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At the end of the movie Pirates of the Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides,

Phillip is badly wounded and seems to be telling Syrena not to heal him but only to forgive him. She then drags him into the water and we never see him again.

Am I meant to assume he's dead now? Or was there some symbolic meaning to this gesture that I didn't catch?

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

I have no real answer for this, because I don't recall the movie clearing that up. But to me it looked like this.
Phillip thinks himself unworthy and only asks for her forgiveness, not for life, because he is that kind of humble. Unlike Blackbeard who wanted to sacrifice his daughter for his own life.

Syrena however tells him again to just ask. In my opinion, it's no really clear if she means for him to ask for forgiveness or if she refers to her earlier statement, that he only need to ask to be saved. He then asks for forgiveness bevor she takes him with her.
I thought this meant that she wanted to do more than simply forgive him. That she wanted to save him and be with him.
In some stories mermaids can grant the ability to breathe and thus live under water too.
So I thought she took him into the sea to be with him happily ever after. Because she did not seem sad when she took him down.
In this he would be a counterpart to Blackbeard, finding happiness in the end because he was selfless. Again unlike Blackbeard, who died beeing selfish.

Also, why would she take him with her, if she wanted to let him die? She could have just left him there. Unless for some reason she wanted him to have a watery grave. But I don't see why she would want that.

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Is that what she was saying? I thought that line meant "If you want forgiveness, you need only ask". And, er, I kind of thought maybe she, ah, wanted a baby as a souvenir, given the stories we heard earlier? But your answer seems a lot more like a moral Disney would support so... – Yamikuronue Nov 27 '12 at 15:42
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@Yamikuronue I just rewatched the scene and you're right. She is not saying anything about saving him, but simply says 'ask'. That could mean for forgivness, like he does. But I still think she means more than that. In the end, it has most likely been kept vague so to leave it open for the viewer to decide what really happens to him. I will edit my answer accordingly. – Sebastian_H Nov 27 '12 at 22:22

Earlier in the movie I recall Derrick saying

"I heard it said a kiss from a mermaid protects a sailor from drowning"

It's worth noting that the mermaid kisses him before pulling him down so I think she is saving Philip rather than allowing him to drown.

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Hm. Apparently, from things that I have read and watched, a mermaids kiss can grant air to breath underwater for a short period of time. If you look clearly at the scene when she pulls him into the water you see them swimming down, though she is actually taking him through a ring of light and thus she is not heading down further into the ocean because it would be darker. Therefore she was heading to land supposingly. Just like when she suddenly disappeared before and resurfaced to aid Captain Jack with the Chalices. She did not wish to kill him, I would not think so anyway. :) I hope I cleared some things up for you.

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I think she saved him because when got in to the water they were hugging each other and Syrena saved Philip in the beginning, remember? So I think SYrena is diffrent, she doesnt looked like she was meant to kill and eat him. But when I first watched that part, I cried like a litle girl. I ship Syrena and Philip forever. I hope in the 5th movie they will appear.

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From the POtC Wiki:

Alone and mortally wounded, Philip drags himself to the nearest pool to get some water to drink and use to try and heal his wounds. As he splashes the water, Syrena returned and appeared in front of him. Reunited and free from Blackbeard and his crew, the two profess their love once more. Syrena then told Philip that she could save him from dying. Philip then begged Syrena for forgiveness for all the trouble he brought to her, as she would never have been captured had it not been for him. Syrena kissed Philip, confirming the legend that a mermaid's kiss prevents drowning by giving him the ability to breathe underwater, and pulls him into the pool. Philip was taken by Syrena as they swim through the pools to freedom. His further fate is unknown.

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this looks very much like you are quoting something; if so, please don't forget to attribute it properly – Mike Oct 18 '15 at 6:24

If you recall, when Blackbeard's men are trying to trap the mermaids using the men in the boat as bait, one pirate said that a mermaids kiss can - according to legend - grant eternal life.

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Niamh's answer said basically the same thing. – HDE 226868 Dec 24 '15 at 18:36

I have to wonder, I just finished watching the movie for the 2nd time and wanted to know more about what happened to the pair. I had heard that another movie was coming out soon and, much to my excitement, it is about Jack trying to find Poseidon's trident... I'm going to let that sink in. This COULD mean that Phillip is going to become Poseidon!!!! This theory is by no means fool proof, but why else would they leave the viewers on a cliff hanger and make the next movie surrounding the idea of a merman's trident? It makes sense, but I don't think that Phillip's actor was on the cast list. Although there has been times when an actor doesn't always know, or can say, if they are going get to play in the next movie. If you want to check my answer, go and look at what the next movie is going to be about.

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If yours is the same that was deleted hours back, the community disagrees ^^ might help if you provide some evidence -- that the new film has that plot, for instance. Esp as I recall hearing the next movie will be a straight up pirate film with no mythological aspects... – Mac Cooper Jan 4 at 13:26
    
Ok I'm sorry for rewriting my answer, but I truly think that this is an answer at its least. Look I wanted to supply an addition to the other answers. The other answers only say that her kiss allows him to breath underwater, but no one has anymore than that. This is a possibility that no one has put out there and I am sincerely sorry for the trouble. I did say that I was only making a hypothesis, so please don't hate so much. – Racquel Jan 4 at 19:07
    
No hate at all -- im sorry if I came off like that :) I think if you add in some proof about what the film will be about (not doubting you, but we like everything to be in the answer) it might do better. It's still wild mass guessing though -- not that your guesses are any less important than anyone else's, but a good answer should have proof - it should be correct, not just possibly so. (If you wanna debate the idea, pop into chat where everyone can discuss theories) – Mac Cooper Jan 4 at 19:18
    
And I had just gotten on this site about a day ago, so I hadn't known my "way" around the site per say – Racquel Jan 4 at 21:03
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Well thank you for putting me in my place, you have been very helpful and I hope you do not think of me negatively. There's a first for everything ; ) – Racquel Jan 4 at 21:36

This website will tell you what happened to Syrena and Phillip. It will tell you at the bottom of the website, before the picture of Syrena in mermaid form.

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Please include the details in your answer here instead of just linking to the details. Links eventually cease working. – user1027 Aug 12 '14 at 22:47

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