‘Expats’ Stars Nicole Kidman and Brian Tee Break Down ‘Deeply Truthful’ Finale: ‘The Full Arc Was There’

Creator Lulu Wang also unpacks the reasoning behind the Prime Video limited series’ ambiguous ending

Clark (Brian Tee) and Margaret (Nicole Kidman) in "Expats" (Prime Video)
Brian Tee and Nicole Kidman in "Expats" (Prime Video)

Note: This story contains spoilers from the “Expats” finale.

Nicole Kidman’s Margaret traded in being an expatriate for an all-out immigrant at the end of Lulu Wang’s Prime Video series “Expats.”

Moments before the end of the limited series’ finale, titled “Home,” Margaret made the last-minute decision to stay in Hong Kong while her husband Clark (Brian Tee) took their two children and live-in helper Essie (Ruby Ruiz) back home. Hong Kong was only ever meant to be a temporary living situation — given the distinction between the terms — until the couple lost their third child Gus one night at an outdoor night market. The decision to stay comes after six episodes of Margaret struggling to put the trauma of the loss behind her, and now holding on to the hope that her son might return to her someday.

“We would hold each other on set because everything was so incredibly deep and visceral and painful,” Tee told TheWrap on a Zoom with co-star Kidman. “I think the journey between Margaret and Clark, the full arc was there, and we had the luxury of shooting that last, so we lived and breathed everything throughout the journey and lived in that moment. It played out almost naturally in the way that we existed together.”

Tee’s Clark almost immediately accepted that Margaret could not leave without finding out what happened to Gus, in what Kidman describes as “an incredibly loving gesture.” After shaking her head to signal she couldn’t do it, he knew what she meant and why.

Tee emphasized that though they take separate paths, “they’re still continually connected with themselves and with the family.”

“It was the culmination of everything we’d been through, and the show was such a difficult show to make and obviously for Brian and I emotionally. We would look at each other and be like, ‘Oh, my God. Help me.’ We would cling to each other at times going ‘This is brutal,’” Kidman told TheWrap. “We would hold each other and just look into each other’s eyes and be like, ‘This is so devastatingly painful’ because we’re both parents.”

Leading up to their separation at the airport, Margaret never fully gave up on the idea that Gus was still out there in Hong Kong after his mysterious disappearance. Margaret’s intuition appeared to be validated after the couple visited a morgue earlier in the series, but the body that had been found was not their son’s. Similarly, Kidman has faith in Margaret and Clark’s marriage after the finale.  

“I don’t believe it’s a shattered marriage at the end,” Kidman said. “It’s a marriage that is able to weather the most enormous pain and storms.”

Gus is not found by the end of the six episodes, adapted from the book by Janice Y. K. Lee. Though unnamed besides the initial, G, in Lee’s book, the child meets the same fate in Lee’s novel. Wang said she never thought of changing the story’s ambiguous ending for her TV adaptation.

“I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of very frustrated people who are upset with me, but I made the series not purely just to give answers or to entertain,” Wang told TheWrap. “There’s lots of stuff out there if that’s what you’re looking for. I totally understand that not having resolutions might hit too close to home with life and might be too hard for certain people. But I really wanted to make this show about how we can find hope and how we can cope when it’s not obvious, when things aren’t resolved, when there’s no closure.”

Wang drew a comparison to her debut film “The Favorite,” which holds similar themes.

“You don’t always get goodbyes. I didn’t get that with my grandmother. So what do you do with that? Who do you talk to, to get your own sense of closure or hope and in order to keep living? That’s resilience,” Wang said.

Kidman asserted her conviction (as herself, not her character) that Margaret will find her son. She believes Gus was taken, but not that he’s dead. Tee also stressed the blurred line between himself and his character as well.

The actress also agreed that the open-ended the ending was “deeply truthful,” down to the details of the last shot of Margaret walking in Hong Kong.

“She doesn’t pull punches, Lulu, because if this was in the hands of somebody else, I think they may have wanted to wrap it up and life isn’t like that… This is a very authentic and truthful ending,” Kidman said. “I think it also manifests where you see a woman who goes from being an expat to an immigrant. [Lulu] wanted Margaret to have a backpack and be in very nondescript clothes as she walks back into the crowd. She’s now of the country. She’s of that Earth, her blood is in there. The blood-stained part of her is there, and she will not leave because her child is there.”

All six episodes of “Expats” are now streaming on Prime Video.


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