SPOILER ALERT: the following article contains massive spoilers, including the ending. If you have not yet seen the movie, proceed at your own risk, or better, come back to this article later!
Fredrick Fitzell (Dylan O’Brien, The Maze Runner franchise) is living his best life – until he starts having horrific visions of Cindy (Maika Monroe, It Follows), a girl who vanished in high school. After reaching out to old friends with whom he used to take a mystery drug called Mercury, Fredrick realizes the only way to stop the visions lies deep within his own memories, so he embarks on a terrifying mental odyssey to learn the truth. This mind-bending thriller also stars Hannah Gross (Joker) and Emory Cohen (Brooklyn).
Flashback / The Education of Fredrick Fitzell Video Summary
Flashback / The Education of Fredrick Fitzell Plot Summary and Synopsis
The movie starts in a dark room, we can hear a baby laughing. The screen cuts to black, and someone says ‘Freddie!’.
An old lady (Liisa Repo-Martell) with closed eyes lies on the bed in a hospital. She is the mother of Fredrick ‘Fred’ Fitzell (Dylan O’Brien) who is visiting her in the hospital room. His girlfriend Karen (Hannah Gross) asks him if they should go in, but he refuses.
Dr. Phillips explains to the couple that Fred’s mother will not recover from her condition, and her memories will not return. Fred is asked by the doctor to make a decision.
He drives to the job interview for a dull position of information analyst and remembers him being a child playing with his mother. The interviewer asks him about his Visual Arts education. Fred gets the job offer.
Cindy tells him that his mother has not gone, she is still here.
Fred takes a shortcut driving a one-way street the wrong way. He sees a weirdo with a scar on his face and gets a flashback of his high school crush Cindy Williams (Maika Monroe) asking him to not let her go. There are two other men in the flashback as well.
A police car approaches and a police officer explains to Fred the meaning of the one-way sign.
Fred has insomnia and draws a strange creature he saw in his vision. He checks his school album and remembers Cindy and his friend Sebastian Bellamy (Emory Cohen).
Fred draws Cindy during the work meeting and tries to track her down by googling.
He fails and goes to his school – Fairgate. He meets his schoolteacher Mrs. Shouldice to get some information about Cindy. She tells him that he borrowed ‘The Art Spirit’ by Robert Henri his senior year and never returned. She also tells him that Cindy never turned up for final exams the graduation year. She just vanished, and it was the time when a drug called Mercury went around the school.
Fred remembers he saw Sebastian buying drugs right in front of the school before giving them to Cindy. He sees a kid riding in the backseat of a drug dealer’s car.
Fred tells Karen about visiting his school when they are having a bath together. Karen is not happy. He remembers a purple mark on Cindy’s left shoulder.
Fred wakes up at 3:08 am and gets a flashback of him writing 308 as the final answer for the test conducted in the senior school. He goes to the restroom after the test and witnesses Sebastian buying Mercury from the drug dealer. The kid appears again and tells Fred the word ‘lobby’. Flashback ends.
Fred draws a kid, and the drawing resembles the weirdo he saw the other day. Fred gets a couple of flashbacks and realizes that kid tells him that he is in Fred’s lobby. He goes down and sees the weirdo downstairs. He immediately gets the previously seen flashback with Cindy, she asks him to stay with her. Other people shout at Fred to let someone go.
Fred is waked up in the lobby by a red-bearded man.
He visits his mother again, this time she is awake, but doesn’t recognize Fred. He takes his old drawing of a yellow house, and another flashback starts: Freddie is in his house with his mom and asks him to go to sleep, so that receive Santa’s presents. He doesn’t and see his mother putting the presents into the socks and eating cookies. The next morning Freddie breaks his mother’s Holy Mary statue, his mother is upset.
Fred looks at a picture of him with Sebastian to start the next flashback. Flashback Fred gets out of the toilet to wash his hands. Sebastian gets in and gives him a package with Mercury because no one suspects Fred.
Fred asks Karen to stop visiting his mother, as she doesn’t remember who Fred is, so she is already gone.
Fred visits a strip club to meet Sebastian whom he previously called. They didn’t see each other for 13 years, but Sebastian still lives with his mother citing it is more comfortable for him and is near his ‘office’. He doesn’t remember why they lost touch with each other, neither he knows anything about Cindy.
Another flashback starts – about the first time Fred tried Mercury. He went with Sebastian into the school basement and took the drug with Andre and Cindy. He has strong hallucinations and sees the previously seen strange creature. Cindy tells him he is doing good.
Fred apologizes for his mind wandering while he was having sex with Karen. Karen is not happy. She finds his new drawings and asks him about his new job, but he doesn’t answer.
Fred goes to Sebastian’s place the next day. Andre is there too. He is married with two kids. Fred explains his sudden interest in Cindy’s fate – he thinks something bad happened to her and all of them forgot about it completely. Andre asks if Fred started studying for the final exams and the next flashback starts.
Cindy enters the room and greets Fred. The group goes to the nightclub to meet Sebastian’s drug dealer. Andre speaks to Fred, but he doesn’t listen – he looks at and thinks about Cindy. She takes him out of the nightclub, and they go up to the roof. He asks why she uses to take the drug and she says she doesn’t want to be like them, locked in a prison that they forgot they are in. She hates other people labeling everything they encounter even the things they don’t understand and calling it their reality.
Cindy asks Fred to remember the power that they have, the power of choice.
They go back to the nightclub entrance. Fred sees the kid again. Flashback ends.
Fred’s supervisor Evelyn asks him if he is ready for tomorrow. At first, he doesn’t remember what she is talking about but then confirms that he’ll complete the presentation on time. Evelyn is not happy with Fred’s performance – he doesn’t get to the job in time, lacks focus. She warns him about the consequences if this happens again. He assures her that the presentation is to be ready by 9 am the next day.
Sebastian calls Fred three times and when Fred takes the call, Sebastian tells him that he remembers what happened to Cindy. The trio meets in Sebastian’s car and starts remembering the night right before the final exams when they got uncut Merc for the first time. Evelyn and Karen send Fred texts, but he ignores both.
In the flashback, the group, including Cindy, drive to an old broken-down building on Blackbird Street. At present trio enters the building which is abandoned. They find room 308. Andre refuses to go in. Fred goes in.
Flashback group enters the room and sits on the couch. There are junkies everywhere. Flashback Fred asks Cindy to leave, she answers that she knows they are supposed to be there. The group takes the pure Merc one by one. Fred goes away and takes it to the toilet. Andre storms in and asks him not to take it without explaining the reason then runs out. Fred goes into room 308 and sees a kid saying the words one by one with two men, one with implanted horns, and a woman listening to him.
Present-time Fred sees the weirdo, two men, and a woman from the flashback enters the room. When asked they say that they never left the room in the past 13 years. And neither did Fred. Adult Cindy enters the room and tells Fred that here is still here.
The recurring flashback start, flashback Fred says that he took too much, Cindy tells him that it’s ok. He says that it seemed to him that he was older. The horns guy tells him that all the points in the past and future exist simultaneously, and it doesn’t matter if one point is real, and the other is not. The woman tells flashback Fred to concentrate and remember. He understands that he doesn’t need to remember anything as it is happening to him right now.
Present-time Fred doesn’t want to believe it. Adult Cindy tells him it is one of her lives, one set of choices and she exists in all of them simultaneously. She says that she is freer than Fred could ever imagine. She asks present-time Fred to go with her, he asks how to do this. Flashback Cindy tells flashback Fred to follow the kid, and he’ll show him the way.
Fred finally gets the full message a kid and weirdo were telling him word by word. He says that every single aspect of Fred’s life is controlled by an invasive life-form that is trying to control his consciousness. It controls all his choices, and, in effect, eliminates them. When he ingested Mercury, it temporarily counteracted the influence of the invasive life-form allowing Fred to perceive information in a non-linear fashion.
The recurring flashback starts again, Cindy asks Fred to stay with her. Sebastian shouts at others to let Fred go. Flashback Fred takes the lamp and hits the kid in the face, thus scarring him.
Present-time Sebastian drags present-time Fred out of the room. He gets home, Karen asks if he took something. Flashback Fred vomits in the bathroom while his mother is trying to enter.
Present-time Fred wakes up at 8:22 am with 15 messages from Evelyn. He tries to prepare the presentation, when he notices a key on the table – Karen left him. But not before putting 30 drawings of Cindy on the living room carpet.
Flashback Fred is leaving the house when his mother stops him. She is upset as he didn’t prepare for the finals, and she doesn’t know who he is anymore.
Present-time Fred enters the office, flashback Fred enters the school. Cindy is not in the class. Evelyn asks him to present his presentation to the board. Both Freds stand up and go in front of Evelyn and the schoolteacher respectively. They crush the desk/monitor and shout at the people around. Everyone else run away. He shouts that he is not even here right now.
Present-time Fred is at his working place in the office a few minutes before 9 am. Flashback Fred is by the class before the finals start. He goes away, finds Sebastian, and asks him if he knows about Cindy’s whereabouts. He doesn’t.
Present-time Fred doesn’t go to the meeting and drives the same one-way road as at the beginning of the movie. Flashback Fred takes his mother’s car and drives the same way. The police follow both of them. Both Freds enter the building on Blackbird Street. Police follow. Freds enter room 308.
Flashback Fred is on the roof with Cindy, and they kiss. He asks where she wants to go and she replies that she wants to go everywhere.
Present-time Fred is a successful artist. They live with Cindy in a house by the sea. He finishes his painting – a desert road.
In a blink, Fred and Cindy are in this very desert, exploring it. He turns the pages of his notebook and finds a drawing of the Blackbird Street building.
Flashback Fred is in the Blackbird Street building, the horns guy tells him that they are almost out. Junkie present-time Fred digs through the trash and finds a pendant, which he presents to Cindy who lives with him. He accidentally breaks the pendant which reminds him of his mother’s statues he intentionally broke as a child.
He visits his mother in the hospital, she doesn’t recognize him. Suddenly he remembers that the creature he drew was his mother. He remembers that she shouted at him when he was a baby, and almost fell off the ladder. Her image gradually evolved into a creature drawing. He cries and wants to leave when his mother out of the blue regains her memories and recognizes him.
Flashback / The Education of Fredrick Fitzell Ending
Flashback Fred at the starting point of the story tells Cindy that he can’t follow her anymore, and she agrees. He finishes his finals and meets Karen. He makes a successful presentation and Evelyn is pleased. Karen is pregnant. His mother dies.
The movie ends with a baby Freddie remembering the ladder incident and running to his mother smiling.
The protagonist goes back to his life now making it the right way. He completed his arc and is now free to live his life with happy memories, with no skeletons in his closet.
An interesting mixture of The Butterfly Effect and a noir detective that loses its steam halfway. It is never revealed how did the protagonist manage to enter the altered state of consciousness while being an adult, as he is never shown to take any drugs. It is also left unclear what was the reason for him leaving the love interest he was obsessed with during the most part of the movie. His overall goal is also vague, as he returned to the exact same boring life he had before running from it and experiencing whatever he has experienced. He could do nothing at all and get exactly the same outcome.
Source: © Cooncel.com.
Title: Flashback / The Education of Fredrick Fitzell
US Release Date: June 4, 2021
Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Maika Monroe, Hannah Gross
Directed by: Christopher MacBride
Written by: Christopher MacBride
Synopsis: After a chance encounter with a man forgotten from his youth, Fred literally and metaphorically journeys into his past.