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The Ending Of Seven Explained

It was Gwyneth Paltrow's head. With the benefit of hindsight, it's one of the less offensive parts of the actress' anatomy that future generations could expect to have FedExed to them, but at the time, it all felt very dramatic.

We take you now to a wild, far-off world where Kevin Spacey may have done some disagreeable things. Seven, alternately titled Se7en or, at some suspiciously unsanctioned-looking DVD stands in major metropolitan areas circa 2003, Tyler Durden Scream Box Motion Picture High Definition, meant different things to the individuals involved. For director David Fincher, it was the palate-cleansing sorbet between Alien 3 and heavier fare like Fight Club, Zodiac, and Tyler Durden Starts Old Then Is A Baby Film Good Quality. For Brad Pitt, it represented another step on the journey he started with 1987's Less Than Zero and continued with Ocean's 11, 12, and 13, attempting to star in one movie with every numeral imaginable in the title — a journey he would later abandon after realizing he'd accidentally repeated himself thanks to 12 Monkeys, leading him to start over with letters of the alphabet, beginning at the end with World War Z.

The New York City of Seven is shrouded in a thick fog of terror thanks to the John Doe killer, a slippery serial murderer whose nefarious oeuvre hinges on a grim interpretation of the Seven Deadly Sins, a septet of dogmatically frowned-upon behaviors which, while never mentioned in the Bible, are generally regarded as morally dirty pool. Pride, greed, wrath, envy, lust, gluttony, and sloth are the offending characteristics, and Doe has made it his personal mission to Monkey's Paw these traits into poetic ends for a lucky few. A rotund man is forced to eat until he dies, checking "gluttony" off the list. A greedy lawyer has to cut a pound of flesh from his own body. All the while, loose cannon Detective David Mills (Brad Pitt) and his partner, two-weeks-from-retirement Detective Lieutenant William Somerset (Morgan Freeman), try to keep up, butting heads like any self-respecting buddy cop duo.

Seven, poetic irony, and the world's bleakest unboxing video

The biggest break in the John Doe murder investigation is, almost inarguably, when the murderer (Kevin Spacey) walks into the police station drenched in blood and surrenders to the police. He even offers to lead the constabulary to his last two victims, which, as serial killer moves go, comes off as a neighborly gesture. There's a catch, though: Doe wants things done his way, or he'll plead insanity, the lunatic murderer's equivalent to "If I don't get a Snickers I'll hold my breath until I die."

Doe, now five verifiable kills deep, reveals his sixth victim in a remote field outside of the city: Detective Mills' wife, whose head he's had couriered to the site. In a final dramatic twist, Doe states that he was a dang old sinner himself, having experienced envy after seeing the Mills' marriage. Counting on Detective Mills to give in to his wrath, the murderer becomes the murdered after piling on by revealing that the investigator's betrothed was expecting a baby.

In what's been called one of the most shocking movie endings ever, John Doe wins, in a supervillain kind of a way. Mills is carted off in the back of a paddy wagon, having brought the killer's plan to fruition, and the figurative table is set for a generation of Saw movies to follow in Doe's smirking, blood-soaked, "I hope you all learned a valuable lesson" footprints.