‘Leave The World Behind’ Ending, Explained & Spoilers: What’s The Three-Step Manoeuvre?

‘Tis the time to be jolly or wither away in thoughts of world destruction; at least Netflix seems to have thought so for the past few years. Leave The World Behind follows the story of a family of four, Amanda, Clay, Archie, and Rose, who decide to take an impromptu vacation out of the city to a remote luxury home thanks to Amanda’s newfound realization of her disdain for humanity (with you there), prompting a need to distance herself from the “crowd.” Leave The World Behind is divided into five parts, and with each, the progression of chaos and tension gradually increases, leading to the anticipation of a catastrophic event. When the Sandfords arrive at their vacation home, everything is stunning until it becomes evident that all the technology is down, rendering them helpless. Rose is especially desperate to finish the last episode of Friends.


Spoilers Ahead

Who Are G.H. And Ruth Scott?

In Part 1 of Leave the World Behind, the family decides to head out to the beach for some relaxation after setting themselves up in their new temporary home. It’s a stunning place with a pool and a giant backyard. The first big event of the film is when a tanker from the ocean comes straight onto the beach with no warning. The Sandfords, who don’t think much of it at first, have to rush out of the way before it can crush them. It seems to be a navigation problem, according to the police, and the family just heads back home (with some Starbucks, of course). The internet is still down, and despite being almost murdered by a tanker ship, it seems like only Amanda is really worried at all about the situation.


At night, they’re visited by unexpected guests, G.H. and Ruth Scott, the supposed owners of the house. We say supposed because Amanda is under the impression that that would be impossible. Amanda’s racial prejudice is as clear as the night sky in the summer, and she doesn’t waste a minute trying to understand their situation. They’ve stopped by because there’s a city-wide blackout, and this would be the safest place for them to be, considering it’s their home. Clay doesn’t find their line of thought as strange as his wife, and the only reason Amanda yields at the end is because the TV states that there’s been a cyber attack that’s led to some blackouts and such, confirming G.H.’s words. Additionally, he pays them a thousand dollars in cash, which is a little less than 50% of the rent they’ve paid, so that’s a bonus.

What Are The Curves?

Part 2 of the film is called “The Curves” because it’s where both families start to reflect on the signs they’ve seen to understand what’s happening to them. George in particular has a soliloquy about how everything in the world works on patterns, and when it comes to events such as this one, the creme-de-la-creme, the big political and defense names of the world, know beforehand that they must protect themselves. He has a client he talks about who had him move money before the blackout, and so in many ways, George too had heard a warning bell that he didn’t quite make much of. Before she heard all of this from George, Amanda went as far as to believe he and his daughter might’ve been the house help trying to scam them. Whatever the world’s come to doesn’t matter; she’s getting scammed, yes? Okay. Ruth doesn’t waste a moment mocking Amanda and her prejudice very openly, even with the situation at hand. Suppose we could say that when society is collapsing, we tend to care for ourselves first.


At this time, Clay tries to go to the city to find some information, and George heads to the neighbors, the Huxleys, for the same. With no GPS, Clay is rendered useless, getting lost on his way to the city. He finds a Spanish woman who is in desperate need of help; he can’t understand her, so he just drives off. Behind him is a drone that is dropping thousands of flyers that read “Death to America” in Arabic. In the meantime, Rose seems to be the only one to notice that the animals, specifically the deer, are trying to give them a message. She wants to go into the surrounding forest to learn more, and Archie, being a decent brother, goes with her. They find a shed, and Archie tries to scare his little sister with the story of a creep that lives in said shed. On their way back, he gets bitten by an insect on his ankle. George, on the other hand, is in for the biggest surprise of the lot. The Huxleys are nowhere to be seen, but on the beach nearby are dozens of crashed planes. He even gets to witness one nose dive straight into the sand right where he is, barely managing to save himself.

Why Do The Sandfords Leave?

As if there isn’t enough chaos, there is a loud screeching noise that comes every few hours—another warning. The high-pitched sound even shatters glass. Amanda’s paranoia reaches its limits and paired with George’s cryptic words, she’s convinced her family needs to return to the city (though what good will come of it,  nobody knows). To their utter shock, the expressway is completely blocked, and Amanda navigates in an action-packed sequence between auto-drive Teslas that keep coming at them and crashing into the row of cars in front of them.


How Do The Scotts And Sandfords Become Friends?

It’s a product of the situation because, at this time, everyone is reaching for scraps. George and Amanda spend some time together getting to know each other, and again, he says some horrifying things to make her more anxious than she already is. Ruth is convinced that the family is terrible, and if in a situation George has to choose between saving them and leaving them behind, he must choose the former. I suppose you can say nobody is perfect, George lies to his daughter when he sees the planes crashing because his wife, her mother, could have been on one of them. Ruth hates everyone’s guts and is very straightforward. Archie takes weird pictures of Ruth for dubious purposes, and according to her, Clay would be the kind of guy that would most definitely want to sleep with her. There’s no need to talk about Amanda, of course.

In crisis, there is bonding, and we’d never thought we’d get to see Julia Roberts dance her heart out to rap, but here we are. In a sweet moment, Amanda and George play some music to calm their nerves. They share a hug, feeling comfortable with each other (you know, almost as if they’ve left everything behind). At night, the Sandfords sleep in one bed after hearing the strange noise again, and Ruth and George do the same, reflecting on their fears. Rose reflects on an episode of “West Wing,” implying that she feels the need to be selfish in such a situation. You have to see how you can help yourself, never mind anybody else. One could say that her reaction is the most accurate to how the current generation would react to the collapse of society as they know it.

What Does Danny Think?

Archie’s teeth start to fall out without warning after a good night’s rest. He’s vomiting blood, and the situation is terrifying. To add to the mix, Rose is missing, and nobody can find her anywhere near the house. Everyone splits up—George and Ruth too, despite her fear of him never returning. Clay and George take Archie to Danny, the contractor’s home, because George believes he’d be the most prepared person in town. In the meantime, Ruth and Amanda look for Rose near the shed. Danny gets the guys to stay off his property and return to their car with no trouble. He comes out with a rifle and tells them the best thing to do is go back home at this moment. George even pulls out his own gun, but it’s Clay’s desperation that grabs Danny’s attention. Ultimately, they get some antibiotics from him in exchange for cash, which Danny refers to as a barter. Maybe because we’re a cashless world now?

Ruth and Amanda can’t find Rose anywhere, and they get stuck in the shed together when they hear a loud noise. There’s another monologue from Amanda about how everything is terrible and humanity is at its worst. Ironically, she talks about the way “people treat each other” when she’s being quite reflective of herself, since she “hates” humans so much. This is the first time Ruth and her agree on something, having a little bonding moment. Ruth talks about how she thinks her mother’s dead and that she really needs her at this moment. When they get out, the women get split up, and it appears as if Ruth is getting attacked by the deer. Amanda saves the day by simply screeching at the deer to scare them off, and Ruth joins her. It actually works, and Amanda and Ruth hug it out in fear. Circumstantial closeness, you know?


What’s The Three-Step Manoeuvre?

Danny tells the men that he heard that they were under attack by the Koreans or the Chinese. Clay shows him the Arabic message, and Danny believes America’s enemies have all teamed up (pfft). In the car, George tells Clay that the guy in defense, the big, scary man he’s been talking about all this time, once told him that there was a 3-step maneuver to overthrow a government. Step number one is to isolate the population, aka cut off all communication (hence all the satellite problems, the ships, and the planes). Step number 2, “Synchronized Chaos,” would mean misinformation, so the flyers and the weird radio information, the little messages about hackers—everyone knows something different. The final step, a coup d’etat, having everyone turn against each other, may be a civil war. This is where we say goodbye to Clay, George, and Archie. We can imagine that these three will go back to the house, find the women and Rose, and go to the hidden bunker in another neighbor’s home that Danny told them about.

What Do Ruth And Amanda See?

Just when they think they’re out of danger, Ruth stops to stare into the distance where the city is. The city is being bombed, and they’re the only ones who are going to survive this mess. Obviously, even if these two women hate people and the world, this is not what they wished for.


What Does Rose Do In The End?

Rose has gone off to the Thornes, the same house with the hidden bunker. She’s seen gobbling up some abandoned food before she walks down the hallway, hearing her mother scream for her. Instead of following the sound of Amanda’s voice, though, Rose is attracted by the light that leads her down to a giant door—the bunker. She opens it, and it’s got everything set up, but there’s no one there. Food, water, bedding, name it, and everything else is available, but Rose is attracted to just one thing: the collection of DVDs, which happens to include the “Friends” DVD. At the end of the film, she puts in the DVD and watches “The Last One,” with all thoughts of the world left behind. The show opens with the iconic words “I’ll be there for you.” The screen turns black, and the credits roll in. You’re left wondering exactly what you just watched.

Interestingly, Leave the World Behind is so on the nose with its social commentary throughout the film, going as far as to use color to reflect racism, yet it leaves us with the most ambiguous ending. While we could pretend the answer is in George’s theory, it’s not quite certain; it is simply a theory and hearsay. On the other hand, Rose’s parasocial relationship with the characters of “Friends” makes you realize how invested you get in these shows and films when they’re really not that serious. I suppose we have to look at the film in the same way, without care for what will happen next to them; they’re just fictional characters in a fictional dystopia. Rose’s behavior is quite hard to forget, though. In the middle of all the panic and fear, this internet baby, a 13-year-old, is so focused on the show that she’s unbothered about anything else entirely. Maybe it’s because she knows that everybody hates everybody, so there’s no point in mulling over the things that don’t matter, at least to her, similar to her story of the man who was taken by the flood. “I put me first.” Somewhere early on in the film, Clay talks about how he needs to write a foreword for a student of his who wrote a book about media being an escape and a reflection. I suppose we can walk away from this movie with that exact thought and nothing more.


Ruchika Bhat
Ruchika Bhat
Ruchika, or "Ru," is a fashion designer and stylist by day and a serial binge-watcher by night. She dabbles in writing when she has the chance and loves to entertain herself with reading, K-pop dancing, and the occasional hangout with friends.

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