Main Ending Explained
At the underside of the ocean, Selene finds the “entity” that continues to resurrect her after every loss of life. The display cuts to black, after which we see a automotive touring by means of a darkish forest at evening.
A toddler within the backseat of the automotive holds Octo, the plushie squid that you could be be acquainted with in case you performed by means of the haunted houses segments earlier within the sport. In the background, Don’t Fear the Reaper by Blue Öyster Cult performs on the automotive radio.
The baby says “Mom, do you see the White Shadow?” moments earlier than the radio begins to fizz out with static. The digital camera turns to the radio, which is dialed to the sign 107.7. The automotive’s clock additionally reads 8:36 PM, and the skin temperature is 52 levels Fahrenheit.
Trivia: Each of those motifs (the music, the numbers, the surroundings) present up all through Returnal, however the numbers 8:36 are particularly prevalent. They first seem on the finish of Act 1 because the information broadcast of Selene’s obvious return from Atropos is performed at 8:36 AM. Selene can be mentioned to have lived for 63 years and eight days after returning to Earth, which, backwards, is 836. The that means of 836 may be interpreted in any variety of methods, however a number of Internet searches counsel that its commonest interpretation amongst Numerologists is one thing alongside the strains of “your prayers have been acquired, be able to obtain rewards”, or simply normal good luck and luck.
As the motive force (revealed to be Selene, or somebody who appears identical to Selene) appears up from the radio, she narrowly spots an astronaut in the course of the highway. Braking onerous and spinning the wheel sharply as to keep away from hitting the astronaut, she loses management over the automobile, which crashes by means of the railing of a bridge and into the water beneath.
The automotive sinks to the underside of the river, and the scene skips ahead a number of moments to indicate each passengers unconscious in a automotive now full of water. A mysterious entity, presumably the one we noticed earlier, seems and shines a vivid purple mild on Selene, waking her up.
Selene makes an attempt to seize the kid’s hand, however is sucked out of the automotive by the mysterious entity earlier than she will be able to get a grip. The baby is presumably left within the inside of the automotive on the backside of the river.
A closing underwater shot of the water’s floor is interrupted as a thick foggy mass seems to dam out the display, reducing the shot to black earlier than Returnal’s title card seems on display and the credit roll.
In it, Selene returns to the automotive that she left underwater within the earlier ending. This time, she’s teleported to a wierd void the place she finds a skeletal alien sitting in a wheelchair. The alien appears up at Selene simply lengthy sufficient for the 2 to make eye contact. Well, eye socket contact if you wish to get particular about it.
Then the alien leaps up and weak-handedly makes an attempt to strangle Selene, who cries out “I informed you to go away me alone!” earlier than pushing the alien off of her.
The alien calls out for Selene, revealing itself to be Theia (however provided that you are taking part in with subtitles turned on). If you did not choose it up earlier within the marketing campaign, Theia is Selene’s mom, who appeared in a number of earlier haunted houses. It’s clear now that Theia is a degree of guilt for Selene.
The digital camera zooms into Selene’s head, and we now see issues from her perspective. She appears down at her fingers, then turns left to see the oncoming automotive that we noticed within the first ending. It’s obvious that we at the moment are seeing issues from the angle of the astronaut that the automotive narrowly swerved to keep away from.
We skip to an underwater shot from the angle of Selene, who’s now attempting to swim to the water’s floor. The display fades to white, then cuts to black, and we hear Selene gasp the ultimate phrase, “Helios.”
What It All Means
Returnal leaves us with extra questions than solutions. Its true ending appears to counsel that Selene is each the motive force and the astronaut that runs her off the highway, which additional suggests the existence of parallel realities even on Returnal’s model of Earth.
Further, we see proof all through Returnal that, at completely different time limits, Selene is clearly each responsible in regards to the lack of her baby and of her mom. We already know that Selene’s mom is Theia, who we encounter within the secret ending, nevertheless it’s additionally extremely possible that Selene’s baby is called Helios, which can be the title of Selene’s spaceship.
Once extra, we’re not solely positive that there is a concrete solution to tie every little thing collectively. But it isn’t tough to theorize that Selene not solely exists in numerous iterations throughout a number of dimensions, however that the whole world of Atropos is one prolonged dream sequence woven collectively out of the traumas skilled by every of these completely different Selenes.
Furthermore, Scout Logs all through the marketing campaign counsel that Selene (reasonably, astronaut Selene) is responsible about leaving her household behind on Earth to enterprise off into house. It’s additionally urged that Theia herself was as soon as an astronaut from the “Apollo Era”, who might have proven a youthful Selene photographs of herself absolutely kitted out in astronaut gear. All of those bits might probably clarify the guilt that Selene feels associated to Theia, who she would have presumably left behind when going off to discover house herself. And primarily based on the motif of the wheelchair, Theia might not have been in ok well being to stay lengthy sufficient to see her daughter return.
You might take that prepare of thought even deeper: if Theia was the unique astronaut, and Selene noticed photographs of her in full astronaut garb, then it is also potential that Theia is the astronaut in the course of the highway, not Selene. In reality, you would theorize that Selene was so traumatized by the lack of her mom that she started to hallucinate, even as far as to utterly think about the astronaut within the highway and the kid within the backseat asking about White Shadow.
A number of issues are constant regardless of the way you interpret the endings: the recurring crash on the planet’s floor is clearly a stand-in for the actual automotive crash that is central to Selene’s trauma, the “White Shadow” represents an astronaut in the course of a darkish highway, and the Abyssal Scar represents the underside of the river which is the automotive’s closing resting place.