‘What Happens Later’ Ending Explained & Film Summary: Did Willa And Bill End Up Together?


Directed by Meg Ryan, What Happens Later is a sweet story about two ex-partners bumping into each other in the most unexpected manner and then having a kind of unplanned rendezvous that they wouldn’t have imagined in their wildest dreams. It felt like a fantasy, and at times, they felt that they would wake up from their sleep and get to know that it was all a dream. So, let’s find out how Bill and Willa bumped into each other and what happened between the two of them.

Spoiler Alert

How did Willa and Bill bump into each other?

Bill had a connecting flight to Austin, and Willa, on the other hand, had to reach Boston, but because of bad weather, they both were stranded at the airport as their flights were canceled. Bill saw Willa, and he didn’t know how to approach her. Probably, if a flight was available, he wouldn’t have met her, but fate had something else in store for him. They met, and it was awkward for both of them as they didn’t know how to break the ice. They were doing all sorts of small talk so that they wouldn’t have to address the elephant in the room. Willa told Bill that she was a professional masseuse, and she was going to Boston to meet her friend, Ginny, as she was going through a divorce, and she needed her to be there. Bill, after he parted ways with Willa, got married, and he had a lovely daughter named Rosie, who wanted to be a professional dancer. He told Willa how he had disappointed his daughter when she told him that she wanted to be a dancer.

Bill didn’t know how to respond, and so he told her that the field was very competitive and that the chances of making it to the top were very low. Rosie had gotten depressed after hearing that, and she asked her dad why he told her back in the day that she could be anything when there were conditions applied to everything. Bill felt extremely bad at that moment, and he felt as if he had come between his girl and her dreams. Willa listened to her ex-partner carefully, and we saw them slowly moving from small talk to meaningful conversations and letting each other into their lives.

Obviously, a lot of sarcastic remarks were passed, as Willa still felt that Bill had left her stranded, and at least he should have had the courtesy of talking to her about it. Bill had left without saying anything, though in Bill’s narrative, he wasn’t wrong at all. Call it a coincidence, but Bill’s password was still Willa’s birthday, though he said that it was the number of the IRS forms that he used to fill out so often. They hadn’t gotten over each other, and Willa was very upfront about it. Bill was the best relationship she had, and even after so many years, she remembered every little detail, and she was not scared to face her feelings. Bill took some time, but he opened up pretty soon, too, and it was evident by his behavior that he loved and cared for Willa more than anybody else.

Meanwhile, in What Happens Later, Beth Ann, Bill’s wife, called to inform him about something, and Willa received the call as Bill was in the restroom. Willa didn’t tell Bill in full what she said at first, probably because she knew that it would hurt him. Bill and Willa kept on talking until they decided to address their breakup, after which things turned a bit somber. They knew that they were just trying to ignore the inevitable and that the topic would eventually come up.

Why had Bill left Willa?

Up until that moment in What Happens Later, we believed that Bill didn’t want to be with Willa because she was not his type. Bill told her that he didn’t want to have babies or get married, but he did exactly the same thing after he left her. Willa told him that he probably didn’t find her worthy enough, which was why he made excuses back in the day. Bill knew that it was imperative that he tell her exactly why he left. Bill and Willa had decided that they would have an open relationship. Bill pretended as if he was fine with it, but deep down, he was an insecure man who wanted to be in a traditional relationship setup. And moreover, he loved Willa and didn’t like the idea of her indulging with other guys. But how could he have said that? He thought that it would stop Willa from doing what she wanted, and then, anyway, she would leave him.

So, to escape the heartbreak, Bill decided to end their relationship and leave one fine day. Just before it happened, Willa had gotten pregnant, and sadly, Bill was scared about the fact that it was not his baby. Willa had a miscarriage, which worsened everything. Bill should have asked everything upfront, as then he would have known that Willa didn’t hook up with any other guy. She stayed loyal, as she, too, did not feel the desire to go out with anybody else apart from Bill. Willa cleared this doubt of Bill’s when she met him after so many years, and the latter stood there dumbfounded. Bill felt as if he had missed out on what could have been a beautiful relationship just because he was too scared to be vulnerable in front of his partner. He told Willa that she had created this caricaturish image of him in her mind, but in reality, it was Bill who had done that in the past, and he made sure that he lived up to it.

Did Willa and Bill end up together?

Willa and Bill’s flight kept getting canceled, and the voice announcement felt like a personification of destiny, and it felt like everything was being written in real-time. Willa told Bill during What Happens Later‘s ending that she was not going to Boston to meet her friend, but in fact, she was going to meet her daughter, Maggie, whom she had given up for adoption years ago. After Bill left, Willa had a baby with another man, who left her as soon as he found out about her pregnancy. Willa gave her baby for adoption, but years later, Maggie reached out to her. Willa still didn’t have the courage to go and meet her, and she got cold feet, which is why she texted her, saying that she wouldn’t be able to make it.

Bill was getting a divorce from Beth-Anne, and he didn’t tell Willa, but she got to know about it when she received her call in the beginning. Beth-Anne had called to say that Rosie had decided to stay with her for a few weeks as she didn’t want to be with her father. It was a hard pill for Bill to swallow, but then the unimaginable happened. Bill got a call from Rosie, and he told her that he was wrong in dissuading her from dancing. He told her to chase her dreams and not be scared of falling down. He assured her that he would always be there for her, no matter what. Slowly and steadily, Willa and Bill fought their demons. Once the flight was announced, Bill convinced Willa to go to Boston and give it a shot. He asked her if they should exchange numbers and meet later, but Willa thought that it was a bad idea and that they should be grateful for the extra day life had bestowed upon them.

We don’t know if Willa and Bill would ever come back together or even cross paths with each other, but as of then, they decided to go their separate ways. But now they had the strength to do what was right. Now, they had the courage to bring their lives back on track and mend those broken bonds that meant the world to them. As people who are hopelessly romantic, we do hope that destiny does its magic and once again makes them bump into each other.

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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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