The School for Good and Evil is now streaming on Netflix, and hoo boy, is this one a doozy.
Directed by Paul Feig, who also co-wrote the screenplay with David Magee, this new fantasy film follows in the same vein of YA franchises like Harry Potter, Hunger Games, and Descendants. The groundwork is there, considering the film is based on the bestselling 2013 novel of the same name by Soman Chainani, which is the first in a six-book series. But it’s hard to franchise a movie that audiences can’t follow.
Clocking in at two hours and 27 minutes, The School for Good and Evil crams in more characters, plot devices, and magical rules into one movie than House of Dragons does in an entire season. If you haven’t read the book, it’s complicated and convoluted.
But never fear, because Decider is here to help. Read on for The School for Good and Evil plot summary, and The School for Good and Evil ending, explained.
What is The School for Good and Evil plot summary?
The film opens with an epic battle between brothers Rafal and Rhian (both played by Kit Young). Rafal represents evil while Rhian represents good. For years, the two brothers have peacefully shared power and maintained the balance in the fairytale world. In fact, they built a school—the school for good and evil—to keep that balance going. But Rafal is tired of good always winning, and so uses the forbidden blood magic to attack his brother. Luckily, Rhian comes out as the victor in the fight. Or so we think.
Cut to best friends Sophie (played by Sophia Anne Caruso) and Agatha (Sofia Wylie), who couldn’t be more different. Beautiful Sophie dreams of being a princess, while rough-around-the-edges Agatha is bullied, harassed, and accused of witchcraft. But despite their differences, the girls have each others’ backs.
Thanks to an inexplicable cameo from Patti LuPone, Sophie and Agatha learn about a mythical School for Good and Evil. Sophie thinks this is her chance to become the fairytale princess she is destined to be, so she secretly writes a note begging for entry, and places it in the Wishing Tree. (Just go with it!) When Agatha tries to stop Sophie from running away, both girls are kidnapped and taken to the school. But here’s the twist: Sophie gets taken to the School for Evil—with the “Nevers”—while Agatha is dropped off at the School for Good—with the “Evers.”
Both girls insist there has been a mistake. Sophie believes she belongs in the School for Good, while Agatha just wants to go home. They are told a mistake is not possible. But then Agatha overhears the heads of the two schools, Lady Lesso (Charlize Theron) and Professor Dovey (Kerry Washington) worrying that perhaps there has been a mistake. Worse, Agatha is visited by Rafal, the evil brother, in a sinister vision. Rafal warns Agatha to stay away from Sophie because she has an evil destiny to fulfill.
Sophie and Agatha go to the School Master (Laurence Fishburne), armed with this new info. The School Master says he’ll only believe Sophie is truly good if she shares a kiss with her true love. If she does that, then she can attend the School for Good. Sophie decides her true love is the most popular boy in school, Tedros (Jamie Flatters), who also happens to be King Arthur’s son.
Meanwhile, Sophie and Agatha continue their lessons. Sophie discovers she has some sort of evil superpower that allows her to manifest a swarm of bees to attack her enemies. Agatha confronts the “wish fish” pond, wishes for a home for “all of us,” and as a result frees the former student who was trapped in the pond as the wish fish. Professor Dovey tells her that she is the first real princess she’s seen in a long time, and her power will come from the best “good” emotion: empathy.
Rafal starts visiting Sophie in visions, attempting to make her more evil by turning her against Agatha. Sophie gets an evil makeover and jams out to Billie Eilish. Everyone at school gets a prick on their finger that gives them the power to cast a spell, provided they are able to tap into a strong emotion. Agatha secretly uses her power to help Sophie impress Tedros, and Tedros agrees to take Sophie to the upcoming ball.
Though it’s against the rules for Evers to date Nevers, the School Master decides to allow it if the two of them complete a “trial by tale.” Both of them have to go into the forest and defeat whatever evil is thrown at them, without help. Tedros fails to protect Sophie, and Agatha comes to Sophie’s rescue instead. Tedros accuses Sophie of cheating by bringing Agatha. Sophie in turn gets mad at Agatha for interfering and accuses her of trying to steal Tedros.
Sophie disappears. At the ball, Tedros confesses his love to Agatha. Rafal visits Sophie, shows her Tedros’s confession, and convinces her to become fully evil. The professors realize Rafal plans to use Sophie to destroy the school and vow to stop her. Sophie, now an evil hag, shows up to the ball and turns all of the professors into dolls. She takes over the School of Evil.
The students for the School of Good attack the School of Evil and try to kill Sophie. Sophie points out that because “Evil attacks, and Good defends”—one of the lessons the students had been taught—that means that Evil is now Good, and vice versa. An epic battle ensues.
What is The School for Good and Evil ending, explained?
Sophie tracks down the School Master, intending to kill him. But it’s revealed that the School Master has been Rafal all along. Remember that battle between the brothers at the beginning of the fight? It turns out Rafal won that fight. Evil has been ruling the school for years and has secretly been swaying the balance in favor of Evil. That’s why those Grimm fairytales are so dark and gruesome!
Rafal is the one who brought Sophie to the school because he believes she is his true love and will help him rule the world. If they kiss, he says, they will “open the gates to Never After.” It turns out that means killing everyone else in the school!
They kiss, the school starts to crumble, and Sophie regrets her actions. But Agatha comes to Sophie’s rescue once again. Rafal lines up a killing blow aimed at Agatha, but Sophie throws her body in front of Agatha, sacrificing herself to save her friend. This selfless act of good reverses the Hellgate things, and the school is repaired. Agatha kills Rafal, and then, while Sophie is dying, she kisses her. The kiss saves Sophie’s life, proving that friendship love is just as powerful as romantic love.
The school admits that no one is pure evil or pure good, and decides to try for unity instead of division. Sophie and Agatha get ready to go back home. Sophie tells Agatha she would understand if she wanted to stay at the school with Tedros, but Agatha decides to go with her friend. The girls go home, reunite with their families, and are once again best friends—now with magic powers.
Whose dagger pierces Tedros’s arrow at the end of The School for Good and Evil?
The narrator (voiced by Cate Blanchet) concludes that’s the end of the story… unless. The narrator explains that while Agatha and Sophia were leaving, Tedros shot an arrow into the gateway between the two worlds. We hear Tredros say, “I need you, Agatha.” An arrow pierces the tree and is followed by a dagger—the very same dagger that Rafal used to kill his brother. This suggests that Rafal hasn’t truly been defeated. Dun dun dun!
Obviously, this ending is setting up a sequel. But will there be a School for Good and Evil 2 movie? We’ll have to wait and see.
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