The Favourite Ending, Explained: Truth Behind the Final Shot

The Favourite has just touched down on Netflix in the UK and Ireland. Whether it’s your initial viewing or a revisit, you might find yourself pondering the enigmatic concluding scene. Helmed by Yorgos Lanthimos, the film propelled Olivia Colman to her inaugural Oscar triumph (up to this point) for her portrayal of Queen Anne. The narrative unfurls as Anne grapples with a power struggle between her confidante Lady Sarah (played by Rachel Weisz) and the emerging servant Abigail (portrayed by Emma Stone).

As both vie for the coveted position of Anne’s favorite, with Sarah initially mentoring Abigail, the contest intensifies. In the end, there can only be one victor. However, even in the aftermath of the conflict, can the declared winner genuinely assert a definitive triumph?

If you’re curious about the intricacies, let’s dissect the conclusion of The Favourite to unravel it all, including the symbolic significance of Anne’s 17 rabbits – each representing a child she lost.

Ending Explained

In the final moments of “The Favourite,” Abigail, who recently married Colonel Masham to reclaim her status, continues her tricky plans to become Anne’s favorite. Something unexpected happens when Sarah, her rival, unintentionally helps Abigail. Sarah threatens to reveal private letters that would expose her and Anne’s intimate relationship. Although Sarah decides not to go through with it, the threat angers Queen Anne enough to send Sarah away.

In an effort to mend their friendship, Sarah writes an apology letter to Anne. However, Abigail intercepts and burns the letter. To make matters worse, Abigail tells Anne that, in her new role as Keeper of the Privy Purse, she discovered that Sarah was stealing money. Even though Anne doesn’t fully believe Abigail, she uses the accusation as an excuse to exile Sarah and her husband, especially when she doesn’t receive the expected apology.

Anne soon realizes her mistake because, once Sarah is gone, Abigail begins to ignore Anne and uses her newfound privilege to do whatever she wants. The situation takes a dark turn when Abigail starts physically mistreating one of Anne’s rabbits, stepping on it cruelly. Anne witnesses this and demands that Abigail massage her leg. In a symbolic act of dominance, Anne grips Abigail’s hair while refusing to lie down.

The final scene of “The Favourite” shows Abigail reluctantly massaging Anne’s leg, but both women appear unhappy about the situation. Director Yorgos Lanthimos combines their faces and includes a shot of Anne’s rabbits, creating a trippy and bleak ending that reflects Lanthimos’s unique style.

Essentially, the ending suggests that, despite Abigail’s belief that she has won, she has become nothing more than another one of Anne’s pets. In fact, she might be even lower than the rabbits because she isn’t a substitute for one of Anne’s lost children. As Sarah pointedly tells Abigail before her exile, “Oh my God, you actually think you have won.” Abigail, in response, taunts Sarah with a question, but Sarah makes it clear that they were playing very different games.

Despite Abigail’s efforts to regain privilege, she ultimately has no real power over Anne, who is the Queen. Sarah likely knew this, but by maintaining a friendly relationship with Anne, she avoided the mistreatment that Abigail experiences in the final scene. Abigail may be the unhappiest character in the end, but Anne is also not pleased with the outcome. She has replaced the one person who cared for her with someone who is only interested in gaining power.

In the final shot of “The Favourite,” both Abigail and Anne come to terms with their new, unhappy arrangement, realizing that it doesn’t benefit either of them.

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