The ending of Netflix’s Hypnotic is a tonally happy one, as Jenn (Kate Siegel) is able to extricate herself from the clutches of dangerous and manipulative therapist, Dr. Meade (Jason O’Mara). Directed by Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote, Hypnotic follows software engineer Jenn, who undergoes severe depression and ennui post a traumatic miscarriage and separation from her partner, Brian (Jaime M. Callica). Hypnotic premiered on Netflix on October 27, 2021.
Hypnotic unravels its central mystery in the telltale fashion of a psychological thriller, the premise being the horrid crimes committed in the realm of hypnotherapy. After meeting Dr. Meade during her friend Gina’s (Lucie Guest) housewarming party, Jenn decides to give therapy a chance in order to get her crumbling life together. While she does benefit from the initial sessions and is able to bring an element of stability in her life, things take a sinister turn, entrapping her in a terrifying maze.
While the ending of Hypnotic is a pretty straightforward one, as there are little to no lingering questions and loose ends, it is important to parse the motivations behind Dr. Meade’s actions and how they affected several lives. Towards the end, Jenn needs to race against time in order to put an end to Meade’s machinations, which she is able to do with the aid of Detective Rollins (Dulé Hill). Here’s the ending of Hypnotic explained, along with the surprising identity twist that is central to the film.
Hypnotic opens with a woman named Andrea Bowen making a frantic call to Rollins, asking him to call her back as she is scared for her safety. Once she embarks on the office elevator, she receives a call from an unknown number, which she answers, and a man can be heard saying the phrase, “Andrea, this is how the world ends.” Right after this, the elevator stops and starts shrinking, while it is implicated that Andrea is crushed inside, offscreen. Much later, when Jenn visits Rollins, it is revealed that Andrea was one of Meade’s patients, and had undergone hypnotherapy sessions with him, during which, he had placed a trigger inside her mind to control her subconscious. This is mirrored in the scened in which Jenn receives a call from Meade, who utters a trigger phrase that essentially leads to her committing actions she has no memory of for some time.
As explained by Dr. Stella Graham, hypnotherapy can function as a positive method to help aid patients overcome their subconscious fears and addictions, allowing them to gain back control of their lives. However, when used for nefarious ends by therapists like Meade, these sessions can be used to trigger fears or behavior with a phrase or plant false memories to manipulate the waking mind. As Andrea was claustrophobic, Meade’s words induced a hallucination that the elevators were closing in on her, and the palpable terror of the moment led to her death via cardiac arrest. While Gina had undergone only one hypnosis session with Meade, he had already planted a phrase in her mind to trigger her arachnophobia, which leads to her accident and eventual death much later in the film.
During her first session, Jenn was told by Meade that his mentor, Dr. Xavier Sullivan, had been a seminal influence in her practice. Later on in the Netflix original movie, Jenn is able to remember a false memory in which she sees a house with Sullivan’s name on the address plate, and she sets out on her own to the location in order to get more answers. However, on reaching the place, Meade reveals himself, explaining that it is his family home, as Dr. Sullivan was, in fact, his father. Hence, the false memories acted as a trap for Jenn, luring her into the exact location Meade wanted her to be in order for him to complete his twisted vision. Apart from this, it is also revealed that Xavier Sullivan also worked closely with the CIA, championing hypnotherapy as a means of mind control, while being directly involved in the notorious CIA experiment, Project MK Ultra. As Sullivan directly mentored Meade, the latter was able to employ these techniques on unsuspecting victims, using their fears against them and creating false realities in their minds to control and manipulate them with ease.
Piecing together evidence from the police files of Meade’s victims, Rollins is able to identify a pattern in the therapist’s methodology. As it was clear that Meade did not perform hypnosis on all of his patients, the women he did choose for the same shared similar physical characteristics and personality traits. When Jenn arrives at Xavier Sullivan’s house, she sees a photograph of Meade with his deceased wife, Amy, who shares an uncanny resemblance with her and the three other patients that ended up dead over the years.
Meade’s grand plan was to replace his wife’s memories with that of Jenn, which he intended to do by controlling Jenn’s psyche and her actions like a puppet. While he had attempted to carry out the same process with the other women, including Andrea Bowen, they failed to meet his twisted criteria of “perfection”, prompting him to kill them off as they knew too much. For some reason, Meade believed that Jenn fit the bill for being his soulmate, prompting him to hatch plans that would essentially overwrite her memories with that of his wife, Amy.
Despite being completely under Meade’s mind control, Jenn is able to break through her programming, such as when she defies his orders to hold on to the bedpost and not let go. During the climactic scene towards the end, wherein Rollins arrives at Meade’s home to rescue Jenn, the two men engage in a fight, with Meade having the upper hand. While Jenn manages to shoot despite being commanded to “sleep”, the bullet misses Meade and hits Rollins instead. After she wakes up, she finds Rollins on her side, comforting her that the worst is over – however, she realizes the false nature of this fabricated reality when Rollins calls Jenn “my love.” As Dr. Graham was able to place a counter-trigger in Jenn’s subconscious, this phrase wakes her up to the reality of things, and she ends up shooting Meade for good.
At the end of Hypnotic, Jenn is still healing from the trauma of Meade’s manipulations, gradually working towards getting her life back together. Rollins survives the gunshot wound and gives her a self-hypnosis tape as a present, a motif that hints at the fact that Jenn is ready to take back control of her life. While Brian is still in a coma, Jenn is able to come to terms with her inability to share her grief with him, and hopes for him to get well soon and move in with her again later. Hence, the thriller ends on a note of hope, and the tentative promise of a new beginning for Jenn.