Warning: Spoilers (duh).
Last weekend, two of my friends and I made a completely last minute decision to see Jordan Peele's latest movie, "Us." I had been dying to watch it after his thrilling debut "Get Out" which had won an Oscar this past year; plainly put, I couldn't wait to watch "Us." I avoided every single article online headlined " 'US' THEORIES DEBUNKED, every single video that blared " 'US': ENDING EXPLAINED" and every social media post that screamed " OMG, I can't believe Jason and Pluto—." No. Stop. Enough. For two weeks, I covered my ears whenever someone even mentioned the movie's title, when finally, my friends and I decided that the best way to start of Spring Break was to see "Us."
And so we did. And it was awesome. Honestly put, I don't think a person can go and see the movie alone. In order to really enjoy it and get into all the nitty-gritty stuff, I highly recommend going with a friend (especially one that loves to talk during a movie). My group got lucky since we went to the theatre right after school; even though it was a Friday, the theatre was completely empty due to the 4:20 timing. We chatted as much as wanted to and as loudly as wanted to. Throughout the movie, we were constantly coming up with different theories, foreshadowing different events and explaining certain parts to each other if we missed something. One of my close friend's and I both take AP Literature so we are used to doing deep analysis of movies and books, so when it came to watching this movie, our brains went into full power mode.
Without further ado, if you've already seen the movie and want to hear a little more about the world Peele created in "Us," sit back and take a look at the theories my friends and I prophesied. Make sure to comment which theories you agree or disagree with or share any theories you've created of your own!
1. Shadow people can sense their own kind, and they can only kill their own person.
This theory didn't come to my mind until I remembered the scene when Kitty's shadow (Dahlia) held a knife to Red's throat as she was handcuffed to the bed. Dahlia could have easily cut Red's throat, instead she hesitated and looked at Red with a semi-shocked and interested face. The she went back to looking at herself in the mirror. Initially, I took this hesitation as just a threat. Dahlia wasn't really going to kill Red so I assumed that Dahlia was unable to kill Red since Red was not her person; Kitty was. That led me to my first theory. Shadows could only kill their own people because they are only tethered to a single person. The evil within a person primarily affects that person and that person only.
But then Peele reveals to audiences in the end that Red is actually Adelaide's shadow which means she isn't human. This led me to my second theory. Dahlia's hesitation was not out of stupidity; nothing grabbed her attention to remove Red out of the situation of almost getting killed. In fact, noise of her the death of her shadow husband comes several minutes after she begins to stare at a mirror—which goes on for several minutes after she threatens to kill Red. She purposely hesitates because she senses Red is not human. There are two possible ways to go with this theory. The first is that she chose to not kill Red as she is her own kind. Or, the second being that shadows simply cannot kill other shadows. What do you think?
2. Every person has good and evil in them. Only when you recognize that there will always be a certain evil in you, you will be able to control it.
So what is the deal with the entire doppelganger? Is it just another thriller that came out of an LSD trip? Of course not. The derived meaning behind the point of the doppelganger is pure genius. In our world, we don't have tethered shadows that live underground and copy our every move (...or, at least, I hope so). The concept of Peele's tethered folk actually reflects the evil within each and every person. When a person is born, they are completely neutral, even completely good to a certain point. A baby is not born bad until it is exposed to both nature and nurture. This is the one case where the debate works hand-in-hand. Due to how a child is raised and what environment they are raised in, a child is then exposed to good and bad. As a person grows they do good and bad things which shows there is good and evil in a person, even if a person doesn't recognize it. Not many people are conscious of both; instead, they are conscious of only the good they have done. I'm sure you even consider yourself a good person, but truth be told, you have done some not-so-good things in your life. Simple things like lying count.
What does this have to do with the movie? Let's remember Pluto's death scene. To anyone that didn't look further into this, his death scene seems to appear out of nowhere. All of a sudden, Jason has some sort of epiphany, raises his hands and begins walking backward. Pluto begins to mirror his actions and also walks backward into the fire, leading to his death. We already know that the tethered are forced to mirror the actions of their humans, but why did this happen all of a sudden? If humans can control their tethered (and Red's family knew about this when Adelaide told Red the story of the tethered), then why didn't they use it to their advantage to escape or kill the other tethered?
Jason's epiphany is the answer. He realizes his control of Pluto because Pluto is a part of him. His shadow is a part of him. The evil is a part of him. But he finally recognizes that he controls Pluto; he controls his shadow and controls the evil within him. It's a lesson to be learned. Everyone has good and evil within them, but only after you become conscious of the inner evil, you can control it.
3. Theory #2 brings me to my point about Bible verse Jeremiah 11:11 and the timing 11:11.
"Therefore thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape; and though they shall cry unto me, I will not hearken unto them."
Before I get into the nitty gritty of this verse, I have a question for you. Rhetorical or not, that's up to you (if you go with "not," comment below your answer! Were the tethered truly the evil or was what they were forced to endure evil? After going into deep thought, I lean more with fact that the tethered were truly evil. Even though they had no choice on their burdens, that is the way they were created; they had to mimic the actions of their humans because they are the inner evil we all have within us.
Now back to the Bible verse. There is a certain bringing of evil but what is the evil that is brought? Is the evil the tethered? But, next the line states that it is an evil that something "they shall not be able to escape." Something that, no matter how hard humans pray to stay away from it, it will never go away. That something is our inner evil. The evil that is brought is the evil that we all have within us. It is a part of us that we cannot escape, only control. In the movie, it is a warning that the tethered, or our inner evil, is about to be unleashed into the real world.
Throughout the rest of the movie, we see the repetition of 11:11 almost everywhere. There is the frame on the clock which reads 11:11 when the shadows are first introduced in the movie. The black t-shirt also hides an 11:11 on it. The duality of the verse is also interesting. 11:11 is a pure reflection of numbers with two ones on each side. It is like the duality of the humans and their tethered. In many religions, the time 11:11 reflects coincidence, auspiciousness or the presence of a spirit. That, alongside the verse, hints towards how this entire movie is all due to a coincidence. It is coincidental that Adelaide left her father all those years ago to go to the house of mirrors. Nothing led her there except her curiosity. Additionally, the tethered mirror the presence of evil which may go in hand with how the time symbolizes the presence of spirits in some cultures. It's a lot to unpack, but how do you think 11:11 played a role in the movie?