It: Chapter Two's Pulse-Pounding Ending, Explained

WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for It: Chapter Two, in theaters now.

It: Chapter Two doesn't deviate wildly from the 1990 television adaptation, but it does introduce a number of little tweaks to the plot and its conclusion.

After returning to Derry, Maine, 27 years after the events of the previous film, Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård) begins attacking a new generation of children. The only member of the Losers Club to remain in their hometown, Mike (Isiah Mustafa), is forced to call the rest of the group -- Bill (James McAvoy), Bev (Jessica Chastain), Ben (Jay Ryan), Richie (Bill Hader), and Eddie (James Ransone) -- back to Derry to stop the creature once and for all.

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Although Stanley (Andy Bean) kills himself rather than return, the others all make their way back.

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Having survived a murder attempt by Henry Bowers (Teach Grant), the Losers Club heads into the decaying apartment building that serves as the entrance to the tunnels beneath Derry. The group reveals all of the tokens from the past they've recovered, and barely survive a number of attacks by Pennywise.

The flashes of Pennywise as they continue further into the tunnels push the Losers to the edge. However, they eventually make their way to the heart of the tunnel and begin the Ritual of Chüd. Devised by a Native American tribe that confronted It in the past, the ritual sees the Losers sacrifice the tokens of their pasts. Although the spell initially seems to contain Pennywise, the transforming monster escapes.

It's then revealed that Mike never told the rest of the group about the true final step of the ritual: that all of the people sacrificing their tokens will have to die to fully seal Pennywise away. Without the knowledge to make this part of the ritual, It breaks free and transforms into a giant clown-spider figure.

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Quickly, the Losers are forced into hiding. Eddie and Richie find themselves in front of three doors and have to figure out which one can lead to safety. Mike hides, waiting to try flee at the right moment. Bill is forced underwater, and surfaces in the flooded basement where Pennywise confronted him as a child. Bev and Ben initially escape together, but are separated by Pennywise into their own individual hells. Eventually, however, everyone makes their way back to the main cave, surviving and escaping everything thrown at them. Bill even learns to forgive himself for Georgie's death, and Bev realizes it was Ben who always had feelings for her.

The group tries to scatter around Pennywise, distracting it to keep it from killing their fellow Losers. However, the plan doesn't completely work: Eddie is fatally wounded while saving Richie.

Realizing that Pennywise must always shift his body size to move through the caves, the Losers are able to loop behind it. Mike realizes that by not being afraid of Pennywise, they can overwhelm it. Doing so leads to the group finally pulling the heart directly out of Pennywise, crushing it and seemingly stopping Pennywise once and for all. Even the deadlights appear to go out once and for all.

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As the caves collapse, the Losers are forced to leave Eddie's body behind. They barely escape, and wash the dirt off of them in the lake they swam in as children. Some happiness comes among the sense of loss, however, as Bev and Ben finally act on their feelings, and share their first kiss.

Soon, the Losers all leave Derry once more, this time with their memories intact. Richie tries to come to terms with Eddie's death, and acknowledges his feelings for his lost friend. Even Mike gets the chance to escape the town that he's been trapped in for decades.

One of the final moments sees Bill reading a letter left for him by Stanley. It reveals that Stanley killed himself to "remove himself from the board" before he could be used as a weakness for Pennywise to exploit.

It appears that Pennywise is dead, once and for all. There are, however, hints across the "King-verse" the Dancing Clown may have survived in some other guise, and could return again down the line.

Director Andy Muschietti hinted in an interview that although there are no plans for a prequel or sequel connected to these films, he would love to explore the broader mythology of It. But as it stands, the cinematic version of Derry seems to be finally free of the influence of Pennywise.

In theaters now, It: Chapter Two stars Bill Skarsgård, James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Jay Ryan, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa, James Ransone, Andy Bean, Teach Grant, Jess Weixler, Will Beinbrink, Xavier Dolan, Jaeden Lieberher, Sophia Lillis, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Finn Wolfhard, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Oleff and Nicholas Hamilton.

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