‘Palm Springs’ Ending, Explained – Did Nyles & Sarah Come Out of Time Loop Curse?


Having had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival and its release on Hulu, Palm Springs is now in vogue on Netflix and is one of the most beloved movies. Whisking two genres together is perhaps the recipe for an enhanced cinematic experience of this decade. And Palm Springs has done that impressively well by amalgamating a swoony rom-com with thrilling sci-fi. 

The outstanding performances by Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti, and J K Simmons, in addition to the amazing storyline, were just what the film needed to achieve the massive success that it did. Let’s dive into the mysterious world of Palm Springs and catch them in their adventure.

‘Palm Springs’ Plot summary

The scene opens with a lost goat on a deserted land. The land cracks with a sudden explosion, and the scene cuts to a mysterious voice (saying), “wake up.” 

On 9th November, Nyles wakes up in his room next to his girlfriend Misty, who’s getting ready for her friend Tala’s wedding with Abe. Nyles seemed to have a fine day, up till the wedding reception, when he sets eyes on a sulky girl named Sarah (Tala’s sister). When asked to give a speech for the bride and groom, a disapproving Sarah is rescued by Nyles, who gives the speech instead, knowing surprising details about the bride and her family. 

After this rescue, he flirts with Sarah by dancing amidst the crowd, appearing to know what everyone’s next move would be. Following a few attempts at flirtation from both ends, Sarah discovers that Misty has been cheating on her boyfriend. The two flee to a nearby desert to make out, when suddenly, Nyles is attacked with an arrow by a hostile man who starts to chase him. Unable to do so, the man vanishes into a mysterious cave. Frightened by this event, Sarah follows Nyles, who tries to enter the cave. However, Nyles seeming alarmed, warns her to not come inside! 

Living in the “Present”

Once again, Nyles wakes up on 9th November with the following events being the same as previous. Except, this time, he is not alone! After following Nyles into the mysterious cave, Sarah is, now, stuck in an infinite time loop just like him! On realizing that they will wake up on the same day for the rest of eternity, the two abscond to a long drive, where Sarah deliberates suicide. However, the two wake up once again on 9th November. The time loop is now simple, you wake up on the same day if you die, sleep, or enter the cave. 

Have a Great Day…Forever!

Nyles tells Sarah that the guy who chased him previously was a guest at the wedding named Roy (Abe’s dad’s cousin from the Schlieffen clan). When Nyles wasn’t quite acquainted with the time loop, he and Roy had been intoxicated on drugs. Having been understandably high on dopamine, Roy exclaimed that he wished he could live in that day forever. Hence, Roy’s equally wasted buddy directed him to the cave, resulting in Roy getting stuck in the time loop too. Since then, Roy has tried to seek vengeance every few days (on a skewed timeline). 

Embrace the fact that Nothing Matters

The two begin to embrace the time loop and spend time together, eventually catching feelings for one another. Things are going well until one night, when Sarah recalls having slept with Abe on 8th November. Guilt-trapped, she pretends to ignore Nyles’ questions. She impulsively attacks Roy, who had been following the two of them but is hit by a cargo truck.

Orchid Explosion by Fournier

Succeeding the accident, Sarah is nowhere to be found. Worried, Nyles realizes that he loves her! With no hopes left, he confronts Roy and sorts out their rivalry. One night, Nyles finds out that Sarah had slept with Abe on 8th November after smelling her hair mist “Orchid Explosion by Fournier” on Abe’s pillow. 

Nyles wakes up to Sarah in his room, who had done a thorough study of quantum physics and general relativity. Sarah says that the only way to escape is to explode themselves inside the cave, like she tried on Spud’s goat, who was now missing on 9th November. 

Having been reluctant for a while, Nyles realizes that he loves Sarah and would be with her, irrespective of life or death. The two lean in for a kiss inside the cave when Sarah presses the button. 

‘Palm Springs’ Ending Explained – 10th November

After a massive explosion, the scene cuts to Nyles and Sarah at a pool of a nearby house, like they have been a few times before. When the residents of that house show up and question what the two are doing in their pool, Nyles finds out that the residents come back on 10th November, revealing that they successfully broke the time loop curse. 

Amidst the end credits, Roy approaches Nyles and asks whether Sarah’s escape plan worked. Seeing that Nyles had failed to recognize him on 9th November, Roy is assured that the plan worked out with a wide grin!

Palm Springs is a 2020 Romantic Science Fiction film directed by Max Barbakow.

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Anoushka Sinha
Anoushka Sinha
Anoushka Sinha is a Mass Media graduate from Mumbai University and a content enthusiast. She loves to strike stimulating conversations with people, trivial or intense, which fuel her creative ideas. In her leisure time, she loves to practice yoga, watch a heartwarming sitcom, read on a topic that piques her interest, or make herself a cup of coffee!

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