In this section of the Colossus Movie Guide for Avatar: The Way of Water, we will explain the film’s ending.
- Jake Sully – Sam Worthington
- Neytiri – Zoe Saldaña
- Lo’ak – Britain Dalton
- Neteyam – Jamie Flatters
- Kiri – Sigourney Weaver
- Tuktirey – Trinity Jo-Li Bliss
- Miles “Spider” Socorro – Jack Champion
- Colonel Miles Quaritch – Stephen Lang
- Corporal Lyle Wainfleet – Matt Gerald
- General Frances Ardmore – Edie Falco
- Captain Mick Scoresby – Brendan Cowell
- Dr. Ian Garvin – Jermaine Clement
- Tonowari – Cliff Curtis
- Ronal – Kate Winslet
- Tsireya – Bailey Bass
- Aonung – Filip Geljo
- Rotxo – Duane Evans Jr.
- Written By – James Cameron, Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver
- Directed By – James Cameron
The end of Avatar: The Way of Water explained
We pick up in the aftermath of the battle between Jake Sully and Colonel Miles Quaritch. The ship everyone had been fighting on sunk. And it trapped Jake off on his own and Neytiri and Tuk in a separate area. Lo’ak finds his father and is ready to lead Jake out but Jake doesn’t believe he can hold his breath long enough to swim out of the shipwreck. Lo’ak recites the “way of water” mantra and inspires Jake. Together, they make the swim. Meanwhile, Kiri has used her connection to Eywa, Pandora’s life force, to summon a swarm of fish that lead her to Neytiri and Tuk. Then Spider saves his “father”, Colonel Quaritch, from drowning after the fight with Jake.
The Sullys and Spider reunite. They return to the Metkayina tribe and have a funeral for Neteyam. The ceremony concludes with a bed of Eywa-looking fronds gathering the oldest Sully child. Afterwards, Jake tells the Metkayina chief that the Sullys will depart the village to spare them further trouble with the humans. But Tonowari dismisses the idea. Jake has buried a child with the Metkayina ancestors. That makes them family. So Jake and Neytiri undergo a ceremony where they attach their neural tendrils to the underwater spirit tree. This is their formal conversion from being of the jungle to the way of water. They have their new home.
While attached to the tree, Jake has a vision of him and Neteyam, back in the jungle, when Neteyam was a young boy. The last thing Jake says is, “I see now. I can’t save my family by running. This is our home. This is our fortress. This is where we make our stand.”
There are a number of interesting aspects here. First and foremost, is what Jake says at the end. In the first Avatar, Jake claimed the mantle of Toruk Makto, “Rider of the Last Shadow.” His warrior-spirit was an inspiration to the Na’vi and what allowed him to unite the clans and defeat the humans in battle. But it’s been over a decade. He’s a husband and father of four. His first instinct isn’t to go to war but to do what’s necessary to protect his family. And so early in Way of Water he decides to run. By escaping from the forest, he hopes to be left alone. Except the battle comes to him. And it costs Neteyam’s life.
Maybe if Jake had stayed and fought the results would have been worse? Maybe he, his family, and the rest of his tribe would perish. There’s no way of knowing if he made the right decision. What’s certain, though, is Neteyam’s gone. Running didn’t protect anyone.By the end, Jake’s prepared to bring back that Toruk Makto spirit. He’s ready to fight. The implication being the next movie is the climactic battle. It’s victory or defeat. Nothing in-between.
Beyond that, the end also continues to develop the mystery and presence of Eywa. In both films, there’s the implication of a planetary sentience. In Way of Water, it seems Eywa actively guides Kiri to Neytiri and Tuk and provides an oxygen fish for Neytiri’s safe escape. Then when Jake and Neytiri tendril to the spirit tree, Eywa connects them with the consciousness of Neteyam after claiming Neteyam’s body in the burial ceremony. This also may implicate that Pandora has a kind of neural afterlife, that the minds of the Na’vi live on in Eywa.
Regarding Spider. He saved Quaritch because Quaritch had saved him during the stand-off with Neytiri. That’s a decision that will probably come back to haunt him. But he felt it was the moral thing to do at that time. He’s also accepted into the Sully family, with Neytiri saying, “A son for a son.” A nice twist on her earlier threat of taking Spider’s life since Quaritch’s man had killed Neteyam.
Lastly, the film sets up a bit of a “passing of the torch” dynamic that’s similar to Lion King’s emphasis on the circle of life. In Avatar, Jake and Neytiri were young and strong. In Way of Water, they’re probably around 15 years older. The story isn’t so much about them as it is their family and what they’re doing to protect their family. And much of the film is about Lo’ak and Kiri coming into their own. Which is why they’re the ones who save Jake and Neytiri. That foreshadows the increased role they’ll have in the battle ahead. It’s a sign that the parents are doing their job and raising children who are, despite flaws, smart, strong, and capable.Which has me really worried about the fate of Jake and Neytiri in Avatar 3.
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