jonathan nolan

Nerdy Fact #1875: In a few scenes of The Dark Knight Rises, Bane can be seen quietly knitting in the background. This is a reference to the main antagonist of Charles Dickens’ novel A Tale of Two Cities, who would knit as she watched public guillotine executions. Screenwriter Jonathan Nolan said the novel had a major influence on the film.


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The Prestige [2006]

Every great magic trick consists of three parts or acts. The first part is called “The Pledge”. The magician shows you something ordinary: a deck of cards, a bird or a man. He shows you this object. Perhaps he asks you to inspect it to see if it is indeed real, unaltered, normal. But of course… it probably isn’t. The second act is called “The Turn”. The magician takes the ordinary something and makes it do something extraordinary. Now you’re looking for the secret… but you won’t find it, because of course you’re not really looking. You don’t really want to know. You want to be fooled. But you wouldn’t clap yet. Because making something disappear isn’t enough; you have to bring it back. That’s why every magic trick has a third act, the hardest part, the part we call “The Prestige”.

Reasons to not be convinced Root is dead

This isn’t an attempt claim that Root is alive or that any of what happened was planned, but to clarify that based on what happened and what would be consistent with this show (which has always been masterfully consistent) there is no way to claim that she is in fact dead.

  • First and foremost: obviously, we didn’t see her die. Nolan said “sometimes the hero dies alone in the dark”, but any TV writer knows you have to show it if you expect anyone to believe it. Yes, it allowed for that big reveal with Harold and TM’s voice, but that shouldn’t have taken priority over giving Root her final moment and the audience any sort of convincing closure for one of its main characters. This show has always shown the final moments of any large character’s death and left no ambiguity unless there should have been. We always got that final shot—that brief moment where you get to look at their face as they acknowledge that they are about to die. (They also had the perfect opportunity to show her dying in ‘Return 0′ when TM was visiting people in their final moments.)       
  • The cochlear implant. Considering Samaritan has known about the implant for a while and had access to her body at any time from the moment they shot her, why would they wait so long to get to it? Getting that implant would have been one of their top priorities since ‘Asylum’.         
    • So counter argument—Root and TM have given up the team’s location before in order to get access to something knowing full well they’d be able to handle themselves (‘Most Likely To…’).
    • This excuses why her body wasn’t cremated, which would have been the most logical choice, and allows her body to missing.
    • There’s no way TM wouldn’t have thought of how important it would be to destroy the implant. It was the single most important piece to her communication with the team and contained the exact information needed to reveal all of them. It would just be plain stupid for an Artificial Super Intelligence to forget that (She literally says “my bad”).                
  • They’ve faked a dead body before. Shaw was poisoned and passed for dead well enough to convince a bunch of paramedics in ‘Relevance’. Considering Fusco was the only witness to Root’s actual body it’s not a stretch that he could have been fooled.  
  • How did the machine not detect Jeff Blackwell? He’s crossed paths with the team enough for the machine to have a close eye on him above most others, so TM should have seen something like that coming even if he was using the shadow map. (I made another post about Blackwell after 5x10 about how odd of a choice it was to choose him as the shooter when he’s failed all of his previous (and future) missions) ·
  • Still don’t know whatever happened to that missile from QSO. Did Root go to Russia? What happened with that?
  • Root just happened to upload that software to the machine the same day and said all the things she would need to say to Shaw and Harold for them to process her death the way they needed to in order to move forward and take down Samaritan. This show has a lot of happy coincidences and foreshadowing, but that’s a bit much even for them.
    • The whole giving her a voice part also happened in the beginning. We learned in ‘If-Then-Else’ that the machine is capable of predicting exactly what characters would say in any given scenario (“What good’s saving the world if we can’t enjoy it?”) so it could have predicted that Harold would respond to a conversation about giving the machine a voice by letting it choose one.
  • ROOT HAS NEVER WANTED TO BE THE MACHINE. The ‘Root becoming a God’ concept from the writers isn’t consistent with her character. Yes, Root was all for transcending and becoming more than just human and having an ever closer relationship with TM, but she never would have wanted TM to become herRoot has always just wanted to be her greatest servant (“She sees everything, but there’s very little she can do about it herself. That’s where I come in. She tells me what to do and I do it.”). It was Root’s physical body and actions that made her so critical and important to TM. 
  • Root didn’t need to be dead for TM to take her voice. But from the writer’s perspective it was moving to have Amy Acker play TM (which would have been strange if Root was still around), it helped communicate that TM really does care because of how sentimental she is towards Root, and they needed Harold to finally have those full-on conversations with TM without him sitting at a computer screen. It was simply the quickest way to ‘humanize’ the machine so the show could end the way they wanted. 
  • Root would absolutely fake her own death. That’s probably the biggest reason why none of us are convinced—because she totally would. Again, not to say this was planned, but the writer’s would have to give us a lot more proof if they wanted us to believe she really died. She’s the master of manipulation and disappearing acts and has survived far worse.       
  • The only ‘solid’ evidence that she died is that the writer’s say so. If writer’s have to convince us of something outside of the show itself, they clearly did something wrong, because they didn’t write it in their story.

Ultimately it seems like the writers were playing at a weird line of making her dead for the sake of ending this season and wrapping up Harold and TM’s original plot while still leaving enough holes to make it possible for her to return if this story were to continue. So, because all of those open windows exist and that it would be consistent with this show and her character for her story to not be over, it’s simply Schrödinger’s cat all over again…