The ending of Inside Out 2 ends the conflict between Anxiety (Maya Hawke) and Joy (Amy Poehler). But how does the Pixar film end and set up a sequel? We will break it all down.

Warning: Spoilers for Inside Out 2 ahead

What is Inside Out 2 about?

Joy (Amy Poehler) and Anxiety (Maya Hawke).
A still from Inside Out 2 courtesy Pixar, Disney.

Inside Out 2 picks up after the events of the first film. Riley (Kensington Tallman) is now a teenager and has hit puberty. This comes as she is invited to a hockey camp that will determine her high school playing career.

Inside her mind, the OG emotions of Joy, Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Tony Hale), Disgust (Liza Lapira), and Anger (Lewis Black) are in the groove. Joy has been discarding Riley's negative memories, keeping her positive. At the same time, Riley is developing her sense of self thanks to her ever-growing beliefs.

This comes to a head when Riley hits puberty. As Riley reaches this point, new emotions enter the fray. Anxiety leads the way along with Envy (Ayo Edebiri), Ennui (Adèle Exarchopoulos), and Embarrassment (Paul Walter Hauser).

The two parties initially get along, though Anxiety tries to take over. She is concerned about Riley fitting in with the high schoolers. However, she goes about it by ditching her friends and compromising her beliefs.

When Joy eventually pushes against this, Anxiety has the OG emotions banished. They then have to reach the back of Riley's mind to recover her original sense of self.

Hockey camp

As Inside Out 2 goes on, Riley becomes paranoid about not making the team. The high school kids convince her that Coach Roberts (Yvette Nicole Brown) has the verdict in her red notebook.

So, the night before the camp's climactic scrimmage, Riley breaks into Coach Roberts' office to retrieve the notebook. Under her name, it reads that she's “not ready.”

This breaks Riley's heart. Luckily, she isn't caught. The next morning, she makes it her mission to beat Val's (Lilimar) record of two goals in the scrimmage. That helped land Val on the varsity team, so Riley is convinced this is the way.

She faces her friends, Bree (Sumayyah Nuriddin-Green) and Grace (Grace Lu), in the scrimmage. After scoring two initial goals, Riley begins getting flustered when she can't score a third.

Riley is playing hero ball, not passing it to wide-open teammates, and is determined to score a third goal. So much so that Riley decks Grace and sends her flying. This results in Riley being sent to the penalty box.

A near-panic attack

While in the penalty box, Riley is filled with emotions. Anxiety is losing grip of her original mission, realizing her mistakes.

Meanwhile, Joy and Co. are making their way back to the control room. When they get there, they see that Anxiety has caused a tornado around the control board. They are also unable to break Anxiety's created sense of self that has led to Riley's negative actions.

Joy eventually gets into Anxiety's ear, telling her that nobody — herself included — can control the person Riley is. Anxiety has to let go and eventually does. Together, they create a new sense of self that combines the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Back in the human world, Riley is getting close to having a panic attack. Grace, despite being treated horribly by Riley for the entire weekend, takes notice. She and Bree make the save and calm Riley down.

In the film's most touching moment, Riley apologizes for her actions. She says that she'd understand if Grace and Bree didn't want to be her friends anymore. But, like true friends, they forgive her and the game goes on.

Does Riley make the varsity team?

Inside Out 2 ends at the high school during the year. Riley is friends with the varsity hockey team and they await the team announcement.

As Riley sits at the lunch table, she receives a text. Initially thinking it is Coach Roberts, she discovers that it's Grace and Bree wishing her well, proving that they did keep in touch.

The film's final shot is of Riley at her locker. Her phone buzzes once again and this time elicits a different reaction. She sports a wide, shocked face as she turns her head up from the phone.

It then cuts to black. Inside Out 2 does not explicitly spell out whether or not Riley makes the team. Given her reaction, it's implied that she does. But until a potential sequel is made, it may remain unclear.

Does it set up Inside Out 3?

If an Inside Out 3 is made, the franchise will join the Toy Story and Cars series with at least three installments. It would be a smart move after how good the second one is.

And it wouldn't be a stretch. Inside Out subtly left the door open for a sequel. Similarly, Inside Out 2 ends on a cliffhanger that can go either way. If there is never a third installment, the franchise ends on the highest note possible.

The obvious route is to directly continue Riley's story. Since Inside Out 2 ends with a cliffhanger regarding her varsity hockey status, it'd be natural to pay that off.

But another route is to undergo another time jump. There is a couple of years between the first two Inside Out films. A third film could pick up with Riley as an upperclassman getting ready for college (or even in it).

One of the emotions teased in Inside Out 2 is love (or potentially lust). Riley has crushes that she has suppressed in Imagination Land.  As she heads into high school, Riley will surely have encounters with crushes.

There's also Riley's secret that is never revealed. While the OG emotions are held captive, they meet Bloofy (Ron Funches), a character from Riley's favorite TV show, and Lance Slashblade (Yong Yea). They also meet her deepest secret who says it's not time yet to reveal itself.

Pixar's box office success

But in order for a third film to be made, Inside Out 2 needs to be a box office hit. Pixar has been on a cold streak as of late. Sure, they were affected by the pandemic, but their last two theatrical releases were largely misses.

Lightyear, a Toy Story spin-off, is one of the lowest-grossing films in Pixar's history. The film made just $226 million worldwide during its theatrical run.

The following year, Pixar released Elemental. It got off to a rocky start, opening to just $29.6 million domestically. Elemental would eventually leg out to $496 million. Its $154 million domestic haul beat out the likes of Cars 3 and The Good Dinosaur (and yes, Lightyear).

Inside Out 2 is tracking well. It's being reported that the sequel is forecasting between $80-$90 million for its domestic opening weekend. If true, that would rival its predecessor's opening.

Hopefully, if a sequel is green-lit, it won't take nearly a decade to make.

Inside Out 2 is in theaters.