The Fate of the Furious is the first film in a new trilogy. It is known. Franchise star Vin Diesel and long-time writer Chris Morgan have been trotting out that exact verbiage in interviews over the last few weeks, making it clear that the events of Fate will pay off in the ninth and tenth films. So now that we’ve all had a chance to see the movie (at least judging by those box office returns), let’s take a look at the end of Fate and what it sets up for the Furious films to come.
Spoilers for Fate of the Furious below, obvi.
Fate of the Furious is the first franchise installment after the tragic and untimely death of Paul Walker, who spent a decade playing Brian O’Connor; the swoonworthy heart and moral compass of the franchise who traded in his badge for a life among the outlaws. Without the core of Brian’s story, his b/romance with the Toretto siblings, and the corresponding real-life chemistry between Walker and Diesel, Fate staged an inversion of the franchise format by making Dom Toretto, the Furious paterfamilias, turn against his own family to as an aide to the Charlize Theron‘s cyber terrorist, Cipher.
If you need a quick refresher, Cipher finds Dom in Cuba on his honeymoon with Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) where she coerces him to betray his beloved family in order to save a son he didn’t know he had. Turns out Elena (Elsa Pataky) got pregnant sometime between Fast Five and Furious 6, but she realized it just as Dom learned Letty was still alive, so she kept the news to herself with a plan to tell him after he got back from his honeymoon. And so we meet the little chubby-cheeked Toretto without a name, which is a super soapy narrative move, but also one of the only justifications that would sell Dom’s turn against his family.
In the process, we also learn that Cipher is the ultimate big bad of the franchise. Not just because she’s deadly cold – Cipher has Elena shot in the head just because Dom wasn’t willing to put down his own wife – she’s also a sort of Thanos to the Fast and Furious world. Turns out Cipher has been pulling the strings all along. She employs multiple terrorists, including Furious 7‘s Jakande (Djimon Hounsou), the mercenary who kidnapped Ramsey for the God’s Eye, and Owen Shaw (Luke Evans), the Furious 6 baddie who pitted the amnesiac Letty against her family in an attempt to sell a deadly tech device to the highest bidder. The fact that Owen Shaw was on Cipher’s payroll is important for a couple reasons. One, he was the boss of Braga (John Ortiz), the drug lord who set Letty’s execution in Fast & Furious. But more importantly, it was Owen’s defeat in Furious 6 that drew the attention of his bigger, badder brother Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), the assassin who terrorized the family in Furious 7.
Here’s where Fate of the Furious runs into a narrative snag that has some fans… well, furious. If you recall, Owen was left in critical condition after Furious 6‘s infamous neverending tarmac battle, leading his seriously pissed off ex-special forces brother to the family’s doorstep, where he tried to kill them all. Which is where things get tricky, because Fate of the Furious pulls some serious retconning and audience manipulation to make Deckard a new member of the family just one film later.
Fate softens up the Shaw boys a bit by introducing us to their mother (Helen Mirren), who Dom contacts while he’s under Cipher’s thumb with a deal – if her sons rescue his baby, Dom will let the Shaw boys go free and, in the process, give them at shot at getting revenge the woman who tore the Shaw family apart. See, it turns out Cipher tried to recruit Deckard first, and when he said no, she went after his little brother. It also turns out that Deckard was an awarded British military hero before his government turned on him, labeling him a terrorist (something along the lines of what happens to Dwayne Johnson‘s Hobbs at the beginning of Fate). Deckard fakes his own death with a little help from Fast Five‘s Leo (Tego Calderon) and Santos (Don Omar), tracks Cipher’s plane via Dom’s familiar cross necklace, and rocketeers onboard with Owen in tow, where the duo take out her men and rescue the baby. They get their hero moment (though Cipher escapes), Statham gets the best set-piece in the movie, and after striking up a broship with Hobbs, it seems Deckard gets a spot at the family table. Maybe one of the spots where Han and Gisele used to sit.