The Woman in the Wall ending explained: Everything that happened in the finale

The Woman in the Wall ending explained - it was truly heart breaking

Ruth Wilson as Lorna Brady in The Woman in The Wall
(Image credit: BBC/Motive Pictures/Chris Barr/Future)

The Woman in the Wall ending explained: The finale was a gut wrenching ride, but was there enough closure for the stricken characters seeking justice?

The Woman in the Wall took inspiration from the true story of Ireland's infamous Magdalene Laudries - a home for so-called "fallen women" who were subjected to terrible atrocities once incarcerated inside their walls. From the first episode, viewers were gripped by protagonist Lorna Brady and her devastating circumstances, leaving them desperate to find out when next to find The Woman in the Wall on TV. The scenery and backdrop to the action playing out on screen also left those tuning in wondering where The Woman in the Wall filmed, and we have the full lowdown on the locations featured.

Now the final episode has aired, we are here to delve into what happened to each character and how their storyline ended. Similarly, we weighed in on Netflix's Fair Play ending and Prime Video's gripping Wilderness ending, to answer any lingering question and tie up the loose ends.

The Woman in the Wall ending explained

In The Woman in the Wall finale, it transpires that Aoife had visited Percy the night he died, to confront him about the stolen babies. Her visit uncovered thank you letters from the adoptive parents, along with falsified death records for the abducted children. 

If you recall, the previous episode had revealed James Coyle and Father Percy had been instrumental in snatching children from the Kilkinure mother and baby home, and trafficking them abroad - Detective Akande had been one of these children, as had Lorna's daughter, Agnes. In a shocking twist, James had even been founder of the Aedrom Group, those seeking justice for  victims of the Magdalene Laundries. 

During Aoife's visit to Percy, he maintained he was only doing the right thing by the trafficked children, and saving them. He insisted she should be proud of her part in the process, but she felt nothing but guilt for "disappearing" the babies. 

She snatched his box of evidence and made a run for it. Percy gave chase and in the ensuing scuffle, he fell down a flight of stairs. He initially appeared to be dead, and Aoife continued her escape with the box of letters and death certificates. When she'd gone, Percy let out a small cough, indicating he'd survived the fall.

Although not entirely sure what went down, Colman believed Percy had made contact with Coyle to warn him the truth could be uncovered. In response, Coyle got Lesley to pay Percy a visit to keep him quiet for good - viewers previously met Lesley when she once visited Lorna under the pretence of being Aoife's daughter.

Colman went after Lesley and managed to arrest her, not without being subject to a serious knife injury in the process. It turns out Coyle had indoctrinated Lesley, and she believed she was doing good work for him. Although Coyle is yet to be arrested when the finale comes to a close, Sergeant Massey is on a mission to find those responsible for the trafficking and hold them to account - viewers can only hope Coyle gets what's coming to him.

Young Father Percy (MICHAEL O'KELLY), Young Aoife (ORLA GAFFNEY) in The Woman in the Wall.

(Image credit: BBC/Motive Pictures/Chris Barr)

What happened to Aoife?

Aoife is the titular "woman in the wall," and is still very much dead at the end of the series.

The traumatised Lorna had returned from an episode of sleepwalking one morning at the beginning of the series, to find an apparently dead Aoife on her living room floor. Unsure how she got there or even if she'd killed the woman herself, Lorna had barricaded the body into the walls of her house. 

However, Aoife wasn't dead when Lorna found her, but had suffered a seizure. Regaining consciousness and finding herself inside the wall, she'd clawed her way out and made her way into the loft where she later died for real. 

She was visiting Lorna as part of her mission to expose Coyle and Father Percy, and bring closure to the women whose babies had been taken from them. She wanted to contact each woman to let her know the real fate of her child. 

Colman attempts to persuade Lorna to plead mental illness over Aoife's death, believing she could avoid prison if the court felt she wasn't in control of her mind when she hid Aoife's body. Lorna doesn't want to take this course of action - after so many years of she and others thinking she is "mad," she wants to throw this label off. Accepting her fate and taking solace in the truth, she is arrested by Massey and imprisoned. 

Speaking to Stylist, actress Philippa Dunne who plays Lorna's best friend Niamh, said of the moment Lorna is arrested "I just love the way she said, 'I’m not mad, I was never mad.' So many women have been locked up for speaking out, and put away under the label of being mad. That a woman who speaks her mind and continues to speak her mind is seen as histrionic."

She added "Lorna probably felt so close to madness at so many stages in our life, but knew the one thing was that she actually wasn’t. All she wanted was to be listened to, all she wanted was to be heard, all she wanted was to be taken seriously. She wanted somebody to just help her, but it’s easier to call someone mad and kick them in the bin than to say, Yes, what is it that you need? How can I help you? What can we do to make this better for you?'" 

Detective Colman Akande (DARYL McCORMACK), Lorna Brady (RUTH WILSON) in The Woman in the Wall

(Image credit: BBC/Motive Pictures/Chris Barr)

Does Lorna find her daughter?

Yes, Colman tracks Agnes down to America, and arranges fer her to have contact with Lorna while she's in prison. 

In the closing moments of the finale, Colman visited Lorna in prison to deliver the news about Agnes. Parents adopting from the mother and baby home were required to offer large donations in return for their babies. Agnes adoptive mum and dad had "donated" £10,887.09 for her, a sum Colman had found strange.

He'd eventually worked out it became an odd sum due to an exchange rate - what had started as an even amount of money, became odd when translated into pounds. This must have meant the money came from abroad, and Agnes had been sent overseas. He then tracked Agnes down to an address in Boston, Massachusetts.

Agnes is aware she has been adopted, and had been on the hunt for her birth mother for some time. Colman arranged a call between Agnes and Lorna, and the finale ends with Lorna about to hear her daughter's voice for the very first time. Finding some semblance of peace among the trauma she's experienced, Lorna can now get to know the daughter so cruelly taken from her.

Alexandra Moloney as Lesley in The Woman in The Wall

(Image credit: BBC/Motive Pictures/Chris Barr)

The Woman in the Wall: The Magdalene Song

To add to the tear-jerking ending, The Woman in the Wall closed by playing a previously unreleased Sinéad O'Connor track, titled 'The Magdalene Song.'

O'Connor had been sent to a similar institution to a Magdalene Laundry, when she had been caught shoplifting at the age of 15. The Laundries weren't just for unmarried mothers, but also any woman who happened to be deemed immoral in any way authorities saw fit. 

O'Connor had spoken openly of her experiences at the hands of the Catholic Church, which saw her made an industry outcast until the truth of such institutions came to light. She handed The Magdalene Song to producers of The Woman in the Wall when filming began, with the song telling the story of a mother's pain at losing her child.

Belfast musician David Holmes was involved in the production of the track. He told the Guardian "The first half of the track is completely heartbreaking, and the second half is pure defiance." He added "I stripped the song away to just Sinéad’s voice and then let the full power come in for the second half. It’s incredible how the meaning of the song came together with this story It was just meant to be. There’s a certain magic when you bring music to an emotive story."

Holmes concluded "In the lyrics Sinéad was trying to say, I think, that though she’d been through great turmoil, it would not stop her being who she wanted to be. She never really spoke about the meaning of her songs. She used to joke that she would often tell people that her songs were about something completely different to what they were about. But this one – well, it’s called The Magdalene Song."

Ruth Wilson as Lorna Brady in The Woman in the Wall

(Image credit: BBC/Motive Pictures/Chris Barr)

Will there be a series 2 of The Woman in the Wall?

There has been no word yet whether The Woman in the Wall will continue, or if it will remain a standalone series.

Actress Philippa Dunne who plays Niamh, is also wondering what the future of the show will be be. "I can’t pretend to be in the writers heads," she told Stylist. The actress added "I really don’t know what they might be thinking. If it wants to be its own standalone thing, it totally can be."

She concluded "But, as you say, we might want to see more and figure out more of the story. And also, do more people get called to justice? Are more loose ends tied up? Does Colman ever learn more about his own past? I don’t know, and I don’t know [if a second season is on the cards]; I won’t guess and I don’t know if I’m allowed to guess."

To  break down the finale of more fantastic shows, the Dear Child ending finally revealed the killer, while the Who Is Erin Carter? ending explained a huge amount of mysteries. On Apple+ TV, the Hijack ending was literally a bumpy ride, leaving hopes high for a follow up.

Lucy Wigley
Parenting writer - contributing

Lucy is a mum-of-two, multi-award nominated writer and blogger with six years’ of experience writing about parenting, family life, and TV. Lucy has contributed content to PopSugar and In the last three years, she has transformed her passion for streaming countless hours of television into specialising in entertainment writing. There is now nothing she loves more than watching the best shows on television and sharing why you - and your kids - should watch them.