The Ending of 'Maid,' Explained

Did Alex and Maddy make it to Montana?

maid l to r rylea nevaeh whittet as maddy and margaret qualley as alex in episode 101 of maid cr ricardo hubbsnetflix © 2021

Netflix's latest hit drama, Maid, has become a favorite among fans for its candid and watchable depiction of a mother fighting to take care of her daughter. Based on Stephanie Land’s 2019 memoir Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive, the show follows a young mother named Alex as she leaves her abusive boyfriend and tries to build a life for her two-year-old daughter, Maddy, with little to no resources. Alex's journey hits brief highs and intense lows as she deals with America's difficult welfare system and uncovers repressed memories about her past and her family.

Throughout the show, as Alex recovers from the abuse, she begins to imagine a new life for herself and Maddy in Missoula, Montana, where she was previously accepted to college. The big question of the show becomes whether she is able to move, or if she'll have to stay in Washington state where Sean still has partial custody over Maddy. Here's a breakdown for the finale, and whether the mother and daughter make it to Missoula.

Alex starts her own house cleaning business.

In the penultimate episode, Alex got her independent cleaning, helping a fellow single mother, who turns out to be a hoarder, throw out her stuff ahead of a move. Though the client admits that the job is way more than Alex expected, and that she can't pay for extra hours, Alex stays late and helps her clean out the whole house. In return, the mom recommended Alex to her hoarder group, and this episode we see Alex get a bunch of new clients.

The new business is great for Alex, who has also begun teaching a creative writing therapy class. As she leads the class, helping other residents at the domestic violence shelter, we see how far she's come since she first left Sean. Her life seems as together as it can get before she heads out to Montana, where she plans to continue cleaning houses as she goes to college.

Paula decides to stay in Washington with a new boyfriend.

The episode starts with Alex watching her mother's morning in a Walmart parking lot, after learning that Paula was living out of her car last episode. A large part of the series has focused on Alex's relationship with her mom, who she says she's been "taking care of since [she] was six." Now that she's moving, Alex wants Paula to come with her, since she's afraid no one else will take care of Paula after she leaves.

Paula turns down the offer at first, since generations of her family have lived in Washington. She also, in typical fashion, skips a doctor's visit for a shift at her new job, selling glass art with her new married boyfriend, Micah. When Alex confronts her that night in the Walmart parking lot, Paula's still in denial about everything, claiming that she's living in her car because she likes being nomadic. She does agree to supervise Maddy's supervision with her dad, and when things go south, she handles it well, bringing Maddy back to Alex.

After the incident with Sean, Paula changes her mind, telling Alex that she wants to go with her and Maddy to Montana. The decision doesn't stick, though. She's staying with Micah instead, since the man kicked out his wife for her. Alex is sad that her mother's entering another doomed relationship, but she doesn't change her plans for Paula. Instead, she heads off to her new life with Maddy.

Sean gives up his custodial rights over Maddy.

At the start of the episode, Alex is still duking it out with Sean through the courts, with less than a week to go before her summer semester begins in Montana. Her new high-powered lawyer, courtesy of her client (and now friend) Regina, serves Sean with a motion and restraining order, but he argues that Alex is lying about him abusing her. Instead there will be another hearing over custody rights, similar to the one is episode 2, and Alex isn't allowed to leave the state with Maddy until then, risking her spot at school.

To get evidence for her case, Alex asks her father Hank to testify that Sean has abused her. Though he has been trying to bond with his estranged daughter all season, Hank has a deeper relationship with Sean, as he is a recovering alcoholic and has been acting as Sean's casual sponsor. Sean even kept in contact with Hank when Alex asked him not to, leading up to Hank witnessing an emotionally abusive, one-sided fight where Sean yelled at Alex for not wanting to eat dinner.

Sadly but not surprisingly, Hank refuses to testify against Sean. When Alex points out the emotional abuse he saw, he makes excuses for Sean and says the incident was a simple argument. His decision fits with his past, as Alex discovered earlier in the season that Hank was abusive to her mother, Paula, when she was a kid. Alex cuts all ties with her dad over this.

Everything changes when Sean gets has his court-ordered visitation with Maddy. When she has a tantrum, he loses his temper and yells at her. He explains to Alex that he hadn't had a drink in 24 hours, and if a supervisor wasn't with him and Maddy, he would have taken the toddler with him to get a drink. He doesn't want to do that to her, so he decides to sign full custody over to Alex.

Alex and Maddy move to Montana.

At the end of the finale, Alex packs up her stuff from both the shelter and Sean's trailer. The pair have a cordial goodby, with Alex saying he can visit whenever he wants, and Sean promising that he will after he gets sober. Alex even stops by Regina's on the way out of town, returning the sweater she took in the middle of the season. Regina even lets her keep the $1,400 sweater.

The season ends with the money tracker, which has shown how quickly Alex's little earnings from house cleaning and government assistance gets spent away, changing to a miles tracker as she and Maddy get on the ferry. It then flashes back to Alex's last day of group therapy, where she shares her happiest day exercise. Instead of describing a day in the past, it narrates her and Maddy's trip to Missoula, where she and Maddy hike up Sentinel Mountain and look over their new town.

The sentimental, hopeful ending to Alex's story gives us hope for her and Maddy's future in Montana. Margaret Qualley, who plays Alex, told Collider that she also believes that the mom would build a great life in the new state.

"I thought it was a pretty beautiful ending. I believe in Alex so much. I don’t know who wouldn’t. She’s so incredibly strong and ambitious and kind. I have no doubt that the she’ll keep fighting," she said.

The beautiful end scene seems to be the end of Alex's story in Maid, which has been advertised as a miniseries. However, creator Molly Smith Metzler has said that the show could continue, either showing Alex's life in Montana or following a new domestic worker.

"I do think there’s a lot of maids out there, there’s a lot of domestic workers who are experiencing stories that are as bad, if not worse than, Stephanie Land’s. I think it would be very exciting and a dream world to get to see a different maid’s story in another season. Someone from a totally different geographic with totally different life experience and who probably is a mom," Metzler said.


maid l to r raymond ablack as nate in episode 102 of maid cr ricardo hubbsnetflix © 2021

Contributing Culture Editor

Quinci is a Contributing Culture Editor who writes pieces and helps to strategize editorial content across TV, movies, music, theater, and pop culture. She contributes interviews with talent, as well as SEO content, features, and trend stories. She fell in love with storytelling at a young age, and eventually discovered her love for cultural criticism and amplifying awareness for underrepresented storytellers across the arts. She previously served as a weekend editor for Harper’s Bazaar, where she covered breaking news and live events for the brand’s website, and helped run the brand’s social media platforms, including Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Her freelance writing has also appeared in outlets including HuffPost, The A.V. Club, Elle, Vulture, Salon, Teen Vogue, and others. Quinci earned her degree in English and Psychology from The University of New Mexico. She was a 2021 Eugene O’Neill Critics Institute fellow, and she is a member of the Television Critics Association. She is currently based in her hometown of Los Angeles. When she isn't writing or checking Twitter way too often, you can find her studying Korean while watching the latest K-drama, recommending her favorite shows and films to family and friends, or giving a concert performance while sitting in L.A. traffic.