Netflix’s ‘The Signal’ Ending Explained & Series Summary: Did Sven And Charlie Meet The Aliens?


The seamless blend of sci-fi and drama works in favor of the Netflix German limited series, The Signal. It is centered around the mysterious disappearance of astronaut Paula Groth and her family’s relentless search for her. Paula always had a positive outlook on life, unlike her husband, Sven, a self-admitted paranoid. She was determined to find a solution to help with her daughter’s hearing loss, and Indian billionaire Benisha Mudhi trusted her with her resources for a breakthrough discovery. Paula’s daughter, Charlie, aspired to become like Mudhi someday—a woman who came from nothing, achieved unimaginable success, and helped fellow ambitious women reach great heights.

Charlie had been looking forward to her mother’s return after the completion of her space program. She was a little worried when the parachutes did not release on time, but everything ultimately worked out. Charlie was relieved, but even through the television screen, she could sense that there was something wrong with her mother. Unknowingly, Charlie had noticed what the others failed to see, and she played a decisive role in solving the mystery behind Paula’s disappearance.

Spoiler Alert

Why was Paula held responsible for the plane crash?

Panic started to spread across the airport when the AE 7606 Santiago de Chile flight got delayed. Hadi and Paula had boarded the flight, and their families waited in anticipation. It was soon announced that the plane had gone missing, and the families of the 178 passengers were requested to be patient. Sven tried to be positive, knowing how the entire situation would impact Charlie. But deep down, he could not help but think about the worst possible outcome. The next morning, the airport authorities announced that their team had found wreckage in the Atlantic. Sven did not know how to break the news to his daughter, and before he could deal with the loss, the government interfered. The detectives had reason to believe that Paula had been hiding a secret, and they wondered if she was connected to the plane crash. Sven simply walked out of the interrogation, and he drove back home with Charlie.

The research that Paula had undertaken could have changed the way the world works. She was finding ways to stop death, and she hoped to come up with a solution that would help the healing cells she carried to space regenerate. Sven wondered if there was a conspiracy behind the plane crash, and he started to look closely at every video he had of Paula and Hadi after the landing. Sven noticed that even though the landing footage was said to be live, it was recorded, and there was a 90-minute difference. Sven was confident that Paula had discovered something crucial, and the authorities were afraid of her saying anything inappropriate. Sven was soon contacted by detectives again. The Air Traffic Control had sent them Paula’s voice recording captured in recorded fragments of a radio transmission. Paula had entered the plane’s cockpit during the turbulence and sent a coded message to Sven. The detectives assumed that Sven could help them decode it, but he had no clue about the task Paula had asked him to do. The police searched his entire house to find evidence that would help them solve the mysterious message. Eventually, the recording was released to the public, and there was massive outrage against Paula and Hadi. It was assumed that they had hijacked the plane, and were responsible for the crash.

As uncomfortable as the thought was, Sven was reminded of Paula’s psychosis episode before the space exploration. He discussed it with Hadi’s wife, Mira, and found out that Paula had lied to her team about it being a minor issue. Whereas, in reality, the doctor had prescribed her psychotropics to remain steady. Sven eventually discovered that his wife had stopped taking the medication to pass the blood test, and he was left to wonder if the plane crash was a result of another psychosis episode.

What evidence did Sven find about Paula’s discovery?

Paula’s senior, Rainer, contacted Sven after watching on television the harassment Sven was going through. He assured Sven that he was right to believe that there was a secret Paula knew and that the crash was a coverup. Just when Rainer was about to explain himself, his doorbell rang, and Sven lost all contact with him. He was worried about Rainer, and he decided to drop by his place. Sven’s suspicion turned out to be true—Rainer was either killed or taken away because he knew something. The microwave beeped, and a file left under it caught Sven’s attention. It was a confidential file confirming that Paula had made contact with an extraterrestrial creature. Sven figured out why his wife had become a target, and just when he thought he was getting closer to solving the mystery behind her death, Charlie went missing.

Sven remembered Charlie saying that she had spoken to her mother over the radio after her death was announced. Sven went through her diary entry and found out the location she possibly headed to. Someone had contacted Charlie and asked her to come to the location, and Charlie did so, thinking it was her mother. Charlie could not comprehend her mother’s death, and it was easier and more comforting for her to think that she was alive and hiding somewhere. Sven arrived at the location; it was a house on an abandoned plot that belonged to the stranger they came across at the airport. Sven found out that she was part of a small community determined to take a stand against the state, and she was eager to confirm her hunch about Paula’s discovery.

Die used the Russian channel to communicate within her community, and unexpectedly, she heard someone else transmit on the channel. She had been hearing the same message for the last two years, and lately, it had become all the more clear. Die was hopeful that Paula would be able to confirm her doubt, but she was killed before she could publicly discuss her discovery. Using a tracker, the military got hold of Sven and Charlie. Die decided to hide in her bunker till the threat was gone, but Sven and Charlie chose to risk their lives to let the world know about Paula’s discovery.

Who had the right coordinates for the landing location?

The military brought Sven and Charlie to a camp, where they were reunited with Rainer. When Hadi pressured Paula to disclose the coordinates and timing of the landing of the alien spaceship, she intentionally announced it out loud for the world to know. The world leaders seemed clueless about how to deal with it. Fear overpowered the will to discover, and it was unanimously decided that the spaceship would be bombed and destroyed the minute it landed on Earth. It was agreed upon that the world was not ready for such a discovery, and it would potentially lead to a disaster. Rainer announced that it was time for the landing, and the vessel was destroyed within seconds. Sven and Charlie were allowed to return home after the successful operation. The government no longer cared about the news reaching the public since they had already dealt with the problem. 

After the blast, it was reported that no traces of the vessel were discovered, suggesting that the alien spaceship had never landed on Earth. Sven realized that Paula had provided the wrong coordinates to Hadi, and only Charlie knew the right ones. She had scribbled it on her arm which meant that they would once again become the target of the government. The military was back to take them to the camp, but Sven and Charlie managed to escape. The state would have preferred them dead than to allow the actual information to reach the public. After surviving a car crash (possibly planned by Mudhi to drive them to the edge), Sven reached out to Benisha Mudhi for help.

Who was responsible for the plane crash?

Charlie was overjoyed to meet her role model upon waking up. During lunch, she asked Mudhi why her mother was trusted with the mission, and Mudhi admitted that Paula was among the smartest people she met, and her desire to change the world impressed her. She believed that Paula’s discovery during the mission was groundbreaking, and together, they could fulfill her last wish. Charlie knew that her mother wanted to save the extraterrestrial beings, and Mudhi seemed to wish the same. She offered Mudhi the coordinates and date. Sven and Charlie finally felt relieved to have someone who genuinely cared about Paula’s vision. They headed to the landing spot with Mudhi and Nora, and all of a sudden, Sven received a message warning him that Mudhi was not to be trusted.

Nora had already tapped Sven’s phone, and as a result, she had access to the message. She informed Mudhi about it, and within seconds, her demeanor changed. She admitted to bombing the plane because she believed it was a necessary step for the study of extraterrestrial beings. Paula had always wanted to announce her discovery to the world; she believed it was a secret that everyone deserved to know. She thought it was unfair that only a few powerful people get to decide the fate of mankind. But Mudhi wanted to keep it a secret and reap profit from the discovery. The minute Paula dared to establish her viewpoint, Mudhi made up her mind to eliminate her. After landing, Paula realized that Hadi was secretly relaying information to Mudhi. The billionaire knew that Paula was too passionate about the project, and she would always prioritize changing the world over catering to her selfish interests. Mudhi defended herself shamelessly—she believed that the crash was merely collateral damage and the discovery they were about to make was their salvation. Mudhi was confident that after the world learned about the reason behind the crash, they would crown her the national hero.

How did Sven and Charlie solve the coded message?

Mudhi was anxious when she noticed that there was no sign of the alien ship. The arrangement was based on the coordinates Charlie provided, and Mudhi held the father-daughter responsible for the failure. She was convinced that they had lied to her, and she held Sven at gunpoint to scare Charlie into admitting the truth. Charlie had no idea what Mudhi was asking for, and luckily, Sven came up with a compelling story to deter the billionaire. He reminded Mudhi of Paula’s psychosis and the undeniable fact that it was only Paula who had heard the voice and figured out the coordinates for the landing. Mudhi realized that maybe it was all for nothing, and she ordered Nora to shoot Sven and Charlie dead. Nora had lost her faith in the cause, and she decided to spare them. Charlie was a little startled when she heard her father suggest that her mother was not in her right mind during her final days. But after Mudhi left, Sven confessed it was a lie he came up with to throw her and her team off their track.

During The Signal‘s ending, Sven finally decoded the message Paula had left for him and Charlie. She had repeatedly requested that they put the pieces together, which meant that Charlie had the right coordinates and Sven had the right date. All this while, Sven could not figure out why Paula had lied about their anniversary being on St. Nicholas’ Day, but it all made sense in the end. Sven and Charlie kept the information a secret, and in the meantime, Benisha Mudhi was arrested for her role in the plane crash, all thanks to Nora, who finally decided to come clean and face the consequences of her actions.

Did Sven And Charlie Meet The Aliens?

On St. Nicholas’ Day, Sven and Charlie headed to the same location where they were held at gunpoint three months ago. They patiently waited to finally meet the aliens, and they beamed with joy when they came across Voyager 1. Charlie stepped closer and saw the golden record. As she tapped on it, the message recorded in 1977 started to play. Charlie had always been fascinated by Voyager 1 since it symbolized mankind’s desire to unite and connect with other forms of life. Paula believed in the greater good; she had faith that the messenger meant no harm and that it would have an unfathomable impact on mankind. 

What is the significance of the Voyager 1?

The return of Voyager 1 at the end of The Signal suggested that there was possibly an alien species who had discovered the message from Earth and had sent back the probe to us. Launched by NASA in 1977, Voyager 1 was mankind’s attempt to gather information and connect with extraterrestrial species. The golden record was an audio-visual disc fixed to the space probe. It was meant to highlight the diversity of culture and life on Earth. The record consists of greetings in 55 languages, and it symbolizes the idea of the unity of mankind. The return of Voyager 1 was a reminder of the future mankind had envisioned and how miserably we have failed to live up to it. The world leaders had decided to bomb down the probe out of fear, hatred, and doubt, without giving it a chance. The lack of a positive belief is starkly in contrast with our past vision. 

The message impacted the way the world perceives the universe. It reminded mankind about the greater scheme of things and that it could only be achieved if the world united as one. Images of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the 1993 Oslo Accords (a pair of interim agreements between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization; this image is particularly significant to the ongoing Gaza crisis) acted as a reminder of what the world aimed to achieve and how terribly we have failed. The Signal reminds the audience of the need for immediate change for mankind to take a step forward.

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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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