‘The Girls At The Back’ Ending, Explained: Who Was Suffering From Cancer? Did Alma & Sara End Up Together?


“The Girls at the Back” is about a group of five friends who go on a trip to gather new experiences and get past their worst fears. One of them was diagnosed with cancer, so the entire group shaved their heads in solidarity. Alma, Olga, Leo, Carol, and Sara were childhood best friends. They were often called “the girls at the back” by their teachers at school. While they compulsorily traveled together once a year, this time, it was an emotional journey. The group established a rule: they were not discussing cancer or ever disclosing who was suffering from it. The plan was to not let the illness become the focal point and to enjoy life the way they used to every year.

 Spoilers Ahead

What Is The Series About?

Alma, Olga, Leo, Carol, and Sara were vastly different from each other, but their bond was rock solid. Alma was a social media influencer; she documented her everyday life and made a living out of it. Life as a lesbian was never easy for her, and she often had to depend on antidepressants to ease her mind. Olga only cared about being independent. She feared codependence and stayed away from serious commitments. Leo joked about her complexities, and she never sugar-coated facts. She was self-critical and would often end up being her worst enemy. Carol was a control freak; she was not too keen on experimenting in life. Even though she was manipulated by her husband, she would deny it. Sara would always try to be perfect. She prioritized others over her interests.

Before leaving for the trip, the five had listed things that they would want to do as a group. After starting their journey, they unfolded the first note, which stated that all the members of the group had to have a lesbian experience. Carol was strictly against it. She refused to participate. Leo was not too keen about it either, but the rest of them convinced the two to take on the challenge bravely. After getting over the first challenge, the girls started to open up and no longer feared the unknown. The second note stated that the group had to do drugs together. The third one asked them to commit a crime. The fourth note challenged them to get over an unfinished business, and the fifth note instructed them to tell only the truth for an entire day.

Every day, the group took on a new challenge that helped them learn and accept themselves. They had to face their worst fears and accept truths that they had denied for years. The journey helped them to come face-to-face with their troubles, though acting on them was a personal choice.

Challenge 1: Hook Up With A Woman

Even though Carol was completely against it, she aced the challenge. The group went to a nightclub in search of women interested in them. Carol met the would-be bride at a bachelorette party. Carol’s shaved head became the conversation starter. She had no intentions of making out with a woman; she had accepted defeat and preferred lying to her friends over being with a woman. She asked Pilu, the would-be bride, to take her to her room so that she could take a picture of herself in bed and send it to her husband. She was worried that her husband might be stressed about her well-being. Even though she was out with her friends, she had to be in constant contact with her husband. After sending the goodnight picture, Pilu revealed that her friends had spiked her drinks. Carol was stunned. The two had shared their drinks, which meant that she, too, was under the influence. As the night progressed, Carol and Pilu found comfort in each other. Pilu had never been with anyone apart from her would-be husband. The prospect of a new experience excited them both, and they made out. The next morning, Carol blamed the drugs for what had happened, but she later found out from Pilu that her friends had not spiked her drinks. She had acted out of passion and not out of intoxication. Carol had discovered a part of herself she had not known. She had never experienced the same passion with her husband; he did not care for her pleasure. Even though it was unexpected, the first challenge completely changed Carol.

Olga was falling in love with David, a local restaurateur. She had seen him at the deli and later matched on a dating app as well. Even though she was strictly against commitment, she found herself going back to David over and over again. To complete the challenge, Olga and David seduced a woman and the three made love together. Leo met a woman she had no desire to make out with, but after a couple of more drinks and discussions, the two shared a kiss. Alma and Sara were the closest to one another. The two had kissed each other in high school when Alma was unsure about her sexuality. Even though they agreed that they were just friends and that the kiss was not a romantic one, Sara could never get over it. She gathered up her courage to disclose her true feelings to Alma, but then she saw her with another woman. Sara went to her room and orgasmed to one of Alma’s videos. All five of them completed the challenge, and in one way or another, they discovered a part of themselves they did not know existed.

Challenge 2: Have Drugs Together

After the initial hiccups, the group agreed to do drugs together in a safe space, that is, their rented apartment. As they laughed and cried together, Leo and Olga tripped and fell, and the group had to take them to the hospital. They could not distinguish between reality and hallucination and ended up dancing at a piercing shop. Olga and Leo received medical attention, and David came to their rescue in the hospital. Carol decided to get a piercing; she had always wanted to, but she feared the pain. Her husband disliked piercings, which is why she did not give it much thought. But in a high state of mind, she wanted nothing more than a piercing. She got it done and even convinced all her friends to get pierced. Even though it was not a challenge, they gladly participated. Alma and Sara discussed their affection for one another. They both knew it was a lot more than friendship, but they feared the consequences. They would always pack a little backpack with just the essentials, and Alma kept it ready to run away from any uncomfortable situations. She wanted to run away with Sara, but life was not that simple.

Challenge 3: Commit A Crime

Sara was against the challenge. As a kid, Sara stayed away from her friends when they shoplifted. It was something she could never do. The group decided to shoplift from a local flea market. As they stole the goods, Sara paid for each one of them. She felt that it was unfair to steal from local sellers who could barely make ends meet. The group concluded that shoplifting from a local market could not be considered a grave crime. They had to do something more challenging. They had heard that Rigoberta Bandini’s house was next to theirs. She used to stay out of her house in the afternoon, and her CCTV cameras were non-functional. The girls decided to break into her house and complete the challenge. Even though Sara objected, nobody paid any heed to her. The group had a great time in her house. Sara received a call from her daughter. She was feeling anxious. After comforting her with a song and dance, her daughter asked her to bring home the guitar she could see in the video call. Unexpectedly, Sara stole the guitar for her daughter, but after returning home, she regretted it. She wanted to return it but could not think of a way. Suddenly, David knocked on their door, and he was accompanied by Rigoberta Bandini. She was having a party at her house and came to invite them. Sara found it to be the perfect opportunity to give back the guitar. The group came up with a terrible lie. According to their story, they found the guitar on the road. Nonetheless, the challenge was done, and Sara did not have to live with the guilt.

Challenge 4: Take Care Of An Unfinished Business

All five of them believed that they together had an unfinished business with the sixth member of the group, Palo. Palo used to be a part of their group but six years back she stopped talking to them and never explained herself. They all wondered what they had done wrong for her to leave them all without saying a word. They decided to visit her and clear the air. But upon reaching, Palo showed no interest in reconciling. She was not interested in interacting with them and believed that she did not owe them any explanation. When they told her about the challenge, she said that she was not their unfinished business and that they were using her as an excuse to avoid confronting their issues. They decided to meet Palo after two hours to give her the time to think it through.

In the meantime, they decided to resolve their individual unsolved businesses. Olga called her ex-boyfriend; she had been in a relationship with him for five years. She was grateful to him for showing her how a relationship can be based on respect and independence, but he also made her feel guilty about her need for support and affection. One day, when he insulted her, she knew it was enough, and she decided to leave. She called him to thank him and to end it on a good note. Carol had several people on her call list she had blocked for multiple silly reasons. She texted each one of them and mended ties. In the end, she video-called her first boyfriend, and surprisingly, they ended up having an erotic chat.

Leo shared a bitter relationship with his mother. She could never forgive her for leaving her and her father. She accused her mother of abandoning her and forcing her to take care of her father. Her mother wanted her to leave the household as well, but Leo could not do that to her father. Her father now suffers from Alzheimer’s, making it extremely difficult for Leo to deal with the situation. He did not remember separating from his wife and often asked Leo about her mother. He would demand her mother’s French toast. But no matter which recipe Leo followed, her father never liked the toasts. She asked her mother to share the recipe with her. The mother and daughter bonded over cooking. Alma and Sara finally decided to address the elephant in the room. They confessed their feelings for one another and made love that night. Palo later stated that she chose to move away from the group because they overwhelmed her. Before making any decision, she would always think about how the group would judge her. She prioritized her mental peace over their friendship.

Challenge 5: Telling The Truth

Carol was disturbed when she found evidence indicating that her husband might have cheated on her. She blamed herself for it. She believed it was karma that was biting her back. Her friends asked her to confront her husband, who somehow managed to convince her that he wanted her to think that he was being disloyal so that she would give him attention. Since it was the day, to tell the truth, her friends confessed that they thought her marriage was toxic. They had tried to talk about it, but Carol was not ready to accept it. They had formed a group chat ten years back to discuss Carol’s marriage, and even after all these years, it did not get better. All five friends later discussed each other’s shortcomings and how they needed to work on themselves. Alma broke up with her girlfriend, Rebe, that night. She knew that their relationship was not working for weeks but did not dare confront the situation. But she took the challenge and decided to admit the truth. Olga had not planned to fall in love with David, but she knew that she was attracted to the man. The two agreed that due to the distance, it was better to end it on a good note. It was a short fling but a heartfelt one. They wanted to hold on to the good memories and chose to not stretch the relationship any further than they should.

Who Was Suffering From Cancer? Did Alma And Sara Choose To Be Together?

The trip came to an end, and they had to face the real world. Before leaving, they found another note that had “this too shall pass” written on it. All the friends had acted in a school play titled “This Too Shall Pass.” It was a fond memory of the past and present. They got matching tattoos of “this too shall pass” as an homage to their friendship and the hardships that they were going to overcome together. Leo’s relationship with her mother had improved. Her mother agreed to take care of her father when she had to go away for chemotherapy. On her first day of treatment, all her friends came to the hospital to support her. The friends confessed that every wish that they had written was something Leo had wanted to do at some point in her life. The challenge was for her to do all the crazy things she thought she would do. Even though life had not drastically changed, Leo was glad to have her friends by her side. They were her life, and, in a way, she was glad that it was she who got cancer and not one of her friends. The fond memories of the trip were what Leo wanted to hold on to.

After going back to the real world, Alma and Sara realized that escaping reality was not a solution. They could not run away whenever they wanted; they had to find peace in the place they were at. Sara had a daughter, and Alma knew how much she needed her mother. Sara had built a life for herself over the years, and to abandon it did not seem to be the right choice. Moreover, Alma was Sara’s best friend, and a relationship with her would be a massive gamble. In the hope of love, they could lose their beautiful friendship, and they agreed that it was not something they wanted to do. Sara had to go back to her family and Alma to her virtual friends. Nothing much had changed externally, but at least they faced the truth and accepted it.

Olga went back to her cats in her house. She made a garlic sandwich for herself and enjoyed it on her sofa. A part of her might have wanted to share the sandwich with David, but her dominant side knew it was better to stay away from commitment. Carol had to go back to her husband, but she now realized how unhappy she truly was in the marriage. Whether or not she will act on it is a choice she has to make. Their lives had not changed; it was quite the same as before. But they had changed as individuals; they had learned about themselves on the journey. Even if they could not change their reality, at least they took a chance in the few days that they were away from home. “The Girls at the Back” is a lighthearted series with emotional moments. Even though the premise is not out of the box, the treatment is commendable. The ending is rooted in reality, and that is what makes it an enjoyable watch.

“The Girls at the Back” is a 2022 Drama Comedy series streaming on Netflix.

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Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni has worked as a film researcher on a government-sponsored project and is currently employed as a film studies teacher at a private institute. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies. Film History and feminist reading of cinema are her areas of interest.

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