He does, to be sure, but only after a marathon of action: a showdown with those nasty zombie-like Cranks in a tortuous tunnel, a peaceful protest-turned-explosive nightmare, a jailbreak gone horribly awry, a race to escape the inferno that becomes the Last City. These trials, as they always have, double as life lessons for Thomas and his love interest Teresa (Kaya Scodelario), and although the movies have sometimes felt like all of Hollywood stuffed into a blender (wastelands, zombies, firefights, oh my!), the story has always been a coming-of-age journey at heart. If Maze Runner's first entry was about Thomas carving out his identity as a leader, and the second about learning how to lead, this third, once again directed by Wes Ball, is his chance to finally make a stand and lead.
Fans of James Dashner's books will recognize how this fight has to end: Thomas confronting Janson, the true villain, whose interests were never about curing the disease that wiped out large swaths of humanity but about sustaining his own life. Of course, just as moviegoers noticed creative liberties taken in the second movie, they'll see more here: the nature of Teresa's betrayal, for one, changes. Same with her death. They still happen, just differently, all in the name of making these key moments more satisfying. Many work. Perhaps one of the more contentious divergences from the source material will be the one that comes at the very end of the movie, when Thomas and his friends reach a safe haven.
In the book, Ava Paige takes credit for this "Paradise" in a final memorandum. "And so, we have failed. But we have also succeeded," she writes. "If all has gone according to plan, we have sent the brightest, the strongest, the toughest of our subjects to a safe place, where they can begin civilization anew while the rest of the world is driven to extinction." The Flare virus that loomed over the series is revealed to have been a well-intended plan to pare down the planet's population. The results were disastrous and unpredictable. "I don't know how history will judge the actions of WICKED, but I state here for the record that the organization only ever had one goal," she adds, "to preserve the human race."
After Thomas vanquishes Janson on the big screen and escapes the Last City, he wakes in a similar Paradise. Unlike the book, there’s no epilogue or post-credits scene to explain WCKD's Plan B. Why not?