What Is Riley’s Deep Dark Secret in ‘Inside Out 2’?

The following post contains SPOILERS for Inside Out 2. After this, you’re not allowed to scream at me like Lewis Black while fire explodes from your head. You have been warned.

Pixar’s Inside Out 2 takes us further into the recesses of 13-year-old Riley’s mind. Joy and company’s quest to retrieve Riley’s “Sense of Self” from the “Back of Her Mind” winds through all sorts of locales cleverly inspired by the human psyche — like the “sar-chasm” that opens  near the “Stream of Consciousness.”

At one point, Joy, Anger, Fear, and Disgust are all captured by the “Mind Police” (which really should be the “Thought Police,” right? That was an obvious joke they inexplicably missed) and tossed into some kind of vault where thoughts that Riley doesn’t want to contemplate get locked away — including some of her more embarrassing crushes, like a handsome but ineffective video game character.

Also locked away in this same prison is a hulking, cloaked figure identified only as Riley’s “Deep, Dark Secret.” There are a few lines speculating what this could possibly be, but then Joy and the other emotions escape the Mind (Thought) Police, and continue their search for Riley’s Sense of Self. It seems like a Chekhov’s gun type situation, where the movie introduces us and so your instinct is they must pay it off in some way. And, in fact, one of the other characters in that vault, Pouchy, becomes hugely important to Joy completing her mission. But the “Deep Dark Secret” never gets revealed.

Did she kill a guy? Is she a sleeper agent assassin working for a foreign adversary? Does she harbor an irrational hatred of birds? What is the secret?

READ MORE: Read Our Full Review of Pixar’s Inside Out 2

It turns out the secret isn’t kept in the Back of the Mind; it’s hanging out after the closing credits. If you sit through the long crawl after the main story concludes, Inside Out 2 does have a post-credits scene, and it is here that the Deep, Dark Secret gets confess its true identity.

Joy returns to the same vault where she and the other emotions were held, and tells the Deep, Dark Secret it’s now okay to say what happened to Riley that was such a horrible thing that it needed to be locked away forever in a faraway corner of her subconscious. It’s a bit hard to understand the Secret’s growly voice — the dad sitting next to me couldn’t understand his line and his young daughter had to translate for him — but he says he “burn hole in rug.”

In other words, at some point Riley accidentally burned the family’s rug and felt such immense shame about it that she covered up the evidence and suppressed the memory. Sort of like how I blocked out the time that bully in high school shoved me in a locker in gym class and it took 20 minutes for the gym teacher to find me and get me out (uhhh nevermind, forget I said that).

For her part, Joy is completely nonplussed by this revelation.

“Is that all?” she replied. “I thought this was about when we peed in the pool!”

So there you have it: Riley’s Deep, Dark Secret is a bit of an anticlimax. Which is why they saved it for the post-credits scene, I suppose. If you don’t stay until the end, you really don’t miss that much. I’m still going to hope that Inside Out 3 is about Riley being activated as a sleeper agent and then Joy and Sadness have to fight her latest emotion: Bloodthirsty.

Inside Out 2 is playing in theaters now.

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