Spoilers for “The Glass Onion”! Why ‘Knives Out’ Went For a Flaming End?

In Rian Johnson’s latest “Knives Out” mystery, the case is closed, a murder is solved, and a bad guy gets what’s coming to him. But there was one big loss that will make people squint and raise an eyebrow.

In the sequel “Glass Onion,” which is now streaming on Netflix, Daniel Craig plays Southern detective Benoit Blanc. He goes to a private Greek island where tech billionaire Miles Bron (Edward Norton) has gathered his friends for a murder mystery getaway: politician Claire (Kathryn Hahn), influencer Duke (Dave Bautista), fashionista Birdie (Kate Hudson), and scientist Lionel (Leslie Odom Jr.).

In “Glass Onion,” who dies?

Miles is so rich that he buys things just because he can. In his glass man cave, he shows his friends that he rented the real Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci. It’s a sign for Miles.

He’s said for a long time that he wants to do something that will make him immortal, and he’s said it in the same breath as that piece of art. Now, Miles is about to tell the world about a new hydrogen fuel that will change everything.

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Andi, the billionaire’s former business partner, who is played by Janelle Monae, also shows up, and from there, anything can happen. Blanc messes up Miles’s plans for a big party, Duke dies, Andi is revealed to be her twin sister Helen because Andi was killed a week ago, and Helen is there to help the detective catch the killer.

In the end, Miles is found to be the one who made Andi’s death look like a suicide, and he burns the evidence that would have made things right for her sister (after Andi was kicked out of their Amazon-like company).

What happens at the end of “Glass Onion”?

Helen gets mad at Miles and starts destroying his things. She starts a big fire with his unstable hydrogen fuel and, to Miles’ horror, breaks the lever that protects the Mona Lisa from the fire, which burns the painting. The act will make Miles famous, but it will also ruin him, as his remaining friends will turn on him when the police boats arrive.

Johnson’s goal from the start was to “burn the Mona Lisa to a crisp at the end and get a round of applause from the audience,” Johnson tells USA TODAY.

“On the one hand, it is the most famous, revered work of art in the world and the other hand, it exists as an object. So much so that the audience gets the joke immediately: It’s so much of a sacred cow, it’s not a sacred cow.”

A friend of his told him about a poll that asked people whether they would rather wait in line to see a perfect copy of the Mona Lisa or the charred remains of the original.

“Overwhelmingly, people answered they’d rather see the ashes,” Johnson says. “I don’t know what it means, but it’s very interesting.”

What was the hardest thing for Rian Johnson to do?

The Helen reveal, which happens about halfway through the movie and shows what has happened so far from the twin sister’s point of view, was another big challenge for the director.

“Could you do the fugue structure basically where you layer it back over itself and have it be compelling, as opposed to making everyone’s shoulders sag and think, ‘Oh, we have to watch all this again,’” Johnson says.

But the twist gets the audience emotionally involved “in a way that straps a rocket pack on it for the second half,” the director says.

Johnson says that murder mysteries are comforting to movie fans, but maybe not to art lovers who love the Mona Lisa, because “there’s moral chaos at the beginning with a crime, and the detective comes in at the end and puts the universe right by finding the truth.”

“We don’t do exactly that in these movies, but there’s a moral equilibrium by the end of both ‘Knives Out’ and this movie that Blanc puts back into place.”

The director thinks that the fact that murder mysteries are always popular says something about their times, whether it’s the golden age of detective fiction in the 1930s, the wave of nostalgia in the late 1960s and early 1970s, or now.

“You could make the argument that that kind of fairy tale of moral certainty winning out at the end of the day is incredibly appealing in times where we feel like we’re all kind of searching for that in the world,” Johnson concludes.

“I also just think these stories come back into vogue every few decades because people remember how much fun they are.”

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