Space Sweepers

Space Sweepers: Ending Explained

Dept. of Enlightening Explications


If you were looking for our spoiler-free review of Space Sweepers, then you’re in the wrong place. You’ll need to click here for that. If you did, however, need an explainer on how the many, many threads in the movie were eventually tied up, we’re here for you.

So let’s get started. (Oh yeah. Spoilers!)

The movie culminates in a massive space battle involving James Sullivan’s UTS forces and the ragtag group of Sweepers. Our heroes – Tae-ho (Song Joong-ki), Jang (Kim Tae-ri), Tiger Park (Jin Seon-kyu), and Bubs (Yoo Hai-jin) – make the decision to sacrifice themselves for the greater good, to save Kot-nim/Dorothy and the whole entire planet Earth. It’s all very noble.

Space Sweepers
Space Sweepers to the rescue!

They don’t die, obviously. It’s not that kind of movie. But the way they survived, and what happened next, might require some explanation.

First up, a list of all the obvious plot resolutions.

  1. The big bad guy, James Sullivan, gets blown up. He dies. Sorry, but there will be no sequel for you Richard Armitage.
  2. Sullivan’s confession was recorded and broadcast to all of humanity, revealing just how evil he actually was.
  3. All of the rich people living in Sullivan’s utopia practiced some proper benign neglect in pretending to not know – or care about – what UTS was really up to and what was going on down below on Earth. Will they change their ways now that everything has been revealed? Probably not.
  4. The Earth is saved! Life found a way! Mostly through superpowers and inexplicable nanorobots.
  5. After Sullivan’s death, UTS issued a non-apology apology and promised to restore “harmony across the solar system.” Can they be trusted? I guess we’ll find out in the inevitable Space Sweepers 2.
  6. Everyone lives happily ever after. Except Tae-ho’s daughter Su-ni, who was left for dead in the cold vacuum of space.
How could anyone this adorable possibly be a weapon of mass destruction?

Who is Kot-nim/Dorothy? What’s her story?

At the beginning of the movie, we are told that the authorities are looking for a weapon of mass destruction, disguised as an android, disguised as a little girl. When our squad encounter Kot-nim/Dorothy while out “space sweeping” they too believe the propaganda put out by UTS. At first, they think they can exploit the situation and sell her to the highest bidder, but things begin to change when they discover that they’ve been lied to and that Kot-nim/Dorothy is, in fact, a real human girl.

The story goes that Kot-nim/Dorothy was diagnosed with an incurable disease and her father, a brilliant scientist, injected her with nanobots as a way to save her life. It was soon discovered that the nanobots did more than that. They also gave her special powers (because, why wouldn’t they?) and she could, in a sense, use them to create new life.

When James Sullivan discovered this, he exploited her powers to create a utopia on Mars. He lied to the public, claiming that he had invented/discovered a super plant called the Tree of Life, when it was, in fact, Kot-nim/Dorothy all along. If her powers could be used to transform Mars, then surely she could also rejuvenate the Earth. Her escaping his clutches was thus very inconvenient for him.

Space Sweepers
Dude. What’s that on your face?

What Was Sullivan’s Evil Plan?

Believing that Earth was a lost cause, Sullivan decided to terraform Mars and let humanity start afresh; with him as their lord and saviour. His UTS had been draining the Earth of its wealth and resources while further polluting the planet by using it as a dumping ground for radioactive material.

After discovering, and exploiting, Kot-nim/Dorothy’s powers to transform Mars, Sullivan figured that humanity’s clean slate could begin. All he needed to do was kill little girl, as well as the Earth, by planting a massive bomb inside a space station and crashing it into the planet.

Space Sweepers
Uh oh! You got fooled!

How Did the Crew of the Victory Foil Sullivan’s Evil Plan?

With a lot of pew-pewing in space. First there was a showdown inside the Factory between our heroes and UTS’ Chappie-like soldiers. And then there was a space battle between all the Space Sweepers and UTS’ army of drones. But the final fight, between the Victory and Darth Vader’s Tie Advanced Sullivan’s ship involved a cunning bait and switch.

We learn that the crew secretly gave Kot-nim/Dorothy to their friend Pierre, who took her on his ship, while they stole the bomb from the Factory and lead Sullivan as far away from Earth as possible. The plan was to let the bomb explode far enough away from Kot-nim/Dorothy so the resulting “Krypton Wave” won’t destroy the nanobots that are keeping her alive.

When Sullivan rips into the Victory with his mech-space-suit, he realises that Kot-nim/Dorothy is not on board. The timer ticks down to zero. The bomb explodes. The bad guy dies.

The good guys, however, have a guardian angel…

Space Sweepers
No, it’s not Wanda, those red things are Lagrangian nanobots.

How Did the Crew of the Victory Survive?

Nanobots of course. Let’s just say, for the purposes of this movie, that every good outcome can be explained by way of nanobots. In fact, this entire “Space Sweepers: Ending Explained” article could have been summed up in one word: nanobots.

As the bomb explodes, Kot-nim/Dorothy uses her powers to engulf the Victory in indestructible Lagrangian nanobots, sheltering them from the explosion, and saving their lives.

How did she manage to summon the nanobots from so far away? Who knows? Maybe her powers extend far beyond what she can already do. Maybe it was a convenient deus ex machina. But everyone lived. Happy days are here again.

Space Sweepers
“My mind to your mind, my thoughts to your thoughts…”

What About Tae-ho and his daughter, Su-ni?

The answer to this is question is also… yup, you guessed it… nanorobots.

Now that he was a real proper hero, Tae-ho was finally able to get some resolution with regards to his long lost daughter Su-ni. Kot-nim/Dorothy was able to use her nanobot abilities to form a telepathic link between Tae-ho and Su-ni so he could say one final goodbye.

Space Sweepers
It isn’t a Korean movie unless someone tragically dies.

Tae-ho it seems had just missed his chance to save her. Su-ni had unfortunately “departed the orbit” sometime that year which meant she had died while being stranded out in space for too long.

Space Sweepers
It’s family dinner time on board the Victory!

What About the Rest of the Crew?

After saving the planet, the crew of the Victory are now legitimate, upstanding citizens. Their criminal records have been wiped clean. Tae-ho has closure regarding his daughter. Bubs has got herself a new body. And Kot-nim/Dorothy spends her time between her adopted family on the Victory and using her powers to rejuvenate and restore the Earth.

They’re all one big happy family now.

Space Sweepers
Would you trust an accountant called Porky?

Who Is Porky? What’s Going on in That Epilogue?

Early in the movie, Bubs tells Tae-ho that their accountant, Porky, had stolen all of their money and run off with it. The epilogue of Space Sweepers shows them having tracked down and captured Porky, implying that they retrieved their money and possibly paid off their debts. Heck, maybe saving the universe got them some delicious reward money too.

Is There Going to Be a Space Sweepers 2?

We don’t know! I mean, who knows how Netflix really makes these decisions? (They cancelled Teenage Bounty Hunters for Chrissakes! Yes, we’re still mad about that.) But given the positive buzz around Space Sweepers, and it’s relatively modest budget, there is a good chance we might get a sequel.

Space Sweepers

Have we covered everything? Do you have any other questions about Space Sweepers? Reach out to us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Space Sweepers is now streaming on Netflix.

Uma has been reviewing things for most of his life: movies, television shows, books, video games, his mum's cooking, Bahir's fashion sense. He is a firm believer that the answer to most questions can be found within the cinematic canon. In fact, most of what he knows about life he learned from Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. He still hasn't forgiven Christopher Nolan for the travesties that are Interstellar and The Dark Knight Rises.

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