Black Bird spoilers follow.
One of the most gripping crime drama series since Mindhunter, Apple TV+'s Black Bird is based on the true story of convicted drug dealer Jimmy Keene (played by Taron Egerton), who was asked to befriend prisoner Larry Hall (Paul Walter Hauser) in return for having his own sentence reduced.
Although Larry was in prison for the abduction and murder of a young girl named Jessica Roach, authorities believed he could be responsible for many more kidnappings and killings, and the hope was that Jimmy could befriend Larry and get him to reveal not only the crimes he had committed, but also where the bodies were buried.
Over the first five episodes of the series, tension builds as Jimmy gets to know Larry in the hope of getting the potential serial killer to confess. He also has to deal with corrupt prison guard Carter (Joe Williamson), while worrying about the health of his father, Big Jim (Ray Liotta, in one of his final roles), a former cop who has had a stroke following Jimmy's arrest and imprisonment.
The start of the final episode begins with Jimmy having a nightmare in which he imagines playing ball with his father, then dreams he is strangling one of Larry's victims while Larry watches.
He wakes up in his cell, with Larry watching him. Larry says he thinks that his 'stories' – the murders he confessed to in the previous episode – have caused Jimmy to have bad dreams, and Jimmy accuses him of making up the confessions, which makes Larry angry.
Whether Larry has told the truth or not isn't Jimmy's only problem. Prison guard Carter, who has told everyone that Jimmy is a snitch, putting his life in danger, visits him in his cell and demands to know who he is working for, though Jimmy refuses to tell him.
That night, Jimmy finds Larry in the wood shop, where he has drawn a map with dots on it, and surrounded it with 21 carved wooden falcons that Larry says 'watch over the dead'. He tells Jimmy he is going to send them to his twin brother, and goes on to talk about a girl named Tricia Reitler – revealing to Jimmy that he stabbed and choked her to death, then buried her where no one will find her.
Knowing they have only a few moments before they have to return to their cells, Jimmy begs Larry to give the map – which he believes shows the location of Larry's victims – to the police so the families of the missing girls and women can finally find peace.
Larry refuses, saying if he did that he would never be released, and he expects to win an appeal that would mean he could go free and live his life (presumably murdering more girls). Jimmy snaps, tells Larry he will never get out of prison, and calls him a demented monster, blowing his own cover.
Prison officers pull them apart, and Jimmy waits in the hope that he can get word to the authorities about Larry's map and confession. Instead, he is dragged to solitary confinement, unable to contact the people on the outside who can help him and powerless to stop Larry posting the vital evidence to his brother.
Unable to get a pencil to write down what he saw, Jimmy resorts to drawing blood from his fingers and using it to recreate the map on his cell wall while he still remembers it.
Meanwhile, detectives Brian Miller (Greg Kinnear) and Lauren McCauley (Sepideh Moafi) visit Larry's brother, Gary (Jake McLaughlin). Gary tells the detectives about a female hitchhiker he and Larry encountered, whom Larry nearly assaulted, and it seems he finally realises what a danger his brother is.
Eventually, Jimmy is released from solitary and is able to tell Lauren what he saw on Larry's map (we see that the real map and wooden birds have arrived at Larry's home and his father has burnt them). He also tells her that Larry described how he killed Jessica Roach and Tricia Reitler to him, and she realises with Jimmy's testimony they finally have the evidence they need to prevent Larry's appeal for release from ever being granted.
In the final scenes, Jimmy is set free, clearly devastated that while he got a confession from Larry that means he will die in jail, he was not able to get Larry to reveal the location of the bodies. He returns to his dad and begins a career in business.
Larry, meanwhile, is visited by his brother in prison. Gary asks him to confess, and a final note at the end of the episode states that Larry did admit 15 murders to his brother, but then swiftly recanted.
He will remain in prison for the rest of his life.
Black Bird is available to watch on Apple TV+.
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