The Strays ending explained: Who are Marvin and Abigail?

The Strays ending: stars Jorden Myrie and Bukky Bakray looking sad
The Strays is an emotional rollercoaster, but what happened at the end? (Image credit: Netflix)

The Strays ending is a horrifying one, and the gripping thriller builds to a conclusion that will likely shock audiences everywhere.

Netflix's latest thriller The Strays follows a woman named Neve (Ashley Madekwe) who lives in Castle Combe with her family. She seems to have it all with her nice house, luxury car and designer wardrobe, but she's hiding a secret that threatens to destroy her perfect life.

When two outsiders show up in town, Neve is spooked by their arrival and this sets off a chain of events which puts her family at risk and exposes something she's been trying hard to put behind her.

So, what happened at the end of The Strays? Here's what you need to know...

The Strays ending explained: What was Neve hiding?

Justin Salinger dancing

Neve seemed to have the perfect life. (Image credit: Netflix)

When we're introduced to Neve, we learn that she's made quite a life for herself. She's surrounded by luxury and is the deputy headmistress of a private school, as well as teaching theology which has seen her students getting a record number of A* grades, so she appears to be winning at many things.

She's also married to Ian (Justin Salinger) and they have two children, Sebastian (Samuel Small) and Mary (Maria Almeida). Despite her controlling ways her husband seems to truly love her, even though her children are starting to rebel and seek independence.

But Neve's been hiding something. She hasn't always had the easiest life, in fact, she used to be in an abusive relationship and struggled to make ends meet despite being a successful saleswoman and winning awards. In the opening scene, we see past Neve on the phone tearfully speaking about how tired she is.

Neve's name is actually Cheryl, and she decided to run away and completely start over, complete with a new identity. No one in the local community knows that though and she's keen to keep her past behind her.

That might not sound like much of a dark secret though, as she's managed to get out of a difficult situation. However, it's the arrival of Marvin (Jorden Myrie) and Abigail (Bukky Bakra) that really complicate things.

When Neve realises they're newcomers in town, with Abigail working at her husband's company and Marvin working as the school janitor, she seems spooked and wants nothing to do with them, confusing her family.

Things really come to a head during a gala that Neve throws at her home, which Marvin and Abigail show up to after being invited by Mary. As soon as they arrive on the scene, Neve screams at them, demanding them to leave her alone.

This outburst causes a scene and ruins her perfectly curated gala, and her family soon demand answers about why she's been acting so weird. This is where it really gets interesting.

Who were Marvin and Abigail?

Jorden Myrie as Carl, Bukky Bakray as Dione in The Strays

Marvin and Abigail's true identities were soon revealed. (Image credit: Netflix)

Marvin and Abigail are Neve's son and daughter, who she abandoned when she fled her abusive home in London. They too had changed their names, and they're really called Carl and Dione.

The two had tracked their mother down, getting a hotel at Castle Combe and jobs nearby so they could keep an eye on her, hoping for a chance to actually resolve things. They're both bitterly angry about being abandoned and want answers.

However, Neve tries to brush this under the carpet when she meets them at a local cafe, and apologises for leaving them behind. She tells them her side of the story, that she was abused and wanted out, and they ask if they can stay with her.

Neve refuses, and instead hands them £20,000 to help get them back on their feet. They seem to be happy with this, thanking her for the money, before they go their separate ways.

Relieved, Neve returns to her family where they have a serious conversation and, although Ian says they need to have a lot more talks about the situation, he chooses to stand by his wife and the family embrace. 

However, it's not over yet, as Carl and Dione return to Neve's home late at night and steal everyone's phones, flooding them with water in the kitchen sink and rendering them useless. They hold the family hostage and claim it's Dione's birthday and that they want to celebrate.

What happens to Neve at the end?

Ashley Madekwe as Neve

(Image credit: Netflix)

Things have certainly gotten tense, and Carl orders food from a nearby restaurant for the celebration. Both he and Dione proceed to taunt the family, letting the kitchen tap run everywhere and making snide comments, including what they intend to spend their money on, where they berate their mother for abandoning them.

The duo become increasingly more erratic and violent, and attempts to stop them prove to be futile. Carl soon turns on Ian, and takes him into their home gym where he forces him to lift more and more weights, until he can't cope and is eventually crushed by them, killing him.

Soon after, the food arrives and Neve answers the door, where she's greeted by a motorcycle driver. She takes it, thanks him, and tells him to wait while she goes and fetches a tip.

When Neve returns to the front door, she makes the decision to run away, driving off on the motorbike with him. This happens off-screen but it's assumed she told the driver she was in danger, but refused to acknowledge Sebastian and Mary.

This cruel final act mirrors the beginning of the film, where we see Cheryl aka Neve leaving a note on the fridge saying she's going to the hairdressers, when in fact she did a runner and abandoned Carl and Dione. 

She's done the same thing to her new family, and the film ends with the four children standing in the corridor, adding to Neve's list of abandoned family members. It's a horrible, cliffhanger ending, and we don't know what the future holds... yet, anyway.

Lucy Buglass
Senior Staff Writer

Lucy joined the team in 2021, where she writes series guides for must-watch programmes, reviews and the latest TV news. Now she works for our sister site TechRadar in the same role. Originally from Northumberland, she graduated from Oxford Brookes University with a degree in Film Studies and moved to London to begin a career writing about entertainment.

She is a Rotten Tomatoes approved film critic and has a huge passion for cinema. She especially loves horror, thriller and anything crime-related. Her favourite TV programmes include Inside No 9, American Horror Story, Stranger Things and Black Mirror but she is also partial to a quiz show or a bit of Say Yes to the Dress