Avatar 2 ending explained: How does The Way of Water end?

Stephen Lang as Quaritch in Avatar 220th Century Studios

Avatar 2, James Cameron’s long-awaited sequel, is coming to Disney Plus – but how does The Way of Water end, and how does it set up Avatar 3?

After 13 years, the post-Pandora blues have returned with a beautiful vengeance – Avatar: The Way of Water is the much-hyped, jaw-slackening sequel to Cameron’s mega-hit, still the highest-grossing movie of all time to this day.

In our review, we called it “an awe-inspiring, cinematic hallelujah; James Cameron is back, and maybe he is the king of the world after all.”

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While the first movie stands alone, Avatar 2 is the first of four planned sequels – so, let’s get into the movie’s ending and how it sets up what’s to come.

Avatar 2 ending explained

Avatar: The Way of Water sees the waves of Quaritch (Stephen Lang) and his squad of RDA combatants descend on the shores of the Metkayina clan. At first, its leaders don’t wish to get involved in war, but when the RDA carries out the brutal killing of a Tulkun (considered to be spirit sisters and brothers of the Na’vi), they want revenge.

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Jake and Neytiri’s children set off to find the Tulkun outcast, who’s been shot with a tracking dart and marked for death. They set him free, but are caught by Quaritch in the process, rounded up in a giant fishing net and strapped to the railing of the boat.

The outcast Tulkun sees Lo’ak from under the water. Enraged and distressed, the whale starts thrashing wildly on the seabed, before giving the RDA the Free Willy treatment: he soars out of the water and flops onto the ship. Those who weren’t crushed under the weight of the mammal are soon dispatched in other ways; some are “finned”, and others are flung into the water. Scoresby, the horrible whaler, also gets his arm ripped off by his own explosive harpoon, which is insanely cathartic.

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While the kids manage to break free, Jake and Quartich begin a long fight. They duke it out on their banshees, exchanging gun fire and biting the neck’s of one another’s animals. Meanwhile, Neteyam is shot and killed while trying to help Lo’ak and Spider escape. As Neytiri screams over losing her son, Quaritch contacts Jake again, offering him the same choice: his life for his daughters’ lives.

Jake finds Tuk, but Quaritch holds a knife to Kiri’s neck. In response, Neytiri kills every remaining RDA soldier in sight and slices her knife across Spider’s chest, knowing it’ll provoke Quaritch, as he’s his son. As she threatens to kill him, Quaritch lets Kiri go. Just as you think they’re about to be free, Jake takes on Quaritch mano a mano.

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However, the others find themselves in immense peril: Tuk is sucked into the bowels of the sinking ship, with Neytiri going after her; and Spider and Kiri are left alone on the surface as the boat begins to rise and fall like the Titanic.

Jake eventually beats Quaritch, seemingly killing him underwater – but this leaves him trapped. Lo’ak finds him and teaches him how to breathe in order to survive, while Kiri uses her powers to summon the glowing, underwater fireflies (they’re essentially like the ocean’s equivalent of wood sprites) to find Neytiri and Tuk, taking them to safety.

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Jake and Neytiri in Avatar 220th Century Studios

There’s a twist though: Quaritch wasn’t killed. Spider finds him convulsing under the water, and against his better (and inevitable) judgement, he rescues him. He’s bruised, battered, and alone, but Spider doesn’t go with him. He hisses at his dad before returning to Jake and Neytiri, and Quaritch flies off on his own, presumably back to the RDA base.

“All energy is borrowed,” said the legend in Avatar. The movie ends with Neteyam’s funeral, with the golden tentacles of the seabed gently wrapping around him and embracing his energy for the final time.
Jake and Neytiri are officially welcomed as part of the Metkayina clan. “I can’t run from it, this is my fortress,” he says as the camera approaches his closed-eyed face. Just like the original film, his eyes open, and the credits boom onto the screen.

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How does Avatar 2 set up Avatar 3?

Spider is one of the most mysterious characters. We don’t know who his mother his, but his dynamic with Quaritch is clearly set to evolve and prove hazardous for Jake and Neytiri. We can expect this to be a major relationship in the coming sequel(s).

Speaking to The Indian Express, Stephen Lang said: “Whatever you may expect, I hope the character defies that. I hope people feel surprised by what he goes through and what he becomes, I think you will recognize him, albeit I will be in a different framework. But I think you will recognize the attitude, the swagger, the qualities of leadership that he has.

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“I think if you have expectations of that, those will be fulfilled. Also, he is always looking for a fight. That is what he is there for, that is his mission. But I do believe there will be some surprises as we continue to mine this character for everything that he is worth. Because there really would be no point in bringing the role back just to repeat itself, that would be pointless, it would be uninteresting. So expect the unexpected, that is what I would say.”

Kiri is also a subject of immense curiosity: how was she born, if her conception remains a “complete mystery”? How is she so connected to Eywa compared to everyone else? Does she have special powers? It remains to be seen.

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Avatar: The Way of Water is available to stream via VOD now. Check out our other coverage below:

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