Tales from the Loop Season 1's Heartbreaking Ending, Explained

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Amazon Prime’s Tales from the Loop.

Amazon Prime’s Tales from the Loop is a sci-fi anthology that sees each of its eight episodes focus on different families and characters in the mysterious town of Mercer. However, there are subtle threads linking each episode together to show Mercer really is a place of wonder. Of course, that doesn’t mean every incident is happy as accidents that occur that inexplicably tear lives apart with no solution in sight due to the unpredictable nature of the laws of physics there.

By the time the Season 1 finale, “Home,” concludes, though, it focuses on young Cole (Duncan Joiner) as he picks up on a thread from Episode 2 where his brother Jakob (Daniel Zohlgadri) got trapped in the body of a robot. As Cole investigates, Mercer becomes even hazier as a place where space and time just don’t seem to have any established order.

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Danny’s been in Jakob’s body after they transferred minds and souls in “Transpose.” However, guilt’s been wracking the teen and he tells Cole the truth. Cole tries to contact his scientist mom, Loretta (Rebecca Hall), but she’s out of town so he goes to find the robot Jakob ended up in after the latter tried to reverse the process. Cole eventually reunites with his brother and they kick around a ball, but as they make the trek back home, a hostile robot attacks and kills Jakob.

Cole makes a shrine for his brother, but when he heads back, he crosses a stream that’s been thawed out. It should be frozen, not running water, and when the curious kid tries to send his ball downstream, it returns from upstream indicating this is another time anomaly. Cole doesn’t think much of it and when meets his mom at Mercer’s physics center, later on, it’s a shocking scene as she’s much older.

Apparently, when Cole crossed the stream in the first place to meet Jakob, he stepped outside the Loop’s time barrier. He was missing for decades and most of his family died, except Loretta. Cole’s heartbroken as this means he lost his grandma, Klara (Jane Alexander), who taught him about photography making memories immortal, and his dad George (Paul Schneider). However, he’s grateful to be reunited with Loretta as they try to pick up the pieces of their family.

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The finale doesn’t really touch on most of the other characters in the season, but Loretta reveals that ‘Jakob’ did confess the truth to them. They searched the woods and found Jakob’s robot body but no Cole. While Cole thought he was spending minutes roaming the forest, the portal he entered kept him away from years, but interestingly enough, Loretta patched things up with Danny.

It was weird seeing him grow up in her son’s body but an adult Danny in Jakob’s body does come over to meet Cole. He felt bad over his selfish actions because he didn’t want to switch back bodies with Jakob, but Cole reveals his brother wasn’t angry with Danny before he died. Danny’s relieved and introduces his ‘nephew’ to his own daughter, Nora, and they kick around a ball.

Loretta’s seen smiling at them from the window in their home, finally happy again to have some sense of family in the yard. Russ (Jonathan Pryce) — George’s dad — died of old age, as did Klara, and George followed his parents by what seems to be a heart attack in the physics center, so Loretta did have to endure a lot. Coupling all this with Jakob and Cole’s tragedy, she finally feels a sense of closure that Cole came home. He’s even found taking pictures of her, with a flash of young Loretta he met in the premiere, reiterating he has memories of his mom from two eras etched in mind.

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Cole returns to school and finds his teacher, Sarah (Stefanie Estes), looking the same way when he left. He gives her back a book she lent him but he’s taken aback she didn’t age over the decades. She reveals she’s actually a robot which Russ, the man who founded the physics center and began studying the Loop, built. She taught Cole’s parents and their kids and was created as an educator to nourish the minds of Mercer’s children.

In the flashback episode, “Enemies,” fans saw George as a teen encountering a robot on a mysterious island. This led to him losing his hand but when he got home, Russ revealed that entity was a robot he created. Unfortunately, humanity wouldn’t accept this prototype, so while Russ considered it a kid, he sent it to the island where it could be safe. He did tell George he was working on a humanoid version of it, and Sarah reveals it’s her.

George did go and mend things with the robot, eventually giving it his own robotic hand, and now it seems Cole is forging a similar bond with Sarah. They’re connected on a deeper level as Cole did love Russ a lot and both saw him as a father. Like George, Cole now embraces robots more, seeing the bond strengthened by how one kept Jakob’s soul safe.

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The final sequence finds young Cole climbing a cooling tower and taking pictures of the grass fields. Ironically, Klara told him she thought she saw someone on the tower years before while they were having a photo tutorial so once more, it seems the Loop’s allowing Cole to breach space-time and be in two places at once. But as he takes his photos, a voice calls out and we flash to the future.

An older Cole is looking at his house with his family. They ask about who resides there, but Cole doesn’t know as it’s been ages since he lived there. Mercer seems to look relatively the same and as he notices siblings walking down the street, he remembers Jakob. When his son asks him if it feels like a long time ago, he responds, “blink of an eye,” which is the same way Russ described the passage of time.

The episode ends there but what’s interesting is it was foreshadowed in “Echo Sphere,” where Russ showed the boy a rusty sphere where each echo would hint how long someone would live. Cole’s echoes were quite a few so Russ told him he’d live a long life, and when viewers saw flashforwards of Cole’s decades of happiness to come, this final scene was shown there. Sadly, when Cole asked Russ to throw his voice, there was no echo and a couple of days later, Russ would pass away. This closing moment reminded Cole about his family, mortality and how life itself — no matter where or when you are — is ultimately brief and fleeting.

Tales from the Loop stars Jonathan Pryce, Rebecca Hall, Jane Alexander and Paul Schneider. The show is streaming now on Amazon Prime.

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Amazon Prime's sci-fi anthology Tales from the Loop ends on a thought-provoking note that paints Mercer as an even more mysterious town.

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