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‘Apples Never Fall’ ending, explained by its star Jake Lacy

Lacy, who plays the oldest Delaney son on “Apples Never Fall,” takes TODAY.com through the show’s finale.
Apples Never Fall - Season 1
In "Apples Never Fall," Jake Lacy (third from the left) plays one of the four Delaney siblings alongside Conor Merrigan-Turner, Essie Randles and Alison Brie.   Jasin Boland / Peacock
/ Source: TODAY

Warning: This post contains spoilers for “Apples Never Fall.”

By the seventh and final episode of Apples Never Fall, all is revealed about why Annette Bening’s character Joy Delaney went missing — and how her disappearance nearly upended her entire family.

Through seven episodes focused on each of the Delaneys, plus Savannah’s (Georgia Flood) perspective as an outsider who makes her way into the family, Apples Never Fall uses alternating timelines to show how the family falls apart ... and comes back together.

The ending of “Apples Never Fall,” based on Liane Moriarty’s book of the same name, differs from the ending of the novel, so TODAY.com sat down with Jake Lacy, who plays Troy Delaney in the series, to break down the show’s last episode and what it all means.

How Joy Delaney went missing

The last episode begins by showing what happened to Joy while she was riding her bike. Turns out, she simply crashed and scraped her leg. She tries to phone all four her kids and her husband for help, but none of them pick up. It seems they’re giving her the silent treatment after Joy divulged a secret she’d been keeping.

Lacy says in this moment, he thinks his character Troy doesn’t answer because “he knows that the conversation that has to be had with his mom is in-depth.”

“Whether he’s as busy as he thinks he is is up for debate, but he keeps being like, ‘I can’t allot time for that right now. I’m off to do this, I’m just coming from this, I haven’t carved out three hours to be on the phone with my mom and hash this out.’ I think that’s what he’s telling himself in the moment.”

While walking home, Joy ties her jacket around her leg to help with the bleeding.

Apples Never Fall - Season 1
Sam Neill as Stan and Annette Bening as Joy in "Apples Never Fall."Vince Valitutti / Peacock

When Joy returns home, she attempts to throw the jacket in the garbage can but misses, leaving it lying on the ground — a perfect location for the neighbor’s dog to find and later bury in their backyard. (The police later found and tried to use it as evidence against her husband, Stan Delaney, played by Sam Neill).

As Joy walks inside, she finds a manuscript of Stan’s former tennis prodigy Harry Haddad’s memoir, in which he admits to cheating in the early parts of his career. Joy asks Stan to stop recording his podcast to talk to her, but Stan forgets to pause it.

Joy confronts Stan about Harry’s cheating, and Stan admits he knew it all along — even though he was prioritizing Harry’s career over his relationship with his oldest son, Troy. Joy emphasizes how unfair it was to keep this from their children, especially after she finally came clean with her secret: She — not Troy — was the one who told Harry to fire Stan as his coach after Stan hit Troy for calling out Harry for cheating.

Stan starts throwing things off of shelves. Joy begs him to stop, until she finally hits him in the face, slicing his cheek in the process.

When alone, Joy checks her phone — she had texted her kids to join her for brunch, but they all responded that they’re busy. She throws her phone into a laundry basket and swiftly exits her house. She walks to a bar where she asks to use their phone. In a twist, she calls Savannah, who had left the Delaney home months ago.

Savannah arrives at the bar and explains she stayed with Stan and Joy because she’s a con artist and that she left because Troy paid her to leave. As she’s leaving, Savannah says she has a place of her own in the mountains of Georgia, and, at the last minute, Joy hops in the car with her.

When the pair arrive at the house, Savannah tells Joy to use the landline phone if she wants, but Joy declines. In the middle of the night, Savannah grabs a knife from the kitchen to cut the phone line.

The Delaney kids make a discovery

As the timeline shifts to the present day, Stan is in custody on murder charges, and the four kids arrive at the family home to start going through photos of their mom, who they believe is dead.

Then comes the big “aha!” moment: The Delaneys discover a picture that ties mysteries together.

Lacy says the cast and crew wanted this reveal to be subtle, structured so “the audience and the characters are learning at the same time.”

“Troy, he’s having a beer, he’s not really engaged with it, he’s lost in thinking about his mom and (is) a little despondent,” Lacy says of his character. “His attention is elsewhere and trying to find a way so that his response to his sisters (showing him the photo) builds.”

When Amy and Brooke stumble upon this particular photo, they can’t seem to believe their eyes. A lady in the picture looks like a crazy woman they drove hours away to confront about a tip she sent Amy about Joy’s whereabouts. Turns out, that woman is mother of Harry Haddad, Stan’s former protégé. Another young girl in the picture looks a lot like Savannah, the con artist.

After the Delaney siblings put all this together, they pay a visit to Harry, who’s now a tennis star trying to make a comeback. Harry leans in for a hug with Amy, Logan and Brooke, while Troy opts for a handshake before he’s forced into an awkward hug.

“It was brought to my attention from (showrunner) Melanie Marnich that in the edit, they realized Troy is not good at hugging,” Lacy says. “So many moments are Troy avoiding a hug or a weird side pat on the back.”

Harry tells the Delaneys that the young girl in the photo is his sister Lindsey and that after he became a famous tennis star, she began asking him for money and even threatening him at times. One day Lindsey arrived at his house with a gun, so he retired from tennis, gave her a check for $500,000 and got a restraining order against her.

Savannah and Joy find out the truth

Back at Savannah’s mountain house, Joy and Savannah go out to a bar to sing karaoke after they were invited by a neighbor. The next day, the neighbor comes over and asks Joy out on a date. Joy laughs and explains she’s married and doesn’t live in the area.

He asks where she’s from and she says South Florida, and he asks if she came to avoid the hurricane. Joy, who hasn’t had her phone, didn’t know there was a hurricane and asks to use Savannah’s phone. The phone doesn’t work, so Joy demands to leave.

Savannah agrees and goes to fill up her car’s gas tank before heading out on the drive. Joy is packing her things and rips her bag, so she looks around the house for another one. She finds Savannah’s bag and pulls out a gun, multiple IDs and a copy of Harry’s restraining order against Lindsey, and realizes who Savannah really is.

Apples Never Fall - Season 1
Georgia Flood plays Savannah in "Apples Never Fall."Vince Valitutti / Peacock

Savannah arrives back at the house and Joy rushes to put the bag back the way she found it, but as Savannah gathers her things, she senses something is awry.

The pair get in the car, where Joy asks to use Savannah’s phone. She says no and then accelerates past the highway exit they need to take to go back to Florida.

“You know who I really am,” Savannah tells Joy. Savannah explains that after the Delaneys parted ways with her brother, she was forced to live with her abusive mother, and that’s why she returned to exact revenge on the Delaney family.

As Savannah is looking at Joy, she accidentally crashes into another car. Savannah jumps out of the car and apologizes to Joy before she runs away.

Joy returns home to her family

Lacy tells TODAY.com what went into the scene where Joy arrives back at home to reunite with her children.

“There are so many shots to build that little scene,” Lacy explains. “Us seeing the lights of the police car, us coming out of the door, coming halfway down the driveway, us waiting, then her getting out (of the car) — there are so many setups and it took three or four rehearsals to go, ‘Does that look right? Is this what this moment is?’ and trying to find that.”

He adds: “Any of us had to be willing to say, ‘I really feel like they’d go right in for the hug,’ or, ‘I think they’d be hesitant, they don’t know what state she’s in.’ We had to figure that out together.”

Joy and the children head inside after their emotional reunion, and Stan, who was released from jail after Joy was found alive, later walks in, and the pair hug.

“Who would believe you would do something like that?” Joy asks Stan, who then tells her their four children believed he killed her.

Brooke explains they truly thought she was dead and that’s why they turned on their dad. She also demanded an explanation and apology from Joy for leaving without a trace.

Joy noted Stan would walk out on their family all the time when they were younger and no one suspected her of killing him. She then explained it was Savannah who answered the phone when she called — and none of them did.

Lacy says he thinks his character reflected on his actions in this moment.

“When she’s gone he thinks, ‘Well I really didn’t prioritize (the phone call). I really could have made some space and I chose not to,’” Lacy says of Troy.

Joy then says she wasn’t sure if any of her family members would even miss her.

The next morning

The next day, Stan wakes up to find that all four of her children spent the night.

“In earlier drafts, there’s a little more of a grand moment and a little more closure that felt like there was too much of a bow on it and maybe not in keeping with Troy,” Lacy says of the scene.

The kids apologize to Stan, and he says he understands and will do better in the future. Then he hugs Troy.

“I really appreciated this ending because the biggest growth in my life, personally, is just one small step down the right path, that leads to other steps down that better path,” Lacy says. “I think a grand gesture narratively or in real life is not always great.”

“I like this little step from Troy and a little step forth from Stan, where he says, ‘I could have done better and I will do better,’” he continues. “He’s really not looking for Troy to say anything, but Troy says, ‘Yeah me too. I could have done more to bridge the gap.’”

Joy then heads to the tennis court in the backyard to see the damage from the hurricane.

“I f---ed up,” Joy says.

“Yeah, so did I,” Stan replies.

“Jesus, what a mess,” Joy says, gesturing at all the debris.

Stan asks if she’s actually talking about the yard before Joy tells the kids: “Well shake a leg, I’m not going to clean this up by myself!”

The four Delaney children then start to help — a major point of contention for Joy in the earlier episodes — as Joy looks on and smiles.

Lacy says he saw the moment as “the kids’ willingness to collectively move toward something.”

“Maybe before, Logan would stay later than everyone else and Troy would hang for an hour and then call a friend to come over and bring his truck to remove everything and be like, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll pay for it,’” Lacy jokes. “They individually would do some little thing but it wouldn’t add up to much.”

Lacy notes it was important that all four kids came home and stayed the night, too.

“In the first dinner (in) Episode One, I think they feel a little beholden to this relationship, that they have to come over, they have to have family time, they have to do a dinner and are enjoying it but also trying to get out, they have a little bit of a deadline,” Lacy says.

“And now there’s an ease to being like, ‘I don’t know how long it’s going to take but I’ll hang, I’ll help out,’” he adds. “Both in a tangible sense of cleaning up the court, and in a grand sense of putting the pieces of our family back together.”