Three years ago, M. Night Shyamalan, the director of what is now dubbed the ‘Eastrail 177’ trilogy of films, drew the loudest gasp I had seen in quite some time from a collective audience inside a movie theatre. Beliefs were suspended, minds blown and anticipation soared when it was revealed that David Dunn and Elijah Price from ‘Unbreakable’, nineteen years ago, and Kevin Wendall Crumb were part of a shared universe of sorts that Shyamalan was trying to create, with the revelatory twist being presented in the most Shyamalan way possible. Three years later, the conclusion to the most unexpected trilogy of films, ‘Glass’, reuniting the three protagonists in a showdown scenario staged in a mental asylum has hit the screens and is already creating waves with its ending. If you are here, it is reasonable to assume that you have seen the trilogy, most importantly the conclusion, and won’t care for spoilers. Without further ado, let’s get to explaining the ending that threw relentless twist after twist, culminating what is easily the most psychological ‘superhero’ storyline conceived just shy of two decades ago.
While scathing the internet for a definitive review myself to help me gather my thoughts, I came across one from a casual viewer who termed the conclusive showdown as the polarising filmmaker going “full Shyamalan mode” with the twists. The particular choice of words did crack me up, but successfully summed up in all its obscurity what I felt about the final act, something that even professional reviews failed to do. In my personal opinion, what started out as a careful deconstruction of the mind of an individual perhaps too disillusioned from reality, presenting some rare, darn interesting psychological finds in the process too, quickly unravelled into a finale until now only reserved for comic book films. In that, it felt cluttered as an all-out battle between the hero, the villain and the orchestrator, albeit with none of the CGI mayhem and ‘whams’, crashes and explosions that make outings like such mildly exciting fare to see at the cinemas. Coupled with that, Shyamalan’s signature trick of pulling the rug from under you repeatedly until the end credits roll sees an all-out doling here, with as many as five major twists presented one after the other, the sheer quantum of revelations in itself threatening the impact of the next, some of them hitting the mark, while some unassumingly miss.
The entire trilogy has a decidedly grounded approach to the superhero genre of films from the word go, and while the final act may in itself feel a bit underwhelming, considering the universe this is a part of plus the structuring of the entire presentation, it will leave you bemused, even if for a conclusive, cohesive verdict. I am hoping that the write-up ahead helps you form that.
The final act of the film sees Mr. Glass, who has awakened from his self-imposed catatonic state to lead his mission of revealing super-human beings to the world to fruition, the very presence of his two ‘superpowered’ fellow inmates in the same institution where he is incarcerated delivering to him the chance he was on the lookout for all these years, orchestrating a “limited edition showdown” between Kevin Wendall Crumb’s malevolent 24th alter ego, ‘The Beast’, and David Dunn as the street vigilante with superhuman strength and heightened senses of intuition acquiring the moniker of ‘The Overseer’. Glass is easily the evil puppeteer in the entire scenario, nefariously pulling the strings to realise his childhood vision of comic books and their themes and revealing them to an oblivious world, revelling in himself as the kind of brilliant and evil arch-villain who fights the hero with his mind, an understated reference from ‘Unbreakable’. Initially crediting himself for the discovery and creation of Dunn’s alter ego by staging various acts of terrorism, he now designates himself as allowing Dunn to reach his full potential fighting his physical equal, the beast, as opposed to petty street criminals.