Gray Matter Ending, Explained: Why Did Ayla Commit The Murders?

Directed by Meko Winbush, ‘Gray Matter’ is a sci-fi drama film revolving around a mother-daughter duo with special superhuman powers. Aurora grows up under her mother Ayla’s watchful eye, learning about her psionic abilities and how to control them. Tired of living life on the run and constantly looking over her shoulder for danger, Aurora yearns to be a regular teenager. However, one fateful night, everything changes when someone from Ayla’s past finds Aurora and shows her the harsh truth she has been unaware of for all these years. If you’re curious to see where this deadly adventure takes Aurora and Ayla and what it teaches the latter, here is everything you need to know about the ending of ‘Gray Matter.’ SPOILERS AHEAD!

Gray Matter Plot Synopsis

Fifteen years after a grueling night that led to the death of two cops and Ayla’s close friend, Ayla lives a life of isolation with her 16-year-old daughter, Aurora, a.k.a, Ro. Like her mother, Ro is an exceptional psionic with powerful psychic abilities like telekinesis, telepathy, and more. However, since psionics are considered dangerous by the rest of society, Ayla and Ro glide under the radar and keep their distance from regular people. Ayla homeschools Ro to restrict her connection to the outside world and gives her intense regular lessons for her abilities.

However, tired of her lonely life, Ro starts sneaking off into the night to meet with a boy named Isaiah, and makes her first real friend. Soon, however, Ayla finds out about Ro’s secret escapades after Ro fails to keep her mind guarded. Ayla immediately announces they’re moving again to maintain anonymity. The next day Ayla tests Ro’s telekinesis abilities, pushing her to the limit. When her daughter fails, it sparks an argument— a continuation of last night, resulting in Ayla using her powers against Ro.

Although Ayla apologizes the following night, Ro makes up her mind and sneaks out again to meet Isaiah’s friends. Isaiah is ecstatic to introduce Ro to the rest of his friends, but the night takes a drastic turn. Ro’s powers go into overdrive, building up to a “surge” that ultimately kills Isaiah. Distraught by her actions, Ro has a breakdown and disappears into thin air. Meanwhile, Ayla realizes something happened to Ro but fails to locate her daughter anywhere. As a result, she abandons their house and drives to the agreed-upon rendezvous point, where she waits for Ro.

However, Ro wakes up in an entirely unfamiliar place, where she meets Derek, an older man who runs a facility for psionics. Derek, a fellow psionic, tells Ro about his mission to help other psionics and asks about Ro’s life and her abilities. Although Ro is honest about her powers, she lies about her mother to keep her identity safe. Nevertheless, Derek catches onto her game. As such, Derek uses several different tactics to trick her mind into unveiling her mother’s identity and eventually learns about Ayla.

After learning about the same, Derek shares Ayla’s file with Ro, describing a 15-year-old accident where Ayla killed two cops and one of her close friends. Although the new information startles Ro, she still refuses to disclose her mother’s location. Later, Ro breaks out of her room in the facility, looking for an escape. Instead, she finds several rooms full of people in cells. The prisoners are all in varying states of lucidity.

Soon, the facility guards realize Ro has escaped from her room and come after her. Back to square one, Ro discovers that the facility is actually a prison run by Derek. Working for some unnamed powerful group, Derek rounds up psionics and, depending on their threat level, imprisons them inside their own mental projections.

Gray Matter Ending: Does Ayla Rescue Ro?

Even though Ayla’s parenting methods seem a bit extreme, it’s clear that she cares deeply about her daughter and only wants to keep her safe. Due to the same, even when Ro is trapped inside Derek’s facility, she’s adamant about keeping her mother’s identity and location hidden from the man. Despite their differences, Ayla’s teaching about vigilance and self-preservation has clearly rubbed off on Ro. Therefore, she follows her mother’s advice and keeps her guard up, refusing to trust Derek regardless of his kind persona.

Eventually, when she discovers Derek has been keeping other psionics like them as prisoners in their own minds, her suspicions about him are confirmed. However, Derek also realizes there is no use playing nice anymore and equips a more violent approach. Derek’s men strap Ro down on an operation table while the man uses his powers to riffle through Ro’s mind.

After enduring terrible hallucinations of Isaiah and her mother, Ro finally receives a signal from her mother to stop fighting. As a result, she lets her guard down and shows Derek the memory, detailing the escape plan her mother came up with. However, as Derek teleports to the bus stop, Ayla arrives at the facility, finding her comatose daughter. Simultaneously, she casts an astral projection of herself at the bus stop to keep Derek engaged elsewhere.

Nevertheless, Derek realizes Ayla’s plan and returns to the facility in the blink of an eye. Although Ayla tries to shield herself and Ro from Derek, she fails, and Derek finds them soon enough. While Derek tries to choke out Ayla, Ro realizes she must act fast. Confident in her abilities for the first time, Ro takes the chance and runs toward her mother.

Even though teleportation is an astronomical feat, Ro knows she did it once before, albeit accidentally. Therefore, this time she tries to focus and successfully teleports herself and Ayla out of the facility all the way over to Missouri. Since Derek has no means of tracking them, the pair is safe for the time being.

Why Did Ayla Commit The Murders?

From the film’s beginning, Ayla’s incident with the cops is kept fairly ambiguous, with no clear indication of what happened that night. As such, when Derek shares his version of the night, it’s the only thing Ro and the audience have to go off of. Still, it’s hard to believe Ayla killed three people in cold blood, especially since Derek never gives a reason behind Ayla’s actions.

As such, when Ro confronts her mother after they escape from the facility, it puts everything into perspective. Twenty years ago, the higher-ups hired Derek to work for them and regulate psionic individuals. However, as time passed, the facility started imprisoning every psionic they found regardless of their crimes. Soon, Ayla got sick of the discrimination and tried to bomb Derek’s building, but her friend talked her out of it.

When the cops started pursuing Ayla, they cornered her in an abandoned building where they tried to arrest her. Although Ayla didn’t turn the situation violent, she refused to go along with the cops. Before Ayla could do anything, Derek teleported into the building and used his powers to make the cops kill themselves with their own guns. Likewise, when Ayla’s friend found her in the building, Derek killed him too and framed Ayla for the murder.

Derek wanted Ayla and her friend to join his cause and work with the ani-psionic sentiments in the interest of their self-preservation. Consequently, when Ayla refused, he orchestrated the incident to pin the blame on Ayla. Since there weren’t any witnesses to the murders, and it was his word against hers, Derek walked away from the incident, turning Ayla into a fugitive.

What Happened To Derek?

Even after Ro rescued her mother from Derek’s grasp, teleporting to a different state, Ayla knew the danger wasn’t over. Derek has been on the lookout for Ayla since day one. However, now that he knows about Ro and her exceptional powers, he’ll only become more vivacious in his hunt for them. Therefore, Ayla suggests they must return to their old life, living under the radar and constantly moving from place to place.

Nevertheless, this arrangement won’t work for Ro anymore. Ro’s isolation and fear landed them into this mess in the first place. Ro knows her past life isn’t sustainable for her and will only lead to more surges that will hurt more people. Refusing to play by her mother’s unreasonable rules anymore, Ro uses her powers to attract Derek’s attention. Once Derek finds them at a nondescript location, Ro tries to talk to Derek and demands he leave them alone.

In turn, Derek offers to teach Ro more about her powers to have her succeed him in the business and run the facility when her time comes. The idea doesn’t resonate with Ro, who turns the offer down. By engaging Derek in conversation, Ro distracts him and teleports him into the middle of the road after concentrating her powers. After teleporting herself out of an incoming truck’s way, Ro watches as the vehicle runs Derek over.

Although it’s safe to assume Ro killed Derek, it’s also important to note that we never see his dead body. Moreover, by killing Derek, Ro unknowingly sets free numerous psionic prisoners in his facility. In the end, Ro wins freedom for her and her mother by killing the man Ayla always looked over her shoulder for. However, the consequences of the same remain to be unknown.

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