Dissecting Prometheus: Unanswered Questions

Prometheus came out on Blu-ray yesterday, go pick it up, and I assume those of you that missed it in theaters might want to check out our previous write up on the mysterious of the film.  So here is a nice re-post!

Lauren and I both enjoyed (her review & my review) Prometheus this weekend and one of the better elements of the film is that it leaves a lot open for the viewer to dissect and discuss while we wait for the, hopefully, potential sequel.

So we have write up a list of lingering questions we have about the film and are going to share our spoiler filled thoughts on what the truth behind some of these unanswered questions might be.  Without further ado, let’s get started.  (Lauren’s disclaimer: I clearly needed Sparknotes on this one…)

***SPOILERS**** from here on forward; obviously.

-Why did the first engineer sacrifice himself in the opening scene?

Zac: I took this moment as a rogue Engineer (the “God” race in the film) that has come to, presumably, Earth and given the planet the keys to human life.  I really like the imagery as it sets up that we are both products of creationism and evolution.  In fact, this form of creationism is far more rational than the modern idea of Creationism, which is laughable.  Another intriguing possibility is that this Engineer we see in the opening might be part of a sect that is giving life to other planets around the universe; hence the multiple extermination ships we see on the planet we visit in Prometheus.

Lauren:  My whole interpretation of this is determined by which planet he is on, so it would have been nice to have a nice little label for it.  If it is Earth then when did this decomposition take place in Earth’s timeline?  When his DNA broke down in the water, is that what formed the creatures that eventually came to land and evolved into life as we know it?  I guess considering all that, the most important question is whether or not creating life was on purpose or an accident.  Just saying, why not drink whatever he did while standing in the water?  Seems like a safer bet to me than praying his remains will tumble where he wants.  Were they just exploring other planets to inhabit and thought: “This’ll do”, implying that Earth is not alone in their attempts to create life on other planets?

Zac: Aren’t we supposed to answering these questions, not asking more?  I am going to stick with he is on Earth and as for the timeline I would surmise pre-life.  He created life on Earth and the world evolved forward from there as we know it (Like you surmised).  The DNA reassembled by the way so the breakdown isn’t an issue.

-Why did the Engineers leave that particular star cluster as a point of reference with all of the civilizations?

Zac: I feel like the engineers might have referenced this star cluster maybe as a warning to the humans.  “Cross us and we will send the bad things” sort of thing.  Man has been known to worship that which threatens them to keep it happy; hence the iconography keeps popping up over and over again as the Engineers inform each new society.

Lauren:  I don’t know, it just seems too forced to me.  Had the Engineers not come back post creation scene and not left those “maps” then we would have never known about it nor made it a goal to seek them out.  It’s not like any of those civilizations had the means to space travel yet.  Or had this been a dissenting sect like you theorized that created life against the will of the rest of their alien nation, you would at least think that they would have been like, “hey, be sure not to go here.  Why don’t you write ‘warning’ in blood or something next to the map?  Or put a big ‘x’ through it?  Yeah, like that, that looks ominous.”

Zac: We don’t know what the engineers were telling them way back when, but for all we know they were warning them; us puny humans just couldn’t understand. Regardless, I have little issue with the “why” they left it there as the story is about our need to discover the truth and the ridiculous (and expensive) measures we will go to as a race to try and find peace of mind in the truth of our creation.

Lauren: I appreciate the main theme of the film; I just think that if you are going to start the quest with these “maps” there better be a good reason for them other than the story simply needs them to exist, especially considering so much of this theory is based on guesses. There comes a point when it’s ok to give the audience some answers.

Zac: But if the scientists don’t know the answers how are we supposed to get them? That is why we fly across the galaxy in the first place, it just sucks that those answers aren’t easy to find.

Lauren: Well in the end we still have no answers, so there better be a sequel…

-Who was David trying to message and continually not getting a response from in the first half of the film? (He did this once when he was alone on the ship and again once everyone woke up)

Lauren:  Um… Yes.  Mostly I just remember David shooting baskets and wearing that helmet that glowed in such a way to distract me from what he was actually talking about…

Zac:  On the bridge he is trying to contact someone, one of the other crew members even asks about it, maybe he was just trying to reach earth?

-Where’d those holograms come from?

Zac: I took this simply as David accessing the “security footage” of the ship that just so happens to be an awesome live action hologram. (Loved the hologram scenes by the way, especially the first one in the tunnel.)

Lauren:  I guess that simple answer is the best answer, even though how David managed to access that is beyond me, no matter how much time he spent learning languages…  I just wished they had acted as a better warning by showing us what they were running from!

-What were the Engineers running from in the holograms, and where’d they go?  Also, what about the pile of dead Engineers?

Zac: I think most of the Engineers we see running probably made it out of the ship.  The one we see decapitated might have been trying to duck into the giant head room to hide from whatever menace that was chasing them; which I assume was one of the big octopus creatures we see at the end.

Lauren:  Speaking of that giant head, there sure was some interesting art in that room…  I suppose they could have been running from the giant octopus creature, but assuming there is a certain process to get one of those, involving infected men needing to impregnate a female to birth one of those big boys.  Maybe instead one of the canisters leaked and they all zombified like Fifield.  [Note: Lauren is stupid.  She thought Millburn was Fifield.  See next question] It just seems weird that we never see any remains of whatever the Engineers were afraid of had it been something other than themselves.  I was under this impression while watching, and I sat through so much of the movie waiting to see some creature that was lurking (and what I thought caused the “glitch”).

Zac: Those holograms were 2000 years old, so maybe the creature got out of the dome and died off over time.  That is how I took it.

-Why did the Irish geologist, Fifield, turn into a zombie like contortionist killing machine? Is this what would have happened to Holloway had he not been flame roasted by Vickers?

Lauren:  Because it was consumed, I was under the impression that Holloway was going to be dusted like the Engineer in the opening since that’s the connection my brain chose to make.  Holloway had a much smaller dose though, which is why it was taking longer for his body to break down.  Therefore this would imply that the form of exposure determines the reaction, which just so happens to be an “evolved” worm in Fifield’s case.  It’s possible that it took over his body; it just didn’t know how to quite blend in with other humans like The Thing did…

Zac: Fifield never touched that snake thing though, his helmet just melted on him.  I don’t know if there really is an answer here to be honest, except maybe that the goo needs a female to procreate where as the creature form needs a live host; like the face huggers in Alien.  Maybe zombie Fifield was raging to find a female host?

Lauren:  Oooo, I completely read those scenes wrong.  I thought the body they found was Fifield with his melted helmet, not Millburn.  It just made more sense to me that the worm somehow took over Millburn’s body and he was the one walking around.  But the worm was just a gratuitous kill?  Boo that.

So we know that earthworms turn into angry mutated worms, and people turn into zombies when touched by the canister goo.  A weapon that makes everything a mutated angry version of itself?  Yeah that’s new…

-What caused the “glitch” in the “puppy” probe?

Zac: My best bet would be that it was picking up some sort of reading from the Engineer in stasis on the other side of the door.

Lauren:  This was actually the most disappointing part for me in the movie.  I was really hoping that it was going to be a creature that had chased the Engineers before (granted basic knowledge of average lifespans would probably make it likely that they couldn’t have lived long enough to still be alive).  I guess it was just a forced plot point to cause David to explore further, but the idea that the range of the probe could have picked up the Engineer seems highly unlikely.  Maybe it was just a worm…

-How’d the ship’s captain, Janek, know that this planet was a “chemical weapon” outpost of some sort?

Zac: I am not too sure about this one.  The film makes a logical leap for the character on this one, but he does spend a lot of time studying the maps and data coming back from the “puppy” probes.  Maybe if we knew a bit more about his background this would be clearer, but after a couple crew members show up dead or reanimated to kill other crew members I think you can validate that leap that whatever is here could be chemical agent of some sort.

Lauren:  I suppose, but I would still expect more of a “This place is evil! Let’s get out of here!” more than an actual understanding of what it was.  But that’s me, and I sometimes overreact thanks to the amount of horror films I’ve seen.  And we already know that my processes in logic have been pretty faulty…

Zac: He was the one who figured out, besides David, that they were actually on a ship underground and not tunnels, so that is a possible character nod to how smart he is.

-What exactly was David programmed to do?

Lauren:  Had David been used to simply keep the crew alive during travel, maybe they should have gone the route of a VI, because he was far too curious for anyone else’s good.  I guess to simply put it he was programmed to learn, which is what we find him doing when he is studying all forms of languages.  However, it didn’t stop here because his quest for knowledge turned towards curiosity, putting lives in danger; so in the end survival of everyone might not have actually been that important to his programming.

Heck, maybe he just wanted to create life since that’s all the rage, going back to the comment Holloway makes when he upsets Shaw about her inability to have kids.

Another question to consider is why he manipulated Shaw into taking him with her.  Does he have a survival instinct, or did he just want to continue his quest for knowledge as well?

Zac: Did David become a sentient being and obtain free will in the film? I think that is what is the most interesting question surrounding David.  I think he becomes a curious creature that wanted to experiment with creation on his own and maybe he was operating on his own accord.  David mentions how he is programmed to make humans feel comfortable and I think his expertise in that allows him to be hyper manipulative behind the scenes.  He is putting up this front and gaming everyone, Weyland included, as I can only imagine what he has put together two years alone on that ship.

Lauren:  Yeah I definitely agree with all of that.  He’s gone all scary Arian AI on us, with mad basketball skills.

-Was Weyland’s daughter, Vickers, actually his “daughter” like David is his “son” and an unknowing android (ala Rachel in Blade Runner)? 

Lauren:  That is definitely something interesting to consider, especially after the joke from Janek pre sexy time, but based on her fear of not surviving I am going to say she was human.  This would also mean that she was used as a thematic element of sorts to further comparisons between humans and the android they created.

Zac: Her fear could be attributed to her being unaware that she is an android and is a more advanced model than David.  Her death seemed so anti-climatic that I almost feel like we need this out to bring Theron back in some capacity in the sequel.

Lauren:  So in other words she is like Sam Worthington in Terminator Salvation in the sense that she was programmed to believe she was real, unlike David who knew exactly what he was.  If only we could see which color she bled when she got squashed.

Zac: In other words she was like Rachel in Blade Runner (which I said in the original question). She might have also had red blood if she was supposed to think she is real.

Lauren:  Shh. You caught me, I didn’t read the entire question past “son.”  And Worthington had to see his machine skeleton before realizing he wasn’t human, so it still applies!  They’re going to have to play this right if they bring her back in a sequel obviously, because this Vickers is the one that I would prefer to see make the realization, and considering her conscious is probably not going to pass to another body like in Battlestar Galactica this just all seems wasted.

-What is Shaw’s plan when she gets to the Engineer’s planet?

Zac: Find more answers; that’s the point of the movie right, our curiosity for answers and where we look for them?  Shaw, like us, probably only has even more questions after this hellacious experience and I am sure her path won’t be much easier than it was here.

Lauren:  Yeah no joke, I just mean after everything that’s gone on she’s pretty ridiculous to think that she’s going to show up on the home planet and they will treat her as a guest deserving of everything she is searching for.

Zac: Maybe they will actually be impressed she got this far this time?

Lauren:  And experiment on her.  After David throws her under the bus somehow.

Zac: Davis owes Shaw now; she saved him.

Lauren:  Yeah, but that doesn’t always stop “people” from not repaying debts.  I think I’d prefer the scenario that she shows up and something has gone wrong on the home planet.  Maybe they tried to further advance the weapon and they had another accident, or maybe their planet was destroyed and they’ve moved on elsewhere.  I just don’t really want the planet she is hoping to find.

-What is the significance of the Xenomorph in the final scene of the film and why was it different from the type we all know and love from the Alien films?

Lauren:  Mostly I think it was just to connect the film back to the universe it is in, and continue to play off the debate about whether or not this film was a prequel or not, in the vaguest sense of an origin story.

Zac: The design of the creature, and how different it is from the version we see in Alien, is supposed to be some clue as to the origin of the creatures.  Are there different models? Does each ship have a different style of creature?  But the process to get to Xenomorph is such a convoluted process I don’t understand how these Alien’s multiply so easily.  Do you think we will see this Xenomorph again?

Lauren:  I hope so, but like you said, if we have to have an infected male impregnate a woman and let it grow into an octopus that somehow uses an Engineer to make a Xenomorph then maybe it is for the best they went the queen’s eggs à face sucker à birth of Xenomorph out of belly route.  So how did this weapon evolve into a creature with a queen for reproduction!?

Zac: I don’t know Lauren.  Prometheus 2!

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9 thoughts on “Dissecting Prometheus: Unanswered Questions

  1. Interesting view of my dad’s from the first scene about the suicidal alien: He thought the scene was showing the alien drinking the weapon that would break down his DNA and corrupt the water some how, thus contaminating the water supply on a world that already includes humans.

  2. An interesting thought, but I think I will go with it being a giving act with a title like Prometheus.
    The art of book apparently says its Earth by the way.

  3. Well why the heck didn’t they just put that on the movie!? But still, Prometheus was punished for what he did, so this guys punishment could have been to destroy the life that he created! I don’t believe that, but just saying it’s cool to still think about all the possibilities. But yeah, I think he created life as well here.

  4. Ok just saw it. Here is some things that I thought:

    David I think was trying to send images and music etc from our world to theirs, maybe hoping for some sort of life down there to respond to it. Of course, no one did, cause they were all either dead or that one sleeping. And maybe that one saw that footage and wanted nothing to do with us, then killing himself the exact way Holloway died.

    The glitch wasn’t one to begin with. It was reading some life on the other side of the door. I don’t know if Vickers or David could access it wirelessly to make it stop, but they could’ve stopped it to make it look like a glitch, making David later go check it out.

    And the alien in the end? I think that might be the original – the Queen if you would. There are plenty of bodies around both ships that she can use to start multiplying herself – how it got into space, we dont know yet…

  5. This is my biggest question, which I was surprised you guys didn’t ask yourselves.

    Why was the humanoid asleep, or in stasis in the first place? If he was the only one that managed to get into the big head room, why was he in stasis. You would think he would have just flown the ship to earth and destroyed everyone, instead of going to sleep. I don’t know.

    1. I would surmise that maybe in the panic of what was happening he got locked in until someone woke him up after everything cooled down. Unfortunately, everyone died.

      Do you have a take?

  6. That is a good question that I am going to pretend I had at one point and forgot to ask… Whether it was his last hope for survival or he called in early before the others went into stasis, and sometime after that all hell broke loose I can’t really think of a good explanation. Had stuff gone down before then you would think he would have sent out an SOS of some sort to the home world or something, or like you said, flown the ship himself.

    Here’s another question: considering this is an outpost that had been ravaged ages ago, why hadn’t more of the Engineers come back to continue the mission? Was this a faction with different goals than the group on the whole and not all of these aliens want to destroy human life?

  7. The Alien at the end
    He looks different from the other Aliens we know in the films because he is the pre-evolved form
    of the Aliens, just like we evolved , we didnt always look like we did today.

    How did the Queen Alien come to be?.
    Evolution has shown us that in extreme circumstances some creatures can self pregnate without the
    help of a male for insemination, because the beauty of Evolution is that it will always find a way to survive,regardless of the circumstances.

    How did so many Aliens come to be in the films?.
    If you remember the original film in the extended clip a family actually find the space jockeys ship and the man is taken back to the terriforming installation on LV-222(not sure of the planet name) There could have been hundreds on that terriforming installation givin those face huggers plenty of food,
    and maybe the Alien Xenomorphy we see at the end of Prometheus wasnt the only creature to evolve from the goo on the planet, maybe many other races evolved and the Alien Xenomorphy became the dominant predator of these other lifeforms and wiped them out.

    The Engineers:
    I think the planet lv-222 was a testing ground for some form of weapon, albeit it went horribly wrong
    and backfired on them, but why where the creating weapons, maybe there were other races of aliens the were warring with and wanted to gain the upperhand, maybe they werent actually the dominant race in the universe?, and why hadnt they retured to lv-222? because they were wiped out? because there chemical weapon managed to gain a foothold on their homeworld?,

    The profound and overlaying question the film left with me was this.
    Maybe it is in our interests to never understand our beginnings, and to never meet our creators.
    Just like an experiment in a controlled enviroment, if the experiment brakes out the person who created it will always want to exterminate it now that it is no longer in a controlled state.
    Our very search for our beginning could ironically be the beginning of our end.

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