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Black Bird Ending Explained (In Detail)

on thesurface, black bird is a straightforward true crime drama that uses a murder mystery to drive its narrative – but between its realistic police procedures and poignant ending, the show explains the ways in which a gross crime affects many lives. black bird is reminiscent of critically acclaimed quasi-documentary true crime dramas like mindhunter and True Detective Because instead of focusing on its overarching mystery, it meticulously studies its realistic characters. black bird‘s brilliant writing, harrowing prison setting, and impeccable performances further complement its sense of realism and create a memorable immersive experience for viewers.


black bird primarily unfolds from James “Jimmy” Keene’s perspective, whose real-life memoir In with the Devil: A Fallen Hero, a Serial Killer, and a Dangerous Bargain for Redemption is the inspiration behind the show’s premise. The show begins with Jimmy getting a 10-year prison sentence for pretty crimes. Luckily for him, he soon lands an offer from the FBI: if he can make suspected serial killer Larry Hall confesses his murders to him, he will be released from prison. James Keene apprehensively accepts the offer, but little does he realize that his encounter with a murderer is about to completely change his life.

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Without raising a judgmental eye, black bird backs every character’s actions—regardless of whether good or bad—with reason. Owing to this, it is hard not to empathize with the show’s central killer during some moments but be terrified of him during others. Even in its climactic moments, justice is served, but several elements of the storyline are intentionally left unexplored and open to interpretation. Here’s a detailed breakdown of black bird‘s ending and unanswered questions in detail.

Why Was Gary Protecting Larry?

almost throughout black bird‘s runtime, Gary defends his brother, Larry (played by Paul Walter Hauser, Stingray in Cobra Kai), and claims that there is no way he could have committed those murders. Even in the finale, Gary initially sticks to his word from him and denies all allegations against Larry when Lauren and Brian confront him. However, after a few moments of back and forth, Gary comes clean by recalling an incident where Larry had assaulted a hitchhiker.

Gary’s confession shows that he, too, has always suspected his brother but somehow convinced himself he was innocent. By doing so, he not only protects Larry but also himself. He feels guilty that he did nothing when Larry showed his violent tendencies the first time and, deep down, also blames himself for Larry’s murders. When Jimmy’s recruiter, Lauren, helps him realize that his brother’s actions of her are not his fault of her and he wo n’t always be able to stop him from doing what he is capable of, he finally gives in and convinces Larry to confess his murders of him in court.

Why Did Vincent Spare Jimmy?

Carter exposes Jimmy to Vincent in Black Bird‘s penultimate episode. When he shows up in Jimmy’s cell in the finale and attempts to coerce him into revealing the details of his mission, Jimmy stands his ground and refuses to tell him anything. Moments later, Vincent shows up outside Jimmy’s cell with his men and warns him to be careful. While most details surrounding Vincent’s characterization are shrouded in mystery, it seems like he spares Jimmy because he learns to trust him after spending all that time playing lawn bowls with him in the prison yard. Even after Carter exposes Jimmy, Vincent realizes that Jimmy is wise enough not to mess with him and is probably in there for something much bigger than all of them and their personal grudges.

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The Detail That Blows Larry’s Cover In Black Bird’s Ending

Lauren and Brian’s efforts are futile when Larry’s confession is considered coerced. This gives Larry the upper hand and increases his odds of winning his upcoming appeal. However, Jimmy eventually manages to acquire enough evidence to confirm that Larry is not innocent. Although Jimmy fails to retrieve Larry’s map of the victims’ whereabouts, he recalls all the little details about the murders that Larry gave away to him in prison.

Jimmy (played by Taron Egerton) recounts that Larry gave him a detailed account of how he used two belts bucked together to strangle Jessica Roach and placed Tricia Reitler’s earring on her folded clothes. These details affirm that Larry knows several intricacies of the murders that only the perpetrator can know. With Jimmy’s findings and Gary’s confession, Lauren and Brian build a solid case against Larry and prove that the defendant’s claim of being coerced holds no value. As a result, the court denies Larry’s appeal.

Were The Bodies Of Larry’s Alleged Victims Discovered?

Since the most crucial piece of evidence — Larry’s map — was never discovered, black bird‘s finale establishes that his victims’ bodies were never found. With that said, over the years, Larry Hall has been speculated to be the murderer of over forty-five women. While the remains of some of his alleged victims of him have been located, others are yet to be found. black bird‘s true story in the source material, In with the Devil: A Fallen Hero, a Serial Killer, and a Dangerous Bargain for Redemption, confirms that Larry did indeed have a map with the markings of his victims’ burial sites. Unfortunately, as depicted in the show, the map was likely destroyed by Larry’s brother or father before the FBI could find it.

Why Looking Out The Plane Window Reminds Jimmy Of Larry?

In black bird‘s closing scene, Jimmy seems to have recovered well from his experience in prison when he cheerfully talks to a flight attendant. But soon after, his mood suddenly changes when he looks out of the window of his airplane and finds an endless stretch of fields below him. The view of the open fields from his airplane window reminds Jimmy (aka James Keene) of Larry because it alludes to the first heart-to-heart conversation he had with him in black bird episode 3. Larry passionately told him about his love for history and how one can only see long patches of fields when looking down from an airplane window. Since this was one of the few normal interactions between him and Larry, the fields at first might have reminded him of Larry’s initial warm demeanor of him but later of his grisly confessions and murders of him.

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Black Bird True Story Updates: Is Larry Hall Still In Prison?

black bird‘s ending reveals that Gary convinced Larry to confess to fifteen murders. Larry DeWayne Hall is currently serving a life sentence at Federal Correctional Institution Butner Medium II, a medium-security prison in North Carolina (via CBSNews). He is 59 years old today and has still not been charged with murder because of a lack of viable evidence. Jimmy and the FBI’s efforts, however, have kept him from committing more crimes.

Where Is James “Jimmy” Keene Now? What Happened After Black Bird’s Ending?

After spending seventeen months in prison, Jimmy Keene was released in 1999. In 2010, he published his book, In With the Devil: A Fallen Hero, A Serial Killer, and a Dangerous Bargain for Redemption, which he co-wrote with investigative journalist Hillel Levin. Since his release from him, James has also appeared in several TV interviews to shed new light on Larry Hall’s case and his brief yet memorable encounter with him. He is also the executive producer for Apple TV+’s black bird and makes a cameo in the show’s finale.

The Significance Of The Black Birds Explained

In Black Bird episode 5, Jimmy asks Larry why he carved out twenty-one wooden birds, but Larry ignores his question. When Jimmy confronts him in episode 6 and doubts the credibility of his claims of him, Larry invites him to his workshop of him and shows him his map of him along with the wooden birds. He reveals that he intends to send the birds and the map of his victims’ burial sites to his brother de him, who will paint the birds black and then set them on each of the burial sites. He further adds that the birds “guard their spirits to make sure they are okay.“Since the birds and the map together prove to be critical pieces of evidence in Larry’s murders, it makes sense for the showrunner to choose black bird as the title for the true crime adaptation instead of sticking to the book’s original title.

More than that, though, the birds allude to James Keene’s rite of passage in prison. The birds — or rather falcons (as James Keene describes them in his book) — symbolize ascension, freedom, and healing in folklore, which alludes to Jimmy’s journey in prison. In black bird‘s pilot, he comes off as an egoistic wealthy drug dealer who only cares about his selfish motives. His demeanor of him in episode 1 is a stark contrast to the man he becomes in the finale when he stands in court and cries upon hearing his freedom from him. Even after being set free, Taron Egerton’s Jimmy feels guilty about not finding the whereabouts of the bodies, which reinstates that only a few months in Springfield with a cold-blooded killer have completely transformed his outlook on life. It goes to show that he has healed from his childhood trauma and loneliness and now looks forward to living a better life. This is further nailed down in black bird‘s closing scene where Jimmy seems to be back to his normal life, but he takes one look out of his airplane’s window and realizes that freedom has to be earned; not claimed.

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