WTFAW: The Thing

It seems that it’s time once again to deal with a fan theory.

Dave: That’s right! I’ve got an interesting one about The Thing.

Oh joy… John Carpenter’s The Thing is one of my favourite movies, and certainly my favourite in the science-fiction genre, alongside Ridley Scott’s Alien. I’m SO happy you’ve brought a stupid fan theory based on it…

Dave: Well, at the end of the movie, they-

Hold it.

Dave: What?

This is one of the best sci-fi horror movies ever made, so before we start talking about the ending, I think I need to point out that there will be spoilers, in case someone wants to watch the movie.

If you haven’t seen the movie, stop reading right now! You owe it to yourself, if you’re at all interested in science-fiction, to watch this movie, and I don’t want to spoil it for you if you haven’t.

So, with that out of the way, tell me what madness you have brought for me, Dave.

Dave: Right. At the end of the movie, Childs is infected!

I see. And you base that on what?

Dave: It’s obvious! Look at the scene with MacReady and Childs talking. They are both standing in the light of the burning base, and when MacReady is talking, his breath billows out in huge clouds. Childs, meanwhile, doesn’t have visible breath, because he is not breathing!

I’ve seen this in the trivia section of IMDB. While it seems plausible at first glance, If you look closely, you can see that his breath is visible, just not as visible as MacReady’s . If that wasn’t enough, earlier in the movie, when they discover the infected Bennings outside, he shrieks at them WITH VERY VISIBLE CLOUDS OF BREATH billowing from his mouth!

This “fact” is based on an apocryphal story that started on reddit in 2013, that John Carpenter was surprised people couldn’t tell if Childs was infected or not. The keyword being “apocryphal”. As in “Probably not true”.

Dave: Aha! But there is another piece of evidence for this theory!

Really? And what would that be?

Dave: Remember when MacReady hands over the bottle to Childs? Childs takes a sip from it, right?


Dave: Well, that wasn’t booze! That was one of the molotov cocktails MacReady was using in the previous scene! He knew it wasn’t real booze, but the thing wouldn’t! This proved to MacReady that Childs was infected!

That’s a very compelling argument. If I didn’t know better, I would say it’s very accurate.

Dave: Thanks!

Unfortunatly, I DO know better, and I can see how the argument doesn’t work.

Watch the scene with MacReady facing off against the Thing again.

He tells the Thing “fuck you too”, throws a stick of dynamite at it and blows it to hell. When he left the underground lair, he had a leather jacket, a stupid hat and a gun. You know what he didn’t have? A molotov cocktail.

Next we see, he’s stumbling through the camp, wrapped in a blanket and sitting down in the snow. Except now he’s holding a bottle. Don’t you think it’s reasonable to assume he took that from the same place he took the blanket?

Dave: Uhm…

Not to mention that the moment before Childs shows up, he was about to drink from the bottle.

So no, there’s no evidence whatsoever that the bottle was a molotov, and more likely was just one he brought, along with the blanket.

Dave: Then how do we know if Childs is infected or not?

Does it matter?

Dave: Of course!

No, it doesn’t!

With this theory, we’re dealing with a very special niche of stupid. The whole premise of this theory is completely missing the point! We don’t know if Childs is infected. Hell, we don’t know if MacReady is infected!

The theme of the movie, the source of the fear is paranoia! The fear of not knowing who you can trust, fighting an enemy capable of perfectly mimicking a human. The ambiguos ending is there to maintain that fear, with the audience not sure if one, both or neither is infected. That’s the whole point! We don’t know, and we shouldn’t know, because we’re not SUPPOSED to know!

If you watched this entire movie, and you start looking for clues for who of the two survivors is infected, all that means is that you don’t understand the movie.

Couple that with a bad theory, attempting to justify missing the point, and we reach one simple conclusion.

Dave: What’s that?

That you are an idiot!

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