I’ve been mighty obsessed with Jordan Peele’s Us ever since catching it at SXSW for its world premiere back in March of 2019. Not only did I thoroughly enjoy digging through the abundance of theories that circulated the internet after the film’s nationwide release, but I also got quite caught up in wondering what’s next – specifically what’s next for the remaining Tethered.
As Red (Lupita Nyong’o) explains at the end of the movie, she believes humans figured out how to copy the body and did so, creating the Tethered underground in order to control those above. It didn’t work and the Tethered were left directionless – until Red changed that. Red credits a miracle underground that showed the other Tethered that she was different and that “she would deliver them from this misery.” Her plan to do so involved the Tethered going aboveground, killing their doppelgänger and then joining hands similar to the 1986 public event, Hands Across America.
In the process, some Tethered are killed but in the final shot of Us, it’s revealed that many survived the night and joined hands to create a human chain that runs for quite some distance – perhaps even from coast to coast. One might wonder about the fate of Adelaide, Gabe. (Winston Duke), Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and Jason. (Evan Alex) after escaping their own violent doppelgängers, but what about the Tethered overall? What’s the next step of their plan? Do they stand a chance if and when armed forces attack?
Last night we hosted Collider FYC screening of Us at the ArcLight Hollywood in The Dome and Peele discussed just that in our post-screening Q&A. He did express hesitation in explaining his intentions but did offer this up regarding what’s next for the Tethered:
“I’d resist to actually answer answer that question because you never know what could happen. But I think part of the answer you’re looking for is that to the Tethered it doesn’t matter. Their purpose is the expression and there was something kind of terrifying to me – we see it all the time today – terrifying to me about the idea of violence as expression because it’s an inevitable force … I feel like what happens after is fascinating but irrelevant to the Tethered.”
As a big fan of explainers, details and fully connecting the dots, I was caught off guard by how satisfying that answer was and how much sense it actually makes. If Red’s plan was heavily influenced by Hands Across America, of course it would be a demonstration and nothing more. However, then one might wonder why violence was ever part of the equation at all. But, Peele’s comments on the mathematics vs. the poetics at play challenge questions like that at all.
When asked about the rules that govern the world in Us and if there’s science to the connection between doppelgängers, Peele said the following:
“Part of what I became fascinated with is this idea of a fated connection is part scientific but it’s also part poetic. And when you talk about a fated connection that can manifest in ways that doesn’t necessarily operate on a mathematical cause and response, but that there can be a poetic connection. I could almost drown when I’m eight years old and my doppelgänger could simultaneously almost be burnt alive, or he could almost drown, or something else weirdly poetically connected could happen. So that to me created this rule system where there’s a certain part you can’t scrutinize; there’s a certain part you have to allow to be poetic and be fun and be emotionally driven.”
Stay tuned for more from our Us Q&A with Peele coming your way soon!