‘The Guilty’ on Netflix is a thriller drama that follows a 911 call responder’s desperate attempts to save an abducted woman. Relegated to a night shift at the LAPD communications department, Officer Joe Baylor grows increasingly bored of fielding calls before being stirred into action after getting a call from Emily Lighton. In tearful tones, she explains to Joe how she is in a car with her abductor, being taken to be “locked up.”
Directed by Antoine Fuqua, ‘The Guilty’ follows in excruciating detail the steps and missteps Joe takes as he attempts to locate Emily with the precious little information he has. Though she is finally located, Emily’s fate hangs by a thread. The young mother is also seemingly suicidal and, in one instance, talks to Joe while standing on an overpass and considering jumping off. So, does Emily Lighton survive at the end of ‘The Guilty’? Let’s find out. SPOILERS AHEAD.
Is Emily Lighton Alive or Dead?
One of Emily Lighton’s final conversations on the phone with office Joe Baylor occurs while she is standing on the edge of an overpass. From how she describes the tiny cars zooming past below her, the police officer is able to decipher her intentions and spends a few moments fearing the worst when the line gets cut. Ironically, it is largely because Emily is standing on the edge of an overpass that the highway patrol is finally able to locate her. So far, hidden in a regular white van, the authorities were finding it increasingly difficult to track Emily amidst the heavy highway traffic.
Joe fears the worse but receives a call from the highway patrol soon after that informs him that Emily did not, in fact, jump over the railing. She is therefore safe and is taken into custody by the police. Despite it being revealed that she also carried out a heinous attempted murder of her young son, Joe finds solace in being able to fulfill his promise to the disturbed woman that he would save her.
Emily’s feelings of suicide stem from her eventual realization that she might have grievously hurt her son. Initially under the delusion that she helped him by cutting out “snakes” from his stomach that were causing him pain, Emily finally begins to come to terms with her terrible mistake when she notices that her hands and clothes are drenched in blood. This leads her to contemplate suicide, which is narrowly diverted by Joe’s actions and the highway patrol.
However, the young mother will likely spend the next many years locked up in a mental institution due to her actions. Her fragile mental state is hinted at earlier by her husband, Henry Fisher. However, the true ramifications of her condition are revealed near the movie’s finale. Interestingly, Joe’s narrative also has some crucial similarities to Emily’s. Like her, he has also committed a heinous crime while not thinking clearly and begins to come to terms with it while speaking to the abducted victim. At one point, he also attributes his actions to “snakes,” possibly signifying that both Joe and Emily were in a state of confusion when they committed their respective acts of violence.
Therefore, Emily Lighton survives in the end, thanks in no small part to the actions of officer Joe Baylor. However, much like the police officer who is haunted by his own past, the woman is forced to confront the ramifications of her actions and must spend the rest of her days living with the knowledge that she almost murdered her young son.
Read More: Who Voices Emily and Henry in The Guilty?