Surviving Summer summary and ending explained

Surviving Summer is an Australian coming-of-age series based on a rebellious New York teen forced to spend her summer in Australia. It is now streaming on Netflix.

Warning: This article contains heavy spoilers

Plot summary

After getting expelled for the second time, Summer receives news that her mom has been assigned a job in the Middle East and is sending her to stay with an old friend’s family in Australia. On reaching there, she meets Abbie and her husband, Thommo and their two kids, Ari and Honey. Using her mother’s credit card, Summer books a flight to New York, planning on running away the next morning.

She soon meets Bodhi and Poppy who invite her to a party. Wanting to enjoy her first and last night in Shorehaven, she sneaks out with Ari tagging along, forced to watch after her. Ari’s parents catch them at the party, grounding Ari. 

After a year of rehab following a surfing accident, Ari finally returns to the sport. However, memories of the incident cause him to have panic attacks which Summer helps him through. This costs her her ride to the airport, causing her to miss her flight.

Worried that he might have an attack while in water, Summer advises Ari to tell someone who might be able to help. Taking her advice, he goes to coach Manu who gives him drills for nervousness, figuring it to be common nervousness. 

With an absent dad and a mom who recently passed away, Poppy and her two brothers, Prawnie and Manu, are in charge of managing the Tetanui Surf School. As a consistent surfing champion, Poppy often finds herself bending over backwards to balance work and training.

Summer spends most of her time with Ari, Marlon, Bodhi and Poppy and learns more about friendship and thinking as a group, something she seems to have trouble with at the start of the show. The group participate in surfing competitions together, facing a few minor obstacles every once in a while which they manage to overcome. 

Ari and Marlon seem to have a strained friendship due to a rocky past. The two had decided to jump off a cliff into the waves but Marlon backed off at the last moment. Ari sustained an injury to his shoulder that very day and had to spend a year in rehab, prohibited from surfing.

Afraid that Ari blames him for the accident, Marlon told Poppy and Bodhi that Ari didn’t want any visitors, to save himself from being cast out by his friends. On the other hand, Ari is angry at Marlon for not once visiting him in the hospital. He is also mad at him for dating Bodhi in spite of being aware of Ari’s feelings for her. The two talk it out and eventually get over the past. 

While playing a game revealing secrets, the group discovers Poppy’s crush on Ari. She then pursues him by inviting him over and initiating a kiss which he returns. Later, the two agree to forget about the kiss and stay friends.

When ‘wannabe influencer’ Bodhi gets a chance to work with a famous surfer, Marlon crashes her shoot, sabotaging her image. This, paired with other selfish acts of his, leads to Bodhi breaking up with him. Jumping at the opportunity now that Bodhi is single, Ari gifts her a bracelet but is unable to confess his feelings to her due to interruptions.

When Marlon notices Ari’s feelings for Bodhi resurfacing, he admits that he hasn’t gotten over Bodhi and requests Ari to not pursue her in order to prevent the group’s downfall. Ari refuses to do so but backs down after he overhears Bodhi telling Poppy that she would never dream of dating him. 

Bodhi stays with her dad who has a hectic work schedule. One day, she comes home to find him stressed about double-booking for the next day. She offers to help him even though it means losing her spot in the competition.

When Summer finds out the reason behind Bodhi missing the competition, she goes to Bodhi, intending to get her back in time to surf and stands up to her father, accusing him of making Bodhi work against her wish. Bodhi returns to the beach with Summer after clearing up the misunderstanding. Summer manages to convince the sponsors to give Bodhi another chance. 

As the time to return home nears, Summer prepares to leave Shorehaven but her mother has other plans. Summer finds out that her mother is making plans for her to spend another three months with the Gibsons, without considering how she might feel about her decision. She makes her way to Stairway, the same cliff that Ari had injured his elbow at.

There, she bumps into Ari and Marlon and jumps into the water in a rebellious attempt. The three manage to avoid any mishaps but Ari gets punished as soon as his parents find out. Meanwhile, Summer’s mother, Margot is forced to make her way back and take her daughter home. 

Over the summer, Summer’s rebellious and impulsive ways seem to rub off on Ari who tends to stick to rules. Unlike her, Ari often finds himself giving up as soon as he faces a hurdle. She teaches Ari to disobey rules when they stop him from achieving what he wants. 

Feeling disregarded by the group and coach Manu, Marlon applies to join Anchor Cove, a competing surfing team. When his friends find out about his disloyalty, they exclude him from the group. Coach Manu withdraws his support by telling him their professional relationship is over. 

If you still have doubts about the ending, here’s a full breakdown.

Surviving Summer (2022) ending explained in detail: (Episode 10: Stay)

Mother and daughter

No longer wanting to leave Shorehaven, Summer tries to delay her return to New York. Summer and Ari try to talk each other’s moms into letting Summer stay and Ari surf but fail to carry out their plan successfully. 

Seeing Margot vulnerable, she finally decides to have a talk with her about their relationship. Both, mother and daughter, realise that they have to work on themselves and settle on returning home together.  

Marlon’s loyalty

Still banned from surfing, Ari decides to sneak out to make his way to the semi-finals. Expecting to reach late, he asks coach Manu to try to delay his heat. Marlon, now a part of Anchor Cove, overhears this and offers to switch turns with Ari to give him some more time.  

To prove his loyalty to his new team, Marlon is asked to block Ari by using dishonourable means in the competition. He refuses to do so and gets disqualified from the quarter-finals.

By declining to play dirty against Ari, Marlon wins back the group’s trust.  

Friends till the end

In the semi-finals, Bodhi gets a concussion from hitting her head against her surfboard. Saved by Summer and Ari, she is taken to the hospital where she wakes to find Poppy, Marlon, Summer and Ari by her side. 

Griff, an Anchor Cove member, tries to rattle Poppy before her finals by pretending to like her and embarrassing her right before her heat. Later that night, she gets her revenge by pushing him into a pool in front of his team.

On learning that Summer is on her way to the airport, Ari ditches his finals for a chance to convince her to stay. She reassures him saying that he will be okay without her and the two share one last kiss. 

The show ends with Ari, Bodhi, Marlon and Poppy rushing toward the waves. Meanwhile, Summer continues surfing and keeps track of what her friends are up to back in Australia.

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