The Way Of Water Ending Explained
18 mins read

The Way Of Water Ending Explained

Warning: This post contains major spoilers for Avatar: The Way of WaterAvatar: The Way of Water ending explained the future of James Cameron’s sequels, but it ended on a somber note. Thirteen years after Avatar splashed into theaters in 2009, Cameron took audiences back to the world of Pandora with a fresh story and a plethora of new characters in Avatar:The Way of Water. The movie reinvigorated the Avatar property as a franchise and sets up the story for the upcoming Avatar 3 (believed to be titled Avatar: The Seed Bearer). However, many viewers felt that Avatar 2 ended on a cliffhanger. With Jake and Neytiri now with the Metkayina after losing their son, Spider and Quaritch still together, and Kiri’s true origin an unknown, the Avatar: The Way of Water ending left a lot of questions unanswered.



The Avatar sequel has been met with mostly positive reviews from critics, and the film’s ending promises to be only the beginning of a new chapter for the Na’vi, who remain under threat of the RDA’s expansion on Pandora. Conflicts raged, characters died, and certain mysteries went unresolved. However, the Avatar 2 ending explained why it needed to end on a slight cliffhanger when it’s viewed in the context of the wider story — although James Cameron still found he needed to clarify a few things. Once analyzed fully, it’s clear how the Avatar: The Way of Water ending balanced tying up some loose ends while setting the stage for the franchise’s three remaining sequels.

What Happened At The End Of Avatar: The Way Of Water

Jake and Neytiri in Avatar: Way Of Water.

The Avatar 2 ending explained which storylines would be important for future sequels. Certain storylines wrapped up by the end of Avatar: The Way of Water, but others are left open and established as franchise-wide narrative arcs. In particular the growing conflict and tension between Jake Sully and Colonel Miles Quaritch in Na’vi form, who hunted him and his family throughout the sequel. Before the end of the Avatar sequel, the Sully family is hit with the loss of Jake and Neytiri’s son Neteyam, who died after being shot in the chest by Quaritch. During the final battle, Quaritch nearly drowns after fighting Jake, but he’s saved at the last minute by Spider.

Over the course of the film, the Metkayina were reluctant to involve themselves in Jake and Neytiri’s battle with the humans, but once they saw the threat being posed to their way of life and the tulkun, they quickly allied themselves with them. Scoresby’s hunting of the tulkun is completely thwarted, and his ship is destroyed, which results in Payakan’s life being saved. However, the Matkayina are also now under no illusions about the threat the humans and RDA face. When the time comes to stand with Jake Sully in battle once more there’ll likely be no wavering from the aquatic Na’vi clan.

The Avatar: The Way Of Water ending explained a little bit about Kiri too, although not as much as many were hoping for when it came to Sigourney Weaver’s Avatar 2 character. Crucially, it’s revealed that Kiri can control the wildlife of Pandora when connected to any part of Eywa. This will likely be a major plot point in future Avatar sequels, so leaving it unexplained at the end of the second Avatar movie made a lot of sense on James Cameron’s part.

How Jake Reunites With His Dead Son

Neytiri and Neteyam in Avatar 2.

The Na’vi believe no life is truly lost after death, and Neteyam’s body is returned to Eywa. The Avatar 2 ending explained that Jake’s able to reunite with his dead son when neurally connected to the Metkayina’s ancestral tree (the bond called tsaheylu). The connection taps into Jake’s memories, recalling one of his fondest moments with his son Neteyam back when he was a child and Jake was teaching him. The father/son reunion is bittersweet, but it showcases the ways in which everything is connected in Pandora, and how nothing truly dies. Through this connection, Jake will always be able to see his son, even if he doesn’t get the chance to watch him grow into an adult.

Avatar 2’s Ending Gives The Sullys A New Home… As They Prepare For War

Jake joining the Metkayina in Avatar 2.

The Avatar: The Way Of Water ending explained that Neteyam’s death forever connected the Sully family with Avatar 2’s Metkayina clan, and they remained among them despite the conflict between Jake and Quaritch ending, so that can be close to their son. Returning to the Omaticaya at such a crucial time in their fight against the RDA would be a step backward. Jake realized remaining on the defense in the war between humans and Na’vi put his family in a position of unpreparedness. Now they know what they’re up against, Jake and Neytiri can work with the Metkayina and other water clans, so they are better equipped to fight Quaritch and the RDA in the future.

Kiri’s Origin Is Left A Mystery

Kiri in Avatar 2 watching a video.

One of the biggest mysteries throughout Avatar: The Way of Water was the identity of Kiri’s father. Kiri’s siblings surmised it could have been a fellow scientist who worked alongside Dr. Grace Augustine, but the fact that Kiri has unique abilities and a deep connection with Eywa the other Na’vi do not suggest otherwise. It’s possible Kiri’s father is Eywa due to Grace’s special connection with the goddess. This makes the most sense as its doubtful Kiri’s father is anyone from the Metkayina clan, as they had yet to be discovered in Avatar. Learning the identity of Kiri’s father will likely shed light on her mysterious connection with Eywa.

Quaritch Surviving Sets Him Up As A Franchise Villain

Quaritch making plans in Avatar 2.

Quaritch was fueled by revenge throughout Avatar: The Way of Water, and it’s likely he’ll carry on his mission to destroy Jake Sully. But after suffering a major loss, Colonel Quaritch might retreat to the RDA’s base for a while until he’s gathered more troops and weaponry to come after Jake once more. He’ll be more angry this time, which could mean he’ll become more violent. It’s possible Quaritch will also come to realize he does actually care for Spider, especially after his son rescued him from the ocean’s depths. Avatar 2 could begin Quaritch’s redemption arc, though his desire for vengeance will probably overpower any minor affection he has for Spider.

The Avatar 2 Ending Could Set Up Spider As A Villain Too

A montage of Spider in Avatar: The Way of Water.

One of the biggest concerns from the Avatar: The Way of Water ending explained Spider’s allegiance remains torn. Quaritch emphasized more than once that he wasn’t Spider’s real dad, but he still wanted to mold the boy into something more similar to him. While Quaritch was based on Spider’s dad, though, he began to feel something more human than he really was. This clearly affected the boy, who had lived as an outcast his entire life. Spider was always conflicted, as he was a human who lived among the Na’vi. He loved his family, but he knew he was never really one of them.

However, he always remained an ally to both the Na’vi and his family, the Sully’s, throughout the movie. That slightly changed at the end. After Spider ensured that his “brothers and sister” were able to escape with Jake, he went back and saved Quaritch’s life. Jake thought he had killed Quaritch for the second time, and saved his family from the evil man once and for all. However, when Spider saved Quaritch, he ensures that Jake and the Sully family remain in danger of the ruthless military man. The question now revolves around whether Spider will finally join forces with his dad and become a villain as well.

The next movie will put the focus on Jake’s kids, and the next generation of Na’vi. While Jake will surely still be a strong part of the story, especially as his kids come into their own, the new story will focus on the future. If Jake’s kids become the heroes that the Na’vi people need, then there is a chance their main rival will be someone more relatable to them. Quaritch was Jake’s enemy. If Spider becomes his heir apparent, then it could create a much more personal and devastating fight for the future of Pandora. The Avatar 2 cliffhanger left that wide open.

Jake Doesn’t Know Quaritch Is Still Alive (Again)

Jake Sully and Quaritch in Avatar 2.

While the story in Avatar 3 focuses on Jake’s kids and their coming of age, the fact that Quaritch is still alive is going to play a role in Jake’s life as the franchise rolls on. However, it almost seems like a repeat of what fans already saw since this was the second movie in a row where Jake thought Quaritch died, and will likely soon learn his enemy is still alive. After the first Avatar, Quaritch was dead, and his skeletal remains were still on Pandora to prove it. This time, Jake never saw the body after he died and Spider saved his dad in The Way of Water cliffhanger.

This sets up two possibilities for Jake and his family. The Avatar: The Way of Water ending explained that Spider hated his dad’s militaristic actions, but he also couldn’t let him die. This is even knowing that the person he considers his dad was just a Recombinant with his father’s memories — not an actual human. However, the two possibilities either include Quaritch turning his back on vengeance and evil and finding retribution or a final battle between Quaritch and Jake. If Jake sees that Quaritch is still alive, he might kill him without remorse and end his life once and for all. That could be the moment Spider finally turns to the dark side.

How The Way Of Water’s Ending Sets Up Avatar 3, 4 & 5

Jake talks to Neytiri in Avatar The Way Of Water

The Avatar: The Way Of Water ending wraps up one part of the storyline, but it leaves several plot threads hanging by the end. The film’s ending suggests there are bigger battles on the horizon, and the tension between the RDA and the Na’vi will escalate and lead to even more hostility and violence from the humans. Neteyam’s death also sets up Lo’ak as the son Jake and Neytiri will look to moving forward. He’ll have to step up in a big way, and it’s possible Lo’ak might lead the final war in Avatar 5. His romance with Reya could also become a major part of the story, uniting the Metkayina with the Omaticaya more permanently.

What’s more, The Way of Water’s introduction to amrita, a yellow substance taken from the tulkun, could become a crucial aspect in the Avatar sequels. With the other water clans witnessing first-hand the destruction and violence wrought by the humans, it’s possible they will join the Metkayina in allying with Jake and his family against Quaritch. There’s also the tension between Spider and Neytiri, and the former saving Quaritch from death will surely not sit well with her, potentially creating an ongoing conflict between the pair that won’t be resolved until the final Avatar sequels. Ultimately, The Way of Water is setting up the younger generation to lead the ongoing fight.

The Real Meaning Of Avatar: The Way Of Water’s Ending

The Sully family in Avatar: The Way of Water.

Avatar: The Way of Water centers on becoming a parent, and the very real fear that comes with that. Jake and Neytiri’s journeys are especially connected to that as they decide what takes precedence in their lives — the Omaticaya or their family. That theme is mirrored in Tonowari and Ronal’s relationship with their own children and clan. When the Sullys first arrive, they want nothing to do with their fight, choosing to protect the Metkayina above all. But that changes when Tonowari and Ronal’s children face danger. Avatar 2 showcases the complexities of being a parent, how decision-making and perspectives change when children are involved, and the fear of losing them.

James Cameron’s film also touches upon the violence of colonization. Although there are some humans who live in harmony with the Na’vi, the RDA and Quaritch are examples of how colonizers have historically treated indigenous populations — with brute force, the slow destruction of their land, and the theft of their resources. Avatar: The Way of Water suggests how, despite years of peace, colonizers like the RDA won’t stop until they get what they want, which ultimately leads to the violent seizure and control of Pandora. Avatar 2 is a lesson in what colonization looks like through a fictional world that also reflects human history.

What’s more, the Avatar: The Way of Water ending also explored the need for community and belonging. This is reflected in the Sullys being uprooted from their home and how disconnected they feel at first from the Metkayina clan. When they finally embrace them, it makes the Sully family feel more like they belong. This is especially true for Lo’ak, who feels like an outsider within his own family and with the Metkayina. This theme also appears in Payakan’s storyline, and it shows how isolating it can be when pushed out of a community that was once home.

Parts Of Avatar 2’s Ending Were Cut

Neteyam in Avatar The Way Of Water.

Even with a runtime of over three hours, there were scenes cut from the Avatar: The Way of Water ending. One such scene took place near the end of the final battle when the members of the Metkayina tribe were reunited with their children. The Metkayina tribe’s absence during the battle is noticeable and the scene would have given some reminder of their stake in this, but it was decided the scene took away from the core family.

Interestingly, another key scene missing from the Avatar: The Way of Water ending concerned the core family. Following their defeat of Quaritch and his forces, the movie allowed for one final moment of mourning for Jake and Neytiri’s eldest child as they conduct a funeral service for Neteyam. This would have certainly been a heartbreaking end, however, the movie still found a way to deliver a fitting end for the character in the finished version, even with The Way of Water cliffhanger.

Why The Avatar 2 Ending Was A Cliffhanger

Kiri and Tuk on an ilu in Avatar: The Way of Water.

James Cameron made it clear going into the Avatar: The Way of Water ending that there would be more, and this was just the next chapter in the story. However, what surprised some people was to end the movie with the Avatar 2 cliffhanger, leaving people wondering what was going to happen next in the movie’s world. Screenwriters Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver said that they had so much to work with in The Way of Water that they had to cut a lot of it for Avatar 3, tentatively titled Avatar: The Seed Bearer (via Variety).

Silver said that when they were working on the script, James Cameron looked at the story and said there was too much there, and they would end up splitting the one story they were working on into two different movies. This also changed the trajectory of the entire franchise. There were supposed to be four Avatar movies, but since the second movie was split into two movies, that is why there are now five movies coming in the world of Pandora. It is also why there was a cliffhanger that ended the second movie.

There were things left out of the second movie, which ended up in a Dark Horse Comics series, where many of the unused storylines played out in a graphic novel titled, Avatar: The High Ground. When it comes to The Way of Water cliffhanger, Silver just said that they worked on the entire series as if it was one giant story, even if it did begin to feel “ungainly.” Silver said, “[Cameron] called us up, and he said, ‘Look, we’ve got too much material. We’re going to split it into two movies… let’s just follow the trail that we created and keep writing.” What resulted was Avatar: The Way of Water becoming two different movies in the end.