‘Gray Matter’ Ending, Explained: Did Ayla And Arora Reunite?


Directed by Meko Winbrush, Gray Matter is a sci-fi thriller that revolves around the world of psionics. They are people who can perform telekinesis, telepathy, astral projection, and teleportation. In the first few minutes of the film, we are introduced to a woman named Ayla who attempts to bomb a place, and her friend tries to stop her. Soon the police catch up with Ayla, and she reveals her special powers. She could read what was going on in the minds of the policemen, and before they could react, she used telekinesis and killed them. 15 years after the incident, Ayla was living with her daughter, away from humans. Clearly, things did not go as planned that night, and Ayla was afraid that her daughter would end up in the mess that she once did.

Spoilers Alert

‘Gray Matter’ Plot Summary: What Happens In The Film?

Ayla wanted Aurora to be completely prepared when she stepped out into the world. Aurora was not allowed to leave her house; she was homeschooled, and Ayla focused on teaching her the importance of making the right choices. Every day she worked on Aurora’s skills, especially her power to create projections. Ayla wanted her daughter to learn to have complete control of her power, and she constantly reminded her that if she failed, she would end up killing people. As a teenager, Aurora was frustrated with her life. She wanted to step out and make friends instead of spending her entire day at home with her mother. It was through sitcoms that she tried to learn about the world outside. Recently, when her mother went out of the house to buy supplies, she sneaked out to meet her only friend, Isaiah. He was fond of Aurora and shared his music with her. He invited her to meet his friends the next day, and even though Aurora was hesitant at first, she eventually agreed. She somehow managed to return home before her mother entered, but Ayla could read Aurora’s mind, and she learned about the boy she met.

Ro wanted to live a normal life, and often she felt her special abilities were nothing but a curse. To make Ro understand how unprepared she was to step out, Ayla asked her to move a heavy box through telekinesis. Ro tried her best, but somewhere in between, she lost control of her strength, and the box fell to the ground. Ayla wanted Ro to realize how difficult it would be if she failed to have control over her power outside. She mentioned “they” would not give her any time if she made one mistake, but Ayla never explained who “they” were. Ro concluded that her mother was simply delusional and was worrying about threats that did not exist in reality. That night, she decided to meet Isaiah and his friends. She had never met as many humans as she did that night. She was immediately assumed to be homeless when she mentioned that she lived in the Stevens Complex. Ro felt a little overwhelmed by the conversation, and even though Isaiah was trying his best to comfort her, she decided to use her special ability to find out what he and his friends thought about her. But soon, she lost control of her power. She tried to stop, but it became almost impossible. When she thought she was finally in control, suddenly, she experienced a surge of power, which was projected onto Isaiah. Blood spurted from Isaiah’s neck, and Ro panicked and screamed for help. As soon as she screamed for help, there was a supernatural snarl, and she disappeared into thin air.

Where Was Ro Transported? Why Were They After Ayla?

Ayla could sense that her daughter had been taken away, and as discussed with Ro before, she decided to wait for her at their designated bus station. When Ro woke up, she realized that she was locked in a room. A man entered, and he tried to convince Ro that he was there to help her. He discussed how the entire facility was designed for people with special abilities, and he was one of them. After changing clothes, the man questioned Ro about her life. But before delving into it, he explained that Ro experienced a phenomenon that they called the “surge.” The surge tended to pull the psionics in when they failed to resist. Since Ro was using her power outside, the facility detected it and got hold of her. Before training her, he wanted to know where she had been hiding and, most importantly, with whom. Ro was not ready to share her life with him, and he decided to give her some time to win her confidence. She was offered a room at the facility, and the man agreed to introduce her to the other students in the dining hall.

As it turned out, Derek was capable of infiltrating the memory that was sparked when he asked Ro about her family. He knew where they lived, but he had yet to find out who her mother was. Ro manipulated her memory to keep her mother’s identity a secret. Derek did not give up; he continued to question Ro, and ultimately the truth surfaced. Derek recognized Ayla and later explained that her mother had murdered three people, including two policemen before she went missing. Aurora could not believe a word that the man said, but the pictures explained why she and her mother were always on the move. Apparently, Derek and Ayla used to be friends once. And he tried to bring Ayla on board to build a safe space for people like them. In exchange for allowing Ro to live at the facility and interact with her peers, she had to give away the location of her mother. No matter what Ayla did in the past, Ro was not ready to put her mother in danger, and all she wanted was to get out of the facility.

Did Ayla And Aurora Reunite?

Ro broke the television set in her room and kept a broken piece. She used it to keep the door unlocked and sneaked out of her room that night. All this time, Ro had not met any other psionics, and she was curious to find out how the facility operated. Upon escaping, she found out that the others like her were kept locked in their room. They were tied up and in a trance-like state. They were all living in projections. Ro read their minds and found out that they all desperately wanted to leave the place. Most knew that the world they were living in was false, yet they could not get out of it and escape from the facility. Ro realized that Derek had been lying to her. It was not an institute to train people like her; rather, it was their prison. Ro tried to escape, but she was captured.

When Ro confronted Derek about what she had witnessed, he explained that, as a psionic, he believed that when people like him lost their conscience, they must be punished. According to him, psionics had the potential to make morally corrupt decisions, which was why it was important to lock themselves. The people living at the facility were not all criminals, but they were all psionics, and therefore humans considered them dangerous. He was recruited by humans 20 years ago to hunt down psionics who were unethically using their power, but he ended up imprisoning innocent psionics as well. He had offered Ayla to help him run the facility, but she did not agree to it. While he did it for self-preservation, Ayla did not believe in the solution.

Derek had convinced himself that he was giving psionics the best life that they could possibly have. They were all living in their fantasies, and he assumed nothing could be better than that. Even though they were not really living, he believed that at least they were safe and not harming others. All Derek now cared about was finding Ayla’s location, but Ro was ready to do whatever was necessary to protect her mother. She used her anchor memory to hide the location, and Derek decided to punish her to find out the truth. Just like the other psionics, she was tied to a bed, and Derek haunted her by creating projections with Isaiah in them. He was trying to tap into Ro’s guilt and repeatedly tortured her with horrifying dreams. As the dreams got worse, Ro struggled to be strong. She imagined her mother asking her to give up; after all, she would have never wanted Ro to suffer.

Derek found Ayla seated at the bus stop, and Ayla had nothing but hatred for him. Ayla requested that he free Ro and instead take her as his prisoner. As it turned out, Ayla used astral projection to be in two different places at the same time. While a part of her was busy negotiating with Derek, she had already entered the facility and attacked the caretakers. We learn that Derek and Ayla used to be friends before Derek started to work for humans. Ayla did not believe in the world Derek had built; she rather preferred fighting for her existence. But according to Derek, the life Ayla wanted would have led to a war between psionics and the entire world. After Ayla had freed Ro, Derek realized that he had been talking to her projection, but it was too late; Ayla had left a time bomb, and the clock had just ticked. But Derek teleported to the facility before the blast.

‘Gray Matter’ Ending Explained: What Happened To Derek?

Derek caught up with Ayla and Ro as they tried to escape. He got hold of Ayla and expressed his frustration that stemmed from their contradictory viewpoints. Even though Ro was scared of using her power, she knew that only she could save her mother from Derek. She gathered courage and used her special skill to teleport her and her mother to a farm in Missouri. Ayla was surprised by the skill Ro demonstrated. Ro did not know how she managed to pull it off; all she knew then was that she had to save her mother and to do so, she had to be strong and not be scared of disappointing Ayla. After getting hold of a car, Ro questioned Ayla about the murders. Ayla realized that it was time for her to be transparent with her daughter, and she offered Ro to get inside her mind for the first time.

Fifteen years ago, Ayla’s friend tried to stop her from planting the bombs at the facility. The facility was told to be built only for harmful psionics, but later every psionic was under attack, and Ayla wanted to destroy it completely. While the audience is under the impression that Ayla murdered the two policemen and her friend, at the end of Gray Matter, we find out that it was Derek who had killed them. Ayla had no intention of killing those men, but Derek did it to turn her into a villain. Ayla knew that she would be imprisoned once the bodies were discovered, and she had no other option but to abandon her dream of fighting off spineless men such as Derek. Ayla realized that she should have been honest with Ro; at least, that would not have created misunderstandings between them.

Ro stated that she was not ready to live the rest of her life in hiding, especially since her mother was innocent and had been wrongfully framed by Derek. But Ayla did not want any conflict, and she decided that they must move to Oregon. Ayla wanted to be careful because the threat of Derek was not over yet, but Ro preferred to fight him instead of running away from him. By using her power during Gray Matter‘s ending, Ro invites Derek to their location. Derek was impressed by the control of power Ro demonstrated at the facility, and he offered her to be his successor. Until then, he would continue to be her teacher. Ro was, of course, not interested in his proposal and instead wanted him to allow her and her mother to live peacefully.

Derek laughed off her suggestion, and so the only option was for them to fight it out. Even though Derek was more experienced, Ro was determined. She was fighting for her, and her mother’s lives, and she could not afford to fail. By teleporting, she pushed Derek into the middle of the road, and he came under a truck. Ayla always taught her that how one used their power defined them, and she used it to destroy evil. Derek would have never allowed them to live freely, and she fought for their freedom. Ro holds the potential to become the leader of those psionics, who were innocent and tired of being oppressed. She returned to the facility to free the innocent psionics, which further confirms that she is not willing to bow down. The movement that was once started by her mother will be carried on by Ro. Maybe she will successfully unite psionics, and they will fight for their rights to exist in the world peacefully. Is Ro’s decision a direct call for war? Possibly, considering that humans will not allow psionics to live peacefully, after all, they are afraid of their powers and will do anything to wipe them off completely.

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Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni has worked as a film researcher on a government-sponsored project and is currently employed as a film studies teacher at a private institute. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies. Film History and feminist reading of cinema are her areas of interest.

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