Prometheus 2 – What the future holds: Derelict on LV 426

Continuing from the previous post, let us talk about the Derelict that force landed on LV 426. The ship carries the eggs of Alien and from the 1979 film we know that it had a solitary pilot, the legendary space jockey. But, I would like to throw a crazy hypothetical in the mix and will say that there is something intriguing about the pilot. For starters, let me refresh your memory with the picture from Alien 1979.

Space Jockey – Identity and Time frame

Space Jockey from Alien 1979 - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Space Jockey from Alien 1979 – Copyright 20th Century Fox

From scale alone, it would be fine to assume that the pilot is an engineer. Let us run with this scenario for the moment. An infected engineer took off from LV 223 and force landed the ship on the neighboring planetoid LV 426, when a creature broke out of his chest. He just wanted to escape the madness and probably did not have any idea about the eggs. Of course, this is possible. But, there are some inconsistencies. We saw that the Deacon was very large when she broke out of the engineer’s chest. She actually tore through his torso with her head and emerged out of his body. Logically, such a size factor would dictate that the location where the “creature” broke out of the engineer inside the Derelict is inconsistent with the Deacon’s birth scene. Is there a way to resolve this? In my opinion, it is possible. For instance, in Prometheus, the stranded Milburn and Fifield find a mass of suited up dead engineers inside the hollow facility. We also learned that something broke out of their chests. The openings in their chest indicate that the creature that broke out was small.

Fifield inspects a dead engineer - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Fifield inspects a dead engineer – Copyright 20th Century Fox

We have already established the fact that the engineers had been testing the reverse engineered black goo on themselves and due to the failed experiment, the creature that evolved out of their bodies was not exactly what they had designed. My theory is that the opening wound on the engineer in the Derelict is very similar to the ones that Milburn and Fifield found on the dead engineers in Prometheus. So, my hunch is that the engineer on the ship had also been a victim of the aforementioned failed experimentation, much prior to the arrival of Prometheus to LV 223. This would mean that the engineer on Derelict had been dead for more than 2000 years. Like the hologram David saw on the bridge in Prometheus, perhaps this engineer was also in a hurry to leave and he succumbed to the infection on the pilot’s seat, before he could leave. This would also solve another very important problem. You see, in Alien 1979, when Dallas, Lambert and Kane inspect the Derelict, they realize that the pilot had been dead for a long long time and they discern that he is actually fossilized. The ship Nostromo investigated the signal emanating from LV 426 in the year 2122, while Prometheus’s encounter on LV 223 happened in 2093. Let us assume that the engineers returned to LV 223 with Shaw and David at around 2100. If the engineer had left LV 223 around that time, it would be scientifically impossible for his remains to reach fossilized proportions. But, if he had been dead due to break out of the epidemic around 2000 years ago like most engineers on LV 223 when Prometheus arrived, the fossilized form could be explained. So you see, with this scenario, we could resolve both problems, namely, scale and the fossil form due to time factor.

Based on my hypothesis, we have resolved a couple of important problems and have established the fact that the dead pilot on Derelict is in fact an engineer, but, he had been dead for more than 2000 years. Now, let us focus on a couple of other issues. In the original Alien, Nostromo’s main computer, Mother wakes up the crew as she had intercepted some kind of “distress” signal. The crew don’t know what to make out of that message, but, they are bound by protocol to investigate its source, irrespective of its alien origin. While Dallas, Lambert and Kane are inside the Derelict, Ripley tells Ash that Mother had partially decoded the message and it sounds more like a warning than a distress call!

Distress Signal – Warning!

Ripley informing Ash of Mother's Decryption - Alien 1979: Copyright 20th Century Fox

Ripley informing Ash of Mother’s Decryption – Alien 1979: Copyright 20th Century Fox

I think it is very important to analyze this “distress” call for a few reasons. In Alien, we learned that Weyland Corp. knows about the Derelict and its location and apart from Ash no one knew anything. Returning with the biological specimen was priority number one with all others rescinded and of course the crew was expendable. It begs the question as to how Weyland Corp. would have gotten information about the developments on both LV 223 and LV 426. Remember, I had earlier talked about the possibility of another mission from Earth coming to LV 223-LV 426 system due to Prometheus’s most important passenger and that I wasn’t sure how such a mission would be integrated into the next film? We know for a fact that based on Prometheus’s specs, it took 2 years, 4 months and 36 hours to reach LV 223. In addition, it would be reasonable to assume that there was no final communication from Prometheus to Earth when she was in the midst of madness on LV 223. Although I am leaning towards the possibility of seeing such a rescue mission from Earth in Prometheus 2, I would like to admit that I am not a fan of the idea that this mission would have a direct, major role. But first, let us see why such a mission would make sense from a logical standpoint – 1. It would ensure fresh meat for the Deacon and also more instances of the black goo infection. 2. It is a bit difficult to believe that the filmmakers would press ahead with Prometheus 2 with only one human character (Shaw) and another human looking android (David). As we know, the rest are extraterrestrials (both engineers and Alien). 3. Finally, it would pave a way as to how Weyland Corp. would have gotten hold of the information about the Derelict and its cargo (not the distress call!). Now, the reason I am biased against this idea is due to the fact that I love Alien 1979 so much and still consider the creature from that film the very first of its kind – born from inside a human! As fans, we all know the impact the facehugger scene, the chestburster scene and the very first moment that Alien appeared on the screen had on us. If the human mission in Prometheus 2 results in an encounter between the Deacon and the humans, resulting in birth of chestburster like creatures, it would take the sheen off Alien 1979. So, my hope for Prometheus 2 is that they have such interactions, encounters between the Deacon and humans, but not result in further procreation. As mentioned above, for consistency purposes having a second mission from Earth makes a whole lot of sense.

Now, let us concentrate on the “distress” signal. My theory is, that the signal was sent out from the Derelict and could probably not be the source behind Weyland Corp.’s knowledge about Derelict and its cargo. I am making this judgement because, when Mother partially decoded the signal, it turned out to be a warning. This development obviously poses the question as to who activated the signal, warning anyone or anything to stay away from LV 426. I think this proves that Shaw has to be on the spaceship when it took off. I would also assume David is with her. But, the most important passenger would have to be the Deacon herself. She would do anything to protect her eggs and hence, it is foreseeable that there would be an epic encounter between the her, Shaw and David, similar to what we saw on Aliens. Since, David is well-versed with ship communication, he and Shaw would send out a warning never to look for the ship. David would be destroyed and Shaw would sacrifice herself by ejecting herself with the Deacon, thereby killing both of them. The ship with the already dead pilot engineer would then force land on LV 426.  I have already spoken about the trickster nature of David. So, I wouldn’t be surprised if he might have programmed the ship to force land rather than destruct, which is exactly what Shaw would have done. My final post on Prometheus will be a reflection on David and some elements of the engineers’ biology.

Prometheus 2 – What the future holds

It is time now to put on our thinking hats and speculate how the next part of Prometheus movie would look like. We know for a fact that Prometheus II will be made, with Ridley Scott at the helm. So, that’s good news. But, what is not that good is that there are some inconsistencies between the chain of events in Prometheus and in Alien. You could call it oversight, similar to the visual of green pastures in the engineer sacrifice scene in the first scene in Prometheus, nevertheless it needs to be mentioned. Before I talk about this inconsistency, let us just consider what we have seen and have established from the analysis so far and how we could use this information to establish a direct link with Alien.

Link between LV 223 and LV 426

Nostramus on its way to LV 426 - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Nostromo on its way to LV 426 – Copyright 20th Century Fox

First off, there is only one important thing to be established – the forced landing of the derelict spaceship on LV 426. It is no doubt, it is one of engineers’ ships that I think we can safely assume originated from LV 223. I had reasoned earlier that LV 426 is also part of the same star system that LV 223 is part of. We also know for a fact that there are many more ships under the surface of LV 223. Now, let us see if we could arrive at a logical sequence of events that would lead to the aforementioned scenario. But first, we must reestablish what we know. So. let us review. The engineers had conceived the Alien, but they couldn’t get their plans realized, since the creature had to be “born”. But, when Prometheus came knocking in 2093, the plan got rolling, resulting in the birth of the first Alien like creature – the Deacon aka Proto-Alien. The entire crew of Prometheus is dead, except for Shaw and the android David, who we saw flying to the home planet of the engineers. It is unclear at this moment as to how many undead engineers are still in LV 223. Prometheus came face to face with one engineer who was on hypersleep for many many years. But, if there are other ships on LV 223, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume that may be there are other engineers still alive as well. For the time-being, let us keep this thought on the back of our head.

Derelict on LV 426 - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Derelict on LV 426 – Copyright 20th Century Fox

Engineers’ Home – What to Expect?

Let us look into Shaw and David’s visit to the engineers’ home planet. If my earlier assumption is right, then Shaw and David will meet a completely different group of engineers who aren’t that teed off with us like their counterparts in LV 223. This would prove that only a select few engineers had decided to take the extreme route of planning the destruction of humans. They could have broken ranks with a large majority in their home planet and decided to press ahead with their plans on LV 223. Due to their mutiny, they were cast off and given a free hand to do what they wanted, but never come back, in case there was an emergency of some kind. This could explain why no rescue mission was mounted to help the engineers stranded on LV 223. In addition, such a possibility would also prove the existence of structured military and political system within the engineer race with some “elders” calling most of the shots. When Shaw and David explain what they had witnessed in LV 223, it is likely that the elders realize the repercussions of their brothers’ actions. I would be glad if there are more religious aspects discussed over there as well and see if Shaw finally comes out of her religious mind freeze! Then, a team of engineers head back to LV 223 with Shaw and David to assess the situation. Shaw obviously does not know about the Deacon, but I am sure David knows. Since, he is the only person capable of communicating with the engineers, it would be interesting to see just how much exactly does he communicate to the engineers. But, more on David a bit later.

Back to LV 223

It is no doubt that the main action in the second film should return to LV 223. Assuming my theory is correct, then. a group of engineers along with Shaw and David should return to LV 223. Once on LV 223, it is likely that their first focus is on finding if there are still any other surviving engineers left. Apart from that, Deacon would emerge as the central player. It had been commented earlier by the filmmakers that Deacon is female, since she is born of Shaw. So, let us run with that. Now, it would be anybody’s guess as to what havoc she will wreak in LV 223. If there are other engineers still alive, then there is a chance of confrontation between them and the Deacon, which might run in parallel to the chain of events on the engineers’ home planet.

One must also consider another possibility. Sure, Prometheus was destroyed. But, it had the most important person on board – Peter Weyland himself. Hence, it could also be possible that another mission from Weyland Corp. is on its way to LV 223. If so, it would be safe to assume that the crew wouldn’t have any idea as to what had happened to Prometheus as well. I am guessing that such a development would be highly possible. More on this, on my next post.

Role of Deacon/Proto-Alien

Alien type creature - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Deacon – Copyright 20th Century Fox

Now, let us get back to the star of the film, Deacon herself and what she means to the progression of the movie. She is undoubtedly, the first of her race and I am considering the fact that she is a queen as well. When Alien came out, the first question that bothered most was how did the eggs get there and who laid them. In Aliens, James Cameron proposed the idea of the Alien queen and it is well established now. If the Deacon is not only the first of her kind, but also a queen, then, the problem of who laid the eggs is solved. There is another question of scale. Although the Deacon was “born” of Shaw, she used the life force of the engineer to evolve. Hence, it is no surprise why she is way bigger than the average chestburster that we all love and hate at the same time. So, it would be interesting to see just how big the Deacon becomes. We know from Aliens that the Queen is much larger than the average Alien. Anyway, it would be quite an awe moment when we see the fully grown Deacon on LV 223.

Roaring creature - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Roaring Deacon – Copyright 20th Century Fox

If we took a closer look at the Deacon and the chestburster together again, apart from scale, there are a few more things evident. Take a look at the picture above and the one below and concentrate on the teeth area. It is clear that the Deacon’s teeth are still organic, but the chestburster’s teeth are metallic. Another obvious difference is the fact that the Deacon’s structure looks more bio-mechanical than the chestburster. We saw in Alien that the chestburster goes through another evolution when it sheds this organic skin to assume the grey mechanical skin tone as it grew. I believe the difference here is due to the fact that the first chestburster emerged from Kane, a human and the Deacon emerged from the engineer. This certainly warrants a brief speculation on the biology of the engineers. I will do that in my very last post in this exercise. As mentioned, you can observe the mechanical teeth structure of the chestburster in the following three pictures.

Chestburster - Alien 1979: Copyright 20th Century Fox

Chestburster – Alien 1979: Copyright 20th Century Fox

Chestburster 2 - Alien 1979: Copyright 20th Century Fox

Chestburster 2 – Alien 1979: Copyright 20th Century Fox

Chestburster 3 - Alien 1979: Copyright 20th Century Fox

Chestburster 3 – Alien 1979: Copyright 20th Century Fox

Brett inspecting the Chestburster's shed skin - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Brett inspecting the Chestburster’s shed skin – Copyright 20th Century Fox

Coming back to the eggs, a possible scenario would be that the Deacon finds a temperature controlled environment, like the interior of one of the engineers’ ships and lays her eggs. She would eventually battle others almost killing them all. There was another idea I had earlier how to relate the Deacon to Shaw, apart from the fact that she was born of Shaw. I imagined a possibility that the Deacon would infect Shaw and the creature born out of Shaw would be the queen. But, for that to happen, Shaw had to be subdued and perhaps, die earlier in Prometheus 2 which, going by just the strength of her character and main role, is quite implausible. This is the only reason why I think Deacon could be the queen and we don’t need another round of evolution to engineer the queen. But, what I do believe is that Shaw has to die. I am hypothesizing that this would definitely happen, towards the end of the film.

We have finally arrived at the all important scene that connects Prometheus with Alien directly – an engineer spaceship leaving LV 223 and force landing on LV 426. I initially thought of talking about it right here, but there are some very interesting things that need to be discussed to understand this scene. Hence, I have decided to talk about it in detail in a separate post next.

Prometheus Analysis – Links

Prometheus

Prometheus

There are two posts pending to complete my Prometheus analysis series. The first has to do with the things that I touched upon in the last eleven parts of the article and I would like to elaborate on them. The second has to do with my views as to how the plot might develop leading directly to the Alien territory. Here, I would like to simply summarize the links to all Prometheus related articles for easy access.

1. Prometheus Analysis – Motivation

2. Prometheus Analysis – Revisiting the Plot

3. Prometheus Analysis Part I –  The Title

4. Prometheus Analysis – The Beginning

5. Prometheus Analysis Part III – Origin of Life

6. Prometheus Origins Incongruity – Resolution

7. Prometheus Analysis Part IV – LV 223 & LV 426

8. Prometheus Analysis Part V – Exploration on LV 223

9. Prometheus Blu-ray Release

10. Prometheus Analysis Part VI A – Black Goo: The X Files Excitation

11. Prometheus Analysis Part VI B – Black Goo: What could it be?

12. Prometheus Analysis Part VII A – The Mural

13. Prometheus Analysis Part VII B – The Mural

14. Prometheus Analysis Part VIII – Act 3

15. Prometheus Analysis Part IX – Act 4

16. Prometheus Analysis Part X – Act 5

17. Prometheus Analysis Part XI – Final Act

You can click on the above links to access each part of the article. As mentioned earlier, let us move on to our final conclusions part.

Prometheus Analysis Part XI – Final Act

Heading back to the structure - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Heading back to the structure – Copyright 20th Century Fox

We have now come to the final act of the film. Weyland, David, Shaw, Ford and another mechanic leave for the structure. While inside, David tells Weyland he could remove his helmet, since the air is breathable. Weyland initially hesitates, and Shaw also warns saying that they still weren’t sure if the infection could be transmitted by the air. David tells Shaw that it doesn’t. Shaw wonders how David knows that and gives him a stare. David then leads them to the Bridge where he found the hypersleep chambers and the live engineer. They go through a bay where they see thousands of stone vases and Weyland asks David if he knows what it is. David replies that it is the cargo hold. Shaw is worried and asks Janek back on the ship if he could see them. He asks Shaw how many of those vases are there, to which Shaw replies thousands. Janek is shocked to hear this and he starts focusing on the holographic map of the structure they had mapped out earlier with the help of Fifield’s probes. He strips away the dome structure, isolating the cargo hold area and it becomes evident to him that it is a ship! Vickers is shocked as well.

Cargo imagery transmitted by Shaw - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Cargo imagery transmitted by Shaw – Copyright 20th Century Fox

Janek figures out the ship - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Janek figures out the ship – Copyright 20th Century Fox

It is the first time the crew finally realize that the structure they had been exploring was all a ruse, hiding a ship beneath the surface. Once Janek isolated the dome, it becomes clear. David, on the other hand had figured that out long time ago that it was a ship.

The crew then enter the bridge or the command center. David comments that the engineers are a superior race without a doubt and that their hypersleep chambers would impress anybody. Shaw realizes that they had tried to leave before the breakout of the thing. David tells her that they were intended to fly to earth. A surprised Shaw asks David why. He tells her that in order to create, one must destroy! Now, Shaw is even more shocked. They then make it to the engineer’s pod and Weyland wants to confirm again if he is alive and if David can talk to him. David assures Weyland that he can.

David tells Shaw of the engineers' plan to leave for earth - Copyright 20th Century Fox

David tells Shaw of the engineers’ plan to leave for earth – Copyright 20th Century Fox

Inscriptions on the hypersleep chamber - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Inscriptions on the hypersleep chamber – Copyright 20th Century Fox

David proceeds to open the engineer’s hypersleep chamber. The engineer wakes up and steps out of his pod. He doesn’t show any side effects of having been asleep for a long time. Weyland tells David to speak to the engineer and tell him that they came just like he asked. But, Shaw is interested in knowing more about what killed them. She tells David to ask him where they are from and what do they have in their cargo. Weyland is annoyed with Shaw at this moment.

The surviving engineer after his hypersleep - Copyright 20th Century Fox

The surviving engineer after his hypersleep – Copyright 20th Century Fox

Shaw also wants to know why they would lead us here and why was the cargo meant for us. At this point, Weyland loses his patience and asks one of his men to shut her up. Shaw is still relentless, and wants to know what humans did wrong and why the engineers hated the humans. The engineer looks as if he is uninterested in the whole bickering between the humans. Then, David tells the engineer in his own language that Weyland is here because he does not want to die and that he believes that he can give more life.

David talks to the engineer - Copyright 20th Century Fox

David talks to the engineer – Copyright 20th Century Fox

The engineer looks at Weyland and looks and touches David’s head tenderly at first, but then suddenly goes nuts and twists and rips David ‘s head off and attacks Weyland. One of Weyland’s men shoots at the engineer, but it does nothing. He knocks both him and Ford and watches Shaw run off. After being knocked down cold by the engineer, Weyland looks at the decapitated head of David and says that there’s nothing. David tells him that he knows and wishes him a good journey, Vickers watches this whole thing on her monitor and as Weyland dies, she tells that its time to go home.

Engineer stroking David's head - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Engineer stroking David’s head – Copyright 20th Century Fox

Weyland knocked out - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Weyland knocked out – Copyright 20th Century Fox

Decapitated David wishing Weyland a good journey - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Decapitated David wishing Weyland a good journey – Copyright 20th Century Fox

Based on the hologram that David saw earlier, he had figured out the engineer’s plans. And the fact that he tells Shaw that creation would require destruction could mean that he knows more than what he is letting others know. It is clear that the goo has deadly effects, but it is unclear as to whether he has also figured out its course of action as it was intended by the engineers. Regardless, it is evident that he knows more. Coming to the hypersleep chamber, the hieroglyphs on the pod are similar to the ones that we saw earlier in the movie. When David asks the engineer about giving life to Weyland, the engineer first looks at David tenderly. He went straight for his head thereafter, so it could be likely that he knew that David was an android immediately. It is also likely that he was incredibly offended by the request coming from someone who was created by the life form they had engineered. Immortality would have removed any major difference between their creator and life form they created. Also, one needs to remember that he has been carrying more than 2000 years of hate and when you wake up after having slept on it that long a time, you have no reason to think about rationality. Your are still bound by your strong emotions. The way the engineer went about knocking everyone down and immediately plotting course for earth shows that he was a possessed man. He poured cold water on Weyland’s dreams. Prior to dying, Weyland tells David that there was nothing and David tells him he knows. Now, what the hell was Weyland expecting. I think, given Weyland’s intent to attain immortality, he should be also interested in transition of life. It is likely he was intending to see a light or something before he passed on and he saw nothing. David tells him he knows there’s nothing. If this hunch is correct, then we have another religious element that goes all the way back to the conversation the young Shaw had with her dad about death and heaven and all. More on the religious theme in the final analysis.

The engineer then starts his ship and the pilot’s seat is automatically activated. I got goosebumps watching this whole scene. The relevance of this space jockey scene with respect to the original Alien is without a doubt well established. Still, to see the transformation of the engineer into the space jockey was nothing short of exciting! The engineer plots course for earth and he takes off.

Pilot's seat activation - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Pilot’s seat activation – Copyright 20th Century Fox

Engineer preparing for take off - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Engineer preparing for take off – Copyright 20th Century Fox

The legendary Space jockey - Copyright 20th Century Fox

The legendary Space jockey – Copyright 20th Century Fox

Destination earth - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Destination earth – Copyright 20th Century Fox

At this point, Shaw realizes that the ground is shaking and a bit later separates as the ship initiates take off. Shaw, knowing where the ship is intended for, makes a frantic call back to Prometheus and warns Janek to stop the engineer’s ship at any cost. Janek is hesitant at first, but Shaw reminds him that irrespective of whether Prometheus is a war ship or not, the engineer has to be stopped, else, there would be no home to go! Vickers is unmoved and orders Janek to leave for earth. Janek, realizing that Shaw’s concerns are very real, decides to sacrifice himself and Prometheus to stop the engineer’s ship.

Shaw warning Janek - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Shaw warning Janek – Copyright 20th Century Fox

He asks Ravel to warm up the ion propulsion to use Prometheus as a bullet. He tells the disgruntled Vickers that he would eject her support module and she could get to her escape pod in a few seconds, else, she could prefer to stay with him and die. Vickers makes a run for the escape pod and ejects herself in the nick of time. Prometheus crashes head on with the engineer’s ship bringing it down and presumably killing Janek, Ravel and Chance in the process. Vickers is crushed by the falling ship leaving Shaw as the only survivor.

Engineer's ship taking off - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Engineer’s ship taking off – Copyright 20th Century Fox

Collision Course - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Collision Course – Copyright 20th Century Fox

Mission accomplished - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Mission accomplished – Copyright 20th Century Fox

Shaw is warned that her oxygen levels have gone down and that she’s got just two minutes left. She makes her way to the support pod of Vickers. Once inside, she realizes that there is some commotion in the surgery room hosting the med pod where she removed the alien offspring. She carefully looks into the room through the glass window and finds out the alien creature has grown to gigantic size with tentacles and all.

The alien offspring - Copyright 20th Century Fox

The alien offspring – Copyright 20th Century Fox

She is contacted by David at this point who warns her that the engineer is following her. She has a brief struggle with the engineer before opening the surgery room door and unleashes the giant alien creature on the engineer. The creature looks like a giant facehugger from the 1979 film and it subdues the engineer after a struggle and inserts its proboscis down his throat and sits on him.

Engineer struggling with the giant facehugger - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Engineer struggling with the giant facehugger – Copyright 20th Century Fox

Proboscis struck down the engineer's throat - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Proboscis struck down the engineer’s throat – Copyright 20th Century Fox

Engineer subdued completely - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Engineer subdued completely – Copyright 20th Century Fox

Meanwhile, Shaw makes it out of the support module and collapses on the moon surface basically giving herself up. David contacts her and tells her that he was worried that she might die. He then tells her that he needs her help but Shaw is not that excited about helping him. He tells her that he is her only hope to get out of LV 223 and that there are many more ships buried and he knows how to pilot them to earth. Shaw goes back to the bridge of the brought down ship and recovers the head and torso of David, but not before she collects her cross back. She also tells David that she wants to goto the engineers’ home planet and not earth. David wants to know what difference would it make to know why the engineers turned on them, to which she replies that he wouldn’t get it because he is a robot.

Finally, she makes the following log:

Final report of the vessel Prometheus. This ship and her entire crew are gone. If you’re receiving this transmission, make no attempt to come to its point of origin. There’s only death here now and I’m leaving it behind. It is New Year’s Day, the year of Our Lord, 2094. My name is Elizabeth Shaw. Last survivor of the Prometheus and I’m still searching.

We see another engineer ship leave the moon, which is the one launched by Shaw and David and is on its way to the engineers’ home planet.

Shaw leaving LV 223  - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Shaw leaving LV 223 – Copyright 20th Century Fox

The scene then cuts back to the support pod where the subdued engineer is suddenly shaking. His chest bursts open and the cut reaches his stomach and a creature emerges out of his body. The creature then stands up and roars.

Alien type creature - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Alien type creature – Copyright 20th Century Fox

Roaring creature - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Roaring creature – Copyright 20th Century Fox

The creators prefer to call the creature, Deacon and lets roll with that. The birth of Deacon itself is pretty interesting. Although, there are some differences between Deacon and the classic Alien from 1979, I think it wouldn’t be illogical to assume that Deacon could be something right before the Alien in the development/evolution tree. However, as we know already, the alien evolution is anything but standard.

Shaw’s intentions have been clear right from the moment she learned that something was wrong with the engineers. She wants to know the reason why they turned against humans. She is relentless in her quest to find the answer. So, it doesn’t surprise me that despite all the carnage and destruction, she still wants to visit the engineers for an answer. David finds it illogical, but he is still excited about the prospect of learning more. Shaw and David’s survival is not surprising from a movie standpoint. They are the strongest characters in the film and their individual actions are driven by different motivations and it is important to analyze them in detail.

Anyway, now that we have completed the scene by scene description of the film, it is time to analyze some pending issues and how we could arrive at a picture that would indicate what to expect from Prometheus 2.

 

Prometheus Analysis Part X – Act 5

Shaw lying on the table - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Shaw lying on the table – Copyright 20th Century Fox

Now, let us talk about the developments back on Prometheus right after the crew came back from their second exploration. Holloway is dead, an engineer is alive and David has figured out the engineers’ flight plans. I am sure he knows even more. He would have definitely understood the conversations between the engineers in the hologram as well. In the first scene back on the ship, we see Shaw lying on a table and wakes up in shock when David tries to remove her crucifix pendant. He says that he has to remove it since it might be contaminated. Shaw tells David that everyone who set foot in the structure need to be put through quarantine procedures. He also asks her if she had had intimate contact with Holloway prior to his death, just to be thorough.

Shaw resisting David's attempt removing her cross - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Shaw resisting David’s attempt removing her cross – Copyright 20th Century Fox

David proceeds to scan her and he finds out that she is pregnant and is three months into her pregnancy. Shaw is visibly shaken on hearing the news and tells David that she is infertile and can’t be pregnant and that she had sex with Holloway 10 hours ago. David tells her that the fetus is not a conventional one. Shaw begs David to let her see it. But, he refuses. She wants it out of her, but David tells here there are no personnel to perform a procedure like that. He advises her that she should be put into cryostasis. Shaw becomes agitated and David calms her down by injecting something. He tells her that someone would show up alone later to take her to the cryodeck. While she is about to pass out, David has a spiritual conversation with her. He tells her that she might feel as if her God abandoned her. Shaw is perplexed. David tells her that to experience death of Holloway similar to losing her Dad from a virus earlier should be just too much. He also asks her if Ebola killed her dad. Shaw asks him how he knew about her dad, to which David replies that he watched her dreams.

Scan of alien fetus inside Shaw - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Scan of alien fetus inside Shaw – Copyright 20th Century Fox

As I had mentioned earlier, religion is a very critical element in the whole film. The emphasis on Shaw’s crucifix pendant is key to a lot of open questions. In addition, the spiritual conversation between David and her shows how strong her belief system is and how she interprets the role of God and how David sees the whole thing. More on this phenomenon during my final discussions.

Shaw running away from Ford - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Shaw running away from Ford – Copyright 20th Century Fox

After a while. Ford comes to Shaw to take her back to cryodeck. When she tries to shift Shaw, a struggle ensues with Shaw escaping. She gets to the surgery pod that she was shown earlier in the film during a brief tour by Vickers. She activates the controls and an automated voice asks her what procedure she wants to be performed. Shaw tells she needs cesarean. The voice tells her that the medpod is configured only for male patients and asks her to find assistance elsewhere. Shaw is overwhelmed by pain and she overrides the controls and manually chooses the options for surgery, abdominal, penetrating injuries, foreign body and orders to initiate. The voice finally heeds to her request and starts the procedure. In the meantime, Shaw’s abdomen starts to bulge with the fetus inside. The surgical procedure is commenced. Shaw’s stomach is cut and spread open and the alien fetus is removed from inside. It seems to be coiled inside a shrimp like pod and it suddenly bursts. The surgical pod staples Shaw’s stomach, while the alien fetus struggles to escape the pod. It looks like a squid like creature and becomes very aggressive. Shaw slides out of the pod in disbelief and instructs the surgical pod to gas the creature. The pod responds and Shaw escapes from the room.

Commencement of surgery - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Commencement of surgery – Copyright 20th Century Fox

Alien fetus being removed - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Alien fetus being removed – Copyright 20th Century Fox

Remarkable alien fetus - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Remarkable alien fetus – Copyright 20th Century Fox

Familiar head structure - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Familiar head structure – Copyright 20th Century Fox

Fetus being gassed by the pod - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Fetus being gassed by the pod – Copyright 20th Century Fox

It is a remarkable fetus, don’t you think. The head type structure is pretty similar to the Alien head, although you could also say it is reminiscent of many marine mammals. The point where the tentacles originate has an opening that we would eventually see later is an important biological characteristic. Apart from that, I don’t think there is much information to be obtained from the fetus.

Whilst this is going on, Janek is concerned because he picks up imagery from Fifield’s camera right outside the ship. He informs a mechanic about this and tries to communicate with Fifield. The mechanic instructs the others to open the door. One of the mechanic approaches Fifield, who is lying motionless right outside the door. As he is about to take a closer look, Fifield gets up and he looks completely different, a victim of rapid mutation that seems to have changed him. He strikes the mechanic and kills him with just one blow.

Mutated Fifield at the door - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Mutated Fifield at the door – Copyright 20th Century Fox

Closeup of Fifield's face - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Closeup of Fifield’s face – Copyright 20th Century Fox

Something has made him very powerful and he kills another mechanic by punching him in his stomach and crushes his face. Witnessing this chaos, Janek tells Chance that they have to suit up and go to the door. At the same time, Shaw, still recovering from her surgery, is walking through the corridor of the shop, from one room to another. Fifield. who has become extremely violent at this point, also seems to have become impervious to bullets. The crew try everything, shooting at point blank range – nothing stops him. He kills another couple of people and he is finally killed only when he is run over and Janek and Chance burn him incessantly with the flamethrower.

Janek and Chance shooting Fifield - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Janek and Chance shooting Fifield – Copyright 20th Century Fox

It is obvious in the above scene that Fifield is a victim of an infection by the black goo. The change that he went through could be something that is similar to what the engineers might have encountered 2000 years ago. With Fifield, we see that his skin has changed and he is quite resistant to extreme situations and he has become very powerful. He is consumed only by one emotion – kill,  and being relentless in that. When he gets shot at close range, you could see a black substance akin to blood gets sprayed. His posture, when the mechanic found him outside the door is also intriguing and shows that he has also become very flexible.

Meanwhile, Shaw wanders around the corridor, before finding the room C3 P43. She enters the room and falters. In the room we find that Weyland is very much alive and David and a few others are attending to him. It seems like he had just gotten out of his hypersleep and they are preparing him for something. Shaw asks him why he had come along. Weyland tells her that he wanted to meet his maker before he could die. Shaw asks David if he already told him that all of them were gone. David, tells Shaw of his discovery when he was alone in the structure and that one of them was still alive. Shaw is shocked. At this point, Weyland tells her that if they made us, they surely could save us as well. She asks him from what, to which he replies, death. Shaw, then warns Weyland that he doesn’t understand and that the engineers aren’t what they thought they were and that they have to leave immediately. Weyland poignantly asks Shaw if that is what Holloway would have done. Given the chance to meet our maker, would he leave without knowing what they are? He also asks her if she had lost her faith!

Peter Weyland alive - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Peter Weyland alive – Copyright 20th Century Fox

It is now clear that Weyland was the person with whom David was communicating earlier in the film, where he mentioned something was broken. We also learn that Weyland is a dying man and he desperately wants to stay alive, perhaps figure out a way towards immortality. He thinks that the engineers could help him with that quest. Due to his quest for omnipotence, it is clear that he has a God complex. To him, regardless of how badly the search for the engineers had turned out until now, he still wants to meet the surviving engineer. That is his ulterior motive. If other lives have to be sacrificed for that, so be it. During the scene when Shaw tells Weyland that their theories about the engineers were wrong, David hears the conversation and looks at Shaw in a very weird way. Could it be that he is simply thinking, boy she certainly doesn’t know a lot of things. It is a very important scene alright, and although short, the conversation sheds light again on faith and God again. This has been a recurrent theme in the entire film.

Shaw is seen suiting up and it is evident that she wants to go back to the structure with Weyland to meet the engineer. Janek comes in and tells her that he sees this facility as some kind of military installation of the engineers. This is certainly not their home and given the dangers involved with whatever they were experimenting with, they wanted to do it in the middle of nowhere. The thing turned on them. He adds that is time for them to pack their bags and leave. Shaw informs him that one of the engineers was still alive. Janek tells her that he doesn’t care. Shaw is visibly annoyed by his response and tells him that he must care about something, else he wouldn’t have chosen to fly to LV 223. Janek then tells her that he will make a deal and no matter what happens down there, he would not allow any of that black goo to be brought back to earth. He will do everything in his capacity to stop that from happening. Shaw agrees with his plan.

Shaw talking to Janek - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Shaw talking to Janek – Copyright 20th Century Fox

As Weyland is getting ready to venture on his trip to the structure, Vickers visits him. Weyland tells her that he is surprised that she came along and that all her attempts from preventing him from coming here were useless. Vickers warns him that he will die if he goes to the structure. Weyland chides her for her pessimism and tells her that this was the precise reason why she should have stayed home. Vickers tells Weyland that she was not gonna sit in a board room for years arguing over who was in charge while he goes looking for a miracle in some Godforsaken rock in the middle of space! She adds that a king has his reign, but not forever and he has to die. That’s the nature, it is inevitable. She touches Weyland’s hand tenderly and he doesn’t respond and asks her if she has anything else to say. She says, nothing father!

Vickers with her father Weyland - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Vickers with her father Weyland – Copyright 20th Century Fox

Wow! I certainly didn’t see that coming for a long time in the film. This scene is further testament to how long Weyland has been having such an immortality complex and why he was trying anything and everything to achieve it. There is also a contrast here. If you revisit the conversation between Shaw and her dad that David saw in her dream in the beginning of the movie, it also deals with death. They are in a foreign land where they see a funeral procession and the young Shaw asks his father what had happened, to which he replies that he had died. She then asks him why he hadn’t helped him. Her dad tells her that their God was different than his and Shaw’s. Shaw then asks why he had died. He tells her that all of us have to die when the time comes. He also tells her that people go to heaven or paradise after death and that he knows it because thats what he chooses to believe in. Right when he asks Shaw what she believes in, David comes out of watching the dream. Contrast the scenario with Weyland-Vickers conversation. Shaw’s dad tells her that death is inescapable. Weyland believes he can overcome death. Both their beliefs are very strong. In Weyland’s case, Vickers has to remind him about the inevitability of death.

Funeral procession scene in Shaw's dream - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Funeral procession scene in Shaw’s dream – Copyright 20th Century Fox

In the final scene before they venture back into the structure, David tells Shaw that he did not expect her to even survive and that she had acquired extraordinary survival instincts. Shaw asks David what he would do if Weyland were not around to program him anymore and he replies that he would be free. She asks him if he would want that. David responds that he is not familiar with the concept “want”. Then he says something very interesting. He says doesn’t everyone want their parents dead! Shaw tells him she didn’t. Weyland is pleased to see that Shaw is joining them.

Shaw talking to David about free will - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Shaw talking to David about free will – Copyright 20th Century Fox

It was very clear right from the beginning that David’s motives were more complex than what his actions conveyed. It is also clear that he is answerable only to Weyland. But, based on his conversation with Shaw, it is also clear that he yearns for free will and the only thing that would set him free would be the demise of Weyland. I would like to explore more on this topic a bit late, since we would have to talk about AI, robots and androids in general.

This completes Act V. Next, we will focus on the last Act of the film.

Prometheus Analysis Part IX – Act 4

Stone Vases outside the Command Center - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Stone Vases outside the Command Center – Copyright 20th Century Fox

Let us focus now on the second exploration scene inside the structure. Janek heads a team back to the structure to locate Millburn and Fifield. In the meantime, David is on his way alone to find the probe that seems to be picking up a life form at regular intervals. Vickers wants David to connect his camera feed to her room. David finally finds the probe floating in front of what seems to be a door to another room. He opens the door and inside he finds thousands of stone vases that we saw earlier, all neatly stacked. David opens another door that leads him to what could be thought of as a command center. At the entrance, there are four, large, 1:1 scale engineer statues, all suited up. Suddenly, something catches his attention. At this point, he cuts off his camera feed much to the annoyance of Vickers. He sees a large circular structure with four hyper-sleep chambers.

Suited up engineer at the entrance of the command center - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Suited up engineer at the entrance of the command center – Copyright 20th Century Fox

Four hypersleep chambers - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Four hypersleep chambers – Copyright 20th Century Fox

The rest of the exploration team come across the pile of dead engineers that Millburn and Fifield earlier encountered. Holloway, seemingly sick from the infection trips on one of the bodies. Shaw takes a closer look at him and is worried on seeing his eyes bloodshot. She tells that he is sick, but Charlie advises to move forward. They enter the room where they found the vases earlier and when Chance is about to touch the black goo oozing out of one of the vases, Janek advises him not to. Shaw tells Janek that they were dormant when they first saw the vases. Chance finds a motionless body on the ground and he realizes that it is Millburn.

Chance finds a motionless Millburn - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Chance finds a motionless Millburn – Copyright 20th Century Fox

As they approach Millburn, Holloway falls again and he asks Shaw to look at him closely and tell him what she sees. Shaw knows instantly that Holloway is very sick. The others turn Millburn’s body over and find out that he died with his mouth open. Shaw tells Janek that they have to get back to the ship immediately due to Holloway’s infection. The ones checking on Millburn find something crawling in his esophagus that is ruptured open. A snake like creature  jumps out of his esophagus, unsettling everyone before swimming away. Shaw gets in touch with Prometheus tells that a medical team is required by the airlock and also calls for quarantine fail-safe since Holloway’s sick. Vickers is worried about this development and denies Shaw’s request and tells her that she would be closing it up.

Shaw checking on sick Holloway - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Shaw checking on sick Holloway – Copyright 20th Century Fox

Dead Millburn with mouth open - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Dead Millburn with mouth open – Copyright 20th Century Fox

While this chaos is going on with Shaw and gang, David is busy figuring out the specifics of the command center. He finds some rubbery egg like buttons and he presses them. One of them lits up and he presses it again, which results in a chair being released and presumably another hologram activated. He proceeds to sit on the chair and watches the hologram as the scene unfolds.

The Hologram

The Chair - Copyright 20th Century Fox

The Chair – Copyright 20th Century Fox

When David sits on the chair with almost a child like enthusiasm, the hologram is activated. We see four engineers coming in and speaking to each other. One engineer checks on one of the hypersleep chambers and seems to motion another engineer to his right. The other two engineers come in and one of them seemingly makes an action that could only be interpreted as something along the lines of “Enough with this!”.

Hologram showing the first engineer - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Hologram showing the first engineer – Copyright 20th Century Fox

First engineer checking one of the hypersleep chambers - Copyright 20th Century Fox

First engineer checking one of the hypersleep chambers – Copyright 20th Century Fox

He is pointing to his right - Copyright 20th Century Fox

He is pointing to his right – Copyright 20th Century Fox

Engineer heading towards the chair - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Engineer heading towards the chair – Copyright 20th Century Fox

This engineer heads straight to the chair. David makes way for the holographic engineer to take his place. The engineer then uses a flute like device to play a tune and immediately a three dimensional structure is activated along with a few other controls. He proceeds to operate the controls.

Engineer playing the instrument - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Engineer playing the instrument – Copyright 20th Century Fox

A mathematical structure is activated - Copyright 20th Century Fox

A mathematical structure is activated – Copyright 20th Century Fox

Engineer activating more controls - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Engineer activating more controls – Copyright 20th Century Fox

At this point, something very interesting happens. The first engineer, who was checking on one of the hypersleep chambers, comes to the engineer at the chair and has a conversation with him. The body language of the engineer suggests that he is concerned and seems to suggest that he may be asking if it would work. Just a hunch!

Another engineer walking towards the pilot - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Another engineer walking towards the pilot – Copyright 20th Century Fox

Engineer talking to the pilot - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Engineer talking to the pilot – Copyright 20th Century Fox

The engineer on the chair activates a complex map of sorts that show various star systems, galaxies and planetary systems. David is completely overwhelmed by joy seeing these images that he starts exploring the maps. It is clear that our solar system is prominently featured in one of the maps and our planet is marked. David observes this closely and it is very clear that the engineer has plotted course to planet earth. The other engineers are busy attending to the hypersleep chambers.

Complex starmap  - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Complex starmap – Copyright 20th Century Fox

David overawed by the starmap - Copyright 20th Century Fox

David overawed by the starmap – Copyright 20th Century Fox

Our solar system on the map - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Our solar system on the map – Copyright 20th Century Fox

Course plotted towards earth - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Course plotted towards earth – Copyright 20th Century Fox

David looks closer at the holographic earth - Copyright 20th Century Fox

David looks closer at the holographic earth – Copyright 20th Century Fox

Right when the hologram of earth disappears, David discovers that one of the hypersleep chambers is lit. He checks it and finds an engineer, alive and well and sleeping. He hears the heartbeat of the engineer with utmost satisfaction.

Earth's hologram prior to its disappearance - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Earth’s hologram prior to its disappearance – Copyright 20th Century Fox

Engineer in hypersleep chamber - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Engineer in hypersleep chamber – Copyright 20th Century Fox

Excited David - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Excited David – Copyright 20th Century Fox

What is evident from the aforementioned developments is the fact that the engineers wanted to get the hell out of LV 223 and as it would emerge later in the movie, wanted to take their spaceship to earth, with its deadly cargo. If you looked at the scene closely, it would be clear that from the vantage point of the engineer on the chair, the hypersleep chamber to his top left is the one where one engineer is still alive. What happened to the other three is not known. Even after having “warmed up the ship” and plotting their course, something stopped them from leaving. As we will see very soon, there is one more step needed to activate the pilot’s seat, which means that something attracted the engineers’ attention prior to this step. It basically killed three of the engineers. May be only one engineer was not infected and he went to hypersleep without knowing what fate had in store for the other three engineers.

Now, let us look at the starmap itself. It is undoubtedly a celestial sphere displaying various star systems. As it emerges later we find that the primary focus is our solar system. What of the geometrical skeleton that makes up the sphere? It looks to me like a tessellation. Once defined mathematically, the tessellations are perfect tools to solve complex and tricky problems. In astronomy, one of the most widely used tessellations is the Voronoi Tessellation (VT). It is also known as Dirichlet Tessellation or Thiessen polygons. A VT is a tessellation based on a set of points, like stars on a chart. Each point is enclosed by a polygonal cell — a closed shape formed from line segments — that encompasses the entire area that is closer to its defining point than to any other point. Cell boundaries (or polygon segments) are equidistant to two points; nodes, where three or more cells meet, are equidistant to three or more defining points. VTs can tessellate higher dimensions as well.

VTs provide a useful way to visualize and analyze data patterns as well. Closely clustered spatial data will stand out on a VT as areas dense with cells. Astronomers use this quality to aid them in identifying galaxy clusters.

A close relative to the VT, the Delaunay tessellation also boasts a variety of uses. To make a Delaunay tessellation, begin with a VT, and then draw lines between the cell-defining dots such that each new line intersects a shared line of two Voronoi polygons. The resulting lattice of chubby triangles provides a handy structure for simplifying graphics and terrain.

May be it is not a tessellation and I am imagining things. It is certainly not a VT. Nevertheless, it doesn’t affect our analysis a lot. The pattern most likely resembles Penrose tiling. One sub-structure that you could oft see is a rhombus type with a diagonal intersection with some vertices having a kind of marking. Let me repost the picture and I hope it would be clear what I am talking about.

David overawed by the starmap - Copyright 20th Century Fox

David overawed by the starmap – Copyright 20th Century Fox

It could be likely that this structure is simply part of a more complex repeating pattern of a polygon. But, I am unable to make out more from the picture. It could be likely that what we see here is just a portion of a polygonal symmetry that could be an element of Penrose tiling, I don’t think I would like to go into details regarding Penrose tiling. I think the wiki page is comprehensive with a ton of information. All I would like to say is that we could also see diagonals connecting the vertices of a few rhombuses. This could be the classical golden ratio (1.618). Penrose tilings normally involve the golden ratio. In addition, in case of of a particular Penrose tiling with global symmetry, the center point is either the sun or the star vertex.

Our solar system on the map - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Our solar system on the map – Copyright 20th Century Fox

What we see in the center is actually our Sun, with planetary orbits around it. I know, it is quite a stretch to talk about Penrose tilings and symmetry and stuff! But, it is just interesting. Anyway, regardless of whether you find the topic of celestial spheres, tessellations or Penrose tiling relevant or not, the most important information that could be gleaned from the hologram is that the engineers were in a hurry to leave and their destination was earth.

OK, now let us move to the next scene. As the crew rush back to Prometheus with the sick Holloway, they find the air lock shut. Vickers shows up at the air lock and is unwilling to let Holloway in and she is carrying a flamethrower. She is worried that he would infect other people as well. Holloway is progressively getting worse and his skin seems to be changing very rapidly, something akin to a fast mutation of sorts. Shaw is unwilling to leave his side, but Holloway asks her to go. He badly wants to escape the misery of carrying such an infection and he goads Vickers into shooting him. Vickers finally shoots Holloway with the flamethrower resulting in his fiery death.

With that, we are finished with Act 4. Let us do a brief review. We learn that the black goo is oozing out of the vases and Millburn is found dead, with a strange creature shooting out of his throat. David discovers important information about the engineers and finds one of them very much alive and in hypersleep. Holloway’s infection gets progressively worse and he believes that only death can help him get past his misery. His wish is granted by Vickers.

That concludes Part IX of the article. In the next part, I would like to look into Act 5, which takes place back on Prometheus.

Prometheus Analysis Part VIII – Act 3

I have classified the plot in Prometheus into different Acts. Act 1 corresponds to all events preceding the first exploration on LV 223. Act 2 is the exploration and the immediate aftermath when the crew escapes back to the ship. Now, let us focus on Act 3, which details the happenings back on the ship before they venture back into the hollow facility on LV 223.

As we saw at the end of Act 2, the crew finally makes it safe to the ship after a dramatic encounter with a storm, sans Fifield and Millburn, who are lost inside the hollow facility. Captain Janek advises them to stay put inside the cave for the night due to the storm. The next scene is a critical element in Act 3. This is the scene where Shaw, Ford and David examine the head of the engineer that they brought along from the cave. In their preliminary inspection and based on further scans, it is evident that what they see is actually an exoskeleton type helmet.

Scan of the engineer's head - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Scan of the engineer’s head – Copyright 20th Century Fox

David carefully removes it and the head is revealed, which is incredibly human like. In the meantime, Vickers comes by and asks Shaw if all of the engineers were dead, to which Shaw replies that she doesn’t know. Upon further inspection they see some remarkable features on the head and Shaw says that they could be new cells in a state of change. Vickers then asks what they are changing into. Shaw then theorizes that they could trick the nervous system into thinking it’s still alive by running a stemline into the locus coeruleus. They play around with the current and after an incremental increase to about 50 amps, the engineer’s eyes start twitching. It becomes vigorous after a while and the mouth starts opening and closing as well. They try to reduce the current, but its too late. The face starts twitching violently and the black goo starts oozing out of his skull. They have no other choice, but to contain the head. David contains the head in a glass shield and the head suddenly explodes. Ford complains about the smell and David poignantly comments that the engineer was mortal after all. Finally, they decide to take a sample for DNA testing and the the movie progresses to the next scene.

Engineer’s eye twitch – Copyright 20th Century Fox

Black Goo oozing out of the head – Copyright 20th Century Fox

Before going to the next scene, let us see what we can learn from the engineer’s examination. There are a couple of important things one could observe from the examination. First, the engineer’s head is in a state of change with new cells replacing his old ones and changing into something. Second, the black goo oozing out of his head prior to the explosion. It would be easy to explain the black goo since, it is evident that the engineers had been experimenting on themselves. The black goo turned out to be more potent than they had imagined and eventually caused their death.

Now, let us look into the cells and their state of change. Here, I would like to make a hypothesis. It goes all the way back (or forward, if you consider the time line from Prometheus) to the original Alien movie. There’s a scene in the film, right after the very first examination of Kane with the facehugger attached, where Ash and Ripley have a short conversation. When Ripley asks Ash if he has found something about the visitor, Ash replies that he has confirmed that the creature has an outer layer of protein polysaccharides and has a funny habit of shedding his cells and replacing them with polarized Silicon. He further theorizes that it provides him a prolonged resistance to survive in adverse environmental conditions.

Tough little son of a bitch scene – Alien 1979 (Copyright 20th Century Fox)

There we have it. It’s all about Silicon. As we saw in Alien, it is more complex – the creature is a perfect carbon-silicon hybrid organism. Carbon is the main source in it’s earliest life cycle and upon subduing the host, it rapidly evolves to replace its carbon base with silicon. But the carbon map is not completely gone. This carbon base is still a vital aspect the production of eggs, facehuggers or in some cases, direct infection by the creature. Life begins as carbon based and turns into silicon based during the life cycle of the Alien.

So, it is highly possible that the replacement of cells on the engineer’s head reflects this shift from carbon to silicon. It then seems that the black goo had been successful in doing what it was intended to do, to a lesser degree. But, all in all the experimentation was unsuccessful and hence, the carbon-silicon transition is not that drastic. That’s why it was mentioned in passing by Shaw and Ford. Now, I do have a theory for why the whole experiment failed. It has to do with a critical element they had overlooked in the way they had planned creating the Alien. But, I will talk about it a bit later.

The Devil in the Dark

Star Trek Original Series

I would like to take a small sidestep and talk about Star Trek. Wait, what the hell has Star Trek gotta do with Alien and Prometheus? I am getting there. In the first season of the original series, there was an episode titled, “The Devil in the Dark”. It was the 25th episode and first aired on March 9, 1967. The plot of the episode is as follows:

On stardate 3196.1, Enterprise attends to a worrisome request for help from a pergium mining colony on planet Janus VI. It seems that a strange creature has been acting up and has killed 50 miners and destroyed a whole array of equipments. The miners are all burnt beyond recognition. It suggests that the creature uses a strong acid to attack and due to its corrosive nature, the miners instantly disintegrated. Kirk, Spock and McCoy beamed down to the planet and based on their investigations come to the conclusion that they are dealing with something that is radically different and put in their own words, “Life as we didn’t know it.”

Spock inspecting a silicon nodule (Later turns out to be an egg) – The Devil in the Dark

Without going into complete details about the episode, what they learned is that the creature is silicon based and lives deep under the surface of the planet. It produces an extremely corrosive type of acid to digest rocks and hard material to navigate. When the miners reached the level where the creature lived, it naturally had to defend itself against the intruders. Based on Spock’s mind-meld, we also learn that the creature is called Horta and every 50,000 years, the entire race of Hortas die, except only one who acts as a protector of the eggs. When the humans encroached upon the egg resting area, it had to attack to protect her children. In the end, everything turns out fine.

A reactor room sabotaged by the creature’s corrosive acid – The Devil in the Dark

Horta, the creature – The Devil in the Dark

Spock’s mind-meld with Horta – The Devil in the Dark

This episode is pretty interesting in the Alien context for two reasons. One, the Horta is silicon based and two, it produces a corrosive acid both to aid in its mobility and as a defense mechanism. The fact that the episode aired in 1967, I just wonder how much of an influence it had on the original Alien, in terms of thinking about its biology. 

Silicon based Life

Now, let us talk about the plausibility of  natural evolution of a silicon based life form. Based on what we know, it would be highly unlikely for such an evolution. One can think of many reasons for such an improbability. Firstly, there is a huge abundance of carbon in our universe, compared to silicon. This is the case, thanks to stellar evolution. Secondly, we all know that organic life is made possible due to carbon’s ability to bond and form complex molecules. Silicon based complex molecules can exist, but their bond lengths are longer than carbon bond lengths and hence, silicon bonds are weaker and can quickly become unstable. For instance, a group of silicon based complex molecules, polysilanes, are extremely unstable in UV light.

There is another issue as well. But, I believe this could be dealt with, at least theoretically. I am talking about expulsion of respiratory waste. If the organism evolved in an oxygen based environment, then silicon dioxide (silica) is the carbon dioxide equivalent. But, silica is solid as we very well know. Yet, there are some extreme critter like life forms on our own planet that can expel silica. Even in our earth’s history, there are some fine examples of workarounds for such a situation. You see, silica need not be expelled as a solid. It is soluble in water, and hence there could be an intermediary step, prior to expulsion. If you look at the case of diatomites, you would see that the ash of these once-living creatures contains a fair amount of silica. Nearly 30% of the earth’s crust is composed of silicon. Carbon, on the other hand is less than 2%. The all important enzymes on earth are composed of protein (amino acids), sugars and metal complexes, not carbon. If you think that just long chain carbon molecules are enough for life, think again. What is crucial is the fact that such molecules should contain hydrogen and a polar end group. This is the norm as far as our own biological makeup is concerned (fat and lipids). Life as we know it has to satisfy the criterion above. That’s why polysilanes are interesting, because they fit the niche perfectly.

It would be fascinating to speculate on what a strange world it would be where such a creature could evolve. Such a speculation would also provide us hints about the biology of the Alien as designed by the engineers. For a natural evolution of a silicon based organism, it would be reasonable to assume that the environment might be devoid of oxygen. Strongly reducing conditions might be the norm (similar to conditions on prehistoric earth before the evolution of photosynthetic bacteria). But, if oxygen were present, it provides us with another fascinating possibility – the environment might be highly acidic or strongly basic. Why? It would simply facilitate the transfer or silicon around the “body”. Fluoride/fluorine might be the redox couple that replaces oxygen/water, which is the carbon based redox equivalent. Energy might be derived from UV rather than from chemical sources. And what about energy storage? Surely not as a carbohydrate! May be polysilane or polysilazane? What of the enzymes? They would probably have to me more flexible, have specific shapes and reversible binding. Chemical changes to their structures would have to affect the binding affinity and change the presentation of active sites. What kind of active sites would these putative enzymes have? For us, solution-based processes are the norm. May be, the silicon creatures would use liquid methane or ammonia or even carbon dioxide as the solvent. I could go on, but I will stop right here. Bottom line is, such a creature would be a biological marvel and involve a completely new, fascinating mode of chemical communication!

Such a scenario paints a very interesting picture. Remember, when I first spoke about the inconsistency of the very first scene when the engineer sacrificed himself on prehistoric earth? I said, it should have happened way prior to the evolution of photosynthetic bacteria and hence, the atmosphere was reduced due to the lack of oxygen but that the engineer obviously did not show any discomfort breathing. Could it be that silicon had already been part of the engineer’s biology and that way he could survive breathing in a reduced environment? This silicon part of his biology never got replicated during natural evolution on earth. Just a thought! The next thing has to do with the acid part of the creature. It has been established very well that the Alien “bleeds” corrosive acid. which acts as a defense mechanism. In the next section, let us look into this aspect and how it fits logically into the silicon basis for the organism.

Bacillus cereus

Silicon is considered to be a quasi-essential element for most living organisms, even here on earth. Bacteria, Bacillus strains in particular, are well known to have an efficient silicate uptake system in place. The physiological function of such process though had remained obscure for a long time. But, evidence is currently emerging that helps define the role of such an uptake process. It turns out that in Bacillus cereus, the Si is deposited in a spore coat layer of nanometer-sized particles that enhances ….. wait for it ….. acid resistance. Such a novel acid resistance of the spore mediated by Si encapsulation was also observed in other Bacillus strains, representing a general adaptation enhancing survival under acidic conditions. If that is the case for bacteria, then you can imagine the role played by silicon for a creature like the Alien. There has to be a profound mechanism that would require silicon to play a larger role. Perhaps, in addition to enhancing the survival standards of the creature in extreme situations, the silicon also helps in preserving its “acid blood” preventing the Alien from an internal corrosion of sorts. There is another thing. The fact that the creature has polarized silicon, it means that we are talking about some kind of organosilicon material that involves carbon-silicon bonds. That way, irrespective of the specifics of the biology, it provides a possibility to sort of still preserve the carbon basis in a form that could be utilized in various cycles of the creature’s existence.

In conclusion, the state of change of cells on the engineer’s head points to the replacement of normal cells with polarized silicon. The engineers could not achieve the efficiency level of the Alien creature and hence, not that drastic of a change.

Now, let us proceed to the next scene. David is seen communicating with someone. He says that he will take care of it and mentions that it is unfortunately slightly broken. After he is done, he is confronted by Vickers, who wants to know what the other person had said. After some resistance, David tells Vickers that he asked him to try harder. Later in the film, it becomes clear with whom he is communicating. The interesting part in this scene is the fact that David mentions about something broken. Could he be talking about the vase that he brought with him? At this point it is not that clear.

In the meantime, Shaw and Ford analyze the genetic sample they obtained from the engineer’s head and compare it to human DNA. Obviously, they find a match letting them conclude that humans are engineers.

Engineer’s DNA Match with Humans – Copyright 20th Century Fox

We also see that David is inspecting the stone vase that he snuck into the ship. He breaks open one of the glass storage columns holding the black goo and takes a drop in his finger. He realizes that the goo is reactive and comments that big things have small beginnings.

Black Goo inside a glass column – Copyright 20th Century Fox

Big things have small beginnings – Copyright 20th Century Fox

In the next pivotal scene, David meets a disappointed Holloway and offers to pour him a drink. They also strike a conversation about the purpose of their visit to LV 223 and if Holloway found what he was looking for. At first, Holloway is sort of condescending to David, seemingly considering him to be sub-human. Actually, he was a bit less receptive to David even in the very beginning. Prior to their first inspection on LV 223 there were all suiting up. Holloway asked David why he would need a suit, since he is android. David said that it would make others comfortable if he stuck to the norms. They have a philosophical conversation about why the humans created David and how that correlates to engineers making humans. At the end, David pours Holloway a drink, but, he taints it with the black goo that he inspected prior to meeting Holloway, who ends up drinking it.

It brings us to another aspect of the title of the film, Prometheus. Remember, I wrote earlier that Prometheus is also a trickster figure in Greek mythology? By stealing fire from the Gods and giving it to humans, he inadvertently started a monumental chain reaction which resulted in both good and bad. David fits that profile perfectly. If he hadn’t spiked Holloway’s drink with the goo, it might have been very different. Not just that, as we will see in the next few sections, he is central to the progression of the entire movie. In my opinion, he knows more than he is actually letting them know. Besides, his short conversation with the unknown person earlier is also pretty mysterious. It would be interesting to know if he has his own motives for doing what he is doing. More on David a bit later.

The next scene cuts to the interior of the structure they previously explored. Fifield and Millburn, who are stranded in the structure come across a pile of dead engineer bodies. Its a huge pile and high up. It is obvious to Fifield that they were running from something. They notice something that shocks them. The engineers bear a gaping wound on their chests, where something seemed to have opened up from inside – akin to an explosion of sorts. Millburn is extra worried. Janek, the captain, interrupts them from the ship and enquires them about their position. He seems to have observed a ping, a click westward from their original position. He concurs that the probe might be picking up a life form. This shocks both Fifield and Millburn, but suddenly the ping disappears. Janek thinks it might be a glitch. He advises them to stay tight and they will be picked up in the morning. Fifield tells Janek that what they have seen inside the structure is worrisome and asks if the visual they are transmitting is picked up by Prometheus. Janek tells them that the signals come in sporadically due to the storm. Fifield and Millburn finally decide going eastward, since they don’t want to run into the life form that Prometheus picked up westward from them.

One of the elements in the above scene is a bit confusing for me. It has to do with the dead engineer bodies with their chests ripped open from within. It tells that something broke out, but what exactly? I would like to come back to this issue a bit later. This scene though could tell us a bit as to how to resolve another piece of inconsistency in the film as it relates to Alien. This had been bothering me for a long time. Hopefully, when we discuss this aspect in detail later, a consensus would emerge.

In the next scene, Shaw is recording her findings and Holloway walks in. Without going into the romanticism of the scene, basically, Holloway is happy that they found a link between the engineers and humans. Although, he is a bit disappointed that they couldn’t talk to them. The fact that they have now found out that engineers made humans, Holloway asks Shaw if she would remove her cross. Shaw tells him no, and that we still wouldn’t know who made them. Then they talk about creation of life and how easy it would be. Shaw, being infertile, becomes emotional, and after a couple of moments of consolation, they both end up having sex.

Sexual intercourse is an important element here, since, the infection that Holloway was carrying, courtesy of David, is transmitted to Shaw. As we see later in the film, it results in a whole lot of chaos.

In the meantime, there is some bantering going on between Vickers and Janek, which results in both of them sleeping together. The scene them cuts to the structure. Fifield and Millburn reach the spot from the beginning of the film where they first discovered the stone vases and the human looking head. The vases are all affected with black goo flowing out of them. The goo seems to have also mutated a few worm like creatures that we saw in the beginning. Millburn and Fifield encounter such a creature. They try to inform Prometheus about the creature and as they put it, is an elongated reptilian type creature, thirty to forty inches long and transparent. Since, Janek is busy engaging in coitus with Vickers, he is not listening. Millburn tries to touch the creature, at which point it flaps its head open. Suddenly, the creature seizes Millburn’s hand and wraps around his arm real tight. The grip becomes so strong that his arm snaps. Fifield tries to cut the creature off Millburn’s arm, but the acid blood of the creature gets sprayed on Fifield’s helmet melting it onto Fifield’s face. The creature then gets into Millburn’s suit and crawls into his mouth, knocking him out. Fifield falls face first on the pool of black goo and that starts mutating him real fast.

Now, it’s morning, the next day. Holloway feels sick and checks himself out in the mirror. He finds that his eyes are blood shot with something crawling in them. As he is about to freak out, Janek calls Shaw if she is up already and that they are planning to go back to the structure since they haven’t heard anything from Millburn and Fifield for quite a while. As they are about to leave for the structure, Janek asks Ravel, if he had fixed the glitch, to which Ravel replies negative. Janek informs David that a probe is picking up a life form and the signal pops up every hour or so for a couple of seconds before disappearing again. David, seemingly interested in the “glitch”, volunteers to find the “faulty” probe and fix it. Janek agrees.

It is evident that Holloway has been infected pretty badly by the black goo and he is fast changing. David, figures out that the glitch could point out to something or someone who is still alive and he is motivated to find the source. At this point, Shaw knows nothing about Holloway’s infection.

With that, we conclude Act 3. I hope I have not missed any important element of the whole Act. We learned a few things here, namely, that the skin of the engineer was changing, getting their organic cells replaced by polarized silicon, their DNA matches with human’s and hence, humans are engineers, David seemed to have figured out some specifics of the black goo and his deliberate tainting of Holloway’s drink leads to a chain of events, Fifield and Millburn find that the black goo had mutated worm like creatures inside the structure, one of which killed Millburn. So many developments, one might say. Anyway, let us focus on the next Act that chronicles the second visit to the structure in the next post.

OMNI Magazine

OMNI Magazine – From flickriver.com

If you are a science fiction fan, I think I don’t have to say anything other than the word OMNI. The magazine has carried many many SciFi shorts from a whole variety of authors like, George R. R. Martin, William Gibson etc., ever since 1978. Many a time, the magazine also carried real scientific articles and has always been one of the greatest magazines for a long long time until its last Internet version in 1998. If you think you might have missed out on 20 years of goldmine, fear not. The entire OMNI magazine dating from 1978 till 1998 is out on archive.org. I know this is old news, but, if some of you weren’t aware of it, head to archive for the downloads.

Enjoy reading!

Prometheus Analysis Part VII B – The Mural

One thing is clear from the mural – the creation of Alien was no accident. The engineers knew exactly what they wanted to create. It is also evident that they had even figured out the life cycle of the creature. This would explain the facehugger on the mural. But, a few interesting questions also emerge from this scenario. Let us address them one by one.

“Alien” Mural – Detailed (Copyright 20th Century Fox)

Time Frame – When did the Engineers conceive the Alien?

In my opinion, this is an extremely important question to address. The ‘schematics’ seem fairly detailed, and hence, it wouldn’t be illogical to assume that they had also worked out the specifics of the biology of the creature, not just its life-cycle. Now, from a time standpoint, there are a couple of possibilities. Let us explore both of them and try to figure out which one is the likeliest.

Scenario 1: The engineers conceived the idea for Alien prior to engineering life on earth.

Scenario 2: Alien was designed roughly around the beginning of the Vulgar Era (Common Era or A.D) in the Gregorian calendar of our history. (Yes, I know the term Vulgar Era isn’t used that often, but for our current discussion it fits).

I am sure you would agree with me that scenario 1 is a bit illogical. If it were true, it would mean that the sole reason for engineering life on earth was to invite a few people over to LV 223 to use as specimens for experimenting with the black goo aiding in the creation of Alien! Not to mention, they were willing to wait nearly 4.6 billion years to accomplish their mission! The whole idea seems a bit far fetched and totally inefficient for such an advanced race. Hence, I am absolutely positive that this time frame can be ruled out.

Scenario 2 seems more likely. It would mean that there was some “event” in human history that changed the engineers’ opinion of us as a race. May be we didn’t meet their standards and they thought of us as a monumental failure. So, they conceived Alien both as a way to correct their mistake and at the same time, use us in it’s creation or evolution.

A few interesting things can be gleaned from such a scenario. First off, the importance of LV 223 should be considered. It is clear that LV 223 was the focal point of the engineers’ grand scheme of things long long time ago. This is based on the star map that we saw in the beginning of the film. Going by the oldest such map dating back to more than 35,000 years ago, it is clear that they had something planned for us on the moon, LV 223. Else, they wouldn’t invite us there. The only thing I could think of is that their intentions then were very different, perhaps even benevolent, Thanks to the so called event, it all changed and the engineers suddenly went batshit crazy and developed the schematics for the Alien and started engineering the black goo for that purpose. Now, as far as a rough estimate is concerned, we do have a clue. When Shaw dated the dead engineer in the cave, she said he’s been dead for nearly 2000 years give or take. When Prometheus was close to its destination, we saw the date was December 21st, 2093. So, that would roughly put the time of the “infection” at around 100 AD. This estimate should provide an ample window when the event happened and the engineers developed the black goo weapon.

I would just like to mention a bit about the organizational structure of the engineers in the context of the reverse engineered black goo. If there had been a common consensus in the development of a weaponized form of the black goo, it surprises me that seemingly no effort had been made on part of the engineers to save the ones on LV 223 who were exposed to this plague. Irrespective of the heightened danger that such a situation presented, it is strange that the affected engineers were left to deal with the mess themselves. More than 2000 years had passed in the meantime, with no evidence of a mop up operation of some kind. It certainly paints the possibility that the modified bioweapon exercise on LV 223 was perhaps the work of some bad apples, a community of engineers who took offense to the “event” and it was an emotion that was not shared by all of them. The other group of engineers had planned on something else for the humans on LV 223. This would mean that we could have two groups of engineers and the one which felt the need to punish humans and the other that did not want to get involved. Just a thought. Anyway, I will come back to this issue much later in my thesis when we address later scenes.

By the way, there is another very important aspect of the mural that I am deliberately not touching upon right now. It has to do with the posture of the Alien! I am sure you guys would probably observe the special nature of such a pose. I will talk about it in detail during my final discussions.

Prometheus Analysis Part VII A – The Mural

The scene inside the “tomb” is probably one of the most important scenes in the whole film, because it is the first time we get to see signs of the creature link between Prometheus and Alien. Although it is not that direct, it reveals itself in the fascinating mural inside the tomb. I am sure you folks would agree that the whole scene is reminiscent of being inside an ancient Egyptian tomb –  the hieroglyphics, murals etc. But, given the plot of the film, it wouldn’t be illogical to assume that the ancient Egyptians had been influenced by the Engineers and hence, the architectural ideas of the Engineers is the original. In fact, the lead in to the discovery of the tomb in itself is a treasure chest of information – starting from the discovery of the hologram to the scene when they escape the tomb we are bombarded with important symbolism and imagery that provide a key to connect the storyline of Prometheus with Alien. Let us explore them one by one.

Let us revisit the hologram activation scene. David discovers hieroglyphic inscriptions on the wall of the corridor, which look like in the image below. In total, he performs five actions to activate the hologram. Two downward swipes, left to right, press one, fourth action is unclear and finally, another press. Now, the above information is not that important, but, the glyphs reminded me of something else. In Alien, in the very beginning, as the credits were rolling, the title played out on top of the screen with a series of vertical and slanted bars organizing into the word, Alien. Of course, I am not claiming that it means something. It’s just that I thought it was interesting to look at both the scenes from that context.

Hologram Hieroglyphs – Prometheus (Copyright 20th Century Fox)

Titles – Alien 1979 (Copyright 20th Century Fox)

The next interesting imagery is when they follow the hologram eventually finding the door to the tomb. Again, a fairly detailed hieroglyphic inscription greets them. You can observe them in the next couple of images. If you recall, Holloway asked David with an almost exasperated expression whether he could read them, to which David responded perhaps.

Hieroglyphs outside the tomb I – Prometheus (Copyright 20th Century Fox)

Hieroglyphs outside the tomb II – Prometheus (Copyright 20th Century Fox)

If you compare these glyphs with the one that activated the hologram, you could see that there are similarities. I have marked them in the following picture. Note that the ||| glyph is oft repeated in two styles – a bar on top and a bar on bottom. Although, the one encountered earlier had no bars either on top or bottom. Given the intersection between the two glyphs, I am positive David could have at least gotten an idea about what it says.

Similar characters shared with hologram activator – Prometheus (Copyright 20th Century Fox)

OK, now let us discuss the imagery inside the tomb. The pictures below show four different shots of one such image. There is no big mystery in the fact that it depicts an engineer enveloped in some kind of misty layer. But, what is not so clear is that his right hand leads to something unknown. I could not make out any details from the structure. It could be a headless body in a similar position like the engineer and happens to depict a right limb or it could be something more complex. Whatever it could be, would it be possible that this image projects the idea that this thing is envisioned to be something that”evolved” from the engineer? I am not really sure. May be I am just imagining or seeing things. But, the image is nevertheless interesting. I think I will watch this scene in super slow motion tonight again and try to see if there’s more to it.

Engineer Mural inside the tomb I – Copyright 20th Century Fox

Engineer Mural inside the tomb II – Copyright 20th Century Fox

Engineer Mural inside the tomb III – Copyright 20th Century Fox

Engineer Mural inside the tomb IV – Copyright 20th Century Fox

Defining Moment – The Mural

It is time now to pay attention to the all important mural inside the tomb. I think it is fairly evident that the mural depicts the classic Alien creature that we all love to death. Of course, it is not completely detailed, but the important features are all there –  the head, the exoskeleton like structure, stretched out hands, bipedalism.

Alien Mural inside the tomb – Copyright 20th Century Fox

In addition, the wavy, viscous nature of the mural texture looks very similar to the way the black goo reacted and moved before it started overflowing. You could see the details of the mural texture and the black goo motion in the following pictures. Such a parallel between the two opens up the possibility that the black goo is sentient (If this assumption is right, then it is another win for The X Files as it relates to Prometheus).

“Alien” Mural – Detailed (Copyright 20th Century Fox)

Wavy motion of the viscous black goo – Copyright 20th Century Fox

Ancient Egypt inspiration?

I had mentioned earlier that the symbolism and images have ancient Egyptian style written all over it, but, that the engineers could have influenced the Egyptians during their frequent visitations during that time. I would like to advance this idea of reverse logic further and am gonna talk about another interesting aspect of the mural. Please remember, this is another one of those not in the ballpark ideas my sick mind conjured up. It could be entirely wrong, but nevertheless, I hope it provides an interesting twist.

The following personal story segment has no bearing with the analysis, so, feel free to ignore it.

*START – Personal Story*

When I was roughly around 15-16 years old I saw a documentary on TV about the discovery of Tutankhamun’s Tomb. It made quite an impact on me that I started visiting the British Library in Madras almost every evening after school just to learn more about ancient Egypt. To have had a civilization like that in our evolution history is certainly a very proud thing for us as a race. But, as you know a lifetime is not sufficient to learn everything about ancient Egypt. Hence, I focused my interest mostly on aspects of the Old Kingdom and the New Kingdom until the Greek invasion. Those evenings spent at the Library did not go in vain though. Six years later, a friend of mine cleared his Common Admission Test (CAT), organized by the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) in India. IIM is a premier management institute in India and is famous all over the world for their programs. It is also probably one of the most difficult schools to get into. If you clear the test, you have to take part in a Group Discussion, followed by an in-depth interview, where anything goes. Anyway, my friend got an interview invite from IIM-Ahmedabad, the best IIM in the country and he asked me advice about strengthening his hobby areas, just in case it comes up in the interview. He thought Egyptology could help him, since, it is something very different and that might interest the interview panel. We had a month before the interview and we spent almost 4-5 hours everyday and we would discuss about ancient Egypt. Since time was short, I advised him that we could just look into the New Kingdom, especially the burial rituals, Gods and two pharaohs, Ramses and Akhenaten. I am a huge fan of Akhenaten and he was the first and probably the only one to go against stereotype of that time and was way ahead of the curve both in his thinking and ideology. I hoped our efforts would turn out useful for my friend. As luck would have it, he was asked about his hobbies in the interview and upon hearing Egyptology, the panel was surprised. One professor in the panel had dabbled in Egyptology himself and he was very excited to meet a prospective student with a similar interest. It made the environment a bit friendlier, my friend said. They ended up talking about Akhenaten in particular. My friend got admitted into IIM-Ahmedabad. I am not saying that he got the seat solely because of his discussion about Egyptology, but it did come in handy. Self high five.

*END – Personal Story*

Atum – Heliopolistic Creation Mythology

The idea is connected with creation myths of ancient Egypt. Although there are many theologies based on the prominence of a certain God in one of the major cities in Egypt, they all contribute in one form or the other to the creation mythology. I am not going to focus on all of them, since there is a wealth of information available on the net, starting from Wikipedia. But, what I would like to do is talk about one of the important deities during that period – Atum or Atem or simply, Tem. It is suggested that his name is derived from the word, tem, which means to complete or finish. He is regarded as a complete one and he is credited with both creation and ultimately destruction of life. Atum was the central God in the ancient city of Heliopolis. Hence, the creation myth involving Atum originated in Heliopolis. According to this creation theory, Atum created Himself by sitting on a mound that arose from the primordial waters of the abyss, called Nu. Sometimes, He Himself is considered as the mound. Why do I have to talk about Atum, you ask? Here’s why – He is also credited with the creation of god Shu and goddess Tefnut. He created them by spitting them out of his mouth. It is believed that he was masturbating and upon orgasm he took the semen in his mouth and spit it out thereby creating the gods. The texts from that time suggest various mechanisms for the creation, but they all involve masturbation, semen and spitting. So, the underlying thing here is that he created the twin gods by spitting them out. Shu and Tefnut eventually married each other!

The reason why I find Atum’s story in the context of the mural fascinating is because the Prometheus mural not only reveals the classic alien, but also a head type of thing right above it. It is animal-like (bull?) and I could see distinctive features like, eyes, mouth and nostrils (Atum, for instance, is thought of taking the form of a snake, mongoose or a bull sometimes). Considering the Atum-centric mythology and the relative proximity of the Alien to the mouth of the head above it in the mural together, I cannot ignore thinking about a connection between the two. At the risk of sounding like a broken ancient record, I would again like to emphasize that it is just a hypothesis and I might be dead wrong and the film makers never really cared about any Egyptian influence.

Coming back to Atum, He is a self-engendered god and He chooses when to create and when to destroy. He exercises authority over all life and has complete control over everything. So, the engineers are like Atum and they consider themselves as omnipotent beings and they have the authority and power to engineer and destroy life. That is reflective of a massive God complex! In that context, the unknown head like thing on top of the mural could be a reference to the engineers themselves and that the Alien is their “spat out” creation.

Sexual Connotations

The original Alien was pretty unsettling for a lot of people at that time because it turned the concept of sex on its head.  Dan O’Bannon (Bless him), the writer of Alien even mentioned in one of his interviews that his idea was to unsettle the average male viewer with the whole facehugger sequence. If you look at it, it is basically oral rape, the wrapping of its legs tightly around the host, insertion of its proboscis down the throat simultaneously implanting the embryo, all of it presents a violent image of sex. Not to mention the culmination of the entire process with birth of the chestburster, which is one of those biggest “Holy Shit!” moments in movie history. So, the mouth of the host is integral to the whole cycle.

Facehugger Rape – Alien 1979 (Copyright 20th Century Fox)

Masturbating Atum on the left

Now, let us look at the Atum-centric creation myth again. Of course, many would say that the image of a god masturbating and taking his own semen inside his mouth (see pictures to the right and the one below) before spitting it out creating other gods is sick. Some would even say that it is somewhat amoral and all that crap. Also, the spat out gods, who are siblings, married and gave birth to other gods. So, you see there are a lot of things here that would make people uncomfortable. But, ancient Egyptians believed it and were fine with the idea (If you thought Atum masturbation myth was odd, you should read about the infamous lettuce incident between Horus and his evil uncle Set. Horus’s father Osiris was killed by Set and Horus wanted to exact revenge. My point is, sexual aspects are fairly common not just in ancient Egypt, but in many other ancient religions, like Hinduism as well). It just shows how morality was perceived earlier and how it changed over the years, thanks to a certain religion. I will come back to the issue of morality later on in my thesis, because I think it is going to be the key in answering some of our pressing questions about the engineers’ intent.

Same picture as before – Semen consumption

Due to all this I think it is not that far fetched to compare the Atum-centric creation myth with the mural and the deeper meaning that such a comparison unravels.

Now, getting back to Prometheus, we saw that the murals started changing after a while inside the tomb. The group then rushes out of the place. One of the shots of another mural that showed this change or “evolution” is given below. If you paid attention to the scene, you would see something like the classic alien head and its famous bony appendage with which it would attack. I have marked it for easy viewing. I might be seeing things, but I just thought of mentioning.

Mural Evolution inside the tomb – Copyright 20th Century Fox

Finally we come to the last scene related to the mural. When you see the following picture, it should become clear. I am sure everyone would agree that on the bottom right corner, what we see is a classic facehugger! Holloway’s light even emphasizes this part of the mural, which is a clever way on part of the filmmakers to give us further clues. The fact that the alien and the facehugger is heavily represented in the mural shows that the engineers knew what they exactly wanted to create. I would elaborate on these aspects in my next post, which will be the final part of the mural analysis.

Facehugger – Prometheus (Copyright 20th Century Fox)

Review

So, there is a heavy reliance on Egyptian style hieroglyphs and symbolism to not just further the movie, but, also give us hardcore fans some subtle hints helping us connect the dots. There is a stylistic resemblance between some of the glyphs and the way the title, “Alien” played out in the original film. The scene inside the tomb depicts a variety of murals that show engineers, the original alien creature and the facehugger. Looking at some of the aspects of the whole scene through an ancient Egyptian eye lens provides us with a few other fascinating ideas that cover issues like creation and sexuality.

Whoa! That took some time. Anyway, I still need to talk a bit about how the mural might tell us about the engineers’ intent in engineering this creature. I will do it in my next post.