Leave the World Behind’s ending, explained

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Mahershala Ali and Natalie Portman angle by a painting in Leave the World Behind.JoJo Whilden / Netflix

Warning: This article contains spoilers for Leave the World Behind (2023).

Sam Esmail’s new thriller, Leave the World Behind, ends with two above stand-offs and a abbreviate coda that is added acceptable than it absolutely has any appropriate to be. The blur spends its final account acid aback and alternating amid a close battle amid G.H. Scott (Mahershala Ali), Clay Sandford (Ethan Hawke), and G.H.’s doomsday prepper above contractor, Danny (Kevin Bacon), and a alarming appointment that Clay’s wife, Amanda (Julia Roberts), and G.H.’s daughter, Ruth (Myha’la), allotment in the dupe with a abnormally advancing assemblage of deer. The closing arena is preceded by an altercation amid Amanda and Ruth about the former’s aloofness against acutely anybody alfresco of her family.

Amanda, who opens Leave the World Behind by proclaiming that she “f***ing hates added people,” admits that she doesn’t appetite to be so closed-off and affronted all the time. She’s artlessly absent too abundant acceptance in altruism to accept that anyone added than her bedmate and her kids, Rose (Farrah Mackenzie) and Archie (Charlie Evans), deserves any affectionate of affection from her. However, back Amanda after realizes that Ruth has become amidst by the aforementioned assemblage of deer that her babe saw earlier, she makes the uncharacteristically adventurous best to try to alarm off the deer and, in effect, save Ruth’s life.

How Leave the World Behind sets up its final act

As alarming a accommodation as it is, it pays off. The deer leave them be. Moments later, Amanda and Ruth acquisition themselves staring calm at the abroad skyline of New York City as assorted bombs activate to bang throughout it.

Myha'la, Mahershala Ali, Ethan Hawke, and Julia Roberts attending at a TV awning calm in Leave the World Behind.JoJo Whilden / Netflix

Across town, G.H. and Clay seek out Danny in the hopes that he ability accept some anesthetic for Clay’s son, Archie, who has been overtaken by an baffling affliction that has acquired his teeth to abatement out. When they arrive, Danny meets them with a shotgun and bright instructions to angle as far abroad from him as possible. He extends them some address but ultimately tells them that Archie’s bloom isn’t his affair and that his alone albatross is to his own family. Shotgun in hand, he offers them some cabal theories about the antecedent of the cyberattack that has beatific America into a coast and wishes them luck. G.H., however, demands that Danny advice them in some way.

The astriction amid the two men eventually boils over. They point their accoutrements at anniversary other, and it seems, for a few moments, like Leave the World Behind is activity to end with an adverse instance of bloodshed. Clay puts himself amid the two men, though, and begs Danny for advice — confessing that he can’t anticipate of any added way to save his son’s life. Danny, seeing the 18-carat abhorrence and benevolence in Clay’s eyes, agrees to accord him and G.H. some anesthetic in barter for cash. The bearings aback defused, the three men acknowledge why they anniversary accept altered nations, including Russia, Iran, and North Korea, may accept had article to do with the cyberattack on America.

Later, already he and Clay are aback in their car, G.H. reveals that he acclimated to accommodate cost-benefit analyses of aggressive campaigns for a above applicant who formed in the aegis sector. He explains that it was ultimately bent that the cheapest way to topple a nation’s amusing anatomy would be by electronically isolating its citizens and anarchic them with misinformation and chaotic, alien attacks. “Without a bright adversary or motive, bodies would alpha axis on anniversary other,” he continues. “This affairs was advised the best cost-effective way to destabilize a country because, if the ambition nation was abortive enough, it would, in essence, do the assignment for you.”

How does Leave the World Behind end?

Together, Leave the World Behind’s final two confrontations not alone altercate that America’s added disconnected attributes is potentially alike added alarming than anyone realizes, but they additionally adios the affectionate of agitated tribalism that so abounding added dystopian, apocalyptic movies amusement as inevitable. Maybe, the blur posits, there is a adventitious that animal beings can still acquisition a way to appear calm in the face of doubtful ambiguity and fear. Coming calm afresh may, in fact, be the only affair that could save America from absolute destruction.

Leave the World Behind doesn’t end on these quiet moments of affiliation and compassionate amid its developed characters, though. Instead, the blur catches up one aftermost time with Clay and Amanda’s daughter, Rose, who went missing the night before. She’s appear to be blind out in the massive home of one of G.H.’s neighbors, area she discovers a hidden underground alembic — one that Danny told G.H. about aloof one arena earlier. Viewers watch as Rose makes her way through the fully-stocked, high-tech alembic afore extensive its greatest feature: Several shelves’ account of DVDs and Blu-rays.

On one of the shelves, Rose finds a DVD box set of the final division of Friends and, at continued last, she starts watching the sitcom’s alternation finale. In accomplishing Rose’s greatest wish, Leave the World Behind reveals the tongue-in-cheek acceptation abaft its final affiliate appellation (“The Last One” is, in case you’d forgotten, the name of Friends’ alternation finale) and makes a adequately acute case for the accent of concrete media. After all, if the apple were to anytime become angry upside bottomward by a alternation of cyberattacks, owning the all-important DVDs and Blu-rays would be the alone way for any of us to rewatch episodes of our admired TV shows. In a 21st-century apple like ours, what’s added important than that?

Leave the World Behind is arena in baddest theaters now. It premieres Friday, December 8 on Netflix.

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