Underground Finale Recap

Underground Finale: Who Didn't Make It Out Alive? Who Returned? Plus, Rewatch That Special Closing Cameo

WGN America’s Underground wrapped its largely excellent freshman run on Wednesday night with an hour that derailed several fates while (fatally) sealing at least a couple of others.

With slave catchers lurking en masse around the Hawkes’ home, Noah and Elizabeth partnered on a plot to set loose dozens of slaves from the local marshal’s office, as a means to “throw money on the streets” and create chaos. While they were doing that, August showed up to ask John, being Tom Macon’s brother, to help get an advance on his payday, so he can get Ben the surgery he needs after being stabbed by (a hallucinating) Rosalee. Hearing that someone was upstairs, bound-and-gagged Kyle attempted to make a ruckus, to signal his captivity underneath the floorboards, but Rosalee quickly clocked him. August seemed to shrug off the noise and leave for the bank, but actually resurfaced moments later to catch Rosalee and John in the hideaway with Kyle. John kicked loose a support, collapsing the floor atop August and affording them an escape.

Later, John returned to confront Kyle — and disclose the fact that he and Elizabeth have elaborately framed him to look like the local Underground Railroad helper, by digging a hideaway under his home and planting paperwork in his desk. John then declared it his “duty” to kill the slave stealer, and suffocated his nemesis.

Noah’s escape was halted when he got KO’d by none other than Patty Cannon (Army Wives‘ Bridgid Brannagh), leader of the slave-catching consortium; he wound up behind bars alongside August, whom Patty had arrested for killing a few of her men — white people, which is a big no-no in their line of work.

Ernestine, poor Ernestine, was sold quite a bill of goods by a seemingly sincere Tom, who planned to move away with her to D.C., and live a life where she can have whatever she wants. But in a shocking but not unexpected turnabout, she lynched him in his own cellar, as punishment for what he did to Sam. At episode’s end, we see Suzanna Macon and ‘Stine in a coach together, where Tom’s widow explains that she bears no malice for the house slave laying down with her husband, or for bearing his children, But for raising the Macon kids to see her as their mother, ‘Stine must be punished. So, in perhaps’ the finale’s most tragic twist, Suzanna drops Ernestine off at a slave auction, to be thrust back into the system.

The closing moments underground-harrietare voiced over by Rosalee, as she related the Macon 7’s tale to Chris Chalk’s William Still, the “father of the Underground Railroad.” She earlier had been saved from August by a pistol-packing Elizabeth (and then put a bullet in the bounty hunter’s belly prior to his jailing). After accounting for everyone, from Noah to Pearly Mae, Moses and Boo to Zeke, Henry and Cato — who’s alive! — Rosalee sets out to do more for her people, by training to be a slave stealer… under the tutelage of a young Harriet Tubman, as seen in the clip below.

Though some of the main characters’ stories seem to have met one end or another, the producers tell our sister site Deadline that “a lot” of the Season 1 cast will return for Season 2, and in “in an entirely different context than we saw them before.”

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  1. iHeart says:

    I look forward to hearing that casting

  2. Jack hart says:

    This series was an emotional investment from episode one. I can’t wait for season two.

  3. j says:

    Why do I feel like the casting director for this show just sent the world’s biggest edible arrangement to Jennifer Hudson…

  4. LaLa says:

    That was one of the best finales, best shows I have seen. And the ending … THE! ENDING!

  5. ? says:

    I was so sure Rosalee was going to get dragged back to the plantation, and I am so glad she made it. I also can’t believe Stine would decide to kill Tom like that. Being sold at auction is not, actually, the worst fate that could have befallen her, and she had to know that without him protecting her (well, you know, “protecting” her), all manner of severe treatment would fall on her and even James. Stine has shown herself to act more calculating than that. She’s had to be in order to walk a line for survival that I can’t even imagine having to navigate. I guess everyone has their breaking point where they just can’t do it anymore and the lynching of her son was it for her. But on the other hand, still, she has another son. I suppose the point was her realizing it’s just an illusion of safety she creates for her children, so why bother with it at all? Take her revenge if she can, in the end it’s all she may get.

    • APFW says:

      Good points! I love that this show depicts the characters with real gravitas of what is at stack to regain your dignity and humanity.

  6. Karen says:

    Can’t believe how they just wrecked Stine’s character so that she can be in season 2. At least that’s the only possible reason for her actions. Did she just think the missus would tolerate her? What a fool. Sort of ruined a reasonable season.

    • Ms dawn says:

      I sort of think she knew it was coming. The look on her face wasn’t shock when she opened those curtains. I mean that ‘s how slave life was you could get sold at any time. I was not happy about it but it will make for great TV trying to get this family back together and free.

  7. tjchurch2001 says:

    Same problem reading that recap as I had when I watched the episode last night: With all the lies & other twists (lynchings, killings, etc.), had a hard time knowing & remembering what happened to who when. (Didn’t help that Moses & some of the others with obvious facial/physical differences to tell them apart had already died.)


    1] I neither saw nor heard anything that said/showed the person Rosalee recounted the story to was the same person Macon had spoken with earlier in the same episode.

    2] Regardless, Rosalee spoke of her plan/decision to go back, & then the bit with the two of them ended. I saw the person hiding in the wagon (as Rosalee had done in August’s earlier) that met “Harriet” as another new character we’ll see more of & learn more about in Season 2 (like “Harriet” is).

    • Ms dawn says:

      The guy she recounted the story to was William Still i believe. He wrote down a lot of slave narratives during those times. I don’t remember him talking to Macon at any time. He has been in Philidelphia for the whole series.

      • tjchurch2001 says:

        You believe it for the same reason anyone does: This article says it. However, that person looked quite different from the one who introduced himself as Still earlier in the finale, suggesting to John (while helping him lift &/or move something) that John could be a helpful voice to/for the abolitionists.

        • Stacy says:

          The same actor is listed as playing the same character on IMDB: Chris Chalk as William Still.

          • tjchurch2001 says:

            Naturally, the same character would always be played by the same actor. The discussion was as to whether or not it was Still the same character involved in having the conversation with Macon before the runaways escaped & hearing the retelling from Rosalee at the end. (On a side-note, I both saw him playing “Lucius” earlier tonight on “Gotham” & noticed that IMDB does not list the character as being portrayed by anyone at all in this episode.)

  8. Angela Lopez says:

    I fell in love with this series the minute I watched the first show. It is so well scripted and has such a beautiful cast. Riveting and fast paced, Underground is a show not to be missed! I can’t wait until season two.

  9. Joey Padron says:

    Season finale was really good. Season 1 was great. Can’t wait to see what happens in season 2 next year!

  10. MamaTee says:

    OMG last night finale was so good. Ernestine lord she done killed her baby daddy now about to be sold by the wife. My favorite scene was the jail scene and Noah let all the slaves free and gave them the Marshalls name if anything happen. I was like wow they are setting this dude up to die. But the ending with RosaLee meeting Harriet Tubman OMG they better get a great actress that has the likings of her or I will be mad as hell!

  11. lillieb says:

    I really enjoyed this show, I am so glad it is being pickup for another season. I must say there were scenes I would very difficult to watch. But I made myself hang in there, and I have been paid off.
    The characters are well rounded, and the actors are fantastic. This finale episode, well what a ride, it was great! Oh and poor brave Stine! But, perhaps this isn’t the last we will see of her, I hope not.
    Harriet, wow! Can’t wait till next season!

  12. Jay Blue says:

    This really should have been a 2-hour finale so we could have received more insight into several things:

    1. How did “The Reverend’s” Slave come to be Ernestine’s partner in crime?
    2. How did Cato get away with an “arrow” in his leg?
    3. Did “Massa Tom” really think all would be forgiven after lynching Sam?
    4. Why didn’t Elizabeth and Roselee kill August when they had the chance?

  13. clark closet says:

    Finally! Something regarding slavery with substance! Very well scripted! No “Negro Spirituals” here. Let the whole story be told; Slaves were thinkers! Smart human beings..Thank you for showing that!!! Great Story!!!!!!!!!

    • tjchurch2001 says:

      I agree with everything you wrote bar 1 thing: Your claim they lacked “negro spirituals”. Before yesterday, I had not seen the pilot, so I was unaware of the song (outside of it being the show’s theme) & its being a key point in the escape Noah & the others did plan after they accused him of trying one before…

      However, I found it somewhat ironic that I watched this show on the same night as “Empire”, as both are largely featuring African-American casts & have famous music persons on their crew. It seemed to me the “drinking gourd” song was heavily-used, but there was at least one similar sort of song almost every week (whether sung behind a scene or simply referenced by a character). Last night specifically, I can (only) recall one repeating the line, “Ca-Catch me if you can.”

  14. Margo Kramer says:

    This was an excellent series and I’m happy to hear there is a season 2❤️

  15. Yolanda says:

    I don’t have many shows that I am addicted to but Underground is the exception. The writers are phenomenal! I love the modern music that they include in the episodes, I love each of the characters and the twists and turns. I am never bored. I can’t wait until Season 2 and I have already purchased my Underground Season 1 DVD from Amazon. This show is just fresh and different than the other ones on Tv and I love seeing this part of history this way. Please..Please keep doing what you are doing…A true fan of Underground

  16. Nakia says:

    This was the best show I have every seen!!!!
    I am so glad they didnt kill Cato .We were all upset at 1st ,because we said they or killing of all the good character. Cato was funny and help make the show . I watched the underground over and over again. This show shown you how slaves were smart and had to endure alot. The show capture what the children had to go through , so so sad . This show shown how whites and black lose there lived to help others.
    I can wait to see the next season . BEST SHOW EVER!!!!

  17. C. Mayerw says:

    I am amazed by the arc of artistry that I have encountered in my lifetime, with respect to screen writing. KUDOS.

  18. Melanie says:

    Chilling, thrilling and thought provoking. A piece of history that is often white washed.

  19. Mike says:

    During the cotton fields fire. Why was their a tractor trailor truck in the background?

  20. Diane Pursley says:

    SOooo looking forward to the next season!!!

  21. Greg Whitener says:

    For some morbid reason, I love the Cato character. Shows about slavery tend to turn slaves into unnaturally sympathetic and heroic characters as if being born as someone’s property isnt reason enough to root for them. But history isn’t made by saints and martyrs, but by survivors who fight tooth and nail to live to tell the story. His hard core practicality reminds me of Shane from the walking dead-my favorite character from The walking dead. I was pleased to see Cato alive and hope his character is expanded next season, although the search for his wife is a natural direction for his sojourn to take. Something tells me his true nature would have him use that confederate scrip to buy his way as far west as he could get.

  22. Linda States says:

    I love the show and what it stands for I could watch it my entire life and look forward to season 2 love to all the cast members! Love you all.

  23. Latonya says:

    I can’t wait until season 2 begins.Ernestine is my favorite character seeing as to how she knows exactly what to do when the time comes.Although this show does not reveal the more harsher reality of how things truly were during the slavery times,it is still very entertaining to watch.

  24. Liz says:

    Well written,full of plots every episode.

  25. I became hooked on this show immediately and each episode left me longing for the next episode. The casting is phenomenal and the story is being told in such a way that it makes the person watching it feel like they are part of the show. The emotions that this story brings out are unbelievable. I am so happy that there will be a season 2, can’t wait.

  26. Lowrie Wittenberg says:

    I saw “Rosealee” on Fablife and the show sounded interesting so i binged the first four episodes and was hooked!!! This show is so awesome i just love it and cant wait until season 2 begins! Kudos to the actors, writers, and anyone who ever ran from being enslaved!!!

  27. Lisa Davis says:

    The Underground is like no other show I have been looking for a tv series that would make me watch tv like when I was a kid that means something that has so sort of closeness of reality to and by God it’s the underground whoever thought of this my hat comes off to you so many have forgotten what Blacks have when through but most of all what the whites had to endure to help them along the way the risk that was taken for blacks to get courage to find freedom and to trust the whites to help and the whites had to.trust them as well I.love this I hope that it goes on many season as we all know it’s here one season gone the next

  28. csgo says:

    Lovely page, Carry on the beneficial job. Thank you!.

  29. Marthella says:

    This show was on the money can’t wait until next season. This is the Oscar show on my list of shows l watch a A plus 5 stars.

  30. Corrima hanible says:

    Stine taught her daughter(rosalee)verywell..don’t let the meekness fool you…i loved NOAH,,he riding to the wheels fall off, all that he did for ROSALEE,,she lied to him,,all that he did for her i beleived he would of still road out…CATO, ole narcissist egomanic pyscopath,,,loved him…did’nt like what he did to ZEKE though….ZEKE was a beast…i beleive if he did’nt die they would’nt of went through half the B.S. that getting away getting caught over and overwastiring me out…that patty cannon and tom’s wife i could’nt stand, i was glad they both got what they deserve…AUGUST WAS WORKING MY NERVES ALSI….ERNESTINE WAS ABOUT THAT LIFE….LOVE HER…