The devastating “Nope” theory might offer an explanation for the greatest enigma

Spoilers for “Nope” follow.

Nope, the latest film from Jordan Peele, leaves viewers with a lot to talk about, but there’s one particular detail that’s difficult to forget: a shoe.

The disturbing Gordy’s Home incident, which we’ve discussed in more detail here, is referenced throughout the film, and on several occasions, we see a blood-spattered shoe that’s strangely standing up by itself without anything nearby.

One of the chimpanzees portraying Gordy has just launched a vicious attack after being shocked by a popped helium balloon. One of the human co-stars survives the chimp’s mauling of numerous others.

The sneaker has a profound effect on Ricky “Jupe” Park (Jacob Kim; later portrayed by Steven Yeun), and it might well be the key to his survival. He never glances at the chimp because doing so could provoke an assault. Instead, he is focused on the shoe.

But the reason the shoe is standing up is still a mystery to us. Though a new notion may have the solution, if it is true, it renders Ricky’s eventual demise even more tragic.

The devastating "Nope" theory might offer an explanation for the greatest enigma
Nope © Universal Pictures

It’s crucial to keep in mind that Ricky is the one who is observing this particular component of the Gordy’s Home incident.

The clip we hear when he subsequently tells the tale to OJ (Daniel Kaluuya) and Emerald is from his point of view up until the moment the monkey looks his way (Keke Palmer). An unsettling long shot allows us to view additional perspectives of the incident, but Ricky’s recall is when we actually see the shoe standing up.

However, it’s possible that it was always standing. According to Jen Yamato of the Los Angeles Times, “Did his mind’s eye only hallucinate the sneaker standing impossibly in the air — and is he misremembering that shortly before being shot, Gordy turned to him in friendship?”

It provides an explanation for a phenomenon that initially seemed to defy explanation. The fact that Ricky has the shoe hanging on the wall in his room as a remembrance of the incident gives us the impression that it is true, but it’s possible that he merely firmly believes the story since he has told it so many times.

If the shoe was never upright, it is doubtful that the chimpanzee actually approached Ricky following the attack. The chimp offers Ricky his bloody hand so they may do their fist bump from the program, but the police ruthlessly stop them by shooting the chimp to death.

Over twenty years later, Ricky still seems to be persuaded by this instance that he may connect with Jean Jacket. As a result, he passes away along with every member of his family and the audience members at Jupiter’s Claim.

All of this may have been founded on a falsehood. A make-believe world created by Ricky’s memory to shield him from the agony of the Gordy’s Home incident? If it is only a misremembered fact, Ricky’s passing is made all the more terrible.

Alternatively, it’s possible that the standing-up shoe is a “bad miracle,” as OJ refers to the passing of his father, caused by Jean Jacket letting go of any inorganic substance after suckling up people, horses, and whatever else it likes.

A shoe standing up and making Ricky turn away is undoubtedly a miracle, but considering the circumstances, you can’t exactly call it a good one. And it’s a bloodied shoe that belongs to Ricky’s co-star, so, you know.

Though, don’t anticipate receiving any formal responses from Peele or the members of Nope, at least not quite yet. Editor Nicholas Monsour told io9 that director “[Jordan] knows his audience and knows his own predilections as a spectator and filmmaker that each detail will be scrutinized.”

“And it’s not just a connect-the-dots exercise; he still uses that to pose questions. You can give it further thought. The longer you look at it, the more readings you get. I feel that the shoe thing also communicates something extremely genuine and relatable about trauma that doesn’t really need to be explained, regardless of whether you can identify any specific cultural or storyline references in it.

Nope is out now in cinemas.