‘Prometheus’ – Those Mysteries And Plot Holes Explained

The long-awaited release of Prometheus a couple of weeks ago was met with a pick-and-mix bag of wildly differing critical appraisals: it was either a masterpiece, a tour de force; a decent, if flawed, blockbuster; or a muddled mess of plot holes and canyon-esque leaps of logic, populated by characters thinner than Lidl own-brand toilet paper and half as consistent.

One of the more common points of contention with critics and fans alike was the number of mysteries and threads that Ridley Scott and Damon Lindelof presented us with that were left flapping like donkey dicks in the breeze come the film’s climax. Both have confirmed that Prometheus is intended as the first part in a trilogy, so could it be that these loose ends will be addressed in the (still unconfirmed) sequels? And, if so, how?


Here are some of the points that are yet to be addressed, and possible ways in which they might be. These include mysteries, plot holes and a mighty amount of conjecture, but be warned: the spoilers that follow are huge, so if you haven’t seen the film but still intend to it might be best to go and read something else. If you haven’t seen it and have no intention of doing so then, to even be reading this, you must be incredibly bored, but, hey, welcome. The more the merrier.

And now, to business:

So what‘s the beginning all about then?

The film’s epilogue treats us to beautiful swooping vistas of (what we assume to be) Earth’s pre-history. The shot eventually descends to the figure of a stocky, pale, follically-challenged fellow who, after imbibing some bitter-looking goop, buckles in considerable agony and tumbles headfirst into a waterfall, the bottom of which – recklessly – has not been equipped with adequate padded landing facilities. Things end poorly for him. But, as countless great philosophers have said over the aeons: why the fucketty-fuckarse?

We’re led to believe these chaps (the Engineers) are humanity’s creators, and before committing gooey hara-kiri this particular bipedal scrotum peers skyward to see a vast ship leaving him behind, its portholes presumably filled with the hairless albino southcracks of his similarly pale chums, giddy with scadenfreude, all humourously mooning him and his occupational misfortune.

One of the great mysteries of the origin of life on this planet is how the diluted soup of chemicals swirling about in the lifeless oceans coalesced into organic compounds, and the common theory on the internet is that this unfortunate engineer has been handed the unwelcome task of disseminating his DNA so it can slop about and replicate in the oceans to propagate human life. It’s the ultimate sacrifice, and the beginning of The Engineer’s grand experiment: us.

Why did none of the crew of the Prometheus know why they were there?


In typical Alien fashion we’re introduced to our protagonists as they awake from the long slumber of hypersleep, only this time with more vomit and less Sigourney Weaver in her underpants. Once the crew have picked what must be medicine ball-sized clumps of sleep from the corners of their eyes and had a bit of brekkie they then attend a meeting to have the purpose of their voyage explained to them. So, erm, most of them didn’t know the mission before they got on the ship? And they still agreed to spend two years in stasis to voyage to Engineer knows where? Really? Shut up.

Well, quite simply, it’s possible for someone with the resources of Peter Weyland to hire people who don’t ask too many questions. Next!

Why did the cave paintings lead to LV223?

Damon Lindelof has stated that the paintings being seen as an invitation was merely the interpretation of the characters. It could equally have been a warning – the Neolithic equivalent of an interstellar ‘BEWARE OF THE DOG’ sign, or an aggrandising ‘Pray to this!’ piece of swell-headed arseholery.

Yet the paintings led Prometheus not to The Engineers’ home planet, but to what is ostensibly either a bioweapons manufacturing facility or military outpost stocked to the crotch with WMDs.

One theory is that curiosity killed the cat: LV223 could be a central world in a number of ‘experiments’, or perhaps once mankind’s clever enough to decipher the message and travel to its source The Engineers feel it’s time for us to be eliminated. And you wouldn’t give a potential psychopath in a nightclub your real phone number, would you? The Engineer (who’s woken from hypersleep)’s homicidal wig-out would seem to back this up; whatever David says to him is irrelevant – the engineer sees the Prometheus crew as insects and gets busy swatting them good.

Prometheus lands on LV223 yet the planet in Alien is LV426. Whaaa?

Aaaah, you must be a fellow geek, hello. Well, Ridley Scott made no secret of there being two hypothetical films between Prometheus and Alien, but how would a horseshoe-ship, with an engineer with a hole in his chest and a cargo hold bursting with facehugger eggs, find its way onto the completely different planet we saw in the 1979 original?

The answer could possibly lie with the other ships on LV223. There are several (we see two, but many more pyramids housing them), and at the film’s climax a slimy xenomorph appears to burst from the Engineer who made the error of crossing Noomi Rapace. If this xenomorph is a queen, it could scuttle off to lay eggs to its black heart’s content inside one of the other ships.

Now, in Alien 3 Ripley has been impregnated during hypersleep. If there was another Engineer in hypersleep in one of the other ships the same thing may have happened: he’d wake up, realise with some consternation he’s got a bun in the oven and decide to get the Sam Hill out of there, only for chest-bursting nature to take its course mid-flight, possibly causing him to crash on LV426.

There are a lot of ‘ifs’ here, but this would certainly explain how the ship and Space Jockey get into the positions we see them in in Alien.

How did they manage to land the ship at the precise location of the pyramids by chance?

Erm…just…because. Pass!

What’s the ooze for?

For some reason The Engineers appear to have taken exception to humans (one theory is that they resent our invention of religion; another is that they sent an emissary to us – one Mr Jesus – and we, in our wisdom, murdered him quite brutally. Both theories appear to tie in with the 2000-year age of the ships and pyramids) and have decided to wipe us out, so it looks like they’ve concocted a brew which alters and destroys human DNA. As noted above, Engineer and human DNA is identical, so happily – seeing as all the crew of the Prometheus discovers upon entering the cavernous horseshoe-ship is piles of corpses and alien CCTV footage of the arrogant bastards falling foul to their own creation – their little experiment appears to have backfired. Ha! Etc.

At its simplest, the ooze appears to be the proto-DNA for the creatures we will later come to recognise as the Xenomorphs. When ingested by Holloway it turns him from Tom Hardy’s doppelganger into something much uglier and much more bubonic, yet he’s euthanized with a flamethrower (hardly fucking Dignitas, is it?) before we see the full extent of the metamorphosis. He manages to stick his dirty little wet in Noomi Rapace before this happens though, and the jizzy pairing of human and alien DNA results in the facehuggers, and we’re quite familiar with the work of these little guys.

Whichever way the ooze makes it into our system the outcome is a bad one, which makes it a formidable and all-too-effective biological weapon.

What’s David’s beef?

David, for an android supposedly devoid of emotion, really seems to take exception to Holloway, who is happy to reciprocate this peculiar sense of the passive-aggressive non-likies. Yet it’s a bit of a stretch to see David spike Holloway’s drink with alien goo, only to then sit back and watch him disintegrate like a Jeremy Hunt alibi without any explanation as to why.

Only, we’re aware that Weyland’s leathery chops are aboard Prometheus with the aim of prolonging his life, so one theory is that David could simply be conducting a fairly ruthless ad-hoc experiment to ascertain the goo’s effects; not through malice, but through duty.

He picked someone inessential to the day-to-day running of the ship (Holloway and Shaw are outsourced scientists, and Shaw is also subject to David’s unique brand of bedside manner during her pregnancy) to use as a guinea pig, and in the pre-release viral video of David, in which he explains the benefits of having an android aboard a ship (YouTube it if you haven’t seen it, it’s excellent), he states that synthetics are able to carry out tasks that humans find ‘unethical’; a point similarly hammered home by the terrifying Ash in Alien.

So, sure, David might kill you for the sake of science, but at least it’s nothing personal.

Why are Millburn and Fifield such idiots?

Yes, these are the first two to die, and few could say they don’t deserve it: they decide to leave the group, get lost and left behind despite having access to radios and fairly hi-tec mapping equipment, they flee from one danger spot to another much more dangerous one, then they attempt to ‘pet’ an extra-terrestrial serpent which couldn’t give more obvious ‘fuck off’ vibes if Johnny Rotten was fucking Ted Bundy on its face.

The problem could be that they’re scientists, and like the kid at school who could do advanced calculus before they had pubes but couldn’t go a day without shitting themselves during a stubborn yet entirely expected nosebleed, a lot of scientists are good at science and rubbish at generally being alive. It’s like they want to die first, and these two selflessly oblige.

What were the snakes?

There was little information given about the snakes besides the acid-for-blood and generally-displeased-temperament similarities to Giger’s Aliens, but these suggest the two species are somehow related.

The classic Aliens’ physiology varies depending on its host: in Alien and Aliens they had humanoid characteristics; in Alien 3 the beast came from a cow or a dog (depending on which version you watch) and so ran on all fours, and – if the queen in Aliens is the same one that came from the Engineer at the end of Prometheus – erupting from an Engineer’s sternum causes an Alien to be extremely large. Perhaps the snakes are the aliens in their natural form, before the DNA is spliced with that of a host?

This would make the chambers in which they’re found nurseries (and the black goo their – how to put this nicely – ‘spunky doings’), not storage holds; a breeding ground for mankind’s doom.

And finally, why did all the characters always do such stupid things?

A lot of the character’s bizarre actions, unfortunately, can probably be attributed to shoddy writing. End of mystery.

Were there any other mysteries which you think need to be explained? Do you have alternate theories for any of the above? Go on, share your thoughts in the comments section.