‘Damsel’ Ending Explained: What Happens To Queen Isabelle And Prince Henry?


The 2024 fantasy adventure film on Netflix, Damsel does the opposite of what its name suggests, as Millie Bobby Brown, of Stranger Things fame, is no damsel in distress. While the plot does have her character, Princess Elodie, in deep trouble after a hurried and somewhat suspicious marriage takes her to faraway lands, there is no knight in shining armor waiting to rescue her. Instead, Elodie has to make her own way out of grave danger while also uncovering the lies that she and many others have been told. While Damsel does not provide anything unique or fresh, the visual effects and the overall plot make for a fairly enjoyable watch.

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Plot Summary: What is the film about?

Damsel begins with a brief scene from the past, in which a king leads a small troop of his army towards a large mountain cave only some distance away from their kingdom. While the men seem to have climbed down into the cave in search of some treasure, a gigantic beast flies in, following them, and launches an attack almost immediately. All the soldiers are killed within seconds, as they are no match for the deadly fire-breathing dragon, and the king is the only one left alive. Seeing no other option, the man drops his sword and kneels in front of the creature, begging for mercy, but his fate is ultimately not seen.

Damsel brings us to the present, which is several centuries after the incidents at the cave, and an impoverished kingdom is introduced. With a heavy scarcity of resources, the people of this kingdom are clearly struggling to survive, with many moving away and looking for better lives elsewhere. The ruler of this kingdom, King Bayford, has all the right intentions for his subjects, but he, too, has no means to counter the severe shortage. Food rations are already having to be shared among family members, and a very natural unrest among the citizens on the streets is noticeable. Amidst such dire conditions, a fancy carriage is suddenly seen driving up to the place one day, surprising everyone since the kingdom is quite far away from any other settlement. Most intrigued are Elodie and Floria, who are the two daughters of King Bayford and so are princesses, although without a life of comfort and luxury. The sisters work daily chores and have to gather resources just like everyone else, and while Elodie is a bit cautious, Floria is absolutely thrilled to see the luxurious carriage at their house.

King Bayford is delighted, too, for he has just received a marriage proposal for Elodie from the faraway kingdom of Aurea. Prince Henry, who is to be Elodie’s husband, has an entire fleet of ships at his disposal and enormous wealth in his lands. Although Elodie is unconvinced, for she does not want to get married and instead desires to explore the world by herself, she has to agree to the matter only for the sake of the people of her kingdom. The Aurean royal family had agreed to give large sums of money and resources as gifts in the marriage, and this would be enough to wipe out all of King Bayford’s woes. The king and his present wife, the stepmother to the sisters, travel to Aurea and bless the matrimonial tie between Elodie and Henry. As Elodie is left to start a new life away from her family, she too seems interested in Prince Henry’s company, until a massive turn of events reveals that Elodie has actually been trapped and is meant to be a mere sacrifice.

Why was Elodie sacrificed?

Elodie’s marriage to Prince Henry of Aurea is a union out of need for both sides, for both kingdoms were desperately in search of some aid and a bride, respectively. As a young woman coming from a life of significant struggles, Elodie still refuses to be bought over by the glamor of this new life, but she also has no other choice in the matter. As a woman, she must get married, and since this particular proposal would also be extremely beneficial to the people of her kingdom, she agrees to be the new queen of Aurea. Prince Henry is also very well-behaved and charming with her, revealing that he, too, has agreed to the marriage out of familial pressure, despite not being ready to marry yet. On the day and then the night before the marriage ceremony, Elodie first spots a young woman about the same age as herself on an adjacent balcony and then also sees some bright lights in the distance, seemingly coming from the mountains. When she asks Henry about the lights, he only tells her that it was from a ceremony practice that is part of the culture of Aurea.

The next day, after Elodie is officially married off to Henry and her parents and sister are guided away from the palace, she too is made part of a cultural ceremony in which she and Henry walk towards the mountains nearby with a band of followers surrounding them. At the spot, Henry’s mother, Queen Isabelle, oversees the ceremony, in which a deep cut is made on both the new groom and bride’s palms, which are then touched together, and Elodie is announced as the latest member of the royal family. She is also given a coin to drop into the depths of the cavern in the area, following which Henry romantically picks her up in his arms and walks her away, even telling her to close her eyes. While Elodie expects this to be a genuine display of love, she is terrorized to realize that Henry has just thrown her into a deep cave. Only a few minutes earlier, Isabelle had explained that the ceremony was part of a ritual practiced by the royal family of Aurea in order to appease a dragon that had supposedly haunted the lands many centuries ago.

Isabelle stated that a gigantic dragon had appeared and started attacking people in Aurea many centuries ago, as a response to which the erstwhile king had taken his army to fight and slay the creature. However, the dragon immediately killed all the soldiers, leaving only the king alive, and it was this very scene that was shown at the beginning of Damsel. Since the king surrendered and begged for mercy, the dragon agreed to make a pact with him, in which he had to sacrifice his three beloved daughters to the dragon to kill and eat, so that the creature and the kingdom of Aurea could coexist. Since then, the royal family has kept making a similar sacrifice of three young women from the family, and Elodie had just made one such sacrifice. The story that Isabelle tells obviously paints the dragon as a wild and violent beast who only wanted to harm human beings.

What is the real truth that Elodie finds in the cave?

However, during her exploration inside the cave of the dragon, Elodie makes some discoveries while keeping herself safe from the dangerous fire attacks. She comes across a safe shelter and finds the names of numerous women carved on the walls, also spotting many skeletons of humans killed inside the caves. In reality, the ceremony that Isabelle mentioned taking place in every generation of the royal family consisted of the sacrifice of three young women from the family in order to appease the dragon, which is still alive and on the hunt. While the first king had to sacrifice his own daughters, the family had come up with a shrewd and vile plan over the years in which they brought a young woman from some other kingdom as a bride for the prince. The marriage ceremony was held, and then the new bride was made a part of the family bloodline through the cut on the hand and the transfer of blood. The bride was then thrown into the cave of the dragon, and this step was followed with two other women next, making the total sacrifices to be three while also preserving the members of the actual royal family.

However, this is not the only shocking discovery that Elodie makes at the place, for she finds a specific spot inside the cave where she sees three dead fossilized baby dragons. It is soon revealed that the story that Isabelle had told was not the real truth, as the first king of Aurea did not attack the dragon’s cave as a defense strategy. The dragon never hurt any humans and had never attacked Aurea, but the king wanted to slay the beast, possibly because it was believed that its blood had magical powers. Inside the cave, the king viciously slaughtered the three baby dragons that had just come out of the eggs, and this naturally angered the mother dragon. As a result, it wanted to kill the king’s three daughters as revenge, and thus began a long tradition of sacrifice and merciless behavior against princesses of weaker and deprived kingdoms, like that of Elodie.

Did King Bayford know about this sacrifice?

While Isabelle never disclosed the real reason for their desperate search for a bride initially, she did meet with King Bayford in private once the bride and her family arrived at Aurea. After this meeting, Bayford was evidently distressed, but he did not reveal the reason for his feelings to anyone. In reality, he had learned of the sacrifice during this meeting but still decided to go ahead with the wedding, solely in order to take back wealth and supplies to his kingdom for the well-being of his people. Lady Bayford, the stepmother to Elodie, sensed something terribly wrong during this time and wanted her daughter to cancel the wedding, but the king refused such a plan.

But although King Bayford had willfully sacrificed his daughter, he could not bear the guilt of it and decided to change his plan a day or two later. By this time, he and his family had not yet left the kingdom of Aurea, and while Lady Bayford and Floria are safe in a ship by the coast, ready to leave the place, King Bayford reaches the dragon’s cave with a few men in order to save his daughter. Although there was very real pressure and desperation on the king to look after the well-being of his subjects, his decision to take the easy way out and sacrifice his daughter was also extremely cruel. As a result, Damsel does make him face a sad fate, despite all his apologies and attempts to protect Elodie. The dragon kills King Bayford inside the cave, as he keeps the beast distracted and technically helps Elodie escape the place.

Does Elodie finally slay the dragon?

As soon as Elodie escapes the cave, the dragon also flies out and spreads vicious fire all across the skies over Aurea, alerting Isabelle that her sacrificial plan had failed. Realizing that Elodie had escaped, Isabelle fully reveals her cruel side and barges into the ships of Elodie’s family, taking Floria hostage. With the help of her soldiers, she then performs the same blood ritual with the young girl and throws her into the dragon’s cave as a sacrifice. The evil queen is sure that Elodie would rush in to save her sister, and in the process, either she or Floria would be killed and eaten by the dragon, making the sacrificial ceremony a success. Elodie does rush back to the cave, and she uses her intelligence and bravery to not only save Floria but also pin down the dragon.

Elodie has the chance to kill the dragon with her sword, but she finally decides not to do so. Firstly, she admits that the dragon had been wronged by the cruel king of Aurea, as the creature’s three innocent babies were killed. However, she also points out the truth that the dragon repeated the same senseless and selfish violence for the next many centuries, as it also killed so many innocent young women only in order to exact revenge. Ultimately, though, Elodie decides to stop this meaningless cycle of revenge, and instead of slaying the dragon for having killed her father, she saves its life with the help of the glowbugs with regenerative powers. 

What happens to Queen Isabelle and Prince Henry?

In the whole plot of Damsel, the real antagonist turns out to be not the dragon but rather the vile humans of the Aurea royal family, who knowingly cheated young brides and sacrificed them to be killed. Not only did they wrong the young women at present, but they had also wronged the dragon in the past, starting this whole cycle of death.

During Damsel‘s ending, Elodie gives the dragon a chance to avenge all the acts from the past as she returns to the kingdom. By now, Isabelle had gotten hold of one more young bride, too, but Elodie intervened and told her and her family to leave immediately. She then also gives a chance to the common people of Aurea to escape, before which she unleashes full fury with the help of the dragon. Although Prince Henry did have slight reservations when sacrificing Floria, showing a bit more conscience than his mother, he cannot escape the sins of his family, and together with his mother, Queen Isabelle, he is scorched to death by the dragon. At the end of Damsel, Elodie, Floria, and their stepmother are seen sailing away from Aurea, headed towards their home kingdom, which will be run by a queen from now on. Incidentally, the dragon is also seen flying through the skies, as it has now become a companion to Elodie. Perhaps the two might be seen on some other adventures in the future as well.

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Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya keeps an avid interest in all sorts of films, history, sports, videogames and everything related to New Media. Holding a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies, he is currently working as a teacher of Film Studies at a private school and also remotely as a Research Assistant and Translator on a postdoctoral project at UdK Berlin.

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