Let’s Sort Out What’s Really Going On With Adelaide In ‘Us’

Major Us spoilers ahead. So, you saw Us and now your mind is racing with images of rabbits and intricate tunnel systems? Just know, you're in the same boat as pretty much everyone else. And if you are still trying to sort out what you saw, you're probably mainly wondering if Adelaide is evil in Us. As you know from that final scene, her son, Jason, is asking himself that too.

To figure out whether Adelaide is, in fact, evil, we first need to establish who we're talking about when we use that name. The woman who we know to be Adelaide (Lupita Nyong'o) for most of the film is the one who has a family, including her husband Gabe (Winston Duke), son Jason (Evan Alex), and daughter Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph). But, at the end, we find out that the real Adelaide was kidnapped by the tethered Adelaide, Red, when she was a child, and Red took her place. Does this mean the person who lived her entire life as Adelaide is Adelaide? That's more a philosophical question, but for the purposes of this article, we will refer to that person, the one who lived above ground with her family, as Adelaide.

With that Adelaide, it's hard to tell if she's evil — or rather, if she's always evil. When she knocked out the surface-dwelling Adelaide as a child, chained her to a bed, and assumed her identity, that seemed pretty evil. But, then again, she was a child clone trapped in an underground world, so maybe she gets a little bit of a pass for doing what seemed like the only option to her..? It's so hard to know what to think!

As for as that Adelaide as an adult, apparently, after the body-switch she lived her life normally for decades until the events of the movie. She became a dancer. She got married. She had two kids. Her husband didn't know anything about her secret past for years and years. Was she evil during that time? It doesn't seem like it, but maybe keeping up a con of this level is evil in itself.

Then there are Adelaide's actions during most of the film. She is actually protective of her kids — that's not evil. But she has a connection to the other Tethered people that she just can't kick. She is drawn to the other version of her son, Jason. She drives her family back to where she escaped from underground to find the original Adelaide (aka Red) and, eventually, murder her. Murder? Pretty evil. But, they want each other dead, so maybe this isn't a mark of one of them being worse than the other. Perhaps more significant is the fact that Adelaide doesn't seem to care about the other Tethered going free. She's found a normal, above ground life for herself, and it seems that's how she wants to keep it.

As for whether Red (the original Adelaide) is evil, it seems that, like her counterpart, she grows to be led by her circumstance. She's from aboveground, was torn from her life, and wants to get back to where she was. Fair enough. But, this ends up involving becoming a Jesus figure for the Tethered and leading all of them in a murderous revolt inspired by Hands Across America. So, yeah, it's complicated.

Among many, many other things (environmentalism, mental health, and socioeconomics included), Us raises questions about why we do the things we do. The Tethered help control the people on the surface's actions, but to what extent? Can Adelaide or Red be blamed for what they do if they've both lived at least part of their lives in a situation that would destroy them physically and psychologically?

Again, it's so hard to know what to think. And that's the point. Looks like your mind might have to keep racing for a while longer. At least, unlike Jason, you won't live your whole life bottling up the feeling that you mom might be the doppelgänger version of herself.