Explaining the ambiguous ending of Netflix’s IO: What really happened to Sam?

Confused about IO on Netflix? So are we. Let’s break down what probably really happened to Sam.

Please note: If you haven’t watched IO on Netflix, huge spoilers are ahead!

Netflix gave us a lot of new content this weekend. Maybe even too much? The second season of The Punisher (consisting of 13 episodes) dropped, the new animated series Carmen Sandiego premiered, and two movies, Closer and IO, also made their debut. Where to even begin?

As a huge Marvel fan, I started off with watching half of The Punisher Season 2 before giving one of the two movies a shot. My first pick? IO, starring Anthony Mackie and Margaret Qualley. Guys, this movie is, unfortunately, not good. At all. If you haven’t seen it, don’t. You’re not missing out.

The events in the movie never pick up, there’s nothing exciting about it, it’s not engaging, and, to top it all off, the ending is so ambiguous you feel like you wasted two hours of your time. As a fan of Mackie, I’m even more disappointed. But even Mackie couldn’t save the movie.

Ambiguous movie endings can be great when properly written, think Inception. But in IO’s case, it just further ruins the movie. Just when you hope IO will at least have a mind-blowing finale, twist, or at least bring in another character, we’re left with a conclusion that is entirely up to the viewer. Gee, thanks.

I nearly gave up on the entire movie about halfway, but I powered through it. I had gotten so far, might as well finish it. I have to admit, I was also hoping the final act would surprise me and make the time I spent watching worth it. It did not.

IO Netflix

IO via Netflix Media Center

What happens in the ending? Here are the two possibilities that seem the most likely:

Determined not to give up on her home planet, Sam (Margaret Qualley) removes her oxygen mask, choosing to die on Earth than leave. But before doing so, she tells Micah (Anthony Mackie) that, if she survives, he needs to go to the colony in IO to tell others how life on Earth is still possible.

Does she survive? We’re not sure…

The scene cuts and what follows is Sam at the beach with a small child approaching her. I can only assume the kid is Sam and Micah’s son, since the two had sex earlier in the movie. Sam is later seen on her computer, writing a letter to Micah about how they’re waiting for him and others to return to Earth and join them.  Possible ending #1:  She survives, has a son, Earth heals itself.

We see Sam and her son, but is she really alive or is this just what Sam would have wished had happen? Possible ending #2: She dies.

If the first possible ending is true and Sam survives, we have so many questions… How did Earth heal itself? How did she go to the beach when she wasn’t anywhere near it before? Did she really give birth all by herself? How did Earth heal itself? How is she able to communicate with Micah? And, finally, most importantly, how did Earth heal itself?

Next: The obsession over You is real, but should it be?

The second ending makes more sense. She dies. But then why did we see her at the beach with her son? Bad writing? Was the purpose of the movie to frustrate us? If so, it succeeded.

What did you watch on Netflix this weekend? The weekend is still young! Don’t miss The Punisher! And if you haven’t watched You like the rest of the world, now’s your chance.