What Does The Ending Of Annihilation Really Mean?

Mind blown.

Annihilation Natalie Portman

Annihilation is available to stream now on Netflix in most of the world, and if you live in the U.S., you've even been able enough to watch it on the big screen (you lucky devils).

However you watched it, it's fair to say that Alex Garland's intoxicating sci-fi odyssey leaves audiences with plenty to think about once the credits roll, from the nature of the extraterrestrial, life-warping bubble known as the Shimmer, to the ambiguous fate of Natalie Portman's protagonist Lena, and the beautiful madness that was the film's unforgettable third act.

There's plenty to unpack and a lot of fan theories already doing the rounds online, so factoring in what little concrete information the movie gives us, combined with a careful reading of its themes and an added sprinkle of guesswork, it's time to take a deep dive into Garland's stunning film and try to figure out what it all means...

7. What Happens

Annihilation Natalie Portman

The movie's third act sees Lena making a sole trip to the lighthouse at the centre of the Shimmer in the hope of discovering its source. Most of her team has already been killed off, save for Ventress (Jennifer Jason Leigh), who headed there alone earlier on.

When Lena enters the lighthouse, she discovers an incinerated corpse, which a video camera reveals to be that of her husband Kane (Oscar Isaac), who killed himself with a white phosphorus grenade, before urging a Shimmer-generated doppelgänger of himself to leave the Shimmer and find Lena.

At this point, Lena heads into a hole in the lighthouse, where she finds a faceless Ventress who skittishly discusses the nature of the Shimmer, before transforming into a peculiar shape. This shape takes a drop of blood from Lena's face and generates a metallic, featureless mimic of Lena, which "attacks" her as she attempts to escape the lighthouse.

As the mimic comes to more closely resemble Lena, she manages to trick it by placing a phosphorus grenade in its hands and quickly fleeing. As the mimic is set ablaze, the flames engulf the lighthouse, burning it down and appearing to destroy the Shimmer.

Back on terra firma, the second Kane's critical medical condition has miraculously resolved itself with the Shimmer's destruction, and when he is reunited with Lena, he tells her that he doesn't think he's the real Kane. As for Lena? She doesn't seem so sure whether she really came back from the Shimmer either, as her eyes let off an incandescent glow in the film's ambiguous final image.

So, what all that in mind, what exactly does it all mean?

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Stay at home dad who spends as much time teaching his kids the merits of Martin Scorsese as possible (against the missus' wishes). General video game, TV and film nut. Occasional sports fan. Full time loon.