Lots of people think Us’s Jason is a Tether. He probably isn’t.
The more we think about Jordan Peele’s Us, the more we question what we thought we knew about the movie. That’s a testament to Peele’s layered filmmaking. There are so many references in the film, as well as allegories about class, Americans’ ugly history, and ideas about nature, nurture, and humanity. And, of course, there’s that enormous twist:
Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o) is actually what’s called a Tether, a doppelganger created as part of a forgotten government experiment, who switched with her human counterpart when they were children. It changes the entire film, bringing into focus every scene, every detail that we just saw.
But what if this wasn’t the film’s only twist?
Swirling in the Us conversation is the idea that Adelaide’s son Jason is a Tether too. He, like his mom, took the place of his human — or so some fans thinks.
The idea began as a kernel on Reddit and, with the help of Us fans, has blossomed into a full-fledged conspiracy theory. It makes you reexamine the movie and Jason’s role in it. It also makes you question if this was Peele’s intention all along, or simply a testament to the remarkable power of fandom.
But we don’t fully believe it, and there’s plenty of reasons not to. We present the “Jason is Pluto” theory, and our best attempt at debunking it:
This theory begins with the end of the film. After Red, the real Adelaide who was locked into the Tether’s underground prison when she was a child, takes Jason (Evan Alex) during a standoff against her family’s remaining Tethers, Adelaide chases her down. She finds Jason in a locker once she’s killed Red.
After a climactic moment in which Red reveals she is actually the real Adelaide who was swapped years ago — a story that Jason might have heard too — Adelaide and Jason return to the above world, where Adelaide drives her family to safety. Jason, who has a rabbit in his hand, gives her a suspicious look before he puts on his mask and averts his eyes from her.
While you could interpret that look to be Jason is now wary of who his mother is and what she has done, Redditors theorize that it instead indicates that Jason himself has switched places with his Tether, just as his mother did. The boy known as Pluto is actually the human Jason, who swapped with Pluto sometime before the movie started.
“At the end, he has realized that his mother, at one point, has also switched bodies. She gives him a look almost like ‘I also know what you know’ and then he puts on his mask, as a symbol of the masks they will now wear for the rest of their lives,” the Redditor theorizes.
The “Jason is Pluto” theory appeared on Reddit’s Fan Theories subforum on March 22, in a thread posted by a Redditor named Hoopster Ben. Hoopster posits that “the summer before the movie takes place, the boy and his ‘tethered’ also switched places,” and then has a list of four reasons why they believe that to be the case.
Two of the reasons are the looks Jason/Pluto and Red/Adelaide give each other — but those are harder to believe, considering how subjective interpreting a look can be. One of Hoopster’s stronger, more evidence-based reasons is how Jason doesn’t remember his magic trick. Hoopster theorizes that the real Jason performed the trick last summer and burned half his face off, and that his Tether, Pluto, doesn’t remember it happening.
“[Pluto] forgot the magic trick. [Jason] didn’t actually forgot the magic trick, he learned it successfully and burnt half of his face off in the process, though his tethered [Pluto] only has a slight memory of him learning the trick,” Hoopster wrote.
Presumably, the switch occurred their previous summer vacation, sometime after Jason learned the magic trick and set himself on fire, but before Pluto mirrors the “magic trick.” The switch also presumably happened in a way that the rest of Jason’s family did not notice.
The other piece of evidence mentioned is that Jason is digging tunnels at the beach (which Kitty’s obnoxious twins stomp on) instead of sandcastles, presumably indicating that he acts a little different or unconventionally (kids presumably make sandcastles), and wants to express his experience of the underground since he is a Tether.
In that original thread and subsequent others, fans posted details they picked up on that bolster this theory. Here are some of their best ideas:
Were you able to follow along with all that?
Redditors argue that a replacement Jason is somehow special — that if a replacement Jason is able to control his Un-Tether, he’s somehow an outlying example of the government project that created the Tethers to begin with.
But there’s zero evidence in the movie that anything about that project was successful — in fact, its quiet failure and burial is a huge part of the movie’s overall point. As far as we know, none of the Tethers have any ability to control any of their Un-Tethers; only the reverse is true. The Tethers’ enslavement and lack of agency is the whole reason they rebelled to begin with.
That means, in the scene where Pluto walks backward into the car, Jason is the real Jason.
But if that’s not enough to convince you, there are plenty of other logical reasons.
If Jason and Pluto swapped places, then Replacement Jason, a.k.a. Pluto, would be the one bearing all the scars. His face is unscarred, so he’s clearly the original Jason.
So if Jason and Pluto had really switched places, they would have had to have done so long ago — at an age early enough for the Underground Jason, a.k.a. Pluto, to completely lose all his linguistic abilities and be unable to recover them in time to actually speak to anyone once he was above ground.
But this would also mean that the real Jason’s face would be unburnt, because he’d be able to control his actions and move away from the fire from that early age — meaning that all those years of facial scarring would never have happened. But they did, because the boy who’s underground is Pluto — the boy who can’t control his motions, just as he can’t speak English.
If that fundamentally unequal dynamic shifts, then that metaphor is sullied. And examining Jason-Pluto as a metaphor for inequality is a far more meaningful, and purposeful, reading of the film than trying to spin theories about them swapping places just because it’s clever. There are moments when it’s possible to be too clever — and moments, as Jason’s final donning of his mask shows, when it’s best not to know too much.
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