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'Mea Culpa' ending, explained: Director Tyler Perry breaks down every twist

The prolific director calls the new movie, starring Kelly Rowland, a "fun ride."

Warning: This contains spoilers for the ending of "Mea Culpa," a Netflix movie.

Tyler Perry calls his new Netflix movie, "Mea Culpa," a "fun ride," all the way through to its twist conclusion.

Speaking to, Perry says erotic thrillers like "Mea Culpa" remind him of the types of films his aunts used to watch.

“I just remember how my mother and aunts would be calling each other and go, ‘Oh, did you see that girl? What was that?’” Perry recalls.

“They would be calling each other just trying to talk about all these crazy movies and I wanted another generation to be able to have that kind of energy and fun and camaraderie about it. Basically, a conversation,” he adds.

Kelly Rowland as Mea and Trevante Rhodes as Zyair in "Mea Culpa."
Kelly Rowland as Mea and Trevante Rhodes as Zyair in "Mea Culpa."Bob Mahoney / Netflix

Trevante Rhodes, who plays Zyair, also says he loves these types of movies because they have a certain type of "energy" about them.

"This energy is color. It's one that's very reflective of my life so I enjoy the energy," he tells Rhodes adds it was easy to play Zyair because he relates to his character.

“He is a master of his craft and he likes to express himself through his creative ability,” Rhodes says.

In the film, Kelly Rowland plays Mea, a married criminal defense attorney who finds herself questioning her values once she takes Zyair, an artist accused of killing his girlfriend, on as a client.

Mea is pulled toward the alluring Zyair in a way that breaks her professional boundaries, and threatens her marriage – which has secrets of its own. Kal (Sean Sager) has lost his job as an anesthesiologist and is in a recovery program. To complicate matters, her brother-in-law, Ray (Nick Sagar), is prosecuting Zyair's case for the state. And her mother-in-law, Azalia (Kerry O'Malley) has cancer, and is using her remaining days to take Mea down.

As Mea and Zyair get closer, she remains afraid of becoming his next victim. Until the very end of the movie, it's not clear if Zyair is a murderer or is innocent.

If you're still wondering what exactly happened to Zyair, Mea and her husband, then read on.

Did Zyair kill his girlfriend?

No, and Mea finds out by accident. Mea takes a getaway to the Dominican Republic to unwind after dropping Zyair as a client. There, she encounters Zyair’s supposedly dead girlfriend working at his dream destination spot.

Alarmed at the discovery, Mea goes to the police. But since they don't prove to be much help, she calls her brother-in-law, Ray.

Ray agrees to help by sending an investigator to the hotel. He beckons Mea back to Chicago, and for some reason, she follows.

What's the meaning of the painting?

Mea makes another shocking discovery at Ray's house. She finds a portrait of Ray's wife, Charlise, hidden away. The portrait was done in Zyair's style — and as Mea knows from experience, Zyair only paints pictures of women that he's already bedded. That means Zyair and Charlise had a dalliance, too.

Turns out Ray set Zyair up all along as revenge for sleeping with his wife. However, Ray had another motive, too. He wanted to make Zyair his “poster boy” and help him “build a campaign on fighting crime."

Ray and Kal's mom also faked her cancer diagnosis to drum up sympathy.

Ray and Azalia try to get Charlise to murder Mea. Instead, she tries (and fails) to stab Ray. Azalia kills Charlise, but Mea manages to get away.

Was Kal in on Ray and Azalia's plan?

It's unclear when Kal finds out about his family members' criminal activity.

When Mea confronts Ray and his mom, Azalia, about their lies, she asks them if Kal knew about their plan. Azalia replies, "It would break his heart."

But when Mea flees Ray's house shortly after Ray and his mom try to murder her, she learns she can't trust her husband, either. Instead of calling the police, Kal calls his brother and tries to drive her home.

"If you look at the mother and brothers, they're very vindictive people," Perry tells "They’re not people who move on from things. (Kal) held on to whatever that was and wanted so badly to hold on to it to destroy him.

"There was also a part that was cut out of the movie. There was a bet on whether Mea would fall for him or not between the brothers," he says.

Kerry O'Malley as Azalia and Nick Sagar as Ray in "Mea Culpa."
Kerry O'Malley as Azalia and Nick Sagar as Ray in "Mea Culpa."Bob Mahoney / Netflix

What happens to Mea and Zyair at the end of 'Mea Culpa'?

Zyair gets out of jail once Ray, Kal and Azalia's plan comes to light. Although Zyair tries to reach Mea to reignite their romance, she's moved on. She stares down at his text asking to meet up and then makes the bold decision to throw away her phone.

Rhodes tells that this was the best ending for Mea given the circumstances.

"I think with it being (Kelly Rowland's) film, I think that's what's best for her. She's being smart from a story standpoint and a grown woman's standpoint. It's probably the best ending," he says.

When asked if he would have liked Zyair and Mea to end up together, Rhodes says, "I don't know."

Their characters didn't work out, but Rhodes says he and Rowland had a great time together.

"Kelly is just as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside," he says. "So, it was a beautiful experience."

Perry says Rhodes was cast as Rowland's love interest through chemistry alone.

"In the beginning, when we started talking about (Zyair's) character. She said this is very important. I have to have chemistry. So I said, 'What about Trivante? We had two conversations.' They met, had a lunch and she said, 'OK, we're good to go.' So yeah, that chemistry is crazy."