WARNING: Major spoilers for Us from the start.
Us follows the Wilson family - Adelaide (Lupita Nyong'o), Gabe (Winston Duke), Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and Jason (Evan Alex) - on vacation to Santa Cruz. On their first night, a family of warped doppelgangers invade their house and attempt to kill them. Adelaide, scarred from a previous run-in with these shadows as a child in 1986, leads her family through the horror as they learn the uprising encapsulates the entire country. Known as the Tethered, the attackers are a failed government experiment fighting for their place in the world. Red, Adelaide's supposed double and Tethered leader, kidnaps Jason, leading to a fight between the mirrors which Adelaide emerges victorious... only for the movie to reveal she was Red all along.
Related: Read Screen Rant's Review Of Us
A twisted home invasion slasher that takes aim at the heart of American society, there's a lot of ambiguity to Us in both how its world is constructed and ultimately what Peele is trying to say. If you're confused and want to learn more, we're here to help. Discover the secrets and real meaning of the movie in our Us movie ending explainer.
- Page 1: The Tethered's Origin & Plan In Us Explained
- Page 2: Us' Adelaide/Red Twist Ending Explained
- Page 3: What Us' Ending Really Means
The Tethered's Origins In Us Explained
The doppelgangers that attack the Wilson family - and the rest of the world - in Us are known as the "Tethered". They are perfect copies - or shadows - created by the U.S. government as a means of controlling the population and stored in the labyrinth of deserted tunnels underneath the country (a reference to the Mole People urban myth). Each Tethered is connected to their above-ground counterpart through a psychic connection, with all aspects of their life recreated meticulously.
The initial purpose of the Tethered in Us was to literally turn the population into puppets: from underground, the Tethered would dictate everybody's life, removing free will and leaving leaders in complete control. This sort of government-sanctioned control is a popular conspiracy theory, one teased earlier in Us when Zora suggests fluoride is added to the water to make people more docile.
However, this plan didn't work. Due to some fault in the development of the Tethered, the connection didn't imbue control, and so the government left their science experiment to its own devices. Either as part of the fault or a result of their discarding, the Tethered became the puppets and were forced to live out a shadow existence, mimicking their original constantly in the drab tunnels. Starved of sunlight and living off rabbits, they become warped, mute versions of their original.
A lot of the Tethered's origins are left unexplored in Us. How they or the connection were originally created and how a mirror life leading to the same children was subsequently developed is left dangling for the audience to imagine - it may be that Zora is correct and this is just one part of a greater skewing of reality - but that's because the only important thing is that they exist; the film's real focus is on their life after creation.
The Tethered's "Hands Across America" Plan In Us Explained
Us shows the night the Tethered emerge from their underground prison, with most (but, as evidenced by Jason, not all) having weakened their psychic connection. They first go about killing their doubles - along with any other people who get in the way - but the endgame of the uprising isn't quite so violent; holding hands, they form a long, uninterrupted line from coast-to-coast. The aim isn't to overthrow those living above but to find a place amongst them, with the line a striking announcement of their arrival.
The protest explicitly evokes Hands Across America, an audacious and successful charity initiative in 1986 where, across the continental United States, people held hands for homelessness charities (there was a $10 donation per place in line). Organized by music manager Ken Kragen and featuring celebrities Michael Jackson (who is referenced via a Thriller t-shirt), Michael J. Fox, Katheleen Turner and even President Reagan, it was a striking fundraiser. In reality, the chain didn't exist uninterrupted due to the landscape of America, but did include enough people for it to occur in theory. Us' version, which was directly inspired by Kragen's, appears to genuinely stretch across the country regardless of what mountains stand in their way, technically making it an even more striking example.
In the movie, this was all kickstarted when Red, Adelaide's double, broke free from her connection and rallied the Tethered after a dance recital. Regarded as something of a messiah figure, she rallied all of the Tethered and began preparing them for war. Of course, there's something darker going on in this pair's connection...
Page 2 of 3: Us' Adelaide/Red Twist Ending Explained
- Us (2019) release date: Mar 22, 2019