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The Ending Of The Night Clerk Explained

The Night Clerk, which was originally released on February 19, 2020, has finally achieved access to a wide audience thanks to its recent streaming debut on Netflix. With so many people finally tuning into this dark crime drama, the film's opaque ending has fallen under increased scrutiny.

From writer-director Michael Cristofter (Mr. Robot, Ray Donovan), The Night Clerk tells the story of Bart Bromley (Tye Sheridan), the titular front desk clerk working the graveyard shift at the Mercer Hotel. Bart suffers from asperger's syndrome, and lives with his mother, Ethel, played by the incomparable Helen Hunt. Early in the development of the film's plot, we learn that Bart maintains five hidden cameras inside room 124 at the Mercer. Creepiness aside, Bart's no peeping tom, however. He uses the footage to study human behavior in an attempt to conquer the social awkwardness brought on by his autism spectrum disorder.

The plot of The Night Clerk lurches into motion once Karen (Jacque Grey) checks into room 124, and thus enters Bart's secret surveillance program. Bart witnesses Karen let a dangerous man into her room, who subsequently beats her savagely. Through the security cameras he set up, Bart watches a gun fall out of Karen's bag. He rushes to the hotel with the intention of saving her, and arrives just in time to hear the gun go off. Bart is discovered near Karen's dead body by his co-worker, triggering immediate suspicion that he might have been involved in the shooting. Realizing how his surveillance set-up will look to any homicide investigator, he scrambles to remove the security cameras before the police arrive.

Unfortunately for Bart, he forgets one in his haste to clean up his mess.

Poor Bart gets himself tangled up in a proper mess in The Night Clerk

As a result of Karen's murder investigation, Bart is moved to a different hotel. During his first shift at the new location, he encounters Andrea, played by the familiar-looking Cuban starlet Ana de Armas. Andrea flirts her way to a free room. It's almost inconceivable that Bart hasn't learned his lesson about voyeurism at this point, but he clearly hasn't. He sets up cameras in Andrea's room, and begins watching her. Later, they share an awkward kiss by the hotel pool.

This is where things start to go off the rails.

Andrea gets tangled up with Karen's mysterious killer. Bart watches them sleep together through his cameras, and identifies the shooter from a distinguishing tattoo on his arm. After seeing the killer beat Andrea the same way he did Karen, Bart rushes in to save the day. He reveals his secret camera operation to Andrea, and shows her the footage from Karen's murder. Andrea cries on his shoulder a bit before falling asleep with him.

In the morning, she's gone. Her disappearance initiates the film's final sequence, which moves quickly and jumps between points-of-view. 

Here's what happened at the end of The Night Clerk

Between Andrea's vanishing act, Bart shooting his monitor, the arrival of the police at Bart's home, and that final shot of Bart disappearing into a crowd, it's pretty easy to get lost, so here's the gist: Andrea was working with Karen's killer. After spending the night, she planted the gun on Bart and stole the incriminating security camera footage. In that last Andrea scene, we see her turning the footage over to Nick. When the police arrive at Bart's house, all the evidence points to him as Karen's killer. Understanding the jeopardy he's in, Bart runs away to save his skin.

The shooting of the computer monitor is largely symbolic. Bart is now forced by circumstance to forsake his mediated world and jump headfirst into actual human interaction — hence, the final shot of him hiding out in the crowded mall.

If The Night Clerk has you hooked on twisty murder mysteries, Netflix has a bunch of good content to follow up with.