Fair Play: Ending Explained (In Detail): What Happened to Emily?

Taking a look at how Fair Play, the Wall Street-based relationship drama on Netflix, ends
Fair Play: Ending Explained (In Detail): What Happened to Emily?

Publicised as an erotic thriller circa the 90s, Chloe Domont’s Fair Play is more a razor-sharp relationship drama starring Phoebe Dynevor (Bridgerton) and Alden Ehrenreich (Solo: A Star Wars Story). The actors play Emily and Luke, a couple working in finance on Wall Street, faced with the prospect of making or losing millions in a single workday. Their relationship, already not compliant with workplace regulations, takes a massive turn when she is promoted to a job he thought was his.

The Love Story

When Fair Play begins, Emily and Luke are madly in love. The kind of love that makes them leave parties midway just so they can have some alone time. They are also newly engaged, and couldn’t possibly be happier. They share a small but cosy flat in New York and work at the same firm, though their relationship is a secret from their colleagues. They go to work separately, are cordial but not familiar in the office, and do everything they can to keep their liaison concealed.

What Changes Things

When a colleague gets fired, Emily hears a rumour that Luke could be promoted to replace him and she joyously conveys this news to him, only to discover that it is her that the firm’s boss (Eddie Marsan) wants to promote and not Luke, who is understandably disappointed but supports his partner as she climbs the corporate ladder.

Very soon, though, jealousy and resentment start to rise to Luke’s exterior. He gorges on toxic self-help videos and courses, and suggests Emily’s success is not a consequence of her work but a product of her having offered sexual favours as a trade-off.

Emily, concerned by Luke’s worsening state and behaviour, attempts to salve his wounds by going out to bat for him at work, talking him up to the hierarchy, suggesting that he is well-placed to receive a promotion, none of which works because the leadership has already decided Luke is dead weight who is pulling the team down.

Luke brashly attempts to sort things out at work: he kneels and begs his boss for a more prominent designation, insisting upon the firm’s and the boss’ importance in his existence, and when that doesn’t work, storms into a conference and lets his relationship with Emily out of the bag, as if making sure that if he is to not have a job after the begging fiasco, she won’t either.

The Climax

Fair Play has a long-winded ending, commencing at a party right after the conference where Luke has created a scene. Emily finds him at the party in a less-than-presentable state, and they have a violent confrontation in front of everyone there, which then becomes a private showdown in the restaurant bathroom. One thing leads to another and the duo become intimate, but Emily soon starts to feel uncomfortable and asks Luke to stop, which he doesn’t, assaulting her and then disappearing from the scene.

Emily makes good with her boss the next day, having decided to break things off with Luke after the assault. She proceeds to lie about having been stalked by Luke and asserting that there was no relationship between them.

When she returns home, she finds Luke packing up to go live with his brother, unrepentant about his actions the previous evening. It is then that the power dynamic changes and Emily decides to respond with the same calculated cruelty as the kind Luke has subjected her to throughout Fair Play, cutting Luke down bit by bit until he is begging for forgiveness, bleeding from the literal cuts she has inflicted upon him as revenge for the mental and physical trauma he has wreaked upon her. Finally, having gotten out of Luke exactly the apology and admission of guilt that she wanted, Emily orders him to clean his blood off the floor of the apartment and get out.

The ending of Fair Play is less about the settling of scores and more about the reassertion of the agency a woman like Emily would normally hold on to doggedly but which, in this case, she has let go of in order to keep the peace in a relationship that appears to be on the cusp of something more long-lasting. When the relationship has clearly collapsed beyond redemption in her eyes, she claws her way back to a position of power and self-respect, now unafraid of damaging her significant other.

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