Anthony Doerr’s 2014 war novel All The Light We Cannot See has been adapted for the screen by Shawn Levy for Netflix. The resulting miniseries strikes a good balance between thriller and drama, set against the backdrop of the Second World War. However, it does contain some noticeable loopholes that could have been avoided. Overall, it serves as a worthwhile one-time watch, particularly if you are interested in a love story set amidst the brutality of war. Let’s delve into a recap of what unfolds in this recent miniseries.

Spoilers Ahead

All The Light We Cannot See Episode 1 Recap

All the Light We Cannot See begins with the bombing by American troops of the Nazi-occupied town of St. Malo in France in 1944. The Germans do not let their guard down so that the people in the city can escape their ill-fated town, Saint-Malo. Right in the middle of such a chaotic atmosphere, we see a young blind girl named Marie-Laure reading Jules Verne on the radio. She hopes that there are still some listeners who wish for hope amidst the caravan of death.

She remembers her father, Daniel LeBlanc, who used to teach her the maps of the streets while they stayed in Paris. It was 1934 when she used to visit the museum where her father worked. Daniel had a keen interest in crafts as well as jewelry. He showed Marie a bunch of the finest jewelry in the world, and while doing so, he mentioned a unique piece of jewelry named the Sea of Flames.

However, Marie cannot touch it as legend says that if anyone touches the Sea of Flames, it brings misfortune to one of their close ones. And the individual possessing it can live forever. Little did Marie know back then that, ten years later, a jeweler from the German side would come for this particular piece and would haunt Marie to locate the treasure. We are introduced to Sergeant Major Reinhold von Rumpel, who is killing all the people in the town who fail him in tracking down Marie.

Rumpel is in his final days as he is suffering from an incurable disease, perhaps a type of cancer, and he knows the legend about the Sea of Flames. He knows that if anyone possesses it, it can make that person immortal. So, on the edge of death, he challenges his fate by resisting it. He finally pays a local sex worker to track down Marie’s location. He goes to capture Marie, as she is not much aware of the upcoming threats.

On the other hand, Marie has found a listener among the German soldiers whom she doesn’t know about yet. He is Werner, a radio specialist. However, listening to Marie is not merely a coincidence. Werner’s backstory is very well established as we see him listening to an old French professor on the same frequency when he was a child. Marie used to listen to that frequency as well.

Ten years later, when the professor is prosecuted for sharing reasoning with the world, Marie takes over the channel. Thus, Werner, while going back to the memory lane from his childhood days, finds out about Marie reading all the stories in this time of crisis. But soon, we find out that Marie is sending coded messages through her readings, as suggested by her uncle Etienne. Etienne works as a spy for British Intelligence, and Marie is helping him by sharing the exact locations where the German soldiers are hiding.

When the German soldiers find out about this, they place Sergeant Schmidt along with Werner to track down all the radio signals. However, Werner soon finds out that Schmidt is lying about his background, and Schmidt also learns that Werner is trying to protect a girl on the radio. But neither of them knows that Marie is the girl who is sending signals to the intelligence. Anyway, Schmidt tries to kill Werner as he doesn’t trust him with his secret. But Werner somehow manages to save himself from Schmidt and kills him.

At the end of the episode, we see the American troops coming close to bombing St. Malo once again in the night. Marie had previously learned that a German man was looking for her when she met with her uncle Etienne. But she doesn’t know that someone will give up her location to Rumpel. When Rumpel finds her, he asks her about the Sea of Flames, but Marie doesn’t really know about its location. Rumpel is about to shoot her when the lamp falls into the water, and there is darkness everywhere. Is Marie alive? Well, let’s explore that in the next episode.

All The Light We Cannot See Episode 2 Recap

This is the first time our two protagonists of the story come across each other when Marie finds out the presence of Werner. However, they did not have the pleasure or circumstances to interact with each other. In fact, Werner did not even see her as he was busy dumping Schmidt’s body into a fire. Marie, on the other hand, was running away from Rumpel, whom she was able to hit with a stone, leaving him injured.

She learns that Rumpel has known about the precious stone from her father, Daniel. Before running away from Rumpel, Marie is left with no option but to tell him what happened when they had to leave Paris because the Germans had infiltrated the place. Rumpel comes to know about the incident when Daniel, along with Marie, gathers all the jewels to leave Paris. He knows that the Sea of Flames is with Daniel.

Meanwhile, the Commander comes to know about what Werner is up to. He even discovers the fact that Werner had killed Schmidt to hide information. The Commander also learns about Marie (however, he doesn’t know the name of the ‘girl broadcaster’ yet), sharing information with the Americans. He has all the proof to kill Werner, but since there are no radio coordinators left in St. Malo, Werner is given one last opportunity to save his life along with his sister’s.

The Commander tells him to find the location of the broadcaster girl, and if he doesn’t, his sister Jutta will suffer. Werner then goes back in time, remembering his early days in the orphanage with his sister Jutta and how he ended up in the German institution to become a soldier. Meanwhile, Marie remembers her last moments with her father as they spend their nights in the stables and the time they steal a car to travel further.

Amidst the nostalgic lanes filled with hope, Werner guides the German soldiers to locate Marie’s position. Marie comes up to the terrace while Werner watches her from the ground. When asked by the commander why he tried to hide the information about the girl, he told him that he wanted to protect the glimmering hope for humanity. Now, he apologizes to Marie as he knows that the last hope of her survival may die today. The commander shoots the door open as the episode comes to an end.

All The Light We Cannot See Episode 3 Recap

This episode reveals a lot of things altogether, but first, let us go through the tension when Werner is ordered to shoot Marie by his commander. When Werner goes inside the room, suddenly, Uncle Etienne arrives at the spot. The commander looks at him, and right at that moment, Werner shoots him dead. Etienne and Werner together finish off the rest of the German soldiers. Etienne has no choice but to take Werner as his captive.

Later, Werner reveals his identity and how he never wished to become the tool to kill humans. He never wanted any of it, and Etienne understands his situation. We go back to the time when Daniel and Marie first arrived in St. Malo at Etienne’s house. They were greeted by Etienne’s sister, Madame Manec. As soon as Marie hears Etienne’s voice, she finds a resemblance to the voice that she always listens to. It was the old man who used to talk about hope and reasoning.

All the Light We Cannot See (2023) Netflix Miniseries
A still from Netflix’s ‘All the Light We Cannot See’ (2023)

Etienne, indeed, is the professor who shows Marie the radio station and all his setup in the attic of his house. Soon, Daniel comes up with the idea of measuring the whole town and making a miniature of it with wood. He starts counting his steps and makes a brilliant little shape of the whole town. But, the German soldiers arrive at Etienne’s house as they think that Daniel is counting the steps to give the Americans a blueprint of the city so they can bomb in exact places.

But, when they see the miniature, they believe in Daniel’s words; however, Daniel gives them a false ID, which leads to new concerns. Soon, Daniel finds out about the Resistance participated by Madame Manec and a couple of women. They pick words from the German soldiers by offering them coffee, and then they pass the information to Etienne. He then passes it to the Americans, and thus, they are building a defense for St. Malo.

When Daniel comes to know about this, he feels guilty about bringing the Sea of Flames along with him here in St Malo. He knows that this stone will definitely bring trouble. So, they plan to distract the Germans by traveling from one place to another, being seen by everyone. The plan was to show the Germans that Daniel was traveling through Spain while he would return in six days back to St. Malo. We do not know what went wrong yet, but surely Daniel will never return in the next three years.

On the other hand, Rumpel is being taken care of by the local sex worker, and he shares the story of how he comes to know about the precious stone. She then cuts a deal with him by giving away Marie’s address to him. In exchange, Rumpel needs to give her free passage to leave St. Malo once the Americans break into the town to finish off the remaining German soldiers. The sex worker fears that since she has been sleeping with the German soldiers only to survive, the people in the town will not be very sympathetic toward her.

At the end of the episode, we see two different circumstances for both Werner and Marie. Werner is confronted by the Resistance, and Rumpel has arrived at Etienne’s house, where Marie lives. Meanwhile, the American troops have perhaps entered the city, destroying everything to get rid of the Germans. Etienne is trying to protect Werner from getting shot by the Resistance. Rumpel breaks open the door, and he screams Marie’s name. What happens to Marie? We will see that in the final episode of this thrilling journey.

All The Light We Cannot See Episode 4 Recap

The episode begins with Rumpel trying to get to Marie, and in the backdrop, the Americans are now taking over St. Malo, rescuing the locals from the Germans. On the other hand, we see Etienne being heavily injured because of a bomb that dropped near them. All the remaining members of the Resistance are dead now. However, Werner is still alive, and Etienne gives him the task of saving Marie from any sort of trouble. Werner runs to get to Marie amidst the war.

Here in Etienne’s house, Marie has done everything to barricade herself from the clutches of Rumpel. Rumpel sits on the other side of the door and tells her how he captured his father. He told her that he tortured Daniel for three long hours, even threatening to bring harm to Marie. But, a father’s love turned out to be stronger than any of those painful tortures. So, at long last, Rumpel shoots Daniel in the head. Marie then brings out the gun that Etienne once gave her.

She remembers the time when Madame Manec died because of a heart attack just four months before the war started. She even successfully guided Etienne to confront the outside world. And now she is left alone in these dark times only with a revolver in her hand. She shoots, following Rumpel’s movements. Rumpel finds no other option but to bomb the door.

The grenade does its job, and there is no resistance now between him and Marie. But, right at that moment, Werner arrives, and with the help of Marie and a wire from the radio, he tackles Rumpel. Amidst all of this, the two men fall on the miniature St. Malo that Daniel had created before, and the Sea of Flames suddenly appears. It was kept under one of the model houses by Daniel before he left the house.

But Rumpel fails to grab the diamond he desires the most as Marie shoots him in his head as she follows the sound of his movement. Later, Werner reveals that he always listened to the Professor when he was younger, just like Marie, and both of them celebrated the moment. Werner then sends a message through the radio to Jutta, his sister, that he is alive in France, which Jutta listens to. Later, Marie asks Werner to surrender to the Americans as Werner promises to visit her soon.

All The Lights We Cannot See (2023) Mini Series Ending Explained:

What does Marie do to the Sea of Flames?

Marie comes down the stairs with Werner, and Werner surrenders himself to the Americans. Then she goes back and grabs the Sea of Flames with a piece of cloth. After that, she walks the streets, listening to all the celebrations of the people of France. They cheer for the freedom they recently achieved after months of isolation and all the noise of bombing throughout the night. They are now free, and there will be no more deaths because of the war.

Marie goes to the sea and throws the diamond into its depths. She knows that precious things always attract trouble, and she has had enough of it already. She is left with no one, mainly because of the stone. The war might have taken Etienne, and Madame Manec might have died because of her illness, but Daniel, her father, could have still been alive if it wasn’t for the diamond.

War and illness are not within the control of mere mortals, yet the possession of a rare object took Marie’s father away from her. Immediately following the conclusion of the long-standing war, she relinquishes this possession, casting the stone away. The dilemma arises when considering whether one would sacrifice their life to safeguard a precious possession.

In Marie’s case, her blindness presents the highest probability that she would discard the stone. Had she been able to behold its beauty like Daniel, she might have found it harder to resist holding on to it. Nevertheless, she chooses to cast the stone into the depths of the sea, guided by the noblest of reasons.

Also, Read: The Night Logan Woke Up (Miniseries) Recap & Ending Explained: What were Julien and Mireille hiding about Logan for several years?


All the Light We Cannot See (2023) Miniseries Trailer

All the Light We Cannot See (2023) Miniseries Links: IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes
All the Light We Cannot See (2023) Miniseries Cast: Louis Hofmann, Aria Mia Loberti, Lars Eidinger, Hugh Laurie, Mark Ruffalo, and James Dryden

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