From the looks of this weekend's massive box-office returns, you probably went to the movies. Perhaps it was for Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted? If you're reading this story, however -- which has the word "Prometheus" in its title -- you most likely saw Ridley Scott's sci-fi meditation on the origins of life. (Unless you saw both, in which case I would like to meet you and be your friend.) If you haven't seen Prometheus, you should stop reading, because the following will (A) most likely spoil the movie for you, or (B) make no sense. Actually, there's a chance it will make no sense even if you did see the movie. Anyway, a lot of people are asking questions this morning, but I only have one:
Can someone fully explain the "black goo"?
First, I'm sure that the "black goo" has a technical name. But, if it does, I do not know it. So, for purposes of this piece, I will be referring to it as "black goo." And, yes, I get, in theory, what it's supposed to do. I think. Anyway, let's talk about that.
For most of the film, the "black goo" seems to genetically transform whoever or whatever comes into contact with it into a monster of some sort. In other words: if the goo touches a worm, the worm turns into a monster. Fair enough. But, in the opening scene, an Engineer (most likely on Earth, though Ridley Scott won't say as much) drinks a cup of "black goo," but he doesn't transform into a monster. Instead, he disintegrates. No other living creature disintegrates after coming into contact with the goo. Was it the amount of goo the Engineer consumed? Why didn't he become a zombie like Fifield (Sean Harris) eventually did?
Actually, my biggest question about the black goo -- so big that the whole movies either makes sense or doesn't based on the answer -- is this: Was Weyland (Guy Pearce) aware of its existence before landing on LV-223?
I ask because David (Michael Fassbender) has a nice working knowledge of the alien technology, to the point that he can even fly one of the alien ships. And, when the crew first enters the room that contains the "black goo," David goes straight for it -- to the point that he almost jeopardizes the mission trying to take a canister of it back to Starship Prometheus. If he wasn't aware of the goo beforehand (or, more specifically, hadn't been programmed by Weyland to be aware of it), then why the extreme fascination? So extreme that he uses it to poison Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green)?
I don't accept that David poisoned Holloway out of curiosity. So why did he do it? If we accept the theory that Weyland was aware of the "black goo," then his mission all along was to acquire the goo in an effort to create living alien weapons. (Even though that doesn't make 100 percent sense, either; hold that thought.)
So, David poisons Holloway with a drop of "black goo." Holloway sleeps with the previously barren Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and impregnates her with sperm infected by the "black goo." Shaw now has an alien growing inside of her (which we will eventually see removed in graphic detail).
I think the key here is that David is adamant that Shaw be put into stasis, so much so that Shaw has to physically fight two medical assistants who try to take her back to the stasis machine. So we can only assume that the plan all along was to get Shaw pregnant with an alien, then put her -- and the alien in her womb -- in stasis for the trip back to Earth. But, again, this only makes sense if we assume that Weyland knew about the "black goo" before arriving on LV-223. If he did know -- how did he know?
I mean, it's Shaw and Holloway who find the map to LV-223 drawn in a cave. Based on that, isn't it safe to assume that Weyland didn't know where LV-223 was located? He certainly didn't have a scout team there beforehand to tell him, "Mr. Weyland, there is some fascinating 'black goo' here that you might want to check out. I mean, if you're still into the idea of weaponized aliens and all ... " But obviously he did know about it, right?
Then again, when we finally learn that, yes, Weyland is aboard the Prometheus, he certainly doesn't seem too concerned with the "black goo." Actually, his main concern seems not so different from that of Shaw and Holloway: They all want to meet the Engineers and ask them why they created human life. Of course, Weyland has an extra little request -- he wants eternal life.
But! When the Prometheus first arrives at LV-223, Vickers (Charlize Theron) makes it clear that her mission is very different than what Shaw and Holloway were there to attempt. And since her company was paying for the expedition, she was giving the orders. If the mission was for Weyland to meet the Engineer (who, yes, turned out to be a dick), why the ominous warning and all of the secrecy? That's all Shaw and Holloway wanted, too.
Was Vickers the one who was interested in the "black goo"? Remember, she's the one who wouldn't let an infected Holloway back on the Prometheus. She's the one who had no problem burning him to a crisp. Obviously, she knew what the "black goo" was capable of doing. If not, why not jut let him back on to find out why his stomach hurts? But, if she was the mastermind behind the "black goo," why did she meet such an unfitting ending? (Lesson learned: To avoid "death by falling spaceship," drop and roll to the side. Do not attempt to outrun the length of the ship.)
Yes, I realize this piece is littered with question marks. But, really, all of the questions in this movie come down to one thing: "Black goo." Who knew about the "black goo" and when did they know? In other words: I have convinced myself that someone programmed David to bring the "black goo" back to Earth.
(Also, I hope that the sequel to Prometheus is called Black Goo.)
Mike Ryan is senior entertainment writer for The Huffington Post. He has a tendency to over-think things. You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter.
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