Republic of Congo in an eight-part series that mixes Lost-esque mystery with Lara Craft-style action.
As Georgia Wells, Beckinsale plays a grieving but ultimately kick-ass widow holed up in an isolated and austere farmhouse in Wales, when a quick glimpse of a waiting room television screen changes the trajectory of her life and grief. The Widow is getting mixed reviews, with some seeing evidence of the “white savior” trope in the show, which was written by Harry and Jack Williams, previously known for The Missing. To be sure, Georgia prances around Africa, gleaming face and swinging and perfect pony tail and all, like a modern-day Indiana Jonesette, walking stubbornly into dangerous situations unscathed (such as up to trucks carrying gun-toting militia members) and rescuing a child soldier along the way.
The other characters are expendable in the path of Georgia’s prevailing need, and that’s too bad because they’re so well-acted and interesting. Georgia’s quest: To find out what happened to her husband, Will Mason, really. Last she knew, Will was killed in a plane crash in Africa three years before, where he was working as an aid worker. This was confirmed by the plane manifest. Stop reading if you don’t want spoilers. The show is also running on British channel ITV .
Here are answers to some of the key questions about The Widow and its ending:
What Caused the Plane Crash?
At the center of the plot is a major plane crash into the African wilderness. Dozens of people died. Among them was supposedly Will Mason. The crash was written off by authorities to an unquestioning media as mechanical failure. However, that was far from the true story.
In actuality, the plane was brought down by a bomb carried on the aircraft in a laptop by an unsuspecting pregnant woman who is the wife of a Congolese journalist, Emmanuel Kazadi (Jacky Ido), who befriended Georgia as the families awaited news of their loved ones. She drafts him into her search for answers after she sees a glimpse of a man in an orange baseball cap (a recurring motif) from behind during a televised news report of a riot/protest in the DRC. Emmanuel pays with his life, leaving behind a new wife who’s pretty ticked off at Georgia about it but ultimately rallies to her side. This is too bad because Ido was a welcome addition to the series. The sudden loss of the charismatic Emmanuel is a jarring development in the plot and for viewers, but Georgia soon finds a new sidekick to replace him (that’s not meant positively; she seems upset about Emmanuel’s death but not upset enough to stop putting other people in harm’s way).
It turns out that Major General Azikiwe (Babs Olusanmokun) is involved in a corrupt plot to smuggle an expensive “conflict” metal (coltan) out of the country (and avoid paying taxes on it). The hard-drinking general, now surrounded by the ghosts of the people he’s killed, has engineered the plane crash by giving the laptop to the pregnant woman, who was Emmanuel’s spouse and who agreed to take the luggage on board to solve their financial problems. There was a politician on the plane being targeted who had nothing to do with the Will Mason plot. It’s just that some people, including Azikiwe, decided to off Will in a plane crash already planned.
What Happened to Will Mason?
It turns out that Will is alive and living in Rwanda in a house that, careful viewers will immediately note, looks pretty nicely cared for. After all, it’s supposed to be housing a guy on the run. The general and others who would want him dead think he died on the plane. It’s not a surprise to careful viewers when the door opens, and in walks a woman carrying an infant. She’s Will’s new partner and is holding the child she had with Will.
We’re not really surprised Will is alive, either. Despite some people questioning it, Georgia’s sanity is never really a question to the viewer. It’s just a matter of figuring out where he went and why. The viewer is led to believe that he was possibly abducted. The reality is that he went into hiding and built a new life because of actions of his own.
This is especially painful for Georgia because, as we learn from flashbacks, she and Will were parents once to an infant named Violet who died suddenly (and apparently non-nefariously) in her crib. It’s a death that ultimately helped rupture their marriage. He’s taken to scratching endless Vs on walls where he ends up.
Thus, Will is alive, but he doesn’t want to go back home – or to Georgia – in the end. She instantly perceives this, and she doesn’t fight for him. It’s over. Loss and grief begin anew – a different kind.
It all suddenly falls into place for her. The worst is true; he was alive, all along, but he didn’t try to tell her. Instead, he’s built a new life, one he doesn’t intend to leave with a woman who isn’t her. After all he’s done, he’s a stranger to her in some ways anyway.
Will explains that he uncovered the smuggling going on at the aid company, an operation being run in concert by the major general and by Will’s boss at the aid organization, Judith Gray (Alex Kingston). She’s given a lesbian subplot backstory. Her greed is explained by her own sense of loss, which keeps driving people to make bad decisions. It turns out she was wooed and then defrauded by the woman who entices her out of the closet.
Will convinces Judith to let him in on the proceeds and scheme, or else, and he siphons off a greater cut for a craggy-faced mercenary named Pieter Bello (Bart Fouche), who is also part of the coltan smuggling ring, overseeing the mine where the metal is unearthed in the first place. Judith and the major general, though, decide to get rid of Will by urging him to take the doomed flight, but Bello saves his life by instructing Will not to get on (for reasons never clearly explained). Somehow this last-minute change was not reflected in the flight manifest, and, because of the great destruction from the plane crash, the lack of a body did not raise concern.
Will eventually gives up Judith and the major general to the authorities (the former is arrested, and the latter kills himself), in exchange for a likely deal. Georgia has convinced him to “do the right thing,” and that’s how their story ends, love or not. Did Will love Georgia, really? Probably. Once. He’s a different person now. They both know this.
What Happens to Adidja?
Adidja is the girl soldier rescued by Georgia from the mining camp run by Bello. The orphan with expressive eyes becomes her sidekick on the run, and it initially appears that Georgia has let Adidja go once she heads back home. However, at the end of the show, the girl turns up in Wales at Georgia’s side. In between, Adidja tricks Georgia into traveling to her family’s village, where she discovers that her mother and the other villagers were murdered. Adidja needs Georgia, and Georgia needs her. Both are alone. Both have experienced loss. Both need someone emotionally to care for them. Their bond is touching, although some of the dialogue is uncomfortable (such as when Georgia compares Adidja to a dog and the girl sticks her head out the car window).
Who Is Martin Benson Really?
Martin Benson (Charles Dance) travels to DRC to help Georgia figure out what happened to Will and, later, to hold those responsible for the plane crash and other deaths accountable. Who is he? He says several times that he promised Georgia’s dad that he’d look after her even though, as an ex Army soldier, she is able to do so quite nicely by herself. Benson reveals in one scene that he’s got a background in military intelligence, which is used to explain the plot leap that expects us to believe he just cleverly figured out that a blind man in Rotterdam, Ariel Helgason (Ólafur Darri Ólafsson), was on a plane that supposedly had only one (female) survivor. Beyond that we don’t learn much about his background or why he cares so much for Georgia. He clearly functions as a father figure to her, and he’s a friend of her father’s (why the female protagonist needs an older man’s help is another question.)
It later turns out that the female survivor was murdered by the general’s people to hide the plane crash secrets. The blind man in Rotterdam soon meets that sad fate too (he’s a witness to the fact it was really a bomb), another casualty in Georgia’s ceaseless quest for answers. Why the crafty Benson would be so dense as to leave the blind man unattended in a hotel room after riling up the general and his people is never explained, medical emergency or not.
In the end, Georgia leaves the trail of death behind her in Africa, returning to her Welsh outpost, where she’s packing up for a new life.