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I recently watched David Fincher's 'Se7en' for a second time. I was thinking about the ending and I am kinda confused.

So clearly John Doe (Kevin Spacey) has a plan of killing seven different people based on the Seven Deadly Sins. Now, near the end we come to know that John Doe himself is the representation of Envy. He then incites Detective David Mills (Brad Pitt) to kill him and become 'Wrath' in the process, which Mills clearly does. Now we are left with Mills, the representation of wrath, still alive. Detective Somerset (Freeman) tells Mills not to kill John Doe and further says,

If you kill him, he will win.

But doesn't that leave John Doe's plan incomplete? I mean Mills is still alive and I'm pretty sure that he wouldn't be sentenced to death for that and John Doe clearly set out to kill all the seven people. How exactly would John Doe 'win' in this situation?

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    You're forgetting that Sloth is also alive. I don't think he set out to kill exactly 7 people (and don't think he says that at any point). He's killed enough people for his case to become famous, which is mainly what he wants, and he guarantees it with that final twist. – Walt Jun 14 '15 at 8:45
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John Doe planned this meticulously for a very long time, and with the exception of that small glitch where Somerset and Mills find his apartment a bit too early, it's safe to say his plan is carried out. However, Doe's plan involves 7 victims representing each sin, but not necessarily performing them or dying for them:

  • The Gluttony victim was indeed killed by Doe for his sin by being force-fed.
  • The Greed victim was killed somewhat indirectly by Doe, also for embodying his sin.
  • The Pride victim also embodied her sin, but was presumably faced with a choice and chose death herself. It's not made entirely clear in the film, but it's possible she could've lived. It's also possible that this one was rushed or improvised after Doe was tracked down by Somerset and Mills and had to change his plans.
  • The Sloth victim was punished for his sin as well, but he's not dead yet (although braindead and basically a living corpse). His sin of Sloth was also rather forced upon him by Doe.
  • The Lust victim was the prostitute, but the guy who actually embodies the sin of Lust is still alive (although traumatized and branded for life for killing her).
  • The Envy victim is Mills' wife, although the sin's perpetrator is Doe himself.
  • The Wrath victim is Doe, now with Mills embodying the sin and suffering the consequences.

As you can see, the master plan was never as straight forward as '7 people dying for their sins' but rather a complex admonition involving 7 victims and the 7 deadly sins, that eventually loops in on itself (with Doe and Mills playing a part in it: Doe being envious because he's unable to live a normal life in the sick world he's in, and Mills representing the law's inability to cure it). Doe wanted his master plan to be "puzzled over and studied", and now, as Somerset realizes, he's certainly going to achieve that.

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    “Doe wanted his master plan to be "puzzled over and studied", and now, as Somerset realizes, he's certainly going to achieve that.” Oh god. We’re part of the plan :o :o :o – Paul D. Waite Jun 15 '15 at 8:56
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    It's not made entirely clear in the film, but it's possible [pride] could've lived. I thought that was pretty clear that she could've lived. He cut off her nose, and glued pills to one hand and a phone to the other. It was her choice to take the pills, rather than call for help. – Darrick Herwehe Jun 15 '15 at 13:04
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    Yeah, that was their theory, but there's no real proof (it's a very brief scene anyway). Doe could've trained a gun on her forcing her to take those sleeping pills, like he did to Gould. – Walt Jun 15 '15 at 13:52
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    +10. can't be explained any better.Even David Fincher would be glad of this interpretation. Those who commit 7 deadly sins are either killed or tortured till their own natural death. – Harini Jul 20 '17 at 18:21
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I love that Mills only fires 6 rounds into Doe at the film's end; only 6 people, (the Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Lust, Pride and Envy victims/sinners) were punished. Another take on the outcome is that technically 7 people DID die. Face it: the sloth victim probably didn't make it long after the doc said he "still has Hell to look forward to" and in addition to Mills' wife and unborn child also falling victim to Doe, that makes seven deceased. Hope this helps, or at least intrigues someone.

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You are right. Mills is still alive but is as good as dead. As you can see in the whole movie that Mill's has bad temper which represents wrath. The only thing capable of calming him was his wife. You can tell how patient he was around her when the subway train came and other instances. Having her killed in his own case has left him good as dead (you know that kind of people who are left with nothing else to live with). So, eventually he is also punished but with a pain greater than any other sinners.

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