'It: Chapter 2' Spoilers: Was That Really Eddie's Mom? We Asked the Writer
Pennywise’s M.O. in Stephen King’s It is getting his victims to question reality. When you’re in the clown’s crosshairs, you’re never quite sure what’s real or what’s imaginary. But one traumatic memory in It: Chapter Two that seems a little too real belongs to Eddie, who sees his mother “killed” by Pennywise in the basement of Derry’s neighborhood pharmacy.
Spoilers for It: Chapter Two ahead.
In It: Chapter Two, set more than two decades after the events of 2017’s It, the Losers Club reunite in their haunted hometown of Derry, Maine. Pennywise, an ancient demonic spirit who preys on children’s fears, has risen again, and it’s up to the grown-up Losers to finally stop him.
Eddie Kaspbrak, the shortest of the bunch with an overprotective mother, is the group’s resident nervous wreck. A germaphobe and a hypochondriac, Eddie would rather stay where it’s safe (and clean) than venture into the dirty, grimy unknown.
In It: Chapter Two, Pennywise zeroes in on Eddie’s anxieties when he makes a stop to the Derry pharmacy, now as an equally anxious adult. In the basement, Eddie recalls a childhood memory of being in Pennywise’s clutches, who made him believe his mother was tied up and about to get eviscerated, Saw-style. In the memory, Eddie leaves his “mother” behind to die as a zombified monster jams its snake-link tongue down her throat. (Yes, it’s gross. This whole movie is gross.)
Years later, when asked about his mother as an adult, Eddie waives off her death with a kind of nervous energy that leaves you to suspect he’s repressing something. But is he?
There’s a pattern to the plot of It Chapter Two that basically confirms none of Pennywise’s illusions are real: Richie doesn’t actually run away from a 100-foot tall Paul Bunyan statue, Beverly doesn’t actually meet an elderly woman who lives in her old apartment, and the Losers aren’t actually surrounded by creepy crawlers in the Chinese restaurant.
But when Eddie returns to that pharmacy 27 years later and kills that same monster he ends up covered in black bile, and that vomit doesn’t disappear with the rest of the illusion. So, who’s to say what’s real and what’s fake? Perhaps the film’s screenwriter, who offered a firm answer when we asked about Eddie’s mom.
“There’s nothing literal there,” Dauberman days.
He adds, “I think that was Pennywise preying, you know, riffing on some of Eddie’s fears and anxieties, uh, and pretending that to Eddie.”
So, case closed then. Eddie’s mother didn’t die in the basement of the pharmacy. But that doesn’t mean the power of belief isn’t strong in It: Chapter Two. In fact, that’s the thing that kills Pennywise.
“Thematically we go back to the power of belief,” Dauberman says. “That’s the thing that makes Pennywise stronger That’s why he preys after children so much, because they are easier to believe than adults.”
It’s belief, Dauberman says, that eventually kills Pennywise.
“I thought it would be cool if that’s the thing that leads to [It’s] demise. Getting back to recapturing that power of belief they once had as kids is ultimately the thing that destroys Pennywise.”
It: Chapter Two is in theaters now.