Shocked by The Old Guard's Ending? Here's a Breakdown of That Final Twist
Netflix's The Old Guard tumbled into our queues at full speed, giving us Charlize Theron as a kickass immortal mercenary named Andy. If you miss getting riled up by summer blockbuster cliffhangers, this movie delivers right in that front. Andy's immortal friend Quynh (Van Veronica Ngo) was seemingly tortured for eternity after priests tossed her in an iron maiden in the sea centuries ago. But contrary to what we had been led to believe, Quynh is no longer doomed to perpetually relive her horrific death — in the coda, she pops up in an apartment with no word on her escape. If that final twist has you confused, here's a breakdown of that sequel setup of an ending.
Throughout the film, pharma-bro Steven Merrick (Harry Melling) hunts down Andy's group of fellow immortals to understand their abilities and conduct experiments on them. Booker (Matthias Schoenaerts), one of the immortals, helped Merrick capture his friends with the hope that he'll learn how to stop their immortality. When they take Andy, they discover that she lost her powers after she didn't immediately heal from a gunshot wound. Newbie immortal Nile (KiKi Layne) and former CIA agent Copley (Chiwetel Ejiofor) help the captured mercenaries. After they get rid of Merrick, Copley points out the good that the group members have done. It's now his job to help the immortals with their missions and erase their tracks.
As punishment for his betrayal, the immortals exile Booker from their group for 100 years. Six months later, there's a wrench thrown into that plan: during a drunken stupor, Booker discovers Quynh in his Paris apartment. Which is odd. Earlier in the film, Nile had horrifying visions of Quynh, Andy's first immortal comrade. After they fought side by side, Quynh had been captured for witchcraft. Priests threw her into an iron coffin and tossed her into the sea over 500 years ago. This meant that Quynh would repeatedly die and come back to life in the water.
How does Quynh make it out then? This ending clearly sets up a sequel, should there be one. While we don't have any answers, we can take a look at the original comics by Greg Rucka, who also wrote the screenplay. In the graphic novel, Quynh is a woman named Noriko, who was one of Andy's first fellow immortals as well as her lover. (Noriko is a Japanese name. Quynh is a Vietnamese one, and the character's ethnicity was changed at the request of actress Van Veronica Ngo, who you might know as Paige Tico from The Last Jedi.) Noriko drowns over and over again after getting washed overboard during a storm. When she's out of this torturous cycle for good, she definitely has a chip on her shoulder. Hardened by her underwater experience, Noriko wants to make humanity suffer and becomes the antagonist of The Old Guard: Force Multiplied.
So, let's unpack Quynh's onscreen fate. The reason why she didn't get lost out at sea in a storm was partially budgetary, according to Rucka in a Polygon interview. Now, it's a mystery as to how she escaped from the iron maiden in the water. Over time, perhaps, the metal may have corroded to the point where Quynh was able to break free. Or someone retrieved the tomb and opened it while exploring the sea or finding the device ashore, allowing Quynh to come back to life for good. However Quynh got herself out of this predicament, it's clear that she has serious trauma to work through.