Edge of Tomorrow Time-Travel Explained
Have you seen the film Edge of Tomorrow starring Tom Cruise as “Major William Cage” and Emily Blunt as “Rita Vrataski”. Well, action scenes aside, this film touched on what we, in Science Fiction call, temporal mechanics. Yes, time-travel.
But before I go on, a fair warning, this post contain spoilers. If reading/hearing of spoilers kills your appetite in watching films, then bookmark this post and come back later. But don’t worry, I am only going to discuss the time factor in this film, because I’m sure you were confused.
The film Edge of Tomorrow introduced us to time-travel from the perspective of Major William Cage (played by Tom Cruise). When he killed an Alpha mimic, its blue blood washed all over him. Then he simply woke up a day before he was killed.
This time loop repeated countless of times for Cage but every time he died, he became stronger, trained in battle, quick, and more knowledgeable. But the problem is, so was the enemy.
You see, the Alpha mimic he killed the first time was a special and rare one in the ranks of the mimic army. It is connected to a central mind called the “Omega” (connection: Alpha and Omega). The Alpha acts as the eyes and ears of the Omega mimic. The Omega acts as the “server” and the one that triggers the time-travel.
As was explained in the film, every time an Alpha was killed, the Omega “resets the day” and as such has knowledge of the previous battle and prepares in advance. Here’s where it gets confusing to most, if Cage having gained access to the mimic’s ability to reset a day can do it, then how was he time-traveling and at the same time, the mimics also have knowledge of their movements?
And surely, there are other Alpha mimics positioned in different front lines, it is the mimic army’s only way to win. If more than one Alpha was killed and then it triggered a reset, how does the “reset” work if more than one Alpha was killed?
Any time-travel fan will easily fall into the split-timeline theory. I say there is no need to factor that in. The answer to this paradox lies at the end of film wherein Cage destroyed the Omega, was drenched in the Omega’s blood, then reset back further in time, at the beginning of the film. But with one major difference. A report from the General of the United Defense Force (UDF) said that a mysterious explosion occurred in Paris, and all the mimics seemed to have lost interest in fighting. They won.
What exactly happened? Simple. No one was time-traveling. Not a single soul time-traveled. The Omega mimic, as I’ve said, is a “server”. The Alpha records everything and the Omega sends all these information back in the past Omega. When an Alpha is killed, the Omega treats it as a threat to their operation and sends the information back in time.
Going back to the end of the film, when the Omega was killed by Cage, then the Omega blood accidentally mingled with his blood, the knowledge of “explosion” was inadvertently sent back to the past Omega. This past Omega thought it was part of their strategy and simply self-destructed.
Not to mention, Major Cage, after this last time-loop, was now an Omega himself. Familiar with Blizzard Entertainment‘s game Starcraft? The zerg race can only have one (1) Overmind. When Kerrigan became the Zerg Queen (an Overmind), she had to kill all the other forming Overminds.
Major Cage, having turned into an Omega himself, and being a human, subconsciously sent a self-destruct to the past Omega. His desire to save the many soldiers who he have seen countless of times dying repeatedly, and his desire to see Rita alive again (and have a life with her), triggered the Omega blood in him to “reset” his day further back in time and send a self-destruct to the past Omega.
As simple as that. And yes, the previous “timelines” do exists continually but let’s not worry about those failed timelines. I know, similar to X-Men member Kitty Pryde’s (Sprite/Shadowcat) power of sending one’s consciousness back in time to take over one’s past self.
There’s nothing really mysterious and special about the ending and as such, I can say that the ending was very disappointing. After gearing us up, the ending was just another “he woke up and it was all just a bad dream, it simply did not happen.”
All things considered (which I did not mention here), I give this film a flat 7 out of 10 stars. Watch it just for the action and funny scenes, not for the depth because there were none.
Is a self-confessed bibliophile and technophile other than being an early adopter, an avid gamer, a geek, nerd, role-player, anime otaku, and trekker.
His first online project was in 1998 when he launched the unofficial website for Ansalon MUD (a text-based, telnet online game) and his own community forums Laibcoms.Community. By 2003 he created his work blog GM-Yukino which grew into gameshogun™, Snoworld™, and techmagus™ over the years.
Yuki’s latest project is Verses.Space™, a Free Culture / Creative Commons, collaborative, and shared-world, worldbuilding and writing project.
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