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‘Top Boy’ Season 3 Ending Explained: Who Killed (Spoiler)?!?

*Oi bruv, listen up – mad spoilers to follow for the ending of Top Boy on Netflix, yeah?*

Has it come to this? On the grimy streets that London drug dealers Dushane (Ashley Walters) and Sully (Kane Robinson) made for themselves in Top Boy, yes. After over a decade and, ultimately, five seasons, after the series fought through a five-year cancelation/hiatus and achieved resurrection with an assist from Drake, and after Top Boy creator and writer Ronan Bennett got the opportunity to carry Walters’ and Robinson’s characters forth to the bitter end, Dushane and Sully made a frustrated peace with one another as their world came crashing down.

So what happened in Top Boy on Netflix? Well fam, let’s back up a tic.   

As the final six episodes of the series kicked off, the crime drama found Sully shooting his drug biz rival Jamie (Micheal Ward) dead, and locking eyes with Jamie’s kid brother Stefan (Araloyin Oshunremi) while he did the deed. Sully had made a cold calculation. If he didn’t remove Jamie from the equation, his chance to be top boy of the East London dope trade might not ever arrive, since Sully’s quieter and more calculated style threatened to get squeezed between Jamie’s ambitions and the considerable flash and respect commanded by the outwardly more ruthless Dushane. And don’t worry, Sully threatened his childhood friend with a pistol, too. But they talked it out, and agreed that business would continue as Sully took the lead and Dushane phased out his participation. 

Photo: Netflix

At least that’s how it was supposed to go. But then Barry Keoghan showed up as Irish gangster Jonny McGee, together with Brian Gleeson as his uncle Tadhg, and these two made it clear to Sully that they wanted in on his freshly seized dope action. The McGee group had a plan to expand their influence over Summerhouse, the council estate where Sully and Dushane grew up and the centerpiece of their criminal fiefdom. And they revealed their intentions not with a detailed PowerPoint but by beheading Sully’s Moroccan suppliers and sending him their remains. Cold-blooded as hell. But that’s a game Sully could understand. While he strung along the talkative and unpredictable but also definitely psychotic Jonny (Keoghan is so good at playing threatening as weirdly endearing), he learned about the McGees’ operation from the inside. How they moved money and dope through old folks’ homes. And how easy it would be to trap them inside of one. Sully and Dushane ambushed Jonny and Tadhg, killed them, and took back the 25 kilos of gear that was originally theirs. Back in business, and everybody gets paid, right? Wrong.

While Sully and Dushane played out their personal war for control, Summerhouse was growing more volatile in the face of continued pressure from police and immigration authorities. Their associate Jacqueline “Jaq” Lawrence (Jasmine Jobson) was shattered when her sister Lauryn (Saffron Hocking) couldn’t overcome her postpartum depression and instead succumbed to an overdose. (Leaving Lauryn’s infant son in Jaq and her girlfriend’s care.) And Dushane discovered that every cent of the filthy lucre he’d tied up in investments with Jeffrey (Shaun Dingwall), Lizzie (Lisa Dwan), and Lithe (Michelle Newell) was fully in the wind. In a rage, Dushane bashed in Jeffrey’s skull. And now the feds had another reason to pick his ass up.

The ending of Top Boy, explained:

The only commodity either drug dealer had left was that big bag of dope. Which is why things got even more nuts when Jaq stole the 25 keys from Sully’s stash house. “It’s too late to save Lauryn,” she told herself. “But it ain’t too late to save my nephew.” She wanted out of the life, and the drugs would help her get there. But Sully and Dushane sniffed that plan out. As rioting exploded in the courtyards of Summerhouse – bats and clubs, riot shields, molotov cocktails burning up cop cars, the whole bit – Jaq, Sully, and Dushane were all stalking each other on the grounds. Dushane busted his way into his late mother’s abandoned flat, crying at the old pictures of him and Sully as young boys. Sully eventually found his way there, too, with much the same reaction. And when Dushane stole the gear from Jaq, Sully just let her go. Sure, she lied to him, and stole from him, too. All killable offenses. But increasingly broken and desperate, he just let Jaq walk. It was Dushane and the dope he had to find.

Photo: Ali Painter/Netflix

And so it comes to this. Sully has shot Dushane in the gut; he was scrambling over a locked gate at Summerhouse. He tells Dushane that they were ever only brothers when it suited his old friend’s aims, and that all ever wanted from him – going all the way back to when they were kids – was Dushane’s respect. But you can’t be top boy without leaving a few bodies, and now Dushane’s gonna be just another one. 

“Look at where we’re from,” Sully tells Dushane through the gate, as he bleeds out on the other side. “Look at it. If we’re not monsters we’re food. And I could never be food. How do you think we survived all this time?” They’re both in tears as the longtime allies and occasional rivals realize they were both each other’s only true friend. And now it’s all gone for the sake of 25 keys. 

The next morning, Sully visits his daughter Tash as she’s walking to school. He’s saying his goodbyes even though she doesn’t know it. And walking aimlessly in a leaf-strewn park, he’s confronted by Stef. Stef is wearing his brother Jamie’s gold rope chain. And Stef is brandishing a 9mm. “How’s it feel?” he asks Sully, reversing the polarity with a pistol in his face. And Sully, completely spent, says he understands. What happened with Jamie had to happen, he says. And Stef’s gotta do what he’s gotta do. But the young man realizes Sully’s not worth it, puts the gun away, and walks off. Sully, finally the top (only) boy, sits in his car. He puts his own gun in a bag. And he puts on his seatbelt. Which is exactly when an unseen somebody shoots him in the face and keeps on strolling. 


So who shot Sully at the end of Top Boy?

Who can say? It’s left unspecified for a reason, which is to say that the cycle of drug biz supply and demand, audacious power grabs, vicious double crosses, and human carnage left in its wake will continue unabated. Was the shooter someone affiliated with the McGees? Retribution for the hit on Jonny and Tadhg? Probably. But remember, just like Stef’s vendetta, Sully had quite a few enemies. The Irish gangsters were only the most recent. In the end, the money and power that Sully and Dushane both craved wasn’t enough to keep either of them breathing. And Summerhouse awoke to a new day, cleansed. 

Johnny Loftus is an independent writer and editor living at large in Chicagoland. His work has appeared in The Village Voice, All Music Guide, Pitchfork Media, and Nicki Swift. Follow him on Twitter: @glennganges

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