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Biggest Unanswered Questions In Nope

As you might expect from a film that sits squarely in the sci-fi horror genre, Jordan Peele's "Nope" is as much about mystery as it is about scares and big action set pieces. At its core, it's a story of discovery — a tale of two siblings who go to incredibly dangerous lengths to discover the true nature of their father's death and obtain some proper closure for it. As such, the film is filled with moments that don't make a ton of sense the first time through.

Many of these confusing scenes are explained by the end of the film, but not all of them. Peele clearly understands the narrative value of leaving some mysteries unsolved, and by the time the end credits roll on "Nope," you'll likely be left with some major questions hanging. Whether it's how the whole extraterrestrial plot line fits together or why some characters behave in strange ways, there are plenty of things left to ponder over after the movie ends.

While it's impossible to divine what isn't there, it is possible to make some educated guesses based on what Peele does reveal in the film. Every shot and line has an aesthetic intention, and while some details are never officially confirmed, there are a lot of interesting theories you could argue for. Here are the biggest unanswered questions in "Nope," as well as some possible answers. Be warned, there will be major spoilers ahead.

Where was the alien before killing Otis?

"Nope" begins in a pretty brutal fashion, starting with a glimpse at the chimpanzee attack on the set of "Gordy's Home" and quickly transitioning into what seems to be a quieter and calmer scene. We're introduced to OJ Haywood (Daniel Kaluuya), one of the two lead protagonists, as well as his father Otis (Keith David). As the two go about their respective chores on the family ranch, the ground begins getting pelted by something unseen. It looks and sounds almost like gunfire at first, but it's later revealed to be a high-velocity assemblage of items — keys, coins, etc. Tragically, one of the items flies directly through Otis' head, causing a severe injury that kills him soon afterward. Six months later, OJ and his sister Emerald discover that the source of the projectiles was not a plane, but a UFO.

As the story continues, it's revealed how the flying object is an organic creature, and that it projectile-vomits indigestible material after sucking up prey. The question then becomes, where was the alien before it released the attack on the Haywoods? And for that matter, who had it previously eaten to absorb so much refuse? Ricky says that he didn't notice the UFO until around the time Otis died, so the alien must have come there from elsewhere. You'd think that whatever it had done before would have garnered some attention, as it's noticed by numerous people during its stay at the ranch, but there's no prior mention of it.

How did OJ never notice the alien before?

It's established relatively early on in "Nope" that the alien has been hiding in the same "cloud" near the Haywood ranch for a long time (though how it creates and sustains that cloud is never explained). Angel Torres (Brandon Perea) quickly notices that the cloud doesn't move and points it out to Emerald and OJ. While it's certainly believable that OJ just didn't notice the strange phenomenon for six months, it seems a bit strange given how observant he's shown to be. Even more strange, however, is that he never notices the power outages connected to the creature until six months after his father's death.

The night that Emerald stays at the ranch is the first time OJ has any idea of the alien presence, and it's mostly because of Ricky Park (Steven Yeun) running his Star Lasso Experience show. The performance draws the attention of the alien (or at least seems to), causing it to fly over the Haywood ranch and subsequently knock out all power along its route. Because OJ is surprised by this phenomenon, it seems to be implied that this is the first night of the Star Lasso Experience. However, that timeline has some problems.

It's mentioned earlier that OJ has sold 10 horses to Jupiter's Claim, and when he brings up the subject of buying some of them back, Ricky seems to stall for time. That suggests he's already given several up to the UFO, but if he has, how hasn't OJ noticed? Maybe he's just a deep sleeper.

What's up with the praying mantis?

One of the strangest details in "Nope" that never gets explained is the praying mantis that blocks Emerald's camera the night of the UFO's return. After getting Angel to set up a whole array of security cameras to catch a shot of the alien, Emerald gets set up in a makeshift command center. But just as the creature reappears, one of the cameras goes offline, and the other one gets blocked by a praying mantis.

The insect remains on the camera lens, in nearly the same position, for the entire time that the alien is visible. And the second the UFO vanishes from sight, the bug flies away. It's possible that this is all just a coincidence — that a bug with a body type historically associated with aliens just happens to show up right when the UFO reveals itself and departs once things have settled down. But maybe, just maybe, there's more than this praying mantis than meets the eye. Who's to say that a giant alien monster couldn't leverage some kind of control over Earth's weaker species?

What happened to OJ and Emerald's mother?

The shadow of Otis Haywood looms large over all the events of "Nope," which makes sense. Not only did he build the family's Hollywood business and turn the ranch into a thriving home for horses, but he also clearly had a profound impact on both of his children. But what about OJ and Emerald's mother?

There's hardly any mention of the two siblings even having a mother, and no details are ever provided as to her identity, involvement in the horse trade, or current status. At one point, in a moment of fear, while the alien is overhead, Emerald stares at a picture in the house of a woman posing regally. Whether or not the woman in question is Emerald's mother isn't revealed, but the picture certainly seems to have some kind of significance for her.

Given that both siblings describe their father as a hard man, it seems likely that Otis' wife died at some distant point in the family's past. Even when Emerald discusses her childhood, she only talks about her father, which suggests that her mother wasn't around.

Why does Gordy turn violent?

Midway through "Nope," we finally get to see all of what went down during the "Gordy's Home" tragedy. Or at least, we get to see most of what happened. In the scene, the cast of the fictional sitcom is shown shooting before a live studio audience. The episode involves the family throwing a birthday party for Gordy, the chimpanzee, and various gifts are presented to him. One of the presents, a giant box full of balloons, is opened to great fanfare, but the celebration is quickly cut short by the chimp's sudden and brutal shift into violence.

What exactly is it that sets the ape off? Because he isn't shown on screen until after the initial attack takes place, it's hard to say. Maybe one of the balloons popped and frightened him. Maybe something else triggered his aggression — a member of the audience, a cruel crew member — and he started going after the balloons himself, as well as the actors on stage. Or maybe there was no trigger at all — maybe Gordy had just had enough.

What's up with Ricky's wife?

Ricky Park has a lot of stuff going on in his life. He was a famous child actor, which can be challenging enough by itself, and he bore close witness to an incredibly gruesome and traumatizing tragedy while on the set of "Gordy's Home" as a kid. Somewhere between then and the main events of "Nope," he became the owner and operator of a Wild West theme park called Jupiter's Claim and started feeding horses to a giant alien creature to sell tickets. All in all, a pretty complicated guy.

One part of Ricky's life that isn't explored too thoroughly, however, is his relationship with his wife, who only appears in a couple of scenes. Most significantly, she calms him down before the Star Lasso Express when he seems to be in a trauma-induced daze. While this may be simply a strategy she knows is effective in bringing her husband back to reality, it's also possible that she has a bit more going on.

During the Star Lasso Express itself, things just feel a little off. Ricky seems nervous to do the show, and his wife is quietly pushing the whole thing along from the sidelines. It's also curious that the alien dolls being sold at the show — which mirror the costumes used in it — strongly resemble chimpanzees. The whole thing gives off the impression that Ricky's wife may be the one behind the whole Jupiter's Claim enterprise, but that's never confirmed.

Is Jupiter's Claim connected to the alien's arrival?

One possible explanation for all the weirdness surrounding Jupiter's Claim is that the whole park is actually connected to the alien in some greater way. Ricky and his wife are pretty quick to capitalize on the UFO's presence, even though they don't fully understand what it is. In just a matter of months, they create a full-fledged show complete with alien costumes, dolls, and other assorted merchandise. All of that, combined with the park's space-centric name, begs the question: Did Ricky do something to summon the alien in the first place?

To be fair, there's nothing overt in the film that suggests that's the case, but there are some odd coincidences. For instance, the father character on "Gordy's Home" is revealed to have some job concerning rockets and spacecraft. Ricky also clearly isn't above playing off serious events as spectacle, as evidenced by his creepy "Gordy's Home" room. Again, in all likelihood, the folks at Jupiter's Claim simply happened upon the alien by chance, but there's enough strangeness surrounding the park to make you think twice.

Why doesn't anyone alert the media?

Presumably, Ricky Park has already shown the alien to a bunch of people by the time OJ and Emerald start hunting for it. And yet, not one of these people goes and tells the authorities — at least, not that we know of. Perhaps that's because, even after having seen the UFO themselves, they still don't believe that it's real. Showmen like Ricky are famous for making the impossible look real when in reality it's all just some kind of trick. Rather than grapple with the challenging reality of extraterrestrial life, the patrons of the Star Lasso Experience might find it easier to write the whole thing off as smoke and mirrors.

Alternatively, someone could have gone to the police or the press and simply been laughed at. As Angel says earlier in the film, most people will resist any kind of alien proof unless it's overwhelmingly concrete. So even if someone did leave Ricky's show and go straight to the cops, there's a good chance their claims wouldn't be investigated.

Another explanation is simply that the show where Ricky and his guests get abducted is his first show in front of a proper audience. It's the first show for which he gives OJ and Emerald flyers, and it's the one he invites his former costar to. Maybe the show OJ sees earlier is just a test run — a tech rehearsal to make sure the alien still works. Unfortunately, the film doesn't clarify that either way.

What happens to the alien at the end?

After devouring Holst and his old-timey film camera, the "Nope" alien undergoes a pretty severe transformation. It expands out of its flying saucer form and becomes a massive, billowing, kite-like thing — a shape that still doesn't read as "creature" as much as it does "abstract art." The real question, though, is why and how this transformation happens? What is it that goes on within the alien to bring about such a dramatic change?

Of course, that answer is nearly impossible to pin down, as very little is revealed about the alien. Maybe its second form is a natural kind of growth or evolution, brought on by either sufficient feeding or dangerous circumstances. Maybe the creature tried to eat one too many indigestible objects and gets sick. Or maybe there's something specific about the film in Holst's camera that it eats that sparks an involuntary transformation. Whatever the case, the alien doesn't get to fly around in its new body for long, as Emerald quickly and cleverly devises a plan to take it down.

Does Angel survive?

Though he's introduced as a little more than a small comic relief side character, Angel Torres ends up being one of the main characters of "Nope." He helps out OJ and Emerald on multiple alien stakeouts, including the operation to acquire the perfect shot of the creature. Angel is stationed with Holst during the whole ordeal, where he helps keep the old hand-crank film camera rolling. However, once Holst goes mad and throws himself into the creature's path, things get a bit dicey for Angel.

While trying to sprint away from the monster, Angel gets tossed through a tarp and a long strand of barbed wire, catching him in a spiny prison on the side of the hill. He doesn't look too badly hurt, but it isn't long before he gets pulled up into the UFO. Fortunately, he once again gets knocked away before entering the beast's mouth but isn't entirely clear what happens to him after he hits the ground.

Presumably, Angel is still alive and well. He avoids getting eaten by the alien, and there's never a moment where he's concretely shown to be dead. The final moments of the film focus mainly on OJ and Emerald, so it makes some sense that Angel doesn't get more screen time, but it's still a bit perplexing that his fate is left so cloudy. Hopefully, he makes it out in one piece, but "Nope" leaves that up to the viewer to decide.

What's next for OJ and Emerald?

The Haywood siblings spend most of "Nope" risking their lives to get the "Oprah shot" of the alien — a picture so clear and indisputable that no one could deny its authenticity. And at the very end, Emerald does acquire about as good of a picture as you could want. But will it be enough? And what's next for her and OJ?

In an ideal world, Emerald holds onto the picture she took with the well camera, she and OJ use it to get a major payday, and they live happily ever after. And given that there were already news reports of strange activity in the area, it seems reasonable to assume that they'll be believed. On the other hand, the U.S. government might want very much to restrict public knowledge of aliens. Would the Haywoods get publicly discredited? Compensated or otherwise persuaded or threatened not to release the image to the masses? That's possible, too.

At the very least, they can hopefully find some kind of peace. Emerald and OJ successfully avenge their father's death, which is a major victory in itself.

Where does the alien come from?

Of course, one of the biggest lingering questions in "Nope" is the same one left hanging after many sci-fi movies: Where did the alien come from, and what does it want? Throughout the film, the creature is shown to be little more than a predatory animal. It's easily fooled by fake horses and other decoys, and its focus seems to be a basic pattern of feeding, digesting, and resting. The simplest explanation is that the alien is just a traveling predator that randomly selects the Haywood ranch as a temporary feeding ground.

And yet, that explanation feels a bit unsatisfying. There's enough weirdness in the rest of the movie (the mysterious Fry's employee played by Barbie Ferreira, the praying mantis, etc.) to justify some wilder theories. Maybe the alien came to Hollywood with a more specific purpose in mind, or maybe there's some extraterrestrial significance to the Haywood ranch that's left unexplored.

It's still most likely that the alien is simply a territorial creature who happens upon a random feeding ground, but because that's never confirmed, "Nope" leaves a lot of other ideas on the table.

Are there more aliens?

Jordan Peele doesn't seem like the kind of director who's interested in making sequels, which means that the mysteries of "Nope" will likely remain unsolved for the foreseeable future. The film is a story about one alien and its deadly impact on a small group of people, and by the time credits roll, that alien is defeated. Still, it's hard not to wonder if the creature was alone in its stay on Earth, or if there might be more similar aliens hiding in clouds across the globe.

Because the monster plays into classic UFO myths — being saucer-shaped, sucking things up into itself, etc. — it's easy to imagine other similar creatures existing in the world of "Nope." Perhaps every UFO sighting in this timeline is an encounter with a member of the creature's race, rather than a glimpse at an alien spacecraft. Space is a pretty big place, after all, and it's hard to imagine a single alien making the long voyage to Earth all by itself. Again, these aren't issues that are fiercely pivotal to the story of "Nope," but pondering the film's mysteries is part of the fun.