Happiness for Beginners Ending, Explained: Do Jake and Helen End Up Together?

Based on Katherine Center’s eponymous novel, Netflix’s ‘Happiness for Beginners‘ is a romantic comedy movie directed by Vicky Wright that follows Helen, a divorced teacher who wishes to reinvent herself. To challenge herself, she goes for a wilderness survivalist course, where she meets Jake, her brother’s childhood friend. Helen, who is unaccustomed to the ways of the wild, struggles a lot to keep up with the rest of the group, yet her pride stops her from taking Jake’s help. However, she gradually learns that to begin afresh in life, she must unlearn her past inhibitions and let go of her past.

Along the way, Helen has several adventures and warms up to Jake, realizing that sometimes, leaning on someone isn’t so bad. Despite the pair’s increasing closeness, they face several hurdles, making the viewers curious about what becomes of them. If you also wish to learn how Helen’s hiking trip culminates, here is everything you need to know about the ending of ‘Happiness for Beginners.’ SPOILERS AHEAD!

Happiness for Beginners Plot Synopsis

Helen is a 40-year-old teacher who has recently divorced her husband, Mike, from whom she has been separated for one year. Regardless, he continues contacting her, and given her non-confrontational nature, she doesn’t do much to shut him off. All the turbulence in Helen’s life pushes her to do something different, as she wishes to reset and prioritize herself. Hence, she signs up for a wilderness survivalist course on an Appalachian Trail without much hiking knowledge or experience.

To Helen’s dismay, the course’s young instructor, Beckett, disapproves of her inexperienced ways. On top of it, she learns that her brother Duncan’s best friend, Jake, is also participating in the hiking trip. Though he has always been warm toward Helen and cared for her, she finds him obnoxious and interfering. While they start the hiking camp off on the wrong foot, she befriends Hugh, an aspiring actor participating in the course. Along with six interesting individuals, Jake and Beckett, Helen commences the hiking trail, only to get injured on her foot on the first day.

A former doctor, Jake, helps Helen, but she rebuffs his friendly gesture. On the other hand, he impresses everyone with his skills and befriends one of their groupmates, Windy, who develops a major crush on him. Over the next few days, Helen learns several skills for surviving in the wild and creates a good rapport with most of her groupmates, including Windy, who teaches her how to appreciate the good things in life. She further learns that Jake uses multiple spectacles for his vision and evades any explanations when asked about it.

Meanwhile, Beckett seems to be critical of Helen, and he becomes even angrier when she accidentally drops her note in the woods, listing her affirmations for the hiking trip. Gradually, she starts winning her groupmates over with her resilience and eagerness to turn things around. When the group is divided into two teams for a hiking activity, Hugh gets gravely injured and breaks his leg, yet Helen maintains her calm and single-handedly guides the entire group on how to handle the situation and evacuate him. Before leaving the camp, Hugh advises Helen to act on her apparent feelings for Jake, leaving her confused.

In the meantime, Helen’s presence of mind in Hugh’s situation impresses Beckett, and he realizes that she is a worthy contender for the certificate to be given to the “Best Outbacker” certificate at the end of the camp. On top of it, he even opens up to Helen at the final camping spot about not fitting in with his peers and finding a sense of belonging in the lap of nature, and they bond over the same. After several fulfilling days in the wilderness, the group returns to base, attending a farewell party and voting for the Best Outbacker.

Although everyone expects Helen to win, they are shocked when the votes indicate that Hugh has won the certificate due to a ballot mixup. As everyone applauds her, she shares that while winning the certificate was one of her top goals, she soon realized that the wilderness course served a bigger purpose — it taught her the true meaning of freedom and gratitude for being alive. With that thought, Helen bids her new friends goodbye and returns to her grandmother’s home, apologizing to Duncan for all the anger she has held for him. Not just that, she promises to be a better sister and work on improving their relationship.

Happiness for Beginners Ending, Explained: Do Jake and Helen End Up Together?

Jake has always had a soft corner for Helen but never acted upon his feelings as she was with Mike. However, she is unaware of the same and has never seen him as a romantic interest. In fact, Helen gets uncomfortable by Jake’s blunt nature and how he forces her to confront the harsh realities she tries to avoid. Despite her constant rejections, he always looks out for her and tries to help her on the hiking trip, but she refuses the same. Albeit, she starts seeing him in a different light over the wilderness course and realizes how much he cares for her and that he signed up for the hiking trip just to be around her.

When Helen loses her note, Jake hands her another one, telling her to read it later. In the meantime, she is visibly unhappy with Windy constantly hitting on him, but she avoids meddling and maintains a platonic stance with him. Besides, when Jake mentions that Helen’s former husband is unworthy of her and that he fears she would return to him, they end up arguing. As the hiking group proceeds, the two slowly mend their differences and start getting along, yet she refrains from connecting too deeply with him.

The night Hugh gets injured, Helen and Jake share a tent as well as a heartfelt conversation where he asks her about Nathan, her deceased brother whom she loved dearly. She opens up about how he died in a drowning accident as a child. This caused her mother to go into severe depression, yet she had Duncan to compensate for losing Nathan. Sadly, her condition deteriorated, and their parents parted ways. Eventually, Helen and Duncan’s mother left them in their grandmother’s care and left, maintaining a distant relationship with them.

Helen emotionally reveals to Jake how she has always carried the guilt of Nathan’s death and has blamed Duncan for all her miseries. In return, he advises her to understand her brother’s perspective and not be too harsh on him. In the final leg of the camp, Jake loses his way at night, and Helen goes looking for him. He then reveals to her that he is facing night blindness and will lose his eyesight soon due to an incurable genetic condition. He confesses that this is why he left his medical practice and wishes to make the most of life until he still has his eyesight.

Helen and Jake share an emotional moment and almost kiss, only to be interrupted by Windy. Later, when they return to base and attend the farewell party, she misunderstands that he may have a girlfriend back home. Therefore, she leaves unexpectedly without an explanation, leaving him confused. On her way back to her grandma’s, Helen realizes she has unexpectedly fallen for Jake. She finally opens the note he had given her, which contains a heartfelt poem he dedicates to her, professing his long-hidden feelings for her.

At Helen’s grandma’s book club party, Helen is surprised when Jake finally arrives looking for her, and they both confess their love to each other. Though he states their future together may be affected by his impending loss of eyesight, she accepts him wholeheartedly, and they kiss. Thus, even after a lot of denial and conflict, Helen reciprocates Jake’s love, and they give their relationship a chance.

Read More: Is Happiness for Beginners Based on a True Story?