This It Chapter Two article contains spoilers.
It Chapter Two sets up the final battle between the adult Losers’ Club and the evil Pennywise, who has spent two whole feature-length movies tormenting these poor characters and the town of Derry, Maine as a whole. It’s no wonder Bill, Bev, Ben, Mike, Eddie, and Richie plan to “kill this fucking clown” once and for all.
Fans of King’s massive novel will leave the theater a bit surprised by how much director Andy Muschietti and screenwriter Gary Dauberman changed the story’s ending. Things still get a bit trippy in the final act, but a few of Stephen King‘s more…colorful details fall by the wayside.
You may have read the book but the new ending might still be a bit confusing. So we’ve broken down the climactic scenes and tried to make sense of them:
The Ritual of Chud
Once the group acquires the tokens they need to sacrifice in order to perform the Ritual of Chud, the Native American ritual that is allegedly the only way to kill Pennywise, they head back to the old, decrepit house on Neibolt Street, the place where they first battled the clown. This time around, they are six and not seven — since Stan the Man committed suicide at the start of the movie, but not for the reasons you’d expect (we’ll get to that). Still, one killer shape-shifting clown vs. six adults with a secret weapon are pretty good odds, right?
Nope. Things go horribly wrong in the sewers. The movie takes a complete left turn away from its source material. Unlike in the book, in which the Ritual of Chud sends Bill on a trip to another dimension to hang out with a giant turtle god named Maturin (read more about all that here), the movie ritual mostly involves burning tokens in a ceremonial box, holding hands, and chanting.
When that doesn’t work, Pennywise’s Deadlights inflating to the size of giant balloons so that the group can’t shut the box, the rest of the Losers turn to Mike to figure out why the hell their secret weapon isn’t working. Mike lied, that’s why! Claiming to have learned the ritual from Native Americans who once fought It in the Derry of old and defeated the monster, Mike leaves out one very important detail: the first ritual went very south and Pennywise killed all of the participants.
So why does Mike think the ritual will work now? He surmises that the final piece of the puzzle is belief in the ritual itself, which is why he spends so much time trying to convince the others that his plan will work, tying it all up in history and prophecies. As you’d expect, the group’s very surprised when Pennywise escapes the box and morphs into a giant version of himself with goddamn spider legs, and he’s more powerful than ever. For those of you in the back, Spiderwise is actually an element from the book. You can read way more about that here.
The Losers have no other option but to flee, as Pennywise forces them to relive some of their worst memories. Bev is back in the bathroom stall where we first met her, only this time she’s drowning in a pool of blood; Eddie must face the diseased monster from the first movie; Ben is buried alive inside the clubhouse; Bill confronts his brother Georgie in their childhood basement once and for all, and he realizes his younger sibling’s death wasn’t his fault after all.
Killing the Fucking Clown
One by one, the Losers overcome their fears and are able to band together to confront the monster in Its lair. Unfortunately, defeating Pennywise demands one last sacrifice: the life of Eddie, who is mortally wounded by It while saving Richie.
After Eddie stabs It with the arrow that defeated the monster in the ’80s, he makes a fatal mistake, turning his back on Spiderwise, who skewers the germophobe in front of his best friend. It’s a sad end for Eddie for sure, but he dies delivering the best last words in movie history: “Hey Richie, I fucked your mom.”
It’s nice to see Eddie go out on a high note in the movie. After all, King kills off Eddie on the page by having Pennywise bite his arm off. Being gifted a few dying breaths to crack a joke about Richie’s mom seems like a real mercy in comparison.
The loss of Eddie emboldens the remaining Losers, who decide that they’re done being scared of the clown, the real coup de grace they surprisingly hadn’t thought of before, even though shedding their fear of the monster is how they defeated It the first time. Anyway, denying Pennywise the fear that fuels It causes Spiderwise to shrink down to a tiny little It-rachnid. Bill proceeds to give It a “heart attack” by pulling out the black, dead muscle this monster calls a vital organ from Its chest and crushing it.
No, stop asking about the giant turtle hippie and the tongue thing and the orgy. None of that happens in these movies and it’s probably for the best.
Richie + Eddie
With It defeated, things are now all peachy for the Losers, right? Wrong. The monster’s lair begins to collapse and the group has to make a run for it before it all comes crashing down on top of them. Unfortunately, that means leaving Eddie’s body behind, something Richie is unwilling to do at first. After all, Eddie is Richie’s very best friend…and perhaps more than that.
Throughout its almost-three-hour runtime, the movie alludes to Richie’s personal life and how he’s keeping a big secret that only Pennywise knows. In fact, the clown torments Richie any chance he gets, pushing him to tell everyone the truth. What is this big secret?
The movie never outright says so, but strongly suggests that Richie is gay and was in love with Eddie as a boy. All of those feelings, like the memories of what occured in the summer of 1989, come rushing back to Richie when he returns to Derry. Richie struggles with these feelings and the fact that he doesn’t think he can be himself — the movie actually starts teasing out these insecurities when Richie, a popular stand-up comedian, reveals that he doesn’t write his own jokes.
Later, while Richie is exploring the Capitol Theater for his token (which turns out to be an actual arcade token), he recalls one of Henry Bowers’ lackeys accusing of him of being gay. That memory is followed by another flashback in which Richie carves two initials on a wooden fence outside of Derry.
It’s only at the very end of the movie that we see the letters Richie carved on that fence: “R + E” enclosed by a heart. The moment is bittersweet since Eddie has died by this point, but it also seems hopeful for Richie, who is finally able to leave this homophobic (and incredibly cursed) town once and for all.
But what about Stan? He doesn’t get to enjoy a final moment with his friends before the credits roll — or any at all. By the time the Losers return to Derry, Stan the Man is already dead.
Like in the book, Stan commits suicide but for a slightly different reason than his literary counterpart. Before killing himself, Stan writes letters to each of the other Losers to explain his decision. While King has Stan end his own life out of sheer terror at the thought of confronting It again, the movie takes a more altruistic approach.
Stan “takes himself off the board” because he knows he won’t be strong enough when the time comes to face Pennywise. While he promises to always be a Loser, he knows that the goodness in the rest of his friends will be enough to defeat the great evil that awaits them.
Happily Ever After
The movie’s final moments are about as cathartic as you’d expect. Having defeated their tormentor once and for all, the remaining Losers are free to move on with their lives, leaving Derry behind, empowered by the bond of friendship.
Bev and Hot Ben finally get together, literally sailing off into the sunset. Bill has a new novel in the works, and this time he thinks he has a good ending for it. Mike, the only Loser who’d never left Derry, packs up and moves to Florida, where King characters tend to retire.
The memories of their battles with Pennywise begin to fade again, but this time they can forget knowing that the fight is finally over. No more floating.