Oxygen Plot Synopsis
Gasping for air, a woman wrapped in a strange organic cocoon awakens. She’s inside a cramped cryogenic chamber with no recollection of how she got there. With oxygen levels slowly decreasing and only computer AI MILO for company, Liz scrambles to work out who she is and – more importantly – how to escape.
Was Liz really married to Leo? Or was it all a lie?
Throughout the movie, Liz experiences a life back home through various flashbacks. She has a house and is married to a guy called Leo. One telling sequence however, shows her husband looking really ill while playing the piano.
Another (very important, we’ll touch on this later) shows leaves spinning through the air down to the ground while she’s outside.
The realization that these memories call all be a lie stems from her phone calls with Captain Moreau. Moreau communicates with Liz throughout the movie, seemingly trying to help by finding the codes to open her pod.
Along the way, he drops the bombshell reveal that she was never married and this life is simply a figment of her imagination, thanks to the trauma she’s suffering from. However, a faint voice in the background seems to give Moreau instructions. So what’s going on?
Who is Elizabeth Hansen?
Well, the older woman from the Moreau phone call soon rings Liz back. She gives her the codes to open the pod but implores the girl not to do so as it will be fatal. The woman she’s speaking to is the real Liz, and the one inside this pod is actually a clone.
Where is Liz?
It turns out Liz is 42,735 miles away from Earth and was placed in hyper-sleep to carry out her mission. That mission is to colonize a planet orbiting around Wolf 10-61 which is 14 light years from Earth.
The spaceship she’s on is joined by numerous other pods, which we catch a glimpse of during a gorgeous rotating shot during one of the movie’s revealing sequences.
Some time along the way, the mission went awry thanks to an asteroid hitting the ship. The impact wiped out hundreds of pods. This explains why Liz suddenly woke up when she did.
How old is Liz? What’s really happening to her?
So it turns out Liz is actually 12 years old and these other pods are full of cloned versions of their real counterparts back on Earth. Liz and Leo are the real architects of this entire project, with the former giving a speech about cloning and implanting memories back on Earth.
This explains the organic cocoon wrapping and the hazy memories too; Liz’s clone is struggling to make sense of what’s real and what’s not.
Foreshadowing and symbology
Along the way, Oxygen throws in numerous clues and hints around what’s going on. The lab rats are, of course, indicative of the situation Liz finds herself in. She herself is a lab rat and she’s caught in this maze, forced to use her memory to try and piece together what’s happening.
Interestingly, the spinning leaves we saw early on in the flashbacks are reminiscent of the pods spinning down to the planet these clones are due to colonize. During MILO’s exposition dump about the planet and mission, we see a hologram of the spaceship hovering over the planet and numerous forms spinning down.
The final shot of the cloned pair down on their new world could even have echoes of Christian symbology here too, with the pair playing out their roles like Adam and Eve; the first two humans in a new world.
How does Oxygen end?
Liz manages to re-initiate hyper-sleep again thanks to rediverting power and giving herself precious minutes to hook herself back up to the pod. With her oxygen dangerously low, Liz records a message for Leo before MILO moves the oxygen supply from the destroyed pods over to hers, saving her life while she’s in hyper-sleep.
With Liz back in her deep slumber and saved from catastrophe, we’re led to believe 34 years pass (the length of time to arrive at this new world.)
The final shot of Oxygen sees a rocky beach with numerous moons in the sky. The cloned versions of Liz and Leo both look out at their new home with memories of the original couple intact.
To read our full thoughts on this movie, check out our spoiler-free review HERE!)
Thanks for reading our Ending Explained article! What did you think of Oxygen’s ending? Did you guess the surprise twist at the end? Let us know in the comments below!