Rocky V Ending Explained: The Home Team

From the opening scene of “Rocky V,” we’re shown that the beating Rocky takes from Ivan Drago has a profound physical effect on him. As the story moves forward, we see that it has taken its toll mentally, too, with the brain damage he has suffered making him permanently punchy. The Italian Stallion was never the brightest spark but now he is frequently befuddled, slurring his words worse than usual and mixing up names and numbers.

This leads to one of the saddest aspects of “Rocky V.” One of the most appealing traits of Rocky’s character is that he is so open-hearted that he always sees the best in everyone. Here his kindness has become impaired by his head trauma, causing him to make errors of judgment, like neglecting his kid while pouring all his faith and love into Tommy, who we can tell is a wrong ‘un from the moment we first lay eyes on him.

It isn’t just the brain damage that twists his decision-making. After years of living as a champion in an opulent mansion, he’s back on skid row again. The old neighborhood has slid even further into urban decay since the first film and he just wants better things for his family and himself. This eagerness to hit the big time again blinds him to what Adrian, Paulie, and Rocky Jr. see: Tommy has no heart and “no class,” as Paulie correctly calls it for once.

Rocky’s misplaced faith in Tommy makes it feel like sacrilege when he first hands the young fighter Apollo’s stars-and-stripes shorts and then plans to give him Mickey’s cherished gold boxing glove necklace as a Christmas gift. Those items were given out of love to Rocky, who was humble enough to deserve them.

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