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Warning: spoilers for Us are in play. If you, or your tethered haven't seen the film yet, please bookmark this article, and come back once you've caught up.
You knew this was coming. Whenever a movie like Jordan Peele's Us storms theaters, there are going to be reactions, theories, hot takes, and think pieces dissecting the film's many meanings -- and that's not necessarily a bad thing. A movie such as Us is always going to generate a lot of thought, and tons of opinions as to what's been presented. For example, there's a theory involving the son of the family, played by Evan Alex, and it makes a pretty big implication about his character. Take this as your last warning for spoiler country, as we're about to jump into just what this theory entails, and why it's probably wrong.
The Theory About Jason
First, Young Jason, son to Adelaide and Gabe and brother to Zora, has been theorized to have switched places with his Tethered doppelganger, Pluto. Fans feel that during the events of Us, there was somehow a switch that allowed Pluto to become a secret part of the Wilson family, and the look of understanding with Adelaide, a known underground dweller who swapped places with her surface counterpart, was one of collusion.
Previously, we had already seen a switch between Lupita N'yongo's Adelaide and Red happen during their childhood years, and taking into account the fact that Jason is the only other family member to go into that underground bunker besides his own mother, there's definitely enough material to raise the question. Furthermore, there are a couple of instances where folks may believe that's exactly what the movie is trying to tell them. But does it make sense?
What Led To This Theory
There are two pieces of information that have people thinking Jason and Pluto somehow swapped places, and they're valid concerns. The first supposed clue is, obviously, the fact that Jason and Pluto spend an extended amount of time in the closet of the Wilson family beach house in Us. If you had two characters who look almost identical trapped in a room for a long period, with no one observing them, you wouldn't be wrong to think that maybe a swap had taken place.
But it's the second piece of information that's probably triggering audiences the most. Towards the end of Us, there's a moment where Jason looks at Adelaide with a face of fear and understanding. In that moment, it's presumed that he knows the entire truth about the swap with her surface doppelganger, and her assumption of her identity. Whatever the case, Jason knows something's off, and rather than freak out, he slips his mask back on and stays silent.
There's a case to be made regarding why this theory could be true. Us is the sort of movie that will lay out the details it has to in order to tell the story, but also doesn' lock them in so tight they can't be interpreted another way. There's enough room for theories, but after really digging into what was shown in the film, as well as piecing together some key details, I believe the theory that Jason and Pluto switched places by the end of the movie is indeed false. While Jason best understands the Tethered, catching on quickly as to who they are and being able to interact with his doppelganger in a meaningful way, he's not one of them.
Why The Son Theory Is Probably Wrong
There are just too many pieces of supporting evidence scattered throughout Us that dictate Jason and Pluto have not switched places. Starting on the surface level, the fact that Jason still has normal speech is an important clue to his true identity. Pluto wouldn't have that sort of capability yet, because as we saw with Adelaide/Red, it takes time for a Tethered to learn how to speak like a normal person. Red couldn't have taught him in that short of a time, and even if she could, Pluto's English wouldn't be passable enough for him to seamlessly integrate into the family. Even with her ability to speak better than the rest of the tethered, Red's speech pattern was altered into a sort of hybrid between surface and Tethered.
While we're on the subject of Red, as we know in her recitation at the Wilson home, her children are monsters that even she has issues with. One of the main points of the narrative thrust in Us is that she wants what Adelaide has, and that includes her family. Red wouldn't have taken Jason if he were Pluto, and his kidnapping takes place right after Pluto incinerates himself in the car fire, with just one child left in play. This is another logistical hurdle the film just doesn't clear to support Pluto being the kid going home at the end.
Most importantly, Pluto has extensive facial scarring, undoubtedly a consequence of his pyromaniacal tendencies. Unless the Tethered have a really good plastic surgeon that can get the job done in an afternoon, or possess some sort of makeup that can erase that sort of scarring very easily, there's no way that Pluto and Jason have done a quick switcharoo. It's this last fact in particular that supports Jason just being himself, able to interact and understand the Tethered best in his family, but ultimately debunking theories that he himself has been swapped out.
Over time, there's always the possibility there are clues in Us that will surface to either reinforce or reexamine the theory that Jason was really swapped for Pluto. Based on the evidence currently observed, I do not think that is the case. That said, if more supporting arguments emerge to support that suggestion, and they pan out, I honestly wouldn't be mad. If Jason and Pluto somehow took a page out of the Prince and the Pauper playbook, it'd be the ultimate statement in Jordan Peele's examination of class warfare by means of infiltration. It'd also be extremely chilling, because then the question of whether we really know the ones we love would be raised with a rather effective exclamation point. For now though, let's consider that theory sent back underground, because it has no place here.