The ‘Power Of The Dog’ Finale Is Explained: What Happened To Phil And Peter?

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The 'Power of the Dog' finale is explained: What happened to Phil and Peter?
The 'Power of the Dog' finale is explained: What happened to Phil and Peter?

Plot

The film Power of the Dog opens with two rancher siblings, Phil (Benedict Cumberbatch) and George (Jesse Plemons), and follows what occurs when George’s new wife, Rose (Kirsten Dunst), and her kid, Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee), come in with them. 

Phil, who is larger than life and as obnoxious as hell, quickly tortures both mother and kid. Rose numbs herself with a drink, but Peter turns a wild card. He is awkward but extremely protective of his mother, and he intends to bring Phil to justice in some way.

All of the answers to the 'Power of the Dog' ending.
All of the answers to the ‘Power of the Dog’ ending.

The Ending OF Power Of The Dog

Phil is dead at the end – perhaps you can guess where we are heading with this. However, if you blink, you could miss how it happens. We learn that Phil died of anthrax, although it explicitly mentioned that the cause was some tainted rawhide that Peter gave to Phil. 

Campion provides just the most rudimentary clues: an early mention of anthrax, Peter’s finding of a corpse, Phil’s cutup hands, and rawhide cleaning.

On a narrative level, the cryptic finale is partially a question of point of view: we, like Phil, are unaware of what is going on. However, the ambiguity of the outcome recalls the unsaid nature of the deep feeling at the center of the film. 

Phil is enamored with a “real guy” cowboy from his childhood named Bronco Henry – a passionately strong bond. On the other hand, Campion operates in the domain of suggestion, lending the picture a mysterious pull.

“The Power of the Dog’s” complex finale is not the first time a Campion film has challenged spectators. “The Portrait of a Lady,” her Henry James adaption, closed with a heartbreaking, lingering scene in which Nicole Kidman’s Isabel faces a desolate future. 

Campion attempts a new narrative experiment with her latest, participating in the mystery of its multifaceted characters without revealing all of their secrets.

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