The Ending of 'Keep Breathing,' Explained

Does Liv make it out of the woods?

keep breathing ending explained netflix
(Image credit: Ricardo Hubbs/Netflix)

The new Netflix miniseries Keep Breathing shows a woman's thrilling journey as she tries to survive the wilderness alone. In its low-key terrifying set-up, New York lawyer Liv (played by In the Heights' Melissa Barrera) catches a flight on an unchartered private plane to meet her estranged mother in northwest Canada. After the plane crashes, leaving Liv alone with no one knowing where she is, the young woman struggles to get back to civilization.

The six-episode series is filled with surprises, from Liv's travel companions actually being drug runners to the lawyer having a tense run-in with a bear. It also turns out that Liv's pregnant, and that she was looking for the mother who abandoned her as a child so she could see whether she would actually be a good mom. In the final episodes, through memories and hallucinations, Liv finds a path to healing from her trauma, and maybe getting out of the intense ordeal.

Liv has hallucinations about her father and her boyfriend Danny.

The finale begins with Liv surviving her fall from the cliff edge, thanks in part to her hitting several tree branches on the way down. Once she lands, she has bruising and is in a state of shock, during which she hallucinates a conversation with her doctor about finding de-stressing activities while she's pregnant. Eventually, she gets lost in the memory of her deceased father, remembering his encouragement to "get up" every morning as she gets her bearings and continues to walk north.

Her memories throughout the day skew toward her parents, as she recalls painting as a child (a talent she shared with her mother), as well as caring for her ill father as an adult. As she walks, she has a bucket list moment as she witnesses the Northern Lights. She then hallucinates Danny, telling him that she should have told him that she's pregnant. She also says that she does believe she'll be a good mother, something that has been troubling her throughout the show.

keep breathing ending explained netflix

(Image credit: Ricardo Hubbs/Netflix)

Liv realizes she doesn't need to meet her mom.

During a heavy downpour, Liv remembers a conversation between herself and her dying father, where she asks why he never gave her the postcards from her mother. Her dad says that they were not for her, but she says he had no right to decide whether she could see them. Eventually she kisses his forehead as a seeming sign of forgiveness, and after he reassures he'll always stay by her side, he dies.

After her memory is over, Liv hears a rushing noise and thinks that she's by a road, but it's actually an aggressive river. As she loses hope, she hallucinates her father, who says that he feels the presence of her mother when he's around nature. Liv admits that she thought by finding her mother, she could discover the truth about herself, but she now realizes her journey to find her mom was impulsive. Her dad tells her that she's only like her mother in her "eyes and smile," but that nothing else is like her. As Liv realizes she doesn't need to meet the woman who abandoned her, the hallucination of her dad tells her to rest and hands her the postcards.

Liv floats down the river.

After that final realization, having reckoned with everything that troubled her before the plane crash and begun to heal, Liv taps into the never-give-up attitude she got from her father. She grabs a log and enters the river, hoping that it will take her to civilization. As she floats, she thinks of a future: having the baby and reuniting with Danny. In between the dreams, we see fishermen find Liv by the river. As we see a flash of her happy family, Liv coughs up water and takes a breath.

keep breathing ending explained netflix

(Image credit: Ricardo Hubbs/Netflix)

The show's creators confirmed that Liv did survive.

Some viewers have questioned whether Liv was actually rescued in the final scene, which is fair considering the show's plentiful flashbacks. However, in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, co-creators Martin Gero and Brendan Gall gave a definite answer on whether Liv lives.

"The ending is literal in that she survives," Gall told the outlet. "We see her wake up again and take that breath. The ambiguous part, the part up for interpretation, is whether the images of her and Danny going to the hospital are flash forwards or her imagined future when she believes she's dying. Both are valid."

"But she survives. She absolutely survives," Gero added, driving the point home.

With the confirmation that the show's heroine does make it through her river journey, there is a possibility that Keep Breathing may get a second season. The show is billed as a limited series on Netflix, but there's always a chance that a miniseries' success will lead to a renewal (see Big Little Lies or The White Lotus). It also helps that star Barrera would be up to return to the character.

"When I watched it, I turned to [creator Martin Gero] and I was like, 'Should we make a season two? I want to go back,'" she told PopSugar. "It just took me back to the experience of making it, and even though it was the hardest thing I've ever done, it was so rewarding and so satisfying and so fun. And all the best things that you would want in a role, I had with this." 

Contributing Culture Editor

Quinci is a Contributing Culture Editor who writes pieces and helps to strategize editorial content across TV, movies, music, theater, and pop culture. She contributes interviews with talent, as well as SEO content, features, and trend stories. She fell in love with storytelling at a young age, and eventually discovered her love for cultural criticism and amplifying awareness for underrepresented storytellers across the arts. She previously served as a weekend editor for Harper’s Bazaar, where she covered breaking news and live events for the brand’s website, and helped run the brand’s social media platforms, including Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Her freelance writing has also appeared in outlets including HuffPost, The A.V. Club, Elle, Vulture, Salon, Teen Vogue, and others. Quinci earned her degree in English and Psychology from The University of New Mexico. She was a 2021 Eugene O’Neill Critics Institute fellow, and she is a member of the Television Critics Association. She is currently based in her hometown of Los Angeles. When she isn't writing or checking Twitter way too often, you can find her studying Korean while watching the latest K-drama, recommending her favorite shows and films to family and friends, or giving a concert performance while sitting in L.A. traffic.