As you might expect, major spoilers from The Mother ahead!
Jennifer Lopez has proven herself on screen time and time again, but mostly she’s lent her talents to a number of beloved JLo romantic comedies and some dramas that show just how impactful she can be in much more serious fare. Now, those with a Netflix subscription have finally gotten a look at her new action movie, The Mother, and while critics, overall, seem less than impressed with it, they also largely acknowledge that The Mother cast would be worse off without their lead.
I happened to really enjoy Lopez’s new film, as well as her turn in it, and while there aren’t many things one could pick apart about how the action wraps up, if you want a full explainer of how her titular character saves her daughter, Zoe, and what that final scene means for their future, we’ve got you covered!
How The Mother Saved Zoe
After (relatively quickly) dispatching of her first nefarious ex-lover, Hector Álvarez, when he kidnapped Zoe and took her to his “castle” in Cuba, The Mother leaves Zoe with the FBI’s Agent Cruise shortly before reuniting the girl with her adoptive family. However, she decides to tail the duo, and finds them as they’ve been ambushed by her second evil former lover/partner-in-crime, Adrian Lovell.
She rescues Zoe, taking her back to her hideout in a very remote part of Alaska, where she trains the girl to survive anything that might come her way. And, that was incredibly necessary, because an eventual accident leads Adrian and his men right to their door after a few months.
The Mother manages to take out all of his goons, but when she’s called out by Adrian, they soon find themselves in a tense hand-to-hand combat. She’s told Zoe to run, but the girl is eager to prove that all of her training was worth it, and (while hidden from their view) shoots a non-lethal salt round at them, knocking them both down the side of the large hill they’re fighting on. Her mom is knocked unconscious, so Zoe drops her weapon and heads down to check on her, but Adrian catches her first, gets her into his vehicle and begins to drive off with her.
Before long, The Mother comes to and sees Adrian driving away with Zoe. She’s woozy from having hit her head on a rock in the fall, and has just snapped her dislocated shoulder back into place, but she gathers herself, picks up her nearby weapon, and fires at the vehicle. That first shot misses Adrian, but her second one doesn’t. As she’s screaming and crying, thinking she was unable to stop them, their SUV slowly comes to a stop, Zoe kicks Adrian out, leaps over his dead body and runs the long distance to her mother’s side.
What The Last Scene Means
Having saved her daughter from both of the men who’d hoped to use Zoe to lure The Mother out of hiding, she returns the girl to her adoptive parents. But, the very last scene sees Zoe happily skating through a park with the people who raised her…through the lens of some binoculars. The Mother is in a very nice apartment nearby, almost on the very top floor, watching, and Zoe is completely aware that she’s there, as the girl stops, looks up, and fires an imaginary weapon at her. The Mother smiles, puts her hand to her heart and we see that Zoe has made a bracelet for her that reads “MOM”. She says to herself, “You got me,” and both smile as Zoe walks away with her parents, and The Mother leaves her post at the window.
Director Niki Caro spoke to Tudum (opens in new tab) about that final scene, and confirmed that the future looks bright for the mother and daughter, who had to bond under some extreme circumstances:
The idea is: she’s always going to be there as her protector. You see her wearing the little bracelet that her daughter made for her, which indicates that they have a relationship going forward.
While Lopez’s character had tried to save Zoe previously by staying away from her — from giving up her parental rights shortly after giving birth, to leaving after Zoe’s original rescue — she’s now able to protect her and still know her, which is one of the best outcomes for all involved.
Why The Ending Works So Well
As noted, The Mother only gave up her right to parent Zoe because she was convinced by an FBI agent that she wouldn’t be able to protect her, even if they were in witness protection together, especially as the former criminal was seen as someone whose actions led to the deaths of several other federal agents while she was in custody.
Once she’s pulled out of hiding by Cruise to help save her daughter (which was part of The Mother’s original requirements for giving up her parental rights) we see that she’s struggling to even admit to the girl that she’s her biological mother, and they have a very hard time connecting amid her many efforts to keep her safe (of which Zoe is thankful for).
However, one of the things we also see is how the wolf mother who lives near their Alaskan hideout with her cubs is able to be both a fierce protector and also have the closeness with her cubs that The Mother wanted (and still wants) to have with Zoe.
Though Lopez’s unnamed Mother seems to have two emotions/modes through most of the film (anger and determination), she clearly feels for Zoe, especially in her current predicament, which was brought on by The Mother’s past actions. The end of the movie works so well because it allows her to finally merge her feelings for Zoe and her need to protect her, and shows that the two now have the ability to forge a real bond.
Zoe still adores her adoptive parents, but can also see The Mother as her mother, and The Mother is able to protect her while being open to the softer side of her maternal instincts. Win-win!