Apologies to William Richardson, who ended up winning the first season of the Netflix reboot of The Mole, but most of the audience had to be feeling what Osei White said in the finale: "I don't even care who won...who the hell is the Mole?"
The answer was finally revealed after one final mission that saw the three finalists — Kesi Neblett, Will, and Joi Schweitzer — running through an abandoned fort to try to receive three canisters, each containing $5,000. They made it out of the fort in the allotted time, but only with one canister. That final amount brought the prize pot to $101,500.
The three players had to take one final quiz, and perhaps surprisingly, there were still multiple questions on it. They couldn't just answer, "Who is the Mole?" because if the two who were not the Mole both answered correctly, the show still needed to find a way to mark a winner. (Technically they probably could have selected the person who answered the fastest, but where is the fun in that? Instead, in that case, the winner would be the person who got the most correct answers. Because even if they were not guessing, they may not remember every thing the Mole did or didn't do and therefore would likely not get 100-percent.)
However, that proved unnecessary because everyone ended up choosing a different person, denoting "a clear winner," as host Alex Wagner put it. Kesi chose Joi, Joi chose Will, and Will chose Kesi and was ultimately proven correct.
All throughout the season, suspicious behavior was sometimes written off as "too obvious" or concern that someone was just intentionally trying to confuse their fellow players so they could get further ahead. But the evidence of Kesi's sabotage had been left in the final edit of every episode.
Read on for every piece of Mole-like behavior she exhibited over the 10-episode season. And click here to read our interviews with Kesi and Will.
Kesi was actually one of the two people who ascended into the air via the pulley system to retrieve her team's red cargo case that contained $5,000 in the players' very first mission. That willingness to aid in a successful mission is the opposite of Mole-like behavior, but after being revealed as the Mole, a video showed Kesi explaining that was because her strategy was to get "everyone to trust her" because "first impressions mean a lot."
However, if you watch that mission closely, she appears extremely quiet, from the time of picking teams, to the discussion over which way to walk when reading the map. She wasn't sabotaging, but she wasn't really contributing yet either. And while it's hard to know exactly how much time she let Avori Henderson flail on her own with the cargo net knots, the fact that she didn't join her up there immediately could have been a more subtle way of running down the clock, even if her intention was not to let it run out completely.
Kesi revealed her strategy was to slow everything down during this time jailbreak challenge.
In a team with Joi and Greg Shapiro, she was put in Cell Block D, specifically in a first-floor cell across from Joi's cell. Outside of her cell was a ring with a key on it. When she asked Joi, who was in the cell across from her, if she could see anything outside her door, her tone certainly made it sound like she knew something was there. (Kesi later admitted she could see it from her own window in the cell door.) Joi said no, though. Perhaps Joi's eyesight isn't great or perhaps she was intentionally trying to throw suspicion on herself, but either way, she ended up helping Kesi with her mission as the Mole immensely.
With no one talking about that key, Kesi was able to tell Joi that they should focus on getting her out first, and a lot of time was spent with Joi trying to reach the key in her cell that was dangling from the ceiling.
In her confessional, Kesi said she wanted the two people the group trusted the least to be the two who stayed outside the jail. Her reasoning was that if you put people you don't trust under a spotlight, it might make it harder for them to "make the decisions they normally would." But being the Mole, she also knew she needed to get into the prison in order to sabotage getting out of it.
Since we are not trained in psychology we won't be commenting on all of her confessionals, though it certainly appears that if you analyze her facial expressions and vocal inflections during those, you can catch more clues as to when she was just saying things production needed her to say, or outright lying.
After successfully completing the jailbreak, the players thought they were en route to dinner, but their destination instead was another short mission that split them into two teams and told them to just "do nothing for the next 45 minutes and $10,000 will be added to the pot." However, if one team pressed the big red button inside their holding sector, then the members of that group would win an exemption from elimination — but no money would be added to the pot.
Kesi was on a team with Joi, Will, Dom Gabriel, Jacob Hacker, and Samara Joy, and, like the first mission, she appeared quiet as others debated what to do. Initially the team was not going for the button because they wanted to increase their prize for whoever would remain standing at the end of the season. However, because both teams were connected by a phone call every 10 minutes, they caught wind that the other team was going for the button and scrambled to try for it too.
Kesi ended up in the first group to check for clues to the password, alongside Will and Jacob, though that was by Will's suggestion. She did pick up on Wagner's extra clue about the password being in the periodic table and grabbed it to take the frame apart.
Ultimately, her team was not the one that won the exemption, but as the Mole, Kesi could still consider that a win because it meant no additional money got added to the prize pot, and the whole point of her job was to keep that pot as low as possible.
With so many players still in the game, we didn't expect to see how each individual person reacted when being given the opportunity to see dossiers on their fellow players. But Kesi being one who was left out of that sequence makes it look like either production didn't waste time bringing her into that room at all or perhaps her reaction wasn't believable enough to be used.
The implication is that she didn't look (why would she need to when she's the Mole, right?) because she did appear very briefly in the sequence in which those who did not look met with Wagner to place bids on who did look, in order to win the exemption. She didn't need the exemption, either, and honestly, the shot of her was so quick and so close-up and without any identifying factors to prove it actually was shot in that room with Wagner.
But, even if you take it at face value, her placing a bid does create opportunity to pull money out of the pot, which is Mole-like behavior.
And if you look really closely at Kesi after Wagner reveals in Episode 3 that the winning bid for that exemption was $25,000, Kesi lets a small smile quickly cross her face. Then, when the same sequence is repeated in Episode 4, they cut to a shot of her lowering her head behind her hand, as if she is trying to hide that she is laughing. Even her reaction after Wagner officially announces that $25,000 is out of the prize pot looks like evidence of her true nature in the game because, in hindsight, it reads as a, "What does this mean for me/Can I even do more harm than Joi just did?" expression.
Once again, Kesi played it quiet during the picking of teams and let Will put her on Team Plane with Avori, Dom, Pranav Patel, and Sandy Ronquillo. Their mission was to scour the coastline below them to find and bring special equipment to Team Boat.
Once on the plane, she took a second row seat on the plane's right-hand side behind Avori, but she didn't spend the entire time with her eyes glued to her window.
Avori decided to slow things down, trying to look suspicious without completely sabotaging the mission, simply because she wanted others to be wary of her. So, she said the side of coastline with the dinghy they needed looked clear (twice!), and Kesi did not contradict her, though she had to have known Avori was lying. (She was shown looking out the window at the same time, and though she was a couple of feet behind Henderson, she was on the right side of the plane.) This allowed her to sabotage the mission without looking like she was sabotaging the mission.
After they landed, Kesi barely carried anything on the team's trek to the other team. Again, it was not the outward sabotage of Avori, who purposely dropped an oxygen tank, but it could have been subtle slowing them down. (If others did not carry her weight, they may have had to make a second trip, keeping Team Boat from even being able to complete their half of the mission.)
Will's instance on making so many decisions might have given many audience members reason to believe he was the Mole, but his controlling nature put Kesi in the critical thinking role (alongside Pranav) for the Bank Heist Mission, which meant that the Mole was in the prime position to sabotage. And sabotage she did — in the first truly big way of the season.
While Kesi described her strategy for this one as giving "them as little help as possible," that's really just a nicer way of saying she went out of her way to ignore clues she also admitted were obvious.
Her team was tasked with trying to find gold within specific safety deposit boxes inside a bank vault, but there was not enough time to check all of the boxes. Certain names in a logbook (K. Midas, anyone?) that only Kesi had access to would have pointed them in the right directions, but she skipped reading those (also G. Locks, L. Dorado) and just had her team on a wild goose chase.
This time the remaining players were split into three teams, each carrying out a specific part of a mail mission. Kesi, Greg, and Casey Lary ended up tasked with grabbing mail bags hanging on poles on the side of the road as the train on which they were traveling drove by.
While Greg took the lead at first (and successfully grabbed his bag, we must point out), with Kesi as backup in case he missed, she ended up getting a chance to go for the bag personally on the second time around. And here she took the opportunity to miss, costing them the $2,000 that the bag was worth. It was something that looked like it could have just been a mistake, and it wasn't truly a foolproof plan because she agreed to have Greg (who had already proven he could do this, mind you) be her backup. But the backup has to try to lift the bag off the ground, and that proved harder for him, so they ended up taking the L on that one.
Another supposed meal, another exemption opportunity.
The players sat down to a multi-course lunch during which two of them were secretly sitting on detonators that would blow a cash prize of $15,000 up if they stood up from their seat. The way to keep that from happening (and add that money to the prize pot) was for the players to remove everyone else from the table instead — and then have the last person standing choose the money over the exemption.
Kesi was one of two (Will being the other) who were sitting on detonators and therefore eating normal meals. It's hard to say for sure if she was trying to make people think she had the spicy option — her eyes did seem to water during the dessert course that ultimately got her voted out — but in this case we actually can't imagine she would have wanted to draw attention to her knack for deception, so that may have been a trick of lighting.
The Mole put $10,000 in three separate players' backpacks ahead of this mission, and if those three people successfully completed the mission, the $30,000 total would be added to the prize pot — but the catch was that everyone had to agree on who would be left behind at various points along the way in order to ensure the right three people finished.
Kesi immediately volunteered to sit it out, knowing that she had put money in her own bag. But once she made that decision — and everyone else agreed — she could still try to influence who else stopped at certain pre-determined checkpoints because she had a comms system to talk to those on the mission.
Ultimately, they won $20,000 because Joi and Casey both had cash canisters in their bags and were chosen to finish the mission.
And here, Wagner may have unknowingly tipped things off by saying, "It was Kesi all along" when Kesi, the last of the players to check their bags, pulled out her cash canister.
The players were chained together in a cold, dark, and apparently smelly empty warehouse. They had to work together to free themselves one at a time, but as each person was freed, they had the opportunity to grab the exemption card instead of the key.
Kesi didn't volunteer herself to go first, but she seized the opportunity when the team chose her (ironically calling her the most trustworthy). Sure, she didn't need the exemption, but it was a way to keep $20,000 out of the prize pot, shake Will (and anyone else who was starting to suspect her after he called her out for her failure during the Bank Heist) off her scent, and potentially set the other team members back in gameplay because they had to sleep in that warehouse — and uncomfortable conditions / lack of proper rest can lead to a lot of mistakes in the subsequent mission.
As Joi called out, Kesi did also smirk at the other players after she took the exemption, which may have been a subconscious twitch, but rubbing it in in that way is certainly something the Mole would do.
Any player that correctly guessed which of two framed works of art hanging on a gallery wall was the one done by the Mole and therefore "worthless except to you," according to Wagner, had a chance to earn an exemption.
Kesi knew she painted the modern piece using spray paint (a red circle with the word STOP in black and white stencil in the middle), so when Jacob said that the message seemed to be "right in front of [their] faces," meaning "Stop, don't pick this painting," she spoke up to say, "Would the Mole think that we were going to do that and do something different?" She also tried to sway some players toward the other painting by wondering if each of the colors in the painting could represent each of the players left in the game.
She chose to incorrectly identify the real painting as the one done by the Mole, and in doing so, she joined Will and Greg (who also incorrectly identified the fake) as a trio who had to listen to and question stories from the other three players about their evenings and determine which one of them was telling a fictional tale.
Obviously Kesi knew which painting she did, but if she had correctly chosen her own one, she would have had to tell a story and be grilled about it, and such scrutiny might have given away just how good she is at deception. Also, again, she didn't need the exemption, and by putting herself in the interrogators' seat instead, she had the opportunity to influence the votes for who was telling the fictional tale, and if she steered Will and Greg away from the correct liar, she would keep another $20,000 from being added to the prize pot.
It was obvious Jacob was the one telling the lie, as he couldn't keep his story straight and he looked shell-shocked when called out on that fact, but Kesi told Will and Greg not to jump to conclusions and then tried to draw suspicion onto Joi's story about holding a python because she believed a snake so thick would not wind through a person's hair and judged Greg when he said he believed Avori's story about walking on hot coals but refusing to show them her feet.
With Avori selected to be the odd player out, being hidden away somewhere the others, in pairs of two, had to seek, Joi chose to work with Kesi, who smirked when Joi said, "We got this." Their task was to find a group of homing pigeons in a green expanse and select the right bird to track to Avori's location.
First, Kesi slowed her duo down by insisting on checking out other areas and debating what constitutes a circle, even though Joi said she saw the group of pigeons that Avori told them (via phone) were flying above her location. Then, she tried to steer Joi toward the wrong bird when they had to select one to follow to Avori's location. (Avori provided information on the bird's markings from a newspaper clipping she had with her in order for them to know which was the "prized" pigeon that would lead them to the right place.) When she couldn't convince Joi to go with the bird she was picking, Kesi suggested rochambeau to make the decision, and her face fell for the briefest second when she lost.
Heading into this mission, it was an interesting choice to have Kesi, in her confessional, be the one to point out, "The Mole is here, and there's only three other people beside them. That means the Mole has nowhere to hide." Her emphasis on "here" and the phrasing in general, in retrospect, served as a "hiding in plain sight" moment for the audience.
The mission was again one for pairs, and when Wagner pointed out this meant "one of you will be working directly with the Mole," the show cut to a two-shot of Kesi and Joi, who did ultimately team up again, though this time it was Kesi leading that decision-making.
One team member had to strap a sled to their hips, onto which they would pile ice blocks with money frozen inside at various checkpoints. Kesi took the sled initially, using it as an opportunity to slow her stride, especially when they were going uphill, because it was extra weight (even before the ice blocks started being added).
In her confessional, Kesi said her strategy was to be suspicious — to "play some funny games" — but after the reveal that she was the Mole, she confessed to her fellow players that she needed to switch to playing an offensive game and sabotage right out in the open. She did this by throwing ice boxes off the sled — and Joi only happened to turn around and catch her doing it once. She played it off as an accident before pushing that one back onto the sled, and in her confessional claimed she wanted Joi to notice that, which appeared to be just another attempt to cover her tracks — only this time for the audience.
Kesi also allowed Joi to be the one to use the tracker to find the ice boxes, which is another form of (more subtle) sabotage because Joi had a proven track record of failing at navigation in past challenges. Players who were gunning for the money would have fought Joi for control of that device.
It wasn't the biggest sabotage, as she was the one who volunteered to give Joi the briefcase with the most money ($8,000) in it and she knew Joi suspected her (and claimed she wanted Joi to suspect her), so she knew Joi would not be going home, but Kesi still took some money out of the pot here when she changed the plan at the last minute and took the briefcase with $0 in it, knowing she, too, would not be going home.
For the final mission, the final three players (to recap: Joi, Kesi, and Will) had to work together to find three red canisters that each contained $5,000 in three separate zones in an abandoned fort on Bare Island. There, drones on pre-set paths would roam, trying to catch intruders, and if it saw any one of the players for more than three seconds, they mission would be over. Kesi noted how easy it would be for the Mole to sabotage simply by standing in its path, but she ultimately opted not to be that obvious.
Instead, she volunteered to retrieve the second canister, which required her to use suction pads along the wall and only step on thin pipes in order to get to it. It was an easy way for her to pretend to slip off the pipe, hitting the floor, which forfeited the cash.