Netflix's I Am Mother: The Shocking Ending, Explained

WARNING: The following contains major spoilers for Netflix's I Am Mother, streaming now. 

Netflix's I Am Mother is a thought-provoking sci-fi story that blends together ideas from properties such as I, Robot, Chappie, Terminator and Ex Machina. In a dystopian future, mankind has been rendered near-extinct. I Am Mother focuses on Daughter (Clara Rugaard) and a robot called Mother (voiced by Rose Byrne) in a bunker.

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Daughter is the only human born in decades, with Mother genetically engineering others like her to populate their stronghold after the surface was rendered uninhabitable due to a mysterious apocalypse. However, when an injured Woman (Hilary Swank) is brought into the base by the naive Daughter, a couple twists ensue which lead to a very unpredictable ending.

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Mother is reluctant to take in Woman, as the artificial intelligence believes she will contaminate their clean surroundings. It seems the robot doesn't want nuclear fallout from above ground coming into her embryo chamber and endangering both daughter and her goals. But when Daughter pokes and prods after seeing Mother react negatively to the damaged Woman, she finds out Mother kills babies, incinerating them if they're not perfect results of her lab work.

Daughter discovers the charred remains of the experiment, causing her to flee with Woman, who promises to take her to the last bastion of humanity in the nearby mines. They escape drones and other field robots, but shockingly enough, Woman takes daughter to a mobile storage unit in the desert. It turns out Woman fled the mines as humans there went mad and killed each other off. Woman was wounded in the war, ergo why she went to Daughter's base for treatment. After recovering, she tricked Daughter, as she didn't want the girl staying with Mother, who she felt was manipulative.

A repentant Daughter secretly leaves Woman in the dead of the night, returning to Mother to take care of her newborn brother. And it's then the truth comes out, as she realizes the Earth is flourishing again and its robots working. When daughter returns to the bunker, she finds it guarded by robots. However, Mother tells her soldiers to stand down and allows Daughter back in. Mother admits she gave the order for robots to kill humanity ages ago. She's part of a hive mind engineered to create a better future, and her calculations revealed it could only happen with a purge. Following the robot apocalypse, it's now Mother's job to create better humans, worthy of this new Eden, and Daughter is her best student.


After Daughter realizes Mother spared her for coming back home, she embraces what the bot was trying to accomplish. She doesn't agree with her methods and overall actions, but Daughter decides to stay and help raise her brother, as she believes it's all part of the greater good. Upon Daughter accepting this way of life, Mother takes the gun in the girl's hand and helps her pull the trigger, killing the artificial intelligence.

Mother's real purpose has finally been achieved: find a human successor and a human who can now act as Mother (a nod to Mother Earth) and preside over the next generation of lab experiments with a warm, personal touch while understanding both the pros and cons of bots and humans. Mother knew a human mother was the best bet for developing worthy kids for the future and this assisted suicide is her way of passing the baton to Daughter.

Mother's game doesn't end in the bunker, however, as we see one last robot alive with her consciousness opening Woman's chambers in the desert, following a tracker she placed in the refugee's bag. In a tense exchange, Mother subtly reveals Woman was actually the first experiment the robot created, which she let loose in the wilderness. This explains why Woman can't remember her parents and thinks she's adopted. Woman was part of Mother's endgame. Mother manipulated Woman so that if she ever found her way home, she'd tempt the person Mother was grooming -- in this case, Daughter. Once Daughter turned her back on Woman, Mother knew she'd found the right person to take over for her. With the mission complete Mother slams the door shut and is implied to have killed Woman, as they've both fulfilled their roles in saving humanity.

Directed by Grant Sputore from a story he co-wrote with Michael Lloyd Green, I Am Mother stars Hilary Swank, Clara Rugaard and Rose Byrne. The film is streaming on Netflix now.

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