The ending of Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs wraps up numerous character arcs, but remains somewhat cryptic about Mr. Pink’s fate. As a whole, the highly-influential crime film underlines the camaraderie that emerges from pulling off a big heist, but also pinpoints the egocentric behavior of the main players. Reservoir Dogs concludes with a Mexican standoff; a bloody moment of misunderstanding that opens the door, both literally and figuratively, for Mr. Pink to escape. Reservoir Dogs ends with retribution and justice for a murdered cop, along with a cryptic bit of sound design connected to Mr. Pink's fate.
With Reservoir Dogs, Tarantino sets himself apart from other first-time feature directors with an unorthodox narrative structure. The movie begins with an iconic diner scene that introduces the titular dogs, thus establishing their motivations and personal quirks. From there, Reservoir Dogs jumps back and forth with time, creating a sense of confusion for the audience while the subjects attempt to piece together the facts themselves. The objective: to execute a diamond heist in Los Angeles. A gangster named Joe Cabot (Lawrence Tierney) organizes the job, with the assistance of his son “Nice Guy” Eddie (Chris Penn). The Cabots recruit various men, and Joe makes it blatantly clear that no real-life names or personal details should be revealed. The crew includes Mr. White (Harvey Keitel), Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen), Mr. Blue (Edward Bunker), Mr. Brown (Tarantino), Mr. Pink (Steve Buscemi), and Mr. Orange (Tim Roth), the last of whom is revealed to be an undercover police officer.
Through slick editing, Reservoir Dogs implies certain information without showing the specifics. The heist escape goes horribly wrong, and the crew meets up at a warehouse. Mr. Pink hides the diamonds and walks out after the Mexican stand-off, leaving Mr. White to process Mr. Orange’s revelation about his real identity. Reservoir Dogs features an all-star cast, and the gritty tale shows what happens when greed and deception override tactical strategy. Here’s a breakdown of Tarantino's blood-soaked Reservoir Dogs finale, including what happened to Mr. Pink.
Mr. Orange & Why Reservoir Dogs' Robbery Failed
Despite careful planning, Reservoir Dogs’ focal heist was doomed from the start, evidenced by a late-movie sequence that details Mr. Orange’s backstory. For narrative clarification, Tarantino includes graphics to underline the character focus. For the section entitled “Mr. Orange,” Roth’s character prepares to infiltrate the Cabot clan; he learns to act like a gangster and - more specifically - how to tell a joke like a gangster. It’s all in the details. In terms of filmmaking, Tarantino initially presents Mr. Orange as one of the guys. The opening diner conversation is full of pop culture references, and specifies character traits for each individual. After the stylized open, which includes a famous wide shot of the crew, Tarantino jumps ahead to the heist’s aftermath. Mr. Orange panics in the back of a car, shot in the belly and thoroughly shook up. Similarly, Mr. White struggles to keep his cool as he attempts to not only drive but also calm his partner. There’s a noticeable bond between the two men; they hold hands and hope for the best. There’s a father-son dynamic between the characters, thus making the finale even more tragic.
In Reservoir Dogs, the heist escape fails because the police were tipped off by Mr. Orange. Crucially, the heist itself was indeed successful, albeit with some major setbacks. At the warehouse, the titular dogs seal their own fates by failing to trust each other. It’s revealed that Mr. Blonde killed numerous civilians, and Mr. Pink is purely convinced that the police not only knew about the job, but that they were waiting for them to leave as well. A brief flashback moment shows Mr. Pink running for his life, and a subsequent car scene ends with Mr. Orange taking a bullet to the gut. On the surface, Mr. Orange’s deception connects the narrative dots. But Reservoir Dogs is fundamentally about what takes place after the fact - all the contrived bravado and confusion.
When stripping Reservoir Dogs down to its core, the robbery and escape failed because of the heightened male machismo and pride. Wisely, Tarantino removes himself from the equation, but only after a memorable opening sequence that depicts the director as someone worthy of hanging with the crew. By the middle section, Tarantino shifts focus to character motivations, along with the fact that the Cabots and Mr. Blonde have an existing relationship. Crucially, Mr. Blonde has been in the clink. In Reservoir Dogs, he presents a cool and collected image, evidenced by the famous torture scene, in which the character cuts off a cop’s ear while dancing to Stealers Wheel’s “Stuck in the Middle with You.” But even though Mr. Blonde may be reliable, he proves to be a major piece of work during the heist’s aftermath. This character pushes the story forward; Mr. Blonde’s actions function as the narrative foundation for the climactic showdown.
Reservoir Dogs' Final Showdown
Reservoir Dogs establishes each of its characters as calculated and accomplished criminals, but there’s a clear power structure in place. At the top, there’s Joe Cabot, portrayed coldly by the aforementioned Tierney, an actor who made a career by playing mobsters. In contrast, Cabot’s son, Eddie, is portrayed loosely by Penn. If he’s the eyes for the operation, then it’s not hard to see why Mr. Orange aka Freddy Newandyke could infiltrate the system. As the father of a gangster, Eddie seeks validation. Most importantly, he seeks validation from his peers. Interestingly, Eddie’s wardrobe contrasts with the rest of the more authentic gangsters.
In Reservoir Dogs, Mr. White’s sense of humanity contrasts with Mr. Blonde’s aloof behavior. At the warehouse, Mr. White looks after Mr. Orange and screams at Mr. Blonde about his killing rampage during the heist. Then, Mr. Blonde delivers a classic line: “Are you gonna bark all day, little doggy, or are you gonna bite?" Once again, Tarantino reinforces the power dynamics; a character’s manhood is questioned. Ironically, Mr. Blonde’s suit-and-tie persona doesn’t make him a slick character - that’s Mr. Pink, who is staged in the background during this particular scene. Suddenly, he inserts himself into the conversation and talks about being a “professional.” Mr. Pink then uses a racial slur, thus making him even less of a sympathetic figure, this coming after his opening act rant about his refusal to tip waitresses. Just as the Reservoir Dogs’ editing shuffles the narrative, Tarantino’s character dialogue shuffles the power dynamics as well.
Later in Reservoirs Dogs, when Joe shows up to the warehouse, he knows exactly what’s going on. Joe names Mr. Orange as the rat, and Tierney's character ultimately function as the inciting incident for the climactic Mexican standoff. Joe’s dialogue further heightens the chaos and finger-pointing. Just like Eddie, he keeps everyone on edge rather than calming them like a… “professional.” And so Eddie winds up pointing a gun at Mr. White, who points a gun at Joe, who in turns points a gun at the bleeding Mr. Orange. Meanwhile Mr. Pink cleverly hides and avoids and flying bullets. All of these men speak forcefully and serve as strong male characters, but their poor communications skills and lack of polish lead to their collective downfalls. The shots ring out quickly; Mr. Orange takes a bullet, then Mr. White, then the Cabots.
What Happened To Mr. Pink At The End Of Reservoir Dogs
Reservoir Dogs ends with Mr. Pink’s escape. He survives because of his intellect, and manages to secure the diamonds. Throughout the film, Mr. Pink speaks practically and muses about how people panic under pressure. He understands the game but doesn’t feel inclined to present a specific persona. Even when he complains about being named “Mr. Pink,” he quickly brushes it off and moves forward like a professional, at least in terms of the job itself. In Reservoir Dogs, everything points towards Mr. Pink’s survival; however, he doesn't quite walk off into the sunset.
After Mr. Pink leaves the warehouse during Reservoir Dogs’ ending, the attention shifts to a moment of truth between Mr. White and Mr. Orange. The camera pans across the building, showing all the dead bodies, all the dead tough guys. Mr. White, who initially shows compassion for Mr. Orange in the heist’s immediate aftermath, once again reveals his humanity and embraces his newfound friend. Mr. Orange admits that he’s an undercover cop, thus completely destroying Mr. White’s psyche. The camera lingers on the two characters until the end, with Mr. White presumably murdering Mr. Orange while being killed in the process by police officers.
Reservoir Dogs’ final, dramatic moments completely shift attention from Mr. Pink's escape. As the Mr. White/Mr. Orange sequence plays out, the sound design makes it blatantly clear that something dramatic is also happening outside. Mr. Pink can be heard conversing with the police officers, but just barely. But whether he lives or dies is another matter. Tarantino ends Reservoir Dogs with a telling visual featuring Mr. White and Mr. Orange, and masks another sequence about Mr. Pink's fate through cryptic sound design.