When it comes to a Christopher Nolan film, the ‘ending explained’ topic could well span almost from the beginning of the film, and in Tenet’s case this is no exception. We are facing a new puzzle from the British director where, as he says in his trailer, it is not about time travel but time investment.
Naturally, but it doesn’t hurt, this explained ending of Tenet comes with its respective spoilers, so you are already warned.
General Tenet Plot – Simplified
The protagonist is a man who is recruited into an international organization that seeks to prevent the end of the world at the hands of an all-powerful villain who simply wants to watch the world burn. In the end they manage to stop their plan. The End.
Tenet plot – no sci-fi elements.
During a sting operation to rescue one person from hundreds of assistants in a Opera in Kiev, the protagonist discovers that part of the anti-terrorist squad actually intends to blow up the compound with all the people inside, in order to get hold of an important object. The man prevents this but is discovered and after being questioned without success by the terrorists, decides to end his life.
However, the man does not die and wakes up on a ship where he is recruited into an organization known as Tenet. This organization is in charge of stopping the plans of a terrorist tycoon named Andrei Satator (Kenneth Branagh), who seeks to end the world, for this he needed that artifact that the terrorists were looking for in the opera.
In order to complete his mission, the protagonist seeks the help of another ex-CIA agent named Neil (Robert Pattinson). Both go to the arms smuggler Priya who directs them to meet Sator in a more organic way and he does not suspect anything.
Sator’s wife, Kat (Elizabeth Debicki), is a woman living a nightmarish marriage but the only thing keeping her tied to Sator is her son: Maximilien. She teams up with the protagonist so that Tenet’s great plan is achieved.
This plan consists of disarming the artifact that Sator wants to use to end the world. This object is located in northern Siberia, a place under the name Stalsk-12, and that was where Sator lived when he was young.
The Tenet organization manages to disarm the artifact and they decide to distribute all these pieces, which are a total of nine, around the world so that they do not harm. The protagonist thus becomes a fundamental part of Tenet and his adventures are just beginning. End.
« I have become death, the destroyer of worlds » -Robert Oppenheimer
This phrase was spoken by Robert Oppenheimer, an American physicist and the scientific director of the Manhattan project that managed to develop the first nuclear weapons in history.
Inside Tenet, in the future – you never see this on screen – a scientist will create what she calls The algorithm. This artifact is capable of changing the flow of time, what it would do would be to invert it in order to destroy moments in history. It is then that the woman decides to divide The algorithm into nine pieces and hide them in the past so that they will never be found and that her invention is used for evil purposes.
The future of humanity on Tenet is very similar to that of Interstellar where climate change has made life on earth unsustainable. When he was young, Andrei Sator is contacted by the terrorist organization in Stalks-12 and is ‘sponsored’ to be in charge of gathering throughout his adult life the nine pieces of The Algorithm in order to detonate it and thus erase a generation of entire humans – the guilty generation that we are like this.
The end is the beginning
Within a Tenet timeline, the climax of the film occurs before all the rest of the events we see on the tape. At the same time are two scenarios that happen at the same time: the yacht in Vietnam where Kat seeks to prevent her husband Sator from disappearing -this disappearance may be linked to the presumed suicide of Kenneth Branagh’s character, that is to say the most ‘ahead of time’ Sator-
The other scenario and action occurs on Stalsk-12 where the Tenet organization will look for all the pieces that they have of The Algorithm to avoid the cataclysm, for this it is divided into two: the red team that goes forward in time and the blue team that is inverted. Their strategy is to make a temporary clamp, this means that when the red crew lands in the area, they see the blue team retreating, but this because they are going the other way around. This action gives teams the necessary information so that there are no surprises about possible bombs, minefield or where the enemy is.
But El Algoritmo finds himself in a special bunker accessed by El Protagonista – the red team – although he does not realize it was a trap and is locked in without being able to leave. However, one of the Tenet members sacrifices himself for the team and helps the Protagonist rescue The Algorithm. For his part, Neil, who drives a truck, extracts the Protagonist from the bunker with all the pieces of the algorithm and saves the day.
Now with the pieces of the algorithm, the Tenet organization will once again separate the artifact so that it cannot be used. But Neil says goodbye to The Protagonist, because he must return in time to the bunker and save it. He was the one who sacrificed himself for the team and prevented El Protagonista from being killed.
«For me it is the end of a beautiful friendship, but for you it is just the beginning. I’ll see you at the beginning »
The first of many missions
Having known the technology of inverted time, the days of El Protagonista continue their course – we no longer see it on the screen – but more towards the future, he already knows the events that will happen, such as the creation of The Algorithm, the presence of the terrorist organization and will decide to create Tenet and incidentally recruit Neil to have different missions, the Stalsk-12 operation being the last for this duo -seen from Neil’s eyes-.
Tenet ending explained with another Christopher Nolan film
In the future, The Protagonist gave the mission to Neil – whom he already knew and had recruited – to save humanity by going in reverse time to the events of the Opera in Kiev and saving the Protagonist, in order to teach him about the technology invested and be able to apply it in its mission. Something similar to what would be Interstellar: who saved humanity was humanity itself, but that of the future.
Christopher Nolan Tenet
Sergio López Aguirre Stanley Kubrick once said « To have a broader vision, not only see good movies, but also the bad ones » obviously I listened to him in the second and it is very funny.