Let’s get started.
The woman we meet at the end is the real Nerissa. She glamoured herself as Faith and instigated the showdown with the Woodsman in Episode One in order make sure Bigby would recognize Faith’s head. Bigby never met Faith. I repeat: Bigby never met Faith.
When we hear Nerissa repeat “Faith’s” last words the initial “Keyser Soze” supposition is that it’s Faith who has been glamoured as Nerissa the whole time. But that doesn’t add up.
First problem: the head, which would actually be Nerissa’s, would have its glamor wear off sooner or later, just as Lily’s did. Dr. Swineheart would probably mention that.
Second: Georgie would know that he killed Nerissa not Faith, unless Nerissa and Faith were glamoured as one another at the time… but why would they do that? Georgie could not be in on it either. You heard Vivian – Georgie did everything the Crooked Man asked him to because the only two things Georgie ever cared about are himself and Vivian.
He killed two women because his neck was on the line and he doesn’t show any remorse for it. Why would he save one of the girls the Crooked Man wants dead and kill Nerissa instead? He would be sticking his neck out for Faith in a serious way, because if that glamour washed off, if anyone had any suspicions about her, his head would be on the block. Unless it was Vivian, the risk wouldn’t be worth it to him.
Also, why wouldn’t he tell Bigby about Faith? He was dying and he wanted to ‘get’ the Crooked Man – how better to stack the odds in your favor than to give Bigby as much ammunition as possible? He clearly doesn’t think highly of Bigby’s deductive skills – if he was in on it and wanted the Crooked Man to pay, Georgie would spell that one out for Bigby just to be certain.
Third: we get subtle hints from the Tweedles in Episode 2 and the photo board in Episode 5 that Faith is not the girl we met.
“Sweet?” Tweedle Dee scoffs when Bigby talks about Faith. “You think that girl was sweet? She was a fucking thief. Fuckin’ sweet. Faith was plenty of things, but that ain’t one of them.”
This directly contradicts the girl we meet in Episode One – one that, granted, would lodge an ax in someone’s head if they were threatening her, but one who kissed Bigby on the cheek and said: “You aren’t as bad as they all say.” A woman who knows that the Fabletown government is actively helping the Crooked Man exploit her and other citizens might not be so kind to law enforcement, even when it’s trying to help her.
But it makes perfect sense if it’s Nerissa acting as Faith. She too knows the business office is culpable, but the whole objective of this, from the beat down to the helping hand, is to make Bigby notice and care about Faith.
In Episode 5, we pass a board as we walk through the Sheppard Metalworks. This board is filled with photos of the ‘suspects’ – Nerissa, Faith and Lily:
See that bottom right photo? That’s Faith and Nerissa, before one of them was killed. Based on that body language, Faith doesn’t appear to be a sweet girl either.
Whoever this woman is, we know very well what she is capable of. She admits she put Faith’s head on the steps, she admits she lied about the Crooked Man’s involvement, she placed Faith’s coat in the Woodsman’s apartment in hopes that Bigby would find it.
All of the initial clues point toward discovering who Faith is – and through that, discovering the Crooked Man. The people like Nerissa, the ones who are destitute, forgotten and left behind, must use other means to get the help they need. We often see large lines waiting outside of the business office, we hear Holly ask Bigby about the “strays.” Nerissa can’t afford the same “back way” Bluebeard took, so she made her own.
The point of the twist, the point of that final line from Nerissa isn’t that Faith is alive. It’s a reminder that people like her are reduced to things that others don’t want to do and then are forced to suffer through it in silence.
It’s a reflection on the powers of authority – including Bigby, Snow and Crane – that she had to go this far just to be heard.