What *Really* Happened in Peacock’s ‘Apples Never Fall’

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What are the consequences when the traits passed down from parents to children are summed up by words like manipulative, conniving, secretive, and spiteful? Apples Never Fall, Peacock’s new limited series based on the Liane Moriarty novel, ventures to answer that question.

On the surface, this is a story about Florida couple Stan and Joy Delaney (played by Sam Neill and Annette Bening), who are having mixed emotions about having sold their tennis academy to enjoy retirement when an injured young woman, Savannah (Georgia Flood), knocks on their door. Soon afterward, Joy disappears, and the Delaneys’ four adult children are forced to confront deep-seated family secrets and uncomfortable truths.

What can we say? Other than that this family drama *truly* delivers on what it promises, dropping secrets within the first five and not stopping until the bitter end. (Like, it’s the last five minutes and we’re still going.) But within all the lies and deceit lives a complicated, emotional, and eerily relatable story. So, what in the H-E-double-hockey-sticks (err, tennis rackets?) just happened here? Let’s get into it.


Is the Delaney family as messed up as they seem?

Short answer: Yes. But aren’t we all? What starts out as a murder mystery ends as a relatable, if cautionary, family tale. Apples Never Fall is constantly switching back and forth between “then” (after Savannah showed up on the Delaneys’ doorstep) and “now” (after Joy has gone missing)—building suspense with each and every shift.

An opening scene at the dinner table—before Savannah enters their lives—quickly sets the stage for some of the family’s most contentious relationships. Troy (Jake Lacy) shares that he’s dating someone new, only to have Stan quickly remind him how he messed up his marriage. (“Claire loved tennis. She was perfect.”) And when Brooke (Essie Randles) announces exciting news about her physical-therapy practice, the family takes the opportunity to remind Amy (Alison Brie) how little she’s accomplished.

But as the series progresses, we start to understand the motives behind each member’s quips and gripes—and how they might all have laddered up to Joy’s disappearance. For instance, there’s the animosity toward Logan (Conor Merrigan-Turner) for having followed his love of boats instead of buying and saving the tennis academy. There’s also Stan’s anger at Troy, stemming from a decades-ago violent altercation between the latter and Stan’s former tennis student Harry Haddad, who was suspected of cheating; Stan slapped his son for having started the fight, then was fired by Harry’s dad for his brutality. Adding to the mix, each family member has taken a side on just about every one of these disputes, leading to an ever-unsettled dynamic.

But seriously…who is Savannah?

Two hurricanes sweep through West Palm Beach during this series. One nearly destroys the Delaneys’ backyard tennis courts. The other nearly destroys the Delaneys themselves.

When Savannah shows up on their doorstep in the middle of the night, she tells them she’s just escaped a violent relationship with nothing but the clothes on her back. Joy’s compassion for her is admirable, but her children quickly become jealous of her relationship with this stranger: Savannah gets her to drink more wine than she normally does, as well as to take a leap on a more daring haircut than her usual, and even helps her in the kitchen—something Joy says her kids never do.

apples never fall the delaneys episode 101 pictured georgia flood as savannah photo by vince valituttipeacock

Vince Valitutti/PEACOCK

And Savannah is revealed to be far more toxic than helpful as the series unfolds. She sleeps with Brooke, maliciously hoping to destroy her engagement. She wears Amy’s clothes and parades around as the perfect daughter Joy never had. She threatens to blackmail Troy over his romantic indiscretions. She does a pretty convincing job of framing Stan for Joy’s possible murder. And, ultimately, she gets Joy to admit her own long-kept secret: that she told Harry’s dad to fire Stan.

All this buildup makes the revelation of Savannah’s true identity and motives deeply satisfying: She’s a con artist with a connection, Harry’s unstable sister, who feels her life was turned upside down by the Delaneys. To her, they were the perfect nuclear family—and then they destroyed hers.

What happened to Joy?

Apples Never Fall keeps us guessing until the very end. Throughout the series, we see blips of Joy’s discontent with her life, supporting the theory that perhaps she just left. Then there are the contrary indications that Stan may have murdered her: a cardigan with her blood on it; video footage of Stan hauling a giant bag onto one of Logan’s boats in the middle of the night. But nothing (unless, of course, you’ve read the book) can prepare you for what actually occurred.

apples never fall the delaneys episode 101 pictured annette bening as joy photo by jasin bolandpeacock

Jasin Boland/PEACOCK

And even when the Delaney secret is finally out in the open, the twists keep coming as the series accelerates toward an explosive climax. You’ll have to stick all the way to the end to find out what really happened to Joy—but this beyond-bingeable show makes that commitment easy.

Apples Never Fall is also filled with so much clever detail and nuanced family drama, even beyond what we’ve recounted here (we really could go on and on). And its apt title serves to remind us that we’re all a product of our parents—to some degree, at least. And also to maybe not let strangers into our home? Just a thought.


Just how similar are TV and real life? See how you relate to some of the Delaney family drama.

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