- In Avatar: The Way of Water, Neteyam’s death deeply affects Jake and Neytiri, with Neytiri becoming consumed by grief and Jake blaming their youngest son, Lo’ak.
- Neteyam’s death sets up strong potential for future character arcs in Avatar 3 and beyond, as Jake and Neytiri seek retribution against Quaritch and their other children navigate their own paths of revenge or healing.
- The tragedy could have a profound influence on Lo’ak, making him either more cautious about protecting his siblings or leading him down a dark path of pain and regret.
Avatar: The Way of Water‘s most tragic death, including Jake and Neytiri’s response, gets analyzed by a therapist. Set sixteen years after the first film, the sequel finds Jake (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri’s (Zoe Saldaña) Na’vi family under the threat of a recombinant Quaritch (Stephen Lang) as they seek refuge with the aquatic Metkayina clan. During the final battle, Jake and Neytiri’s oldest son Neteyam (Jamie Flatters) is fatally shot by one of Quaritch’s men and dies in front of his family.
In a recent episode of Cinema Therapy, licensed therapist Jonathan Decker watched Neteyam’s death in Avatar: The Way of Water and broke it down in detail, including Jake and Neytiri’s response to the tragedy. While Neytiri becomes “feral with grief,” as Decker says, the therapist notes how Jake’s response is different, as he blames his younger son Lo’ak for Neteyam’s death. Read a portion of his commentary or watch the full video below:
They’re both grieving. It’s a petty, mean, hurtful thing to say, and it’s super relatable. He blames his son for his other son’s death. Which is, again, if you’re in the headspace to evaluate what’s really going on, you’re not going to say something like that. Cut Jake some slack here, but he’s still doing what he does, which is he’s compassionate with his wife and he’s tough on his sons.
He was getting to a better place. I do think it’s true. We learn and we evolve and we grow, and we often do things better, as long as things are fine. We backslide into our past behaviors. Eeven though it was, as an audience member, it was frustrating and hurtful to see Jake do this late in the film. It’s true to the character and it’s true to how people are. It’s true to human psychology. But we do need that catharsis. For there to be an arc, it has to go to a healthy place.
What Neteyam’s Death Means For Avatar 3 & Future Sequels
As the oldest son of Jake and Neytiri, Neteyam was expected to safeguard and care for his younger siblings. However, it is his more impulsive younger brother, Lo’ak, who convinces him to save their symbolic sibling Spider, the biological son of Miles Quaritch. Therefore, Lo’ak feels responsible for Neteyam’s death and Jake, whose headspace is also clouded by grief, blames his youngest son for his oldest son’s death. Neteyam’s tragic death, and the resulting family dynamics, do set up a strong foundation for future character arcs in Avatar 3 and future sequels.
As already seen during the Avatar: The Way of Water ending, Jake and Neytiri should continue seeking retribution against Quaritch for their son’s death as they attempt to put an end to his destructive rampage once and for all. Neteyam’s death should also have a profound influence on Lo’ak, potentially making him more cautious about protecting his siblings or sending him down a dark path of pain and regret. The heartbreaking tragedy could also have an effect on Jake and Neytiri’s other children, Kiri (Sigourney Weaver) and Tuk (Trinity Jo-Li Bliss), who will pursue their own paths of revenge or healing.
Source: Cinema Therapy