All the Light We Cannot See summary and ending explained

All the Light We Cannot See follows Marie, a blind French girl, and Werner, a German soldier, as they try to hold on to their beliefs while surviving the Second World War. The series is now streaming on Netflix.

Warning: This article contains heavy spoilers

Plot summary

In Nazi-occupied Saint-Malo, France, a young girl named Marie-Laure LeBlanc reads a book on the radio. It is illegal to broadcast, and she could be killed for it, but she does it anyway. Marie-Laure uses the radio to ask her father to return home. 

A German soldier, Werner Pfennig, tunes in every night to listen to her. Werner is a radio operator whose job is to catch illegal broadcasters like Marie, but instead of doing that, Werner protects Marie by not telling anyone about her. 

Werner goes to extreme lengths to protect Marie because when he was a child, he used to listen to the broadcast of a man who called himself the Professor. The man preached peace, told children facts, and gave them the truth when everyone else in the world was giving them their opinions. 

Werner and his sister grew up in an orphanage. Werner was a genius who was able to make a radio for himself at a very young age. Even though it was illegal to listen to foreign broadcasts in Germany, Werner used to listen to the Professor, the man who gave him hope.

When an SS officer saw Werner’s talents, he sent him to the National Institute, where students are brutally beaten up and humiliated on a daily basis with the aim of turning them into hardened soldiers who do not fear anything and never hesitate. 

Although Werner was too young, he was sent to the front because of his skills. Werner followed the orders and hunted down several broadcasters for the Nazis, but he refuses to do the same to Marie, as it is evident that she used to listen to the Professor and now broadcasts on the same frequency as him.

It is August 1944, WWII is coming to an end, and everyone knows that the Germans are going to lose soon with the Americans bombing the city at night. The residents of Saint-Malo cannot leave the city because the Germans have closed the city gates.

Reinhold von Rumpel, a high-ranking German officer whose job is to deliver the finest jewels in Europe to Hitler, is looking for Marie in Saint-Malo, but he has not been able to find her, as the locals refuse to cooperate with him. 

Reinhold is looking for a stone called the Sea of Flames, as he is sick. It is believed that whoever possesses it will never die, but the person they love will suffer a terrible misfortune. Reinhold does not have long to live, so he needs to find the Sea of Flames.

Before the Germans invaded Paris in 1940, Marie’s loving father, Daniel, used to work in a museum in Paris that had the cursed Sea of Flames. Long ago, Daniel touched that stone with his bare hands, and due to that, Marie lost her vision. 

When Paris was invaded, Daniel left the city with Marie to live with his Uncle Etienne and Etienne’s sister, Madam Manec, in Saint-Malo. Before leaving, Daniel managed to send all the museum jewels away to prevent the Germans from getting them.

Etienne is a war hero, but the horrors he witnessed on the front changed him. He stopped going out of his house and used to be cooped up in his room with his radio. Even his sister could not help him.

When Marie met him for the first time, she immediately figured out that Etienne is the Professor she listens to every night and admires so much. By the time they met, Etienne was using his radio to send coded messages to London to help win the war. 

With time, Daniel revealed to Etienne and Madam Manec that the Germans are looking for him because he has the Sea of Flames, and Etienne and Madam Manec told him that they are with the French Resistance.

To prevent the Germans from finding him and Marie in Saint-Malo, Daniel goes to Paris to mislead them, but not before hiding the Sea of Flames in a wooden model of the city that he built for his daughter. Daniel was supposed to return in six days, but it has been more than a year, and he is still not back.

Four months ago, Etienne got the message that the Americans and the British were coming to free France. Madam Manec was prepared to do all the work that the Resistance had to do, even though she had a heart illness. 

Due to this, Etienne decided to start stepping out of the house again. Marie, who had been making herself familiar with the city’s roads, always pestered him to do that, so he took her help to overcome his challenges. 

Etienne and Marie started working for the Resistance together. Soon after, Madam Manec passed away, and Etienne left the house to hide with the other members of the Resistance, while Marie used his radio to send coded messages to the Allies by reading on the radio.

While Reinhold found all the other jewels that Daniel had sent away, he could not find the Sea of Flames, as Daniel took it with him. Werner thinks that Marie has the cursed jewel, and that is why he is looking for her. 

The locals are scared of the Resistance more than the Germans, and since Marie is protected by the Resistance, no one gives Reinhold her address. Reinhold finds Marie near the ocean and tortures her to find out where the Sea of Flames is hidden, but Marie manages to escape by injuring him.

Meanwhile, Werner’s whole company dies in an air raid, but Werner survives. He is then made to work under a soldier named Schmidt. However, Schmidt discovers that Werner has been protecting Marie. He plans to kill Werner and then report Marie, so Werner kills him.

Werner’s superior also figures out that Werner killed Schmidt to protect someone. He does not kill Werner for treason, as Werner is the only radio operator left in the city. However, he threatens to get Werner’s sister killed if Werner does not lead the soldiers to Marie.

Werner has no choice but to find Marie’s house. He is sent inside to kill Marie, but Etienne comes to Marie’s rescue in time. Werner then kills his own superior to save Marie, which leads to Etienne taking Werner to the Resistance’s hiding place.

Werner tells Etienne how he was sent to the front against his will and why he wants to protect Marie. It does not take Werner long to realize that Etienne is the Professor, the man he considered his father.

Etienne understands Werner’s situation, but the other members of the Resistance see him as an enemy and want to kill him. Etienne tries to protect him. The Resistance does not get a chance to kill Werner, as a blast interrupts the confrontation.

Werner is still unharmed, but Uncle Etienne is dying. He knows that Werner is a good person, so he asks him to protect Marie until the Americans, who have reached the city and are breaking the city’s gates, come. 

At the same time, a sex worker gives Reinhold Marie’s address in exchange for his help in getting out of the city alive. Reinhold reaches Marie’s house, while Werner is still running and avoiding bombs to get to her in time.

All the Light We Cannot See ending explained in detail:

Is Daniel dead or alive?

Marie locks herself in Etienne’s room when Reinhold comes to her house. Reinhold knows that she wishes to know what happened to her father, so he tells her that Daniel was captured by German soldiers in Paris.

Reinhold figured out that the cursed stone must be with Marie, as Daniel would not give up his life for the Sea of Flames, but he would die for his daughter. Reinhold tortured Daniel for three hours to get him to give up his daughter’s location.

However, Daniel loved Marie too much, and even Reinhold’s torture was not enough to make him put her in danger. As Reinhold failed to get Daniel to reveal where the Sea of Flames is, he killed him.

Does Reinhold von Rumpel get the Sea of Flames?

Once Marie comes to know that Reinhold is her father’s murderer, she shoots at him with the gun that Etienne taught her to use. On the other hand, Reinhold uses a grenade to blow up the gate that has been acting as a barrier between him and Marie.

Marie wears her headphones to protect her hearing, as she needs her hearing more than anything to find the exact position of her target, but the blast still affects her hearing. After shooting a few more times, Marie is left with one last bullet.

Werner reaches Marie’s house at that moment and fights Reinhold. While exchanging blows, they topple the model that Daniel had built, and Reinhold finally finds the Sea of Flames. Before he can take it, Marie shoots him, and Reinhold dies with the stone within his reach.

What happens to Werner?

Once they are out of danger, Werner and Marie bond over their shared love of the Professor’s broadcast. They eat, dance, and kiss. Werner then mends Marie’s radio to send a message to his sister; he lets her know that he is alive and that he met the Professor as well as Marie.

In the morning, the Americans enter the city. Werner must leave before the Americans arrest him as a war prisoner. Marie is ready to take him to the city gates, but Werner refuses to let her tag along because if they are seen together, she will be considered a collaborator and killed.

He promises her that they will meet again. If she continues broadcasting, he will listen to her and come to be with her once the war is over. Werner then surrenders to the Americans, as they will give him a chance, unlike the locals.

What does Marie do with the Sea of Flames?

The people of Saint-Malo celebrate the arrival of the Americans, who bring freedom with them. The city is finally free from the Nazi rule. Marie takes the Sea of Flames before anyone else can find it, but she is careful to pick it up with a handkerchief.

She takes the cursed stone to the beach and throws it into the ocean. With Saint-Malo free and the Sea of Flames far away from the reach of humans, the show ends.

Also Read: All the Light We Cannot See review: An undistinguished adaptation

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