Self Reliance Ending Explained – Does Tommy win the dark web game?

By Lori Meek
Published: January 12, 2024 (Last updated: 3 weeks ago)
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Self Reliance Ending Explained
Self Reliance | Image via Hulu

WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS

Self Reliance doesn’t waste much time before jumping straight into the action. At the narrative’s center is Tommy, a man bored with his routine who agrees to add some excitement to his life by competing in a dark web reality TV game. Tommy’s ordeal isn’t an easy one. He must fend off assassins dressed in silly costumes while forging connections with those around him, just to stay alive. The film’s ending isn’t just about whether or not he wins, but the relationships he develops along the way.

After spending a few blissful days in the motel getting to know each other, Tommy and Maddy hear from another man claiming to be involved in the game. While Tommy is excited to meet another player and learn more about the show, Maddy isn’t as thrilled.

At the diner, the man explains that the game is a comedy show, which is why the assassins are always dressed in bizarre costumes. The producers chose players who, like Tommy, are in a tough spot. Adding insult to injury, the dark web show is called D.O.G. (Delusions of Grandeur). 

Rattled, Maddy wants to go home alone, even if doing so could potentially put her in mortal danger. Angered, Tommy goes to his sister’s house and starts yelling out threats against the show’s handlers, including threatening to murder Andy Samberg, who got him in this mess to begin with.  

Who was waiting for Tommy inside the limo?

That night, Tommy’s awakened by one of the ninja production assistants who instructs him to go outside, where a limo is waiting for him. Inside the limo is Tommy’s dad, who abandoned the family more than three decades prior. It seems the game’s producers brought the old man to Tommy on a private jet to tell him that Maddy is still alive. 

On the morning of day 26, Tommy and James head to Maddy’s house. She hasn’t been answering his calls, and he’s desperate to talk to her. When Maddy answers the door, Tommy is relieved that she’s safe. However, she’s only alive because she was never a player. She confesses to only responding to his Craigslist ad out of boredom.

Tommy doesn’t get much time to process the information before his mom texts him, asking him to come home because of an emergency. Thinking she’s in danger, Tommy rushes to her house and is stopped by an assassin dressed as Ellen Degeneres. She hits him in the face and breaks one of his front teeth, but thankfully, it doesn’t take long for James to catch up. 

Instead of hunters, Tommy finds his entire family waiting for him, ready to put him through an intervention. Needless to say, the more Tommy tries to explain the game, the crazier he sounds to them. Left with no other choice, Tommy and James make a run for it before the interventionist can commit him to a mental health facility. 

Tommy spends the night at a homeless camp with James, who reveals his real name is Walter. After Tommy promises his new friend he’s going to buy him a house after he receives his winnings, James/Walter gets very serious for a second and gives his new friend a game-related pep talk. 

On the morning of day 27, Tommy wakes up alone with James/Walter nowhere in sight. Tommy spends the next couple of days sleeping under a bridge and making friends with a bunch of other homeless people. 

Where did Walter go?

When day 30 rolls around, the ninja wakes Tommy up and instructs him to leave the bridge area and wait for a limo to take him to his game’s finale. Not to worry though, Walter is safe in a motel. The producers removed him from the game to raise the stakes for Tommy. 

Tommy follows a woman out of the area, and at a bus station, he’s approached by a hunter dressed as a cowboy. The man reveals that the whole game was set up just for Tommy, including the assassin’s costumes. 

Freaked out, Tommy takes cover among a group of people walking by and makes a run for it. He then finally finds the limo. Inside it is Andy Samberg, who once again asks Tommy to make a choice; either safely go home without the money, or continue the game and see it through to the end. To Andy’s surprise, Tommy wants to finish what he started. 

How does Self Reliance end? Does Tommy win the dark web game?

The limo drops him off at a warehouse, where a group of assassins chases Tommy to the top floor. When he gets there, he realizes he has won the game. All the assassins and the two producers walk in and congratulate him for being the game’s very first winner. 

All in all, the movie boasts a happy ending. Tommy survived the game, fixed his tooth, and is now sharing an apartment with Walter. He also wants to reconnect with Maddy as, despite her lying, he’s still very much interested in dating her. The film’s final scene has Tommy walking up to Maddy’s house and knocking on her door. 

As for the money, Tommy explains to his family that he’s getting paid in installments over 12 years. We wouldn’t expect anything less from a reality TV show. Still, it’s better than being dead. 

What did you think of the ending of Self Reliance? Comment below.


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