Self Reliance Ending, Explained: How Does Thomas Win the Game?

In Hulu’s ‘Self Reliance,’ a lonely man gets the opportunity to change his life when he is offered to participate in a game. Is it shady? Yes. Is it lethal? Yes. But the rules seem pretty easy, and the money is good, so the man thinks, why not? While it might have seemed like an easy thing in the beginning, the man soon realizes that things are not what they seem and there aren’t many people he can trust. On top of that, the game also brings him face to face with the things he had been ignoring or slipping under the rug for so long. In the end, he finds himself a changed man.

Self Reliance Plot Synopsis

Tommy Walcott’s girlfriend of more than two decades left him two years ago, and he is still grieving the breakup. The true reasons for her departure were never addressed (at least that is what he tells himself), and he finds himself outside her house on a number of occasions, trying to settle the matter once and for all. But he never knocks at the door; he never talks to her. Things remain more of the same in other matters of his life, and Tommy finds himself stuck in a rut where nothing exciting ever happens to him until Andy Samberg invites Tommy into his limo.

Samberg reveals that Tommy has been chosen to be a participant in a game, though he himself doesn’t know what the game entails. Still, he knows it is shady enough to visibly squirm when Tommy readily accepts the challenge. It turns out that the game is for the viewers on the dark web, and the only thing Tommy needs to do to win $1 million is to survive 30 days. A group of unknown assassins are on the hunt for him, ready to jump out of the shadows and kill him, but they can only do it when he is alone. As long as Tommy is accompanied by someone, he will be fine. It feels like an easy task, but Tommy soon discovers that’s not so.

Self Reliance Ending: Does Thomas Survive the Game?

Thomas Walcott had been alone for a long time and had never thought twice about it. His loneliness had become a part of his routine, and it never felt alien enough for him to recognize it. It only hits him when the game comes along and he realizes how out of touch he is with his family and friends. The rule in the game asked him to be around someone at all times, and Tommy thought it would be an easy task. It was only a matter of a month, and, for one million, his family members could spend every minute of the next 30 days with him; it wasn’t such a big ask. But he discovers that it was.

First, no one in his family believes him. In fact, they refer to the past instances of his overhyped imagination and even make him wonder if the game is real at all. Second, they believe that he is falling deeper into insanity and suggest he do something about it instead of dragging them along with him. They refuse to even consider the possibility that he might not be lying, and try as he might, Tommy realizes that he will have to find another way to deal with things. So, he hires a homeless man, James, to be his constant companion for the next few weeks.

James takes his job seriously and never leaves Tommy alone; at least, he tries not to. There are days when he is late for the job, cannot pick up calls because his phone is dead, or does not run fast enough to catch up with his employer. It is in these small windows that the assassins make their move, and Tommy realizes how dire the situation is. In between this, Tommy is contacted by a woman who claims to also be part of the game but later retracts, saying that she believed his ad was part of some weird dating app. It is when another player answers the call and talks about how dark the whole thing is. She realizes she might have bitten off more than she could chew and backs off from her newfound friendship with Tommy.

Even with her gone, Tommy still has James/Walter, but one day, he too disappears. When the final day is upon them, Tommy is asked to leave his comfort zone and wade into danger to make things exciting for the audience, who find his actions quite boring. He tries to be smart about it, trying not to stay alone for even one minute. But with James gone, the task proves difficult, and the assassins become more creative. Eventually, with only a few minutes left to go, Andy Samberg appears again and asks James if he would like to continue with the game or if he’d like to quit. Having survived thus far, Tommy is not ready to give up anymore.

In the final leg of the contest, Tommy finds himself standing outside the building in which he’d accepted the offer to become the participant 30 days ago. As he’s about to enter it again, all the assassins creep up from all corners and try to get to him. He runs for his life, knowing full well that he will die if he doesn’t, and eventually succeeds in outrunning them. He makes it to the finish line and wins the game.

How Much Money Does Tommy Win?

At the beginning of the contest, Tommy was offered $1 million for surviving 30 days, and he does so quite painstakingly. In the end, one is bound to ask if it was all worth it. Tommy says it was, but not when it comes to money. It turns out that even though the ones in charge of the reality show are very meticulous about the game, considering the ninja production team and the scary assassins ready to leap on him at any second, they were not particularly keen about the prize money. The danger didn’t translate into cash.

When Tommy wins, instead of getting a million dollars, he gets a million in Danish Kroner. This means that, according to the current rate, he would be receiving somewhere around $150,000, in fact, less than that. Still, it would be better than nothing to get that money, but they are not giving it to him all at once. He will get it in installments of four grand every month over 250 months, which means that he will keep receiving somewhere between $500-$600 every month for the next two decades or so.

The money is certainly a letdown, considering the danger Tommy put himself in, but that’s not why he went into it in the first place. When Andy Samberg approached him in his limo, he didn’t tell Tommy about the one million. He just said that Tommy was selected for a reality show and asked if he’d like to play it. Tommy didn’t know any rules or regulations or loopholes or award money at the time and said yes, without even knowing what he was getting himself into, simply because he was bored out of his wits and wanted something exciting in his hellishly mundane life. He knew he’d be stuck in it forever, and this was his only chance to do something that might shake things up, which is why he didn’t even blink before saying yes to participating in the game.

In the end, when wondering whether or not it was worth it, Tommy says it was because he never cared about the money. The game invigorated him and pushed him to go beyond his limitations, confront his fears, and accept who he was and how he was holding himself back. He made peace with his ex, met his father, and broke the cycle of his own making, which had made his life so dull and unexciting. The game, though bringing him to the brink of death several times, showed him he could be so much more than he thought he was, and that was worth more than all the money they could have offered him.

Do Tommy and Maddy End Up Together?

The game changes Tommy’s life in a number of ways, and one of those ways is meeting Maddy. She got in touch with Tommy about two weeks into the game, answering the call for other contestants playing the same game. Later, Maddy reveals that she is not a participant and hasn’t even heard of the game. She answered the ad because she thought it was an elaborate ploy on the part of a dating app, and it sounded interesting to her. This is why she doesn’t agree to stick with Tommy for the next couple of weeks but agrees to spend the weekend with him. Even though unsure of what it is all about, Maddy immensely enjoys her time with Tommy, and he reciprocates the feeling until someone else answers the call, and Maddy realizes they are not in a silly game. It’s real, it’s serious, it’s life-threatening.

Even though Maddy likes Tommy, she doesn’t like him enough to put herself and her family in harm’s way, knowing full well that there are people out to kill him. When Tommy discovers her lie, he is disappointed but doesn’t get much time to react because he is called at home for an emergency, which turns out to be an intervention. Tommy believes that assassins are trying to get to him by targeting the people he loves and worries that Maddy might still be in the game and, being alone, might get hurt. He is later assured by the show’s crew that they haven’t hurt Maddy, and he focuses on the game again.

In the end, when the game is won and all is said and done, Tommy returns to Maddy’s door. He finds himself in a situation quite similar to what he had been a month ago when he was outside his ex’s door. Back then, he’d left without knocking, but he doesn’t leave things in a lurch this time. He turns around, and he knocks. Whether or not Maddy answers, or if she answers whether she agrees to be with Tommy, or if she agrees they spend the rest of their lives together, is not the point. The point is that the game has changed Tommy; it has turned him from a man who runs away from things to a man who is ready to face whatever comes, not worrying too much about whether or not things will turn out his way, and that’s what really matters in the end.

Considering how much Maddy liked Tommy in the few days they spent with each other, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to believe that she would give him another chance and get to know him in a more relaxed setting, not when he is scared of his own shadow. There is a good chance that they might end up dating each other, no matter if it’s brief or forever. Tommy is ready to take that chance, and Maddy might make that leap, too.

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