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‘Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire’ Ending Explained by Director Gil Kenan

“Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire” is in theaters now and it’s a lot of frosty fun.

The film, a direct follow-up to “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” and the fourth film in the mainline “Ghostbusters” continuity (which began back with 1984’s “Ghostbusters”), follows the Spangler family (Carrie Coon, Finn Wolfhard, Mckenna Grace) as they move into the iconic New York City firehouse that originally handled the Ghostbusters (Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson). There, they uncover an ancient evil that threatens to destroy Manhattan – and the entire world.

But are the Ghostbusters successful in thwarting this newest foe? Or will some of them sacrifice themselves for the good of mankind?

Before we break down the ending of “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire,” with some commentary from director and co-writer Gil Kenan, we must issue a sternly worded spoiler warning.

Where are the Ghostbusters at the end of “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire?”

Good question actually!

The original Ghostbusters, as well as the new Ghostbusters, have effectively been grounded. Walter Peck (William Atherton), the EPA villain from the first “Ghostbusters,” is back as the mayor of New York City. And you know he wants to shut down the gang. He confiscates their proton packs, shuts down the firehouse and makes them agree to stop fighting ghosts. But he isn’t aware of the supernatural menace that threatens New York. He also doesn’t know that there is a splinter Ghostbuster group of engineers and that they have brand new proton packs and other gadgetry (including a shiny new containment unit for all the trapped poltergeists).

At the end of the movie, Ghostbusters old and new are gathered in the firehouse, where they’re ready to make their final stand with Garraka, the ghost who is able to unleash the Death Chill, something that can actually scare someone to death. Also, it should be noted, that Kumail Nanjiani plays a descendant of an ancient warrior who faced down (and trapped) Garraka. They are known as fire throwers (or something). Sort of like “Avatar: The Last Airbender.” He is also at the firehouse and joins the fight. Slimer is there too. It’s pretty much everybody.

What is Garraka’s deal?

Bill Murray as Peter Venkman in "Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire" (Sony)
Bill Murray as Peter Venkman in “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire” (Sony)

Freed from his imprisonment, he also looking to unleash other trapped spirits, so he makes the Ghostbusters and their containment unit a target for his wrath. At the beginning of the third act, he has busted the containment unit wide open, unleashing every ghost that the Ghostbusters have captured since 1984 (someone actually references the specific year).

Not only are ghosts flying all over the place, but also the Death Chill has come to Manhattan, meaning giant icy spikes have formed over pretty much everything and snow has started to fall. Maybe not the most uncommon occurrence in Manhattan – but definitely in the middle of a sweltering summer heat wave.

Garraka is bad news.

How do they stop him?

A couple of ways, actually. The first is that Phoebe (Grace), utilizing a section of the firehouse’s firepole, reinforces her proton pack because apparently brass was used to contain Garraka for decades. She charges her beam with the brass and it acts as a way to bind Garraka.

But also, the older Ghostbusters band together to get the containment unit working again. Once they do, they are able to trap Garraka, even though all of the other ghosts who got out of the containment unit and are now running amok around New York City, are still out there. Also it’s weird because the containment unit is busted as shit.

Co-writer/director Gil Kenan can explain!

“We’re talking about a very imprecise tool for capturing decades’ worth of spirits,” co-writer and director Gil Kenan told TheWrap.

“What is important, thematically and dramatically, is that we’ve got all these new trappings. We’ve got new tools, we’ve got this new containment unit, but there is at the heart of it an intrinsic value to this tool that is under-loved, under-appreciated, discounted as being past its expiration date and you were ready for the shiniest, newest bit of technology. But like a lot of things in this world, it takes a sort of refocusing on what those core values are and what really matters. And an appreciation that sometimes these old stalwarts are actually the very thing that can help define the difference between success and failure.”

Kenan continued: “That containment unit is actually much more than just a hollow shell, it becomes a symbol for ghostbusting – its longevity, its permanence. And if you can get this thing to fire up one more time, then we might just stand a chance to keep telling these stories.”

There you have it!

Anything else that we should know about the ending?

After Garraka is trapped (again), the Ghostbusters mention that the rest of the spirits are still out there. And you know who to call if you encounter them (the Ghostbusters). Also of note: Mayor Peck, when approached by news crews, is forced to compliment the Ghostbusters, publicly acknowledging them for saving the city and committing to keeping them in business. All the Ghostbusters, young and old, are still alive.

And as a nice little note, Phoebe calls Gary (Paul Rudd), her science teacher and her mom’s boyfriend, “Dad.” For a movie about family, it’s a beautiful little grace note.

In a mid-credits scene we can see the little Stay Puft marshmallow men, from “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” who have also made their way to the big city, stealing a Stay Puft truck from a truck stop and driving away with it. The actual driver sees the truck leaving the gas station and runs after it, to no avail. Those rascally marshmallow men have already made their escape.

Might we be looking at a Stay Puft spin-off? We’d watch it.

“Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire” is in theaters now.

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