Jordan Peele is no stranger to a plot twist or two. But Nope might end up being his most ambiguous project yet. As OJ (Daniel Kaluuya) and Emerald (Keke Palmer) try to unravel the mystery of the ‘UFO,’ we, the audience, are right there with them.
In the horror movie‘s final act, the very thing all the main characters are trying to entice arrives with a vengeance — and they may well regret what it is they wished for. The struggling Hayward siblings are joined in their mission to bait the otherworldly phenomenon by electronics store employee Angel (Brandon Perea) and grizzled cinematographer Antlers Holst (Michael Wincott) — all of whom strive to find meaning and achievement in making this discovery.
But little do they know that the ‘UFO,’ nicknamed ‘Jean Jacket’, had already been baited by opportunistic theme park owner Jupe (Steven Yeun), leading to a spectacle bigger than any of them could have ever imagined. To keep you in the loop, we decided to write a Nope ending explained to break down exactly what happens. Spoilers ahead. Obviously.
Nope ending explained
First thing’s first, let’s get the obvious twist out the way. Jean Jacket, the ‘UFO,’ is actually not a UFO at all. It’s a living, otherworldy creature of some kind that brutally consumes and dismembers things that look directly at it (including animals and humans) along with various other objects in the surrounding environment.
After crushing the living beings to death, Jean Jacket ‘spits’ out things it doesn’t need, like keys, quarters, and parts of buildings. Remember how OJ and Emerald’s father died from a quarter landing in his eye at the beginning of the movie? That probably wasn’t a “bad miracle.” It was probably the result of Jean Jacket spitting out the quarter.
All our main players ended up crossing paths with Jean Jacket, so let’s go through who dies and who doesn’t — starting with what happened to Jupe. As we know, the theme park owner was a regular buyer of OJ’s horses, which he sold with the intention of later taking them back once he raised enough money to keep Hayward’s Hollywood Horses afloat.
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But what we didn’t know is that Jupe was effectively using the horses as live bait in order to bring out Jean Jacket as part of a new attraction at the theme park. Along with Lucky, the horse, Jupe planned to show the spectacle to an audience including his wife, children, and his former Gordy’s Home co-star, who ended up getting her face mangled after the titular monkey violently mauled her and other sitcom stars during a filming session gone wrong.
Lucky doesn’t follow Jupe’s instructions as planned, and Jupe along with his family and other spectators, can’t resist looking Jean Jacket right in the eye. This leads to all of them being sucked up and devoured by the monster while Lucky evades the same fate, eventually reuniting with OJ. He ends up being part of OJ, Emerald, Antlers, and Angel’s plan to bait out Jean Jacket to get that perfect “Oprah shot.”
Jean Jacket produces an “anti-electrical field”, so Antlers comes armed with a non-electrical camera while surrounding the area with sky dancers (like the ones from car dealerships) so that, when they deflate, they know Jean Jacket is close by. Along with Lucky, OJ plans to bait out Jean Jacket with the help of fake eyes, a tail of flags (he learned Jean Jacket can’t consume objects like flags) and a parachute.
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This plan is derailed when a random TMZ reporter arrives on a motorbike, interrogating Emerald about the disappearance of Jupe and the other spectators from the nearby theme park. Despite her warnings, he rides directly into the anti-electrical field, sending him off his bike and leaving him seriously injured.
OJ goes over to help him, but even as he lies there, mangled, he continues to feverishly beg for his camera to capture Jean Jacket as the creature looms directly over the pair. Unfortunately, it’s too late for the TMZ reporter as his reflective helmet means Lucky risks seeing Jean Jacket and getting spooked, so OJ leaves him behind to get swallowed by Jean Jacket.
The beast lurking above powers down his bike and sends him flying. He’s alive but in bad shape, and OJ approaches him to help. However, the guy’s helmet is reflective — just like the mirror that spooks OJ’s horse at the start of the film — and OJ realises he has no choice but to get out of there.
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Meanwhile, Antlers gets that sought-after “Oprah shot” but, like Jupe, is too blinded by his own ambition and greed to stop. He continues to pursue Jean Jacket with his camera but ultimately ends up being devoured by the creature — along with his camera.
At this point, without the “Oprah shot,” it isn’t even about capturing Jean Jacket anymore — it’s about survival. At one point, it looked like Angel ended up meeting the same grisly fate as Antlers, but after wrapping himself him barbed wire and tarpaulin, he is able to stay on the ground and avoid being completely sucked up by Jean Jacket. At this point, Jean Jacket also unravels from its initial UFO-like disc form and shows itself to be a larger, billowing, sheet-like creature with a green mouth.
Jean Jacket then goes on to pursue Emerald, who tries to escape on the TMZ reporter’s bike but is unable to due to the anti-electromagnetic field. This is where OJ comes in and decides to distract the creature once more, leading it far enough away from Emerald for her to start her bike and escape. She ends up heading towards the theme park, which is now an abandoned crime scene after what happened to Jupe and co.
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In the theme park, there is a giant, inflatable Kid Sheriff. It’s based on the character Jupe played during his child-stardom. Emerald decides to release the balloon in an attempt to defeat Jean Jacket, but even at that moment, she seizes the opportunity to get that perfect “Oprah shot.”
Using quarters discarded by the creature, she is able to use the automatic camera at the bottom of the theme park’s well to capture images of the sky. The camera operates by looking directly into the well, which is ironic because, well, if Emerald looked up at Jean Jacket in the sky, she’d probably die.
At first, it looks like her efforts are in vain, but after Jean Jacket consumes the Kid Sheriff balloon, it effectively explodes —and the well camera is able to capture that moment!
So, Emerald is able to achieve the group’s goal of getting that perfect shot, and as she sits by the well, exhausted, the authorities begin to filter into the theme park. In the distance, she sees OJ and Lucky waiting for her, having survived their own encounter with Jean Jacket.
Nope is now available to watch in theatres in the US and will be released theatrically on August 12, 2022, in the UK.