This article contains major spoilers for the Notre-Dame ending.
Netflix’s new miniseries Notre-Dame is based on the book La Nuit De Notre-Dame, written by the Paris Fire Department and Romain Gubert and detailing the real-life efforts the extinguish a fire that engulfed Paris’s iconic medieval Catholic cathedral in 2019. Despite its basis in fact, though, plenty of artistic license is taken, and the focus is heavily on the people who were personally involved in and touched by the disaster. So, here’s what happened.
The primary focus is on the firefighters, particularly Alice, still haunted by the loss of her lover, Ben, and under the command of his father, Zacharie, a fire chief on the cusp of retirement. But there are other perspectives to consider, such as Elena, a journalist tasked with securing the most viewership who uses an old friend, a firefighter named Antony, to gain access to the cathedral itself, a drug addict named Victoire who bonds with a young kid named Billy who believes his long-lost father is fighting the fire, and Bassem, a worker inside the cathedral.
Notre-Dame ending explained
Through these different characters and perspectives, the show touches on different ideas and themes. Elena, for instance, gives voice to the dangerous and self-serving sensationalism of media reporting. After getting trapped inside the cathedral she barely escapes with her life, and reveals on air that it was a foolish and selfish decision made for her – and for all the wrong reasons. There’s also a strand of romance between her and Antony.
Through Victoire and her father, Max, the show explores ideas of parenthood, estrangement, and also personal despair. Max owes money to a drug dealer, but he’s willing to go above and beyond to try and reconnect with Victoire. They both reconcile in the hospital and say their goodbyes to Victoire’s dying mother.
Through Alice and Zacharie, the show explores ideas of grief and loss, while also trying to reckon with the value of human life versus the preservation of history. Alice, who is pregnant with Zacharie’s grandson, risks her life to prove herself to her late lover and to do the right thing by the cathedral’s storied history, joining the team’s effort to save the belfry.
And finally, through the young kid Billy and the cathedral worker Bassem, the show touches on delusion, though admittedly a delusion born of hope. Billy clings to a picture of his father dressed as a firefighter, assuming that’s what he is, but only because the pain of acknowledging he is lost would be harder to bear. Bassem, likewise, believes a woman to be his wife but is hallucinating as a result of trauma. Both of these different individuals are faced with the way they would like life to be but ultimately are forced to realize that they cannot change reality and must face the version of it they’re stuck with.
You can stream Notre-Dame exclusively on Netflix. Do you have any thoughts on Notre-Dame’s ending? Let us know in the comments.