Annihalation: Plot & Ending Explained

Most sane viewers are confused by the ending of Annihilation, what the hell does it all mean? So, allow us to help by explaining the ending of Annihilation.

Annihilation 1
Netflix's Annihilation was confusing, so here's the plot & ending explained. | © Netflix

Annihilation is a science fiction film released in 2018, directed by Alex Garland and based on the novel by Jeff VanderMeer. The movie follows a group of scientists who venture into an environmental disaster zone known as “The Shimmer” to unravel its mysteries. As they delve deeper into this bizarre and ever-changing landscape, they face mind-bending phenomena and unimaginable horrors.

We found the film especially confusing towards the end, so if you had the same experience and want an explanation, here is the ending and plot of Annihilation explained.

The Plot of Annihilation

The story begins with Lena, a biologist and former soldier, whose husband Kane returns home after mysteriously disappearing for a year.

Kane is sick and suffering from memory loss, so Lena joins a team of female scientists on an expedition to “The Shimmer,” a quarantined area where the laws of nature seem to be distorted. She's in search of answers and unaware of how terrible the "adventure" might be.

The Ending Of Annihilation Explained | Spoiler Warning!

The ending of Annihilation leaves viewers with many questions. As the team reaches the lighthouse within The Shimmer, they discover a surreal and otherworldly environment.

nature looked beautiful and frightening in that movie! | © Netflix

Lena confronts a doppelgänger of herself, a result of the Shimmer's ability to create clones or distort the DNA of living beings. Lena realizes that the Shimmer refracts and combines DNA, allowing for the creation of new life forms and mutations.

In the climactic scene, Lena realizes that the alien entity within The Shimmer is refracting and mirroring her actions. She understands that the only way to confront and understand the alien's intentions is to mimic its behavior.

Lena hands her clone a phosphor grenade, igniting it and the lighthouse, destroying the alien presence. The Shimmer starts to collapse, and Lena and Kane manage to escape.

The film's ending presents the theme of self-destruction as a necessary sacrifice to change and grow, by letting go of the things that bind you. As they willingly destroy the alien presence within The Shimmer, Lena and Kane symbolically destroy their own selves, allowing for a fresh start and the possibility of a new life.

It also implies that self-destruction can be a form of understanding or transcending our limitations, as Lena overcomes her personal problems at the same time she kills the alien clone.

However, the ending remains open-ended, leaving room for individual interpretation. Some viewers may see Lena's act as an act of bravery and sacrifice, while others may view it as an act of selfishness or a metaphorical representation of accepting one's flaws and embracing change.

This was further emphasized in the last scene, as both Lena's and Kane's eyes reflect the ever-changing nature of The Shimmer.

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