James Cameron’s elastic world-building creates endless possibilities for how his sequel Avatar: The Path of Water brings viewers back to the alien world of Pandora and prepares them for a journey that will span avatar 3, 4and maybe 5. Part of Cameron’s drive was to work with actors he loved; even though the characters played by Sigourney Weaver and Stephen Lang “died” (we’ll get to that) in 2009 Avatarboth return in the sequel in new guises.
Weaver’s new character, Kiri, Jake Sully’s teenage Na’vi daughter, becomes the central mystery of Pandora’s past, present, and future. Parentage questions tend to be fun concerns for franchise storytelling: consider the Star Wars obsession with the parents of Luke Skywalker or Rey, or game of Thrones‘ endless teasing about Jon Snow’s mother. And the Avatar series is no different, with avatar 2 posing the burning question: Who is Kiri’s father? Context clues from the film and Weaver’s own comment shed light on what will likely be a key question in avatar 3 and beyond.
[Ed. note: This story contains spoilers for Avatar: The Way of Water.]
Years after the events of Avatar, the path of water it sees Jake Sully and Neytiri happily together and taking care of a blended family. Along with their three biological children (two sons, Neteyam and Lo’ak, and a girl, Tuk), they now care for a surrogate human child, Spider, and Kiri, born to the avatar of Dr. Grace Augustine (Weaver) while she He is in suspended animation. The notion that Grace’s comatose Na’vi body conceived and delivered a child while she floated in an avatar holding chamber is, er, a tough nut to crack in world-building. And Cameron really doesn’t get it! Instead, Kiri’s conception and roots flourish in the path of waterThe weirdest plot of .
In case you don’t remember the end of the now 13 year old Avatar: Grace is mortally wounded during the final battle against the human invader, Colonel Quaritch (Lang) and the human army, and to save her life, Jake and Neytiri attempt to transfer her consciousness into her avatar body using the power of the Tree of the souls. Except it doesn’t actually work. But before Grace crosses, she tells Jake, “I’m with her,” referring to Eywa, the deity of Pandora, whom the Na’vi believe connects all living things to her. The final bummer: while Quaritch’s persona was preserved for later cloning, no one on the human side cared enough about the scientists to give them a full consciousness download or the fighting human faction on Pandora wasn’t equipped to help her, so there is no Grace Brain filling an Avatar clone in the path of water. Oh good.
Based on what the audience and Kiri witness in the path of water, it’s reasonable to conclude that Grace’s spirit missed the avatar’s ship and instead made it through Pandora’s neural network. Midway through the film, Kiri, who is not only a huge outdoorsman nerd but seems to possess a supernatural connection to Pandora’s ecological systems, bonds with the underwater equivalent of the Tree of Souls and “meets” his mother (Weaver again, no CGI) for the first time. The face-to-face connection ends in one of the film’s most shocking moments: when Kiri returns to his corporeal body, he suffers a near fatal attack.
But how did Grace’s avatar get pregnant? The end of Avatar, now shadowed by Weaver’s human cameo, suggests asking who Kiri’s father is, like the Na’vi children do in the film! – could be the wrong question. Unlike the Christian notion of the immaculate conception of Jesus, Kiri seems less like the incarnate son of the god and closer to the Greek god Gaea, a walking incarnation of the world itself. If Grace’s “soul” was channeled into Pandora’s synapses, then Eywa, more of a ghost within the machine than the machine itself, could have easily been sent back into Grace’s avatar form.
Kiri’s untapped power comes into focus at the end of the film, when Clone Quaritch and the tulkun hunters pursue the Sully children across the oceans of Pandora. Up to this point, Cameron has illustrated Kiri’s connection to Eywa with a delicate touch – she just loves plants and sometimes guides animals a bit! She could stare at the arena all day! Extremely relatable for us Beach Kids, who could spend eight hours standing in the ocean, but then Cameron ups the ante: During the action sequence, Kiri begins wielding plants and ocean life as weapons. Kiri is an X-Man (X’vi?), and we can only imagine what that means for Jake Sully’s never-ending war against the Sky People.
All of this is to say that one of the burning questions in the movie can never be given a secretive answer like in Star Wars or Game of Thrones. The Sully brothers can tease Kiri all they want for a possible Grace/Dr. Norm Spellman has a mysterious parentage, but Eywa’s power goes beyond the typical birds and bees. (Or tulkun and ikran, in the case of Pandora). The mystery speaks to Cameron’s actual vision for Avatar: spirituality, biology, and technology are intertwined and blurred by Pandora’s living moon. Kiri lives, Eywa walks, and avatar 3 through 5 promises to be somehow even weirder and wilder than the path of water.
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