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The Ending Of Penguin Bloom Explained

In just its first day on Netflix, Penguin Bloom has already carved out a place for itself as the most memorable Naomi Watts animal team-up since her ill-fated trip to Skull Island. As movies with "penguin" in the title that feature minimal penguin screentime go, it's basically top shelf.

Directed by Hunters alum Glendyn Ivin, Penguin Bloom tells the story of the Blooms, the honest-to-goodness real family on which the film is based. True to the Blooms' recollection of events, it opens with family matriarch Sam (played by Naomi Watts) falling prey to a rotting guardrail on the observation deck of a hotel in Thailand. The devastating 20-foot fall leaves her paralyzed, despondent, and largely reliant on her husband Cameron (The Walking Dead's Andrew Lincoln). The household's new normal is a frustrating one, replete with bleak undertones and symbolic broken jars of honey.

As tends to happen in these movies, the family comes across an animal with a thick stream of metaphors running through its veins. In this case, it's one of the more dangerous birds on Earth – a young Australian magpie which has also fallen to injury. The bird, after some discussion, is named Penguin, and through her slow process of growth and recovery, she waddles lovingly into the position of the symbolic totem of Sam's wellbeing.

Penguin Bloom keeps the symbolism coming right to the end

Time continues its inevitable march forward, and Penguin keeps on keeping on, providing feathered comfort to Sam as she continues her journey toward emotional stability. Around the time that Sam becomes comfortable asking for help to pick herself off of the actual ground, Penguin takes her first flight, and two literal actions combine into a Voltron of metaphors.

In the end, Penguin goes the way of all animal companions, disappearing into the great unknown. A Time profile about the actual Bloom family goes into some detail about the last time that they saw their avian companion — the day that Sam left to compete in the ParaCanoe world kayaking championship. The family came to terms with the fact that their animal ward needed to be in the wild. "The endless blue sky was not ours to give, it was always hers by right," Cameron would later write.

The symbolism of Penguin Bloom may not be subtle, but it's rooted in truth. The Blooms would go on to publish several books about their time with Penguin and the positive effects attributed to the cheerful bird's presence. And, on a heartstring tugging note, History vs. Hollywood reports that the magpie really did come back for Noah's birthday. That's a feat that the dog from Marley and Me never pulled off. Good bird, Penguin.