“The Maze Runner” can be perceived as Hollywood’s apology for the capitalist system that’s destroying the world as we know it. It’s a post-apocalyptic, end-of-the-world, survivalist narrative where a few teenagers take on a corporation and try to save themselves and the world. Science has made ungodly progress, and as paradoxical as the sentence sounds, belief becomes the center through which we justify our actions. Science is also driven by the belief that there is a silver lining at the end of all trials and tribulations. Ethical and moral lines can be compromised to justify what science needs to achieve.

If the film has to be read from a Marxist lens, then it is a simple story of the fight between two classes. The dominant class with the means of production (in this case, finding the cure) exploits the lower class to create a medicine through which the world can be saved. The workaround against ethical dilemmas is the bigger picture. It would be worth it if all of this led to saving the world. Science has always required sacrifice, and this is the ultimate sacrifice. The problem that lies at the heart of this reasoning is that the sacrifice always has to come from the lower, downtrodden class. That’s the way the world works.

The Maze Runner (2014) Plot Summary & Movie Synopsis:

Who are the Gladers and Grievers?

Wes Ball’s dystopian reality starts with Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) rapidly ascending in a lift with no memory of how he has reached there at all. He tries to get off and sees a vicious animal guarding the lift as it suddenly comes to a halt. The doors are opened, and many male members greet him as they rejoice at the arrival of another one. He is scared, dazed, and confused as to what is happening. He is picked up from the underground elevator and brought out. His first reaction is to run, and the male members laugh at the new ‘greenie’ (an affectionate moniker for someone new to the surroundings). As the initial adrenaline runs down, he is approached by the pack’s leader.

Alby (Aml Ameen) explains how they have formed a rudimentary society, and each member has defined roles, and they work together to keep the ‘Glade’ running smoothly. The walls and the maze that surrounds the Glade are one of mystery and also the one that keeps them safe. He is introduced to Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), the second-in-command. Alby has three rules for all the Gladers: everybody has to do their part, nobody can harm any Glader because the whole thing runs on trust, and one should never venture outside the walls. Thomas is handed over to Chuck, who shows him around further until he goes towards the opening and sees two runners come in: Minho (Ki Hong Lee) and Ben (Chris Sheffield). As he tries to see what is out there, Gally (Will Poulter) pushes him aside. This is the first time Thomas realizes that they are all trapped inside.

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As night approaches, the Gladers light up a huge bonfire and engage in merrymaking, drinking a potent concoction created by Gally. Newt further explains what the maze is, and Thomas realizes that they are all trapped. Newt further elaborates on the dangers of being a runner who goes out every day running through the maze, trying to find a possible way out. But they all return before the gate closes; otherwise, they meet the Grievers, a biomechanical creature whom no one has ever met and who has lived to tell the tale.

What happens to Alby?

As the night progresses and in a friendly round of jostling around with Gally, Thomas remembers his name. The next day, he starts getting acquainted with the work of the Glade but gets attacked by Ben. Ben accuses him of all that has happened to them. He manages to escape and then discovers that Ben has been stung and won’t have much longer. The Gladers all push Ben outside the safe haven. As the day progresses into the night, Thomas is barely able to sleep and is haunted by images of what might unlock the truth. The following day, he sees Alby and Minho run into the maze to find out how Ben got stung.

As evening approaches, Minho and Alby do not return. The Gladers stand around the gate, and as the gate is about to close, they see Minho carrying Alby. Thomas makes a spur-of-the-moment decision and goes out into the maze as the gate is about to close. Minho and Thomas try to hide Alby, but they encounter a griever – a biomechanical giant spider. Thomas ties Alby into the vines as the griever starts to chase him. He runs through the maze and soon finds Minho. As the maze begins to change and close, Thomas lures the griever, and the griever gets smashed between the structures. As the gates open the following day, all three of them return.

The Gladers learn of what has happened. Gally is convinced that in the last three years, everyone has coexisted in the maze. Now that Thomas has killed one of them, no one knows what might happen next. The box opens up once more, but this time, there is a girl with a note that says, this is the last of it. The girl suddenly wakes up and recognizes Thomas before going back to her stupor. As everyone decides what to do, Thomas and Minho decide to go back out and find out more about the griever. They take a few others and go out and retrieve a tracking device where it reads 7.

Who is Teresa?

The Maze Runner (2014) Movie Ending Explained
A still from “The Maze Runner” (2014)

As they return, Gally proposes that Thomas be punished for breaking the rules of the Glades. Newt, the second in command, promotes Thomas to a runner and a night in the pits without food. Gally becomes unhappy with the punishment, and Minho asks Thomas to accompany him to one of the huts. He reveals a blueprint of the maze that they had created. Minho tells Thomas about how different sections of the maze open up at different times, but there is no way out. Alby had taken the decision not to tell the other Gladers because it would be counterproductive.

The medics inform them that the girl has regained consciousness, has gone to the tree fort, and is throwing things at everyone. Thomas tries to calm her down. They talk about how both of them have the same kind of visions at night. She also shows Thomas the two injections that she had. On the injections, the griever, and the walls, the same symbol of WCKD is printed. They take it to the tent and decide to use one of them on Alby since his condition is deteriorating after being stung.

Thomas spends the night in the pit and is visited by Chuck, who brings him food and water. Thomas and Chuck discuss his parents and how he doesn’t remember them but still misses them. The following day, Minho and Thomas make their way into the maze with the object they had retrieved from the griever. They go into the seventh section using the object and open up a portal. The scan tells that they are not a griever. Suddenly, the maze starts to change, trying to trap them, but somehow Minho and Thomas escape.

What happens to the Glade?

As evening approaches, Alby regains consciousness and starts talking to Thomas. He says that he remembers it all and how Thomas was always their favorite. The conversation is abruptly cut short as the Gladers run towards the gate, which is not closing. To make matters worse, the other gates, which have been closed for the last three years, are also thrust open, making them susceptible to griever attacks. Within a few moments, grievers from all sides attack them, and a lot of the Gladers lose their lives, along with Alby. Not wanting to let go of the opportunity, Thomas takes one of the stingers from the griever they had cut and stings himself to figure out what he remembers.

Once he regains consciousness, he tells Teresa Newt and the others that he is one of the people who has put all of them here. From childhood, they have been made to take tests, and then, one by one, people were sent to the maze. He was one of the people who worked for WCKD. Newt informs that Gally has assumed control. Thomas plans to leave the Glade with the help of the others.

As Gally is about to tie them up and offer them to the griever to make peace, a scuffle takes place, and Thomas and Teresa break free. People choose sides and leave the Glade as Gally and some of his followers stay behind. The Gladers, led by Thomas and Minho, make their way into the seventh section of the maze. They fight off multiple grievers to finally enter the space where an 8-digit code will help them escape. Minho remembers the combination as the different sections that would open up on different days, and they finally escape.

The Maze Runner (2014) Movie Ending Explained

What caused the deadliest pandemic?

The Maze Runner (2014) Movie Ending Explained
Another still from “The Maze Runner” (2014)

As they make their way into the lab, they realize that everyone is dead. Thomas presses a red button, and a recording plays. The woman Dr. Ava Paige (Patricia Clarkson), director of operations for the World Catastrophe Killzone Department (WCKD), explains how a solar flare has caused total devastation to Earth, followed by an even deadlier pandemic caused by the virus, the Flare. It attacks the brain and causes violent deaths. But a generation emerged that was immune to the virus, and WCKD had to find out how they could, which could’ve led to a cure. These youngsters would have to be tested in the harshest of environments, but not everyone would agree to the procedures.

As militants take over the facility, Ava kills herself. Suddenly, they are approached by Gally, who has been stung. He shoots Thomas, but Chuck pushes himself in front of him and dies in the process. Minho throws a spear at Gally, and he dies. Suddenly, military personnel rush them into a helicopter and tell them everything will be alright. However, in the final scene, Dr. Ava comes back and says that phase 1 of the trials has been successfully completed and that these participants are ready for phase 2.

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What is The Maze Runner about?

“The Maze Runner” is an exaggerated manifestation of our real lives. Through the narrative inclinations, there is a hint of control and power. Human beings are creatures of habit. As the Glade becomes a haven for people, they decide to start a rudimentary society. As Alby and Newt try to impress on Thomas, whatever he can think of, everything has been tried and tested to leave the maze, but they have failed. The more they have failed, the more they have become docile to the environment.

We have a tendency to adjust as well. If people start to oppress us, we rebel and revolt, but when we realize that nothing will ever come out of it, we stop and adjust to the conditions and the consequences. This is what we have been taught throughout our lives. We are not supposed to question the system. As Alby says, the box will provide. Every month, the box would come up with an individual and supplies. Instead of feeling trapped, Stockholm syndrome would set in, and we start to adjust to what we are provided with.

Gally exemplifies this to the utmost. When he tries to use Thomas and Teresa as a peace offering to the grievers, he doesn’t realize that it won’t stop WCKD from killing them all. He only knows the way of the Glade, and he doesn’t realize there can be any other form of survival outside. Gally typifies what every brainwashed person does. They succumb to power and the dominant discourse. Logic and reason have no place in such a situation.

Does Science always require sacrifice?

“The Maze Runner” is a beautifully crafted film. It observes the human experience without making it too obvious. We are officially in a maze when we talk about social media. We keep running and running through the maze of instant pleasure. Gramsci pointed out that a hegemony or a situation where domination through consent would be created. The dominant class would exercise political, intellectual, and a moral role of leadership, and a common worldview and an organic ideology would further this.

WCKD is that organization, and the ending is where this is established. They propose the common worldview that they are doing everything for the betterment of humankind. They buy the consent of the teenagers by telling them how they are on the path toward absolution for the entire human race. The ending also suggests how they are on the moral high ground. WCKD is good. This conditioning is vital for everyone to look at them in a positive light. When you watch the next part of the film franchise, you’ll understand why the message ‘WCKD is good’ becomes so important.

This directly applies to us as well. When we justify the reasons why we do what we do, there is a scientific rationality to it all. Covid brought to the surface the cracks that lay in between the classes. Science has brought to the forefront the idea that anyone who could pay would get the vaccine first. Access to technology would differentiate between finding a life-saving vaccine and who can live or not. So science does require sacrifice, but people who sacrifice are those who cannot afford to survive.

Read More: 10 Movies to Watch If You Like “The Hunger Games”


The Maze Runner (2014) Links: IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, Wikipedia, Letterboxd
Cast of The Maze Runner (2014): Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Will Poulter, Patricia Clarkson
The Maze Runner (2014) Genre: Sci-Fi/Adventure/Action/Mystery & Thriller | Runtime: 1 hr. 53 min.
Where to watch The Maze Runner

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