Netflix’s Black Crab (Svart Krabba) is a Swedish action thriller set during an apocalyptic war. It chronicles a dangerous journey that six soldiers take to transport a top-secret package across a frozen archipelago that might end the war.
The film opens with Caroline Edh (Noomi Rapace) having a casual conversation with her daughter, Vanja in their car as they wait for traffic to move. Suddenly, they hear gunshots and see people abandoning their vehicles.
This is revealed to be the onset of a bloody civil war. Amid the chaos, Vanja is taken by hostile soldiers and the plot jumps forth in time.
In the present day, Caroline is summoned to the military base in her hometown for a top-secret mission.
There, she meets fellow soldiers Granvik (Erik Enge), Mailk (Dar Salim), and Karimi (Ardalan Esmaili). The four are then met with Col Raad who explains the details of the operation Black Crab to them.
He mentions that for the first time in years, the entire archipelago is frozen which gives them a ray of hope.
The ice isn’t thick enough to support a vehicle nor is it thin enough to allow a boat to sail through it. It can, however, support soldiers on ice skates.
Raad explains that they are to discreetly skate 100 nautical miles, all the way from Tuscany to Odo (which is behind enemy lines), and deliver two mysterious capsules to that base that will confirm their victory in the war.
They are also joined by Captain Forsberg (Aliette Opheim) and Lieutenant Nylund (Jakob Oftebro), raising the number to six.
Raad dismisses the others but asks Caroline to stay behind and shows her a picture of her daughter which was taken recently at a refugee base in Odo.
He tells her that once she completes the mission, she will be reunited with Vanja and all of them are free to leave the army and do whatever they please with their lives.
Now with a personal agenda in mind, Caroline is determined to succeed despite all the dangers that the operation presents.
That night the base is bombed and the six load up put on their skates, take the capsules and leave in haste.
They travel through the night and as daylight presents itself, the first casualty occurs. The ice below them cracks and Forsberg plummets into the freezing water.
Caroline jumps in behind her and notices that she has already frozen to death. She decides to cut off her bag pack and save the supplies but leaves Forsberg’s body behind.
To prevent Caroline from getting hypothermia, the remaining five spend the night at an abandoned house nearby and light a fire. The next morning, she walks in on Karimi trying to contact another base which is followed by enemy helicopters zeroing in on their position.
The group suspects him to be a traitor but he innocently claims that he was trying to contact his girlfriend, who is a comms officer at a base that was recently bombed, to see if she’s still alive. The group is convinced but still removes Karimi gun’s from him for safety reasons.
The journey resumes and on the next island, they take shelter with an elderly couple who is kind enough to feed them. In a drastic turn of events, however, Caroline notices a gun holstered under the dining table which is followed by a shootout that kills Karimi and wounds Malik.
What’s more heartbreaking is that at that very moment, the radio comes back to life with Karimi’s girlfriend on the other end. The group doesn’t have the heart to tell her about his death and lie to her.
If you have any doubts about the ending, here’s a full breakdown.
Black Crabs ending is explained
The remaining four members of the group continue the journey and take refuge in an abandoned ship. There they discover that Malik’s wound is worse than he suspected. Furthermore, Granvik curiously opens a capsule and reveals that they’re transporting a deadly virus.
This creates tension but no one acts on it, yet. Malik decides to end his own life rather than being the one who slows them down or is responsible for killing people with the virus.
Caroline decides to continue with only Vanja on her mind but gets stuck on thin ice. She throws the capsules to Nylund who is traveling behind her with Granvik and the two pull her out of danger. Their difficulties start to mount when they come under heavy machine gunfire.
Granvik snipes the shooter and when the three come upon the camp where the fire was coming from, they realize that the shooter was the last one alive and the remaining people have already frozen to death.
Knackered from the journey, they fall asleep but Caroline wakes up to find Nylund and the capsules missing. However, before she can decide what to do, she and Granvik are ambushed by a large number of enemies.
They succeed in disposing of most of them but tragedy soon strikes. Caroline is shot in the stomach before she can throw her final grenade which falls loose next to them.
Without thinking, Granvik throws himself on it and dies but saves his partner. Frustrated and full of guilt, Caroline chases after Nylund, who reveals he’s going to destroy the virus.
She realizes that if that happens Vanja is out of the picture and shoots him. She doesn’t kill him however but recovers the capsules. Eventually, she runs into people on horseback who utter the word “Black” to her. She replies “Crab” before passing out.
Plans of genocide
Caroline wakes up in a hospital and is told by the doctor that her wound was severe and they had to amputate a few of her toes but she’ll survive. She is then told to meet the commanding officer who promotes her and awards her with two medals.
She however is concerned with meeting her daughter who the CO reveals was a farce to motivate her for the mission. Vanja was never at Odo. This news enrages Caroline who attacks her superior but since she is now a war hero, they just restrain her.
Not knowing her next course of action she seeks out Nylund and urges him to help her destroy the virus. They conclude that the government wants to use refugees to spread the virus which will trigger mass genocide as the higher-ups wait for the world to reset in secret bunkers.
Nylund is hesitant, expressing that it is too late but Caroline convinces him that their war hero status will let them infiltrate the lab and steal the virus
They go ahead and enter the lab, triggering alarms and killing people along the way. The scientists there tell them that they need to get the vials away from the people before destroying them or else everyone will get infected regardless.
The duo then puts on hazmat suits to sneak out of the lab to get onto a helicopter to escape. As Nylund secures their escape, Caroline’s stitches open, making it evident that she is severely wounded. She then urges Nylund to escape. To make things worse, the Commanding Officer narrows in on her, weapons drawn.
Caroline reveals that she’s got grenades wired to the virus and will blow it to smithereens should the need arise. This is when her superior confirms her suspicion about the use of the virus and begs her to consider the fate of her daughter.
She replies that that’s exactly what she is doing and jumps off the edge of the base, setting off the grenades. Nylund watches her sacrifice herself as the virus is disposed of safely.
The final shot is a symbolic one that shows Caroline reuniting with Vanja underwater before the screen cuts to black.