Alan Wake 2 presents a twisting story, one that’s both a nebulous mystery and actively altered by the otherworldly power of the supernatural Dark Place and the writings of Alan Wake himself. Especially in the final moments, things can get a bit confusing, as Saga Anderson’s and Alan’s tales intersect and the two execute a plan to stop the villainous Mr. Scratch.
Here’s what happened in the ending, what it implies about the future, and everything you might have missed in the disjointed plot of Alan Wake 2. And if you need more context, catch up with our Alan Wake story recap.
Warning: Spoilers for the ending of Alan Wake 2 beyond this point!
The Clicker and Saga’s Plan
First, we need to understand what Saga and Alan are trying to do in the final moments of the game. The plan throughout Alan Wake 2 has involved Saga helping Alan control the ending to Return, the story that has been coming to life throughout Saga’s campaign. As Return has unfolded, it has altered reality, and one of the plot points in the story is that Saga and her daughter Logan lived in Watery, and that Logan drowned years earlier. That’s not the reality as Saga remembers it–before the events of the game, Saga lived with Logan and her husband, David. The couple had never split, Saga had never lived in Watery, and Logan was still alive.
So Saga needs an ending to Return that prevents the change to Logan’s history from becoming permanent; the story needs to acknowledge how reality is being changed and to undo those changes. For that, she needs Alan to do the writing, and she needs the Clicker.
The Clicker is a key item from the original Alan Wake, and it’s important to understand its place in the story. It’s a light switch that was formerly part of a lamp–Alan’s angel lamp, to be precise. When he was a kid and afraid of the dark, Alan’s mom gave him the Clicker and told him it had magic powers to drive away the monsters of Alan’s imagination. At the time, the Clicker was just a nice story that helped a kid get over his fears. But the Dark Place’s power has made the Clicker into something more.
Imbued with all that belief and the reality-bending powers of the Dark Place in Bright Falls, the Clicker has become something of an amplifier. When used in conjunction with a story or other piece of art that the Dark Place brings to life, the Clicker can render permanent the changes to reality that art creates. For example, the Cult of the Tree has been using the Clicker to make their rituals become real (although they probably don’t actually know exactly how it works), and that’s how they’ve been eliminating Taken monsters. If Saga uses the Clicker alongside Alan’s edited story, it can make the story’s changes permanent–in theory, saving her daughter, defeating the Dark Presence, and saving Alan from the Dark Place.
Of course, it all goes sideways. Saga uses the Clicker and Tor and Odin’s song to try to summon Alan from the Dark Place, and it works–but Alan shows up days earlier, at an earlier part of the story. Alan-as-Scratch shows up after the ritual ends and Saga manages to drive the Dark Presence out of Alan, but it possesses Casey instead. Casey-as-Scratch steals the Clicker and throws Saga into Cauldron Lake; she winds up in the Dark Place.
The Eternal Deerfest
Scratch, otherwise known as the Dark Presence, is close to winning it all at this point. Since before the events of the original Alan Wake, the Dark Presence has been stuck in the Dark Place, unable to escape. It can influence the area around Cauldron Lake, but that’s it. The Dark Presence has been trying to use artists to set itself free so it can spread its influence across the whole world, and by possessing and manipulating Alan all this time, it finally has created a story that will do the job. It just has to last long enough for the ending to play out and become reality.
Alan’s plan to stop Scratch is to edit the ending of Return. To do that, he’s stuck returning to the Dark Place. He needs to be in his Writer’s Room, at the height of his power, to complete the rewrite. But he also needs to know what’s supposed to happen in Return so he can change it.
When Alan returns to the Dark Place, we get a glimpse of what Scratch means to create: an eternal Deerfest. It wants to take full control of reality, remaking it however it sees fit. The spooky festival is just a metaphorical representation of that idea, but imagine something like that everywhere and you have a pretty good idea of what’s going on. Luckily, the goofy surrealness of Return means that Alan’s able to find a physical copy of the book, which he can read to find out the story’s ending and change it.
Alan makes his way to the Writer’s Room, which here exists in Valhalla Nursing Home. With a little help from Rose and Ahti, he gets to where he needs to be. But then he runs into the same problem he’s had for 13 years.
The reason Alan has been trapped in the Dark Place all this time is that he can never quite get the story right to get himself out. He’s made several attempts, but the manipulations of the Dark Presence and the mind-altering properties of the Dark Place mean he’s never been able to write a story good enough to do the job. That problem persists even now. What’s more, he has a limited amount of time to write, because Scratch is searching for him and means to stop him from completing his edit. If that happens, Scratch wins, Deerfest becomes eternal, and Logan dies.
The X-factor, though, is Saga. She frees herself from the prison of doubt the Dark Place puts her in and starts venturing across a version of Alan’s shifting reality. She still needs the Clicker, but there’s a solution to that problem.
Remember when Ahti sent you to retrieve Alice’s photos from the basement of the talk show set, and then you received a phone call telling you to put those photos in a shoebox? That was setup for this moment. Saga finds the photos in the shoebox, but thanks to the power of the Dark Place working on Alice’s art, the photos become their subjects: the Clicker and the bullet made of light. With the bullet, Saga can kill Scratch, and the Clicker can make Alan’s rewritten ending come true.
Saga contacts Alan through her Mind Place, and together, the two of them rework the ending to Return. The suggestion is that the addition of a new voice and perspective on the story is what can finally help Alan write it in a way that can defeat the Dark Presence. He wasn’t able to do so alone, but together, he and Saga can write a story strong enough to work.
It’s not without sacrifices, though. As Alan repeatedly notes, this is a horror story, and the conventions of the genre have to be respected. If the ending isn’t sufficiently dark, it won’t be satisfying and true to the art, and if the art is inauthentic, it won’t become reality. They’re going to need a dark ending in order for this plan to work.
When Saga makes it to the Writer’s Room, we see the ending play out. Casey-as-Scratch arrives, determined to stop them from making their edit, but Saga uses the Clicker to turn the story into reality. The story forces the Dark Presence out of Casey and into Alan. Saga shoots him, ostensibly killing Scratch. The whole thing ends ambiguously as Saga tries to call Logan to confirm that the story has been changed and her daughter is still alive, but we never hear if Logan picks up on the other end.
More to the story
So did it work? It’s unclear. The story ends with Saga and Casey standing in the Writer’s Room–apparently still in the Dark Place. The bullet of light seems like it should have killed Scratch, but that’s not really clear either. Alan has seemingly destroyed manifestations of the Dark Presence on two previous occasions–in the original Alan Wake and in Alan Wake’s American Nightmare–but it keeps coming back.
We do know there’s more to the story, at least for Alan. Remedy has already announced two additions to the story, the Night Springs and Lake House DLC expansions, although details on both are thin at this point. But there’s also that mid-credits scene that recontextualizes a lot.
The mid-credits scene deals primarily with Alan’s wife, Alice. Through the course of his journey through the Dark Place, Alan saw Alice’s work in creating a new photo exhibition and a documentary about her work. Alice has been haunted by visions of Alan appearing in her apartment. Alan thought it was Scratch attacking Alice, but by the end of his story, he realizes that it was his repeated attempts to reach her in their old apartment causing her visions of him. The documentary concludes with the revelation that Alice took her own life to escape the torment.
The mid-credits scene, however, reveals that that’s not actually the case. Alice actually faked her death because she realized that her experiences in Bright Falls during the original Alan Wake were real, and that Alan has been trapped in the Dark Place ever since. This is actually referencing plot points from another Remedy game, Control, and its AWE expansion.
In AWE, Alice visits the Federal Bureau of Control to tell them about the visions of Alan she’s been seeing, after managing to capture one of the appearances on film using motion-activated cameras. Alice had interacted with the FBC in the aftermath of the first Alan Wake story, in fact, and her visit to the Oldest House in New York unlocks her memories of the Dark Place. In AWE, it’s heavily implied that these events are part of a story Alan is writing from the Dark Place, with new manuscript pages appearing in the Oldest House during the DLC.
The mid-credits scene makes it clear that Alice’s apparent suicide was actually her returning to the Dark Place, this time with a plan. It was Alice who called Saga and helped lead her through the Dark Place, and it seems Alice means to finally help save Alan once and for all. How she’s going to do that, exactly, isn’t clear, but she thinks her intimate knowledge of the Dark Place will give her an edge.
It’s Not a Loop, It’s a Spiral
The final moment of the mid-credits scene sees Alan waking up from Saga shooting him to utter the line, “It’s not a loop, it’s a spiral.” So first and foremost, we’ve seen Alan die in the Dark Place a bunch of times, but it’s never permanent–and it seems even the bullet made of light wasn’t enough to put Alan down for good while he’s here. So he’s still alive and still trapped in the Dark Place.
Obviously, there’s more to the story. We know that Alan called himself from “another point in the story” to instruct himself to leave Alice’s photos in the shoebox. Unlike other parts of the loop, we haven’t seen that call being placed yet, so whatever point in the story it’s from, it’s beyond the current conclusion of the game.
The spiral line also carries some heavy implications from what we saw earlier in the game. If you watch Tom Zane’s film, Nightless Night, when it plays at the conclusion of the cinema section of the game, you’ll hear (or read) that line spoken again by the film’s version of Alex Casey. In that context, Casey is realizing something dark. The film is about Casey ultimately being sacrificed by a cult led by Barbara Jagger, the woman he loves. She, however, loves Zane, as depicted in the film. Basically, the gist is that Barbara manipulates Casey into becoming a ritual sacrifice to release Zane from the Dark Place. When Casey says “It’s not a loop, it’s a spiral,” he seems to mean that he’s been sent downward, into the Dark Place, to replace Zane.
For Alan, “It’s not a loop, it’s a spiral,” could mean the opposite–that Alan can use the loop to ascend out of the Dark Place, if he knows how to climb it. But Nightless Night isn’t included in the game without reason, and it heavily implies that somebody will need to replace Alan in order to get him out.
We could also be getting some hints about another antagonist for the future of the story: Tom Zane. Alan confronts and shoots Zane during the story, but like Alan, Zane apparently doesn’t stay dead. We know he’s been making his own attempts to escape the Dark Place and that he went so far as to work with Mr. Scratch to that end. It’s tough to know how literally to take Nightless Night, but it gives a seriously dark impression of Zane that seems like it’ll be very relevant in the future.
What About Saga?
As mentioned, Saga’s fate is left ambiguous at the end of Alan Wake 2. At the very least, she seems to still be in the Dark Place with Casey, and it’s not especially clear how she would get out, regardless of what happened with the conclusion of Return affecting reality.
There’s a hanging thread that seems poised to deal with that, too, though. After the summoning ritual and Scratch throwing Saga into the Dark Place, Tor and Odin wade into Cauldron Lake after her. It seems like they’re headed in to help get her back out, but the rest of the game goes on with the Old Gods of Asgard never reappearing. They’re down there, in the Dark Place, as far as we know. It doesn’t seem like much of a stretch to guess that Saga’s story will be wrapped up in one of the DLC additions, with Tor and Odin playing a role in finally helping Saga make her escape with Casey.
Let’s not forget about Warlin Door and Sheriff Tim Breaker, as well, who seem to have roles yet to play. The impression of Door throughout Alan Wake 2 is that he’s aware of Alan’s story and taking part in it willingly. Tim, too, seems like he has a part to play that has not yet been fully realized.
So there are plenty of elements for the story to deal with, and we know there’s at least a fair amount of story yet to be told in Alan Wake 2. As of right now, though, the conclusion is that Alan sacrificed himself to remain in the Dark Place in order to save Saga, Casey, Logan, and Bright Falls. What we still don’t know is whether he was successful–but we do know that there are people still looking to help him. It seems likely that the story of Alan Wake has the potential to turn into a trilogy.
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