Netflix's 'IO' Ending Explained

Now that Netflix is spending billions upon billions of dollars each year on original content, the streaming service has made a habit of releasing new original movies and television series each and every weekend. This past Friday saw quite a few titles released, including the mysterious IO, which got the attention of fans when it dropped a thrilling trailer featuring Margaret Qualley and Anthony Mackie.

Well, if you chose to stream the sci-fi movie this weekend, you learned that it wasn't exactly what the trailer had advertised. IO is an incredibly slow burn, with most of the movie taking place in a single location, and featuring almost nothing but the two characters talking about their decision to remain on Earth or leave for Io. The film is pretty dull, until maybe the last two or three minutes when everything happens all at once. With such a sudden whirlwind of a finale, you might be left a little confused by what exactly transpired, especially if you're one of the many who lost interest earlier in the movie. Don't worry though, we've got you covered.

WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Netflix's IO! Continue reading at your own risk...

So the entire movie is basically a conversation between Sam (Qualley) and Micah (Mackie) about whether or not they will abandon Earth on the last flight to Io. Micah at one point makes the decision for them, saying that they will go together, and that it isn't an option. Sam apparently had other plans.

While the duo were in the city (where the air isn't supposed to be breathable) trying to collect gas to power the balloon to the launch site, Sam disappeared to the museum that she had told Micah about earlier in the film. When he finds her, she uses a tale from mythology to explain that she has to stay behind on Earth, and that she thinks there is still hope that it can be inhabited again.

She proves her point by doing the unthinkable and taking off her helmet. Micah rushes over to try and stop her but he's too late. The helmet comes off right as he reaches her, and the camera cuts away as soon as she tells him "it's okay." The goal here was to leave the mystery lingering for a few seconds longer, as the next shot simply shows Micah staring out of the window of his balloon on the way to the launch site.

The question of what happened to Sam is answered very quickly, as she is seen walking to the edge of the ocean, a place she's always wanted to go. Not wearing any sort of helmet or suit, it's clear that the air on Earth is in fact breathable. Sam narrates the moment with a letter she's written to Micah, saying she hopes he can and the others can one day return to the planet.

IO's "twist" arrives in the final seconds when it's revealed that Sam isn't alone. A young child runs up beside her on the beach, and it's clear that the kid belongs to her and Micah. Without making any sort of announcement, the film jumped forward a few years in time, confirming that life on Earth is sustainable. Sam can continue life on Earth for two generations, teaching her child everything she knows in an effort to get the human race back home. This was probably her plan all along. Think back to the scene in the middle of the film where Sam and Micah slept together. He was hesitant to do so, but she insisted that he had to, which seemed odd at the time. But this was Sam's way of trying to prolong life on Earth as long as possible, knowing she was going to stay behind.


So, long story short, the Earth is going to be fine, and both Sam and her child are going to do their best to convince the people living on Jupiter's moons that it's okay to return home.

What did you think of IO? Let us know in the comments!