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The Ending of "Us" (2019) Explained!

VO: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Nick Spake
It’s time to reflect on Jordan Peele's latest tour de force. Join WatchMojo.com as we explain the ending of "Us". We'll be taking a look at motifs, themes, and important plot moments that’ll make you see the ending of “Us” in a whole new light. Needless to say, a spoiler alert is in order. Watch the video at WatchMojo.com
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Us Ending Explained

It’s time to reflect on Jordan Peele’s latest tour de force. Welcome to WatchMojo and today we’ll be explaining the ending of “Us.”

We'll be taking a look at motifs, themes, and important plot moments that’ll make you see the ending of “Us” in a whole new light. Needless to say, a spoiler alert is in order.

Jordan Peele's follow-up to 2017's "Get Out" centers on the Wilson family, who take a trip to their vacation home in Santa Cruz Beach. About 30 years earlier, Adelaide, the family’s matriarch, confronted a little girl who looked exactly like her in a hall of mirrors. The ordeal apparently left Adelaide speechless, but she eventually learned to express herself through dance. Over time, Adelaide settled into a normal life with her husband and two children, leaving the past behind. As she revisits the root of her childhood trauma, however, Adelaide can’t shake the feeling that something wicked is coming.

Adelaide’s initial instincts were correct, as her home is invaded one night by four doppelgängers who mirror the Wilson family. Adelaide’s lookalike, who is known as Red, is the only member of her family with the ability to speak, although she sounds as if she nearly had the life choked out of her. In her spine-chilling voice, Red explains that both families are tethered together. Where the Wilsons have lived a privileged life of luxury, though, Red and her family have endured nothing but misery. Living in Adelaide’s shadow, Red has struggled to control her own destiny. Tired of being puppets, the Tethered plan to cut themselves off from the Wilsons with deadly scissors.

The Wilson's manage to get away, but as night turns into day, it becomes clear that they aren’t the only ones being haunted by the Tethered. Multiplying like rabbits, doppelgängers start popping up everywhere, killing their counterparts. Over time, the Tethered start to hold hands, forming a human chain that stretches across the land. This eludes to the film’s opening scene in which a young Adelaide watched a commercial for Hands Across America. Taking place on May 25, 1986, this campaign saw 6.5 million Americans join hands throughout the country, ranging from New York to Long Beach, California. To aid the homeless, numerous participants gave $10 to charity in exchange for a reserved spot and a t-shirt. In the first act of “Us,” Adelaide’s son Jason encounters a homeless man standing alone on the beach. It turns out that this man was part of the Tethered and by the film’s conclusion, he’s linked alongside countless others taking a stand.

During the climax, Red snatches Jason, leading Adelaide back to the house of mirrors. While searching for her son, Adelaide stumbles upon a secret passageway that takes her to an underground channel of tunnels where the Tethered have been hiding. It’s revealed that the Tethered were part of a government project to clone people. Although scientists managed to recreate people in their physical images, they couldn’t replicate their personalities. Once the experiment ended, the Tethered were abandoned in the tunnels, which stretch across the United States.

Adelaide ultimately manages to kill Red, find Jason, and reunite with her family. Although the Tethered are still lining up, it appears the Wilsons have overcome their evil counterparts as they drive off into the sunset. The final minutes change everything, however, as Adelaide begins to remember something that she seemingly repressed. When Adelaide first went to the house of mirrors years ago, her clone knocked her out, chained her up, and took her place on the surface. Adelaide was actually a clone this entire time and Red was the original Adelaide! It’s like “The Parent Trap” meets “The Mole People.”

This mind-blowing twist puts several plot points into perspective. The reason Adelaide wasn’t able to speak as a child wasn’t because she was traumatized, but because the Tethered lack the ability to speak. Over time, the imposter picked up on proper English while also gaining confidence by learning to dance. This parallels what happens to the real Adelaide in the underground society. The imposter tried to silence the real Adelaide by strangling her, which explains why she sounds as if her vocal cords were permanently damaged. As the only one in the underground tunnels who can speak, the real Adelaide gave the Tethered a voice. Inspired by Hands Across America, she encouraged the Tethered to rise up against their counterparts. Organizing a movement, they finally took to the surface, drawing attention to the forsaken members of society.

There are several visual motifs that hint at Adelaide and Red’s true nature. For starters, there’s the color red. Before entering the house of mirrors, the real Adelaide is seen eating a red candy apple. At the beach, a red Frisbee lands on a towel, covering one of its blue polka dots. Then when the Tethered emerge, they’re all draped in red prison jumpsuits. This color indicates that Red was always the real Adelaide and that she’s returned to reclaim the life that was stolen from her.

“Jeremiah 11:11” also plays a key role, appearing on a homeless person’s sign at the carnival where Adelaide got lost. Years later, the Tethered begin their attack on the surface around 11:11 PM. This is notably the only time of day with four identical numbers, just as the Wilsons encounter four identical strangers. Even more significant, “Jeremiah 11:11” is a Bible verse, which reads in the New Living Translation, “Therefore, this is what the LORD says: I am going to bring calamity upon them, and they will not escape. Though they beg for mercy, I will not listen to their cries.” Adelaide and Red share a connection that’s practically biblical, as one got to live a heavenly life in the sun while the other was forsaken to the dark underworld to live amongst empty, soulless beings. When they finally reunite, their inner demons are unleashed as Judgement Day ensues.

Adelaide and Red aren’t the only ones with an unusual connection. Young Jason has always been the odd one out in his family, hiding in dark closets and always wearing a mask. During the climax, Jason’s devious doppelgänger plans to kill the Wilson family by setting their car ablaze. In an unexpected turn of events, though, the doppelgänger begins to mimic Jason’s actions. As Jason backs up, his doppelgänger walks into a fire and burns to death. When the Wilsons drive off to safety, Jason sends his mother a sceptical look. Although no words are spoken, it’s highly suggested that Jason knows what his mother is. If his mother is a clone, though, what exactly does that make Jason and his sister?

The ending leaves us with a few other lingering questions. Who was in charge of the government cloning experiment? What will the Tethered do now that their leader is dead? Can the Wilsons ever return to normalcy? Who were the true puppet masters in the grand scheme of things? For that matter, who were the true villains? Is it possible that there’s a monster lurking inside all of us? Perhaps the only way to find the answers is to look in a mirror and try to find ourselves.
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