Spiderhead Ending, Explained: Is Steve Abnesti Dead or Alive?

The Thor Odinson of the Marvel Cinematic Universe takes a villainous turn in ‘Spiderhead,’ a taut sci-fi thriller film directed by ‘Top Gun: Maverick‘s Joseph Kosinski. Chris Hemsworth plays Steve Abnesti, who is a prison officer and scientist. He runs a human trial against the prisoners at Spiderhead Penitentiary and Research Center on an isolated island. Miles Teller, who previously worked with Kosinski in ‘Only the Brave’ and ‘Maverick,’ stars as Jeff, one of the inmates at ‘Spiderhead.’ Like other inmates, he has volunteered for the program and initially seems to be its most willing participant. As the series progresses, his connection with fellow inmate Lizzy (Jurnee Smollett) deepens, and together, they discover Steve’s sinister intentions. Here is everything you need to know about the ending of ‘Spiderhead.’ SPOILERS AHEAD.

Spiderhead Plot Synopsis

The story of ‘Spiderhead’ is set in an unspecified time, but it’s safe to assume it’s the near future. The film has seaplanes and muscle cars, and the technology isn’t farfetched. The only science fiction aspects about ‘Spiderhead’ are the drugs administered to the convicts turned volunteers and MobiPaks, the surgically implanted devices through which the said drugs are administered.

Steve Abnesti is clearly a visionary in the field medical science and biochemistry. His drugs have a profound effect on the human mind, even if only temporarily. N-40 or Luvactin, for example, can be thought of as a drug that increases emotions and induces euphoria. Darkenfloxx, on the other hand, can cause extreme mental and physical distress. Verbaluce, a drug that treats loss of words, is also available.

Jeff, Lizzy and the other inmates are at Spiderhead, taking part in human trials with the hope of receiving commuted sentences. The facility offers a certain degree of freedom to its inmates. There are no locked doors and orange jumpsuits. The possibility exists that inmates may have their own living areas and be able to spend more time outside. Jeff slowly realizes that this is a high price to pay.

Perhaps the most important aspect is the notion of free will. Steve’s drugs directly violate it through the illusion of choice. A subject must consent verbally to the administration of a drug. But they are not innocent. Some have been sentenced for life imprisonment. Many of them are able to enjoy the Spiderhead freedoms. They also know that if they choose to decline a drug, they may be sent back into the State prison. In reality, they have no other choice. Spiderhead demands that every inmate be the guinea porc Steve has chosen.

We get Jeff’s backstory in stages throughout the film. At first, it seems that Jeff was convicted in the death of a friend. Jeff was intoxicated at the time and drove the car into a tree. He initially seems to believe that Steve is trying to make a difference in the world. He participates in the tests to try to find his redemption. Meanwhile, he grows close to Lizzy, whose reasons for incarceration aren’t revealed until the movie’s climactic sequence.

One of the tests sees Jeff and Heather (Tess Haubrich) placed together. Both appear to be attracted to each other, but their behavior drastically changes after they have been administered N-40. They have sex, and they claim to love each other. They quickly forget their romantic feelings after getting off the high of the drug. Steve then repeats the experiment with Jeff, Sarah and another subject. He then brings Sarah and Heather together and invites Jeff into the observation room. Steve asks Jeff if he would choose Sarah or Heather to be Darkenfloxx subject. Jeff, who has been previously administered the drug and doesn’t particularly have any romantic sentiment for either woman, refuses. Steve learns enough through his denial. Heather dies after Darkenfloxx is given to her.

Spiderhead Ending: Is Steve Abnesti Dead?

Steve justifies his dubious trials with the excuse that he is being directed to do so by the Protocol Committee for the pharmaceutical company he worked for. After Heather’s violent death, Jeff reads Steve’s notes and discovers that there is no Protocol Committee. The company’s name is Abnesti Pharmaceuticals — it’s Steve’s own company. Mark, Mark’s associate, handles the technical aspects. Steve is the one who invented the drugs. Mark is currently testing them on inmates. In Steve’s notes, Jeff finds a Bingo card with gold stars marking most boxes. He discovers that the boxes are for different drugs. Luvactin can be described as N-40 while I-16 refers to Darkenfloxx. Except for two, the gold stars indicate that all boxes have been marked by the gold stars: N-40 & B-6.

After Heather’s death, Mark becomes disillusioned with the program and works with Jeff to bring Steve down. The climactic scene shows Mark on sick leave. Steve believes this is because of what he (Steve), is planning to do that day. Steve has now figured out the relationship between Jeff and Lizzy. He wants to use the latter to create Darkenfloxx. Lizzy breaks down as he reveals the reason she has been held in prison, and begs Jeff to let her go.

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Steve also uses a MobiPak to try the drugs, N-40 especially. He claims that the drugs will be subject to scrutiny at some point so he has to be prepared by trying them out on his own. It seems that he is dependent on the euphoric effects that N-40 offers him.

During Lizzy’s session, Steve suddenly starts laughing. It is revealed that Mark has spiked Steve’s MobiPak, connecting it to the smartphone/controlling device given to Jeff. Mark is on his route to Spiderhead as Jeff confronts Steve. Steve admitted that he was actually testing for Obediex or OBDX. This gives the administrator some control over the subject. It is not an absolute. Obediex is powerful enough to let Steve live among killers, but it hasn’t been effective enough to earn a gold star on the Bingo card.

Steve eventually sends the rest after Jeff and Lizzy as he attempts to escape by seaplane. His MobiPak becomes flooded with drugs during Jeff’s fight and he crashes into a rock face, where he dies. Jeff and Lizzy both see the explosion from the crash that caused his death, although it isn’t shown. Moreover, Steve didn’t have any means of escape and was heavily under the influence of the drugs.

Why are Jeff and Lizzy at Spiderhead, What’s the Deal?

Jeff and Lizzie, like the others volunteers, are both convicted people trying to commute sentences. When the accident happened, Jeff’s wife, Emma (BeBe Bettencourt), was in the car with him and his friend. Jeff was sentenced to two counts of voluntary murder for the deaths Emma and her friend. Lizzy was sentenced because her nine-month old daughter died when Lizzy locked her in her car in a Walmart parking lot for three hours. She was sentenced to one count reckless endangerment as well as one count manslaughter.

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Both Jeff, Lizzie and others seem to believe they are worthy of what is happening to their lives. They have achieved redemption by suffering, as it seems. Jeff and Lizzy have been free to leave for seven months and a week, respectively, but Steve didn’t tell them. They are still together, however, at the end of the film. They can now begin the next chapter in their lives.

Read More: Will There Be a Spiderhead Sequel

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