Expressively a loose spinoff of 1967 classic ‘Bonnie and Clyde,’ Vondie Curtis-Hall’s abduction film ‘Waist Deep’ places all its chips in order – from hair-raising car chase sequences to medieval torture carried out by a frightening syndicate boss – but still falls a few meters short of depth. The story still packs a few punches as it follows ex-convict Otis Senior, aka O2 (he got the name for his skill in vanishing from crime scenes), who teams up with street hustler Coco to save his son from a nefarious gangster.
As these action romance genre mashups often pan out, the protagonists escape the bad guys as well as the police, and they reunite in an exotic location to spend the rest of their lives away from the crime-infested neighborhood of the big city. But how does O2 make the impossible possible, one might ask. Well, if you cannot get your head around the ending of the film, we are here to illustrate it for you. SPOILERS AHEAD.
Waist Deep Plot Synopsis
Otis Samuel Senior, aka O2, works as a security in a governmental premise as part of a convict rehabilitation program. He has to pick his son Otis Junior from school, but his replacement has not arrived yet. Otis Senior calls up his boss and asks for permission to leave. Otis Junior anxiously waits inside the school premises, and in the meantime, his father reaches to pick him up. Together, they ride down the palm-lined streets of South L.A., and Otis Jr. is fascinated with the gifts that his father brought him, a horse and a toy soldier.
O2 promises to always come back for his son. From the compartment of the car, Otis Jr. brings out a gun, and O2 lets him know that he should never put his hands on a gun. On the other side, he wants his son to be as strong as him, if not stronger. A woman selling suits comes to O2, and he is distracted by her beauty. Moments later, his vintage Chevrolet Impala gets stolen, with his boy in the backseat. O2 runs after the carjackers frantically and manages to shoot a few of them, but to no avail.
O2 comes back and spots the seller woman in the crowd. She has seemingly marked the car for the carjacker. O2 gets to know her name and her occupation. She is Coco, a street hustler for gang leader P Money. O2 points a gun at Coco and threatens to kill her if she does not help him find his son. They go to a garage to steal a car, where Coco gets badly beaten up by her boyfriend. O2 smashes the butt of the pistol on his head and saves Coco. Together, they go to the hood of O2’s unreliable cousin, Lucky. Lucky works for local gangsta Big Meat, and he promises to extract the whereabouts of Otis Junior.
Big Meat is a formidable force who runs the Outlaw Syndicate. Lucky gets the news that Meat has abducted Otis Junior, and he is asking for a hundred thousand dollars in ransom money. O2 comes up with a plan to play the gangs against each other. The operations go as planned, but after the gunfight on the street in broad daylight, the police are looking for O2. They drive to an affluent neighborhood near Sunset Strip and break into one of the houses after the owner leaves.
They are about to count the money, but the police arrive. Coco averts the situation with tactfulness and grace. The money is not anywhere near $100,000, but they find a bunch of vault keys and go on a bank robbery streak. The streets get hot, and O2 contacts Lucky to help him move the stolen diamonds. Lucky owes money to Big Meat, and he tries to outsmart both the mob boss and his brother, but the catch is that the diamond belongs to Big Meat.
A shootout erupts – O2 kills his old partner Big Meat, and Lucky is wounded. The party goes to a department store to give first aid to Lucky, but Lucky is not so lucky after all, as he dies on the way to Mexico. O2 sends Coco and Junior to Mexico while staying behind to distract the cops. The police patrol corners O2 and he has no option but to jump in the water. The film still ends on a positive note, defying all logic.
Waist Deep Ending: Why Does the Police Trail O2? Is O2 Dead or Alive?
O2, Coco, Junior, and the wounded Lucky leave for Mexico after the dreaded gunfight in the dark alley with the Syndicate of Big Meat. O2 reassures Lucky that he will get him to a hospital. But Lucky dies in the car. A distracted O2 drives frantically, hitting a car or two. The jarring camera adds to the building tension of the moment. O2 gets back on the paddle as soon as he loses control of his car, but the police have begun tailing him in the meantime. The strike becomes hotter as more police patrols and a helicopter come O2’s way.
O2, with his skilled hand behind the wheel, manages to pull off a daring escapade, and they lay low in a parking lot. While in the parking lot, O2 convinces Coco and Junior to drive ahead, promising that he’ll catch up later. An ex-convict himself, O2 simply cannot accept his son going into the dreaded legal system. He entrusts Coco with the money and the life of his son while he asks Junior to take care of Coco.
The plan plays out articulately. While Coco and Junior drive towards the border, a spectacle unravels behind them. The police are back on O2’s tail, who leads the patrol cars to a loading dock. However, the police are swifter than one would have imagined, and as O2 speaks to his son over the phone, his car is surrounded. With no other way out, O2 drives the car into the water.
The next scene opens at El Lindo, Mexico, where Coco and Junior live in a little abode of their own. Coco has accepted the death of O2, but as they walk down the shore in the final moment, O2 appears out of nowhere. In a logic-defying feat, O2 has survived the incident, and the final moment of the film sees the three of them living in the “happily ever after.” This brings us to the next question.
How Does O2 Survive?
As the car of O2 drowns just outside the dock, we get the impression that O2 does not survive the chase. The tears in Coco’s eyes do nothing but reinstate this. However, in the case of action flicks such as these, the protagonist has to be driven by a superhuman ability to come out alive from every situation, especially when the protagonist’s nickname suggests his mastery in daring escapades. And without the presence of O2, the ending would lose much of its sense of fulfillment. Therefore, in finality, O2 is brought back to life, and when Coco sees him walking along the shore towards them, she cannot believe her own eyes.
So, how does O2 survive, one would ask. A plausible answer to this lies in the phone conversation between O2 and Junior just before O2 drives the car into the water. Junior tells O2 that he can see some “cool ships” in the water. Following the cue, it is possible that after the drowning of the car, O2 swims to one of those ships and sails his way to Mexico. That is also the only likely answer to this seemingly puzzling question. Apart from the “pinky promise” made by O2, this is probably why Junior looks forward to the return of his father despite all odds.
Read More: Is Waist Deep a True Story?