The Novice Ending, Explained

Lauren Hadaway’s psychological thriller film ‘The Novice’ follows Alex Dall, an extremely competitive college freshman who joins her university’s rowing team. Dall’s unwavering commitment to be the best of all the novices takes her on a severe psychological journey. Intense and breathtakingly raw, the sports film offers an astounding character study, exploring the lengths Dall goes through to achieve her ambition. The enigmatic film ends stunningly, leaving many unanswered questions behind for the audience to connect the dots. If you are curious to know more about the film’s ending, here’s everything you need to know! SPOILERS AHEAD.

The Novice Plot Synopsis

Alex Dall is a competitive college freshman who majors in Physics. She joins her university’s rowing team as a novice and starts to train hard to secure a spot on the varsity team. She trains obsessively under the guidance of Coach Pete and produces impressive numbers to get selected to the varsity team, along with fellow novice Jamie Brill. However, she loses her first race with the team after sustaining an injury. To improve her technique, she approaches Coach Edwards and starts training on water rather than in an ERG machine.

Along with her intense training, Dall starts to date Dani, the teaching assistant who conducts her quizzes. Dall’s vigorous training pays off as she gets included in 2V, the secondary varsity team. In the first spring training race, Dall and Brill’s 2V defeats 1V, the principal varsity team, creating an impression on the coaches. To get promoted to 1V, Dall and Brill confront Coach Edwards and demand a seat race. Even though Edwards dismisses them, Dall and Brill are later selected for spring season seat races to determine the qualities of both rowers.

The Novice Ending: Does Brill Cheat Dall?

Yes, Brill does cheat Dall. In the seat race, Dall and Brill compete against each other in fours, with the other three rowers staying the same. After the two races, their performances are valued and the rower who produces the fastest time with the crew wins. The rowers that are selected to participate in the race with Dall and Brill row lighter for Dall and harder for Brill, helping Brill to win.

While 1V represents the epitome Dall can achieve as a committed rower, it’s nothing but a way to earn a scholarship for Brill. Due to financial concerns, Brill is on the verge of dropping out of college and joining a state institution. She also fears the possibility of living with her father. And the only thing that can save her from such a predicament is the scholarship she will earn when she moves up to 1V. When she learns that Dall is a presidential scholar and doesn’t need the scholarship to fund her, she turns her back on Dall. Thinking that Dall will manage her own college years irrespective of the team she ends up in, Brill uses other rowers to help her win in the seat race.

Other varsity rowers, who are already bothered by Dall’s obsessive training and competitiveness, help Brill so that they can avoid Dall in the principal team. Even though Dall is unfairly treated, survival becomes a priority for Brill. Unlike Dall, who is obsessive about the progress she makes in her training and race numbers, Brill concentrates only on the possibility of achieving a scholarship. Her eyes only see others as “silver spoon bitches” and the lack of economical privileges she suffers becomes her justification for what she does to Dall.

Does Dall Make it to 1V? Why Does Dall Erase Her Name from the Rowers’ List?

No, Dall doesn’t make it to 1V. Prior to the selection of the championship line-up, Dall races against Brill, Highsmith, Janssen, and Mitchell. However, the race gets interrupted by lightning, creating confusion among the participants. Still, Dall continues to race against Brill and finishes the race as the only one who does so. After finishing, she looks at her watch and falls back to her rowing boat with content, indicating that she has broken Highsmith’s record time. A fulfilled Dall walks into the camp and, before anyone says anything, erases her name from the list of rowers, indicating her withdrawal from the team.

As far as Dall is concerned, being a rower and making it to 1V are ways for her to challenge herself and be good at something she is not inherently exemplary at. She is not even concerned about her team or rowing and the only thing that motivates her is the opportunity to work hard at something and become the best at it. That’s why she selects Physics as her major even though the subject is the hardest for her. That’s why she opts for rowing even though she doesn’t want to stick with it for professional or economical gains.

All that matters to Dall is the opportunity to be the best at something, and the moment she finishes her last race, possibly in a new record time, the opportunity ceases to exist as she has become the best. Hence, Dall erases her name from the list as she accomplishes what she wants. The moment Dall finishes the race as the only one who does so, 1V becomes irrelevant. She knows that she has achieved her goal and by withdrawing from the team, she is free to chase and work hard for another goal, to conquer something else she is not good at.

Do Dall and Dani End Up Together?

Dall and Dani hit things off in a pretty good way. Dani indirectly asks out Dall and they both enjoy a great night together at a club. Even though nothing progresses from there for a while, both of them start their life together after working things out at a dinner party. In between Dall’s hefty training schedules, both of them manage to find their moments together.

However, the relationship arrives at crossroads when Dani demands Dall to let go of her rowing obsession. She gets worried about Dall’s deteriorating health and the harm she does to herself. When Dani tells Dall that she can’t see her suffer like this, Dall outrightly asks her to end the relationship. Even though the film doesn’t explicitly depict whether the two end up together after the heated confrontation, the chances are indeed low.

Since Dall continues to obsess over working hard and pushing herself to do severe challenges, Dani may stand by her decision to end things. Since she is selected for some programs at the University of Chicago, she is expected to leave Dall to pursue her doctorate degree. As the last few scenes of the film suggest, Dall may not change the principles of her life, even if that means losing Dani.

Read More: Is The Novice a True Story?