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John Wick 3 Ending & Chapter 4 Setup Explained

Now that John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum has released, fans want to know how the ending affects John Wick 4 and the upcoming TV spinoff The Continental. In the franchise, Keanu Reeves stars as the title character, a former hitman who returns to a life of crime.  

In John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, the narrative picks up directly after John Wick: Chapter 2. After killing  Santino D’Antonio, John Wick has been declared “excommunicado,” meaning he’s officially been blacklisted by The Continental; a safe zone for assassins and other underworld figures. There’s a $14 million bounty on Wick’s life, and a crime lord council named The High Table plots against him. Wick travels to Casablanca for help (which introduces Halle Berry's assassin character Sofia) and then back to New York City, where The Adjudicator of the High Table (Asia Kate Dillon) is waiting, along with numerous assassins. 

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John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum ends with Reeves’ character being betrayed by Winston (Ian McShane), the owner of The Continental. So, what does this mean moving forward? Is John Wick physically able to continue working? Here, we explain how John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum's ending sets up John Wick 4. 

Winston "Kills" John Wick To Save The Continental From The High Table

Ian McShan as Winston in John Wick 3

John Wick has a give and take relationship with The Continental’s owner and manager, Winston. In the original John Wick, Reeves’ character has just returned from retirement, but he’s respected by Winston for being a living legend. By this point, Wick hasn’t blatantly disrespected Winston. In John Wick: Chapter 2, though, he breaks the golden rule and kills a Camorra lord at The Continental. Unsurprisingly, Winston declares Wick “excommunicado” for harming the institution’s reputation (along with his own). Like John Wick, Winston lives by a personal code of conduct, but also manipulates the system to his advantage.

In John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, Reeves’ character makes a deal with The Elder. He agrees to kill Winston in order to have the $14 million bounty on his head cancelled. By the film's climax, Wick refuses to carry out the order, prompting The Adjudicator to “deconsecrate” The Continental, meaning killing is now allowed on Continental grounds. Wick fights off High Table assassins to save Winston and the Continental, but when Winston negotiates with The Adjudicator for his return to the fold, he subsequently shoots Wick to prove his loyalty. In this cinematic universe, the characters genuinely believe that Wick has been eliminated. But the betrayal is merely a plot device to raise the stakes even more.  

John Wick Survives - And Is Taken To The Bowery King

One does not simply survive a gunshot wound and a lengthy fall from a New York City hotel. But this is John Wick. Naturally, he’s wearing a bullet proof vest, and manages not to break every bone in his body. So, what’s next for the franchise? How could John Wick regain his strength and be treated quickly, and efficiently? John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum sets up a new underground subplot, one that also sets up The Continental series on Starz.

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For previously helping John Wick in John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, The Bowery King is punished by The Adjudicator. He receives seven lashes (or slashes) from the assassin Zero, but shockingly survives and appears in the final sequence of John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum. Just like in John Wick: Chapter 2, he’s going to treat Reeves’ injured character. Both men have a major beef with The High Table, and both men are essentially dismissed. This concept parallels modern society power dynamics and allows for more subplots. Furthermore, it strengthens the inherent tension within the franchise. 

What John Wick 3's Ending Really Means

Asia Kate Dillon and Lance Reddick in John Wick 3

The ending of John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum sets up a stronger storyline for John Wick 4. While the third installment is primarily about survival and immediacy, the subsequent chapter will undoubtedly provide more character depth. When John Wick manages to survive, he’s assisted by The Tick Tock Man; a character that briefly appears early on. He’s an associate of The Bowery King; a man who operates underground. As whole, the John Wick franchise examines loss, perspective, and existentialism. These concepts aren't specific to the title character, though. Thus far, the John Wick movies have focused primarily on the title character's plight, but the world will soon expand, at least based on the ending of the third installment. 

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum foreshadows what’s to come through The Bowery King’s dialogue. He states, “Under the table is where shit gets done.” Meaning, there’s clear narrative conflict between characters from the lower depths and those with immense power (The High Table). The ending of John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum suggests that characters like The Adjudicator will be more fully developed in John Wick 4. In addition, the ending teases that a more prominent sense of culture will be introduced, whether it's a more focused exploration of morals or a subtextual commentary on big business. There's still much to explore in the world of John Wick.

John Wick: Chapter 4 Is About Revenge Against The Continental & High Table

John Wick: Chapter 3 Parabellum

For John Wick 4, the franchise has subtly changed its premise. Rather than focusing one man’s quest for vengeance, the storyline now involves clashes between class systems. It’s a David vs. Goliath story; the underground against The High Table. This allows the franchise to represent various demographics, and to offer up a societal commentary, all the while staying true to practical concepts like shelter, survival, and personal bonds.  

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Still, the heart of the story remains the same. John Wick has been betrayed. The Adjudicator represents The Big Bad (she's the face of The High Table), while Winston is the disloyal friend, a man who stabbed John Wick in the back and left him for dead. Now, John Wick is even more blood-thirsty, and he’s enlisted an underground organization that will inevitably rise up from the ashes, so to speak.

UPDATE: John Wick 4 has an official release date of May 21, 2021.

How John Wick 3's Ending Sets Up The Continental TV Show

John Wick Chapter 3 Cast

In January 2018, Starz greenlit the John Wick spinoff series The Continental. The series will be based on the franchise’s neutral ground hotel, though Ian McShane won’t reprise his role as Winston. So, what exactly will The Continental explore? The answer lies in the ending of John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum: politics.

The John Wick franchise began by focusing on one man’s journey and has since transformed into a narrative about the common man vs. big institutions. While it’s still unclear if original characters from the John Wick franchise will appear in The Continental, the basic concepts will certainly apply: rules and structure; war and peace. Plus, there will undoubtedly be some romance involved as well. The chaos of John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum set up the structure for a brand new story, The Continental (and John Wick 4).

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