The Most Important Moment From ‘The Act’ Finale Never Happened to Gypsy Rose Blanchard

[Warning: spoilers for The Act final episode “Free” ahead]

“I can’t be your mom, Gypsy. You’re on your own now. Do you hear what I’m saying?” These might be the most important words spoken on Hulu’s hit series The Act, and they never happened.

Part of what makes The Act, or any true-crime dramatic series, so fascinating is that you see inside the mind of the person behind the headlines. The documentary Mommy Dead and Dearest already exists to tell you every gruesome detail about the victimhood of Gypsy Rose Blanchard and the murder of her mother, Dee Dee. You can read the article that started it all on Buzzfeed, by the same Michelle Dean who created The Act for Hulu. But to see what really happened play out and to understand why? That’s where fiction can shine a whole new light. And that’s why, sometimes, they have to make things up.

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Gypsy Rose (Joey King) spends much of the highly anticipated finale denying what’s happening to her. She shows little interest in calling her father for help, and when it comes to revealing Dee Dee’s long history of abuse, she does it only to avoid the death sentence. She’s in survival mode.

That leads to her and her lawyer’s decision to separate her case from her ex, Nicholas Godejohn, in order to let the prosecution seek different charges. It almost seems cruel, especially when you see the heartbreak in Nick’s eyes and can tell he truly doesn’t understand what’s going on. But it gives Gypsy her best shot at a deal.

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And yet, with all this going on—while Gypsy is in prison having her feeding tube ripped from her stomach and facing a literal death sentence—she repeatedly makes calls to her neighbor Lacey (AnnaSophia Robb). Over the phone, she apologizes for not keeping in touch, as if she hadn’t been on the run from the police for the murder of her mother at the time, and politely asks her to come visit.

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We already know that Lacey is a fictionalized version of Aleah Woodmansee, one of Gypsy Rose’s only friends (and the only other person who knew about Gypsy’s secret boyfriend). “She would show interest in, like, different boys and try to ask me advice on, like, you know, ‘How do you approach them? How do you, like, kiss a boy?’” Aleah told ABC. “Gypsy just wanted to be a regular teen.”

And yes, Aleah has heard of The Act, but she remains unimpressed about her portrayal. “[The show] apparently depicts me smoking with Gypsy? That never happened,” she tells In Touch. “Alcohol and smoking were things we never discussed. Literally, the most risqué topics we even touched on were boys, and at the time, I believed she was no older than the age of 15, so we can all assume that remained pretty tame.”

As for Lacey’s mother, Mel (Chloë Sevigny), there’s no evidence she exists at all. But she’s the one who shows up to see Gypsy in lockup.

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At this point, Gypsy has spoken with her dad but refuses to believe that he was kept from her life by her mother. She’ll admit to her lawyer much of what Dee Dee (Patricia Arquette) has done to her in the past but continues to insist that her mother was trying to do the right things for her and was her best friend. Her meeting with Mel is a turning point.

Mel, as usual, is direct, bordering on harsh. She asks Gypsy if it was all a lie, if she understood that she had been deceiving people. You can physically see Mel go from angry to suspicious to cautiously sympathetic. She tells the prisoner that no, there was no reason for what happened to her. Just like the audience watching on Hulu, Mel is starting to see Gypsy as a victim.

But before Gypsy can latch on to Mel for support, she says, “I can’t be your mom, Gypsy. You’re on your own now. Do you hear what I’m saying?” Gypsy does. It’s time to let go of Dee Dee. In order to survive her new reality, Gypsy must say goodbye to the fonder memories of her mother and commit fully to the story she’s giving to the court.

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This scene, and a character with no basis in reality, is absolutely crucial to understand Gypsy’s mind-set as she heads into the rest of her trial. There’s no one coming to her rescue. Nick is not the Clyde to her Bonnie, and she’s not willing to die for him or anyone. She’s well and truly on her own.

Entertainment Editor

Emily is the entertainment editor at Cosmopolitan, which is a nice way of saying she watches way too much TV and constantly wants to tell you about it.

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