Chromosome 21 ending explained: was it a true story?

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Chromosome 21 is a TV series released on Netflix US in February 2023. Produced in Chile, the show received several nominations as one of the best series of the moment, catching Netflix’s attention. The audience got immediately curious about the story: a man with Down syndrome is the first suspect in a murder case, and the eight episodes revolve around the investigation aimed to clarify what happened. This article will have the ending explained and will show if a true story inspires the plot.

You can watch the official trailer for Chromosome 21 here on Youtube.

Chromosome 21: the plot and ending, explained

The plot of Chromosome 21 starts with the death of Orlando Mandujano: he was murdered, and the only person present in the factory where his body is found is Tommy, a man with Down syndrome. The police reports prove that Tommy has Orlando’s blood on him and traces of gunpowder, so he’s the first suspect. But reasonably, the investigators have doubts that a person with down syndrome can become aggressive to the point that they kill someone. Unfortunately, Tommy doesn’t seem to say a word initially, so it’s hard for the police to discover the truth.

Slowly, with the evolution of the TV series, we discover that Tommy’s brother, Guillermo “Beckham,” was the author of a robbery in jewelry. His accomplices were Tommy (who helped distract the security), Orlando, and “the pole,” Ramón Kowalski. The theft was commissioned by the factory owner, Ariel “Coya” Zavala. We discover that Beckham intended to keep the loot and had a fight with Orlando, who tried to protect Zavala’s interest. To convince Beckham to return the loot, Orlando kidnaps Beckham’s brother Tommy, sure that this will force Beckham to show up.

The reconstruction of what happened the night of the murder is explained in the last episode of Chromosome 21: Orlando brings Tommy to the factory and waits for his brother Beckham to show up. Beckham arrives, bringing the loot. Zavala is also present (Kowalski isn’t, differently from what Tommy confusedly explains during the police reconstruction). Beckham leaves the loot and wants Tommy back, but Orlando starts beating him and seems willing to kill him. At the last moment, Tommy grabs the gun from the ground and kills Orlando. Zavala flees, and Beckham tries to run with Tommy, but Tommy doesn’t easily move. Beckham leaves before the police arrive, and the officers will find Tommy in the factory.

There are many reasons why the events are hard to discover: first, Tommy doesn’t talk because he’s scared of Zavala: if he tells the truth to the police, Zavala can decide to kill his brother Beckham and also Tommy. Besides, the evidence submitted for the case was manipulated by Durán, a colleague of the leading investigator Mariana: Durán is a corrupt officer, he works for Zavala, and Mariana succeeds in providing proof of it only at the end.

At the ending of Chromosome 21, we hear the events explained by the public defense during the trial. Beckham is dead, killed by Durán to protect Zavala. Still, luckily Tommy feels now safe and tells the truth, supporting Mariana’s testimony that explained how things went and how the presence of corrupted elements tainted the investigation. This way, the judge could declare that Tommy had all reasons to be scared (Zavala’s hands arrived even inside the police), he acted in personal defense, and he didn’t tell the truth for fear. He’s, therefore, not criminally imputable for the crime.

Chromosome 21 has a happy ending: the corrupted police officers are arrested, and Zavala goes to prison. Tommy doesn’t go to jail, but he will receive special treatment to help him understand the gravity of crimes. Mariana is recognized as a capable investigator and seems to take care of Tommy regularly: we see her and Tommy with her daughter Amanda, a sign that the relationship with her daughter is taking a good turn.

Is it a true story?

Since Chromosome 21 also shows sequences of footage that seem taken from real-life reports, people may wonder if a true story inspires it. But no, the TV series is not based on a true story, as there is no evidence of a person with Down syndrome ever being accused of murder.

However, the TV series faces the authentic, delicate topic of how people with Down syndrome should be treated in front of the law: Down syndrome alters intellectual faculties, and adults with that syndrome often have the mental age of a child. Nevertheless, they are adults, able to make decisions for themselves. They may have a limited understanding of the meaning of some actions, but they can commit illegal acts. Therefore, the difficulty of how the law should treat these people is accurate, and psychological investigations are always needed to assess the actual capability of those individuals to understand the full implications of their actions, in case they are against the law.

Chromosome 21 is an interesting crime show with an intricate plot that needed to be explained and a series of implications that could seem like a true story.

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