Why Did Henry Kidnap Emily in The Guilty?

‘The Guilty’ on Netflix is a tense thriller drama that follows a 911 responder’s desperate attempts to help a woman that’s been abducted. However, as he slowly pieces together the entire story through broken conversations with the victim, Emily Lighton, and his colleagues on the scene, a truly twisted tale comes into focus. As officer Joe Baylor tries to track down Emily, he repeatedly calls and threatens Henry Fisher, who has seemingly abducted her. However, crucial details remain buried until the film’s third act.

Initially thought to be responsible for violently kidnapping Emily, it is discovered near the end that Henry is also a victim and that his intentions for the abductions might be good. So why did Henry Fisher kidnap Emily Lighton in the first place? Let’s dig in and find out. SPOILERS AHEAD.

Why Did Henry Fisher Kidnap Emily Lighton?

Henry Fisher is initially portrayed as a dark character who has seemingly kidnapped the mother of his children, Emily Lighton, at knifepoint. He also seems to be driving her to an unknown location where she fears she will be “locked up.” When he speaks to officer Joe Baylor, who threatens him with imprisonment, Henry says that the officer does not understand, but his words go unheeded.

Soon, a background check into Henry reveals that he has a criminal record and has been sentenced for assault in the past. He has also lost visitation rights to see his children Abby and Oliver. Therefore, a truly sinister and criminal portrait of Emily’s kidnapper is painted, which is underscored when his young son Oliver is found stabbed at home. Joe, therefore, repeatedly threatens Henry with imprisonment and harsh punishment for his crimes.

However, in what is possibly the film’s most shocking twist, it is revealed that it was Emily, not Henry, who stabbed their son Oliver. Along with Henry’s criminal background, Emily’s medical history is also uncovered, which shows that she spent time committed at a medical facility. Joe then pieces together the startling truth: Henry is actually en route to get Emily recommitted to the mental institution.

In the next call that Joe has with Henry, the police officer finally listens to the grieving man as he explains how he couldn’t afford Emily’s medication and decided to see whether she could continue to live a normal life without it. This seemingly resulted in a mental breakdown, during which she unknowingly stabbed their young son, Oliver, thinking she was helping him. When Joe asks Henry why he didn’t just call the police, the latter replies that everyone they have gone to for help— doctors, lawyers, social workers, have let them down. He, therefore, has no faith in the police and decides to forcefully take Emily to the institution himself.

Hence, it is finally revealed that Henry Fisher is a victim who is trying to grapple with a truly horrific situation. The mentally disturbed mother of his children, Emily Lighton, has stabbed his infant son, and for most of the film, Henry is en route to the hospital to have her committed. His acts, far from being dangerous, actually stem from love for Emily, who he doesn’t blame, saying that she didn’t know what she was doing.

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