The Last Thing He Told Me ending explained: Owen’s words

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The Last Thing He Told Me was one of the most popular TV series on Apple TV between April and May 2023. Starring Jennifer Garner as Hannah, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Owen, and Angourie Rice as Bailey, the story is based on the book by Laura Dave, and the writer collaborated in the series’ creation as well. The plot has an exciting crescendo, and the ending has a deep meaning: what really are Owen’s last words, what’s the meaning of “The could have been boys still love you,” and what happened to Hannah and Bailey? In this article, we will have everything carefully explained.

You can watch the official trailer for Apple TV’s The Last Thing He Told Me here on Youtube.

The Last Thing He Told Me, the plot & ending explained

In The Last Thing He Told Me, we see a family made of Owen, a man working in a start-up, Bailey, the daughter he had with his past wife, and Hannah, his current wife. Things don’t work perfectly between Hannah and Bailey, but Owen does his best to keep the family harmonious. However, the day the start-up starts being investigated by The FBI, Owen disappears with no trace, leaving Hannah and Bailey to deal with the future.

For most of the plot in The Last Thing He Told Me, we follow Hannah and Bailey while they try to understand why Owen left. We start suspecting that Owen is part of the start-up scam. Still, Hannah and Bailey never believe that: they know he’s an honest man and he loves them, he would never leave them without a strong reason. After recalling some of the stories Owen told them, they go to Austin, Texas, and discover Owen’s past life when Bailey was a little girl.

Here is what happened years before: Owen was married to Kate Smith, and Bailey’s real name is Kristin. Kate is the daughter of Nicholas, a dirty lawyer who works for the crime syndicate, and Owen knows everything. One day, someone kills Kate. Owen is shocked; he blames Nicholas for what happened, he feels unsafe and makes a firm decision: he disappears with Bailey under new names and starts collaborating with the authorities against Nicholas and his clients. As a result, many criminals will be arrested, and Nicholas will spend years in prison. However, he’s destined to hide for the rest of his life: there are still many members of the crime syndicate who want him dead, and Nicholas never forgave him for what he did. This is the real reason why Owen disappeared: he’s not involved in the start-up scam, but he’s still a prominent role in that company, so his face will appear in the news, putting Bailey in danger again. Owen realizes Bailey’s life will constantly be threatened until he is with her, so he leaves, trusting Hannah for everything.

When Hannah understands all this, she apparently has one only choice: enter the witness protection program with Bailey, start again a new life somewhere under new names, and live hidden forever, hoping that Owen would join them, living in fear for the rest of their lives. That’s the offer from U.S. Marshal, but the ending of The Last Thing He Told Me explained to us that Hannah has another idea. She asks to meet Nicholas and proposes a deal: if Nicholas guarantees that Bailey is safe, they can live normally, avoid the witness protection program, and Bailey can restore the relationship with her family. Nicholas explains the big issue with that proposal: there is no way Owen can be forgiven by the crime syndicate for what he did. At that point, Hannah understands what Owen really wants from her and explains to Nicholas that Owen will never return. It will be only Hannah and Bailey, and Nicholas only needs to guarantee they will be safe.

This way, Hannah understands what Owen has always known: as long as Bailey is next to him, they will never stop chasing them. By disappearing, Owen makes his last sacrifice, leaving his daughter and his wife so they can live in safety. Therefore, The Last Thing He Told Me has a sad ending: Nicholas will keep his word, and Hannah and Bailey return home and live safely. Owen is not part of their lives, which is the condition that guarantees they are protected from the crime syndicate’s revenge plans. In Apple TV’s series, we see Hannah and Bailey living normally five years later, so we assume Bailey has restored her relationship with her family and feels no longer in danger.

What are Owen’s last words and what’s their meaning?

The TV series The Last Thing He Told Me has an emotional ending that explained the show’s title in a precise way: five years later, Hannah recognizes Owen among the visitors at her exhibition. The papers fall from her hands; Owen gets closer, softly touching her hand, then says his last words before disappearing again: “The could-have-been boys still love you.” It’s an inner joke Owen had with Bailey, the “could-have-been” people of their lives are the ones we loved in our past, the people who could have been a presence for the rest of our lives. With Bailey, they mainly referred to ex-partners, but with these words, Owen refers to himself: he’s the real “could-have-been” boy of Hannah’s life. And He still loves her, although he’s forced to stay hidden for their safety.

The way the ending scene of the series The Last Thing He Told Me has explained it, we can assume that Owen will never appear in Hannah and Bailey’s life again, and those will be the last words they will ever hear from him. 

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