The ending of The Predator explained

As the most expensive film in the Predator franchise and possibly the most ambitious, 2018's The Predator is stalking a decent opening weekend at the box office despite some recent controversies and the fact that it's, well, a Predator movie. Historically, they haven't alway been box office darlings.

But what they have been are explosive, alien-filled action thrillers, and in that respect, The Predator definitely delivers. Co-written and directed by Shane Black, The Predator builds on the lore established in the previous five movies (yeah, that includes the Alien vs. Predator films) while expanding on the franchise in brand new ways.

In the end, The Predator is a non-stop thrill ride from start to finish, and it's easy to miss some of the crucial plot details in the midst of all the gunfire, so we're going to slow it down and take a look at what actually happened at the end of the movie. Turn on your heat vision, because we're getting into some major spoilers.

Traitor

The Predator jumps into the plot from the very first scene, which sees Boyd Holbrook's Quinn McKenna on an assassination mission in Mexico. He's interrupted by a crashing spaceship and manages to pull a few pieces of predator memorabilia from the wreckage — specifically a helmet, an arm band, and a little ball that lets him turn invisible. Correctly assuming that the government is going to be all over him once they track him down, he swallows the ball and mails the rest of the alien contraband to his P.O. box in the U.S. Like anyone would do, really.

That plan sets the rest of the movie in motion. His son gets the package, leading the government and the new, upgraded predator to hone in on their quaint little suburban neighborhood for some good old-fashioned murder and torture. There are also some alien dogs who turn cute when they're brain damaged, and Keegan-Michael Key jokes about stuff.

As the movie progresses, it's revealed that the alien who crash-landed on top of Quinn didn't come to Earth to top off his collection of people spines — he was actually a traitor who was trying to save humanity from an invasion by the predators, and he was bringing a gift to help humans fight back. Good for him! Unfortunately, he got killed by the upgraded predator, but his mysterious gift was the key to the entire ending.

Memory map

Even though government spook Traeger (Sterling K. Brown) knows there's something really important on the predator's crashed ship, he has a problem: he doesn't know how to get there. Fortunately, Quinn's son, Rory, knows everything. With his apparent photographic memory, he's a living Trapper Keeper of everything he sees. At some point while messing around with the alien gadgets in his basement, he must have come across some kind of record of the flight path the ship made when it crashed. Like the door code to an alien ship or the arrangement of 64 different chess pieces, the information got logged away in his super brain until it was narratively relevant.

So what does he do? He starts drawing a map that leads directly to the alien ship while he's being held prisoner by the exact men who want to find the craft. It must be so boring waiting for your all dad's friends to come back from getting tortured in the barn. Couldn't you have drawn a pony, Rory?

Anyway, Traeger and his goons head there to ransack the ship, with Quinn and his gang in hot pursuit to get Rory back. But there's someone else heading there, too. Someone… predatory.

The game begins

If there's one thing The Predator gets right, it's giving the alien plenty of people to dismember. That's what these movies are all about, after all. After crashing the party at the downed spaceship, the predator has all the humans in the palm of his hand. All he has to do is start shooting. And then… he walks past them all and goes into the ship? And then gives them all a head start before he chases them?

What?

Actually, this one makes sense. He's a predator, after all. The thrill of the kill is in the hunt, not massacring a group of people who can't fight back. Now that he did what he came to do — destroying that mysterious "gift" on the ship — he's ready for some R&R. Who doesn't like to kick back after a stressful business trip? So he evens the odds by giving the humans a head start, then gets down to his favorite hobby: murder.

One true warrior

As the predator explains the rules of the game to all the confused humans, he name-drops McKenna as the "one true warrior" who's his true target. Naturally, being an actual, adult warrior, Quinn assumes the predator is talking about him. He leads his group into the woods, where they concoct a plan to ambush the psychotic monster.

Things go south almost immediately. Coyle gets himself gutted, Baxley gets impaled on a tree branch, and Traeger accidentally shoots himself in the head, the big dummy. They almost get the upper hand when Casey tricks the predator into shooting their stolen helmet, sending a counter-attack missile back at the predator. But he recovers and makes a beeline for Quinn… then shoves him aside and grabs Rory, revealing the boy to be the one true warrior.

In the aftermath, Casey repeats her earlier line about people on the autism spectrum being the next step in the evolutionary chain. When the predators upgrade themselves with human DNA, they want Rory's chromosomes coursing through their veins.

Hanky memorial

After just about everyone in the movie gets destroyed by the predator, we're left with Quinn, Rory, and Casey. But Quinn isn't ready to move on from the friends he knew for a whole day, so he takes a quiet moment to make a memorial for them. In a yellow handkerchief, he places one item for each of his fallen friends, even though at this point in the movie the audience can't even remember their names. There's an erotic playing card for Lynch, an aluminum foil unicorn for Nettles, a little hula girl figurine for someone else, some other object, and a pack of cigarettes for Nebraska, who loved to smoke.

It's a touching enough moment, although some of the things there really came out of the blue. We can't help but wonder if that scene was the result of all the rumored third act reshoots, or if some other scene got cut that would have given the hanky memorial a little more context. Nobody ever had a plastic hula girl with them in the movie — and where did Quinn get a perfectly clean handkerchief out in the woods when everybody's splattered with blood and mud? Anyway, moving on.

Escape pod

Finally, we reach the meat of the ending. If you remember, the ultra predator blew up the ship that the traitor predator had been using to bring humanity their special gift. But as the final scene explains, the traitor was extremely thorough in making sure that package made it to the post office, in a manner of speaking. In case he got caught (which he did) and in case another predator found the wrecked ship and destroyed it (which he did), he left a failsafe in place that caused the gift to eject from the ship in an escape pod.

After the predator got blown up and then shot in the head a few times for good measure, the government apparently went into damage control and swept the area to clean up the fallout. Remember, they've known about the predators for decades — they're not about to let the secret get out now. In their search, they came across the escape pod containing the secret weapon, ensuring the continued existence of humanity when the predators launch their attack. Well, unless Traeger was right and we'll all be dead in 20 years from global warming. Then none of this matters anyway.

New suit

So what was in that pod? What was the mysterious gift that will save mankind? Short answer — a super duper robot suit. After a few seconds of dramatic tension, the pod opens and pops out an arm band. One of the lab guys gets it on his arm, and presto change-o, he's engulfed in a high-tech suit that makes him look like a robotic predator, complete with auto-aiming cannons that can lock onto multiple people at once.

So what can one fancy exoskeleton do against an army of predators? Who knows! But Quinn immediately claims the suit for himself, potentially setting up a sequel where he one-man-armys the invading extraterrestrials once and for all. As far as cliffhangers go, it wasn't a whopper. The story still gets wrapped up neatly enough for a Predator movie. Whether that sequel will ever happen depends on how The Predator does at the box office, so for now we'll all have to wait. But hey, at least he got a new suit! Who doesn't love that?