"The Cruelty Man" Brings The Two Plotlines of 'The Woman in the Wall' Together

Daryl McCormack as Colman in front of Lorna's house where she has written "The Sisters of the Seven Joys Murdered My Child" over her door in The Woman in the Wall

Daryl McCormack as Colman in The Woman in the Wall 

 Chris Barr/BBC/Paramount+ with SHOWTIME.

Last week's episode of The Woman in the Wall ended with the genuinely shocking discovery that Lorna's putting Aoife Cassidy in the wall of her flat at the end of the premiere never happened, or if it did, someone removed the body. Either way, the woman isn't in the wall anymore, if she ever was to begin with. However, Lorna confessed to killing her, which would be enough for Colman; if Massey wasn't there to have a say. But Massey is there to have a say, and he's not letting Colman lock up Lorna or anyone else. Colman entered Lorna's house without a warrant, and that's enough for Massey to have him thrown off the case and sent home to Dublin.

Lorna: Don't worry about me and God father. I never met the man; none of us did. He never set foot in that place.

Meanwhile, Lorna is left alone to manage, at least until Niamh swoops in to take charge and finds her hiding behind her child's death certificate in front of the gaping hole in the wall. Lorna's not even sure she's real, but anyone who reacts to seeing a death certificate for Agnes Brady by saying she'll call James Coyle clearly is Niamh. She tells Lorna to stay put until she returns; naturally, Lorna puts on a hat and leaves the house the second she's gone. Massey's been left on guard duty and immediately gives chase, or at least waddles after Lorna for a minute before giving up and telling her not to go too far. 

Lorna is on a mission to find her daughter's grave now that she knows the child didn't live very long after birth. She heads back to the church she was at only yesterday for Clemence's funeral and practically mows down Father Keith demanding to see the records for 1986 burials. She's not listed, but the priest is undeterred, saying county records would be the next step, promising they'll find her, begging her not to lose faith. Lorna looks at him in disgust and pity; as if she had any to lose.

Daryl McCormack as Colman and Ruth Wilson as Lorna stare into the void where there should be a body in The Woman in the Wall

Daryl McCormack as Colman and Ruth Wilson as Lorna in The Woman in the Wall

Chris Barr/BBC/Paramount+ with SHOWTIME.

Lorna goes straight to the county, even though it is almost closing time, and asks for the clerk to look up her burial record real quick. There's no record in the computer system, so she demands to see the hard copies. The man refuses to let her see them and calls security, so she leaves, or at least appears to, hiding out in the bathroom with a badge until everyone exits and then breaking in, to rifle through the files and steal anything that looks like it might be useful.

As for Colman, he heads for Father Percy's house where all this started, now that he knows way more about the man he once considered a father figure, remembering how the man manipulated him out of searching when he said he wanted to find his birth mother and claimed to have no way of finding her. It doesn't take long to find detailed logs that put the lie to that claim, as his bagman Drennan, pops up the stairs, having been instructed to keep a sharp eye on him by their superiors. Colamn responds as he usually does; by showing Drennan a major clue he missed a phone jack that clearly had a phone recently plugged into it, and yet no phone in the house or in evidence.

Colman heads home for his mother's birthday, only to have another nightmare about Father Percy. His mother comes in to see him and tells him he used to have those dreams nightly when he was first adopted; he called the monster in his dreams "The Cruelty Man." He asks if Father Percy was involved with the adoption agency The Lazarus House, where he came from, and she corrects him. He was adopted through the "Sacred Shephard people," whom Percy put them in touch with and who handled everything.

Daryl McCormack as Colman explores the ruins of Lazarus House in The Woman in the Wall

Daryl McCormack as Colman in The Woman in the Wall

Stefan Hill/BBC/Paramount+ with SHOWTIME.

The following day, Colman calls Massey, apologizes for his conduct, and asks after Lorna. Massey is standoffish at first until Colman reveals he now has indisputable evidence the House of the Sacred Shephard did not cease operations in 1979, and was operating in February 1989: his own adoption. Massey does the math with him; that's a decade's worth of illegal adoptions from Magdeline Laundries, easily hundreds, probably thousands of babies, and a serious motive to kill Father Percy and Aoife besides.

With Massey back on his side, Colman starts digging into Lazarus House, the cover story for his adoption, and finds Bishop Brendan Rice (Brendan Conroy). Using his relationship with Percy as cover, he visits the Bishop, pretending to be putting together a memorial for his old mentor. But as soon as he asks about the House of the Sacred Shephard, Rice shuts down, sneering that of all people, he should understand what good work they did, rehousing those children. Colamn leaves, only to get called up by his superior, pulled off the case by the Bishop's request, and put on mandatory leave. 

Back home with her stolen files, Lorna combs through them only to discover Agnes Brady is not listed anywhere. She pulls out the box of items she made for her daughter over the years before she gave up hope and creates a shrine to her lost child. As she sits there staring, her eyes fall on the other certificates, many of which also claim the children died within months; by the time she's gone through them all, there are 298; deaths she can now cross-check with the files she took. She calls Michael to beg for help going through all of them, and good egg that he is, he agrees. In the end, they find three who were buried.

Mark Huberman as Michael and Ruth Wilson as Lorna surrounded by the 295 missing babies documentsin The Woman in the Wall

Mark Huberman as Michael and Ruth Wilson as Lorna in The Woman in the Wall

Chris Barr/BBC/Paramount+ with SHOWTIME.

Michael and Lorna are horrified at seeing 295 lost children, but neither put together what the lack of graves means, assuming they must be dead. Lorna thinks the bodies must be on the convent grounds, in a mass grave. (Mass graves of children were found at other Magdalene Laundries.) Realizing what a horror show that will be, Michael says they should go to the Garda with it, and then she should come to Dublin with him and start over. She refuses, as Michael looks concerned at what she might do.

What Lorna is going to do is obvious. She breaks into the convent to find Sister Eileen and demands to know where they buried those babies, her baby. Sister Eileen sneers at her, saying she never had a daughter or earned the right to be a mother. Lorna tries to fight back, but years of abuse have her on her knees before she can stop herself. Sister Eileen calls Massey to remove Lorna from the premises, as he has done so many times before. Lorna calls him out for being Eileen's lapdog for all these years and then gives him the list of names, just in case he feels like actually doing something. 

While Lorna breaks into the convent, Colman breaks into the ruins of Lazarus House and falls through the floor, stumbling upon the tunnel from his nightmares. After escaping, he goes home and tells his mother, demanding to know what she knew. She blamed being new to the U.K. and thought it was an upright place at first; then they just wanted to rescue him when they saw, as a nonwhite baby, he was put in "The Reject Room." She was told his mother's name was Kathryn Ivers. Using his badge, he gets the records of his birth from the county and discovers there's also a death certificate, declaring he died a few months after being born, just like Agnes Brady. He brings it to Lorna to show her, and she laughs with delight: Her daughter may be alive after all.


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Ani Bundel has been blogging professionally since 2010. A DC native, Hufflepuff, and Keyboard Khaleesi, she spends all her non-writing time taking pictures of her cats. Regular bylines also found on MSNBC, Paste, Primetimer, and others. A Woman's Place Is In Your Face. Cat Approved. Find her on BlueSky and other social media of your choice: @anibundel.bsky.social

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