One of Martin Scorsese's overlooked gems in his recent era of filmmaking, Shutter Island went from an Oscar push release date to a February launch that saw it bring in a pretty successful haul of almost $300 million. But you still don't hear much about the film these days, despite it being not only a masterful adaptation of Dennis Lehane's novel, but also a fantastic exercise in Scorsese's stylish usage of classic film influences.

The kicker is, Shutter Island has one of those third act twists that should keep folks talking on their way out of the theatre, and an ending that needed to be dissected properly by its audience. Well, put on some coffee and smoke 'em if you've got 'em, as we're here to give Shutter Island the post-mortem it's so richly deserved since day one. To start us off, we'll go over that third act twist in detail.

How Shutter Island Ended

At the end of Shutter Island, Leonardo DiCaprio's U.S. Marshall Edward "Teddy" Daniels makes his way to the fabled lighthouse on the titular island. After a twisting narrative that saw Daniels pursue a path of paranoia, deception, and a fabled missing patient, he was met with the truth: he's a patient himself, with the real name of Andrew Laeddis. His primary care physician, Dr. Lester Sheehan, who masqueraded as Chuck, his "partner," had helped engineer a live action role play scenario, where he was investigating a case crafted from the details of his wife's murder of their three children. This strategy has played out before, and he is informed that if this experimental therapy doesn't work this time around, he'll be suggested as a candidate for a lobotomy.

Andrew initially has a hard time dealing with this reality, but ultimately, it seems like he's snapped back to reality. At least, until the final scene, where he and Dr. Sheehan are discussing how he's feeling. From his dialogue, it sounds like the Teddy persona is in charge again, as he's still focused on the faux conspiracy that was engineered for his treatment. But right before he walks to meet the orderlies, ready to escort him to his surgery, he asks Sheehan an important question, "Which would be worse: to live as a monster, or to die as a good man?" With one last look to his doctor, Teddy / Andrew meets his fate, and the film ends with its ultimate question: who's in charge? Is it the monster, Andrew Laeddis, or the good man, Teddy Daniels?

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