The Terminal List ending explained: Does James avenge his family’s death?

The Terminal List is an action thriller series starring Chris Pratt as James Reece, a US Navy SEAL commander who embarks on a killing spree after losing his wife, daughter, and his entire Navy platoon on a covert mission.

Warning: This article contains heavy spoilers

Plot summary

James Reece is the chief commander of operation Odin’s Sword, which is set to bring down notorious chemical weapon maker, Assad Kahani in Syria.

James Reece prepares 14 men of his unit to carry on the deployment which is to proceed through an underground water tunnel. While briefing the plan, Donny Mitchel, the youngest navy seal, complains of headaches.

However, every other man is fine to go ahead with the operation. 

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Unfortunately, Odin’s Sword stands out to be a failure because it is planned on a false tip. James Reece realizes it too late when 14 of his men are martyred in the operation.

This incident takes a toll on James as he and Boozer are the only two men to return alive from the operation. The military doctor advises James to take rest for a few days because operations like these bring stress and trauma. 

Additionally, James is also grieving the loss of his 14 navy brothers.

However, James insists that he is fit and fine to be involved in the probe. When investigations initiate, James Reece faces difficulty remembering what happened in the water tunnel.

Thus, WarCom officer Admiral Gerald Pillar suggests James lay low and take a rest. But James hints at evidence breach and that audio records have been altered. 

Upon reaching home to his family, James meets his wife Lauran and daughter, Lucy. Lucy has made a drawing that James appreciates. But Lucy says that she had made the drawing before James left for deployment and had already shown it to James.

In several other instances, Lauren realizes that James is not himself and must see a doctor. But James is still failing to admit it.

The next day, James is informed that Boozer has killed himself. Upon reaching the spot, NCIS investigator Josh Holder says that Boozer killed himself two days ago.

James is again questioned about his memories because he believes that Boozer came back from Incirclink with James the previous day. Moreover, James also says that Boozer hated the 1911 nine-millimetre gun, and he could not kill himself with it.

Following several unusual activities, James contacts Kati Buranek, a Voltstream reporter who met James in Incirclink, for answers. James asks her if he was alone the day they met at Incirlclink, contrary to what James remembers.

Katie meets James and says that he was alone when she met him. Now, James starts to realize that he is in a troubling memory loss situation and decides to get himself checked.

While getting the MRI scan, James gets repeated visions of the operation, his daughter and Lauren talking about a dead bird outside their window, and Boozer’s death. Soon he realizes that something is wrong when the doctor does not respond.

The moment James gets out of the MRI machine, he faces two masked men with guns pointed at him. James fights the men and kills one of them.

But, he also realizes that the gun he is holding is his, and he had kept the gun in his closet last night. James rushes to his home and immediately calls for forces to protect his family.

Unfortunately, when he reaches home, he finds Lauren and Lucy lying dead on the kitchen floor. Broken James is now set to take revenge on whoever did this to his family.

With Katie’s story and personal investigations, James figures out that Josh Holder was one of the masked assassins who also killed his family. 

Meanwhile, the NCIS and WarCom predict that James is facing a severe concussion leading to memory overlapping.

However, Ben Edwards, James’ friend, offers to help him in killing Josh. When James kills Josh, he receives Saun Agnon’s name- a new name on James’ list. 

Following this, James kills Saun Agnon, receiving yet another name. Soon James realizes that the CEO of Capstone Industries, Steve Horn, Admiral Pillar, Commander Howard, and Bill is part of a corporate deal that eventually led to the death of the 14 men of Odin’s Sword operation and Lauren and Lucy.

On the other side, Katie Buranek digs deeper into the story to help James find names as well as get fame. She discovers that Capstone Industries invests in Nubellum Pharmaceuticals. And Nubellum is the prime supplier of drugs to SEAL.

Furthermore, Nubellum tested a drug called RD-4895 on the 14 SEAL men of Odin’s Sword without consent. This drug led to the origination of brain tumours in all 14 men of the operation.

This led to paranoia, memory loss, and headaches in the men, including James. And James had already been struggling with the symptoms.

But nothing can stop James from taking revenge. So he kills and runs, again and again, to finish off his list. Every investigative authority is trying to catch James and stop the subsequent murder from happening, but eventually, they fail, and James kills everyone on that list.

The Terminal List ending explained in detail: (Episode 8: Reclamation)

Lorraine Hartly’s Involvement

Upon research and data, one agency that couldn’t be ticked off from James’ list was Oberan Analytics. James believes that Loraine Hartly, SecDef, is the holder of Oberon Analytics and lays out his plan to kill her.

However, Katie is also working on the story that leads her to Loraine Hartly. But, Hartly convinces Katies that it is not the truth, and she is willing to tell the truth.

For security, Lorraine goes to her Oscar island house and takes Katie with her. While interviewing, Katie realizes that Loraine actually gave consent for the drug trial.

Loraine knew that the 14 men were destined to die in that operation, and still, Loraine kept quiet.

However, she is not the one accountable for Oberan analytics. 

In her defence, Loraine says that she did it to save lives. But, perhaps, she did this so that the drugs could be further developed and war veterans could deal with PTSD.

But, James finds his way to Loraine. He points the gun at Loraine, but she shoots herself first.

Tony letting go of James

After Loraine kills herself, James leaves through the coast. Just then, Tony sees James going and tries to stop him. But James doesn’t stop.

When Tony threatens to shoot him, James says that he is already dead. James meant that he was dead within.

Hearing this, Tony lets him go. 

James kills the last name on the list

After the incident at Oscar island, Katie digs into Oberan Analytics, the last piece of her story puzzle. She gives the address of the man accountable for Oberan Analytics to James.

James, in return, asks Katie never to contact him again. Katie gets along on her way.

The address takes James to Ben Edwards, his friend in Peru. James is heartbroken to know that his dearest friend is also involved in killing his wife and daughter, but the blood of vengeance is rushing his wrists.

James kills Ben, and finally, his list ends, and he can now live in peace knowing that his family’s death was avenged.

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