Main Ending Explained
At the underside of the ocean, Selene finds the “entity” that continues to resurrect her after every dying. The display cuts to black, after which we see a automobile touring via a darkish forest at night time.
A toddler within the backseat of the automobile holds Octo, the plushie squid that you could be be aware of in the event you performed via the haunted houses segments earlier within the sport. In the background, Don’t Fear the Reaper by Blue Öyster Cult performs on the automobile radio.
The little one says “Mom, do you see the White Shadow?” moments earlier than the radio begins to fizz out with static. The digicam turns to the radio, which is dialed to the sign 107.7. The automobile’s clock additionally reads 8:36 PM, and the skin temperature is 52 levels Fahrenheit.
Trivia: Each of those motifs (the music, the numbers, the surroundings) present up all through Returnal, however the numbers 8:36 are particularly prevalent. They first seem on the finish of Act 1 because the information broadcast of Selene’s obvious return from Atropos is performed at 8:36 AM. Selene can be stated to have lived for 63 years and eight days after returning to Earth, which, backwards, is 836. The that means of 836 may be interpreted in any variety of methods, however a couple of Internet searches counsel that its most typical interpretation amongst Numerologists is one thing alongside the traces of “your prayers have been received, be ready to receive rewards”, or simply normal good luck and luck.
As the driving force (revealed to be Selene, or somebody who seems similar to Selene) seems up from the radio, she narrowly spots an astronaut in the course of the highway. Braking exhausting and spinning the wheel sharply as to keep away from hitting the astronaut, she loses management over the car, which crashes via the railing of a bridge and into the water under.
The automobile sinks to the underside of the river, and the scene skips ahead a couple of moments to indicate each passengers unconscious in a automobile now stuffed with water. A mysterious entity, presumably the one we noticed earlier, seems and shines a vivid purple mild on Selene, waking her up.
Selene makes an attempt to seize the kid’s hand, however is sucked out of the automobile by the mysterious entity earlier than she will get a grip. The little one is presumably left within the inside of the automobile on the backside of the river.
A closing underwater shot of the water’s floor is interrupted as a thick foggy mass seems to dam out the display, reducing the shot to black earlier than Returnal’s title card seems on display and the credit roll.
In it, Selene returns to the automobile that she left underwater within the earlier ending. This time, she’s teleported to an odd void the place she finds a skeletal alien sitting in a wheelchair. The alien seems up at Selene simply lengthy sufficient for the 2 to make eye contact. Well, eye socket contact if you wish to get particular about it.
Then the alien leaps up and weak-handedly makes an attempt to strangle Selene, who cries out “I told you to leave me alone!” earlier than pushing the alien off of her.
The alien calls out for Selene, revealing itself to be Theia (however provided that you are taking part in with subtitles turned on). If you did not decide it up earlier within the marketing campaign, Theia is Selene’s mom, who appeared in a number of earlier haunted houses. It’s clear now that Theia is some extent of guilt for Selene.
The digicam zooms into Selene’s head, and we now see issues from her perspective. She seems down at her fingers, then turns left to see the oncoming automobile that we noticed within the first ending. It’s obvious that we at the moment are seeing issues from the angle of the astronaut that the automobile narrowly swerved to keep away from.
We skip to an underwater shot from the angle of Selene, who’s now making an attempt to swim to the water’s floor. The display fades to white, then cuts to black, and we hear Selene gasp the ultimate phrase, “Helios.”
What It All Means
Returnal leaves us with extra questions than solutions. Its true ending appears to counsel that Selene is each the driving force and the astronaut that runs her off the highway, which additional suggests the existence of parallel realities even on Returnal’s model of Earth.
Further, we see proof all through Returnal that, at totally different cut-off dates, Selene is clearly each responsible in regards to the lack of her little one and of her mom. We already know that Selene’s mom is Theia, who we encounter within the secret ending, but it surely’s additionally extremely possible that Selene’s little one is called Helios, which can be the identify of Selene’s spaceship.
Once extra, we’re not completely positive that there is a concrete strategy to tie all the things collectively. But it isn’t troublesome to theorize that Selene not solely exists in numerous iterations throughout a number of dimensions, however that the complete world of Atropos is one prolonged dream sequence woven collectively out of the traumas skilled by every of these totally different Selenes.
Furthermore, Scout Logs all through the marketing campaign counsel that Selene (somewhat, astronaut Selene) is responsible about leaving her household behind on Earth to enterprise off into area. It’s additionally urged that Theia herself was as soon as an astronaut from the “Apollo Era”, who might have proven a youthful Selene photographs of herself totally kitted out in astronaut gear. All of those bits may doubtlessly clarify the guilt that Selene feels associated to Theia, who she would have presumably left behind when going off to discover area herself. And based mostly on the motif of the wheelchair, Theia might not have been in ok well being to stay lengthy sufficient to see her daughter return.
You may take that practice of thought even deeper: if Theia was the unique astronaut, and Selene noticed photos of her in full astronaut garb, then it is also potential that Theia is the astronaut in the course of the highway, not Selene. In truth, you may theorize that Selene was so traumatized by the lack of her mom that she started to hallucinate, even as far as to fully think about the astronaut within the highway and the kid within the backseat asking about White Shadow.
A couple of issues are constant irrespective of the way you interpret the endings: the recurring crash on the planet’s floor is clearly a stand-in for the true automobile crash that is central to Selene’s trauma, the “White Shadow” represents an astronaut in the course of a darkish highway, and the Abyssal Scar represents the underside of the river which is the automobile’s closing resting place.