Spoilers for The Power of the Dog will be found below.
Much has been made out of Netflix’s The Power of the Dog, rightfully so, given that it’s an incredible movie, even if it isn’t the easiest watch at times. The Jane Campion-helmed movie should do well at the Oscars, and the film continues to generate discussion about toxic masculinity, viewed through lenses past and present, but how about that ending?
Let’s give the lowdown on what happened. To be perfectly blunt here, the film heavily implies that Peter killed Phil. This was the case despite their (also implied) budding relationship, and Phil had seemingly had a change of heart toward the young man, which may have had something to do with Phil opening up about his past with suggestions about his own sexuality.
Then Phil fell ill and surprisingly died, and this seemed to happen fast, and the anthrax poisoning detail surprised Phil’s brother, George, given the degree of care that Phil generally took during his duties on the ranch. Yet Peter, motivated to protect his own mother, Rose, from Phil’s sinister ways, had handed over contaminated rawhide to Phil, whose open wound likely facilitated infection from the anthrax bacterium.
Peter’s decision, of course, presents larger questions about identity and sexuality and whether this was a deserved ending for the film’s leading character. And inside of all of that, there’s a necessary conversation happening, one that will likely continue as the Oscars approach for a March 27 broadcast. (Also, hopefully, Rose lived a peaceful life!)
The Power of the Dog is currently streaming on Netflix.