The Bay series 4 ending explained: Who burned down the Metcalf house?
The Bay series 4 spoilers follow.
DS Jenn Townsend (Marsha Thomason) has had a rough old time of it in the fourth series of The Bay. Not only has she had to try and figure out who set the devastating house fire that killed Beth Metcalf and left her children without a mum, but the family liaison officer also faced trouble in her own home, thanks in part to the arrival of her partner Chris' (Barry Sloane) over-familiar ex-wife Jacqui (Claire Goose).
Matters came to a head in the series' penultimate episode, as Jenn discovered her daughter Maddie was being bullied at school, and a brick was thrown through their window by an unknown attacker.
The final episode begins with Jenn fuming about Jacqui – who breezily lets herself into their home whenever she pleases – and determined to discover who threw the offending brick. Luckily a neighbour has CCTV, and it turns out the assailant is Lewis Walsh, the kid who has been bullying Maddie.
Jacqui, who has turned up yet again, uses the brick attack as the reason why her daughter Erin should leave Chris and Jenn's home and move in with her. Erin agrees that she wants to live with her mum, and you can see why it appeals – the moment Chris and Jenn have gone to work, Jacqui whisks her teenage daughter off for a spa day instead of taking her to school.
Meanwhile, Jenn's boss, Manning (Daniel Ryan) tells her she can't arrest Lewis since his case personally affects her, and that it is a matter that needs to be left to uniformed police. Instead, she has to focus on the arson investigation, and whether there is a link between the fire at the Metcalf house and the one at dad Dean Metcalf's builder's yard.
This leads her to the rival McGregor construction business, as new evidence reveals that Terry McGregor and his wife Kim (who just happens to be that little tyke Lewis's mum) set up a fraudulent company to win the contract to build on the Frontierland site that Dean (Joe Armstrong) was also bidding for.
While she and DS Karen Hobson (Erin Shanagher) are at the site interviewing Terry, bully Lewis arrives to talk to his stepdad (having discovered police looking for him outside his home) and runs off when he sees Jenn. She catches him and arrests him, and Terry reluctantly agrees to go with the boy to the police station as his 'appropriate adult' while Lewis is questioned.
What Jenn doesn't see as she leaves the site is Terry's own son Carl nervously watching the police as he lurks behind a door.
Of course, Manning is less than impressed when Jenn arrives at the station with Lewis, but matters soon take a surprising turn – when Lewis's fingerprints are taken as part of his arrest, it is revealed that they match the fingerprints from a lighter that was found at a car near the scene of the Metcalf house fire.
Lewis denies driving the car, but when his school pal Yousef is questioned, Yousef admits he stole and drove the car but it was Lewis who set the fire. Lewis finally confesses, and says he started the house fire – believing there was no one home – to impress his stepdad, whom he had heard getting angry about Dean Metcalf winning the bid to develop the Frontierland site that he had his own eye on.
Lewis is looking at a prison sentence for arson and it's really not looking good for Terry, either, as his son Carl comes forward to confess that he was the one who started the yard fire on his father's instructions, again as an attack on Dean Metcalf's business to stop the site being developed.
And why did Terry want to stop Dean so badly? Well, it turns out that deadly crime runs in the family, as Terry reveals under questioning that the reason he wanted to win the building bid was because he knew about the dead body that was buried at Frontierland, and that it would be discovered as soon as the site was dug up.
It was Terry's own father who had shot and killed a local planning officer – who had been taking bribes but had got greedy – and years before Terry had helped his dad bury the man on the Frontierland site (unfortunately for Terry, he had kept the gun that was the murder weapon and Jenn's team quickly found it). When the contract came up to develop the site again, the danger of the corpse being uncovered was the reason Terry was desperate to win the bid.
With Terry charged with conspiracy to commit arson (as well as burying that unfortunate planning officer), Carl agreeing to testify against his dad, and teen Lewis looking at a minimum of six years in youth detention for his arson attack, Jenn is finally able to tell Dean and his children that Beth's murder has been solved, and that the house fire was set by Lewis as a misguided way of winning his stepfather's approval.
With the case solved, it is time to return to work. Manning, who has decided to stay with the police and not set up home in France with Ellen, is still faced with the efficiency review and is told that cuts at the station need to be made. He refuses to take that on board, and as the episode ends, the chance of departmental cuts looms over the staff.
At least, in the final scenes, things are better on the family front for Jenn. She returns home to find Chris is (finally!) changing the locks so Jacqui can't barge in whenever she feels like it. And Erin is back home, too.
It seems that, despite an impressive view of the beach, staying at Jacqui's flat wasn't quite as appealing as it first looked, especially when Erin realised she would be sleeping on the sofa and looking after herself while her mum went out on dates with random men from the spa.
So it's happy families at last for Jenn – for now, at least…
The Bay series 4 airs on ITV and all episodes are available as a boxset on ITVX.
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