Warning: spoilers for The Nun are in this post!
Going in to see The Nun, there's no real mystery as to how it connects to the rest of the films in The Conjuring's expanding universe. After all, the demon Valak appears as the habit-donning monster in The Conjuring 2 and even shows up during a postcredits scene at the and of Annabelle: Creation. The real mystery, of course, is how. How does a terrifying nun monster from the 1900s come to haunt Lorraine Warren? Luckily, we do get an answer by the end of The Nun; not only does it connect back to the universe, but it also gives us a supercool full-circle moment that lands right back in The Conjuring's first film. Last chance to turn back before I spoil some things!
OK, so, I'm not going to spend a lot of time talking about the end of The Nun. The basic, basic gist is this: Father Burke (Demián Bichir) and Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) think they've vanquished the evil Valak with the help of a local farmboy who calls himself Frenchie, née Maurice. But in the last moments before we leave Romania for good, we realize it's not Irene we have to worry about, because Valak has actually possessed Maurice!
Cut to a scene that actually appears in The Conjuring: about 40 minutes in, we're at some kind of college lecture that Ed and Lorraine Warren are giving on possession. Carolyn Perron, whose house is plagued by some kind of presence, is in attendance. Ed and Lorraine play footage from an old case in which a man named Maurice was possessed by a demon. In the footage within the scene, we see the actor who plays Maurice (Jonas Bloquet), and he's clearly succumbed to the evil inside him. At the very last moment, he lets out an inhuman howl and looks directly at Lorraine. Lorraine screams.
And there you have it! Though Valak doesn't really appear until the second film in the Conjuring series, we get to throw it all the way back to the beginning to connect another thread. What's interesting is that "Maurice," who originally appeared in The Conjuring, is different, meaning they must have reshot that scene to tie it back into The Nun. Even so, it's cool to see how the creators found a way to throw it back. That's pretty awesome, right?