Synchronic Ending Explained- Who Carved ALLWAYS, Pineal Glands, Einstein And The Illusion Of Time
In typical Moorhead and Benson fashion, Synchronic is less about the science fiction of it all and more about the emotions and moral quandary those fantastical elements can shape. Time travel has always been interesting, if not always, a coherent motif in the film world. Paradoxes and alternate universes aside, what happens when the general populace had the chance to explore the past. What happens when you didn’t mean to travel there and can’t get back? A cautionary tale of youthful hubris and sacrifice, Synchronic has some of the best-constructed characters I have seen in a long time in a sci-fi movie. Along with the plethora of thematic arguments made and quietly powerful imagery, Synchronic is fantastic.
A pair of paramedics played by Anthony Mackie(Steve) and Jamie Dornan(Dennis) are jaded, tired, and working the graveyard shift in New Orleans. They typically face the worst of the city on a nightly basis but are facing something now even they can’t reconcile. A string of drug users has been murdered in grisly ways that don’t make sense. Although the movie doesn’t go in-depth about our cultural view on drug users, the lead pairs gallows humor, and the surprising subplot with a generics doctor highlights the growing debate. When our prisons are packed to the brim, and the majority of non-violent felons are drug users, clearly we are viewing the problem wrong. Who is to say the labs churning out pills to dampen this, rev up that, or engorge(you get the idea) things aren’t the real pushers?
We see glimpses of the past through Steve’s ( Anthony’s character) memories. Clearly shaken from his experiences with Katrina, Steve has been self-destructing. Casual hookups and after-hours benders are the norms. The effect is multiplied when he finds out he has inoperable cancer in his pineal gland. Although Steve and Dennis are best friends and have been for some time, Steve never lets his partner in on his pain. This is easily one of the best Hollywood examples of toxic masculinity.
Rather than bad guys being douches, it argues that the stigma around sharing emotion only exacerbates the problem. During a call to another emergency, Jamie’s character Dennis finds out his daughter is missing after taking a new drug called Synchronic. That introduction, along with the extended stunning visual of the opening sequence, paves the way for a whole lot of time travel and even more heartbreak. Here is everything you need to know about Synchronic and its devastating ending.
How is Steve able to save Dennis’s daughter but no else can?
Feeling frustrated and depressed, Steve buys all the Synchronic he can get his hands on. He hopes to remove the drug from the streets before it can do any more damage. The designer drug developer follows him back to his house, explaining that the drug sends young people back in time. Thanks to Steve’s brain tumor, the part needed for time travel fun is left young and “uncalcified”. Steve’s pineal gland damage from his cancer makes him uniquely qualified to help his friend. Determining that Brianna is probably stuck in the past somewhere, he begins recording his trials.
Steve sets off on several experiments with the drug, finding that each physical location brings him to a different point in time. Antiracism’s authentic symbolism leads the charge as he faces first a caveman, offering his fire and comfort. Later he meets hooded clan members, and eventually, a confederate in the U.S. Civil War who believes Steve is a runaway slave. With how much thought is put into each scene, it’s miraculous that this movie has flown under the radar for so long. After a lot of experimentation, he has just two pills left and few guesses where she was when her pill kicked in.
How does Synchronic work?
The inventor of the drug Dr. Kermani briefly explains the drug works with the brain’s chemistry and the pineal gland to allow humans to perceive time as it really is, nonlinear. When adults take the drug, they can only see the past like a ghost while still being impacted by it, as a few unlucky takers found out. Kids and anyone with a pineal gland tumor have flexible glands that allow them to go to another time physically. The problem is you must be in the exact spot you were at when the pill kicked in, or you will be stuck in the past until you take another pill. The effects of the drug last precisely seven minutes. You must be in the exact spot you entered the other time, or you can’t return to your own time.
Unfortunately for Steve’s dog Hawking, who was left in a racist and violent past in New Orleans, there are extreme consequences for missing your mark. The packaging hardly details that out; thus, when Brianna takes it and wanders even a little, she becomes stuck in the middle of a Civil War battle. When Steve took one of his last two pills to get to Brianna(Ally Ioannides), he only had enough Synchronic to get her back to the present time. Knowing his time was limited anyway, he sacrificed his life for hers. Since Dr. Kermani committed suicide and told Steve he destroyed all of the other samples; there is little chance that anyone could rescue Steve.
One final side note, the drug is made from a rare red flower found in an isolated California desert. Moorhead and Benson have said the flower grows in the same area as The Endless and Resolution. That explains the unbelievable properties it possesses.
What does the pineal gland really do?
The pineal gland is a small soy bean-sized part of the brain which regulates melatonin. The production of melatonin makes you sleepy, thus helping to control insomnia and restlessness. As we age, the gland does become calcified. However, aging isn’t always a factor, as calcifications have been found in infants. There is some speculation that the less melatonin your gland needs to produce, the fewer calcifications it will grow. This has not been definitively proven, though. Steve’s tumor is rapidly growing, and his oncologist warns him without radiation, he will have little chance of living beyond the next few months.
Realizing he alone can save Brianna, Steve tells Dennis about time traveling and his brain tumor. They have a long and in-depth conversation about life and death, giving the film even more intellectual food for thought. It argues that “now” is more important than the end (where 98% of people die in bed after a long physical decline). Steve knows he has little left in front of him, but right now. He can make a difference and elects to save Brianna with his last two pills.
Albert Einstein and his letter to Michele Besso
Steve’s philosophical shift is explained in Albert Einstein’s letter to his best friend’s wife after becoming a widow. Einstein and Michele Besso were friends and peers in their own right. They often communicated about science, philosophy, and life. He wrote her saying his friend “preceded me a little in parting from this strange world,” it means nothing. ” People like us” understand that the “distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.” He believed that despite not being physically present now, the friends could be together elsewhere. Steve has a similar view of life and time.
Who carved the word ALLWAYS and that emotional ending?
Earlier in the film, Steve talks to Dennis’s daughter on a boulder with the word ALLWAYS. We find out later that may or may not be intentionally misspelled. This leads them to speculate where Brianna might have gone when she took Synchronic. They go to the boulder, and Steve takes one of his two remaining pills. He finds Brianna, who tells him she didn’t carve the word on the boulder. She makes it back to her normal time, but Steve doesn’t. Flickering between the past and the present, Steve is able to shake hands with his best friend one last time. The boulder symbolizing a literal link between the two. Though the friends are seemingly separated by death and time, it is just an illusion.
In all likelihood, Steve carved the word ALLWAYS on the stone himself, thus closing the bootstrap. It was the only way to ensure that Brianna and Dennis would be safe in the present. We saw earlier Steve bring Hawking into another time by holding on to him. He lost him when screaming hillbillies spooked the dog. As a result, Hawking was left in the past with a final shimmery glance through the window of time. Steve knows he must be physically connected to the living thing he wants to bring back. When the crazed woman separated him and Brianna, he was left behind in the past while Brianna returned to the present. With no more pills, he is stuck like Hawking.
In theory, he should have been able to bring Brianna back by holding her as he took the pill or vice versa. He doesn’t do this because of the nutjob holding a gun to his head. He needed to buy Brianna time for the drug, so he had her take the pill instead of him. This gave her time for the drug, and he could run interference if needed. He carved ALLWAYS himself to guarantee Brianna’s rescue. He also has expressed a desire to end his life on his own terms, not in a bed. Considering where and when he was, his death should be quick.
Synchronic is incredible from every point of view. Whether you like thinking about bigger picture things like political or philosophical themes movies, or you love dissecting character motivations, it’s a home run for the sci-fi world and worth the watch. You can catch it on Netflix right now.