If you need the I Am Mother ending explained to you, then you're not alone. There are tons of viewers who watched Netflix's sci-fi flick and wondered just what the heck happened once the credits started rolling.
A quick warning going into this post, if you haven't seen the film, then just know that there are ginormous spoilers lurking ahead, so if you're not cool with that, you might not want to continue reading.
First, what is I Am Mother about?
The film starts off as a post-apocalyptic movie where audiences are introduced to Mother, a robot that was created solely to help repopulate Earth with human beings using embryos. Mother is also in charge of raising someone named Daughter (played by Clara Rugaard) all alone in a remote bunker.
A wrench gets thrown in the film's plot about girl-and-robot when a woman shows up, played by Hilary Swank, and starts telling Daughter that Mother has lied to her, especially about the way the world has ended.
So who's responsible for the end of the world? Well, if you've seen The Terminator or The Matrix or Moon then you probably know where this is going...
What does the ending of I Am Mother mean?
It's quite clear by the end of the film that Mother is responsible for the destruction of humanity. An artificial intelligence system — similar to the one that Tesla founder Elon Musk is afraid of — has decided that the best thing for all of humankind would be to give us a "reset." Wiping us all out and raising us the right way, from scratch.
As it turns out, Daughter is an experiment in this process, the third, actually. Remember those bones in the incinerator? Yeah, those were remains from the first two "Daughters" that Mother deemed weren't good enough to cut the mustard. Or at least, that's what we're lead to believe is in the incinerator.
But there is a major I Am Mother twist.
As it turns out, the Woman (Hilary) was actually the first Daughter experiment. She tells the current Daughter that she was raised by a human family that adopted her and lived in tunnels following the apocalypse, but that they were killed by droids.
This isn't the case though, and audiences discover this when a droid follows her home and corners her in her house: a shipping container.
When searching through her bag, Woman finds a tracking device that was placed there by Mother. The Droid asks Woman a simple question that blows open her whole backstory: why doesn't she ever remember her "birth parents?" Why was she able to survive this long while everyone else she knew around her had died or was killed? Had she even thought about what her "purpose" was?
After melting Woman's mind, Mother then has the shipping container closed, with the implication that Woman is going to get murked.
Why was Hilary Swank's character, Woman, left alive?
It was all part of Mother's experiment. Woman was deemed to be a failure because she continually lied to save herself and made choices that harmed others in order to guarantee her own neck would be saved. She opts to live in the Wasteland herself instead of staying behind with Daughter.
Daughter, on the other hand was selfless, nurturing, and kind. She even elects to stay behind in the bunker to help raise the human that Mother creates, Brother. Mother's A.I. recognized this as an indication that Daughter was indeed the "perfect" human being and "worthy" of raising Brother all by herself. Which is why she allows Daughter to raise Brother without the Mother A.I. to guide her.
Woman's death was a consequence of Mother's plan coming together: she was no longer needed because Daughter (Clara) was a success.
Wait, what happened to the dog in I Am Mother?
One of the more seemingly random parts of the film have to do with a cute dog that Daughter interacts with that belongs to Woman. After Daughter leaves Woman's presence, she leaves her a small gift, an Origami dog.
Woman seemingly takes this the wrong way when she heals up in the facility Daughter resides in.
The documentary that Daughter watches about dogs as domesticated creatures serving humankind is very pertinent to Woman: she is that same domesticated dog. She even says as much when bitterly talking to Daughter and asking if the young girl only views her as a "little pet friend."
This redditor explained the significance behind dogs in the film very well:
"Humanity created an AI designed to take care of us, and that's what it did. Only it decided to take care of us the way we take care of dogs. We all love dogs, but we still have the bad ones put down, and we still control their freedoms (breeding programs, neutering, etc...). Mother was willing to put down the entire human race, in order to raise her own 'perfect' breed of human.
And just like dogs really have no say in their own futures, and instead depend almost completely on what we think is best for them, humanity is similarly trapped. The new generations of human are eventually going to walk out into a world completely controlled by Mother; a world where humanity is Mother's pet. A world ruled by what is, for all intents and purposes, an unbeatable, omnipresent, super-intelligent god (if Mother really did plan both Daughter and the Woman's entire lives, without either of them noticing). And there's going to be nothing humanity can do but knuckle under and accept the authority of their new Overlord, which demands that everybody be a Good Boy and Girl lest they be put down. And there's really nothing I can see humans doing about that, just like how dogs, as a species, couldn't ever really get out from under our control on their own accord. We are too interested in dogs, and we know dogs to well, and we are way, way to smart for them to ever shake us off."
Some trippy stuff. The ending is a bit dark, but at least we know that Daughter is a selfless individual, right?
As for what happens to the dog, well, since everything is pretty much eliminated once it serves its purpose (Woman, the Droid) then we can safely assume the same happened to the puppy...sad. I know.
Stream I Am Mother on Netflix now.