The Essex Serpent Episode 1 and Episode 2 Recap and Ending Explained – Cora, newly widowed and free of an abusive marriage, relocates from Victorian London to a small Essex village, captivated by a local legend that a mythical creature known as the Essex Serpent has returned to the area.
Cora Seaborne, a London-based widow, moves to an Essex town in pursuit of a magical serpent in ‘The Essex Serpent,’ a historical mystery series. The series is based on Sarah Perry’s eponymous novel, which Anna Symon adapted for television.
‘The Blackwater,’ the first episode of the series, introduces viewers to Cora (Claire Danes), who arrives in Aldwinter with her attendant, Martha, and son, Francis. Meanwhile, Father Will Ransome (Tom Hiddleston) is dealing with a young girl’s disappearance.
‘Matter of the Heart,’ the second episode, follows Cora as she explores her new surroundings and attempts to learn more about the alleged serpent sightings. Finally, Cora and the townspeople are confronted with a frightening revelation.
If you watched the show, you’re probably curious about how it ended. In that case, here’s all you need to know about episodes 1 and 2 of Apple TV+ ‘The Essex Serpent’!
The Essex Serpent Episode 1 ‘The Blackwater’ Recap and Ending Explained
In the first episode of “The Essex Serpent,” Gracie (Rebecca Ineson) and her sister Naomi (Lily-Rose Aslandogdu) undertake a ceremony in the Essex marshes. Then Gracie goes into the river to seek penance for the misdeeds she committed while under the spell of a serpent.
Gracie vows Naomi to silence, the seagulls begin to screech, and something appears to be swimming towards the semi-submerged Gracie. We hear Gracie scream at the top of her lungs as Naomi departs the area. Naomi, on the other hand, continues to flee.
Cora is waiting for Dr. Luke Garrett (Frank Dillane) to check on her dying husband, Michael, in London (Cal MacAninch). Cora is directed to read something Michael has written. Luke checks Michael and says that if he wants to live, he should be operated on. But Michael refuses, claiming that he intends to leave the planet in the same condition in which he found it.
Luke explains in private that if Cora agrees, he can operate on Michael by giving him a heavy sedative. Cora also declines the offer. The next day, Martha learns that Michael has died, just as she had foretold. Cora informs their son Frankie of the news, who comments on Cora’s lack of tears.
We see a serpentine scar on Cora’s neck while getting ready for the funeral, intercut with views of the fire and someone choking on a necklace. Martha takes Frankie home after the funeral, while Cora goes for a walk with Luke. Cora throws her earrings down the drain leading to the river as they chat about the river flowing beneath the city and eels moving upstream.
Later, Cora speaks with Martha, who gives her a news clipping about the Essex Serpent, which piques her interest. Cora, Luke, Martha, and Luke’s friend and colleague, Dr. Spencer (Jamael Westman), meet for a drink after one of Luke’s surgery sessions. They discuss cardiac procedures. This inspires Cora to investigate the Essex Serpent further and then study it on the banks of a river while admiring a boat with red sails.
We see Naomi discussing Gracie’s departure with her father, Henry (Gerard Kearns), and it’s revealed that Naomi has told Henry that Gracie has gone to Malden. Then we return to London, where Luke pays Cora a visit and presents her with a piece of a heart as a gift for her interest in his operation.
That’s when he learns Cora is headed to Essex in search of the legendary serpent. Cora’s grieving process is unfinished, according to Luke. Cora responds that now that Michael is dead, she may do whatever she wants.
Frankie and Martha accompany Cora to Essex. When Cora arrives, she goes for a lengthy walk and comes across a man (later revealed to be Tom Hiddleston’s Will) fighting and screaming in a marsh. She asks him to stop, assuming the worst, but it turns out he’s just trying to pull a sheep out of the swamp. Cora assists him, but their relationship is strained.
Naomi and Will’s daughter Jo (Dixie Egerickx) are involved in a ritual involving a partially dismembered seagull. Will tracks down Henry to see if Gracie has returned. The serpent has been mentioned by Naomi, but Henry believes Gracie is in Malden with a “friend” (he means boyfriend). Despite the dire situation, Henry cheers Will up by gifting him a pair of rabbits, and Will tells Henry that Gracie will return at some point.
Martha meets with Charles Ambrose (Nitin Ganatra) to discuss difficulties in his congressional district. Cora interrupts the conversation, and it is at this point that the vicar’s responsibility for Cora is raised. Luke receives word from Cora that she is hellbent on finding the serpent via a letter. A patient in need of heart surgery (something Luke really wants to master), but Luke fails to rescue him, blows away any notion of romanticism.
When Luke and Spencer realise they need a break from the surgeries, they travel to Essex to visit Cora, Frankie, and Martha. During a private conversation, Cora discloses that a vicar will lead her trip into Aldwinter, the rumoured home of the fabled beast.
Will and Stella (Clémence Poésy) are seen preparing the dinner table for Cora in the Ransome residence (and her companions). Naomi is asked to stay, but she declines. Naomi wonders Will why the serpent charmed Eve in the Bible while travelling home. Will claims it’s an allegory in which the serpent represents the Devil. Will, on the other hand, assures Naomi that there is no serpent in Essex.
Will finds a cross-like structure with skinned rats or newborn bunnies hanging from it when he arrives at her residence. It’s to frighten the beast away, according to Henry. Will states unequivocally that there is no serpent. As he looks across the horizon, he notices that the towns have already bought into the tale and are conducting vigils to apprehend the beast.
Cora pays a visit to the Ransomes, where she discovers that the vicar is Will, the guy she met when she first arrived in Essex. They then proceed to eat dinner, during which they discuss the serpent, whether it exists or not, and so on. Will claims that the serpent is only a symptom of the times they’re in. Cora claims that they are living in a period of rapid advancement. Will claims that great development is accompanied by great terror.
Will says Cora wants to see him as a narrow-minded person, so she’s reading into the lines in a certain manner, and Cora misinterprets that as Will’s regression. Stella defuses the tension by telling Cora to go to the church and see the pew with the serpent etched into it.
The first episode of “The Essex Serpent” doubles down on the show’s dismal tone by revealing that Gracie isn’t in Malden, prompting Henry to set out hunting for her. Cora (who, by the way, reveals that the bleeding head of a sheep has been discovered in the marshes) has a conversation with Will about the serpent at the church. The curate, Matthew (Michael Jibson), suggests that a serpent exists and that it has abducted Gracie, before urging Will to prepare for the church’s proceedings.
Cora tries to sit in the pew with the serpent carved into it, but Matthew informs her she can’t. Will, though, disagrees. Cora sits in a serpent-carved pew, receiving disapproving looks from the villagers. When everyone starts singing hymns, she becomes overwhelmed, and we see hints of her abusive relationship with Michael.
The word arrives that one of Gracie’s possessions has been discovered in the marshes. Cora, Will, and the others set out to find Gracie. Naomi is crouching over Gracie’s body as Cora arrives. The villagers accept this as proof that the serpent exists.
The Essex Serpent Episode 2 ‘Matter of the Heart’ Recap
Cora has a nightmare about drowning in a river and being eaten by a serpent-like thing. She wakes up holding her scar, and Martha comforts her by cuddling her. While Henry and Naomi prepare for Gracie’s funeral, Cora chooses to travel to Aldwinter, most likely to investigate the serpent legend. She also pulls Martha and Frankie with her to the Aldwinter cabin.
Luke tries to talk Cora out of doing it. But she ignores him and moves into the cottage with Frankie, while Martha goes to London with Luke and Spencer for a bit. Luke tries to link Martha’s rebellious attitude with Cora’s newfound sense of freedom as Martha, Luke, and Spencer discuss Communism. Martha silences Luke by stating that Cora is now free to do anything she wants.
While the village organises a funeral procession for Gracie, Cora and Frankie settle into their cottage. The villagers drink and talk in a tavern, but as Cora walks in, everything falls silent. She is forced to feel uncomfortable as a result of this, so she departs, and Will follows her to convince her that she is not unwelcome.
Will then leads Cora to her cottage, where she insists that she is not trying to disturb Aldwinter’s peace and harmony. Will accepts her explanation that she is simply trying to discover the truth.
Sali (Deepica Stephen) and Nev (Yaamin Chowdhury), two Indian immigrants, meet Luke, Martha, and Spencer in London. As a result of a piece of shrapnel penetrating Nev’s heart, Luke must conduct the heart surgery that he has been dreaming about. They learn after a nervous few hours that Luke and Spencer have successfully saved Nev and that he will shortly make a full recovery.
Cora pays a visit to Henry and Naomi to express her sympathies. She makes an attempt to get them to discuss the serpent. However, Henry technically orders her to go. Fishermen are seen constructing a barricade between the marsh and the river near where Gracie was discovered in the hopes of trapping the serpent. Cora and Frankie walk to Cracknell’s residence (Christopher Fairbanks) to return his chicken.
They encounter Matthew there, and he advises them not to trust Cracknell because he doesn’t attend church. Frankie claims that neither of them attends church. When discussing the tale with Cracknell, he says the most crucial sentence in the miniseries: “If you don’t believe in God, you can’t believe in the Devil (the serpent) either.”
Will tells Naomi that there is no serpent and that Gracie drowned while talking to her. Cora and Frankie pay the Ransomes a visit. Cora meets up with Will, and they discuss each other’s interests and knowledge. Stella and Frankie become friends because they both enjoy collecting strange stuff. Frankie wants to know where Martha is and when she’ll be back in Essex. Cora predicts that she’ll be back shortly.
Martha is seen talking to Spencer about Nev’s health and how he needs to return to work, or he and Sali would be evicted if they don’t pay their rent. Later, Martha takes Spencer to Sali and Nev’s house in order to persuade him to lobby Charles for affordable housing, which is Charles’ constituency.
Will talks on valuing purpose over achievement (since there is a difference) while Cora and Will are walking on the beach to the area where Will discovered a fossil. The topic then shifts to how a fossil can indicate the existence of a mythical serpent, as well as the process of shedding light on their collective childhood ignorance and Cora’s abusive relationship with Michael (he allegedly said he wanted to break Cora and then mend her with gold, as symbolised by the red and gold vase in Cora’s house).
Cora and Will catch sight of the red-sailed ship as the sun begins to set (I think), thanks to the brilliance of reflection and refraction.
The Essex Serpent Episode 2 Ending: Is Naomi Suffering From Panic Attacks Or Is She Possessed?
Cora and Will are shown delving deeper and deeper into the serpent tale and refraction science, respectively. Cora greets Martha when she returns to Essex. Will is waiting for Cora at the cottage, where they arrive. Will and Cora discuss their results on refraction, and they understand that what they view as science, others will see as a sorcery.
Will wonders whether there’s something unusual going on when Cora leaves to help Martha settle in. There isn’t, according to Cora. A quick picture of the marshland reveals that the barricade has been completed, implying that it doesn’t matter what Will or Cora think; the village residents believe something unusual is going on.
Will is informed of the same by Matthew, as well as the night vigil to catch the serpent. Will inquires, “What are they going to do if they catch the serpent?” Matthew goes on a tangent about reassuring the people that they are fighting the serpent together.
Will suggests that Matthew allow Cora to share her naturology knowledge with the kids so that they understand what’s at stake (and what isn’t). Matthew advises Will to “let the devil in” and do things his way. A seagull visits Naomi late at night, which is thought to be a terrible omen.
Naomi has a seizure the next day in Cora’s class about fossils and the existence of the sea monster, leading her classmates to believe she is the one summoning the serpent. In reality, she still hasn’t fully recovered from the death of her sister.