Annihilation ^ Ending Explained

Annihilation is one of Netflix’s newest additions to its movie library and as it happens so often now, the mere fact that it is on Netflix seems to automatically make it the favorite punching bag for critics and not-so-critics. But, putting aside what anybody might think about this movie, what nobody can deny is the enigmatic nature of the story that has already generated so many doubts and questions.

So, if you are one of those who waited for a little final scene to explain everything that happened in the 115 minutes of the film, you have arrived to the right place, because although we do not have a video scene that magically clarifies everything, yes, we have some answers, so let’s start with the analysis and explanation of … Annihilation.

annihilation ending explained

1 ^ What is the Shimmer?

Let’s start immediately. The Shimmer is the name of a abnormal formation that was initially generated around a lighthouse in the southeastern United States. The most important feature of The Shimmer is the way it distorts light, so that it looks kind of like a liquid rainbow that slowly expands.

The Shimmer was generated after a small asteroid impacted the lighthouse and at the beginning of the film, it is stated that it has been growing for 4 years, swallowing the swamp, and some populated areas. The villages were evacuated under the pretext of a chemical spill. The government of the United States immediately ordered to inspect the phenomenon, but all the missions sent there, failed. Nobody returned.

According to Ventress Team’s research, The Shimmer works as a prism that refracts not only light (which generates its strange appearance) but even the DNA and quantum information of everything that gets in there. This prism is part of the organism that in thi post I will call The Entity.

2 ^ What is The Entity in Annihilation?

The Shimmer is actually a part of the organism that entered Earth with the asteroid that hit the lighthouse. From the little that Ventress Team could find out, The Entity’s main purpose is to survive, and apparently the Entity understands that the best way to survive is to LEARN from the environment where it has arrived, but the amount of time it takes to adapt, indicates that it is an absolutely exotic organism that probably does not know the organic lifestyle that predominates on Earth.

The Entity can evidently be present in an unconnected manner in all the area covered by The Shimmer, with a central core that is below the lighthouse. This core is the one that LEARNS, while its unconnected parts wander looking for all the information. It is evident that the Entity recognizes THE CELL as the fundamental unit of life, and makes the imitations at the cellular level.

Everything that enters The Shimmer is automatically infected by the unconnected parts of the Entity that cause mutations. The Entity seems to be experimenting locating DNA traits of what it finds on one side, to add it to another, perhaps looking for a way to survive on the planet and endure.

3 ^ What happened between Kane and Lena?

At the beginning of the film we see that Lena has not yet overcome the loss of her husband in action and it seems that her marriage was immensely happy. The reality is that Lena and Kane’s marriage was at its worst, since Kane had discovered that Lena was sleeping with one of her colleagues named Dan (David Gyasi).

Lena excused her cheating on her husband’s long absences, because of his missions abroad, and her own complicated schedule. When Kane found out, he signed up for the mission to which everyone in the militia was trying not to get into: The Shimmer, a place from which no one had ever returned.

4 ^ What happened to Kane in The Shimmer? Why were there two Kanes?

Within The Shimmer, Kane saw the results of The Entity’s action on his colleagues and on himself. He witnessed the human body’s reaction to the exchange of DNA, to the point that one of his companions seemed to have a creature inside his body.

But, when he arrived at the core of The Entity in the lighthouse, the Entity managed to copy him perfectly and not only at the cellular level, but at the mental level. Overwhelmed by the power of The Entity and by Lena’s betrayal, Kane commits suicide with a grenade. His copy was the one that could escape and go home with Lena.

5 ^ Why were there transparent trees? Why were there trees with human shape?

This is the most important information revealed about the Entity: IT IS NOT ORGANIC. The transparent trees show an intention of the Entity to copy the organic trees found on Earth, but it thought that, since water was predominant in the environment, the trees had to share some of its traits, including transparency. The Entity was trying to understand the difference between organic and inorganic. 

The human shaped trees are also an attempt to copy the environment, but this time trying to create a human organism. But, since the predominant environment was the forest, the results were not satisfactory.

6 ^ Who were the members of the team that entered with Lena to The Shimmer? What happened to them?

The members of the team that entered The Shimmer with Lena, a BIOLOGIST, were:

Dr. Ventress (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a renowned psychologist who is dying of cancer and intends to contemplate the origin of The Shimmer before dying. Ventress arrives at the lighthouse and when looking at the core of The Entity, she understands the intention of it and finally lets herself to be completely absorbed.

Josie Radek (Tessa Thompson) a physicist with post-doctorate with a tendency to hurt herself with cuttings, just to feel alive. Radek also succumbs to The Entity, but unlike Ventress, her body is not destroyed, but transformed into some other type of creature, associated with the core.

Anya Thoresen (Gina Rodriguez) an experienced paramedic who has just come out of detox for alcohol and drugs. This situation of abstinence, the effect of The Entity and the imminent danger got Anya to try to kill her partners in the team, but one of the mutant creatures similar to a mixture between a bear and a boar murders her before she can actually hurt anyone.

Cass Shepard (Tuva Novotny) is a geomorphologist in charge of studying the outer edge of The Shimmer. She lost her only daughter to leukemia. She was also killed by the same mutant creature that killed Anya, who was actually able to imitate her voice and managed to confuse the rest of the team.

7 ^ What does the final scene of Annihilation mean?

Well, let’s not be so general and let’s talk about the whole final PART of the movie. Up to that moment we already know that The Entity can INFECT other living organisms by incorporating information from other living beings and even from inorganic things, such as water. But something else that the core of The Entity can do is DUPLICATE an organism both corporally and mentally. That happened to Kane and it happened to Lena.

Unlike Kane, who committed suicide after facing The Entity, Lena decided to fight. When the Entity started copying her using a sample of her blood, Lena realized that eventually the copy would be exactly the same as her (as she could see in Kane’s video) and possibly it would end up taking her place. Exactly as Dr. Ventress predicted.

Lena decides to eliminate the copy, which has as a consequence the destruction of The Shimmer and the rest of The Entity, as it had existed up to that moment. But it has not been eliminated and Kane is the proof of that.

8 ^ Why was Kane so sick when he reappeared?

Because it was a misfit copy of The Entity, still connected to The Shimmer, and therefore unable to survive outside the phenomenon. When Lena destroyed the core of the Entity, the connection between Kane and The Entity disappeared and HE was able to COMPLETE his adaptation process.

All the remnants of The Entity that were not adapted to the organic nature of the Earth were destroyed with the core.

9 ^ Why and How did Lena survive?

Remember that The Entity LEARNS and communicates, when Kane recovered from his illness, The Entity within him understood that it was already in an adapted and useful organism, able to survive, and the only human being able to enter the same process was Lena, and she was infected but not dominated or absorbed.

In the end, when Kane and Lena wonder if they are them, both recognize that their old beings are NOT EXACTLY THEMSELVES, Kane because it is a duplicate of the original, and Lena because The Entity began its adaptation process within her. Both are part of The Entity now.

The Entity finalized its process of adaptation and now has the form of two human beings, a male and a female and guarantees not only its survival, but its reproduction. It fulfilled its objective as a living organism: survive and endure.

10 ^ What is the message behind the movie Annihilation?

One of the faults of this movie is that its message is confusing. It is not a film about self-destruction, nor about the importance of staying true. It is a film that deals with adapting to change and doing it in a positive way. The characters decided to face the radical changes from a self-destructing reality, all signing up for a mission they knew it was a suicide mission. The Entity, on the other hand, devoted itself to learn, to study, to experiment and to find the best way to adapt, to change and move forward.

The message is confusing, since we never see The Entity as a character with development, but there it is implicit.

11 ^ What are the differences between Annihilation, the book and Annihilation, the movie?

ALL OF THEM, the book on which Annihilation is based is part of a trilogy called the Southern Reach Trilogy, and barring the fact of the existence of a glow in the lighthouse and that the protagonist is a biologist, there are not many coincidences there. There is no infidelity, there is no reflection of the DNA and the book seems more interested in exploring the descriptive possibilities of what happens within The Shining than in exploring an argument. So much so, that it does not even name the characters, they are simply: the biologist, the wife, the psychologist. Perhaps from that point of view, translating such a structure to the big screen was completely, if not impossible, unproductive to get traction and viewers.

12 ^ Are there any post-credit scenes? Will there be a sequel?

No, there are no scenes after the credits begin to roll, although I agree that there should be one. And the director already said in the media that there are ZERO PLANS to make a sequel. The story comes up and dies in the 115 minutes of the film … unless Netflix has other ideas, after all, they even asked for a sequel to Bright , so everything is possible at this point.

Questions? Annotations? Doubts?  The comments section is open just below this publication. No further ado, we’ll see you in the next post of movie questions and answers in El Sabanero X.

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