The Fallout Ending, Explained

Because of its themes, ‘The Fallout’ could have come out at any point in the last 25 years, and it would have been relevant. And unfortunately, it seems that it will still be relevant for the next 25 years. ‘The Fallout’ doesn’t offer a solution either. Instead, it focuses on exploring the harrowing aftermath for the surviving students and their families. Some respond to it by finding courage that they never knew they had, while others just shut down to the rest of the world. The film urges its audience to realize both are equally viable. Here is everything you need to know about the ending of ‘The Fallout.’ SPOILERS AHEAD.

The Fallout Plot Synopsis

Vada Cavell (Jenna Ortega) is a typical Gen-Z teenager with a loving family and a supportive friend, Nick (Will Ropp). She is bright, smart, and a perfect big sister to her younger sister Amelia (Lumi Pollack). On the fateful day, she receives a message from Amelia, asking for her help. Concerned, Vada steps out of the class to enquire over the phone what has happened. Some of her tension ebbs away when she realizes that this desperate plea for help was sent because Amelia had her period for the first time. After helping her sister, Vada steps into the bathroom and discovers that Mia (Maddie Ziegler), a popular girl, dancer, and budding influencer, is already there.

As the two young women begin to talk, the sound of gunfire cuts through the tranquillity of the scene.  These teenagers live in a world where school shootings have become so common that there are actual protocols in place. The two girls immediately realize what is happening, and Vada almost drags Mia to a stall to hide. They are soon joined by Quinton (Niles Fitch), another student at their school. Quinton has blood on his shirt. His brother has been shot. The three of them stay there in that cramped-up stall, more terrified than they ever have been. Eventually, the police come and take down the shooter.

The response to trauma has always been a spectrum. Before the incident, Nick was content in his generational bubble of social media and instant gratification. He emerges as a leader among his peers after the incident. He realizes that politics is the only way to bring about changes to put a stop to school shootings for good. He leads marches, attends meetings, and stands at the forefront of a brewing revolution.

On the other hand, Vada becomes completely numb. Her well-meaning parents don’t know how to cross the gaping hole that has suddenly sprouted in their relationship with Vada and convince her to see a therapist, Anna (Shailene Woodley). Meanwhile, Amelia feels being alienated by her big sister. Unlike her parents, who want to give Vada the space they think she needs, Amelia is almost confrontational in her approach to getting her sister out of the shell she has built around herself. Initially unsuccessful, Amelia starts thinking that Vada thinks she nearly got killed because of Amelia.

Because she shared those moments of absolute terror with them, Vada finds her response to be quite similar to that of Mia and Quinton. But even then, the numbness that all three of them feel is expressed differently by each of them. As Vada grows close to Mia, her friendship with Nick inevitably suffers. Nick seems to have found a strong purpose around which he can build his life, whereas Vada has entrenched herself in her pain. She stops going to school, drinks, does drugs, kisses both Mia and Quinton, and has sex with the former. Arguably, the biggest lesson that the film imparts is that it’s alright to feel the pain. It’s alright to let it stop you, for however long you need, in your journey toward your future.

The Fallout Ending: What Message Does Vada Receive at the End? Why Does She Start Panicking?

As the movie’s ending nears, it seems that things will primarily work out for Vada. She goes through the exercise that her therapist suggested, and it gives positive results. She lets herself be vulnerable around her sister and opens up to her parents. She admits to her father that she is hurting. In turn, he shows her how to let her pain out. Vada confesses to her mother about the drugs, alcohol, and sex, leaving her mother confused on how to deal with it.

Obviously, it’s a good thing that Vada is communicating once again, but the things she told her mother are understandably too much to handle for a parent. Her relationship with Nick remains strained, and Quinton doesn’t appear on the screen again after the disastrous kiss he shared with Vada. However, her friendship with Mia appears to be heading in a new direction as they come out of their respective shells.

This is when Vada gets an alert for another school shooting — this time in Ohio — and immediately comes undone. The progress that Vada has painstakingly made since the incident goes away completely, and she is stranded with her pain and trauma. As the school shootings have become horribly frequent, survivors like Vada are perpetually trapped in their trauma. Even if they overcome the initial part, they are dragged back in when the next shooting happens.

Read More: Where Was The Fallout Filmed?