‘The School For Good and Evil’ Ending Explained by Director Paul Feig

The filmmaker tells TheWrap about those book changes and sequel possibilities

Sophia Anne Caruso as Sophie in Netflix's "The School for Good and Evil" (2022)

Note: Massive spoilers ahead for Netflix’s “The School for Good and Evil”

A good fairytale is always full of action, adventure and love, and “The School for Good and Evil” is no different. But for director Paul Feig (“Spy,” “Bridesmaids”), fairytales were always a bit scary, and more of cautionary tales than anything else — and that’s what he wanted for the ending of this movie too.

“The School for Good and Evil,” now streaming on Netflix, follows Sophie (Sophia Anne Caruso) and Agatha (Sofia Wylie) as they’re plucked from their village and taken to the schools, which are responsible for training all the storied heroes and villains of the world, after Sophie wishes for admittance. But when Sophie ends up in the school for evil and Aggie gets dropped in the school for good, Sophie starts to deteriorate. After all, she believes she’s a princess, and Agatha didn’t even want to come to the schools.

Eventually, Sophie does earn “good status” — by fully embracing her evil. Using her magic, she manages to trick the students of the school for good into attacking the school for evil. But in this world, the ironclad rule is that good can only defend. So, when the prince and his comrades storm the castle, their attack causes a seismic shift in the magic of the world. Now, evil is good, and good is evil.

It’s a conniving move by Sophie, but one she didn’t come up with on her own. Throughout the movie, the young witch is quietly given encouragement and some helpful hints — along with some blood magic — from the school’s original villain Rafal (Kit Young). See, in the beginning, Rafal and his brother ran the schools, keeping everything in perfect balance. But once Rafal unlocked the secret to blood magic, he attacked his brother, in the hopes of destroying the schools and keeping all magic for himself.

Though it looks like Rafal is defeated early, thanks to quick maneuver from his brother that resulted in him falling off a cliffside, we learn in the film’s climax that Rafal actually managed to launch himself back up the cliffside, stab his brother in the back and kill him. From there, Rafal assumed his brother’s identity, posed as the schoolmaster, and slowly poisoned the stories that came out of the school and into the real world, planting the seeds for true evil to take over.

Now, like any adaptation of a book, “The School for Good and Evil” deviates from its source material in places for the sake of condensing the story. For Paul Feig, that meant increasing Rafal’s presence in the movie.

“The book provided us with a lot of stuff, but Rafal is kind of not so much a character in the first book, it’s more about the schoolmaster,” Feig said. “And so I just wanted to condense so that I — because I love the character Rafal. And I really wanted to make him — he’s like very young in the books and I really wanted to make him more of a presence.”

The desire to make Rafal more of a player in the story only increased, Feig says, when “Shadow and Bone” star Kit Young auditioned for the role and “just completely blew me away. I was like, ‘That’s him.’” But just as important to Feig was illustrating how damaging of a force Rafal was, particularly in regards to Sophie.

To reach his full power, Rafal himself needed to earn true love’s kiss — just, you know, with an evil woman. And so we have Sophie, who is enticed by the idea of ruling the world alongside Rafal, and was steadily seduced by him.

“So really kind of tailoring it so that he’s this presence, who is evil there, but kind of lurking in the background, but coming in and he’s, you know, weirdly grooming Sophie and then kind of Iago-ing her the whole time,” Feig said. “Which, I like that, because it explains why — in the books Sophie is a very frustrating character sometimes. And I really wanted to make sure that we still understood why she was doing what she was doing in the movie, because it’s much easier to lose an audience’s love for a character if they become too frustrating for them without knowing why they’re frustrating.”

He continued: “And so I wanted this sort of manipulation of Rafal, who’s clearly kind of working things from behind the scenes but then going like ‘Hey, I’m your friend, nobody else likes you but here’s some advice for you.’ I think it’s very creepy, but kind of in a great cautionary tale way.”

Indeed, once Sophie sees Rafal’s true intent is to destroy everyone rather than just rule them, she renounces the darkness in her and helps Agatha defeat him, seemingly sacrificing herself in the process. The good news is, true love also exists between best friends. So, when Agatha lightly pecks her dying friend, Sophie recovers and together, they return to their village, leaving all their new friends — and love interests — behind.

In the final moments of “The School for Good and Evil” though, we see that the portal they came through may not have completely closed behind them. The men who fell for Aggie and Sophie can’t live without them, and all signs indicate that they’re coming through the portal themselves.

For now, a sequel hasn’t officially been greenlit by Netflix. But Feig is definitely up for it.

“That’s up to the audience out there to make this movie a hit,” he said. “Because if it’s a hit, then there will definitely be a sequel, but we just got to make sure people watch it. So please, please, everybody watch the movie so we can make more of these. Because they’re really fun to make. I just had the best time.”