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SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for The Old Guard. If you have not yet watched the film, read on at your own risk!
While the Summer Without Blockbusters continues, movie-lovers have been extra hungry for new streaming content, and Netflix has now delivered with the explosion of kick-ass cinema that is Gina Prince-Bythewood’s The Old Guard. Based on the comic of the same name, the movie is an origin story of sorts for the central team of immortals and puts them on an exciting, testing adventure – and it ends with an awesome final battle plus a fantastic set-up for a potential follow-up.
So what happens in the ending of The Old Guard and what could it mean for the future? In this latest installment of our Ending Explained column, we dive into exactly that – and fitting with tradition, we’ll start with the recap.
What Happens At The End Of The Old Guard
In the aftermath of the big climactic battle in the London offices of Merrick’s pharmaceutical company, the immortals gather at a pub to discuss an important matter: the consequences for Booker’s betrayal. While Andy, Joe and Nicky talk, Booker waits outside and is joined by Nile, who extricates herself from the others while the conversation continues. Booker notices that Andy gave Nile her phone back, and the former marine tells him that Copley is going to help her by having her declared killed in action so that her family gets peace of mind.
With a sentencing decision made, Andy steps outside to tell Booker where things stand with him and the rest of the group. She explains that he is not to make contact with any of them for a full century, and that they will reunite in the same place once the shunning period is over. Carrying both pain and understanding in his voice, the remorseful traitor explains that he hoped for less, but that he expected more.
Leaving Booker behind, Andy, Joe, Nicky and Nile go to Copley’s office and have the opportunity to go over the incredible research done by the former CIA agent, who condenses his explanation earlier in The Old Guard saying that the group has done so much good over such an extreme amount of time that their contribution to existence is exponential. As Nile notes to Andy, it seems that Copley has found the “why” behind the reason the members of the group cannot die.
Despite no longer being immortal herself, Andy is clearly reinvigorated by the notion, and begins explaining how things are going to work going forward. Using his smarts and resources, Copley is made responsible both for cleaning up any trace of the immortals’ existence, and finding them missions that are suited for their particular skills. Joe explains that it’s not a request, but it’s no matter as Copley sees it as an honor.
Following The Old Guard’s title card, the film leaves audiences with one last scene. In Paris an undetermined amount of time later, Booker arrives at his apartment completely drunk – dropping and smashing a bottle while making his way to his front door. Hammered as he may be, however, he is still alert enough to sense the presence of someone inside, and enters his place with his gun drawn. A mysterious woman pours herself a drink and says, “Booker. It’s nice to finally meet you.” As she takes a sip, it’s revealed that this woman is none other than the legendary Quynh.
There is a lot of set-up here for an Old Guard 2 here, so let’s unpack this piece by piece, shall we?
What’s Next For Andy And The Immortals?
The heroes in The Old Guard certainly run the gauntlet over the course of the film, as they are set-up, betrayed, drugged, kidnapped, tortured, experimented on, and die multiple times, while also dealing with the stress of initiating a new member to the team. They have a seriously rough go of it for the duration – but to look on the bright side, one could argue that they are in a better position than ever before when the title card pops up.
Obviously the immortals have remarkable talents and plenty of resources, but what they’ve long lacked is real organization and a true mission statement – but now that gap has been filled. While it’s true that he was duplicitous in the past, Copley’s passion for the work that the heroes are doing is genuine, and he has the exact skills that are needed. Furthermore, the research that he has done, clearly demonstrating how generations of good have resulted from their work, is the best possible motivation and will help all of the members keep their eye on the prize.
There is, of course, one significant problem, which is that the leader of the band of immortals isn’t actually immortal anymore. Andy is fortunate to discover that her healing abilities are gone after receiving a non-lethal injury, and she certainly seems like she is in good shape at the very end of The Old Guard, but every mission going forward will come with a risk that didn’t previously exist in such a concrete way. She’s clearly still an important asset within the group, as her experience as potentially the longest-living being on Earth is invaluable, but tactics and strategy will need to change in battle.
The team could likely function like this for a very long time, but then there is also that other lingering story hanging out there…
What Does Quynh’s Return Mean?
As recounted in the second act of The Old Guard, the fate that befell Quynh centuries before the start of the main story in the movie is a nightmare that is basically the scenario that all immortal beings should fear. Back when she and Andy were the only known members of their “kind,” people viewed her ability to near-instantly heal and come back from the dead as witchcraft, and her sentence was to be locked in a tomb that was then dropped in the ocean. Andy spent years looking for her, but the search was fruitless, and to achieve any kind of closure she had to give up.
Andy’s story definitely delivered the impression that Quynh was either trapped forever or, in a phrase, exceeded her expiration date and saw her immortality come to an end, but The Old Guard’s last scene sweeps both of those options off the table and reveals Option C: she is alive and well.
Of course, the big question we’re left grappling with in the aftermath is in regard to Quynh’s feelings toward Andy and her allies. Sure, we’re curious about both how and when she managed to escape her underwater prison, but those are just details whereas her feelings should ultimately dictate story if there is an Old Guard 2. Does she still care about Andy and has been trying to find her? (Perhaps it was easier to find Booker than anyone else following his severance?) Or does she feel betrayed by the fact that Andy stopped looking for her, and is trying to create a new ally with someone who has also seemingly been cast aside?
With Quynh’s final moment in The Old Guard being so brief, it’s hard to precisely tell what her emotional status is – which is probably purposeful just so that the filmmakers have more options in the making of a follow-up. However, whichever way she is leaning is surely going to have a significant impact on her scene partner in the mid-credits sequence, which leads us to our final section:
Is Booker Going To Become A Villain?
At this point, Booker’s fate seems to be very much tied to Quynh’s. From what we can tell in the moments prior to the two characters meeting, it doesn’t exactly seem like the man once known as Sebastian Le Livre has it all together without the support of the immortals, and a full century is a long time to wait to be reunited with the people you care most about in the world.
It’s a thought-provoking situation motivated by the fact that in The Old Guard Booker isn’t the antagonist that most movies would set his character up to be. In most stories in this genre there is a Dante-esque perspective when it comes to traitors, viewing them as the worst of the sinners – but the heroes of this story are more evolved than that, and have known him long enough that they can’t just cut ties with him permanently (it’s also significant that “permanent” has a much different meaning for people who ostensibly live forever).
The Old Guard ends in such a reasonable place between Booker and the others that it’s hard to precisely predict points of conflict and how things will turn out. At the same time, it’s possible that a sequel could be set 100 years in the future and pick up after the Frenchman’s sentence has been completed and find the main characters in totally new circumstances.
As of right now we don’t really know what the future for this potential series is, but you can be sure that we here at CinemaBlend are highly anticipating any and all news. Stay tuned for updates as well as more of our coverage of this awesome movie, and feel free to watch The Old Guard again and again on Netflix.