‘Avatar 2’ Recap & Ending, Explained: What Is Next For The Sully Family & Pandora After ‘The Way of Water’?

The sequel to James Cameron’s sci-fi masterpiece “Avatar” (2009) was one of the most anticipated movies for almost a decade. After 13 years of prolonged wait, the next chapter of the epic saga, “Avatar: The Way of Water,” has finally been released in theaters worldwide. The sequel has successfully created the identical charm of magic realism all over again, all the while opening the gateway to a new frontier of life in Pandora. The second installment picks up the pieces of the past and focuses on the familial relationships among key characters. At the same time, the movie bedazzled viewers with all its immersive underwater scenery to the point that the line between fiction and reality blurs big time. Cameron, the self-proclaimed “King of the World,” has once again managed to create a cinematic experience that is timeless, universal, and full of heart—a worthy successor to the director’s magnum opus.


Spoilers Ahead

‘Avatar: The Way Of Water’ Plot Synopsis: What Happens In The Film?

“Avatar” (2009) ended with the colonizing forces – humans represented by RDA military troops, being defeated by the combined might of Na’vi clans and the wildlife of Pandora. RDA security chief colonel Miles Quaritch got taken down by Neytiri and Jake, and except for a few loyalists, the rest of the humans were banished from Pandora. Jake Sully became the Olo’eyktan, the leader of the Omaticaya clan, renounced his human body, and transferred his consciousness into his Avatar body permanently. “The Way of Water” opens with a beautiful montage of Pandora’s wilderness and Jake Sully’s voiceover notifying us that fifteen years have passed since the events of the great war. Jake and Neytiri have found their bliss in raising a family of their own, which includes their sons Neteyam and Lo’ak and daughters Kiri and Tuktirey. Kiri is their adopted daughter, and she was born from the comatose Avatar body of Dr. Grace Augustine. The kids are accompanied by another adopted brother, Miles Socorro, aka Spider, who is the son of the late colonel Quaritch. Spider wasn’t sent home because cryosleep for children wasn’t possible, and he grew up in Pandora with the Sully kids. Although Jake has accepted him as their adopted son, Neytiri finds it hard to trust him due to his parental background. However, Spider feels more at ease with the Na’vi lifestyle and is inflicted with guilt over his father’s actions. Kiri and Mike are close as adopted siblings. 


Their idyllic family life is shaken to the core as humans return to Pandora to seek retribution. To the couples’ absolute shock and horror, they see a fleet of human spaceships landing on the Pandoran wilderness and purging vast areas of forest along with its portion of megafauna in the process. Once again, humankind builds its stronghold on the purged land and resumes Pandora’s colonization. A year has passed since then, and we are re-introduced to Quaritch, now in his new “recombinant” form. It turns out that Quaritch and some of his followers were reanimated after death. Their consciousness was transferred to a cloned Avatar body, and as a result, in their new form, they have all the memories of their past life up to their death. Quaritch is briefed about the present situation of the re-takeover of Pandora and the fact that Jake is leading guerrilla attack squads to squander human efforts. Quaritch swears vengeance as he decides to kill Jake and prepares to lead his troop in an attack on the Omaticaya clan.

In another guerrilla attempt, Jake’s sons are given scouting roles. Their younger son Lo’ak, in his effort to prove himself, jeopardizes his life and subsequently his elder brother Neteyam’s too. Upon returning to Omaticaya’s home base at Hanging Hallelujah Mountain, Jake scolds his sons profusely. Neytiri tries to dissuade an angry, desperate Jake, who tells her that his fear of losing them has made him act tough with his sons. Later, Jake’s children venture out into the deep jungle and reach the site where the final action of the great war took place, culminating in Quaritch’s death at the hands of Neytiri. Unbeknownst to them, Quaritch and his troop reach there at the same time while exploring and hold them captive. Quaritch recognizes his son and is initially taken aback. Jake and Neytiri arrive in the nick of time and manage to save their children, except for Spider, who is taken to the human base by Quaritch. In the base, Spider is tortured by scientists in an information extraction mechanism but refuses to share the whereabouts of Jake Sully or Omaticaya. Quaritch tries to appeal to his humanity by pretending to understand his predicament and promising him freedom if he just plays along. Gradually Spider softens up to his father and teaches them the Na’vi language and how to ride Ikran—activities that the recombinants think necessary to infiltrate the Na’vi stronghold without alerting Pandora’s auto-response.


Meanwhile, Jake fears that humans will make Spider give up their location, which can put not only his family but the entire Omaticaya clan in danger. He convinces a distraught Neytiri to leave their clan and find shelter far away from prying human surveillance. Jake gives up his position as clan leader and takes his family to the other side of Pandora, where the aquatic environment adopted Metkayina clan have settled. The leader of the clan, Tonowari, welcomes them, while his mate, the Tshahik, Ronal, remains skeptical of them as their arrival can lead to a sky people or human invasion. Initially, the Sully family is treated as an outcast due to their part-human ancestry, but they quickly earn the respect of the clan by adapting to a new way of life. In the meantime, Lo’ak gets himself into trouble by getting stranded in dangerous waters after Tonowari’s son Aonung and his friends play a prank on him. Lo’ak is saved from a vicious sea predator by a Tulkun named Payakan. Tulkuns are extremely intelligent, whale-like beings who are pacifists and have formed a familial relationship with Metkayinas. Upon returning, Lo’ak is scolded for interacting with Payakan, who, according to the clan, is a killer and an outcast. Lo’ak finds it hard to believe and later forms a Tsaheylu bond with Payakan to witness through his memories the brutality of human whalers killed his family, and Payakan is innocent. He is unable to convince anyone else of that and feels dejected. He relates to Payakan, as he feels like an outcast more than ever.

Lo’ak befriends Tsireya, Ronal and Tonowari’s daughter, and shares the truth about Payakan with her. Meanwhile, the group of children continues exploring the waters, and Tsireya takes them to the Cove of the Ancestors, the most sacred place to Metkayina. The place is a counterpart to Omaticaya’s Vitraya Ramunong, with another tree of souls placed in the middle of the ocean as a connection to Eywa. Kiri, fascinated by Metkayina’s aquatic splendor, forms a Tsaheylu with it and meets her mother, Grace. Upon asking Grace about her parentage, Kiri’s vision snaps, and she starts experiencing seizures underwater. Ronal treats her safely. Norm and Max, who had arrived at Jake’s distress call, warned him not to let Kiri form a bond with Metkayina Tree of Souls as it could result in her death.


Meanwhile, tracking Norm, Max’s aerial signal to the seaboard, Quaritch takes his team to island villages, starts torturing the natives there, and kills their Iloo (a friendly aquatic Plesiosaur-like creature used by aquatic clans for transport). Deeply aghast at their brutality, Spider urges them to stop, but to no avail. Seeing the natives’ reaction to the death of their fellow creatures, Quaritch plans to go on a Tulkun hunting spree assisted by a sadistic, cunning whaler. They seek to draw out Jake Sully from his island shelter, as to aquatic Na’vi clans The Tulkuns are a spiritual family. What ensues is a brutal, heart-wrenching sequence of chase and wanton slaughter of a pod of Tulkun. The pod was a spiritual family to Tonowari’s family, with the Cow of the Pod being Ronal’s spiritual sister. Devastated by this horrific massacre, the Metkayina prepare to wage war with humans, but Jake somehow dissuades the clan by advising that a direct attack will only result in bigger retaliation and ultimately their clan’s destruction. Lo’ak rushes to warn Payakan of the danger and is followed by the rest of the Na’vi kids. They find Payakan already being chased by Quaritch and the whalers and having been shot by a tracking dart. The children manage to rescue Payakan, but Lo’ak, Tuk, and Tsireya get caught by Quaritch. With conflict inevitable, Jake and Neytiri move to the site, along with Tonowari, Ronal, and a fleet of Metkayina, to confront Quaritch. Before they square off, Quaritch gives Jake the ultimatum to surrender himself or suffer the death of his children. Ronal vents out her deep-seated frustration and blames Jake for the loss of Tulkuns and their current predicament. Guilt-ridden, Jake decides to surrender himself. Almost at the same time, Payakan sees Lo’ak held captive and attacks the whalers, causing a distraction. Seeing an opening, Jake and his compatriots initiate the attack on Quaritch and RDA. Payakan destroys the whaler ship and causes a satisfactory, brutal death for the sadistic whaler, while Spider uses this opportunity to destroy the controls of the vessel on which he was held captive. Neteyam rescues his brother, Spider and sisters but gets fatally shot while escaping. Tsireya, a reunited member of the Sully family, helplessly tries to find help. Neteyam breathes his last in his father’s lap, as Jake comforts him in his final moments.

The hour of misery is far from over for the Sully family as Quaritch offers the same deal as Jake’s surrender, now in exchange for Jake’s daughters’ lives, whom Quaritch has recaptured. A devastated Jake and Neytiri, who has been blinded by fury and the desire to seek vengeance, make one final stand against Quaritch as they dispatch all the hostile human crew members one by one. In order to save his skin, Quaritch holds Kiri hostage, and a disillusioned Neytiri does the same with Spider to push Quaritch emotionally. Kiri and Tuk move to safety as a battle between Jake and Quaritch begins. The vessel topples over, and all the characters are at risk of drowning to their deaths. Jake overpowers Quaritch and chokes him out, but almost gets himself drowned in the process until Lo’ak and Payakan save him. Kiri calls upon her aquatic friends, who guide Neytiri and Tuk to shore. Spider is searching around the drowned vessel for Jake when he finds his father, Quaritch, in a near-death situation. Hesitant at first, Spider ends up saving him but refuses his offer to join and leaves him to join the Sully family.

Back at Metkayina, a mourning Sully family arranges for Neteyam’s funeral in the aquatic clan’s ritual. His body is submerged and rests on the glowing polyp bed close to the Cove of Ancestors, as the tree spirits embrace Neteyam. After a while, Jake approaches Tonowari to inform her of his decision to leave Metkayina. However, the sea clan leaders retort by accepting the Sully family as a part of their family. Finally realizing that instead of running, he has to make a final stand against the aggressors, Jake identifies Metkayina as their new home and is more resolved than ever. 

‘Avatar: The Way Of Water’ Ending Explained – What Is Next For The Sully Family And Pandora?

Director James Cameron remarked during the sequel’s promotion that they wanted to keep the ending of the movie unpredictable. Part of the ending showcases Spider’s change of heart, as despite seeing the heinous acts his father, or shall we say his father’s consciousness is capable of, he could not let him die and ended up rescuing him. This conflicting relationship will definitely be explored in upcoming sequels. Now coming to the true ending, which saw Jake strengthening his resolve to confront the threat of humanity head-on. After losing his son in his effort to try to be overprotective, Jake has learned the hard way that putting more trust in his children will allow them to build themselves as strongly as possible. Kiri’s heritage as an Eywa and her uniqueness are another question left to be answered in future ventures. After the annihilation of recombinants and the vessel, RDA will use the entirety of its arsenal to wreak havoc on the Na’vi populace. Quaritch is left in a curious predicament as he won’t stop hunting down Jake’s family, but after being rejected by his own family, his son, his perspective and approach might change. “The Way of the Water” in its thematic essence reminds us of Matt Reeves’ “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” a movie which also ended with the inevitability of an upcoming war with humans, wresting the right to live. The third part of the Avatar franchise has been shot simultaneously with “The Way of Water,” which suggests that “Avatar 3” might take place right after the events of this one, with no time jumps in between. As an immediate reaction to the assault, we might see an all-out war ensue between the invaders and natives, with Pandora’s fate at stake.


“Avatar: The Way of Water” is a 2022 Science Fiction film directed by James Cameron.

Siddhartha Das
Siddhartha Das
An avid fan and voracious reader of comic book literature, Siddhartha thinks the ideals accentuated in the superhero genre should be taken as lessons in real life also. A sucker for everything horror and different art styles, Siddhartha likes to spend his time reading subjects. He's always eager to learn more about world fauna, history, geography, crime fiction, sports, and cultures. He also wishes to abolish human egocentrism, which can make the world a better place.

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