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Pistol Ending Explained

‘Pistol’ digs into the 1970s English punk rock movement, following the growth and demise of one of its most legendary bands, Sex Pistols. The FX miniseries, based on the memoirs of the band’s guitarist and founder, Steve Jones, describes in brutal detail what happened behind the scenes of the explosive and short-lived rock group. The plot is enhanced with eccentric characters such as the band’s eccentric and smooth-talking manager, Malcolm, and the mysterious Pauline. Near the end, the band fights to stay together due to the personalities and rebellious attitudes of its members. So, how did things pan out? Let’s look at the ending of ‘Pistol’ and see what happens to the renowned punk rock band. SPOILERS FOLLOW.

Recap of the Pistol

The story begins with Steve Jones, the streetwise lead vocalist of The Swankers. Inspired by David Bowie and continuously debating whether The Beatles are any good, the band toys with its identity while attempting to get recognition in the British music industry. Steve also has a tendency of stealing musical equipment from music venues and boasts of stealing a microphone with David Bowie’s lipstick still on it.

Image Credit: Miya Mizuno/FX

Steve meets Malcolm, who runs an avant-garde fashion business called SEX with his partner, while attempting to steal some garments for an upcoming show. Malcolm is outspoken about his anti-establishment views, and Steve recognizes that the smooth-talking store owner would be an excellent boss. Malcolm swiftly alters the band’s lineup and introduces Johnny Lydon (later dubbed Johnny Rotten due to his teeth and attitude) as the lead singer. Steve then spends a few days struggling to learn the guitar in a blur of drugs and sleep deprivation. The band’s name is also altered to Sex Pistols.

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As the band grows in popularity in the underground scene, we see flashbacks to Steve’s terrible upbringing, during which he was abused by his father. Various personalities, including controversial fashion star Jordan and disturbed Pauline, join the Sex Pistols’ expanding group. Arguments between Johnny and the bassist, Glen, soon lead to the latter’s dismissal from the band. Malcolm also discreetly persuades Steve to fire Glen. Sid Vicious, the band’s replacement bassist, is a buddy of Johnny’s and introduces an entirely new level of insanity to the band.

Pistol Breakup: Why Did Sex Pistols Split Up?

Sid Vicious becomes obsessed with Nancy, a crazy woman, very quickly. With her, his heroin usage rises, and his unpredictable conduct causes him to argue with Steve. Under these conditions, the band goes on a tumultuous US tour, with Sid overdosing on the return flight to London. He survives, but is soon heartbroken by Nancy’s horrific death.

Image Credit: Miya Mizuno/FX

Sid is arrested for Nancy’s murder and dies as a result of an overdose. When Malcolm tries to use the murders of Sid and Nancy as a marketing tactic, Steve understands how self-centered the manager is. He then leaves Malcolm and has one more talk with Johnny, telling him how right he was not to trust Malcolm. The series concludes with images of the band performing at a Christmas gathering in brighter times.

The band experiences an abrupt and steep downward spiral in the end. It is especially heartbreaking that the group begins to disband even as they gain popularity. In fact, the final episode of the show begins with Malcolm declaring that he must eliminate the Sex Pistols. According to the management, the band has become too popular, rendering it inaccessible and contradicting Malcolm’s ideal of unfiltered inclusiveness.

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The band, however, does not fall apart because of the manager. Instead, the group implodes due to its volatile members. Despite Malcolm’s self-righteous concerns about the band becoming too renowned, he is more than willing to cash in on their success. This, however, leads to Steve finally seeing how self-serving Malcolm’s behaviors are. Since Malcolm testifies on his behalf in court and helps him avoid imprisonment, Steve has been helpless to stand up to him. The manager’s attempt to use the death of a band member and his girlfriend as a marketing tactic is the final straw, and Steve ultimately sever company with Malcolm.

In some ways, Steve and Malcolm are the band’s foundation, and their departure signals the end of the Sex Pistols. Earlier, Johnny issues an ultimatum to Steve, urging him to choose between him and Malcolm. When Steve chooses Malcolm over Johnny, the vocalist departs from the band. As a result, by the time Steve and Malcolm part ways, Johnny is no longer in the picture. Because Steve and Johnny only collaborate because Malcolm constantly pulls them together, there is no possibility of the vocalist and guitarist continuing on the band without the manager.

When Johnny meets Steve in the series’ final minutes, he begins their conversation by declaring that this is the last time they’ll communicate. Though they share (rare) memories of the band’s brighter periods, it is evident that neither of them intends to carry on the Sex Pistols.

Pistol Ending Explained
Pistol Ending Explained
Pistol Ending Explained
Pistol Ending Explained
Pistol Ending Explained
Pistol Ending Explained
Pistol Ending Explained

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