Oblivion may have won the weekend as far as box office is concerned, but it's also leaving viewers extremely perplexed. It's this year's Prometheus in a way, except that we don't have as much invested in this new property franchise-wise. Plot holes abound, as do burning questions, and many of them are either unanswerable with the context and information we're given or unanswerable because there's no known logic that can provide satisfying explanation. If only Rob Lowe's character from Thank You for Smoking showed up to say, "we invented a thing..."
The problem overall is probably in the fact that this is a movie that's based on a never-finished graphic novel by director Joseph Kosinski, and the adaptation is very loose at that. Perhaps because there were a number of rewrites involved. Maybe some answers were left on the floor or someone forgot to write them to begin with. Maybe nobody, not even Kosinski, knows. That makes what follows a potentially fruitless task, but we're hoping to get to the bottom of five of the biggest questions left behind by Oblivion. Please lend your thoughts if you have any theories or concrete responses or further questions of your own.
Obviously SPOILERS can be found below,
What Exactly Is the Real Back Story with the Tet?
With so many lies and misdirections and bad twists going on it's easy to get lost in the woods as far as the true events that occured preplot. What we know is that in the year 2017 NASA sent a space mission to Titan, moon of Saturn (pretty ambitious for four years from now), but they ran into a monolithic object in space. This was the Tet, a sentient cube looking to drain Earth's resources for alien use. The Tet pulled the NASA ship in, cloned its two pilots, destroyed much of the planet by blowing up our moon. Clones and drone armies were sent to finish the earthlings off, some human survivors retreated underground where they raised offspring and fluorished over 60 years, while the remaining clones were given repair tech jobs and homes in the clouds, where the Tet fooled them into thinking they were the last humans, keeping them ignorant and living in fear by convincing them the subterranean men were evil alien creatures and that much of the planet was radioactive and therefore unexplorable.
Why Does "Tech 49" Have Jack Harper's Memories if He's a Clone?
Tech 49 (Tom Cruise) is sort of like a future Jason Bourne. He has no long-term memory -- albeit intentionally through a security memory wipe -- but flashbacks constantly seep through that remind him of his life before the world's end. Clones are always a tricky issue in science fiction and, like time travel, easily explained away by the fact that we don't really know all the science behind those things anyways. So who's going to challenge it? The best way to answer this is that the Tet is a big mystery as far as its technology and total motivation are concerned. We figure the clones are given memory implants in order to create them as fully functional beings and then delete the majority of these implants later on to keep them in the dark. Besides, it's more metaphorical than literal in the grand thematic scheme of their oppression. Also, because Blade Runner and Battlestar Galactica.
How and Why Do the "Scavs" Bring Back the Odyssey Module -- and Why Does It Take Them So Long?
This isn't too difficult to answer for certain parts of the general queries involved. Morgan Freeman's character exposits on a good amount of this plot point. When the Odyssey is being pulled into the Tet in 2017, Jack ejects the module with the sleeping crew in order to let them escape. For some reason the Tet never notices it for the next 60 years let alone attempts to destroy it. Meanwhile, the human survivors are aware of its existence presumably through one of them being a part of Mission Control (or having heard about it). But then it takes them decades "just to crack the GPS codes" and devise a beacon that will pull it back to Earth. As for their reason for doing so, they knew the ship had a compact reactor that they could turn into a nuclear weapon. The fact that Julia (Olga Kurylenko) survived the crash, which helped to turn Tech 49 around, was just a bonus. As was the luck that the reactor didn't bust on impact and not only prove useless but also result in a massive radiation leak.
How Does the Odyssey Module's Flight Data Recorder Include Events Occuring After the Module Separation?
Let's stay with questions regarding the module for a second, because they appear to be the most bothersome for people. When 49 travels out in his Bubble Ship to the Tet (never mind that the Bubble Ships seem made only for flying within the atmosphere, not space), he passes the time by listening to the Odyssey flight data recorder. Well, the part of the data recorder after the original Jack had woken up and started piloting, the part that includes where it functions as a music player featuring Led Zeppelin's "Ramble On." Along with 49, we hear the communications play out and watch flashback memory of the events leading to Jack ejecting the module and then being pulled into the Tet along with Victoria (Andrea Riseborough). But this data recorder was found on the crashed module, so it should presumably end with the ejection or change to just being a recording of the module's separate flight. Unless maybe the Odyssey had multiple files of the recordings in different parts of the ship, which picked up and stored all data even when these parts are separated, connected through especially powerful Wi-Fi connections of the near future. Another explanation people have is that 49 simply continues to recall the events of Jack's experiences without prompt from the data recorder. In fact, the recording does end very soon after the module separation and we're not shown exactly what had happend to the two pilots once they're inside the Tet. In that case the simple answer to this question is: it doesn't.
What Did the "Scavs" and Clones Live on After the Tet's Destruction -- or Even Before That?
One thing that we as viewers often don't think about while watching movies is whether or not characters are eating. The same goes for whether or not they're ever going to the bathroom. These are just activities we presume humans to be doing offscreen because they're humans. But one question proposed to us does concern the former, because not only do we never see anyone eat but we're led to believe no food sources could be available on the planet. We certainly don't see any animals save for a mangy starving dog. And the Scavs had to have gathered up a whole lot of canned goods of specific preservability to make them last more than half a century. But one thing to note is that Earth is not all radioactive like the techs believe it to be. That's why 49 is able to surprisingly find the flower that he gives to Victoria. The radiation danger is a ruse to prevent the clones from going out of their designated territories and finding the others. Presumably the Scavs have subsisted on some form of underground agriculture or livestock we just don't see. This continues in the three years they and Tech 52 spend searching for Julia and the cabin.
What other questions about Oblivion need to be answered and what other ideas do you have for the questions above?