Warning! Contains major SPOILERS for IT Chapter Two.
IT Chapter Two's ending brings the story of the Losers Club and their battle with Pennywise the Dancing Clown to a true conclusion that changes Stephen King's book while still staying true to the spirit of the source material. Let's break down what happens in IT Chapter 2's ending.
Directed once again by Andy Muschietti, IT Chapter Two picks up 27 years after the events of IT (2017), with almost all the members of the Losers Club having left Derry behind and forged new lives for themselves, struggling to remember what even happened. Only Mike Hanlon (Isaiah Mustafa) remains, and when Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård) returns, he calls the other Losers back to Derry to honor their pact and defeat It.
IT Chapter 2 finds each of the Losers going through their own personal journey against It, but ultimately finding their strength lies together and they reunite to beat the monster, maybe even for good. IT Chapter Two is a long, ambitious film that doesn't always work, but its ending is a satisfying close to this story, and here's how it goes down.
How The Losers Beat Pennywise
After collecting each of their individual tokens needed to perform the Ritual of Chüd that will ostensibly defeat It, the six Losers - Mike, Bill (James McAvoy), Beverly (Jessica Chastain), Ben (Jay Ryan), Eddie (James Ransone), and Richie (Bill Hader) - head back into the old house on Neibolt Street to kill the clown for good. They go down into the sewers and begin to perform the ritual, which involves chanting and burning the tokens, but it doesn't work. Mike lied about the Ritual of Chüd, not revealing that the Native Americans who attempted it were killed by Pennywise, but he insists the key is to have belief that it'll work.
There's not much time for that though, as Pennywise attacks again, this time taking the form of a giant spider/clown hybrid, sending the Losers running. Each once again has to face their worst fears, but they're able to come back together in It's lair to face their literal demon once and for all. It comes at the cost of Eddie's life, who is killed by Pennywise after thinking he's defeated it by stabbing It with the same metal weapon from the first film, but that provides the inspiration for the other Losers in IT Chapter 2. They realize that best way to beat the bully is to stand up to it and make it seem small. They shout at It that it's nothing but a clown, eventually shrinking it down until it's tiny. Finally, Bill reaches in and pulls what It calls a heart of its chest, crushing it and seemingly killing It for good.
Richie's Secret & R+E
In a departure from Stephen King's IT (although it's arguably subtext there), and even the first movie in this series, IT Chapter 2 has numerous allusions throughout to Richie Tozier's sexuality, implying (though not outright stating) that he's gay. There are references to him struggling with his feelings, although it's kept a little vague at first. When he has to find his token, he's taken back to a memory at the arcade when he shared a moment with another boy, and was then called gay by Henry Bowers and his gang. It's clear how much this homophobic abuse has stayed with him, and that Pennywise is the only one who seems to know the truth. Afterward, another flashback sees Richie carving initials into a fence, although we don't get to see what they are.
When Eddie is killed by IT, Richie is distraught, and understandably so, especially when he has to leave his body behind, and given Eddie saved his life. Eddie was Richie's best friend when they were kids, and that friendship had been revived and seemed natural once again. But following on from the previous allusions throughout IT Chapter Two, it further suggests that Richie was in love with Eddie, something the end of the movie confirms by revealing those initials: R+E. Richie loved Eddie, and kept that with him his entire adult life, and now he's lost him. At the same time, with It defeated and Richie free of Derry for good, he can start to live without that fear.
Bill's Secret & Guilt Over Georgie's Death
Although he has become a successful author, IT's Bill Denbrough remains wracked by the guilt over Georgie's death, blaming himself for what happened. Earlier in the movie he revisits the sewer where Georgie was taken, and after the Ritual of Chüd fails, he's thrown into a nightmarish vision where he once again has to encounter his little brother, while also seeing the younger version of himself too. As we learn, Billy blames himself for what happened because he pretended to be sick and lied to his brother, as he didn't want to go outside and play with him.
It's in those visions, though, that Bill comes to learn he no longer needs to feel guilty. That it was reasonable for a kid to not want to go outside when it was raining, and that it was just one time. Above all, he realizes that the only person (or thing) to truly be blamed for Georgie's death is It. This helps give him the final push he needs to return back to the cave and, as the leader of the Losers, take the fight to Pennywise and ultimately defeat it at the end of IT Chapter Two. It's symbolic of all the other Losers too, each of whom had to overcome their worst fears and memories, taking away the power It held over them and at the same time dealing with the childhood traumas they'd forgotten but not truly learned to cope with.
Is IT Really Gone?
It Chapter Two ends with the defeat of Pennywise, but then so too did 2017's IT, so there's a fair question to be asked with regards as to whether It has actually been defeated for good, or if Pennwyse will return in another IT movie to haunt and attack Derry in 27 years' time? This time, however, It really has been defeated for good. At the end of IT (2017), Beverly informed the Losers of the visions she'd had after seeing the deadlights, which involved them fighting It as adults, and they made their blood pact to guarantee they'd return.
This is different. In IT Chapter 2, Pennywise doesn't just retreat away from the Losers, but is quite clearly killed by them. They rip It's heart out and crush it, removing its life source. Crucially, when they return to the surface after this, they find that the scars on their palms from the blood pact have finally healed. That's an even bigger indicator that It really is gone for good: the wounds have healed, and the oath is no longer needed because It will never come back to Derry. At last, the Losers can move on and have a true sense of freedom.
What Happens To The Losers After IT?
After defeating It at the end of IT Chapter Two, the Losers Club have some last moments of bonding, where Richie cries over Eddie while Beverly and Ben kiss after she realizes it was him, not Bill, who wrote the poem about how her "hair is like winter fire." Bill, meanwhile, is free of the guilt he used to feel and simply happy to see that all of his old friends are ok, while Mike, the only one of the Club to stay behind the first time around, is at last able to leave Derry himself, moving to Florida because he'd always wanted to go there.
There's some bittersweetness there, but it's mostly a happy ending for the surviving members of the Losers Club. Richie has lost Eddie, but he's no longer living in fear and is able to truly realize who he is. Ben and Beverly officially get together, and are shown having a relaxing vacation. Bill, meanwhile, starts writing a new novel, this time one that he hopes will actually have a good ending. All of the Losers receive a note from Stan too, who tells them that he was too scared of facing It, and knew that they couldn't defeat him if they weren't all united, which is why he had to take himself "off the board" by committing suicide. Even in that moment of darkness, there's a ray of hope for the remaining Losers in IT Chapter 2.
How IT's Ending Differs From The Book
Although a lot of what's in IT Chapter 2 is quite faithful to Stephen King's IT book, there are some big changes. That's not too surprising given it's a 1,100-page novel, so there's a wealth of stuff in there that even two movies can't fit in, despite IT Chapter Two's 3-hour runtime, but the biggest changes come in the ending. Audra, Bill's wife, has a much bigger role in the book, as she goes to Derry after Bill, and ends up being captured by It. Seeing It's true form, she becomes catatonic, but Bill is eventually able to rescue her, and when he takes her for a ride on his bike, Silver, after they've defeated It, she awakens. In It Chapter 2, she only appears early on in the film, before Bill returns to Derry.
The Ritual of Chüd is also quite different too. Rather than trying to capture It, the book instead takes them to a more metaphysical plane. Bill enters It's mind through the deadlights, becoming psychically linked with It, and Richie then goes in to rescue him and complete the ritual. It's then left to Eddie to attempt to save his friends, which he does by spraying Pennywise with his trusty inhaler - it works as a distraction, but It bites Eddie's arm off and he bleeds out and dies. In It Chapter 2, Eddie stabs It, and is then stabbed in return when he turns his back. In the books, things get even worse because they don't just have to defeat It, who is a sort-of spider at this point (it's essentially the closest shape the human mind can perceive, but isn't really It's form), but also the spider eggs it's laid. Ben destroys all of the eggs, while Bill goes inside It's body and destroys its heart from within.
All of this happens while Derry is being flooded by the worst storm its ever seen (which may be linked to It), which destroys the lair and makes it seem like Derry itself is done for. The Losers all leave town, and eventually their memories begin to fade again. IT Chapter 2 has a big difference to this, because the memories don't fade this time - instead, as Mike says, there's "more worth remembering" than forgetting. Otherwise, a number of the basic endpoints - Ben and Beverly; Richie going back to California; Bill eventually leaving Derry again too - are roughly the same.
Does Stephen King's IT Ending Suck?
The biggest running gag across IT Chapter 2 is that Bill is a great author, but he can't write endings to save his life. He's constantly mocked for it, with even his wife, Audra, not liking the ending to the book they're turning into a film at the outset of the movie. When he returns to Derry and goes to buy his old bike, the shopkeeper - played in an extremely meta-nod by Stephen King himself - tells him that he's read his book, and he too didn't like the ending. King often injects himself into his characters, and Bill is no exception, but this takes things even further by so directly addressing a criticism of King himself: that he can't write good endings.
This has been an argument for many of King's works, such as The Stand and Under The Dome, and It is very much among them. Part of the issue isn't directly related to IT Chapter 2, since the movies have quite distinctly split the timelines, whereas the novel alternates back-and-forth between them. That means the ending of Stephen King's IT includes the infamous orgy scene with the Losers Club, and Bill meeting a giant metaphysical turtle called Maturin, who helps him defeat It. It's not just weird, but certain elements - like Beverly having to have sex with all of the boys - feel very off, and then later elements such as Audra reawakening after riding on Silver can come off as a little silly, and along with the memories fading again, too neat as well. It's perhaps a little unfair to say the ending of It is terrible, but it's not great either and does warrant some serious refining, especially to work on-screen, which is what IT Chapter Two's ending does.
- IT Chapter Two (2019) release date: Sep 06, 2019