Black Box Ending Explained: What Happens To Thomas In The End?

Black Box is Blumhouse studio’s brand new Sci-Fi horror film released on Amazon Prime Video on October 6, 2020. The movie featured Mamoudou Athie in the lead role as Nolan. The movie tells the story of a man who lost his memory during a car accident. However, things get more severe for him when he is made to undergo an experimental treatment. This therapy further makes him question reality and his self-identity. 

Black Box’s horror is mostly focused around the themes of memory and loss of self-identity. Alongside Athie, the movie also featured Phylicia Rashad, Amanda Christine, and Tosin Morohunfola. 

However the movie left some unanswered questioned about the main lead. Don’t scratch your heads we have brought you the most perfect explanation to the ending! Have a look.

Spoilers Ahead!!

Plot Synopsis

Nolan’s struggles lead him to seek the guidance of Dr. Brooks, who, unlike all the other doctors he’s seen, seems to think he has an outstanding chance of retrieving his memories. After an initial meeting in which Brooks uses hypnosis to determine Nolan’s ability for her experiment, Brooks employs a technology of her design—the Black Box—to regain his memories. 

As promised, Nolan quickly begins to recall his memories acknowledgments to the Black Box’s dreamlike virtual environment. However, the memories that do return are unusual and strange, and the people who populate them are faceless. The worst part is that, while connected to the Black Box, a twisted humanoid monster chases him in a surrealistic way that seems like a cross between Regan’s spider walk in The Exorcist and Samara’s crackling contortion in The Ring.

The Creature
Image: Amazon Prime Videos

As Nolan begins to recall more memories using the Black Box, he finds signs that they are not his. They belong to some abusive family man. He examines the baffling signs in real life. When he finally sees people’s faces within his memories, he is amazed to discover that he isn’t Nolan. He is Thomas (Donald Elise Watkins), Dr. Brooks’ son, who died in an accidental fall two years earlier. 

When Thomas separates from the Black Box, his mother explains how she downloaded the data of an EEG taken of his brain on the night he died. She then waited two years to find the right patient—Nolan. She claims Nolan was brain dead—hence she could upload his awareness. She tells him that he’s not an amnesiac and that his memory loss was his awareness adjusting to its new body.

Image: Amazon Prime Videos

Black Box Ending Explained

Once Thomas has full control of Nolan’s body, he quickly displays his personality traits, which differ significantly from Nolan’s. He is a bad-tempered, greedy, cruel husband and father, almost the exact opposite of Nolan. Under the guidance of his mother—who turns out to be anything but the helpful doctor she seemed to be—Thomas tries to take back his old life. 

He leaves Nolan’s daughter to Gary and visits his ex-wife, Miranda (Charmaine Bingwa), and their child, Ashley (Nyah Marie Johnson), pretending to be an old friend Thomas’. Miranda attempts to kick him out after he tells her who he is. When he understands that she has erased him from their lives, he attacks her. Miranda gets the upper hand when his back is turned, and she knocks him out as he nears their daughter.

Image: Amazon Prime Videos

Thomas wakes up later, standing in front of Ava on the street in Gary’s house. He has no idea how he got there, and when he leaves, he sees the twisted creature from the Black Box in the window of his car. Afraid of what the creature’s appearance while separated from the Black Box means, he runs back to his mother. She convinces him that once he destroys the creature while connected to the Black Box, he will no longer have such problems. 

Meanwhile, Gary unravels the twisted plot of Dr. Brooks, who he learns, stole Nolan’s body so that she could revive her son. While connected to the Black Box, Thomas fights the creature, which turns out to be Nolan, who is still there, fighting to take his body back. Before Thomas can kill the Nolan creature, Ava and Gary break into Dr. Brooks’ lab and call out to Nolan.

Thomas hears Ava’s scream, and while beating Nolan, he remembers his own daughter’s screams the night he died. He realizes how truly horrible he was to his family and that the fall that killed him was no accident—Miranda pushed him down the stairs in self-defense during one of his vicious attacks on her and Ashley. Thomas has a heart change and decides to let Nolan live and give himself the punishment he deserves by walking out of the memory into the darkness, leaving Nolan alone in his own body. 

When Nolan disconnects from the Black Box, he reaches out to Ava and finally does their secret handshake, proving it’s him. The movie’s final scene shows the disgraced and unemployed Dr. Brooks repairing the Black Box and loading Thomas’ EEG into it. She looks into the Black Box and says his name, thrilled.

What Happens To Thomas In Black Box’s Ending

At the end of Black Box, it seems that Thomas realizes the error of his ways and accepts his original fate, which was to die at his victims’ hands. However, it is not clear exactly what happens to him as a result of this decision. The movie’s final scene shows his mother, Dr. Brooks, looking into the Black Box and saying his name, elated to “see” him inside the device. Previous to that, Thomas is shown stepping out of a memory, which had been uploaded to Nolan’s brain, into an unknown darkness. The darkness closes in around him until he is only visible by a small spot of light. That darkness could be the Black Box itself, or it could merely be a metaphor for oblivion.

Most likely, the darkness into which Thomas disappears is not the Black Box, since at no other time in the movie was the Black Box used to host a consciousness. Instead, the Black Box was used as a tool to bring out Thomas’ memories, which had already been uploaded into Nolan’s brain. Dr. Brooks clearly states this in the scene where Thomas takes full control of Nolan’s body, and he asks what she has done. Therefore, by stepping out into the darkness, Thomas was not only leaving Nolan’s brain—he was committing suicide. This is also supported by the fact that when Dr. Brooks does load Thomas’ EEG file (also referred to as a “brainwave” file in the movie) at the movie’s end, she seems surprised to see him inside the Black Box.

Thomas, unlike his mother, is repentant, and in his repentance, he chooses death. The “Thomas” that she loads at the movie’s end is not the same Thomas who made this ultimate decision; it’s just another copy of his consciousness.

As a result, the only villain left at the end of  Black Box is Dr Brooks, and it seems that she has devised a new way to revive her son—potentially an infinite number of times—by loading his consciousness not into a human host, but into the Black Box itself.

Black Box is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Videos with 6/10 rating on IMDb and 75% on Rotten Tomatoes. It is surely a must-watch Sci-fi Horror.

Stay tuned for more such content!! Stay safe.

Also Read: Hubie Halloween Ending Explained: Same Old Happy Endings But With A Twist!

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