Type keyword(s) to search


Beef’s Finale Brings Haunting Closure to an Intense Feud

The Netflix black comedy reaches a surreal end.
  • Steven Yeun as Danny in Beef (Photo: Netflix)
    Steven Yeun as Danny in Beef (Photo: Netflix)

    [Editor’s Note: This post contains major spoilers for Beef Season 1.]

    Lee Sung Jin’s Beef is a black comedy with a deceptively simple premise: two strangers, Danny (Steven Yeun) and Amy (Ali Wong) become consumed by an obsessive feud after a road rage incident spirals out of control. What starts as a silly series of childish pranks (peeing on bathroom floors, leaving bad Yelp reviews) transforms into an outlet for their shared misery.

    Over the course of Season 1, which is streaming in full on Netflix, the show establishes the ways in which Danny and Amy’s lives parallel one another; both characters suffer from familial pressures and heavy loneliness that push them to the brink. Beef reveals itself as an intricate character study of two individuals desperate for someone to understand them. And as the show’s finale illustrates, they’re the only people who truly get one another. Danny and Amy are portrayed as a pair of messed-up soulmates, both doomed by the consequences of their own impulsive actions.

    Beef's ending, explained

    In Episode 10, “Figures of Light,” the series moves away from their unrelenting war, shifting into an exploration of their mental psyches. Danny and Amy find themselves stranded in the desert, after feverishly driving themselves off a cliff in a chase sequence mirroring the inciting incident. They continue to bicker over who ruined whose life, their screams echoing at each other from opposing hills.

    At this point, both Danny and Amy have irrevocably damaged their relationships with their loved ones. In the penultimate episode, Danny confesses to his brother Paul (Young Mazino) that their parents’ house burned down because of the faulty wiring Danny installed, and that he purposefully threw away Paul’s college applications when they were younger, stunting his development as an adult. Meanwhile, Amy’s husband George (Joseph Lee) files for divorce and takes their daughter June (Remy Holt) with him, following revelations about Amy’s affair with Paul and her feud with Danny.

    Both characters are left isolated as a result of their own self-destructive behavior, yet still turn to each other in their most vulnerable state for connection. After the duo mistakenly ingest a batch of poisonous berries, the episode loses its realism, shifting into a surreal tone that better serves Beef’s overarching theme. In the midst of their hostile disputes, the characters are just searching for a purpose. Danny and Amy’s “beef” offers them a temporary scapegoat for everything that goes wrong. As the duo reach their lowest point, they finally drop their knives. Their ensuing conversation is surprisingly tender, veering from humorous (“All Korean dishes have beef. So if we have cows, why wouldn’t we drink the milk?”) to philosophical (“When nowhere feels like home, you just retreat into yourself.”)

    In between delirious discussions about generational trauma, the ethernet, and conditional love, the dialogue between Danny and Amy begins to overlap, with both characters saying the exact same words at the same time. We get glimpses of conversation indicating that they’re speaking as the other (Danny asking if Amy jerked off to his butt photos, Amy asking Danny what his tattoo means). The duo reach a point where it becomes difficult to tell where one ends and the other person begins.

    The desert functions as a form of escape. When they finally have cell service again, Danny and Amy are bombarded with reminders of their personal pitfalls. But rather than fall back into their toxic patterns, they finally reach a point of acceptance, no longer tethered to the anger fueled by their empty loneliness. The finale closes with Danny in the hospital, attached to a ventilator, after George shoots him in a frenzy. Amy sits by Danny’s bed, watching him with a raw affection that’s in a stark contrast to the figurative daggers she threw at him in the show’s beginning. As she curls up against his body, Danny, in a slow, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment, reciprocates the action, raising his arm to hug Amy right before the credits roll. It’s a culmination of the show’s ultimate thesis, with Danny and Amy finally recognizing each other’s shared pain.

    The desert journey offers Danny and Amy the closure they need to move forward, ending the season as companions. Despite their months-long war, the two characters spend the majority of the series in their separate bubbles, only briefly intersecting to cause chaos in the other person’s world. The finale marks the longest period of time that Danny and Amy actually spend together. As much as their feud provided them with a release for their self-hatred, it also made them stagnant, unable to see that the flaws they despised so fervently in the other were also present within themselves. In a show dominated by frenetic rage, Beef’s finale is a beacon of light, offering its characters catharsis through the act of self-forgiveness.

    Beef is streaming on Netflix. Join the discussion about the show in our forums.

    Dianna Shen is a TV Writer at Primetimer based in New York. Her work has been featured in Paste Magazine and Decider, among other outlets.

    TOPICS: Beef, Netflix, Ali Wong, Joseph Lee, Lee Sung Jin, Steven Yeun, Young Mazino, A24