Ghost in the Shell – Arise : Analysis

GITSARISESorry about the long delay folks. Had a lot on my platter. Anyway, I would like to talk about something that has been a long standing passion of mine – Ghost in the Shell Universe. The re-imagining of the origin story that was Arise had be captivated as usual. With the new Ghost Whispers just a few days old, I think it makes sense for me to post my thoughts over the coming weekend. I will be posting my analysis of both the episodes and  would discuss elements of computer science, biology (specifically Virology), philosophy amongst many other things.

So, watch out for this space this weekend!

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.

Ghost in the Shell – Arise

Ghost in the Shell - Arise

Ghost in the Shell – Arise

Sorry guys, I had to post this information before publishing my Prometheus – What the Future holds post. This is too good not to post immediately. You guys would know how much praise I have showered on one of the greatest anime of all time – Ghost in the Shell. The original movie from Mamoru Oshii is still on the very top of my favorite movies list of all time. Then came Innocence, another spellbinding film. I also loved both Stand Alone Complexes and of course, Solid State Society. After a long break, Production I. G., is coming out with the project Ghost in the Shell – Arise. Apart from Masamune Shirow, the project involves Ubukata Tow as the primary script writer and Kise Kazuchika as the director. CORNELIUS will be in charge of the music production. They haven’t revealed more information at this moment. But, a press conference will be held at the nicofarre in Roppongi on 12th of February, 6.00 PM JST. The format of the anime and a teaser will be revealed at the press conference, followed by a talk show by its staff members and guests. The best part is, the press conference will be broadcast live on the official site.

Ghost in the Shell - Arise

Ghost in the Shell – Arise: Major Motoko Kusanagi

This is absolutely fantastic news. I missed the Major and Section 9 for too long. Can’t wait for Arise. Follow the link for the website and bookmark it. I have and I also know what my agenda is for Feb 12th, 6.00 PM JST. I was feeling a bit unmotivated today, but this news has certainly been the kick I needed to be productive.

Ghost in the Shell – Arise: Website

Now, back to Prometheus!

Prometheus – Conclusions Part I

As promised, I would now like to talk about many open questions, some of them obvious, some of them not so obvious. By discussing these questions in the next two sections, my belief is that we could tie up the loose ends that would give us a complete picture and aid us in determining the movie’s progression in its second part. In the previous eleven sections I have attempted to talk about every scene in detail and have spent considerable amount of time talking about how modern day science could help us with the analysis. Right now though, we have to ponder over things that could be hypothetical at best. Nevertheless, the movie provides us a lot of clues to help us arrive at such a hypothesis. So, without further ado, let us start.

What we know for sure is that the engineers engineered life on earth. The key word here is engineered, and not intervened with already evolving life. Throughout the development of modern humans, they have visited us frequently, the oldest evidence of their visit dating back to 35,000 years. Almost every description, symbolized by cave paintings and other visuals of their visit shows them pointing towards a particular star system, interpreted by many archaeologists and anthropologists as an invitation for us to come there. Years into the future, a star system exactly similar to the map is found and we learn that the object that they are pointing toward in every painting is the moon, LV 223. But, what Prometheus finds on LV 223 in 2093 is pure hell, to put it in the lightest term. The entire crew is dead, except for one human survivor and an android.

Engineers’ Transition – From Sacrifice to Batshit Crazy

Teed off engineer - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Teed off engineer – Copyright 20th Century Fox

During my analysis earlier, I wrote that when the engineers had invited us years ago to LV 223, their intentions could have been very different, perhaps even benevolent. I also theorized that they could have wanted to show us how life could be engineered. Our visit to LV 223 would have proved that we are almost at the apex of evolution and that time has come to learn the truth – about our own existence, our creators, and how to engineer life. But, we screwed up something big time that eventually led the engineers to take another look at us and go, “Let’s smoke these morons out until kingdom come!”. The developments in the movie suggests that they were gunning for total annihilation of the human race to create another sophisticated being and so, such a huge emotional outburst tells us that they were more than offended by what we did!

The Event!

To analyze the shift in the engineers’ mentality, one has to look closely at human history on earth. But first, based on the star maps (7 in total) we know that the engineers had visited many ancient civilizations – Egyptian, Mayan, Sumerian, Babylonian, Mesopotamian, etc., and showed them all the same star map (One of the things though is the fact that Sumerian and Babylonian civilizations are different eras of Mesopotamian cultures). As Holloway put it, these civilizations couldn’t have had contact with each other and were separated by centuries and hence, the discovery of the same star map during different time periods is an indication of engineers’ communication. In addition, they were looked upon as Gods.

The fact that the engineers were fine with the ancient civilizations tells us that they were absolutely fine with their belief systems. It also helped that humans saw them as gods. Nevertheless, it would be alright to assume that they were fine with our other religious beliefs. Their hate for us began much much later. That’s why I think it makes sense to talk a bit about Mesopotamian religions. I have already talked about one of the creation myths of ancient Egypt while discussing the mural and hence, we don’t have to talk about Egyptian religions in detail again.

Since Mesopotamia covers both Sumerian and Babylonian civilizations, I would like to talk about both of them together. Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq) as you know is considered the cradle of civilization and was the first culture to develop cities with elaborate streets and street grid designs, water distribution, sewage systems and other engineering tasks. (It is a pity that a region like Mesopotamia with such a history is in such a bad shape today. The same holds true for Egypt. I think my good friend Caroline Seawright said right – “Very sad. One dictator swapped for another when all the people want is freedom”. Something tells me that the pharaohs must be rolling over in their graves). In addition, the Sumerians are credited with developing the art of writing, for their contributions to early mathematics amongst many other things that served as the foundation for the further development of human race.

In my opinion, their religious beliefs also show a level of sophistication. Let us do a brief review of religion in Mesopotamia. It is said that no specific records detailing Mesopotamian creation myth have been found yet. But, modern scholars have examined clues from other documents and have arrived at a partially accurate description of Mesopotamian creation mythology. In the Epic of Creation, dated to 1200 BCE, it explains that the god Marduk killed the mother goddess Tiamat and used half her body to create the earth. He used the other half to create both paradise and the netherworld, known as šamû and isrsitu, respectively.

Marduk slaying Tiamat - From Wikipedia

Marduk slaying Tiamat – From Wikipedia

A common element in both ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian religion was polytheism. This is a key factor because it leads to to the acceptance of the existence of other deities. In ancient Mesopotamia, I can believe in a god who is different than say, your god. We would not be arguing about it. Both of us would acknowledge the fact that there are many gods and you believe what you want to. In addition, there were both male and female deities. They also subscribed to a henotheistic philosophy, with certain gods considered more powerful than the others by the specific group that prays to that god. I don’t think there is any record from that time that would suggest a religious discord amongst the people of ancient Mesopotamia. In ancient Egypt, I know that Akhenaten’s beliefs were found to be extreme and many priests in his time were pissed off with him. Just to be sure, I consulted Caroline Seawright for details. She gave me the following answer:

The major clash in religious belief that I can think of off the top of my head was Akhenaten vs the cult of Amen. It wasn’t really a war, per se, but he did eventually shut them (and the related Theban cults) all down. His own henotheistic religion was quite abnormal, as the royal family was suddenly at the centre stage of the religion – the Aten was inaccessible. He was generally fine with other cosmologies, though – he equated himself with Shu, and Nefertiti with Tefnut. I guess he equated (or replaced) Ra with the Aten, but not sure on that point.

In addition, there were patron deities, which means that some gods were city-state specific and they were worshipped by devotees from a particular city. There are many examples of such gods in ancient Mesopotamia, but I don’t think I have to mention them all here. The wiki article on Mesopotamian religion is pretty exhaustive in this regard. It is estimated that there were nearly 2400 gods, with most of them bearing Sumerian names. The gods were anthropomorphic, thereby possessing a humanoid form. Just like us, they required food and drink. There was occasional drunkenness on display as well. In most cases, the deities were related to each other and hence, were part of a big family. This is another common trait in polytheistic religions.

One of the most important of these early deities was the god Enlil, viewed as  the king of gods and controlled everything in the world. Another was the Sumerian god Ea, who was very similar to Enlil and became known as Anu. Much later, in 18th century BCE, the king Hammurabi, declared Marduk was another one of the all supreme gods, elevating him to the same status as Enlil and Anu. Apart from the aforementioned gods, there are many more who fit into a hierarchical structure and I am not gonna talk about all of them. But, I will talk a bit about a group of gods called Anunnaki. In the hierarchy of gods, the Anunnaki are what you would call as great gods. They were worshipped during different eras of ancient Mesopotamian civilization, including the Sumerian, Akkadian, Assyrian and Babylonian eras. It is said that the name, Anunnaki refers to those of royal blood and descended of the kings. They enjoyed enormous stature during those eras. And thanks to people like Zecharia Sitchin, the Anunnaki are still part of pop culture. Now, I have my reasons for not believing in any of Sitchin’s ideas. But, he was relentless in his belief and he has a strong legion of fans. But, when you hold his interpretations against scientific facts, you would realize that there are many problems. Sitchin’s main idea was that Anunnaki are a race of giant beings who created us as a slave race to primarily mine gold on earth. There are many more aspects to this idea, but I am not gonna go through all of them.

Zecharia Sitchin

Zecharia Sitchin

If you look at Sitchin’s idea closely, you would see parallels between the engineers and the Anunnaki. It is no doubt in my mind that the writers used his work in developing the main story of Prometheus. The material that we have from ancient Mesopotamian eras is not as exhaustive as discoveries from ancient Egyptian civilizations. This obviously presents a problem. Nevertheless, to believe that the Anunnaki were extraterrestrial visitors is a bit far fetched and flies in the face of current factual knowledge. If some of you are interested to learn more about Sitchin’s interpretation of ancient Mesopotamian text, you could buy one of his books. Personally, I would classify his work speculative fiction.

Anyway, I think I will stop with the Anunnaki right here and talk about something else. The French historian J. Bottéro has written extensively on ancient Mesopotamian religion and one of his books titled, Religion in Ancient Mesopotamia is a must read for anyone interested in Mesopotamian belief systems. What differentiates this great book from the rest of the pack is that he just presents his findings and never speculates. This is the problem that I mentioned earlier with Sitchin’s work. His work is all driven by his own interpretations and selective quotation to further his own ideas. The paperback edition of Religion in Ancient Mesopotamia costs just over 15 dollars and trust me, it’s worth the dime. One of the things that Bottéro points out in his thesis is that the ancient Mesopotamians never viewed their gods mystically. The gods were looked upon as higher up in command and were meant to be obeyed and feared, and as he put it, as opposed to be loved and adored. The lack of overt mysticism meant that they were not considered to be magical and having control over every aspect of people’s lives.

I believe, I have arrived at a critical point in talking about belief systems in many cultures. There are two important things that become evident in their beliefs – Polytheism and lack of overt mysticism. Polytheism meant that there were many gods and you could believe what you want to. Acceptance of different faiths was absolutely fine. Lack of mysticism and anthropomorphism meant that gods were just considered to be like us humans and were simply looked upon similarly like the kings and queens. Such a religious system existed not only in the Mesopotamian cultures, but also in Egyptian civilization and the Mayan cultures. If we talk about contemporary religions, then, I can think of Hinduism that is polytheistic and is still one of the most widely followed religions in the world. I was raised in the Hindu faith, and although agnostic, the religion itself is more tolerant of other faiths. Some people who practise the religion though, are not. But, there is nowhere in ancient Hindu texts where it says that either Shiva, Vishnu or Brahma is the all supreme god and anyone who doesn’t believe in it would not go to heaven.

It should be clear now as to where I am going with this. I am talking of course about the birth of Christianity and how it spread all over the world in the last couple of thousand years. The major tenet of Christianity is that it is monotheistic and most Christians would tell you that the belief in Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation. A few Christian friends of mine even tell me that I would go to hell for not believing in Christ. I don’t think I would have to talk more about Christianity in general. But, in the context of the developments in Prometheus, it is clear that the christian belief system is what pissed off the engineers that they thought they had to destroy us all. Imagine we had the tendency to engineer life and we did exactly that in a far distant planet and hence, we are the creators as far as life in that planet is concerned. Now, if the people on that planet resorted to constructing a fable around which they wrapped around a religious belief that their planet was created in six days and all that crap and made sure that this organized religion spread all over the planet, I am sure we would be incredibly pissed. Based on Christianity’s development on Earth, it is totally understandable that the engineers went batshit insane. Their role in engineering not just humans, but entire life on the planet was overlooked by us. Instead, we ended up constructing a solitary imaginary god and a detailed fictional story to explain our existence. The engineers were rightfully offended by these actions and decided to destroy us for this blasphemy!

In Part II of my Conclusions post, I would like to analyze in detail the role Christianity played in the engineering of the Alien creature and how Part II of Prometheus film might look like.

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 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.