The Midnight Club ending explained: Does Ilonka cure herself?

Netflix’s The Midnight Club is a horror show created by Mike Flanagan and Leah Fong. It is based on the eponymous novel by Christopher Pike and revolves around a group of terminally ill young adults residing at the Brightcliffe Hospice. They meet every night to narrate ghost stories and make a pact that whoever dies first will send the others a sign from the afterlife.

Warning: This article contains heavy spoilers

Plot Summary

The Midnight Club opens in the mid-1990s and introduces us to Ilonka, a teenager who is diagnosed with thyroid cancer before she can start college. After months of treatments, she is declared terminal and decides to shift to Brightcliffe Hospice Care for Teenagers.

She decides to take this step based on eerie visions she’s been having and she also comes across an article on a former patient from the ’60s, Julia Jayne, who beat terminal cancer at the hospice and went home.

Ilonka makes the move and meets the other dying residents, Kevin, Spencer, Sandra, Amesh, Natsuki, Cheri and her wheelchair-bound roommate, Anya. Her foster Dad meets with the owner of Brightcliffe Dr. Georgina Stanton and gets comfortable with the idea of leaving her at this place.

On her first night, Ilonka follows Anya into the library and notices a secret meeting of the Midnight Club. The newbie is inducted into the club where they share scary stories. She also agrees to the pact about contacting the others after death.

Ilonka asks Dr. Stanton about Julia and a cult named Paragon that used to function in the building before she bought it. However, the doctor refuses to have any information about either.

While out in the woods, Ilonka meets a woman named Shasta who lives nearby and swears by the place’s healing properties. She is also the owner of a naturopathic healing company which Ilonka claims to know about.

The midnight stories continue and so does Ilonka’s desperation for information. She manages to sneak into Dr. Stanton’s office with Kevin’s help and procures her case file. In it, she notices an hourglass symbol (which she is sure she has seen before) and the number 292.13.

Meanwhile, a resident name Tristan, who was in isolation due to her deteriorating health, passes away and this death has a huge impact on everyone. One night, after a story by Kevin, Ilonka remembers that she saw the hourglass symbol in the building’s only elevator.

The duo enters the elevator and triggers a secret combination that takes them even below the basement (where the morgue is) and into a secret room.

The Midnight Club ending explained in detail:

What is in the secret room?

Ilonka and Kevin take everyone else into the secret room where they discover a journal showing the inception of the Midnight Club. It was founded by Julia in 1969 and the club used to meet in this very place.

They also find proof of the existence of the Paragon cult and Sandra (being a devoted catholic) urges everyone to leave and hints at the dangers lingering in the room.

What is the history of the cult?

Ilonka strikes gold after meeting Shasta again, who urges her to search for answers in the library. She notices that the number 292.13 points to a section in the library where she discovers a book with the Paragon symbol on it.

Upon further inspection, Ilonka discovers that the book is a journal written by a girl named Athena who was the 16-year-old daughter of the cult’s leader, Regina Ballard.

It says that the group was started in 1931 after Regina’s husband died of pneumonia and her son of polio. It was initially a commune following a new health philosophy which turned towards nature for healing, but it soon transformed into something more sinister.

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Image Source: Netflix

Regina’s obsession with the five Greek Goddesses associated with healing — Panacea, Hygeia, Iaso, Aceso and Aegle — grew to a level where she poisoned her followers in the name of blood sacrifices to prolong her life in 1940.

The leader claimed it was a mistake, but when the police found her, she had no hair and the hourglass symbol was tattooed on her neck. She was eventually sent to a mental institution, and Dr. Stanton bought the place in 1966.

Ilonka believes that Julia somehow discovered this ritual and successfully performed it to cure herself.

What haunts Brightcliffe?

Ever since Ilonka arrives, her visions get worse, and she often finds herself in an olden time within the building. She also opens up about seeing an old woman with milky eyes and a withered old man from time to time.

When she opens up about this to Kevin, he admits experiencing the same. Anya talks about seeing a moving shadow lingering in the corners of the building and following her around. Even Tristan used to complain about the same.

However, none of the other residents share these experiences. Furthermore, none of these occurrences are explained and are often blamed upon heavy medication all of them are on.

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Image Source: Netflix

What happens to Anya?

Anya overdoses on her morphine pills and almost dies until Ilonka resuscitates her. She remembers seeing the same shadow before she passed out and breaks down in front of Ilonka, stating that she doesn’t want to die.

Ilonka knows that the only way to save Anya is to perform the ritual and convinces everyone to try. She even meets with Shasta to understand how everything needs to be done.

Sandra, however, declines because of her faith but shows up eventually after Natsuki talks to her. The ritual doesn’t work, and Anya passes out. Dr. Stanton discovers the group’s antics and goes ballistic on them. She also disallows them from meeting at night, locks up the library and burns Athena’s journal.

Anya wakes up in a new reality where she has healed, and all her friends from Brightcliffe are dead. Unfortunately, she realises she’s dreaming when her life starts becoming an amalgamation of all the scary stories from the club.

She wakes up to hear Ilonka and the others comforting her, and then finally passes away.

What does Dr. Stanton reveal?

After the ritual, Ilonka is filled with guilt and opens up to Shasta about Anya’s death. The lady tells her that it doesn’t always work the way one wants it to.

One night, Ilonka finds out from Dr. Stanton that one of them is healing and will be going home. Thinking it is her, Ilonka tells Shasta the same and is ecstatic until her bubble bursts. It is revealed that Sandra is the one going home and her terminal condition was a misdiagnosis.

However, she still has some illness and it needs to be looked at. Distraught, Ilonka leaves Brightcliffe and goes to stay with Shasta as she figures things out.

Who is Shasta?

Shasta reveals that she is in fact Julia Jayne herself and offers to help heal Ilonka if she can let her into the hospice. That night, Ilonka opens the doors for Julia who brings three other followers along with her and performs the ritual.

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Unfortunately, Julia tricks Ilonka and almost poisons her but Dr. Stanton intervenes again. She corners Julia but has to let her go as the other three followers lay choking on the toxic tea.

In a flashback we see that Julia escaped from Brightcliffe and found Regina Ballard in the ’60s. The former cult leader taught her the ritual and then sent her back after a week.

How does everyone cope with the incident?

Ilonka and Dr. Stanton have a conversation where the latter tells her young patient that death is inevitable and in the desperation to try and find a miracle, people forget that sometimes they can just be lucky. Julia and Sandra weren’t saved because of a ritual, it was just luck.

Finally, Ilonka makes peace with her fate and decides to leave Brightcliffe. She fills up her pre-need form with her foster dad and also meets Anya’s friend Rhett who shows up to collect her things. She notices that an old broken ballerina statue that Anya owned has repaired itself, which gives her hope for the afterlife.

Kevin finally breaks up with his girlfriend, stating that it is unfair for the both of them, due to his condition. He comes clean about his feelings to Ilonka and they kiss.

Spencer, who is gay and suffers from AIDS, is surprised to see his catholic mom visit him on family day. She had removed her son from her life due to her faith but brings herself together to make amends.

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Image Source: Netflix

Amesh and Natsuki, who are now a couple, also have positive developments. The former finds out that his deported parents will be returning to America before he dies. Furthermore, Natsuki, who has always suffered from depression, is happy that she opened up to Amesh and let him into her life.

Cheri’s parents, who are Hollywood big shots, do not show up for family day and send her gifts like always. This time, however, she decides to mingle with everyone as she accepts that her friends are her real family.

Finally, Sandra bids farewell and everyone encourages her to fight and live.

What is Dr. Stanton’s secret?

As the Midnight Club meets that night, Kevin and Ilonka finally complete their pending stories. Meanwhile, we see Dr. Stanton’s apartment and a newspaper cutting on the wall showcases industrialist Stanley Oscar Freelan (the man who built Brightcliffe) and his wife.

They look eerily similar to the old ghosts Ilonka and Kevin had been seeing. In the final scene, Dr. Stanton reveals that she is bald as she takes off her wig and the Paragon hourglass is tattooed behind her neck as well.

Furthermore, the music playing in the background is the same as what the kids hear when they have these visions. What sinister secrets does the doctor hide will probably be revealed in the next season.

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