Warning: This article contains spoilers for the aftermath of HBO Max. hopefully, you knew that when you clicked on it, but just in case.
Sadly, school shootings have become commonplace in the US. uu. during the last decades. Too many teens live in fear that they and their classmates will be murdered by a gunman every time they go to school. But as the world watches in the week after each horrific shooting, eventually the news crews go home and students and their families must deal with the emotional fallout.
It’s those consequences that writer/director Megan Park considers in her new movie The Fallout, which begins airing today on HBO Max. The drama stars Jenna Ortega as a high school student named Vada Cavell who, although she is not physically harmed, goes through the emotional trauma of a shooting at her school. despite the sobering subject matter, the film is filled with a surprising amount of levity. But when it comes to the aftermath, the film packs an emotional punch that will leave viewers reeling.
if you just watched aftermath on hbo max and need to process that ending, read on for the aftermath plot summary and aftermath ending explanation.
what are the consequences about? the plot summary of the aftermath:
Vada Cavell (jenna ortega), a high school student, is a quiet girl with a good life. He gets Starbucks with his best friend Nick (Will Ropp) before school, talks to his younger sister Amelia (Lumi Pollack) about having her first period, and makes fun of his school’s resident Instagram influencer Mia (Maddie Ziegler) for outline in the day image.
Then comes a horrible event that makes it hard for Vada to be so easygoing: a shooting at her school that kills an unspecified number of her classmates. Vada is trapped in the school bathroom when it happens, huddled in a cubicle with influencer Mia and, eventually, a blood-soaked student named Quinton (Niles Fitch). they try not to cry too much as they listen to the excruciating sounds of gunshots and screams, wondering if this moment will be their last.
everyone in the bathroom survives, but to say that vada is traumatized is an understatement. in the aftermath of the shooting, she has nightmares and feels numb. While Ella’s best friend becomes an activist overnight, Ella Vada is not moved to march or pressure her representatives. instead, she gravitates toward mia, the influencer, and the two forge an unlikely friendship after being bonded over something so horrible. Mia’s parents are filthy rich and always out of town, so the girls spend their days drinking wine and smoking weed in Mia’s huge empty house.
vada has no desire to go back to school, but eventually, with pressure from her mother, she does. even then, he can’t bring himself to enter the bathroom where he hid from the shooter at school, so he forces himself to hold it. he makes it to the end of the day, until, on the way home, he steps on a can and urinates. the next day, he takes ecstasy at school to self-medicate and ends up with ink all over his face, falling down the school stairs. it’s clear that she’s falling apart, even though she tries her best to hold on to those cool-girl vibes. She tells her parents that she’s fine and tells her therapist (Shailene Woodley) that she’s just “a very low-key person.”
but she withdraws from her family, yells at her sister and spends more and more time with mia, eventually sleeping with her. she’s been gone all night and her mother is out of her mind. (His usual alibi of her spending the night at Nick’s house backfires when Nick calls her mom looking for her.) She tries to kiss Quinton and he rejects her. She feels that everyone in her life has turned against her.
how do you explain the end of fallout?
amelia, vada’s sister, confronts her in the middle of the night and tearfully apologizes. amelia thinks that vada is mad at her because amelia had called vada just before the shooting, causing him to leave the classroom and putting her in more danger. Vada realizes how much he has hurt her sister by walking away from her, and it’s a defining moment.
After a somewhat cheesy and cathartic screaming session in nature with her dad, Vada goes to visit Mia. he’s been avoiding her ever since they had sex, and mia thinks he’s mad at her. Vada finds Mia passed out in her sauna, surrounded by empty wine bottles. Ella Mia confesses that she is afraid to leave her house, but that she plans to go back to dance class because she knows she will do well.
vada continues to patch things up with her mom and has a breakthrough session with her therapist. In the final scene of the film, Vada waits for Mia outside of her dance class, and the two have an easy and somewhat flirtatious text exchange. vada looks happy. then she gets a news notification on his phone: a school shooting in another state has killed 12 students. Vada stares at her phone in disbelief, and then begins to hyperventilate. The screen turns white as we hear the sounds of Vada’s panic attack.
ugh. It’s a shocking ending that suggests that while Vada is beginning to heal from her trauma, he still suffers greatly from her, and may always carry the trauma with her. she will probably have to be treated for post-traumatic stress disorder; this is not the kind of thing you get cured of in a matter of months. but she has her family to support her and hers friends of hers and hopefully vada will be okay. someday.
watch the fallout on hbo max