Untangling The Girl in the Spider's Web's Dark Ending

The Girl in the Spider's Web

WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for The Girl in the Spider's Web, in theaters now.

Director Fede Álvarez's The Girl in the Spider's Web acts as a soft reboot and indirect sequel to David Fincher's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Based on the Millennium novels by Stieg Larsson and David Lagercrantz, it continues the journey of Lisbeth Salander (Claire Foy), a tormented computer hacker who steals a program from America's NSA called Project: Firefall, only to lose it to a mysterious Russian organization, the Spiders.

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The movie focuses on the effort by Lisbeth and ex-lover, journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Sverrir Gudnason), to retrieve the software, which gives its user unfettered access to nuclear weapons across the globe. With the NSA and Swedish Secret Service hot on their heels, the finale brings a collision of all parties at Lisbeth's childhood home in the mountains of Sweden, with the truth about the Spiders finally revealed.

The Spiders Unmasked

The Girl in the Spider's Web

When Lisbeth realizes the Spiders know her every move, she asks Mikael to dig deeper into the organization. Eventually, he traces their roots back to Lisbeth's father, Alexander (Mikael Persbrandt), who decades before the was group's mastermind.

However, with her father dead, Lisbeth comes face to face with the new leader of the Spiders, none other than the sister she abandoned as a teenager, Camilla (Sylvia Hoeks). Lisbeth has finally met her match, as her sister is every bit the genius she is. However, that leads to another big twist in the final act regarding the identity of Firefall's buyer.

The Real Buyer Unveiled

The Girl in the Spider's Web

When the Spiders seized Firefall, they killed its creator, Frans (Stephen Merchant), and took his genius son August (Christopher Convery) hostage, as he was the only one who knows the new password. Lisbeth convinces the NSA agent tracking her, Needham (LaKeith Stanfield), to join her crusade, and in exchange, once August is safe, she'll return the program to him.

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With allies dwindling, Mikael also strikes a deal with Gabriella Crane (Synnøve Macody Lund), deputy director of the Swedish Secret Service, to help them. However, he soon deduces Gabriella is accompanying him to the Salanders' winter home, not to stop the Spiders, but because she's the buyer. As she says, Firefall is better off in the hands of Sweden, a nation that hasn't been involved in war, as opposed to, say, the United States.

Firefall's Fate

The Girl in the Spider's Web

With all of the players on the chessboard revealed, the finale sees Camilla capturing Mikael and Lisbeth, and torturing them just before the sale. But there's one more betrayal, as Camilla kills Gabriella and her entire contingent. The sale, it turns out, was a ruse, as Camilla always wanted to keep Firefall in order to transform the Spiders into elite terrorists. This sale was staged to allow her to hack and steal the transaction fee from Gabriella's agency, thus giving the Spiders hefty capital to continue their business.

However, Needham and Lisbeth's tech/weapons expert, Plague (Cameron Britton), snipe the Spiders, saving their friends, and leaving Lisbeth to pursue her sister. The chase results in Camilla being mortally wounded in a car crash, and an emotional showdown on the edge of a cliff. There, Camilla explains her actions were revenge against Lisbeth for leaving her with their abusive father and his criminal empire. She commits suicide, leaving Firefall for a repentant Lisbeth. When Edwin comes for Firefall, though, he finds the laptop but not the file. Lisbeth destroyed it so no government could have such power, before burning her old house and returning to the shadows to continue her vigilante work.

In theaters now, The Girl in the Spider's Web, directed by Fede Álvarez, stars Claire Foy, Sverrir Gudnason, Lakeith Stanfield, Sylvia Hoeks, Stephen Merchant, Claes Bang, Christopher Convery, Synnøve Macody Lund and Vicky Krieps.

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