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Breaking Down the Ending of The Nun II—And Its Place in the Conjuring Universe

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Warning: This post contains spoilers for The Nun II.

Considering The Nun explores the origins of Valak, the central demon in the Conjuring universe, it's not surprising that the movie ends with the diabolical spirit avoiding permanent banishment to hell. Now, five years after the original Nun became the highest-grossing entry in the franchise with a global box office total of over $365 million, Valak (played in its nun form by Bonnie Aarons) is back to wreak more demonic havoc in a new sequel.

The Nun II, in theaters Sept. 8, jumps ahead four years to 1956, after Father Burke (Demián Bichir) has died of cholera, Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) has slipped into anonymity at a convent in Italy, and Maurice (Jonas Bloquet) has made his way to France and is working as a handyman at a boarding school. Unfortunately, it soon comes to light that, after possessing him in the first movie, Valak has been using Maurice as a vessel to commit a series of horrific murders across Europe. And thus, Sister Irene is once again called on by the Vatican to remedy the situation.

"We know from the first film that there's something terrible inside of [Maurice]," director Michael Chaves told MovieWeb. "That Valak escaped within him, and events pull Irene back on this collision course with her old friend."

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How does The Nun II end?

Jonas Bloquet as MauriceCourtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

After Irene and her new nun bestie Sister Debra (Storm Reid) begin investigating what happened to Valak's recent victims, it's revealed that another holy relic exists that could potentially be used to stop the demon: the eyes of St. Lucy.

According to the Church, Lucy was a saint whose eyes were gouged out by her executioners after they discovered that she wouldn't burn when set on fire. Valak, a former angel who was rejected by God, has been murdering Lucy's descendants in order to claim the eyes' holy power for itself—and the last known location of the eyes just so happens to be a monastery that was later turned into the boarding school where Maurice currently resides.

With the help of teacher Kate (Anna Popplewell) and her daughter Sophie (Katelyn Rose Downey), Irene is able to find the secret spot where the eyes are hidden in the school's chapel. But Valak is a powerful foe and won't be stopped so easily.

A terrifying showdown between good and evil ensues during which Valak ends up with the eyes and uses their power to lift Irene into the air and set her aflame. But Irene won't burn, revealing that she is also a descendant of St. Lucy. In need of a miracle, Irene and Debra pray over communion wine that was spilled in the courtyard during the fight to turn it into the blood of Christ and wield it against Valak. The demon is once again banished (at least for the time being) and Maurice is back to himself.

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How does The Nun II fit in the Conjuring universe?

Kately Rose Downey as Sophie and Anna Popplewell as KateCourtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

The Nun II is the ninth overall installment in The Conjuring franchise but the third chronologically, with the Nun movies intended to serve as something of a prequel to the events of The Conjuring series. But Conjuring stars and married demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren (played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) have also already had their own encounter with Valak in The Conjuring 2.

Set in 1977, the second Conjuring movie sees the Warrens travel to England to help a family being tormented by a poltergeist in their Enfield council house. However, the opening scene takes place at the infamous Amityville house, where Lorraine is drawn into a vision during a seance in which she directly encounters Valak for the first time and witnesses Ed being impaled.

In Enfield, Lorraine eventually discovers that Valak has been behind the family's haunting all along. She manages to prevent Ed's death and banishes Valak to hell by addressing the demon directly by name to gain dominion over it.

We know from the first Nun movie that at some point in time prior to the events of The Conjuring the Warrens perform an exorcism on a possessed Maurice, indicating that he seemingly still hasn't fully escaped Valak's clutches by the end of The Nun II. This encounter is hinted at by a brief mid-credits scene, which shows the Warrens receiving a call from Father Gordon (Steve Coulter), their contact in the Church.

The similarities between Irene and Lorraine—not to mention the fact that they're played by the real-life Farmiga sisters—have also led some fans to speculate that they will turn out to be the same person.

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Write to Megan McCluskey at megan.mccluskey@time.com