James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water drops several important clues to Kiri’s true nature, setting her up as the true hero of the saga. At first glance, James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water feels like something of a rinse-and-repeat of the classic 2009 movie. The sequel has the same structure, and even the narrative strikes many familiar story beats. That’s clearly deliberate, though; in thematic terms, Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water is about characters who are locked in a cycle of violence. Jake Sully has never truly been able to leave his humanity behind, meaning he is doomed to repeat the same history. Meanwhile, Quaritch’s obsession brings him so close to a second death.
The returning characters of Avatar: The Way of Water may be trapped in a cycle of violence, but there is still hope. It is found in the next generation, specifically in the children of Jake and Neytiri, who must find a way to navigate the conflict between the Na’vi and the Sky People. It’s telling that the son who is most like Jake, Neteyam, is the one who dies; Pandora’s salvation will be found in breaking the cycle, not in simply maintaining it. The most important young characters are Spider and Kiri, each of whom has the potential to represent an olive branch to the other race; Spider is the human who wishes he was a Na’vi, while Kiri is the Na’vi whose unique bond with Eywa gives her an almost Messianic role. Here are all the important clues to Kiri’s true nature in Avatar: The Way of Water.
The circumstances surrounding Kiri’s birth give her a Messianic feel, in that the identity of her father is a mystery. She is technically the daughter of Dr. Grace Augustine, whose avatar was found to be pregnant at the time of her death in the first film. The identity of the father is an absolute mystery, and frankly at this moment it appears as though there was no father – as though Kiri was conceived by the will of Eywa. This naturally sets Kiri apart from all the other children, someone who will certainly have a unique role to play. She’s essentially a Messianic figure, a fact that fits rather well with the strange powers she demonstrates over the course of Avatar: The Way of Water.
Sigourney Weaver played Dr. Grace Augustine in Avatar, and the actress returns as Kiri in the sequel. Kiri has never had a relationship with her mother, although she’s spent a massive amount of time in the labs watching recordings of her. She does, however, possess a unique relationship with Eywa. She can sense Eywa’s presence all around her, and seems to love relaxing in the beauty of Pandora. According to the Avatar: The Way of Water Visual Dictionary, the intimacy of Kiri’s relationship with Eywa is beyond anything experienced by any other Na’vi, “more than even that of a tsahik.“
James Cameron’s original script for Avatar 2 explored more of Kiri’s childhood, and included a striking scene in which she bonded with her banshee – in a rather unique fashion. As seen in both Avatar and Avatar: The Way of Water, Na’vi travel to the sacred Floating Mountains of Pandora to find their banshee. The first encounter is typically a dangerous affair, because the Na’vi must tame a banshee who is trying to kill them. Kiri’s experience was very different, however. She simply walked up to her intended banshee, locked eyes, and it lowered its head to allow her to claim it. The scene is shown in Dark Horse Comics’ Avatar: The High Ground, an adaptation of Cameron’s unused script, and the Avatar: The Way of Water Visual Dictionary confirms it is canon. This scene is more important than it seems at first glance. It suggests the creatures of Pandora feel an instinctive sense of connection with Kiri, one that puts them at ease and ends all sense of aggression.
Kiri appears to be uniquely adaptable, meaning she is as comfortable in the environment of the Metkayina as she was in the Omatikaya jungles. It’s easy to miss, but there are subtle hints she may well be able to breathe underwater; she stays beneath the waves for a surprisingly long period of time, and there are several scenes in which she has her mouth open while swimming. Curiously, though, this doesn’t seem to be the only environment Kiri is comfortable in. Na’vi use breathing equipment to survive in artificial human atmospheres, and yet Kiri clearly needs to use hers less than any other Na’vi. This may hint that Eywa plans Kiri to be a bridge-builder, one who can draw disparate groups together – and even potentially bring about peace with the Sky People.
Kiri is presented as having a seizure when she bonds too closely to Eywa, but it’s important to note the diagnosis is made by human scientists – and one of the subtle themes of Avatar: The Way of Water is simply that Jake would be wiser to leave his human ways behind him. In reality, she is going through what can best be called a mystical experience, one in which she finally gets to meet her mother. Grace Augustine was absorbed into Eywa as she died, and it would make sense for Kiri to be able to meet with her spirit when she is connected to Eywa in such an intimate way. The scene feels as though it parallels Jesus’ baptism in the Gospels, in which the Spirit descended upon him like a dove and he was empowered for his mission. Certainly it is transformative for Kiri, who is subsequently able to use her powers without discomfort.
Kiri reveals she has a special bond with Pandora’s wildlife, one that operates on an instinctive level and does not require physical connection. But it’s important to note the purpose of this bond; Kiri is not the one who draws a gigantic tulkun into battle. Instead, she uses her powers to control bioluminescent fish, providing light so those in need can escape a sinking ship. This provides another hint to Kiri’s true nature and purpose; she is not intended to be a weapon, but rather a bringer of light. This is another Messianic image in Avatar: The Way of Water, given Jesus called himself the light of the world.
Next: Avatar 3, 4 & 5 Tease Confirms The True Magic Of James Cameron’s Story