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The Ending Of The Ring 2 Eplained

The "Ring" franchise surrounding a cursed videotape is, to say the least, a rich tapestry of stories. Originally a series of horror novels written by Koji Suzuki, they were eventually adapted into films in Japan, South Korea, and the United States.

The American version of "The Ring" from 2002 tells the story of Rachel Keller (Naomi Watts), a journalist whose niece Katie (Amber Tamblyn) dies under mysterious circumstances after watching a strange video. After watching the tape herself, Rachel receives a telephone call with a chilling voice saying "seven days."

The remainder of the film involves Rachel running out the clock as she discovers she only has a week to live before the girl in the video, Samara Morgan (Daveigh Chase), kills her. The threat is compounded when Rachel's son Aidan (David Dorfman) also watches the video. There are two things to know about the first two American "The Ring" movies: 1. Samara is evil, and 2. Rachel has terrible instincts that get everyone around her in trouble. Eventually, Rachel discovers a way to at least temporarily get rid of Samara: by copying the tape and sending it to someone else. By passing along Samara's curse like a VHS STD, both Rachel and Aidan survive.

However, it isn't long before Rachel and Aidan encounter someone else with a copy of the tape — and that's where "The Ring 2" picks up. "The Ring 2" delves deeper into the consequences of Rachels' decisions, and its ending is a commentary on grief and parenthood. 

A literal and figurative haunting

The plot of "The Ring 2" is pretty simple: After Rachel discovers that people are still copying the cursed tape (a trend she started, it's worth noting), she attempts to burn the first new tape she finds. This only incurs Samara's wrath, and Samara goes after Rachel by slowly possessing her son Aidan.

"The Ring 2" is primarily about childhood trauma. At the end of the first film, Aidan sees his father die and only escapes by helping his mother transfer the curse onto others. Rachel is an adult, so she tries her best to compartmentalize what's happened by rationalizing that she had no other choice than to save her child.

Aidan, however, is a child who doesn't have the adult tools to cope with what's happened to him. He is both literally and figuratively haunted by Samara. When he becomes possessed, Aidan becomes so cold that it reads as a physical illness. And in the real world, it's not uncommon for emotional trauma to lead to or exacerbate physical illness. In "The Ring 2," doctors at the hospital suspect Rachel is abusing Aidan because none of them are able to diagnose what's really happening to him.

The story is also about how adults need to deal with their trauma, too. In a way, you could argue there's a kind of abuse happening between Rachel and Aidan because Rachel is ignoring her family's trauma, which is having aggressively negative effects.

Letting go of trauma and the subtle art of good parenting

In her efforts to help Aidan, Rachel attempts to learn out more about Samara. She eventually finds Samara's birth mother Evelyn (Sissy Spacek), who tells Rachel that Samara was also possessed and that the only way to end the nightmare is for Rachel to kill Aidan. In fact, Evelyn insists Aidan will tell her to do it.

Indeed, Rachel returns home to find Aidan fully possessed by Samara, and in dreams, Aidan tells Rachel he needs her to kill him.

Again, this is about childhood trauma and how painful it can be. Aidan is hurting so much from what he's been through that he says he would prefer death to life. Rachel actually tries to facilitate that death and remove Samara by drowning Aidan — except it doesn't work.

In both the first "Ring" movies, Aidan always refers to Rachel by her name rather than as "Mom," much to Rachel's chagrin. Only when Aidan is possessed by Samara does he call Rachel "Mommy." "The Ring 2" is about Rachel being a mother on Aidan's terms, not based on what people around her say she should do. The hospitals misdiagnose Aidan and his relationship with Rachel because it's nontraditional. Evelyn serves as a contrast who cannot handle her own child's sickness and opts to kill her.

In the end, Rachel enters the world of the cursed tape because Samara needs a mom. But just like in the first film when Rachel tries to save Samara, she's placing her love in the wrong direction. It's only when Rachel is at the bottom of Samara's well that she realizes that the key is in closing Samara up inside the well — she has to truly close the book on her own trauma in order to be a good mother to Aidan.

In the final moments Aidan calls Rachel "Mommy," but Rachel says it's okay for Aidan to call her "Rachel" at least for a little while longer. The ending signifies Rachel embracing Aidan as he is and being a mother to the child she has, not the one she thinks she is supposed to have.