9 Big Questions Left Unanswered by ‘Oblivion’

5. How Does Beech Know Which Part of the Book Jack Read?

Oblivion Morgan Freeman

“These sunglasses are actually ‘always see what Jack is doing’ glasses.”

Taking a break from the fundamental flaws, here’s another small concern that exists solely for dramatic reasons. As most know, Michael Arndt was brought in to polish up the script and give it some humanity, and it’s fairly obvious to see his additions. One of them is most likely the connection that 49 and Beech make over the poem “Horatius,” in the book “The Lays of Ancient Rome.”

49 picks up a copy at his local library after almost being captured by the Scavs, and when he brings it back to his sky house (far away from the sunglasses-covered gaze of Beech) he reads the lines:

And how can man die better

than facing fearful odds,

For the ashes of his fathers,

And the temples of his Gods.

A perfect dramatic encapsulation of the inner struggle facing 49.

When he’s captured by the Scavs, Beech lights up a cigar (which has miraculously survived 60 years in the desert of NYC) and repeats the same exact lines that 49 read. Without knowing what book 49 picked up, without knowing what pages he turned to in his solitude, Beech somehow knows exactly the right passage to quote back to him. It would be annoying as a surface-level contrivance, but it also helps Beech earn 49’s trust, which means he gets the clone to do his bidding by magically knowing a poem.

He later says that he’s been keeping an eye on 49 for some time, but there’s no way he got cameras/spies all the way up in the sky house. So, again, this one is chalked up to dramatic service without any direct logical tie to the plot. For the second time, Beech knows something he couldn’t possibly know, and it helps the story along. Are we sure he isn’t reprising his role from Bruce Almighty here?

6. How Do the Aliens Know How to Copy Sally’s Face and Voice?

The entire artifice perpetrated by the aliens hinges on their ability to connect Victoria and Jack to their former NASA admin Sally (who they inexplicably have memories of). It was awesome to have Melissa Leo crush another role, but how did the aliens know what she looked or sounded like?

They never had any contact with Sally whatsoever. She was on the ground when Victoria and Jack were captured, and their own tractor beam cut off Sally’s feed to the NASA spaceship when it was activated. So how were they able to make a video avatar of her? And why do Vic and Jack remember Sally if their memories were wiped anyway?

7. Why Does 49 Put Julia Back Into a Sleeping Pod To Drop Her Off At the Lake?

Oblivion Sleeping Pod

“But I want to sacrifice myself and my miracle baby that nobody knows about alongside my fake husband.”

Perhaps the most infuriating lie that the movie tells the audience is when 49 recreates the “dream of us” moment by putting Julia back into her sleep pod. All hope is lost. He volunteers for a suicide mission to deliver a nuclear bomb into the heart of the Tet. He seems to acquiesce to her wish to come with him and die together, and then secures her into a sleeping pod because apparently she wouldn’t want to ride shotgun and spend her last living moments talking to her husband (who isn’t really her husband).

“We have a few more days to be together? Excellent. Now get in this box and don’t talk or move.”

When they arrive in the center of the Tet (after 49 Jedi mind tricks his way into seeing the leader — because he wants to see their species survive? What was all that about?), 49 pops open the sleeping pod and, surprise, it’s Beech! He’s there to act as a decoy prisoner and to see the look on the alien’s non-face when it realizes it’s about to be blown to smithereens.

Only, why did 49 put Julia in the sleeping pod then? And where did they get a second sleeping pod from? All the others were blown up when the drones killed the crew members. Theoretically, 49 put Julia in a sleeping pod to drop her off a few miles away at the lake house?

And, again, if it was to trick her into surviving, why would she silently agree to get into the sleeping pod anyway? If he has to stay awake to fly the craft up to the Tet, why wouldn’t she say, “Oh, the sleeping pod? Why do I need it? I’ll just hang out while you fly. No biggies.”

Of course the real reason is that the movie needed a twist ending, and this was the way to get one. Logic be damned, Oblivion put Julia into the sleeping pod for the sole reason of tricking the audience to think she was with 49 when he flew to blow up the Tet. It also facilitated that insultingly happy ending where all the loose strands just kind of came together.


8. Why Didn’t 49 Give the Scavs Directions to His Lake House?

Oblivion Waldau

“Just give me the address, and I’ll plug it into Google Maps.”

They’ve been living underground, scraping the bottom of civilization for food and shelter for decades. You’ve just fought alongside them to fend off an attack from the real enemy, and you’re going to fly away on a world-saving suicide mission without telling them where your secret oasis is?

That’s cold, 49.

At the end of the movie, there are little twins running around, and we’re told it’s 3 years after 49’s sacrifice. The trees rustle, Julia’s hackles are up, but it’s only the Scavs, supposedly finding habitable land after three years of wandering around looking for it

What? He couldn’t leave them a note?

9. What Happens to All the Other Jack Clones Now?

Among the Scavs who are probably pissed at 49 for not making a map before he flew off with an inexplicably sleep pod-dwelling Beech, is Clone 52. We met him earlier when 49 fought him, 52 shot Julia, and then he disappeared completely because it was time for the next scene to happen.

But now he’s back, he looks just like Jack, and Julia can be with a copy of her husband once again! Everyone’s happy!

Except, what about all the other Jack Harper clones that are out there? By their assigned numbers alone, there’s likely at least 50 other Jacks out there still stupidly guarding seawater vacuums and making love to Victoria in their sky pool. The geography is never all that clear, but some of them might even be as little as a few miles away, repairing drones that break along the coast in New Jersey or Delaware.

They are going to be really confused when communication with the Tet ceases, and they’re brought into the fold. Probably about as confused as everyone who went to see Oblivion.


That’s probably not even all the plot problems that the movie fails to take care of. What questions were you left scratching your head over when you left the theater?

Correction: An earlier version of this article intimated that Titan was one of Jupiter’s moons when it’s one of Saturn’s. Apologies to our readers and to both planets.

A veteran of writing about movies for nearly a decade, Scott Beggs has been the Managing Editor of Film School Rejects since 2009. Despite speculation, he is not actually Walter Mathau's grandson. See? He can't even spell his name right.

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