Disney+’s The Shepherd Ending, Explained: Was Joe a Ghost?

There are times in a person’s life when they find themselves in a bind that feels impossible to come out. But then something happens, which can only be described as a miracle, which solves the issue that seemed insurmountable before. It happens to Freddie Hook in Disney+’s ‘The Shepherd’ when he realizes that he might die a cold death in the depths of the ocean right before Christmas. He prays for a miracle, and he gets one, but it’s nothing he could have imagined, even in his wildest dreams. But the twist doesn’t stop at just one. SPOILERS AHEAD

The Shepherd Plot Synopsis

RAF pilot Freddie Hook takes off from an airbase in Germany to fly home to the UK. The flight should take about an hour and a half, and even if there’s a delay, he has enough fuel to last him another hour. The weather forecast shows clear skies ahead, which means Hook should be at his destination right on time. He is the only one flying that night, but he is excited to be home to his family, especially Lizzie, the girl he’s in love with.

Midway through the flight, when Freddie is over the North Sea, things start to go haywire. First, his compass stops working, which means he has no sense of direction. He has to rely on commands from the base, but when he tries to contact them, he discovers that his radio has malfunctioned, too. If he cannot establish contact with them, it will become impossible for him to navigate his way, especially considering that there is an unexpected fog in his path. With the fuel depleting from his reserve, he prays to God to save him.

The Shepherd Ending: Who Saved Freddie?

With his fuel running out and still no contact with the base, Freddie accepts the possibility of death. He thinks about Lizzie and even writes a letter to her, talking about his final moments and how he doesn’t feel afraid anymore. He has all but given up when he spots another plane ahead of him. Luckily, he is able to establish contact. He can listen to the other pilot, but the other pilot cannot listen to him. While the pilot talks, Freddie responds in signs. This mode of communication allows Freddie to follow the pilot’s command, which leads him to an airbase. Even if it’s not the one Freddie was supposed to land at, he is thankful about being on land.

At the runway, he is picked up by FL Joe Marks, who takes him to RAF Minton. Marks reveals that Minton doesn’t function as an airbase anymore, which is why perhaps Freddie didn’t know about it. Marks is there alone because the rest of the staff is on leave. Marks gives Joe some food and blankets to make him comfortable. They talk about their stations and how they got into the military, but the conversation takes a turn when Freddie notices the picture of a pilot.

Marks reveals that the picture is of a Canadian pilot named John Kavanagh, who worked as a rescue pilot during the Second World War. He would fly out his plane over the North Sea and help the pilots whose planes either malfunctioned, like Freddie’s, or had some other trouble, and guided them to safety. Freddie reveals that he was saved by Kavanagh, but then Marks says that it couldn’t be possible because Kavanagh died 14 years ago.

Apparently, Kavanagh had been on one of his rescue missions when something went wrong. He went down with his plane somewhere over the North Sea and was never heard from again. The fact that he didn’t return means that he must have died, making it impossible for him to save Freddie. But the young pilot knows what he saw, and he knows that it couldn’t be anyone else because no one else was authorized to fly that night. While Freddie tries to process this information, something else happens that completely blows him away.

What Happened to Joe?

Soon after Freddie finds out about Kavanagh, he hears someone’s car coming up. When he goes out, he meets two officers, who reveal that they’d been following him on the radar. They were worried about him when he went missing over the North Sea, but later, they tracked his plane to RAF Minton. Freddie tells them that someone lit the lights on the airfield, using which he landed because he was running out of fuel. However, he is in for a twist when the officers reveal that RAF Minton is not only defunct but it’s also completely empty. No one lives there anymore.

This is really shocking for Freddie because it means that Joe is not real, making it his second encounter with a ghost that night. With Kavanagh, Freddie had a distance. But with Joe, Freddie was in close vicinity. He shared a space and a conversation with him, and that’s what makes this revelation even more chilling. The good thing is that both the ghosts were good and did nothing but help Freddie. Without them, he’d certainly have died that night.

While Freddie knows the story about Kavanagh, it is not revealed what happened to Joe. Most likely, the man died sometime during the Second World War, perhaps shortly after Kavanagh died. Because Joe’s ghost is at the airfield, it can be assumed that he died there, though the circumstances surrounding his death cannot be confirmed. The only thing that can be said with certainty is that Joe still lives in that abandoned airfield, ready to help the pilots who have been rescued by Kavanagh.

Read More: Disney+’s The Shepherd Has Connections to Real-Life Events