245 people (as per report) lost their lives due to a fire at the “Kiss” nightclub in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, in 2013. For nine years, the association formed by the victims’ parents fought to bring justice to their loved ones. The Brazilian limited series “The Endless Night” is a fictionalized retelling of the aftermath of the fire. The series focuses on the unfathomable tragedy that struck the parents who lost their children due to sheer negligence and the unforgettable trauma that the ones who survived had to live through and eventually learn to overcome. Inspired by real-life events, “The Endless Night” follows a set of characters as they delve into the retelling of the incident and what transpired soon after.
‘The Endless Night’ Plot Summary: What Is The Series About?
Mari turned 20; she was a rebel at heart and wanted to prove to her parents that even though she did not follow their desired path, she was still worth their admiration. To celebrate her birthday, she went to the “Kiss” nightclub that night. Guilherme traveled from his parents’ house in Sao Paulo to Santa Maria that morning to visit his sister. They attended the party that night. Filipino was a mommy’s boy; he enjoyed spending his days in the country with his old folks. On the night of January 26, he decided to head to the nightclub. He joked about finding his wife there, and to his surprise, he felt an instant connection with a woman, Suzana, at the party. Grazi studied at the Federal University of Santa Maria. While she was hesitant to attend the party that night, Antonio convinced her to join him. Meanwhile, Fernando wanted to focus on his thesis, but his friend encouraged him to let go a little and join the fun.
The young crowd was having the time of their lives that night. Some were there with their love interests, some with their best friends, and some with their sisters. Mari thoroughly enjoyed the band’s performance, and when they dedicated a song to her, it was the icing on the cake. She could not have thanked her friends enough for making her feel on top of the world. Antonio made advances at Grazi, and she enjoyed the attention. Filipinho ended up spending the entire night at the party with Suzana. The party at “Kiss” that night brought unexpected joy into people’s lives.
The band, Guapos Baladeiros, went onstage to perform, and they used fireworks to enhance their performance. While holding up a pyrotechnic device, the fire caught on the ceiling foam and resulted in a disaster. The band ran for their lives; they knew that they were partially responsible for the fire and tried to escape its consequences. The crowd was initially unsure about what was happening; some assumed it was a club fight, but eventually, the reason became obvious with the flames and smoke. When the crowd headed to the entrance gate to exit, the guards locked the gates and demanded that they pay their tabs before leaving. The crowd screamed for their lives, and the gate was ultimately pushed open. Mari and her friends escaped, but they felt uneasy and headed to the hospital. While reaching the hospital, Mari could sense the discomfort spreading, and she eventually lost consciousness. Filipino and Suzana followed the crowd to what they thought would be the exit, but it turned out to be the door to the bathroom. The flames and smoke got worse, and it became impossible for many to find their way out. The owner of “Kiss,” Dede, saw people swarming out of his club, and he knew that his days were over.
Why Did The Parents Blame The Nightclub And The Band For The Fire?
Despite the fact that the fire department arrived quickly after being called, they were unable to save all lives. It was horrifying for the rescuers to watch hundreds of young adults lying dead in the washroom of the nightclub. The sheer hopelessness that they experienced once they realized that the door did not lead outside was heartbreaking. Parents reached the nightclub, praying that their children were among those who survived. Some shuddered at the thought of taking a look at the dead bodies to identify their offspring, while others refused to acknowledge the possibility of death. Hospital emergency rooms were overcrowded, and the bodies of those who did not survive after arriving at the hospitals were lined up on the gymnasium floor. Mari’s father gathered up the courage to enter the gymnasium to find his daughter. Her name was not on the list of the deceased, and he went ahead to check the unidentified bodies. He noticed a body wearing the shoes he had gifted his daughter the previous morning; he broke down when he realized that Mari did not make it in the end. Even though she reached the hospital, the toxic fumes she inhaled led to her death. Guilherma, Ricardo, and Filipinho were among the many who lost their lives.
When the police started investigating the case, they realized that the nightclub and the band were at fault. Despite this, the club’s owner, Anderson Almeida Pargo, aka Dede, dismissed their conclusion. He admitted that the permit for the club had expired, but he maintained that the club was run according to the legal codes. He pretended not knowing that he had signed a document permitting the band to light fireworks onstage. Upon further investigation, the police learned the cause of most deaths was cyanide poisoning. When the foam ceiling caught fire, it released cyanide. The doctors explained that many victims died even after escaping the club because the cyanide continued to act on their bodies. It became transparent that the fire was not merely an accident but rather an incident caused by immense negligence. The police arrested the band members, and in the meantime, Dede attempted to commit suicide.
The parents were agitated once they learned the truth. They demanded justice and wanted the sentencing of those responsible for the deaths of their children. They formed an association for victims of the tragedy at Santa Maria to create pressure on the prosecutors to punish the culprits. They wanted answers, and they demanded immediate action. Dede Pargo continued to prove his innocence. He explained to the investigators that the prosecutor had asked him to renovate the club because of the noise. To reduce the noise, he added foams to the walls of the club, and he continued to explain that he was unaware that the foams could catch fire and emit toxic fumes. Though it became obvious that he was far from innocent, as the owner of the club, his decision should have been a lot more sound. He chose to use cheap foams that violated the code because they were flammable.
Not only that, the band member who purchased the fireworks, Vincent, was aware that the cheap ones he bought contained gunpowder and hence were flammable. Instead of thinking about safety, they focused on saving a few extra bucks, which ultimately led to the massacre. The photographer at the club showed the police how Dede knowingly removed fire extinguishers simply because he felt they did not fit well with the club’s aesthetic. Not only that, the fire extinguisher that did exist at the club did not work, and it was used as a joke two days ago, further indicating that Dede must have known about it. The ex-assistant of Dede stated that he had used cheap foams from a mattress store, the guy at the bar installed them for him, and he removed them from the walls after a police inspection. The little foam that was left, he used it on the ceiling. The club had only one exit door, but the most recent inspection did not make any mention of the lack of emergency lights and exits; it even stated that the club had no guardrail when it did have one; what astounded the police was that it was signed by a firefighter. There was enough evidence to conclude that Dede was aware of the risks he was taking, yet he chose to go ahead with them.
‘The Endless Night’ Ending Explained: What Judgment Did The Court Pass? Is It Based On True Events?
A month after the fire, the DA’s office invited the parents of the deceased. Despite the parents’ verdict, prosecutors refused to conclude that the fire was an attempt at murder. They believed that the accident was a result of extreme negligence. The parents were against the stance taken by the prosecutors. The fireworks used, the foam and the overcapacity of the club all indicated that it was not an accident but rather a mass murder. The parents questioned the city hall because they knew the club did not follow the protocols but was not shut down. The police found documents hidden by the city halls that prove that the club had 29 irregularities, yet the prosecutors seemed unbothered. The police got warrants to arrest 28 people who were in one way or another responsible; the list included Mayor Weber as well. The prosecutors soon announced that the four responsible (including the two owners of the club and the two members of the band) and four firefighters were accused of manslaughter with possible intent. The politicians were left out of the charges, enraging the parents’ association.
The association demanded that the other 28 people indicted by the police be tried in court as well, but the prosecutor explained that they would not pursue those cases because incompetence was not exactly a crime, and it would take years to build a case around them. The parents directed their anger at the state, whom they trusted to take care of the functioning of Santa Maria. They wanted the politicians to be executed since they were the ones who allowed a club like “Kiss” to operate even when they clearly did not follow the legal codes. Outside the meeting, the prosecutor explained to Pedro, Mari’s father, that even though he was aware that the co-owner of the club, Thales, had influenced certain members at the city hall, he had no evidence to prove the involvement of the politicians. Ana later discovered that one of the prosecutors at the city hall, Hernandes Pereira, knew about the irregularities, yet he allowed the club to operate. Going against the city hall meant going against a prosecutor, and that was the reason why the politicians were left free.
The accused, who had been held in pre-trial detention for four months, were released by the court. A year passed, and the association continued to fight for justice. The court case against the accused began, and Dede Pargo continued to defend himself, stating that he was not a murderer, and the fire was not a preplanned act. Even after constant pressure from the association, the prosecutors refused to file lawsuits against all 28 accused. Geraldo met with the inspector at the National Council for Justice to prove the incompetence of the prosecutors (Gelso and Federico), but even that did not help. The prosecutors felt insulted that the association went behind them to request a replacement, and they continued to explain how they were working for the common people. The association refused to give up, and they dug out more information on Hernandes Pereira and Mayor Weber. They learned that Pereira’s son later worked as an attorney for the club in the same lawsuit. After all the information gathered by the association was made public, the prosecutors filed cases against Ana, Pedro, Ricardo, and Geraldo. They offered to withdraw the cases if the individuals publicly apologized to the prosecutors for their behavior. The parents refused to bow down and were ready to face the consequences for it. They demanded that all the lawsuits against all parents are withdrawn, and the prosecutors apologize for harassing them.
The association appointed a new attorney, Bruno Fontenelle, who advised them to prove that all that they had said was the truth and not slander or libel, as was proposed by the prosecutors, and that was the only way that the case could be thrown out completely. Ana and Geraldo were proven to be speaking the truth. In Pedro and Ricardo’s case, the court vote resulted in 20 votes in favor of the continuation of the case, while 3 votes were cast in favor of Pedro and Ricardo. To prove that the prosecutors were aware of the involvement of the politicians, Pedro distributed the recording of his conversation with Celso Avelar, where he clearly stated that he, too, believed in the city hall’s involvement. Meanwhile, after the association had successfully managed to attain a trial by jury, the defendants’ attorney filed to reverse the decision. The defendants’ attorneys demanded that a judge, not a jury, decide whether or not they were responsible for the deaths. The court case resulted in a tie, and the association’s attorney decided to appeal to the Superior Court of Appeals.
After six and a half years since the fire, the case was held at the Superior Court of Appeals. While Bruno’s appeal was convincing, it was Pedro’s emotional and desperate speech as a father who lost his daughter that moved the judge. She believed that the tie demonstrated judicial divergence and that the case could go either way, with only the jury’s decision providing conclusive evidence. The judge upheld the appeal of the Prosecutor’s Office and declared that it would be a trial by jury.
Nine years after the fire, the case trial was held in December 2021. The four defendants were sentenced to 19 to 22 years in prison by the jury. The Rio Grande do Sul Justice Court overturned the verdict after nine months owing to technical issues. While a new jury trial has yet to be scheduled, the defendants are left free. The Santa Maria Tragedy Victims’ Families and Survivors Association continues to fight for justice even after ten years. “The Endless Night” is a fictional retelling of the disaster inspired by true events. The findings of the police investigation, as shown in the series, indicated that not only were the club owners and band members responsible, but also the fire department, which issued a permit even though what was produced was false information. It is tragic to imagine that even after a decade, the families of the victims do not get the time to grieve and continue to fight for justice.