The Time Travel and Ending of “Edge of Tomorrow” Explained

June 6, 2014

edge-of-tomorrow

Last night, I went to see the new Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt science-fiction film Edge of Tomorrow, which is based on the Japanese manga All You Need Is Kill.

The racial cross-casting of Cage’s character — he is inspired by Japanese protagonist Keichi in the manga — aside, this film is phenomenal. Nerds and feminists — and especially nerd feminists — will adore this movie. It’s sharp, funny, entertaining, compelling, and visually stunning. Haters of Tom Cruise get to see Tom Cruise get killed about a hundred times in stunt scenes that Cruise himself described as “channeling Wile E. Coyote” on Daily Show last night. Emily Blunt’s Rita is stellar: she is the aspirational super-soldier, and not the simpering girlfriend; she’s also got a bad-ass giant sword. Those who loved Pacific Rim‘s portrayal of a male-female peer relationship that was largely non-sexual will adore the relationship between Rita and Cruise’s Cage in this film.

Basically, it’s just really good. Go see it. I’ll wait.

Okay, now that you’ve seen it — did you have all kinds of thoughts and questions about those aliens and the “time travel” in this movie? Snoopy and I did, too, and we geeked out over a late-night dinner about the science of how what happened could have happened. Here’s what we came up with, and I’m posting about it because — goshdarn it — I think we really figured this thing out.

Spoilers! This post will spoil the entire movie.

edge-of-tomorrow-suit

Okay, so the conceit of the film is that these aliens, called Mimics, have a looping “time travel”-like power that allows them to reset a day, memories intact, whenever they are in danger. That power gets transferred to Cruise’s Cage, setting the whole film off. All You Need Is Kill has a similar conceit, but from the manga’s Wikipedia page, other aspects of the Mimics seem different than those of Edge of Tomorrow. So this post is going to treat the Edge of Tomorrow Mimics as if they are stand-alone.

The “time travel” of the Edge of Tomorrow Mimics isn’t really time travel, it’s consciousness-travelling (similar to the conceit of the travesty that was X-Men: Days of Future Past): the Mimics — and by extension Cage — are not physically travelling from one timepoint to another; instead, their minds are jumping backwards to an earlier timepoint, allowing them to alter the course of time by making decisions informed by a possible future.

But, how does this really work? What is the relative role of the Alphas (the glowing sentinel Mimics) and the Omega (the central core that Snoopy thought was heavily inspired by Starship Troopers‘ Brain Bug)? And, isn’t this just one giant incubator for alternative universes? (To that last point, the answer is yes.)

Edge-of-Tomorrow-Mimics

There are two clues: 1) the Mimics are actually a single organism with each individual Mimic type acting in tandem with the whole, and 2) the “resetting” power always bringing Cage back to the same point in time. The key is to think about the Mimics not as some evil, super-intelligent being; instead, think of it as a creature acting purely on instinct. Think of it like biology.

The Mimic is an organism whose sole purpose is to conquer planets, and has evolved a complex self-defense mechanism to ensure its own propagation. The Mimic drones are the “claws” — the Mimics’ primary defense system. The Alphas are “sentinels” that exist to gauge the degree to which any threat makes it past the drones; if something kills an Alpha, this indicates sufficient danger to instinctively trigger the Mimics’ final self-defense mechanism: the looping.

And how does that work? In addition to its primary function to coordinate the actions of all drones and Alphas, the Omega has an additional characteristic. The Omega Mimic exists simultaneously at three points in time. If you think of time as a linear dimension, each of us occupies a single point on that line. The Omega Mimic exists instead as a line connecting three points spanning an approximate 48 hour period: the “distant past”, the “present-past”, and the “future-present”. The “present-past” point serves as the main anchor point: a fixed position in time from which to (routinely) reset the day. From that point in time, the Omega extends a version of itself towards the “future-present” like a cell that moves by extending a tendril ahead to test a space out to see if it’s safe.

A macrophage extends a "foot" out into space to "test the waters" before moving its entire body to the new position.
A macrophage extends a “foot” out into space to “test the waters” before moving its entire body to the new position.

And, like cells, if the Omega encounters danger in that future (as evidenced by the death of an alpha) it instinctively retracts back to its first anchor point and tries going in a different direction.

And what about the “distant past”? That’s a reserve anchor point that allows the Omega to reset from even farther back in time, allowing it to never be fully committed to a single temporal direction. If things get really dicey, it will retract far enough away to move in a completely different direction, entirely. If we think of it spatially, the “present-past” and “future-present” are like taking steps after deciding to go left; the “distant-past” exists as a mechanism to abandon going left entirely.

So how did Cage get the power to loop? Well, the Alphas are “sentinels”: as deadly as a drone, but their true power lies in their blood. If the looping power is a final self-defense mechanism for the Mimics, than the death of an Alpha would be the trigger to initiate a reset. Mixture of Cage’s blood with a dying Alpha (somehow — this is never explained and defies biology) integrated Cage into the Mimic’s  network of sentinel Alphas. In essence, as far as the Omega was concerned, he was another Alpha. Every time Cage died, the Omega mistook this for a signal that it was in danger and triggered a loop.

Cage was never in control of the looping power. The Omega was being fooled into looping by thinking Cage was an endlessly dying Alpha sentinel.

edge-of-tomorrow-emily-blunt

Update: (I solidified this particular detail after this post was written, so am adding it now). The “time travel”, specifically, is psychic-based and is channeled through the Omega. Basically, when the Omega is given a signal to loop, it pulls a clone or mirror of all the memories of all its network of itself and its Alphas (probably not the drones, that’s huge amount of processing for limited gain) and creates a copy of those memories in the Omega. Then, it sends that entire data package through itself to the “present past” anchor point, and then redistributes those memories out to the Mimic network (and to Cage, who is a pseudo-Alpha). From the perspective of an Alpha, this would appear to be like you just traveled back in time, but really you just got all the memories and life experiences of a future Cage who made different choices.

So, why did the Mimics send him to the dam and why didn’t they try to kill him when he was there? Well, an organism that evolves such a complex self-defense mechanism will also likely have a mechanism for repairing problems when they arise. In this case, this “time travel” self-defense mechanism has one serious flaw: it would trap the Omega in a perpetual loop if there were an Alpha that was weak or broken, endlessly throwing itself into harm’s way when there isn’t sufficient danger to warrant a “reboot”. There needs to be a self-repair mechanism for the Mimics to identify and correct such a problem.

The visions seen by Rita, and then later by Cage, were intermixed with their own memories (hence Cage sees the dam just as he reboots), and it is this repair system taking effect: the Omega sent a specific signal that would attract Alphas to a single location, where they could be safely disposed of far away from the location of the Omega itself  (this is to keep the Omega safe in case the defective alpha is dangerous). When Cage arrived at the dam, the drone and the Alpha stopped Cage from killing himself because they don’t want to loop again, since the whole point of the mechanism is to stop unnecessary looping. It’s unclear what they would’ve done to Cage if he hadn’t killed himself, but most likely if he had been an actual Mimic, they would have removed him from the “sentinel” network by performing a process similar to the blood transfusion, and then killed him. That’s why the Alpha wounded him, but didn’t kill him.

So what about that ending?

After a blood transfusion, Cage is essentially excised from the Alpha network, no longer being mistaken by the Omega as a “sentinel”. And then stuff happens and he kills the Omega by dropping a bunch of grenades into it. But then he wakes up in the helicopter at the start of the film and all is right with the world?

Well, at the moment of his death, Cage’s blood mixes with that of an Alpha, and he temporarily becomes a pseudo-Alpha again, which allows him to retain his memories in the reboot. Meanwhile, because the Omega was itself dying, one final loop was triggered by the Omega in a final desperate attempt to escape danger. The Omega looped not to the “present-past” point but to the “distant past” anchor point since the Omega itself wanted to escape an imminent threat to its core. Because of the Alpha’s blood, Cage went along for the ride and woke up with the Omega at the “distant past” timepoint.

But, since the Omega exists at multiple points in time (rather than a single moving point) and was actually killed in the “future-present”, the explosion actually rippled back in time and killed the Omega at all the other time points, too. So, when Cage wakes up, he wakes up at the “distant-past” anchor point along with his memories at the precise position in time that the Omega kept anchored to in reserve, and when it blows up. This allows for the lovely ending where everyone we watched die horrifically in the movie get to live again in blissful ignorance.

And does Cage now have time-traveling powers? Is he immortal? No. Being an Alpha only ever meant he was a sentinel, invoking the looping powers of the Omega upon every death. He could never himself loop. With the Omega dead, Cage is back to being a normal dude with one final lease on life.

So, what do you think? Does this make sense? Or is this all the mad ramblings of one non-physicist fangirl? I would love to hear your thoughts!

113 thoughts on “The Time Travel and Ending of “Edge of Tomorrow” Explained

  1. This is another Asian film that Hollywood, where Asian roles were replaced by whites. Every time Asians support theft like this, we say “Yes, hollywood, you can pawn off our creativity as your own and give us zero credit (while calling us uncreative robots) and we will still support you.”

  2. I agree with you in principle, Yun, but I think it’s extremely rigid to judge all movies by this standard alone. Dragonball Evolution was bad because it was a bad movie, not just because Goku was White.

    And it certainly isn’t “theft”. The production company purchased the rights to the film. It also deviates significantly from the manga in storyline and other aspects; nonetheless, the manga is credited in the film and was credited by Cruise in his Daily Show interview when he introduced it. The adaptation is clearly geared towards White American audiences, but that doesn’t mean it’s a terrible movie on all counts.

    As a sci-fi movie, this film is terrific.

  3. Yes, they purchased the rights, but this film is now known by possibly billions through advertising and once again, everyone will think “wow! whites are SOOOO creative and white people save the day again”

    Dragonball was bad for all of the above. Also, I hate dragonball. A bunch of Asians get superpowers by turning into blonde hair blue eyed white people? Absurd.

    I’m not ranting about the quality of the film. It makes no difference whether it’s good or bad.

    I think all Asians should vote with their wallets and stop supporting hollywood when they pull stuff like this or crap like Last Samurai (a white samurai kills a bunch of english speaking Asian dudes with their own fighting style and “saves” the Asian girl).

  4. Yun – This is silly. If you don’t want to see Edge of Tomorrow or any other film, don’t. But stop pretending that the latest battlefield in ethnic recognition is the movie theater. It’s not. The producers purchased the rights to this movie, and told a story that is as dependent on the novel’s source material as it is on military sci-fi like Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers.

    If anything, Edge of Tomorrow is an expert melange of sci-fi precedents, so pretending that some Asian cultural nationalism demands that you avoid this movie because of the marquee casting is absurd. Your position is rank racial tribalism. You wouldn’t be happy unless Edge of Tomorrow was told with an entirely Asian cast, where Ken Watanabe played the title role against Zhang Ziyi. When Hollywood attempts that casting today, rightly or wrongly, we end up with Memoirs of a Geisha, and I’d rather not revisit that crazy, if you don’t mind.

  5. You wouldn’t be happy unless Edge of Tomorrow was told with an entirely Asian cast, where Ken Watanabe played the title role against Zhang Ziyi.

    That wouldn’t even be faithful to the source material either. In AYNIK, the protagonist is a Japanese American soldier, but Rita is a White Midwesterner, as are almost all her comrades; virtually none of them appear in this film either.

    The idea of a time-looping mechanism, the name “Mimics” (but not the physiology), and the basic design of exoskeletons are from the manga. Everything else is creatively novel. Even Rita carries a battle axe in the manga and a sword in the movie. It’s a fairly loose adaptation, all things considered.

    Yun – This is silly. If you don’t want to see Edge of Tomorrow or any other film, don’t. But stop pretending that the latest battlefield in ethnic recognition is the movie theater.

    I think it’s absurd to take hardline stands like “all movies that draw from Japanese source material for inspiration are bad”. It’s narrow, rigid, and assumes art is fixed and cannot possibly adapt something in a way that respects the source material. I think there are examples of transracialization that have been done badly, and there are examples that have been done well. I think Asian Americans and other POC have the responsibility to not be sheeple, and to approach each film thoughtfully and with awareness — we should be able to form informed opinions on artwork, and judge each based on more criteria than just whether or not it was based on a manga. But the kind of strict cultural segregationism that would argue that there should be no exchange between manga and Hollywood is, I think, extremely myopic and fails to reflect the complexity of cultural criticism. As Snoopy points out, this film is based on AYNIK, but it draws inspiration from a lot of different sci-fi sources like Matrix and Starship Troopers.

    And, unlike other films inspired by manga, I’ve actually been impressed by how Cruise hat-tipped the manga when he promoted the film on Daily Show.

  6. Ethnic recognition is done mainly through entertainment.

    How many people read books? Out of those, how many read intellectual books?
    Meanwhile, nearly everyone watches entertainment.

    In China, there are lots of kids who watch too much usa entertainment, who think usa is the greatest place on earth and will be shocked to learn that usa ever does anything bad – like bully them at the highest rates, murder and walking free from court, and war mongering.

    Hollywood is one of the most powerful brainwashing forces.

    How is it that any good role are taken by whites and too many to list crummy roles are given to Asians?

    You don’t find it the least bit strange that they can always find an Asian for a loserish villain role, yet they can never find an Asian for a decent lead role?

    Each decent Asian role that gets whitewashed away is another opportunity lost to humanize Asians against the onslaught of anti-Asian propaganda.

  7. You don’t find it the least bit strange that they can always find an Asian for a loserish villain role, yet they can never find an Asian for a decent lead role? – Yun Xu

    No. I don’t find that strange.

  8. Ok let me see if I can trip your explanation. First off the defense mechanism doesn’t set off a time loop, it merely back time up so many hours (resets the day) in order for the Alpha to prevent it’s death therefore eliminating the threat. If the threat is eliminated and the Alpha doesn’t die then the loop doesn’t happen, therefore it’s not a loop just a time jump. The loop only exists because Cage dies, and I’ll get to that momentarily.

    I love your time point analogy, but I don’t think three points work because in the end there would be no trace of the creature or there would be no victory on the human side if there were a third point for the creature to return to. I think only two points exists, why set a third point if you already know that you anchor point is safe, plus a third absolute failsafe point would be much further back in time to assure it was absolutely safe. I’ll get to why I really like your points in time theory later.

    This is obviously a telepathic creature, so I believe the Alphas are the triggers, remote triggers, much like a remote detonator. The Omega doesn’t have any control over the triggers when one dies it triggers the time defense, it does not fool the Omega into triggering it. However I think that the Omega can trigger the time defense manually if it wanted or needed to. Now if an Alpha malfunctions the Omega can cut ties with it. However the anomaly created by Alpha blood mixing with Cage’s blood cannot be cut loose because humans do not have telepathic capabilities. Or I should say humans are not receptive to telepathic signals. The Alpha blood within Cage retains it’s telepathic properties making it so that Cage can basically send, but not receive, therefore being able to trigger the time defense by dying, but making it impossible for the Omega to cut ties. And that is why it sent false information in the form of the dam vision in order to lure, trap, and remove the anomaly [Cage] from the equation.

    I don’t buy into the explosion rippling back through time killing the Omega. And here’s why I really like you points of time theory. In using your theory the Omega (the entire Omega, not just a part of it or tendril) would exist in both points of time simultaneously therefore if the Omega was killed in either time it would be killed in both which would account for Cage going back but the Omega not being there. As for him going back further at the end, I don’t think he mixed with blood of an Alpha, but rather the blood of the Omega temporarily giving him the ability, or the one time ability to go back.

    And one last thing, it would seem that this is an X-men consciousness time travel thing, only how would the blood of the Alpha thing work if that were the case. If only his consciousness travels back and no physical part of him does then the Alpha blood would no longer be in his system. There would be no need of a blood transfusion, bleeding him out like the dam trap wouldn’t do any good, and wouldn’t he have to kill the Alpha every time in order to trigger the reset. It can’t be a consciousness only time travel, that just creates more questions.

    In my opinion what it boils down to is this is a fun movie to watch, but it can’t be broken down in a literal sense. Like so many sci-fi flicks, some fantasy has to be thrown in (or physics thrown out) because it wasn’t all that thought through. They should have done a better job to tie up the ending, hell even having him jump back to the same time he always did wouldn’t have so many scratching their heads.

  9. Great points, Pyrhyc:

    I think only two points exists, why set a third point if you already know that you anchor point is safe, plus a third absolute failsafe point would be much further back in time to assure it was absolutely safe.

    The reason I think the third fail-safe is not farther back is I can imagine there is some drawback to existing at multiple timepoints, and sending memories back through yourself to an earlier time. Maybe an energy cost, maybe a degradation of information, I’m not sure. In addition, it would be pretty redundant to try to maintain an anchor point so far back that you need to recreate a lot of “safe” decisions before you reach the one that initiates a “dangerous” timeline. Finally, there is an element of selection pressure we have to think about: the evolution of a third fail-safe depends upon there being a significant pressure to maintain such a characteristic — if there is sufficient reason to warrant a third fail-safe anchor point, is there also sufficient pressure to maintain one really far back? This beastie is already almost unkillable, so for the same reason that the Omega was largely undefended once you found it, it’s hard to imagine that the Omega would have reason to evolve a third fail-safe that’s days or weeks farther back. But, there may be sufficient pressure tokeep a grasp on your older anchor point after you establish a footing on your newer timepoint. That’s why I think it seems like the “distant past” timepoint is roughly equally spaced from the “present past” and “future present” anchor points; if the Omega is inching through time like an earthworm, it just hasn’t fully let go of an earlier footing and that’s the “distant past” anchor point.

    This is obviously a telepathic creature, so I believe the Alphas are the triggers, remote triggers, much like a remote detonator. The Omega doesn’t have any control over the triggers when one dies it triggers the time defense, it does not fool the Omega into triggering it.

    Yeah, that’s basically what I think. Maybe the post is unclear? It’s basically the signal for the Omega to trigger — I like your analogy of the remote detonator.

    However I think that the Omega can trigger the time defense manually if it wanted or needed to. Now if an Alpha malfunctions the Omega can cut ties with it. However the anomaly created by Alpha blood mixing with Cage’s blood cannot be cut loose because humans do not have telepathic capabilities. Or I should say humans are not receptive to telepathic signals. The Alpha blood within Cage retains it’s telepathic properties making it so that Cage can basically send, but not receive, therefore being able to trigger the time defense by dying, but making it impossible for the Omega to cut ties. And that is why it sent false information in the form of the dam vision in order to lure, trap, and remove the anomaly [Cage] from the equation.

    Definitely a good interpretation. My thought was that if the blood carries the “remote detonator” power of the Alphas, than the repair mechanism would probably also be blood-based, hence I think in the dam the Alphas were trying to bleed Cage out as they might for another Alpha. But ultimately we don’t really know…

    I don’t buy into the explosion rippling back through time killing the Omega. And here’s why I really like you points of time theory. In using your theory the Omega (the entire Omega, not just a part of it or tendril) would exist in both points of time simultaneously therefore if the Omega was killed in either time it would be killed in both which would account for Cage going back but the Omega not being there.

    Yeah, I think that’s a good way to think of it too. I was trying to describe the idea that if the Omega exists at multiple timepoints, than killing it in one time will kill it at all times.

    As for him going back further at the end, I don’t think he mixed with blood of an Alpha, but rather the blood of the Omega temporarily giving him the ability, or the one time ability to go back.

    This is the one thing I don’t buy — it should take more than just mixing blood to give him the power to time travel. He should need to be able to exist at multiple timepoints, and to have established an anchor point in order to move back. That’s why I think he had to travel via the Omega; it’s the Omega that exists outside time. Humans don’t, and I don’t really buy how blood could give him that power. (Caveat: of course, blood mixing shouldn’t give any of these powers but… y’know…)

    If only his consciousness travels back and no physical part of him does then the Alpha blood would no longer be in his system. There would be no need of a blood transfusion, bleeding him out like the dam trap wouldn’t do any good, and wouldn’t he have to kill the Alpha every time in order to trigger the reset. It can’t be a consciousness only time travel, that just creates more questions.

    Too true. I didn’t like the blood mixing thing, to be honest, because biologically it just doesn’t make any sense. But the idea that the Omega is creating an actual singularity and moving Cruise’s body through time doesn’t make sense either, because it’s triggered by death. He should age, or have scars from the killing, or something. If it’s actual time travel, why isn’t there any impact of all that training on his body? Why doesn’t he show physical signs of having moved through time?

    In my opinion what it boils down to is this is a fun movie to watch, but it can’t be broken down in a literal sense.

    Yup. But, I also think that if a sci fi movie leaves you trying to think more about science, and then going on the internet to write a long post like the one I published about how it works, it has done its job.

  10. Well done! This is the best explanation we have seen so far on the web. Thanks for sharing. The film is now a bit better with your explanation.

  11. Thanks for the reply Jenn,

    I like your concept of inch worming it’s way along and not fully releasing it’s third way point. It explains Cage’s very last jump in a way much better than my Omega blood instead of Alpha blood. Still a lot of unanswered questions, but that’s what makes people think outside the box to rethink the possibilities.

    Well I must say, I’m a fan. I wish I had found your blog long ago, and I look forward to reading more of your posts.

    Pyrhyc

  12. I believe this is very simple explanation for the ending.

    First when Cage was in the water with the omega blood flowing into him. This means he now becomes the new omega replacing the brain that had died. Now with that, he jumps back to a “save” point before the usual one he always wake up to (explanation later). Once he wakes up he is told the mimic are defeated. This is because now that Cage is the new Omega, he now controls all the mimics and none are activated due to his control. That is also why there was an explanation that the other countries are able to fight off mimic without resistance.

    Now why did he wake up to an earlier point rather than the usual one. As the omega has multiple save points, this is an earlier event for Cage before he is force to fight the mimics. So if the mimics are already defeated he won’t be able to go to the usual one where the event of why he is there is to fight them. So you see that he alight from the heli and told the war is almost over. Instead of the one that he is force to meet the general now he can go to the barrack as Major and meet Rita.

    Also notice even tho mimics are defeated, you can see the soldiers in the barrack are still geared for fighting them but in effect nobody know the omega is already dead (and is now Cage). Only Cage knows and he smiles at the end.

  13. I saw the film last night and agree with your assessment of its time treatment.

    Regarding your comment “based on the Japanese manga All You Need Is Kill”, the manga (comic) and film are both based on the novel by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. The novel’s film rights were bought, and the first draft script developed, before the manga was created. Thus the film is not based on the manga; although some influence may have occurred later.

  14. Hi! Great discussion.
    I was wondering if any of you have considered that the ending of the movie indicates that it was all just a dream – so Cage dreamed it all on the trip to London (in the chopper)?
    Larssl

  15. Hi Larssl,

    It’s certainly possible that everything was a dream and entirely consistent with what was in the film, but I would honestly be very disappointed if that was the point of the movie.

  16. you guys didnt talk about the little thing that Cage,somehow,used in order to see things or smthing-i didnt get it either

  17. @alexandros

    Cage was a pseudo-Alpha, which means he was connected to the Mimic network. The machine allowed him to tap into the network and “ping” the Omega, basically, to find where it was.

  18. Now this I agree with.

    And your explanation for the Omega dealing with a “defective” Alpha is very interesting but slightly contrary to what the movie explains as a purposeful misdirection by the Omega as they gave Cage visions to trap him.

  19. And your explanation for the Omega dealing with a “defective” Alpha is very interesting but slightly contrary to what the movie explains as a purposeful misdirection by the Omega as they gave Cage visions to trap him.

    It totally is, but I actually think the film is interesting in that it assumes sentience and malicious intent for the Mimics, when there’s no real evidence that the creature is both sentient and has a dastardly plan. The notion of enticing the humans into a full frontal assault at Verdun… really makes no sense at all. Trying to defeat an enemy by having them meet you at their strongest is just not a winning strategy.

    My interpretation of the film is that a lot of what the humans think they know about the Mimics — particularly in terms of their motivations — is basically wrong.

  20. @Jenn:

    I do think the Mimics (at least the Omega) is sentient.

    My theory:

    Verdun wasn’t a ruse… but it was probably the first time a human hijacked the Alpha reset ability and once the Omega realized this (assuming the “vision” isn’t a one way communication) decided to have a contingency next time this happened (which they put in place with the dam location once they realized Cage hijacked the ability).

    But this actually accentuates my biggest issue with the ending. The Mimics are experts at using the reset ability, why even try to fight Cage and Rita at the end? Once they realized the Omega could be a danger, just kill (or suicide) the Alpha. My only explanation as to why they didn’t was because Cage had lost the power midstream throughout this timeline so it was unknown as to when the reset would go back to and what knowledge would be retained (although I would assume it would go back to the Alpha’s previous waking moment).

  21. @ Jenn & alexandros

    “Cage was a pseudo-Alpha, which means he was connected to the Mimic network. The machine allowed him to tap into the network and “ping” the Omega, basically, to find where it was.”

    I don’t think the device allowed him to “ping” the Omega because he saw the Omega through third party eyes as if he were looking through the Alpha he was connected to, therefore I believe the device to be some sort of signal boost activating the telepathic abilities in the Alpha blood and allowing for a temporary connection to the Alpha to scan memory for the Omega’s location.

    That opens another question [for me anyway]. In the film we saw the device stuck in Cage’s leg and he almost instantly goes to the Omega’s location. So the question being, is the device programed to scan & search through memories at nano-speed to specifically find the Omega’s location and weed out everything else? Or did they merely skip ahead to Cage finding the Omega, and cut out the parts where Cage has to concentrate only on the Omega to keep from getting overwhelmed by all the other memories of the Alpha? I don’t know, either works for me.

  22. I don’t think the device allowed him to “ping” the Omega because he saw the Omega through third party eyes as if he were looking through the Alpha he was connected to, therefore I believe the device to be some sort of signal boost activating the telepathic abilities in the Alpha blood and allowing for a temporary connection to the Alpha to scan memory for the Omega’s location.

    Well, I think the way it was shot was a film device, intended to represent the “aha, I found him!” idea for the screen. It’s pinging in the sense of searching a network to find a MAC address. I don’t think it’s intended to be literal, because if that were the case, it would be an Alpha flying through the air at top mach speed.

  23. My only explanation as to why they didn’t was because Cage had lost the power midstream throughout this timeline so it was unknown as to when the reset would go back to and what knowledge would be retained (although I would assume it would go back to the Alpha’s previous waking moment).

    That’s why I don’t think the Mimics are sentient. Everything they do can be seen as sophisticated but ultimately programmed responses. The alpha is programmed to kill, so it kills. The Omega is programmed to loop when an alpha fails to kill. That’s also pretty much what happens too. You can project sentience onto complex programmed behaviour like watching a cell chase an antigen under a microscope, but what appears to be intelligence is really just behaviour that comes as the product of an “instinctive” program.

  24. After i read al of your comment, which i think are very clear and right, i have one question.

    If we take the theory that Cage began the new omega, and then jumped back to a point before the usual one.
    He’s told that after a mysterious explosions in Paris, the Mimics have all died (if i remember well). Why if he jumped back, the past is changed ? Why are the alien dead, and RITA and the others still alive ?

    I just think that they totally messed up the end.
    They should have ended the film by the dead of the omega and Cage.
    Or by Cage jumping back as we saw at the first first point (the helicopter), and realized that he has to start all over (cause his blood was mixed with the alpha blood and the omega had time to go back before dying).

  25. After reading the above theories, I have some question which I discussed with a friend, still have some unanswered questions:

    [10:36:40 AM] ME: did you guys read already?
    [10:36:46 AM] ME: makes sense to me
    [10:36:55 AM] ME: still there is still missing explanation
    [10:37:28 AM] ME: why cage only? why not the other alpha? maybe omega too weak to process both?
    [10:37:35 AM] ME: hmnnnnn
    [10:39:17 AM] ME: so omega exists in time -48 hrs(distant past), -24hrs (present past) and +24hrs(present future)
    [10:39:43 AM] ME: +24hrs is where it reset the dying alphas into -24hrs
    [10:39:55 AM] ME: in the end Cage was reset into -48hrs
    [10:39:59 AM] ME: made sense
    [10:40:16 AM] ME: why not reset with another alpha?
    [10:40:22 AM] ME: grrrr this question bugs me
    [10:41:36 AM] A Friend: coz as u said, the omega exists in distant past of -48hours
    [10:41:47 AM] A Friend: so when Cage gets coated in its blood
    [10:41:56 AM] A Friend: he gets the -48hours benefit too
    [10:41:58 AM] A Friend: LOL
    [10:42:01 AM] A Friend: quite makes sense lah
    [10:42:04 AM] ME: perhaps
    [10:42:06 AM] A Friend: dun tink too much ya
    [10:42:19 AM] ME: so did that mean the alpha was reset in -24hrs?
    [10:42:24 AM] ME: so it lives?
    [10:42:39 AM] A Friend: what happened with that alpha did not happen
    [10:42:41 AM] ME: haha this sci fi stuff is my passion
    [10:42:44 AM] ME: i like them
    [10:42:46 AM] A Friend: it’s like an alternate ending
    [10:42:48 AM] ME: very much
    [10:42:58 AM] A Friend: coz Cage never went into the field
    [10:43:04 AM] A Friend: he never met that alpha
    [10:43:11 AM] A Friend: so nothing to reset there
    [10:43:19 AM] A Friend: it has become an alternate reality

  26. Guys it’s not complicated, Cage gets alien blood in him at beach attack, jumps back a day when he dies.

    With new knowledge he attacks alien boss the night before the beach, gets new (earlier) alien blood in him so jumps back to an earlier time.

    The fact the alien boss remains dead is a movie convenience otherwise we’d have to watch the entire end sequence again until he survives, not as thrilling, has already been done in the movie and can just be explained away because ‘time powers’.

  27. the first mistake most sentient beings make when they encounter timeline jumping is that they are witnessing ‘time travel’ on a single continuum.

    what you will need to understand to fully appreciate this story is that there is no such thing as single continuum ‘travel’. the ability exists to jump between continuum, and it’s easiest to do when the continuum are similar (requiring less energy) or if one has access to an anchor point.

    this will eventually become important to you, and so it is with great interest that you should analyze stories like this one.

    The Omega and the Alpha are extensions of a single being, manipulating itself between two anchor points. The Omega is anchored early in the story, when we first encounter Cage. The Alpha is anchored later in the story, but we never know when.

    When Cage melds the Alpha with himself, he melds with the Omega-Alpha being, and creates his own anchor – his oldest conscious point, when he is awakened on the dock.

    As he dies, his Alpha-self understands that his current continuum ends with him dying in a puddle on the beach, and so it skips to a continuum which intersects with but diverges at his anchor point. When he awakens, he is still an anomaly Alpha-self, and the original Omega-node/Alpha-node is confused about their relationship.

    As the story progresses, Cage’s Alpha-self is slowly jumping to nearby continuum which intersect with his earliest conscious point. The ‘days’ of a sentient being’s continuum are defined by periods of consciousness. This is important to remember.

    Because Cage is smaller, and holds less energy, he can only make small divergences, as opposed to an Alpha – as he moves to new divergent realities, he slips into continuum lines wherein he’s more in-tune with the Omega-node. It’s also important to realize now that he isn’t making progress. He is growing in his ability to adapt to new timelines, and as he does so, the Omega-node in his new timelines can more easily detect his anomalous existence.

    this continues until the endgame.

    the transfusion does rob Cage of his ability to jump between continuum.

    when Cage destroys the Omega-node, he melds with it in the same process as his meld with the Alpha-node. His consciousness now has access to the Omega’s consciousness, and so he gains access to the Omega’s power to create an earlier anchor point.

    We are lead to believe that he does this once. One of two unseen possibilities are hited at: Cage’s consciousness diverges to a continuum which the Omega-node cannot handle, and it ceases to exist in an apparent temporal implosion (interpreted by the single-continuum beings as a “power surge”) or Cage battles with the Omega-node across several more continuum, using his new earlier divergence point to his advantage.

    The Omega-node clearly meets its ‘final’ demise before Cage meets the General, and so the scene in which we witness Cage dying cannot be its true final demise.

    No, Cage has fought this battle alone, countless times, diverging and learning across new continuum until he is victorious, and remains alive to travel to meet the General shortly thereafter. The waking point on the helicopter is a red herring, and we must assume that his divergent point/anchor is earlier than we’ve yet seen, as it is the only way for the Omega-node to be destroyed within the stated sequence of the most currently displayed timeline (“Sometime this morning”)

  28. As far as the blood thing goes it is somewhat incomprehensible to me. If all it took for Cage to become part of the network was to be tainted with the blood of the Alpha then only the first loop should have have happened – after time is reset for the first time and memories are sent to him to a previous point in the timeline then at that point he has not yet fought the Alpha, nor will he. In my understanding he did not physically time-travel – he was only sent the information recorded within the last 24 hours (in the book due to a pulse emitted via tachyon particles). If during during the next loops he’s recognized as part of the network because he was one of the receivers – then why would the blood transfusion rid him of his signature? I wish they explained it more, fun movie nonetheless.

  29. @TomOle79

    Agreed. You can imagine a system where the acquisition of alien blood produces a pattern recognition of Cruise’s brain in the Omega that persists even after the jump back in time when he no longer has the blood in his system. Yet, if that were the case than why would a blood transfusion remove him from the network? I thought the blood device was clunky and incomprehensible, even IF he were physically jumping back and forth in time.

  30. @Jeff

    But that still implies true time-travel: that his body is actually moving from time point to time point; in which case, why doesn’t he carry any physical signs of each loop?

  31. if the blood can jump, why can’t it store memories when it goes? it carries a genetic sequence and re-fuses what it knows into the brain of the host every time it hits the anchor point. that’s what i’m going with…the blood itself is physically returning to the anchor point – it’s not bringing the body of Cage or the Alpha-node, it’s simply returning with data to an unwitting host.

  32. Is it just me or did the end scene of TC swimming towards the Omega look like a sperm fertilizing an egg.

    If you think from this premise then you will see the story a lot differently.

    First of all, Omega can time travel. There is no way humans can destroy it. The only reason TC was allow to get close to the Omega (after so many trials) was because it wanted him to be there. it wanted to merge with humans. Why kill something when you can control it.

  33. I saw the film last night (excellent production package), and to contribute in the endings’ explanation, after having read all the above, I think that Cage before leaving his last breath, got mixed his blood with nearby Omega’s, and… he didn’t become Omega himself, but only got its ultimate fail-safe properties, in its last attempt to loop time going further back (before meeting General). The master mending ability, though, is forever lost, due to actual Omega’s death. Cage just got lucky to be around (and had his blood once again mixed) when the last resort attempt took place, but this time no loop will exist since Omega and its mimic network s gone FOREVER.

    That’s it.

  34. So Rita kept reliving her past until she realized Cage was the next person to have the ability to relive the day. @BB I think Cage was able to kill the Omega(by sheer luck), was because Cage never relived that day once he received a blood transfusion, making it difficult for the Omega to predict Cage’s actions. It’s science fiction, so who knows unless it’s explained by the author who wrote the story.

  35. To clarify, I meant Rita was reliving the same day until she got the blood transfusion and never relived it after that point. Then she discovers Cage is able to relive the day.

  36. ABC,

    This kind of hate speech is not welcome. Please refrain from posting additional comments of this nature; if you would like to discuss “Edge of Tomorrow” please do so without engaging in stereotypes.

  37. I thought the movie was entertaining and enjoyable, but with further thought doesn’t make sense. How does Rita remember she had the ability at one point and lost it after a blood transfusion? That would imply Rita has relived the same day multiple times and with having done so, would imply should would know she was eventually going to get a blood transfusion, which I would think she would avoid. Also, Cage makes it much farther day by day once he can memorize and predicts the next move by the aliens, so why does he get reset to the same point, it would be the time 24 hours in the past of his death I thought.

  38. Really Great Movie! Thanks for this discussion JEN! Am already writing the prequel which features Full Metal Bitch and the Verdun Battle and a sequel with Cage as an OMEGA WoHoo!

  39. Fantastic theory. Thank you for posting this. My initial thoughts were that the Omega existed outside of our linear timeline, but your multiple points theory makes much more sense. Excellent work!

  40. From the theory of 3 points of time, it’s seems to me that at the end the Omega resets the timeline to the “distant past” and also strips him of Alpha marker. On this reset point, with the new knowledge , Omega chose another path, by aborting the invasion on the beach. Because the invasion resulted in a big fail (death of future Omega). He just put some decoy mimics to fight, because now it has memory of Cage, about why the fight on the beach is about and what humans are capable to do. That is why the war is not over. Just a “victory”.
    The result is that Omega always wins! Another clue is the fact when the future Omega was killed all mimics get “frozen” and without life. This means that the Mimics are not made of material substance, but it’s a pure energy entity. They just chose to select a material form that permits full transformation, like a sand/clay substance (they are in fact made of sand), put in movement by energy. Now the human blood is based on part on iron atoms, the substance at the core of earth and sun, the substance that is a direct link with electromagnetic power. When he touched the “blood” of ding Alpha, the iron from the blood of Cage get an quantic entaglement with the energy of Omega. That is why transfusion/bleeding result in loosing the “reset” power. Another fact is that at any time he could get some blood transfusion to Vrataski, to give her the loop power. The device that allow Cage to feel the Omega location is not very complicated because the whole effect was to induce pain and a depression in the energy level on the body of an Alpha/Cage so that to get close to the threshold required for “loop” event. Close to the threshold he can pinpoint the location of Omega because of entanglement. This is put in evidence in the scene by a ghost like reality, where in fact he could see the energy distributed by Omega. (sorry for my english).

  41. I think this explanation of the end is “almost” right.
    It is much simpler to say that the time travel mechanism the aliens use is a kind of organic temporal internet that is activated by the Omega but follows its own rules and its fatal flaw is that humans immersed in Alpha or Omega blood – the time travel fluid – essentially replace the creatures they kill. Cage kills the Alpha, gets its blood and the system mistakes him for the Alpha, so it disappears from the reset point forward.
    Cage kills the Omega many hours before the invasion (just before Sunrise rather than mid-day) so when he is infected by the dead Omega’s blood, the system sends him back to an earlier reset point just before sunrise the day before. The point at which Cage wakes on the helicopter.
    However, just as Cage replaced the Alpha in the first round of resets, now Cage replaces the Omega. It is erased from the timeline – from reality – the moment Cage wakes up on the copter. Ergo, that exact moment, “just before sunrise” the day before Cage “remembers” killing the Omega, all the mimics lose their central brain.

  42. How you explain it really makes sense. The movie doesn’t quite make this clear until the last second, but it’s a pretty cool defense mechanism.

  43. I LOVED the ending of this movie! LOOOOVED IT hahaha. So many movies of the sort got ruined by upsetting endings, (Donnie Darko being one), but T.E.O.T did it right.

    I just read another theory about the time when Cage wakes up in his second “rebirth”, explaining that he wakes up earlier because he dies-infects earlier during the OMEGA destruction, or something like that. Your explanaion is much more complete and satisfactory, but, what I found amazing about this movie is that I feel fine with this theories.

    The main concept feels naturally and biologically “acceptable”. Because it deals with innate natural processes like dreams and deja-vu’s, but at a psychic level, you don’t have any DeLoreans nor Ancient Stargates made of stone “tele-transporting” stuff here.
    Trying to explain physical time travel from point A to point B never works out. This movie avoided all that theoretichal mess, and keep it on the natural and biological field.

    One important thing that your theory explains is the possibility of Cage being inmortal. A the end of the movie you could believe that’s true, even knowing it make no sense. But your explanation makes absolute sense in that regard. The system was destroyed so there’s no “data storage” to go back. He’s not inmortal by himself, there’s not such a thing.

    The one thing that makes no sense in my opinion is Carter’s incredible level of knowledge and all his ultra detailed imagery about the aliens, that was BS!! lol !!

  44. You could come up with 1000 different theories that all “work”, including pessimistic ones (sperm/egg) but there’s no reason to think that the writers had any intention of telling a story about how Tom Cruise doesn’t beat the aliens.

    It was your typical Hollywood “the hero lives and gets the girl” ending. At face value, I did not like the ending, because it seemed a trite and convenient way to end an otherwise gripping story. I actually thought, as TC descended to meet the Omega, “I hope he saves the world but they both die and no one knows what happened or why the mimics stopped fighting” because I (would have) loved the message that heroes don’t always get the glory and spoils of war – sometimes you have to die fighting for what is right.

    What everyone is trying to do (including me, shortly) is concoct a logical theory that explains the ending so that we can strongly recommend the movie to friends, families and strangers without feeling like we have to apologize in advance for the way it’s tied up in a pretty bow at the end.

    So, having read much (but not all, admittedly) of the above, here are my thoughts on the basic questions:

    1. What are the looping rules? When he kills the Alpha and picked up some of its blood, he “became” that Alpha in the eyes of the Omega network. The Omega initiated a looping sequence so that the Alpha (now TC) can learn from what happened and develop a better strategy, and as we know it allows this looping to happen indefinitely. The looping sequence is obviously programmed to always go back to “24 hours before the looping sequence was first initiated” thus always Heathrow in the morning. But at some point, the Omega has to know when to stop the loop because you don’t want to risk undoing history when it finally goes the way you want it to. Otherwise a year could go by, the mimics take over Earth and the Alpha dies from food poisoning and all of a sudden they’re back to fighting those pesky humans. That point isn’t crucial to the movie’s story, but I wondered about it.

    2. It also is probably true that there can only be one loop sequence going at any one time: if you had multilple Alphas initiating loops, you’d have all these parallel universes where each Alpha learns how to beat up humans but none in the same reality. So when TC gets the looping power, he must be the only one that “has” it. Which is good because it means while he is training and figuring out how to beat Omega and the Mimics (good band name), the aliens *aren’t* learning with each cycle.

    3. Anyway, the idea that the Omega exists in all, or at least multiple timelines at the same…time strikes me as a really big vulnerability for a species that has evolved so much. It implies that even if the aliens take over the entire universe and rule for 10 billion years, that one day when the Omega doesn’t look both ways and gets run over by an Amazon delivery truck that the whole history of alien dominance gets wiped out and it’s as if they never existed. That seems silly, and unnecessary to explain how they came to be what they are. It’s not like the Omega isn’t hard to kill – a handful of grenades is all it took, not a nuclear bomb or something. Reminded me of the Death Star – how stupid do you have to be design something as powerful as that but all it takes is a couple of bullets in the groin and the whole thing disintegrates?

    4. I’m also bothered by the fact that the time travel has to be physical to explain the persistence of the tainted blood through each loop. So, let’s just say that the looper goes back in time and replaces the previous version of himself. I didn’t quite understand Jenn’s point about TC not showing “signs of training” if this were true, though? I guess you mean injuries and the like? So, I guess we have to accept that he travels back in time physically, but the things that happen to him externally in the last loop don’t come with because they never happened (breaking his leg, for example) but since the blood *entered* his body, that does come back. I don’t know – that’s pretty shaky ground.

    5. So for the big question – why did the Omega die in the past also – I like what whoever wrote above said: the movie doesn’t show what happens between when TC gets covered in Omega blood and waking up in the helicopter, which is that once he got the looping power again by virtue of Omega’s blood, he continued to loop and figured out a way to kill the Omega before he even got off the helicopter. That way, he never loses his major status and Rita is alive (and will undoubtedly believe the whole story having been a looper herself). Now that he has the reality he wants, all he has to do is get a blood transfusion to avoid looping back again. This explanation doesn’t require any cockamamie multiple points in time theories. And implying many loops that the audience never sees is done many times throughout the film. We all just assumed that we were being shown the whole story as it transitioned from Omega blood on TC to the helicopter a day earlier.

  45. Thanks for the comment!

    I didn’t quite understand Jenn’s point about TC not showing “signs of training”

    In addition to injuries, I meant also physiological changes associated with training. Cage supposedly is a desk jockey his whole life. Suddenly he goes to training “every day” to run the exoskeletons, something which seems to depend at least in part on strong physicality in general. After hundreds of days training, he should be showing some increased muscle mass, better cardiovascular endurance, etc. Basically, he should be getting in shape.

  46. Got it. And not just that but if the premise is that the physical version of you at the time you die goes back to the reset, then he should be taking his broken bones back with him, too. That’s no good, so it must just be the blood and whatever knowledge and skills you have developed, but as you say, learning how to be a badass mimic-killer isn’t just a matter of knowledge, it’s physical changes and muscle memory. But to me that’s a “who cares” kind of thing – just accept that and enjoy the movie.

    It matters much more that Omega dying in the “past” makes sense. What do you think about my explanation for that?

  47. I’m still having a little trouble with the ending, I think. (Groans). Your explanation of the Omega resetting to the “distant past” as the explanation of Cage awaking in the helicopter is my problem. I understand exactly what you are saying but, I was under the impression that the Omega could only reset “the day”. If the Omega could reset to whatever point it wanted, fine, I accept that but if it can only reset “the day” why the seemingly random point of Cage being in the helicopter? So, my supposition would be that he could really have been anywhere at any point that morning when the reset happened which would have been the last time the Omega “woke up” just as his resets were the last time he woke up. So he just happened to be in the helicopter the last time the Omega was scratching it’s balls and rubbing it’s eyes. Now I think I got it.

  48. There is no ‘distant past’… The film states that when the reset is triggered, you go back 24hr. When they attack and killed the omega, this was before the attack on the beach, thus the reset sends him to an earlier time.

  49. @Josh

    Except that Cage’s character dies at different points in the day and still resets to the same point in time. Also 24 hours in the past of an early morning attack on the Omega when it is still dark out would have reset him to earlier than the helicopter ride.

  50. The 24hr is in reference to him when he killed the alpha, that is why he goes back and wakes up the same place and the guy says ‘wake up maggot’. So when he gets further and dies he always go back 24hr to the time he killed the alpha because that is when the alpha defensive mechanism is triggered (which was put in place by the omega).

    it’s a good point that you raised about the timeline, need to watch this again on bluray to confirm. But, the idea is that they killed the omega that same morning just before the beach attack.. so the reset could be 6hrs before he was on the beach and killed the alpha.. so that makes it 6 hrs before his previous reset of waking up by the ‘wake up maggot scene’

  51. It is not to the second or minutes if that’s what you meant… but going by the director’s shot sequences when he dies and wakes up again (when he wakes up he has knowledge of previous time loop), it is safe to assume that when he wakes up it is “roughly” when the reset happens…

  52. This explanation for the ending may be a little too simplistic but it works for my feeble mind.

    Consider that both the Alpha and the Omega die along with Cage. The Omega was the brain for the Mimic collective but had limited control over time with the power to only execute a seemingly automatic one day reset. Just as the Alpha’s death and blood trigger Cage’s and the Mimics’ one day reset, the death and blood of the Omega trigger an involuntary, pre-programmed and automatic one day reset of just the Mimics. It’s like a time loop default within the collective. The result is additive producing a one day reset for Cage but a two day reset for the Mimics which is why they are all dead before Cage lands at UDF.

    I’m a big believer in Occam’s Razor…the simplest explanations are usually the best.

  53. Quick comment about the “reset point” – the time when he wakes up isn’t necessarily the exact reset point. If he was asleep for, say, 8 hours, then there’s a big target range. Maybe he starts every reset by sleeping for a few hours, it’s just that he can’t change anything because he isn’t conscious until he gets kicked awake.
    Same thing for the last reset… Could have jumped back any amount of time during which he was asleep on the flight over.
    (But personally I think the whole last reset was simply a Hollywood ending device and not part of the movie’s “logic”)

  54. People forget that this movie revolves around having knowledge and having the ability to reset time. These two things are the most important to winning the war.

    Cage was able to get this from killing an Alpha.

    1. He resets himself over and over to get past the beach.
    2. He resets himself over and over to get to the dam (rita can not continue here as no matter what they do she dies before reaching there).
    3. He suicides himself at the dam to reset himself because he realised that the omega was setting up a trap (important to note that the alpha was ordered not to kill him as it would just naturally reset and thus giving the advantage back to Cage again).
    4. He realises that there is a device that is able to retrieve vision from omega if the device was connected to his tainted blood.
    5. They manage to get the device and find out that the REAL location of the omega is in London at the Lourve.
    6. The problem here is that he was given a blood transfusion and so has no power to reset.
    7. They managed to convince JSquad to attack the Omega at the Lourve.
    8. He manages to detonate the Omega, but EVERYONE dies. However, from killing the Omega, the blood from the omega was infused with him giving him the ability to reset time again.
    9. The reset this time round brings him to an EARLIER time. (He killed the Omega at an earlier timeframe compared to when he killed the first Alpha which was at the beach).

    This is the important part.. what people forget is that he now regains these two important things, ‘knowledge’ and the ability to reset. Because he now knows where the Omega is and has the power to reset as many times as he wants, he can go back millions (UNLIMITED) of time and somehow find a way to detonate Omega, thus winning the war and finally eliminating the ability to reset once and for all.

    People misunderstood that the explosion that killed the Omega at the end and him waking up is the FIRST reset. But we are actually seeing the Nth-reset (hundreds, millions etc) and this “Unknown explosion” was Cage finally finding a way through and destroying the Omega by detonating it. We are not shown how, but understanding how Cage was able to reset many many times before to overcome the obstacles by having the knowledge is pretty much what the movie is about.

  55. Excellent explanation. Following is my theory about what is happening in the looping. I agree with you that every time an Alpha dies omega gets triggered and in self defence resets the time to t – 24H. Why 24H?

    I think omega can create only one save point and has limited memory. The idea is all alphas are connected to the omega network and are continuously sending the live data back to omega. Omega collects this live feed from all alphas and saves them in memory. Since the memory is limited. whenever new data is written the oldest piece is removed. Think of this like a cache in computer system. This memory is just sufficient to hold data of 24H. Hence we see limited number of alphas. Otherwise it would have been optimal for omega to send zillion alphas and obliterate entire planet in few hours or minutes. But it is not so in the movie. Sending more alpha increases the memory required and hence shortens the reset interval. Longer jump intervals are favourable to acquire as much knowledge and experience as possible. So omega balances between the jump interval and number of alphas required to maintain effective military strength. Why limited memory capacity limits jump interval? Doesn’t it make sense to jump to a much older time? For making an educated judgement and learning from mistake it is necessary to be aware of all the choices you made till you failed. If there is any corruption or gap in the memory it will confuse you and cause you to take a chance with possible options available to you. This will defeat the purpose of learning by doing and hence continuity in the choices made is necessary. Hence no matter how small if you send the data send it without gaps.

    What happens when alpha dies? My theory is that every alpha has a unique id which identifies it physically in network (something like a mac-address in computers). Whenever an alpha dies omega is triggered and it resets time, sends all memory in cache to alphas, clear the cache and creates a save point with ID of the Alpha which died. I agree with you that cage became a pseudo-alpha and can trigger the time reset. But his power is not perfect. He is able to send and receive his memory data to omega but since he is not a real alpha, omega is not able to identify or locate him on the network and hence cannot reliably create a save point as it is not sure which Alpha triggered it. It might be a false trigger. Think of someone hacking the network and fooling the omega and creating a bad restore point which sends omega to a disadvantageous situation on reset. But the signal might be legitimate. Hence as a fail safe it anyhow resets the time to current save point. So time is reset but a new save point is not created when Cage is killed. Hence no matter at what time Cage dies after his death time will be reset to the same point when Cage killed first alpha.

    Why does cage reset to a different time when he destroys omega? The reset is triggered whenever an alpha or an omega is in danger. When omega is being destroyed as a defence-mechanism it resets the time to t – 24H. Just before resetting Cage comes in contact with omega blood and becomes a pseudo-alpha again. This way cage sends his current memory to omega and is able to retain it after reset. As it was omega itself in danger and omega can identify itself a new restore point is created and saved and time is reset. Now first time Cage dies is somewhere around 7-8am (Mission started at 6am + time taken to travel from Heathrow to Europe coast). Time is reset to 7-8am the day before when he was on the base knocked out. Cage kills omega just before 6am. So when omega is destroyed time is set to 6am of previous day when he was on helicopter.

  56. @AKD Nice detailed post.

    Yeap with all technology, there is always a limit to storage. They are probably at a stage with this limit. But even with this so called ‘limit’, no alpha would be killed with this technology as they are going back and winning the 24hr chunk each and everytime an alpha dies and reset. You would also think 24hr is enough for an alpha to adapt with this knowledge.

    The fun part and why there is a movie at all, is the idea that the blood infused with a human and giving them the advantage.

  57. I liked how you explained the movie. As for those who are using the movie as a reason to attack white people. Get a life losers. Like nobody in Asia has never bought the rights to a screenplay first written by a no asian from another country in order to make a movie for a predominately asian market. Sad, sooooo sad.

  58. Yun Xu, if you are so upset by white people buying the rights of Asian’s movie/creativity, then unleash your anger on your own people for selling out. At least, white Hollywood is not stealing the ideas/creativity, they are paying for it which means your people are making money. This is call capitalism. Your anger is directed at the wrong people for the wrong reasons. It is both denial and misdirection because you are powerless to get your own people to see things your way (which is not a very good way either). You are small minded and need to deal with your issues somewhere else.

  59. ….THEIR MINDS ARE JUMPING… are you serious?

    Three points in time simultaneously is too much for me, and if there is Omega from the “present-past”, jumping its mind to that “distant past” and “think of time as a linear dimension” at some point it will meet this MINDLESS Omega sister of it staying like a puppet without its puppeteer don’t you think

    But wait if there’s Omega from future it will be unbeatable, it will be something like in “The Terminator” movie – Cage will never be able to kill Omega because the future Omega will send info jumping its mind into the Omega in the past if its empty of course, or they will stuck together enjoying the moment of having so much info in one place… wait what

    after all I found interesting question in the commentary:

    “If Cage does true time-travel his body is actually moving from one point in time to another ; then why doesn’t he carry any physical signs of each loop?”

    so maybe we must literally accept the words of Dr. Carter “…has the ability to control time” and explain this with the ability of Omega to simply rewind the time(everything goes backwards) to that point 24-hours before the death of the Alpha and save the info of the day, helping it changing the course of events at the same timeline(only one not parallel universes because…
    WIKIPEDIA:
    Examples of parallel universes postulated in physics :

    In quantum mechanics, the many-worlds interpretation suggests that every seemingly random quantum event with a non-zero probability actually occurs in all possible ways in different “worlds”, so that history is constantly branching into different alternatives. The physicist David Deutsch has argued that if backwards time travel is possible, it should result in the traveler ending up in a different branch of history than the one he departed from.)

  60. Muy buena explicación. Excelente.
    La película me pareció realmente buena.
    Felicitaciones por el blog.
    Fraternal saludo.

  61. OK- That was confusing. :P

    I like this explanation for the most part- although in the film, I was a bit confused at how all the people who died managed to reset back to their regular lives, yet the Omega (and the Mimics) could not. Was Cage the keeper of the powers now? I feel that he triggered this move subconsciously and brought it back. Now that the Omega is dead, Cage is mortal. Reason why he goes even farther back is because now that the mimics no longer exist, he has no reason to meet with the general.

  62. First, I think Yun is a pathetic racist. Who do you think create Pop music, Rock & Roll, or hip hop, or anything else that “Asian” cultures “mimic???” And you don’t think “Asian” movies are ever based on “White” movies?

    If you’re an ignorant asian racist buffoon like Yun, then be a isolationist and stick to the “Asian” version…. Actually maybe he should stay away from movies all together since his culture didn’t create them… And maybe he should stay off the internet since his culture didn’t create it either… And don’t bother with computers or many of the other wonderful advances of the past century. Sorry I used to have a roommate that seems to have been very much like Yun, and his pro-asian and anti-american attitude was always irritating. Stop looking at race and just be a person, and enjoy each culture without all the whining.

    When a company purchases the rights to something, they are doing it to make money. They create a product to specifically target a particular audience. In this case, they bought the rights to that movie and wanted to make a product they could sell in the USA. It’s just normal business acumen to craft this movie the way it will “most” appeal to its target audience. Which, in this case, are people in the USA, where whites make up the majority.

    While most people would claim they are not racist, do you think it would have made nearly as much money with an all African American cast? Hell no it wouldn’t… While it might have made lots of money with the leading role going to someone like Will Smith, or another prominent African American, if the casting were handled by Tyler Perry it would have tanked… Granted, I watch most of Tyler Perry’s movies and generally like them, but it’s just the way it is… It’s why this movie won’t do as well in many Asian countries, because while many people claim they aren’t racist, they specifically won’t bother seeing something like this because it doesn’t “appeal” to them as much based on the race of the people involved.

    It’s no secret that in certain Asian countries some USA movies just don’t do well compared to movies made in those countries…

    As far as this theory goes on the movie itself, I think some of what you’re saying makes sense, but you’re reaching with some of the concepts such as existing in multiple planes of time…

    Once the Omega got access to Tom Cruise’s blood, it knew he was an imposter and could have gone back in time to a point where he didn’t have the blood or ability to trigger a time warp..

    Or, if the Omega really controlled the time travel, it could have allowed time to continue moving forward after Tom Cruise died, as it would have known it had weeded out the imposter…I wanted to think the Alpha has more power than you think, and that the reboots may be something to do with the subconscious flashing backwards to specific restore points based on unreconciled issues, but who knows?

    Ultimately there are some severe holes in the overall plot and too much left unknown for the movie, which prevents us from properly establishing a proper explanation that will hold up to scrutiny…

    I typed a long-winded ramble here since I just watched the movie yesterday, but there then I decided that ultimately none of this matters… If you enjoy the movie then great! I’m going to try to track down a copy of the “Asian” version just to watch for fun as well…

  63. Great Analysis! I have a slightly different theory..
    I do think the power is essentially “hijacked” when the alpha blood bonds to a human, the only way he really managed to kill the mimics is because he happened to hijack the power again as he killed the Omega, or else the mimic consciousness would have been sent back and not Cage’s. As far as the time jump, maybe the loop origin has to be at a time where the looper is unconscious, at least for a human looper, and the Omega (unable to jump back to it’s loop origin/anchor point) might of triggered a timeline change that interfered with Cage’s earlier determined loop origin. This caused him to jump further back to the next point he was asleep. Keep in mind it’s a different loop as well, maybe the loop origin changes depending when/how you hijack the power.

  64. I am enjoying the discussion and excellent analysis by all. I have some thoughts as well:

    Re what part of cage travels thru time, his body,or mind or both. I’ll go with both. To me cage does show signs of physical training: as his loop numbers increase, His fitness does seem to improve. When he first dons the exosuit he can barely walk in it. In a later loop he is running in circles above a crater his squad is trapped in destroying mimics with his weaponry. That would take improved fitness, training , and muscle memory to occur. Why bother with all the training with Rita? If it is only his mind that is traveling, just sit down with some cliff notes and read about how to kill the mimics. Training+conditioning+muscle memory= mimic killer.

    This is what happened with rita. She looped about 300 times. This is how she learned to use the exosuit. In the movie, her heroics at Verdun in a new exosuit with “limited training” were a big deal. But she didn’t have limited training. I can imagine the first 100 times she probably wasn’t nearly as good as she was the last time on the day she received her transfusion and ended her loops .

    Is the omega sentient.? The movie contradicts itself here. Rita claims omega let them win at Verdun so that they would put all chips in at the beach attack to be ambushed. That requires strategy, knowing your enemy, anticipating behavior. Same thing with the trap set for cage at the dam. Sentient

    On the other hand, let’s assume that the attack on Verdun caught the omega unprepared. When rita kills the alpha and hijacks the loop, the omega can’t reset the day and thus can’t overcome the defeat. Perhaps the humans have had many such victories, only to have the mimics reset the day and alter the battles. No one would know. Since Verdun is the first battle that the mimics were not able to reset, it might be only natural that Rita be suspicious and assume that the mimics let the humans win to set a trap later.

    Also, what if cages ‘first day at the beach was not the first actual attack on the beach. What if the first attack actually is a decisive victory for the humans, the omega senses defeat, has an alpha killed to restart the day. Now the mimics are ready for the attack, it seems like it was a planned ambush because of the slaughter, but in reality it is what mimics do: reset the day when things don’t go well. Only on the 2nd day of this loop, cage kills the alpha and takes over the loop. Rita assumes that it was an ambush because she has looper memories, which lead her to a false assumption that the omerga is planning, when it is really only reacting.

    Re the ending, I favor the idea that it was his first time awaking in the helicopter. The way the following scenes unfold, to me, it feels like we are going through these actions for the first time, whereas with repeated loops, cage gives the sense of déjà vu with a been there done that type of feel to scenes.

    Let’s use the Amoeba analogy. The omega is like an amoeba that exists continuously in a 24 hour time frame. The body of the amoeba is situated in the present time, while the foot extends forward in time for 24 hours. If something bad happens to the foot, ie dead alpha,the foot contracts to the main body which is 24 hours in the past, relative to the foot. Cage delivers the grenades to the foot, boom!, the foot retreacts through time to the main body of the omeaga which is 24hours in the past. Cage is covered with the omega blood and is brought along into the past with the retracting foot . the foot goes to the main body, and because the explosion is such a traumatic event, it kills the main body of the omega which resides in the timeline of Cage sleeping on the helicopter. He awakes from this one time loop to learn of the death of the mimic omega.

  65. Bik: if his physical self is travelling through time, what about when he’s injured before he is killed (reset)? He doesn’t bring his broken bones back with him. How do you bring muscle memory and improved fitness but leave injuries (cuts, torn flesh, broken bones) behind (or rather, ahead)?

    I’d have to watch the last scene again, but it seemed like he was supremely confident from the moment he woke up. If it was the first time being reset to that point, he would be thinking “oh shoot – now the Omega is alive again and I’ve got to execute the kill mission all over again!” but he didn’t appear to have any trepidation about what was up. He knew that Omega was dead and all was right with the world. Which to me implies that it wasn’t just the second time he had lived through that.

    Maybe that could be the sequel – showing all of the resets he had to go through to kill the Omega without dying himself. Actually, they could just loop that 5 second clip of Emily Blunt coming out of that pushup for 90 minutes and I’d go see it.

  66. @fingerbreak you are spot on.

    people seem to forget the basics that forms the movie, and go off on a tangent and guess.

    best to get the basics right and then work your way through the movie with that.

  67. The Omega is still alive – he just reset to a much earlier past-time, prior to the Earth invasion, because of everything going so wrong. Expect the sequel…

  68. @ fingerbreak,
    I think we are going to have to disagree. the movie is thin on its own reality facts, so we are all just being fiction writers here. however just some things I would review:
    1) both rita, and especially Cage,. get better with the suits as they increase their loop numbers. the movie makes a point of enforcing the thought, using rita as the example, that the suits can be used effectively with “minimal training ” , though we know that to be false. rita was extremely experienced in the suit by the time her loop ended. how would you explain the improved coordination, and apparent fitness of a desk officer with no military training?
    2) when he awoke on the helicopter , , to me, Cage seemed a little disoriented. that would be natural if he didn’t expect to wake at all, and since when he has been waking up, it has been to wake up maggot!

    @josh said “people seem to forget the basics that forms the movie, and go off on a tangent and guess” . are you referring to me? if so, which basics of the movie did I forget?

    @Josh said: “best to get the basics right and then work your way through the movie with that”
    regardless at who that is directed at, seems a bit condescending considering this is a discussion of a tom cruise scfi-fi movie . but if it is directed at me, which movie basics didn’t I get right?

    admittedly, I’m making the omega amoeba stuff up to explain the last part of the movie, just like you did: josh said

    “This is the important part.. what people forget is that he now regains these two important things, ‘knowledge’ and the ability to reset. Because he now knows where the Omega is and has the power to reset as many times as he wants, he can go back millions (UNLIMITED) of time and somehow find a way to detonate Omega, thus winning the war and finally eliminating the ability to reset once and for all.”

    I would think that once the omega is dead, the ability to reset back is gone too. and when cage kills the omega, why would he do a reset for a million times? why do it once? it would be taking a great chance to kill himself, since there is now way to know if he could reset with the omega dead. kinda seems like a guess to me.

  69. @bik

    Not directed at you, and sorry wasnt being condescending, the internet can “falsely” bring in emotional annotations which are unintended for.

    Just saying if people followed what the movie states, as the movie is within its own universe, the closest thing we can do to explain things is to follow the movies rules. If we do not then we are essentially creating rules ourselves.

    One rule is that the characters mentioned “Knowledge” is only passed when a reset happens (Didnt want to state who said it as I need to rewatch).
    Also, if you did bring “physical” aspects back, you would expect bruises, wounds etc. As evident from the movie, we do not see this, so no physical traits are remembered when a reset happens.

    The omega was “dying”, and when the blood went onto Cage, a reset happens as you can see evidently portrayed by the next scene (This is probably the reset that was put into the Alpha when it is killed). When a reset happens, it is just that, a “reset” (Like rewinding a video). Everything plays out the same way (Omega is alive).

    Now I didnt say he would reset a millionth time, I said it “could” be the nth reset and the “unknown explosion” is Cage finally destroying the Omega. The last scene we saw is the last reset we see, but before then, we didnt know how many reset Cage would have to go through to kill the Omega.

  70. There is one other possibility that hasn’t been raised yet… And this is that Cage doesn’t just want to kill the Omega… He wants to do it in such a way so that Rita also survives. The audience in the film is fooled a number of times that they are moving through the timeline for the first time, whereas in fact Cage has done this before… I believe this also happens at the end when we see him confront the Omega for what we believe is the first time, but in fact it could have been the hundredth time bu this time he does it perfectly… I.e. Rita is safe and he aligns himself with the Alpha ensuring its blood spills onto him allowing him to time shift to an earlier reset.

  71. I’m so tired of hearing everyone complaining about the ending. It isn’t confusing at all, and you don’t need a diagram with different colors representing different planes of existence, or other crap. I’ve heard people mention Omega blood being more potent so Cage jumps back further. I’ve heard people saying ridiculousness about them existing in different times or something. I’ve even heard people saying it was all a dream that Cage had while he was in the helicopter. There are many other ideas out there, and I disagree with all of them. Yes, I even disagree that the studio changed the ending from the books ending so they can make sequels, or just quickly finished it without thought. This angers me the most. I LOVED this movie, and after I watched it last night I spent the whole drive home explaining the ending to my wife and she finally gets it….SO here it goes, for your reading pleasure:

    There are 2 things that you need to understand before I write this:
    #1. THIS IS WHY EVERYONE IS CONFUSED WITH THE ENDING…When a person is tased they are not unconscious for 24 hours…They are only unconscious for 2-3 hours at best. REMEMBER THIS, it’s common sense!!!
    #2. When an Alpha/Omega is killed and their blood is transferred to a human that Alpha/Omega ceases to exist because the human takes that beings place. This is why the Alpha that Cage killed never returns to the battlefield, AND why the Omega never returns…But I’ll get to that later. Cage is now that Alpha and when he dies the Omega resets time 24 hours (1 day) FROM WHEN THE ALPHA WAS ORIGINALLY KILLED.

    I will now give you a timeline of events. This will make it much easier for everyone to understand. Please note that exact times are not mentioned in the movie, so I will be giving the times listed:
    7:00AM (Day 1) – Cage wakes up in the helicopter on the way to meet the General
    8:00AM (Day 1) – Cage is tased and labeled a deserter following his meeting with the General
    10:00AM (Day 1) – Cage is awoken on the base by being kicked and called a maggot (PLEASE REMEMBER THAT THIS IS STILL THE SAME DAY)
    9:00AM (Day 2) – THIS IS THE NEXT DAY. Cage is dropped from the plane and lands on the beach
    9:05AM (Day 2) – Cage stated “I die within 5 minutes of landing on that beach” so this is when he kills the Alpha, and dies in the process
    Now every time Cage dies time is reset 24 hours FROM WHEN THE ALPHA ORIGINALLY DIED. This is why when he dies during PT by being ran over he is reset to 9:05AM (DAY 1) AND when he dies much later at the German Dam due to drowning himself he is still reset to 9:05AM (DAY 1). Also notice that 9:05AM is while he is unconscious due to being tased, and rather than the movie showing us Cage sleeping for 55 minutes they just skip to where he is awoken by being kicked and called a maggot.

    Now I will explain the ending for all of you:
    10:00AM (DAY 1) – Cage is awoken on the base by being kicked and called a maggot
    2:00PM (Day 1) – Cage and Rita meet with the General and get the device that Cage shoves into his leg
    5:00PM (Day 1) – Cage wakes up after receiving a blood transfusion and losing his ability to reset time
    10:00PM (DAY 1) – Cage and Rita convince J-Squad to help them
    6:00AM (DAY 2) – Cage kills the Omega, and all of the Mimics die along with it. The Omega’s blood is transferred to him and he becomes the Omega, resetting time 24 hours because the Alphas died
    6:00AM (DAY 1) – Cage is now sleeping on the helicopter but just like before, rather than the movie show us 1 hour of him sleeping they just skip to where is wakes up on the helicopter. NOTE that at this time the Omega ceases to exist because its blood was transferred to Cage
    7:00AM (Day 1) – Cage wakes up. When the helicopter lands he realizes everything has been reset and his friends are all alive once again. Instead of meeting with the General at 8:00AM he sees on the television that the General no longer requires his assistance because all of the Mimics are being easily handled. The “Disturbance” that the General is referring to that happened under the Louvre in Paris is the Omega ceasing to exist because Cage now has his blood.

    Once you understand that the end is NOT resetting time 2 days, and it’s actually only resetting it a few hours prior to when it was previously resetting, AND when Cage resets the Alpha/Omega that he got his ability from ceases to exist it’s pretty easy to wrap your head around everything.

    They can now easily do a sequel (Cage is the Omega/There is more than one Omega/Another asteroid brings more aliens/Whatever), or easily not do a sequel (They live happily ever after)

  72. @Kyle: good explanation. Was it explained in the movie that Cage is replacing the Alpha/Omega or are you proposing that as a theory to explain the story?

    Also, I think as you get older and more mature, you’ll learn to express yourself without being condescending.

  73. i’m re-watching the movie. Cage can’t be resetting time 24 hours because despite dying at different times he always resets to his initial waking up point which backs up my above hypothesis about the ending whereby using the omega blood to reset to the omegas last waking at which point he was in the helicopter.

  74. Good article, but I Think Cage looped again because of Omega’s blood that covered him after all explode…I mean, he stole the capacity to loop again from the Omega… :D

  75. Thanks. I really like your explanation; especially the psychic aspect with regard to past present, future present, and distant past and timelines v. timeloops. I arrived at some related conclusions I want to share in case it is useful.
    My thought was that just as the mimics exist in a hierarchy, so do time loops. Alphas may come and go as agents of the Omega within the probable timelines – and their time loops reset as needed. The highest level time loop, or probable time-line, linked to the life of and controlled by the Omega, encapsulates all others and is the durable repository of the gained probable timeline knowledge.
    This Omega level timeline has an origin (distant past) which precedes the origin of all subsidiary timelines. I took it the origin point was London the day of the first scene since it was the point in both time and geography from which the Omega was operating after the “success” at Verdun in which it achieved its objective. It had moved to the next time/place objective in the war and was living a new Omega-level day.
    The Cruise character intercepts the ability to remember the gained experience from the Omega blood, he is reborn a hero as the Omega dies back to the root of its timeline.

  76. I think the idea of 3 time points (distant past , near past and future-present) is the most reasonable way of describing the “time travel”, however I disagree with the idea that they are of 24Hr increments. Why have an earth based system like the time it takes for a full rotation of the earth? This would only make sense on earth and the mimic organism obviously began life somewhere else in which 24hr would probably be a very useless measure of time. I think a more reasonable explanation would be that the omega resets the dead alpha’s memories to the dead alpha’s last period of unconsciousness i.e. for TC when he gets woken up by the sergeant kicking him. For all intents and purposes TC is an alpha after his first death. This would also explain why when the omega dies Tom is reset to the distant-future, his second to last period of unconsciousness (waking up on the helicopter). This gets around the whole 24Hr thing which would only make sense for an organism that evolved on earth.

    The omega seems to be controlling the whole mimic organism and storing the memories of the alphas. So did Tom become the omega? No he remained an alpha, more on this later.

    The mimic body is essentially what the alphas and the betas are. (I’m going to call the smaller ones betas as they not really mimics as the mimic is the whole system).

    Back to the omega: the omega is basically just a big memory bank that restores the memories to the dead alpha to its last period of unconsciousness (for Cruise the point at which the sergeant wakes him up). When Tom kills the alpha it triggers its last ditch self defence mechanism which is to send all the new alpha data to the distant past (two periods of alpha unconsciousness) so that these alphas can prevent the omega from being destroyed. However all the omegas data was destroyed by the grenades and the only data it has to relay back in time is Tom’s as he’s also submerged in the fluid. Tom’s data is therefore the only memories that go back to the distant-past (tom in the helicopter). As only TC receives his data and the other alphas don’t this destroys the omega in the distant past as well because this would mean Tom has one more loop of memory than the other alphas and breaks the time resetting chain/system/biological organism and releases an energy surge, destroying the omega and therefore the mimic central nervous system.

    The fluid is obviously not entirely necessary for communication as TC’s memories travel back to him even when he is not covered in alpha blood at every death. The fluid only works for real time communication.
    When Tom receives the alpha blood he is communicating with the omega in real time and it assumes he is also an alpha as that is the blood that he carries, kind of like a call sign. However once this link is made, it his the consciousness, his actual life form, that is linked, and not the blood. This would explain why when TC resets, even though only his memories travel back and not the actual blood, he is still connected to the omega by this link. It is far more scientifically possible to send data back in time than actual blood/alien fluid/large quantity of physical substance, so this seems more likely to me.

    This however brings up another question. How is it possible to lose this link by blood transfusion then? Maybe it is by being weak i.e. wounded for a long period of time that you lose the link (the mimic system wouldn’t benefit from weak alphas so it makes sense to have the connection lost) and this would explain how Emily lost her ability to reset. It is just a misconception that they have lost the “power” via blood transfusion. Maybe Tom never loses it and in fact has as many chances to destroy the omega as he wants but happens to do it first time.

    This is what makes sense most to me. I’m sorry for not stringing this together more concisely but this is how I think it worked. I would love for people to find the loop holes/question my theory and force me to adapt it as this has been really fun to write.

  77. Great film, good thread, nice explanation.
    Cple of things still bothering me, if anyone has ideas!
    1 – at what point did Rita enter her loop. Theres a lightness to her expression in the final frame that we never see in her before: suggesting she may have never have been through her own loop cycle, and importantly never seen Hendricks (?) repeatedly killed. I think this maybe the emotional crux of the film. Yes, he saves the planet, but more importantly he saves her from that indelible torment,
    2 – what would happen if someone else killed an alpha during Cage’s loop?

  78. But why did he laugh when Emily Blunts character asked him what he wants?
    Was he surprised becuase she didn’t know who he is?

  79. I loved your explanation. Some thoughts:

    “Except that Cage’s character dies at different points in the day and still resets to the same point in time. Also 24 hours in the past of an early morning attack on the Omega when it is still dark out would have reset him to earlier than the helicopter ride.”

    His reset was to the most local “wake up” time. Being asleep or unconscious appeared to be a necessary condition for the reset point, at least for the humans “infected” for lack of a better term.

  80. Janos, your comment was not approved because calling Asians ‘droids’ is racist, dude.

    But, your other point — that the idea of time looping originated with ‘Groundhog Day’ — is counterfactual. That film came out in 1993. Time travel stories have been around for over a thousand years and were popularized by HG Wells in the late 1800’s. Time looping was hardly invented by a Bill Murray movie; it is a logical extension of time travel paradox science fiction and appeared as early as a 1941 short story.

  81. Hello, all. Thanks for the insightful discussion. I hope to contribute.

    I think it’s important to remember some “ground rules.” That is, the movie never explicitly explains most of the things we are pondering, so everybody’s guess is fair game. Further to that point, we are looking for explanations that fit our current human understanding of time and physics. Explaining it away as “It can do magic stuff that we have no explanation for.” is basically how all high-technology seems before we understand the mechanisms behind it. Another rule is to remember that the things Rita and the Doc say are not gospel. They are stating observations and theories, not confirmed facts… so we can’t treat that dialogue as too important.

    That said, let’s kick around some ideas!

    I’ve been trying to resolve some of the plot-holey issues. One is that of the Alphas not becoming loop-smart like Cage did and maybe even making sure to find him on the battlefield every day. What if the Alphas are not smart or aware enough for that as individual entities? Could be the only smart thing in the mimic horde is the Omega. Alphas are then, as the physicist suggested, moreso feelers for the Omega to assess the battle/environment than they are commanders of the troops. They are smart in an animal-like way and can take pretty good commands from the Omega, as needed for the dam trap, but not much more.

    As for the physical body -vs- consciousness problem of the blood and the training benefits… We have to give some leeway here, but I like to think of it this way. Whaaaaaat if the blood itself, as an extension of the horde, is what physically goes back in time? It’s not taking Cage with it, but having worked its weird little alien time-entangled molecules into Cage’s nervous system and mind, it can (we have no physics-grounded explanation for this next bit, but..) carry memories with it. Like, the configuration and state of the neurons in his brain are written back to the way they were when the loop happened, because that’s how the alien substance was “configured” in his brain at his time of death. So he doesn’t lose the blood, or his memories, or some of the reflexes he picks up, but it’s being transported into his body from a previous time.

    Now the thing that bugged the heck out of me is how he managed to kill the Omega and go back but it stayed dead… Let’s consider some stuff.. I think reappropriate’s explanation of the Omega existing across all points was very insightful. Perhaps instead of setting anchor points, you could say it cautiously tip-toes forward one or two steps at a time. Then, whenever something triggers its loop relflex, it retracts and re-takes that step forward… and if it can move forward far enough to be satisfied to “plant another foot” it sets a new “save point.”

    Maybe it doesn’t even have full 100% control over a lot of this. Think of the kinds of reflexive reactions humans have that we cannot control, but are important to survival, and which can backfire. Things like inflammation, adrenaline spikes, and repressed memories. We know the Omega has a reflex to move time back by about 24 hours when one of its alphas die, a predictor of a battle going south.. We have to wonder if in death it was reflexively looping one last time like a “dead” human might kick about for a moment after conventional medical death. The thing where it gets…. soupy… is that we don’t know how time is perceived/experienced by the Omega. If it does exist in multiple points of time, does it die across all points at the same time? I feel like the movie wants to suggest this, in which case, the “dying reflex time loop” makes a bit more sense than a protective time loop, as the protective one serves no purpose. This is my attempt to resolve the kind of tricky notion that Cage wouldn’t have gotten the blood in him until after the Omega was dead unless it was sort of bleeding out and dying and he got SUPER lucky that it wasn’t too far gone to kick off its last loop before he got that secret sauce all up in him. Maybe it WAS dead at that point, but it takes a few seconds for the loop to kick in… Heck, maybe the loop always waits until a few hours later, but we never knew that because Cage was waiting there as a dead body up until that point and not experiencing those hours(this is weak, though, as he’d probably lose a lot of blood like that in several of his deaths)

    If we hold on to the idea that mimic tissue, like the blood, is always anchored back to the last “Save point” or beginning of a branch, or whatever you want to call it, then Cage gets the free ride for his memories, but the Omega wanted be Mr. Cool Guy and exist outside of traditional time, so when it was killed, its body in the past isn’t a different body, it was a projection (or something like that) of the body that just got killed… Unlike Cage. It stays dead.

    Yeah, the explanation that the Omega didn’t stay dead, but there were countless loops not shown where he figured out how to beat it IS cleaner. It’s way cleaner, but I feel like the producers would’ve at least hiiiiinted at that if it were the case.

    Finally, I know many people complain of the “tacked-on” love story, but I enjoyed it very much. Not because I felt like they had some amazing chemistry or anything, but because I feel like it explored an idea that is very romantic but sort of heart-breaking. Cage has spent weeks, months, maybe even a year or so, spending EVERY day with Rita.. All day, struggling hard to train and survive, and shared-hardship really brings you close to someone.. On top of that, he developed a very protective nature toward her and a sense of value as he struggled to keep her alive but had to watch her die so many times. It’s not hard to see that he would become incredibly attached to her… And after all that, as reward for his amazing struggle… He has to keep that love and that goodness-knows-how-long relationship, and she doesn’t even know who he is. No matter how well he knows her and how much she may be willing to spend time with him after meeting him, she’ll never get the experiences back that made him fall in love with her. That’s very bittersweet and since so few love stories have the opportunity to explore that idea, I’m glad this one did.

    Sorry that was a novel.

  82. Time is the fourth dimension of the space-time continuum, so it makes a very interesting concept that the Mimics, an extremely evolved creature, exists and moves in this fourth dimension differently than us.

    Basically, if your theory is correct, then Cage could be seen as a virus of sorts that infected the Alpha system of the Mimics?

  83. Why is Cage a colonel or general at the end? And when he get off from the chopper there is a huge poster, who is it? If it is Cage then how could that happen?

  84. Oh my GOD… THANK YOU!!! And everyone else, just be happy that this rundown has relieved one more person (me) of a near catatonic state and their ears have ceased bleeded from trying to wrap their around most of the bio-temporal mechanics of this movie.

  85. @Janos

    Seriously, if you want to make a point about Groundhog Day, please write a comment that is not a violation of this site’s comment policy. This site does not tolerate comments that are disrespectful, racist, or ad hominem.

    As for your point: Groundhog Day did not invent the concept of the time loop. It does not follow to say that the creator of the manga was inspired by Groundhog Day simply because Groundhog Day is a popular example (in the West) of the time loop that predates this manga, when this trope has often used in science fiction before and after Groundhog Day by a variety of authors.

    This post is concerned with comparing which parts of the film came from the manga and which did not. The time loop mechanism is drawn from the manga of the same name. Where the author of the manga got his inspiration from is unknown to me, but to assert that the manga author must have been drawing from Groundhog Day because this is the most popular film that the West is aware of that uses this mechanism is not a logical conclusion; the manga author could easily have drawn inspiration from a number of other stories and films that also use this mechanism. I’m also not entirely sure what value there is in speculating where the manga’s author got inspiration for this mechanism; the point is that he wrote a manga where a time loop is used, and that mechanism also appears in the film starring Tom Cruise.

  86. John smith wrote:

    “But why did he laugh when Emily Blunts character asked him what he wants?
    Was he surprised because she didn’t know who he is?”

    This is purely opinion, but I suspect this is why he laughed.

    Every time he approached her in the training room, he did it as a stripped rank private. He probably expected her to be (at least a little) different in her reaction to him striding in as a Major.

    When she treated him exactly the same, demonstrating the thing that made her exceptionally Rita, he had to laugh.

  87. Yun – i don’t know what you think,but Emily Blunt and Tom Cruise doing their role very well in this film, be objective please, this is about the plot and story… not about asian or western…

    <<from South East Asia

  88. I have another Theory.
    1. Every time an alpha/omega dies, time is reset to its earlier sleep/unconscious time
    2.The reset is done neither by an alpha or an omega, rather by another entity that is totally not discussed. Lets call this an ‘X'(The doc and Rita just thought it was the omega). The X is the powerful central command. It doesn’t care what happens later but only gives the reset just sensing the loss.
    3. The X just identifies the alpha/omega by the link it has to the blood of the alpha/omega.
    4. At the time of the death of the alpha/omega, when the blood of it is more on another being than itself, (in this case it was more on Cage, and at another instant it was more on Rita), the X identifies this being as Alpha/Omega and resets it its earlier Sleep/Unconscious point. X is so occupied with many things at a time and so doesn’t double check error possibilities and is overconfident.

    I think that explaines all resets

  89. Thanks for the great explanation! Just one question, are the alphas alive as Cage even if the Omega is dead?

  90. Hi Manuel,

    In my opinion, I don’t think Cage is still an Alpha if the Omega is dead. But I think other folks’ theories would say differently!

  91. @ Manuel

    Thanks for the great explanation! Just one question, are the alphas alive as Cage even if the Omega is dead?”

    According to my Theory,
    Alpha will be alive when Omega is dead and cage has been mistakenly assigned as Omega by X.
    However, This alpha cannot receive any command @ the absence of the omega. That also explains why there was no resistance by mimics @ the end of the movie.

  92. I like to think of the ending as quick thinking on the part of the Omega to retreat.

    Let’s say the the only being unaffected by the time reset is the alpha, or any being, that initiates the time reset and that the power to reset time is independent of the Omega. This means that when the death of an alpha occurs the only way that the Omega is made aware of what happened is by having the Alpha tell the Omega what happens. This would explain the necessity of keeping Alphas on the front lines. Also, for some reason the Omega can’t initialize a time reset itself, but can grant the ability. As if it was incompatible with the junk in the blood that makes it happen, but it has the stuff contained within it for some reason. If the Omega could just initiate a time reset itself then why bother keeping it hidden away from the front lines? Moving on.

    We also know that the Omega has some kind of subconscious, or telepathic link to all the Mimics and the time resetting Alphas. We can also assume that Cage has established a link with the Omega. How else would that interface contraption that the doctor made be able to locate the true location of the Omega otherwise. We can even deduce that it took time for the link between Cage and the Omega. (Or more accurately, Cage time) Perhaps as Cage became more aware of his ability and the existence of the Omega his connection to it was triggered. Once triggered the Omega would be aware that something was awry and would then react accordingly.

    We can assume the Omega is intelligent and aware of the possibility of humans using the time reset ability because it happened once with Rita and it prepared traps to lure out the time resetting humans in order to strip them of the power. If this is possible other contingency plans are also possible. Plans that would take into consideration the possible death of the Omega. (If a connection relays info to the Omega why not attack Cage at the base? Because killing him would accomplish nothing and preemptively attacking the humans to get to Cage would compromise the Aliens effort to eliminate humans as they attacked. Perhaps this was the Aliens last hope to finish off mankind.)

    Cage taps into the Omega with the device and then kills it. While doing this he gets reconnected to the Omega with renewed time resetting abilities via blue blood and then initializes a big reset. Cage tips the past Omega that he kills it via renewed connection and the Omega bugs out. The reported power surge is a result of the Omega cutting its losses and leaving planet. Boom, we have the possibility of a sequel.

    Nailed it. I win!

  93. Just watched the movie, would agree with most of the conspiracy theories here, but I would also love to think of it as there are infinitely parallel worlds, that is when Cage dies, the world is reset for him and this world still keeps going on.
    The one world in which Cage survives is the only universe in which the humans win.
    Ah, a hell lot of theories i have, but to hell with them all,ill just go with parallel worlds!!!

  94. Ending that makes most sense to me:

    The movie told us the alien was one being. The Omega was the “mind” or brain and the rest were extensions of it. The Alpha was an extension that was an automatic trigger to set back time to when it was last killed. (not necessarily 24 hours, just whenever it was last killed).

    They lured the Alpha (the time resetting unit) away from the Omega (the brain) at the end. Cage then killed the “brain” of the alien first, WHICH in turn killed it’s extensions (Alpha) second, causing an automatic reset without the mind being alive.

    It’s like a human body. If you killed the brain, the heart or other parts of the body die very quickly after. But their death is secondary to the brain.

    The Omega did not have a device to bring itself back from death if were obliterated. So when the Alpha reset time WITHOUT the mind being alive, it no longer existed anywhere, past, future or present.

    Just my two cents.

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