‘One Day’ Ending Explained by Showrunner and Stars

“I went into this wanting to reflect on and sort of interrogate whether that was still the ending that we wanted,” Nicole Taylor tells TheWrap

Note: The following contains spoilers for the “One Day” ending.

“One Day” showrunner Nicole Taylor wanted to be as faithful to David Nicolls’ book for her Netflix adaptation into the 14-episode television series, but she couldn’t include everything.

In the show, which follows a similar plot to the film also based on Nicholls’ best-selling book, Emma Morley (Ambika Mod) and Dexter Mayhew (Leo Woodall) meet on their university graduation night, which seems like it might lead to a one night stand but actually sparks the 20 years of friendship and more. In a flashback scene to the day after they spend a night together, Woodall’s Dexter thinks back to how Emma almost left things as they were between them. The pair had just finished climbing Arthur’s Seat, which Dexter did in the current time with his daughter Jasmine.

“There was a line at the end that we did shoot deliberately two versions, one without and one with, but it was when he’s looking up at Arthur’s Seat, and they have just done a flashback to when [he and Emma] are coming off it from Episode 1,” Woodall told TheWrap of the “One Day” finale’s ending. “And he looks up at Arthur’s Seat, and he says, ‘You were the whole story,’ because she says [in the flashback] I don’t want to be a footnote in the story of your life.’ He says ‘You were the whole story.’”

Emma tragically dies when struck by a car on a rainy street while she rides her bike. This plot point remained the same from the book, and it happens in the 2011 film adaptation as well.

“I didn’t want to do that to her because I love her, and the audience does not want [that]. Everyone who read the book remembers how they felt when that happened. You just want to throw the book out the window,” Taylor said.

“There was a lot of thought. I went into this, wanting to reflect on and sort of interrogate whether that was still the ending that we wanted. I thought that was a reasonable thing to do,” she continued. “I was thinking about other endings, but fundamentally, that ending is stitched into the work as a whole. The story kind of has its own thematic integrity, it has its own structural integrity. I feel like the overall meaning of the piece requires that, and I felt like any changing of the ending would be gratuitous and undermine the overall impact of the piece so I think it was the right thing to have a good think about it, question it and not just take it as given.”

Emma’s death takes place in Episode 13 of the series, with one more full episode to unpack the events afterward.

Emma Morley (Ambika Mod) and Dexter Mayhew (Leo Woodall) in “One Day” (Netflix)

“What I did do was spend a lot of time thinking about Episode 14 and how we deal with the aftermath, so I feel good about how we’ve done it because we put a lot of thought into the aftermath for Dexter and how he deals with it and all her friends,” Taylor added.

As a big fan of the book when it first came out, Taylor was skeptical when the novel garnered more fans, and she also wasn’t sure she would feel the same way about the story years later when she re-read it to see if she’d want to adapt it. She also shared that she first conceptualized the series as 20 episodes, one per year, before narrowing it down to 14.

“I opened it and I read it in one sitting and it was just, ‘Oh my goodness,’ this is just as good if not better than I remember it. And I just felt that this is a British contemporary classic. What an opportunity to tell an episodic novel in an episodic way, to me it felt like such a perfect opportunity,” she said. “Netflix was giving us [free reign]: ‘Tell the story in as many episodes as you need to tell the story.’. So for me, I just wanted to make a very faithful adaptation to the book and also to really capture the characters, especially Emma because she’s such a she’s so close to my heart. I really identify with her, pretty much everyone I know identifies with her, especially women. So I just wanted to really write the hell out of that character and do justice to David’s book.”

“The power dynamic changes the whole time and it would be so I suppose truthful to life, but also it would be very dull if it was ‘The Ballad of Emma Longing for Dexter,’” she added. “It might start out like that, but it’s it doesn’t stay there. It goes kind of all over the place and changes even within the episode[s]”

As for Woodall’s view on the aftermath for Dexter, he thinks Dex has gotten through the worst of it.

“Thankfully, his relationship with his daughter is in a really good place at that point. You’re left knowing that he’ll always be grieving and missing her, but that he’s kind of come out of the tough stages of it,” Woodall said. “He’s got his life back together and he’s gonna move on, move forward. as best he can.”

All episodes of “One Day” are now streaming on Netflix.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.