WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Mission: Impossible — Fallout, in theaters now.
When you're a spy who saves the world with some degree of frequency, it's unlikely the married life is for you. The Mission: Impossible franchise did try, however, with Tom Cruise's Ethan Hunt marrying Julia Meade (Michelle Monaghan) before ultimately deciding to sacrifice his happiness to ensure her safety.
They faked Julia's death in 2011's Ghost Protocol and gave her new identity, with director Christopher McQuarrie not even including her in 2015's Rogue Nation. That made it all the more surprising when she was brought back for Fallout, leaving fans to wonder how her relationship with Ethan would be addressed. McQuarrie does tackle the issue, and gives the pair closure by finally separating them for good, affirming their separate destinies.
For much of Fallout, Julia's memory haunts Hunt, who regrets that he placed her in danger. He still misses her, and remains in love, and his teammate Luther (Ving Rhames) reveals that Julia sends him a signal from time to time to let them know she's alive and well. However, she never divulges her location.
As Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson), the MI6 spy from Rogue Nation, returns to kill Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) and the Apostles, everything gets a bit complicated because Hunt doesn't want to endanger her as he's starting to care for her as well. The lid's blown wide open, though, when CIA agent August Walker (Henry Cavill) betrays the team and warns Hunt not to pursue him. As he goes off to detonate two nuclear bombs, he throws the hero off by showing him a picture of Julia in her new life. The Apostles, formerly known as the Syndicate, have been keeping tabs on her to use as leverage.
Hunt's team calls their bluff and chases them down anyway, landing at the bombs' location, a medical facility in Pakistan. As they begin to scour the place, Hunt bumps into Julia, now remarried to a physician named Patrick (Wes Bentley), and they're both performing humanitarian work there.
Lane funded the camp to lure Julia and her new husband there as insurance in case Hunt pursued him. It's an awkward reunion as they fake a friendship in front of Wes, who's in the dark, before Hunt runs off to the save the world.
Julia later helps Luther to defuse one bomb, and makes it clear she still loves her ex but that she knows she's holding him back. The world needs Ethan Hunt more than she does, as demonstrated when he stops Walker and obtains the detonator to save the day, yet again. Beaten and bruised, Hunt is picked up by the CIA, taken to Julia's facility for treatment and there, they say their final goodbyes.
Julia says she'll always love him, and he realizes he can finally let go because she's happy with Patrick. Hunt accepts they were meant to walk different paths, especially when Julia reveals that, without him, she wouldn't be doing charity work and saving people in her own way.
However, she does recognize there's a spark between Ilsa and him, and secretly urges her to go to Hunt. Their chemistry is obvious to everyone in the team, and Hunt embraces her, optimistic that maybe he too can find a happy ending with the British spy now that he's finally closed the chapter with Julia.
In theaters nationwide, director Christopher McQuarrie’s Mission: Impossible — Fallout stars Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt, joined by returning actors Rebecca Ferguson as Ilsa Faust, Ving Rhames as Luther Stickell and Simon Pegg as Benji Dunn, with Henry Cavill, Angela Bassett, Vanessa Kirby, Michelle Monaghan, Alec Baldwin, Sean Harris, Sian Brooke and Frederick Schmidt.