10 Questions From ‘The Maze Runner’ That Need to Be Answered in ‘The Scorch Trials’

By  · Published on September 22nd, 2014

Stan Winston Nod in The Maze Runner

Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

There are a lot of big questions left unanswered by The Maze Runner. But it’s the kind of movie where you can’t expect complete clarification and closure, because the continued mystery is what keeps audiences interested in returning for future episodes. I say episodes rather than sequels since that’s more like what they are. The Maze Runner ends with a cliffhanger, and for the sake of the story it’s a good thing the movie opened well over the weekend. In response, Fox announced yesterday that the adaptation to the second book in the series, “The Scorch Trials,” is already on track for a theatrical release one year from now, on September 18, 2015. While I don’t expect to learn everything I’m dying to know at that time – there’s at least one other sequel installment (“The Death Cure”) and a prequel (“The Kill Order”) that will fill all the gaps – I do hope to have a few things explained.

Obviously, I could just read the books. But the point is that I’m approaching this story as a movie watcher, not someone who has to read every book turned into a movie. And even if I were, the movie versions should stand on their own. I look forward to a movie sequel as continuation of the movie I’ve seen, not a cross-media succession. As far as I can tell, The Maze Runner (like most adaptations) leaves out a number of things from the book anyway. So the mediums aren’t compatible. Therefore, we would appreciate it if fans of the books don’t chime in with spoiler-y answers to these questions. There will be and is room for spoilers for the first movie, however.

What is the Relationship Between Thomas and Teresa?

There is clearly some bond between these last two arrivals to the Glad, and not just because they were both part of the WCKD program conducting the test. Maybe it’s because I’ve heard about how they have a telepathic connection in the book – which was excised for the movie – but I figured they were siblings, like Tony and Tia from the “Witch Mountain” books/movies. It also seemed like a Luke and Leia kind of thing where they’d be brother and sister and not know it, causing an unnecessary love triangle jealousy thing out of one of the other Gladers. If anyone was going to fill the Han Solo corner, it would have been Gally, as he’s that cocky and also genuinely appears to be jealous that anyone should get the one girl besides him. But if they’re not siblings, then they likely have an actual romantic connection, because this is based on a YA novel, after all.

Why Did Thomas Risk His Life to Bring Alby Back to the Glade if He Was Stung?

This is actually just a big question about the plot of The Maze Runner and probably can’t be explained later or ever. Thomas had just seen what the Gladers do with someone who has been stung: send him back into the maze to his death. Yet when Alby is stung, Minho is attempting to carry him out of the maze, and when it’s clear they’re not going to make it, Thomas runs in. Later, when the three survive the night, the Gladers are excited that they’ve saved Alby. But there’s still no cure for the sting (yet), so aren’t they just going to send him back in anyway? For that matter, why was Ben allowed into the Glade and able to wander about on his own after he got stung if everyone knew the fate of someone in that condition?

Did WCKD Develop the Cure Just Then, Right Before Sending It Up With Teresa?

Seems like perfect timing all around. Not only did they finally send up an antidote to the Grievers’ sting as the beloved Alby needed it, but they also apparently made this cure at the last possible moment before being raided by soldiers. Unless they weren’t actually raided at all. See below. Apparently, in the books, the serum has existed the whole time and was available in the Glade, too, but in a very small amount and so not enough to go around. But the movie makes it seem like that serum was something the scientists were working on while studying the kids’ brains and response to find a cure for the Flare virus. If that’s not the case in the books, then what were they working on?

Why Did It Take Three Years For WCKD to Shake Things Up in the Glade?

For at least 36 months, WCKD has been sending boys up into the Glade, one boy per month. Some have died, at one point there was an incident that had them fighting each other, for a good while they’ve been living happily communally together. Suddenly in two days, two new additions to the courtyard change things drastically and very quickly. Was this the plan? Did they expect it to take so long?

Why Couldn’t the Runners Figure Out the Maze in Three Years?

There’s nothing that special about Thomas that the other boys are missing, except an almost annoying curiosity. But for three years the Gladers were sending a pair of guys into the Maze, which later doesn’t seem nearly as large nor as puzzling as we’re made to think it is. They made maps and models and even memorized most of the variations of the maze, but they could’t see the entry gates for the Grievers or thought to trace them back to their origins? It seems they might have tried some other, more bold tactics after a while of just seeing the same thing over and over for more than a thousand days.

If You Want People to Believe Your Organization is Good, Why Give it an Acronym Like WCKD?

And if you must call your organization World Catastrophe Killzone Department, which seems like something that could itself use better phrasing, then why would you still read aloud its initials as “wicked”? Is it just because they’re part of a story aimed at giving readers and viewers a false insinuation? I hope that in The Scorch Trials we learn that the owner of WCKD used to own a restaurant called Everything Waffles and Weenies and the signs all had its initials: EWW.

Why Didn’t the Soldiers Continue Into the Maze After Killing the Scientists?

When the surviving Gladers get out of the maze and arrive upon the science labs, they find everyone has been killed. A video message from Dr. Paige features most of that death occurring in the background just before she shoots herself in the head. Why didn’t those gunmen continue infiltrating the complex, maze and Glade included? Were they scared of the Grievers or booby traps? They’re soldiers! Or were they all fakes? At the very end, we find out that Paige is not dead after all, which I suppose means none of the scientists are. It’s all part of the test. If that’s the case, Thomas and the rest all failed for not asking this question themselves.

Why Didn’t the Soldiers Helicopter Directly Into the Glade to Rescue the Kids?

Maybe the soldiers in the video were fake, but as far as we know now the ones at the very end were not. Of course, they probably are and also part of the test, but never mind that. Let’s just assume for the time being that they are a team sent out to rescue the enslaved, experimented-upon youths. Couldn’t they have flown the helicopter directly into the large grassy courtyard where all the boys were living? And wouldn’t that have been their first plan, not likely knowing that the kids were in the process of escaping? Is it just a coincidence that these guys got there at that exact time, which happened to be too late to save a majority of the Gladers? By the way, weren’t there more kids left back at the Glade who could now use rescuing? Maybe there’s some kind of force field around the top of the Glade, which is why they’re able to have a different kind of ecosystem than appears to exist beyond the walls of the maze complex.

Was Gally Working for WCKD the Whole Time?

Why did he have to be so oppositional about escaping the Glade? Was he an implement of WCKD to hold the boys back? It makes sense in the end, why he’s able to find his own way through the maze, which he’s supposedly never been in, and catch up with the rest of the boys. And where’d he get that gun, anyway? Especially if the ones used by the scientists were fakes?

Why Did the Characters Played by English Actors Need to Be American?

For this one, see my post from last week about my frustration with the seemingly unnecessary insistence that three characters played by English actors speak with an American accent, one of which wasn’t effective.

Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.