Damon Lindelof on Prometheus's Ending and a Handy, Spoilery Alien Infographic

Prometheus Plot Explained

The Prometheus post-mortem continues (really, the fact that it's still provoking discourse says something... right?) with screenwriter Damon Lindelof talking end-of-movie spoilers with TIME Magazine. Namely, what does it mean that you-know-who does you-know-what with the whatsit at the end? Kidding! Dive in to hear the LOST veteran address the certain future of our heroes, plus: An infographic that breaks down Prometheus' DNA in one handy chart.

Spoilers throughout!

First up, TIME talks with Lindelof about the smoke monster. I mean the android, David (Michael Fassbender), who pulls some seriously heinous moves in Prometheus at the behest of one master, only to seemingly switch allegiances at the end. Can Shaw (Noomi Rapace) trust David's head to direct her where she wants to go, i.e. the space beyond space, from whence the Engineers of doom hail? Lindelof says yes, because David has a robot crush on her.

I think they’re going where she wants to go. His fundamental programming has been scrapped. Weyland [the man who built and programmed him] is dead and so now his programming is coming from God knows where. Is he being programmed by Elizabeth, or is it his own internal curiosity now that Weyland isn’t telling him what to do any more? He’s always been interested in Elizabeth, remember that: He’s watching her dreams when she’s sleeping in much the same way that he watches Lawrence of Arabia. He’s a strange robot that has a curious crush on a human being, and when Weyland is eliminated, I think he is genuinely interested in what she’s interested in. He reaches out partly for survival, but partly out of curiosity, and I think he’s sincere that he’ll take her wherever she wants to go.

Right. Well, inter-species relations have taken stranger routes in the Alien universe. Speaking of which, artist Carlos Poon whipped up a handy infographic (via the folks at Dangerous Minds) to help your brain keep track of the origins of species in Prometheus.

Prometheus Plot Explained

Alright gang, mysteries solved! Right? RIIIIGHT??

[TIME, Dangerous Minds]


  • CocaineHeart says:

    ooooooh interesting, i love this!

  • bib fortuna says:

    the infograph doesn't explain the spider guy though.

    • Jen Yamato says:

      I think we should all agree never to speak of spider-zombieman again. Much easier that way.

    • Frustrated says:

      It actually does though. "Spider guy" as you call him (or, you know, Fifield, as his character is called) is clearly explained by the second line of the graphic (in case you're a little too dim to recognize which one I'm talking about, it's the one that says "Black Goo" + "Human" = "Mutated Human Monster"

      If you had paid attention to the film, though, I guess you would have known that already? As it stands, this chart explains it pretty clearly and you still didn't get it so I guess there's no pleasing some people?

      • crimson says:

        Actually u would be wrong there my friend...black goo and human did not make spider - man,if u recall wen the black goo 1st began to leak , they focused in on some maggots crawling around in the goo....so their for...it would go...black goo + maggot = snake thing.. Snake thing + human = spider man

        • badwolf says:

          holloway also had maggots in his eye. so black goo + human = mutated human monster with maggots.

          • Dean says:

            You are all wrong the engineers created man and checked on them periodically but they stopped why? Because we were and expire meant gone wrong. How do you know we went wrong? Because if u didn't notice the Christian faith being hinted, the engineers stopped checking on us when Jesus was crucified. Jesus being an embasitor from the engineers to try and fix us. But what did we do to Jesus, we killed him angering the engineers. Notice how when the engineer saw David he briefly appreciated him then destroyed him. Also note that the man who David infected did not have beard when he died and when he became "spider man" he did.

        • Frustrated says:


          Looks like you didn't pay attention to the film either. We never saw what happened as a result of the proto-face hugger entering into Millburn's body; the mutated human that attacked the ship was Fifield, not Millburn. Fifield had his helmet melted and fell into the black goo, he never once came into direct contact with the proto-face hugger.

          And as Badwolf correctly pointed out, Holloway was experiencing the early stages of the same symptons as Fifield, and all that happened to Holloway was that he drank some of the black liquid. So, "their for" [sic] as you so eloquently put it, black liquid + human = mutated human monster.

          • Frustrated says:


            First, David infected Holloway, not Fifield; Holloway was killed by the flamethrower before he could completely change. Fifield, who was the one that attacked the ship, did have facial hair before he mutated. As a side note, I don't quite see how growing beard has anything to do with your Christ symbolism; just because Christ is depicted as having had a beard doesn't mean beards have anything to do with Christ-symbolism. I do find the rest of your post interesting, however.

  • Not That David says:

    Also [spoiler alert]: wouldn't the xenomorph have some human DNA as well because the thingy that entered the Engineer was from the fetus gestated by Shaw?

    • Jen Yamato says:

      Yes, I believe so.

      • J K says:

        I don't think so, Jen. It is hamfistedly implied that she is sterile (in a scene so maudlin and life-timey that J.J. Abrams must have ghost-written-- no one mentions this sort of hipster-grad-school-couple effect as being the first entirely alienating, demographic pandering moment in the film, so I guess I am the first.) So, I believe there would be no reason to think one of her eggs was present (or needed) for her man's goo-infected spermatozoa to fertilize. I think one of those squiggly eye woogies just made its way down to her Noomi-Ra-place. That's what made it so extra sad/awful. She is getting what she wanted (offspring) but all wrong (squid: the other answered prayer.)

        The Alien films have always had that thread of subliminal angst about human reproduction/pregnancy, so I didn't mind this outcome.

        What I think the film suffers from is actually an overall lack of sublimation. I have noticed this in most recent american cinema (and popular culture in general.) The first Alien was subtextually about something so much more than it's skeletal plot. And its characters were characters in that Aristotelian sense-- they were just doing their thing naturally and responding to the events of the plot as their character would. Plots arc. Characters DO NOT ARC. The idea that there is such a thing as a "character arc" is the goofiest plague in Hollywood-- a fully metastasized narrative tumor of the self-realization new-ageism strain of american identity politics.

        We need characters who make choices and take actions. Not characters that philosophize and self-analyze. The film could have been about meaning and life. That organic life is, at it's heart, murder. And that a maker of such a system might not be benign. It did not need a character saying aloud "Gee, you know, this makes me think about some big questions regarding our role vis-à-vis destiny and faith and such, wouldn't you agree, Dear?" Which is why it seemed so preposterous and unbelievable-- so inorganic for a film that is supposed to be about the metaphors inherent in such birds and bees elements.

        Contemporary characters, like their post-modern blogosphere demographic targets are openly identity obsessed and reflexively self-psychoanalyzing. This leads to them being uncomfortably similar to (but not REVEALING of insight into) the unlikable, self-absorbed, inside-out, self-anthologizing naval gazers we all know our selves and our peers to be in our real 21st century lives.

        The characters in Alien were working class stiffs. Aliens turned expendable marines into humane characters. Alien3 made martyrs out of society's purest cast-offs. Alien Resurrection went wrong as its smart-ass, post-modern Whedonesque characters were off pitch for the universe of regular folks we were used to. And, to be honest, this film was a slightly more subtle variation on that theme. I mean, smoking weed with your mohawk in the Chariot Stable of the Gods? Ick. Couldn't we have just had regular people like the first two films? Are we as an audience only able to relate to such self-conscious, identity-advertising narcissists?

        Every character wanders off at sundown on an alien world to get laid and doesn't bother to have a communication device? Are these motivations we believe now? Is life really that much of a beer commercial? Is there so little sense of wonder left in our species in this particular future that I am to believe they are jaded enough to be yawning and whining in the face of the absolute?

        Are we really to believe people this undisciplined, adolescent, and absurd would find themselves in such a situation?

        I guess the future will be populated by sulking man-childs, emo-chick grad students , Donald Trump's blonde hench-woman, and the CEO from Contact. These are the most potent and final examples of the human race that we submit to our makers as we demand more life.

        Sheesh. I think I agree with the androgyne Space-Savalas. One of his comrades ceremonially barfed out his DNA to make this lot? Better get to earth and squid-wipe that puppy ASAP.

        In the next film, Shaw will meet the brother species of the baldies, and eventually learn that their mysterious motivations can be traced to their bungled upbringing at the hands of a paranoid space queen-- the chick from The West Wing.

        • Klusk66 says:

          WOW. So you're either Dennis Miller or Sheldon from 'The Big Bang Theory'. You should consider dialing it down juuuuust a notch.

        • dan says:

          J K Said: "Are we really to believe people this undisciplined, adolescent, and absurd would find themselves in such a situation?"

          I shared this sentiment several times throughout the movie... It was probably the only thing that bothered me about the flick but apart from that I was entertained.

        • silcharles says:

          So, by that logic if Holloway would have masturbated while infected out would have popped miniature, primordial face-huggers and no womb was required?

        • c.lems says:

          My man!!! You are the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Couldn't have put it any better, as a matter of fact I'm going to copy your comment and have my class break it down. Good stuff.

        • Christians cant spell says:

          Im just happy to FINALLY stumble apon a comment by someone capable of constructing a competent sentence in English. The rest of these morons are apparently 12 years old or never paid any attention in any of the english classes presented to them over the past dozen or so years of their lives. Thank you JK. E-mail me if you have any interest in a belated discourse over the numerous topics and story lines being debated in regards to this film.

    • Wildeyed says:

      Exactly. The xenomorph we know and love only came to be when human and Engineer DNA came together via the proto-facehugger. Think about it, if Engineer+black goo=xenomorph the the planetoid would already have been crawling with them when the Prometheus arrived. It was the crossing of the three beings that gave rise to our alien pal.

      • adqwdw says:

        Engineer DNA = Human DNA according to the movie right? So two breeding cycles with engineers would be the same has a human then engineer cycle or an engineer then human cycle.

  • debe says:

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    • Maybe this odd ad really DOES have a place in the commentaries regarding PROMETHEUS and
      the ALIEN spawn. Aren't all creatures really looking for love, and a serious relationship? Especially
      when you evolve to where you have acid for blood, and evolutionary parents you don't want your
      new love to meet? Debe, do you have a prehensile tail, or a small extra set of jaws inside your
      mouth? Lay eggs and drip slime?
      I care, although being the one you're looking for scares me.

  • johnharden says:

    Dear Mr. Lindelof: If you have to explain, you're doing it wrong.

  • fdfere says:

    Black goo is a bio-weapon that drives towards a given end. The end result is the "typical" alien creature we all know and love, drones or queens. Typical form is defined as the original, the dog-hybrid and even the predator-hybrid. How quickly it mutates to this form depends upon the creature DNA in the area it has to use as resources.

    Engineers seemed to have loads of this goo. So the timing issues between this movie and the Alien movies can go away. Engineer DNA = human DNA so an accident/infection on any level would result in the "typical" alien form found on LV-426

  • Mr Obvious says:

    There's a few basic problems with this story as being the "creation" of the ALIEN...

    1) It ignores the AVP storylines, in where the Preds have used humans to birth Aliens for fighting/rituals for centuries/millenia...
    2) If the goo was the same black goo at the start of the movie, it dissolved the engineer guy, but when they see clips of the engs on the downed ship, they are running from "something"... presumably an alien/mutant creature, like the one created when the humans/maggots encouter the goo... so what was it?

    3) If the maggots turned into face-hugging snakes, how does that relate to the engineer/squid fight producing the "alien"? If anything, it would have made more sense for the guy killed by the snake to suddenly have the alien burst out of him at the end... after all, "aliens" reproduce by laying eggs that hatch the face-huggers...

    All in all I enjoyed the movie, but elements of the plot/alien creation didn't make sense IMHO.

    And speaking of the begining, are you sure that it was the engineering eating the goo and dying that created humans, or perhaps was that a test of the bioweapon, where he ate it and it spread, killing of everything on the planet where they found the abandoned ships?

    • Raptros says:

      Sorry to bust your bubble Mr obvious but AVP is not canon to the alien universe. AVP is just a mashup set in a complete different universe. Prometheus ignores the story lines just like the original alien movies never mentioned the Yautja because predators have nothing to do with aliens. It was officially explained that the whole Aliens vs. Predators thing was started because of that alien skull seen in predator 2 and even the writers admitted it to be nothing more then a joke. The official story is: The Space jockeys or engineers as they call them in Prometheus were using the aliens as biological weapons billions of years ago until the xenos turned on them. Even the creatures in Prometheus turned on them the same way. Somehow you people keep forgetting that Ridley has said the Prometheus movie is only set in the alien universe but has nothing to do with it, As it was mentioned, the fact that the Jockey Ship the Nostromo found on LV-426 is millions of years old, leads me to wonder if Jockeys might have captured species that they thought could be used as weapons. The fact that the creatures in Prometheus share a strong resemblance to the alien could be evidence that the Jockeys might have picked both up because they shared similar abilities. If after capture the Jockeys performed some kind of experiments on them or if they were expecting the creatures to turn on them that is my question. Forget the AVP stuff... seriously.

  • kv11 says:

    if he has such a crush on her, why try to sedate and restrict her after deliberately going into a round a bout way of infecting her with a squid that wants to burst out of her chest? A bit of a weird crush.

    Thinking about the maggots, these are on the alien ship within the oxygen environment, they would not be equipped to live in the outside world, so I guess these are maggots from the engineer world that got on board somehow - why would loads of maggots be on board in the first place? And how could they find resources to survive for 2,000 years? For such an intelligent film, it's full of so much shit

    • phil says:

      No crush only the curiosity of what it is to be human ... as we created him .. we would share the same curiosity for our creators if ever we met them. his agenda is over now his masters dead. so would he not want to extend that curiosity over to the creator of the creators ... mumbled somewhere in the early stages of the movie

  • Clownferret says:

    As a stand alone film it was great, but Ridley Scott seems to have dismissed most of what we have learnt about the Aliens over the numerous films and I think/hope that he is going to move away from the Alien story in the sequel. I'm not sure if they have been very clever with the storyline or just overlooked a lot of mistakes.
    Where is Space Jockey from the 1st Alien film?
    If there was a pile of dead engineers with their chests burst open, then where were all the Aliens, even if they were dead?
    Why would the Engineer who comes from a race that creates civisilations instantly kill all the humans upon first contact?
    Why was the face hugger so big?
    The Alien at the end was a bit crap wasn't it?

  • PA says:

    If a movie needs all this exposition post film, plus information from someone who worked on the film to explain the F'ing thing, then you have a FAIL script wise. General rule, don't hire TV writes to script a FILM. And, don't hire crappy TV writers to write a FILM. That is all.

    • phil says:

      No fail .. the movie made mils ... and will make mils more from sequels that do the explaining.

  • SR says:

    They left out "Vial + Woman = Ripley" and "Tentacle Monster + Female = Anime"

  • When the "Biologist" came across the corpse of the decapitated engineer and promptly declares "I'm going back to the ship", that was the moment I knew they had spent less than thirty seconds putting together those characters. A biologist respected enough to be assigned to a "Trillion Dollar Mission" who didn't care enough about biology to glance sideways at the first example of an alien lifeform ever discovered? That was just one of around a hundred things that highlighted just what a shallow piece of crap that script was. Seriously....I want my money back...and my time. If I want 90 minutes of expensive special effects with a tissue-thin plot behind it I'll just watch a Transformers movie. It just feels like Ridley Scott gathered up the things from his old films that people liked and stirred them up in a pot and served them up cold. David was just Ash, the captain was just Apone, Shaw was just Ripley. I've seen late night films on the Syfy channel with more thought put into the plots than this shower of shite. The only scene in it of any quality whatsoever was when David was watching Laurence of Arabia - everything else was just hastily thrown together garbage.

    • Bobbyk says:

      The "Biologist" as you put it is actually a "Geologist" as he says in the movie, interested in geology, not biology. Give him some interesting rock formations or soil samples & he would be all over that, but biology or a decapitated alien life form, well that ain't his forte. If your gonna take the script apart at least read the parts you zone in on beforehand mate!

      • Daedalus33 says:

        He's talking about the other guy with the spectacles. He's the biologist. Another 'glitch' in the script is that these two (bio & geo)-logists are initially petrified that the 'pup' probes are picking up lifeforms and want to stay clear of ANY life. Yet they end up going into the same chamber that they initially decided to walk away from (that lost huh?) and when they DO encounter a lifeform, they suddenly warm up to it like its a puppy at an adoption event?!!
        I totally agree, these characters had little or no time in their personality development in this script. Plus I don't think they should've killed off Vickers in such a stupid way. How can a aspiring shrewd calculating heiress not calculate that she needs to run off the path of the rolling sickle ship? Her survival would have given the storyline a little more spunk.


    Clownferret good points...

    The Space Jockey from the original Alien movie did not end up within the huge captain's chair in the spaceship. His chest exploded on the human escape pod next to the surgical chamber. When I first saw the original Alien movie, I really wanted to know what that was, so when it was revealed is was a spacesuit for a human engineer, I did think that was pretty cool.

    The alien at the end looked more like a sleestack. Where were the metal teeth?

    There does seem to be a lot of missing connections within the dots which is surprising for Ridley. I have heard Ridley talk about this being the first film in an arc series moving away from Alien so perhaps there's more to come not yet known. I do want to know why the engineers now want us dead.

  • Is it that hard to know why they wanted us dead? Was said best in the 1st Alien movie "You dont see them killing eachother" prolly has to be because we are a fucked up race!

    • phil says:

      If they wanted us dead they would not have seeded us or allowed us to advance .. this is a conspiracy movie ... so the gods (worms) need us ... as vessels to complete themselves. hence the thousands of viles with worms ... the humanoids probably comitted suicide not wanting that fate ... being posessed for almost eternity

  • The English sounding Welshman says:

    It's a poor prequel, like George Lucas did with Star Wars. Some Directors have great creativity, but fail to escape the shadows of their best films. They shouldn't worry and just look to move on. Alien and Aliens were good, but all after, YES - all after have been quite awful and just made to fulfil a void in quality alien themed films.

    The world is being dumbed down and yet heightened in its' awareness. I imagine science fiction will become science fact more and more and maybe, just maybe we may discover other life in the universe, but if the governments, banks, elites have anything to do with it - we will all implode under our selfish ways.

    Films, games, internets - it's robbing us of our lives and yet I sit on the hypocrisy horse, riding my laptop to type this, but one day an event or events like a massive EMP burst from the sun or whatever - will corrupt/destroy/maim our current life and then we shall face a real life - one where we fight to survive.

    Sound like a movie? Probably is...

  • Xenotaris says:

    @Mr Obvious

    Prometheus was supposed to erase the Events of AVP, simply because the Alien and Predator universe were never supposed to be mixed! They were two unrelated movies and crossover movies are always spinoffs there for there always not canonical.

  • mcolmo says:

    I can't believe we're made from that dark fluid.... 🙁

  • phil says:

    DEFINATELY A SEQUEL ON THE WAY ... This movie in my view lends alot from stargate ... that worm came from the disturbed vessel n would have succesfully posessed him had it not been cut ... We were created or seeded for to be vessels for the worms or creators the squid born by c section is a worm queen .. which eats vessels and not its offpring ... that humanoid was probably not eaten after identifying itself. they were not comming to distroy but to posses mankind. dna has to be compatible or/n managable thats why we similar. so religions promises of eternity open mind power n service to the gods are covered .. just not the way we like. the sequel obviously starts explaining only some stuff which now just shown but unexplained
    it also could show a little as to whom tried to save us from this fate in yet another sequal n amagedon will be the final of them sequals. if written well could end up as min 7 movie epic

  • Big Fish says:

    The opening scene would appear to be Earth about 11,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age. I question why the engineer (so called) would kill himself to inject DNA into the water. Just some drops of blood or hair would do it. The stuff he drank what do you think that was? Was the space ship looking for him or did they drop him off?
    Why the different drawings/maps to the planet they were on? If they wanted to kill the human race they should have just done it when they were showing the people of earth where to go.
    The map room in the engineers ship! Was it all the planets they have engineered?
    Did anyone else notice the gold circular thing on the wall that looked like the egg laying Bitch in Aliens?
    If there was an engineer alive in the first ship why could'nt there be many others alive in the many other ships that were left? There may be some alive in the ship they left in at the end. (may show up in net movie) Where the hell were they headed the maps on Earth only showed the planet they were on! Did David see where they came from in the alien ship map room?

  • Sl8r says:

    Wow guys I just came to this conclusion...
    It's not about black goo + human dna or black goo + boldies dna, as they are similiar (same?).
    Aw wait.... it can't be like I just wanted to write.
    Ok, again: alien can only be "optained" by FEMALE human mating with male human contacted with black goo and then the female 'baby' inpregnating boldie. Thats why male boldies cannot cause alien to be. Possibly, the alien from the first alien movie has origins in actual FEMALE BOLDIE back in their (boldies) world.

  • Sl8r says:

    Or no, check this out:
    Aliens were rare by-product of boldies bio-weapon.
    Aliens form "Alien" had not any human dna. So mayby boldies were aware of how to create alien, and they actually created them as a actual 'walking weapon'. And they did not put their 'god' DNA into aliens, but created them with a little aid of some local animals. Like, for example, contaminating male Squidoparektor and forcing it into mating with female Dogomegatron. Then, with spider-squid-ipregnator that came out of the female Dogomegatron's stomach, they impregnated some other innocent being. And out of that being came alien.

  • Gav says:

    Oh sweet jeebus....

    Why the hell cant people watch the film properly before asking questions already answered in it?

    so many idiots - so little time.

  • Kevin says:

    If this was a prequel to Alien, it was a bad prequel. It does not explain LV426 in Alien, where the Engineer in Alien was heading to and how he got infected.
    If looked at as a stand alone movie, it left too many questions un-answered for me. What was the opening scene about, why did these super intelligent beings mess up with something they supposedly created (the bio weapon)? If LV223 was a weapons facility that went wrong, why didn't they come back to pick up the survivors of the accident 2,000 years later (the sleeping Engineer and possibly others)? How do two experienced geologists with fancy mapping tech (the pups) get lost? Why not radio the captain and ask for directions back to the exit, he could see their location on the 3D map. What kind of scientists mess up with a historical find like that, not bothering to preserve what they find and tampering with everything? What was up with the Engineer waking up after 2000 years killing everything he sees? There is a fair chance that if it was not for the humans waking him up, he could have been there forever! What was with the 3D holograms showing other Engineers running around and what were they running from?
    I kind of get David touching and trying everything because he was working for Weyland and looking for a solution to keep his boss alive at all costs (including poisoning others and sneaking in the black goo). Another thing, why not get Henriksen to play an old Weyland like he did in AVP and Aliens? How does a woman undergo a C-Section and run immediately after. WTF was up with the offspring of Shaw ie the squid thing that later killed the engineer, it had no human traces whatsoever. I was expecting something like the creature in Alien resurrection which was Human (Ripley) plus Xenomorph queen. Why was the bio unit configured for a man only, was Theron's character a robot or was her dad using it?
    I have watched this movie once and I am sure there are other things I have not mentioned. Because of all these questions, I find this movie not complete and missing too much info
    Either Ridley Scott and Lindelof are masters of building suspense for a sequel or this was a poor movie. I hope its the latter and we get a great sequel soon to fill the gaps

  • That things on black goos are bio-weapon. Which they try to created soldiers or something but it needed organics. So they will use us as a catalysts. But That big alien dude. Curious about this weapon and steal it to test with himself but to out come is what movie said. The movie try to give us a vision of someone who look at us as Robot or somethings worthless.

    • Which it is the same as that DR. look at David. at last David killed him which the Message is so American
      " Everyone want to be free and have freedom with themselves even who ever created us Blah Blah~~... "
      so This

  • Brian C says:

    Makes me wonder if the Engineers are in a mammoth war with the Predators, that they use this planet as a weapons lab. And maybe George Bushes were Engineer lovechildren and that's why they were so turned on by wars.