Netflix’s Kate Ending, Explained

‘Kate’ is a high-octane action-thriller film. The eponymous character (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is an elite assassin and has spent most of her life killing various members of the Yakuza. However, right after she tells her superiors that she wants to retire, she is poisoned with a radioactive substance. She discovers that she has only 24 hours to live and embarks on a path of violence and vengeance. Here is everything you need to know about the ending of ‘Kate.’ SPOILERS AHEAD.

Kate Plot Synopsis

The story begins in Osaka, Japan. While preparing to assassinate a Yakuza heavyweight, Kate discovers that he is with his daughter. Although Kate protests, she is told to go through with the mission. So, she reluctantly takes the shot and kills the Yakuza member. 10 months pass, and Kate still hasn’t been able to put that incident behind her. Moreover, she wants to start a family. So, she tells her handler, Varrick (Woody Harrelson), that she is ready to retire. Varrick tries to dissuade her, but when it becomes apparent that Kate has already made up her mind, Varrick seemingly acquiesces. In the evening, she meets Stephen (Michiel Huisman), a young and attractive man, in a hotel lounge. One thing leads to another, and they have sex.

Later that night, as she sees the man who is supposed to be her last target, she realizes that it’s Kijima (Jun Kunimura), the brother of the man she assassinated 10 months ago. Suddenly, she starts feeling unwell and misses the shot. She tries to escape and eventually loses her consciousness. When she wakes up, she discovers that she is in a hospital. Her doctor tells her that she is suffering from accelerated acute radiation syndrome, caused by exposure to Polonium-204. She realizes that Stephen mixed the substance in her drinks and made sure that he didn’t drink it himself.

The doctor informs her that she has only a day to live. Kate subsequently grabs some stimulants to keep herself going. She leaves the hospital, and the first person she tracks down is Stephen, who reveals to her that he thought he was giving her a roofie. The Kijima Clan have owned him and his girlfriend for years and offered them freedom if Stephen did this one last job for them. Realizing that they are in a somewhat similar situation as her, Kate lets them go.

She then meets Varrick and confirms that her mark this time was Kijima, the leader of the biggest family of the Yakuza in Tokyo. The person she killed in Osaka was Kijima’s brother Kentaro. Apparently, poisoning her was an act of revenge. When Kate asks how she can find Kijima, Varrick tells her that Kijima has rarely surfaced since the Osaka incident. So, now, Kate has no other option but to work her way up.

She finds Ani (Miku Martineau), Kentaro’s daughter, and takes her hostage, hoping that it will force Kijima to come out in the open. Instead, the men that come for her also try to kill Ani, prompting Kate to deduce that Ani’s uncle must want Ani dead. The younger girl even believes that Kijima ordered her father’s death, not realizing she is speaking to the person who pulled the trigger. Kate feels an overwhelming sense of guilt and tries to protect Ani with everything she has. Kate learns from Ani that after her father’s death, a man named Renji (Tadanobu Asano) replaced Kentaro as Kijima’s lieutenant.

Kate nearly dies during her fight with Renji’s boyfriend Jojima (Miyavi), but Ani saves her. They later track down Renji, who tells them that every time Kijima disappears underground, he cryptically says to his subordinates that he is returning to his family. Ani deduces that this means that her uncle is at the family’s ancestral home. After convincing Ani to stay outside, Kate enters the house alone and confronts the man that she has been hunting throughout the night. But then, he starts to speak and reveals things that she didn’t think were possible.

Kate Ending: Is Kate Dead? If So, Who Killed Her? How Is Varrick Involved?

Yes, Kate is dead. She succumbs to her wounds and the effects of Polonium-204 in the final scene of the movie. The film’s premise is not really about whether or not she will die, but, rather, whether or not she will find a sense of closure. The moment she is poisoned, her death becomes inevitable. She knows it. Her enemies know it. And the audience comes to accept it in the course of the movie.

Varrick has been apparently working together with Renji for years, taking out the latter’s opponents and clearing the path for his rise. Kentaro was killed for this very reason. Renji also orders his men to kill Ani after learning that she has been kidnapped. Ani is the last member of Kijima’s immediate family. Renji believes that eliminating her will further clear his path to becoming the leader of the clan.

Although Stephen is the one who put the Polonium isotope in Kate’s wine, he didn’t know that the substance he was given by one of Renji’s subordinates was lethal. It is ultimately revealed that Renji ordered the hit after learning from Varrick that Kate wanted to retire. Varrick had no idea of this, and at the start of the climactic scene, he confronts Renji about it. Ultimately, his greed for power is proven to be more important for him than whatever bond he shared with Kate.

Even after knowing that Renji poisoned Kate, Varrick has no qualms about becoming a part of his clan. Although Kate has been an assassin since she was very young, a rescue operation becomes the final mission of her life. Teaming up with Kijima and the men still loyal to him, Kate attacks Renji’s headquarters. Kijima confronts Renji before decapitating him, while Kate finds Varrick. They shoot each other, and Varrick is fatally wounded. The film ends as Kate lies in Ani’s arms, and her heart stops beating.

Who Killed Kate’s Parents?

Using Ani’s circumstances, the film heavily hints that Varrick was behind Kate’s parents’ death. In the flashback scenes, it is shown that Varrick found Kate after her parents were killed. She was less than 12 years old at the time. He subsequently brought her up, making her believe that he was her only family and training her to be an assassin. After a gunshot is heard from within the premises of Kijima’s ancestral home, Varrick presumes that Kate has killed Kijima. So, he tries to recruit Ani for his organization, just like he did with Kate all those years ago.

Varrick tries to alienate the younger girl by revealing to her that Kate assassinated Kentaro. And his plans work briefly as Ani leaves with him. However, what he doesn’t realize is that Kate hasn’t killed Kijima. Meanwhile, Ani quickly becomes disillusioned with Varrick after learning that he has been working with Renji all along. Fortunately for Ani, she has people who come looking for her. Her uncle and Kate rescue her from Varrick’s clutches and ensure that she will have a different life than Kate.

Read More: Will There be a Kate Sequel?