The Edge of Tomorrow (Live Die Repeat) Time Travel and Ending Explained

[amazon template=iframe image&asin=B00K2CHWYI]First and foremost, I have to say that this post is RIDDLED with spoilers.  Just turn around and go if you have not seen the movie yet. This one paragraph is the single spoiler free paragraph in this entire post.  I would love for you to come back though after you have watched the movie so that you can discuss the movie with us in the comments section because I’m certain it will blow up down there soon enough.  It definitely is a gorgeous movie that is worth watching on the big screen for $12. Promise. This little primer will be worth waiting until after you’ve seen the movie, I promise.  Also, this explanation is still in serious draft mode – whole sections are still missing, so watch out for potholes until I can flesh out the entirety of my thoughts.  It has only been 8 hours since I walked out of the theater after all!

the edge of tomorrow explainedThe Edge of Tomorrow Overview and refresher

When the movie kicks off we learn that Earth has been invaded by aliens called Mimics hellbent on taking over the planet. Quickly a war erupts throughout Europe reminiscent of World War I and II.  The Mimics then suffer their first loss at the hands of a hero named Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt).  We don’t grasp why she was able to do this initially but it is guessed that it is because of her robotic, weaponized suit.  Eventually we realize that wasn’t it at all, rather, it is caused by her ability to loop time and choreograph events perfectly until the day’s events turn in her favor.  Eventually Vrataski loses her time-looping ability. At the Normandy crossing, Cage (Tom Cruise), receives the same capability when he kills an Alpha and the blood of the Mimic pours onto him and kills him. He awakens back at base camp in Heathrow at the beginning of the day ready to start over again.  From there on Cage works to figure out what is going on and what he is expected to do.  In time Cage realizes that he has to team up with Vrataski in order to make progress against the Omega that has already manipulated time in its own favor and will soon eradicate human-kind if Cage and Vrataski don’t do something to intervene.

The Edge of Tomorrow Time Travel System Rules:

If you have spent any time with me at all you understand that I dig systems and rules.  Systems provide frameworks wherein we can understand and extrapolate and thereby understand whole swaths of previously unexplainable experiences.  In the movie version, the Edge of Tomorrow deviates pretty significantly from the original ‘All You Need Is Kill’ version.  So we don’t have a whole ton to go off of from the original source.  But the movie itself gives us a pretty good primer on how the time traveling system works anyway. In the initial battle scene, we watch as the original war hero Vrataski and all of J-Company are decimated by an overwhelming horde of mimics.  I mentioned this a moment ago, but it bears repeating. Cage encounters a mimic that is significantly different from the rest of the orange worker drones.  Sure. The Mimic is blue. But that isn’t the most significant difference. This is an Alpha Mimic and he is a one in a 1.6 million mimic upper echelon leader.  Every time an Alpha dies, the Omega rewinds time and starts the day over.  But when Cage kills the Alpha and his blood pours onto Cage’s face it imbues him with the ability to manage time for the Allies instead.  And then, from that moment forward, every time the day’s events go wrong, or irretrievably pear-shaped, all Cage has to do is die.


That is why everyone is so quick to make comparisons to Groundhog day. But what are the limitations?  There are a number of limitations that we learn from Vrataski and her experience at Verdun where she originally had the power to manage time and thereby handed the Aliens their first decisive loss.  If Cage is injured and given a transfusion, the Omega’s blood looping abilities will be lost.  Like the movie Memento by Christopher Nolan, we begin watching as Cage fights through a completely disjointed timeline in order to learn how to find a weakness in the Mimic’s underbelly.

Over and over and over again we watch as Cage works at his near Sisyphean task.  It is also soon realized that that the Omega has already used their previous time looping capabilities in order to set up a number of traps and contingencies in order to completely eradicate the humans on planet earth.  It is these contingencies that a Cage’s biggest limitation, an enemy that has had the ability to see into the future is a formidable foe.

Mimic Time Travel Technology Explained

It all begins and ends with the Mimic time travel capabilities. Who has them? What are they for? How can they lose them? What have they already used time travel to do? Etc. etc. Yeah these are all great questions! But first lets get introduced to the Mimics so that we can speak coherently about their time travel technology.

Edge of tomorrow orange mimic

Edge of tomorrow orange mimic

Orange Mimics: Orange Mimics are the workers bees in the mimic world. Soldiers and drones that are told to carry out orders and they do it. Fierce and intense warriors, but grunts all the same.

Blue Alpha Mimics: Alpha Mimics are the King Muphasa Mimics of the battle field. But they have such special abilities and powers that generally they stay further back from the battle field. Blue Mimics are capable of traveling in time in order to evaluate the best militaristic response to their opponents.


The Edge of Tomorrow Omega Mimic

Omega Mimic: the Omega Mimic is the ACTUAL king mufasa a of the Mimic universe.  It is the Omega that learns from both the Orange, but particularly the Alpha, Mimics in order to orchestrate the strategies on the battle field.  For example.  It was the Orange and Blue Mimics that beat the Europeans back across Europe to Verdun.  But it was the Blues and the Omega that sent false visions to Vrataski, telling her that the Omega was at a Dam in Germany.  We later learn this was trickery and subterfuge solely setup to keep the Omega safe.  Right? Not only did the Omega use these false visions to its own benefit, but it also enticed the Britons and Allied forces to attack by convincing them that Verdun was just the beginning.  These new armored suits were the reason for Vrataski’s win in Verdun.  By enticing the humans to fight the Mimics foresaw that they would be more capable of winning for conclusively and faster.  And so the Mimics lied in wait for the storming of Normandy and then they tore the humans to shreds, including the war hero Vrataski.

Edge of tomorrow infåographic

The 7 key time forks of The Edge of Tomorrow

The 7 Main Time Forks in The Edge of Tomorrow

1.  Time fork alpha precedes the movie’s explicit timeline and centers on Vrataski as opposed to Cage.  This is the battle for Verdun in which Vrataski comes out as the tide turner for the war, and the Allies come to believe that winning may actually be possible.

2.  Cage’s first major time fork is his befriending Vrataski and Dr. Carter.  When Cage meets Vrataski on the battle field he realizes that Vrataski is the key to everything somehow and that she needs to be saved.  Once Cage saves her she says to him “Find me after you wake up.”  Doing so proves harder than Cage could have ever imagined, but he does.  But even once Cage has found Vrataski, he still needs to befriend the two and convince them he is worth entrusting.

3. The second major fork in The Edge of Tomorrow is Cage’s training.  This is probably the most significant factor of time dedicated to re-looping, or a sheer repetition count.  Tom Cruise battles the bots over and over and over again until he is fully trained on the suit as well as on battle tactics.  Vrataski is a brutal teacher.

4. The third critical juncture for our hero is when he begins to see visions of the Omega Mimic deep behind enemy lines under a German Dam.  Cage and Vrataski move heaven and earth to figure out how to get to the dam together.  But when Cage realizes its impossible to get to the dam with her help he chooses to leave her behind.

5.  The fourth important time hill to take for Cage was the Omega Repeater… a piece of technology built by Dr. Carter.  The repeater would allow them to intercept a connection between an Alpha and the Omega and ultimately learn of the Omega’s location.  After a number of false starts Cage and Vrataski finally convince the General to hand over the device.

6.  The fifth and final battle time fork is the attack on the Louvre with J-Company. Without the ability to restart time after receiving a transfusion, Cage, Vrataski and J-Company attack the Omega which is hidden under the Louvre.

7.  The final seventh time fork within the Edge of Tomorrow is definitely the simplest and the most complex to understand simultaneously.  This is the time splice wherein Cage wakes at the beginning of the timeline where he was flying in a helicopter to London.  The war has been one and Vrataski managed to not only beat the aliens in Verdun but also in Paris as well, defeating the Omega and thus saving the world.

edge of tomorrow ending explained

Without a doubt the hardest part about The Edge of Tomorrow is understanding and unraveling its ending. I have read many reviews that have stated they do not like the ending. That it makes a hash of the film’s otherwise good logic. As I have mentioned before, The Edge of Tomorrow is based on a novel called All You Need is Kill by Hiroshi Sazurazaka. Well, apparently, that book was turned into a script by Dante Harper that made it onto the 2010 edition of The Black List which ends on a much more somber note. Then after Warner Bros. purchased the script, massive rewrites ensued, first by Jez Butterworth and John-Henry Butterworth, then later by Simon Kinberg, and finally Christopher McQuarrie.

According to the LATimes, The Edge of Tomorrow’s bumpy development may help explain why the ending feels random, tonally inconsistent, and tacked on: The film went into production without a finished script. But I maintain that the ending could logically work. There are actually a number of ways in which the internal logic can be maintained while also supporting the mind job of a right turn ending. I really see several completely different theories of how the ending could logically follow.

The first and strongest in my opinion is The Broken Timeline Restored theory. But all three work, and could possibly explain the ending quite nicely. I have even included infographics explaining each of the different theories below which may help you understand them more clearly than my simple explanation.

Theory #1 – Broken Timeline Restored Basically here’s how this theory goes down. Cage blows up the Omega… and is given the blue blood of the Alpha again. He now has the ability to alter time. But not only that, he has the blood of the Omega as well. This is much different than the first time he was given the ability to travel in time. In the Revisionist Theory, Cage is given the ability to not only go to his Previous starting point, but he could choose to go even further back. He visits Vrataski before the battle for Verdun and the two of them work together and instead of going to Germany to find the Omega under the Dam, they go to the Louvre where they have learned it really is. See? Then from there, the Omega is killed and the entire chaos of dealing with J-Company, etcetera, isn’t necessary. Voila!

Theory #2 – Revisionist Theory Another possible theory, if you don’t like the Omega extra jump idea… is that Cage realizes that all he needs is to go just a little further back in the timeline to sort everything out once and for all. And while juiced on the Blue blood, all he would need to go further back would be a little more Alpha love. No? So by hunting and killing a Blue he would then be able to bounce even further back and then be able to give Vrataski the information she needs to rectify the situation that ultimately defeated her the first time. This theory assumes that Cage carried forward on his own linear timeline and therefore was the prime mover of the ending… but willingly gave the credit to Vrataski.

Theory #3 – The God in the Machine   And even more disjointed theory than the previous two… The Deus Ex Machina theory assumes that even greater power was given to Cage than the rules explain. With this power, Cage was able to run roughshod on history and eloquently put a bow on the battle exactly like he wanted, which ends with Vrataski the hero and with him not being handcuffed as a mutinous traitor. This one is the most dissatisfying by a long shot because it plays fast and loose with the rules setup earlier in the movie. The Edge of Tomorrow Time Travel INFOGRAPHIC the edge of tomorrow infographic

These two infographics are variations on a theme. The first one shows that Cage is given the ability jump backwards beyond his original day… thus giving him the ability to right the original Vrataski timeline.  Right?

The Edge of Tomorrow Infographic 2

This seems like only a minor adjustment to the flow, but actually is very significant.  Cage takes over control starting back at when he arrives in London on the Helicopter and he works collaboratively from Verdun on, in order to correct the timeline so that Vrataski wins the war.  This is possible two ways… just by the power of the blood of the Alpha and the Omega – or by working ahead of what we see to give Vrataski the information she needs to win the war on her own and reconcile the past with the best outcome of the war.

The Key –  Regardless of your preferred theory, the key to resolving the ending that some do not like is as easy as two simple steps.  The first is that Cage was empowered to go a little further back in history than his normal start time.  The second is that Cage needs 3 minutes with Vrataski.  During those three minutes he would have to impart two details to her that she didn’t know before.  The first was what she told him – do not get a blood transfusion for any reason.  Once she knows this she will be able to avoid losing her looping ability.  The second thing Cage would need to tell Vrataski is that the visions of the Omega she is seeing under the dam in Germany is a lie and that the Omega is actually under the Louvre.  With those two pieces of information Vrataski could continue on and take Verdun as well as kill the Omega.  I’m not saying that is exactly what happened.  But I am saying that its simple enough to envision a pretty simple solution to the problem.

Summary – Hopefully my blog post The Edge of Tomorrow Time Travel and Ending Explained will help shed some light on how the movie’s key systems work and maybe open your eyes to how the movie’s mechanics work.  The theories explained here are still evolving and adjusting to the best thinking possible as time goes on.  Do you have a theory as to how the ending can be reconciled with the rest of the movie and the rules explained?  I would love hearing about them in the comments.  If you’d like to see an example of a fantastic discussion gone correctly here at – take a peek at a few of these enormously discussed movies, Memento, Prestige, Inception, etc etc.  So jump in and make yourself heard.

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19 Responses

  1. Timbly

    1. You seem to recall something I didn’t hear. That Vritaski was the one given credit for destroying the Omega in Paris. No idea where you got this. I heard something like “There was a massive power surge, we think this means we win!?” Also, Vritaski was on the base that day for Cage to find her.

    2. You keep saying that Vritaski thought the Omega was at the dam, in fact she thought it was in Verdun, Cage’s visions placed the Omega in the dam.

    3. I think Cage was befuddled by waking at the beginning of his movie. I don’t think he ever seemed like he was in control of anything. Which is the best part of this time travel system. There is no control!

    Finally: I saw some parallels with this ending and the ending of Stranger than Fiction. What’s interesting about this, is that someone pointed out that the movie Stranger than Fiction parallels some points from Jesus’ life. Specifically: the necessity of the hero needing to save people through his own death. The concept that this was the right and proper way for the story to conclude, and then the surprising inexplicable right-turn of the hero suddenly being alive again, to the joy of the “audience”. Especially interesting, because in the end of Edge of Tomorrow the hero was empowered by the blood of the alpha and the omega.

  2. Taylor Holmes

    Sup sup Tim,
    You are right on all three counts. Not only did I admit I was wrong – but I’ve documented it for you. You are welcome. After watching it the first time I definitely wrote much too quickly and have been meaning to go back and clean up a number of problems… even a few you missed.

    1. The movie showed Vrataski on the poster while commenting on the pulse destroying the Omega. So yes… you are right, she was in London training. But then that basically means Mr. Cage did it? And didn’t inform her? Must recompute.

    2. And yes, (again) her Omega was in Verdun, somewhere. They never say where. My confusing it with the dam is definitely a mistake.

    3. I now believe that Cage died while killing the Omega and receiving an influx of time travel goodness and power. He then flipped used the power to flip to before the series of events of the movie… he then allowed time to roll forward with the best possible outcome.

    As for your comparison to Stranger than Fiction I think that is awesome. What a fantastic movie that was. And there definitely are fantastic parallels to the life of Christ, his death and resurrection. We see Christ in tons and tons of science fiction like this – my favorite is Neo in the Matrix. (We also see Him in Anakin and Starwars and the midichlorians… but that DEFINITELY isn’t one of my favorites! hahah)

    Thanks for the comment. The blog will be rectified momentarily amigo!

  3. Greg

    You are really over-thinking this. Granted, it wasn’t in the movie, but if you use a fact from the book, the ending makes sense with no other assumptions needed.

    Assume that the ‘time-loop’ is about 30 hours, as its defined in the book. When you acquire the ability to loop, you set your start point 30 hours prior from your first death.

    He then loses the power, but regains it. This time, he regains it earlier in the day than he did previously (middle of the night before the invasion took place). Now his start time is pushed back in time, so it’s when he woke up the day before he was arrested.

    Since the Omega is dead, the alternate timelines it had produced (the plot of the movie) are gone forever, and no new ones can be created. This is why the battle goes so well for the humans and they win this time around, likely assuming it was in fact their metal suits that made the difference.

  4. Taylor Holmes

    Hahaha! I absolutely love it Greg that you think I’m over thinking it. hahahaha. Yes! Yeah, I tend to do that a little bit. Maybe even a little OCD. I should go see a therapist about this… definitely could help. haha. But maybe you should take a dose of your own medicine and read this paragraph of yours: “He then loses the power, but regains it. This time, he regains it earlier in the day than he did previously (middle of the night before the invasion took place). Now his start time is pushed back in time, so it’s when he woke up the day before he was arrested.” Yeah, that’s not over thinking it! hahah. I literally had to sketch out that paragraph to see it in my mind before I understood your theory.

    This is good. Let me see if I understand your vantage:

    Day 1
    Z. 6:00 am arrives on helicopter again?
    A. 8:00 am arrives on helicopter
    B. 8:30 am meets General Brigham 1st time
    C. 11:00 ends up in handcuffs and meets J company
    D. Spends day with J Company
    1. 3:00 pm? Meets Brigham second time and loses time travel ability

    Day 2
    2. 6:00 am Kills the Omega in Paris get time control
    E. 8:00 am D-Day
    F. 9:00 am Killed by Alpha
    G. Loops back to C – 9:00 am the previous day

    And then, he continues to fix time until he loses it after meeting the general later in the day the second time. Yes? Let’s just put that up there in the time as #1 and keep going. Then he kills the omega in Paris on day two before sunrise (that is very clear in the movie) and gains time control back from there.

    After timelining it all out the 30 hours doesn’t work. But it makes a lot of cool sense. 24 hours seems to be the cycle of the movie. Or something close to it. No? The only other question left outstanding with this theory is this, why does the Brigham declare that there was a pulse of energy in Paris moments AFTER Cage wakes up? Was he able to carry forward events in the timeline? Its good though. Thanks Greg. Diagramming it out presently…

    • Mags

      I got confused there for a moment as there is far too many questions and answers to all questions but i have my own theories.
      How about this:
      1. Why Cage has a special power of resetting the day?

      Because he’s got an alpha blood in him and as it was mentioned in the movie”every time an alpha dies, the omega resets the day” So with that in mind every time Cage dies (an alpha blood inside) ,the omega thinks it’s an alpha that died hence it resets the day. No?
      2. Why power surge kills alien few minutes before Cage wakes up in the helicopter on the way to London and the whole time frame has changed.

      How about this:
      When Cage kills the omega he gets covered by the omegas blood. With that he becomes an omega himself and he then brakes the time line and sets himself several hours before the biggest nightmare of his life had began.

      I realise that could be far fetched so i have another theory about that even more far fetched:
      As we know from the movie Cage gets till the end and gets aliens big time so because the omega have a way of looking forward into the future, it has seen how far Cage got to and that he killed omega so omega decided not to let that happen at all and gave up before Cage had a chance to come over and destroy their army.
      Think about that.

  5. Ishmael

    The only other question left outstanding with this theory is this, why does the Brigham declare that there was a pulse of energy in Paris moments AFTER Cage wakes up?
    My reading of this is just because the pulse of energy in Paris was reported AFTER he work up, it occurred BEFORE he woke up. There is always a time lag between the time something happens and when it is reported. This would be especially true with military event. The event happens, the military takes note – investigate and analyzes and then reports. Besides the report took place at a big press release. That would take some time to organize. My reading was the event took place an hour or two after the Omega was killed.

    It should also be noted that Mimics are now dead. There will be no battle. The troops will walk ashore. Cage goes back to see Vrataski because he is hot for her.

  6. Vince

    The way I understood it is that the flaw of the Mimics species is that in the rare circumstance an Alpha (or Omega) is killed and its blood comes in contact with a human – perhaps it is also a requirement that the human is killed at the same time – the human acquires that specific Mimic’s ability to travel back in time. In other words, during the reset, the human replaces that Mimic so that the Mimic no longer exists. Therefore, the power surge was the result of the Omega being erased from time, and would have occured as soon as time is reset when Cage waking on the helicopter.

  7. Mazra

    I believe Vince is right.

    Imagine the Omega as a giant hard drive floating around outside the timeline with USB-cables going out to every single Alpha. When an Alpha dies, its memories are transferred out of the timeline and onto the hard drive (Omega). The hard drive then rewinds time and transfers the memories back to the Alpha, allowing it to correct its mistake.

    When Cage gets Alpha goo on him, the Omega apparently connects one of those “USB-cables” to him as well. When Cage dies, the Omega transfers his memories out of the timeline, resets time, and transfers his memories back to his body, allowing him to correct his mistakes.

    It appears that the Omega does his autonomously, like a reflex, which is why Cage is able to “control” it (his death triggers the reflex).

    In order for the Omega to retain its memories when resetting time, it would have to be isolated from the timeline that it’s resetting, which is why I said it was a hard drive floating outside the timeline. When Cage destroys the Omega, it is destroyed outside the timeline, which means that not matter where you enter the timeline, the Omega would be destroyed at that very moment.

    So when Cage jumps back to the day where he woke up in the helicopter, that is the moment when the Omega was destroyed. If he had jumped back to two years before the aliens invaded, that would have been the moment where the Omega was destroyed (and the invasion never would have taken place).

    My guess is that the grenades fatally wounded the Omega, but before it died, Cage was hooked into the system again (via the Omega goo), and got transferred back in time. If the Omega had been destroyed instantly by the grenades, the goo would have done nothing, because the Omega is the one resetting time, not the person/Mimic dying.

  8. Chris

    My question is: when do all the Mimics die? They die when Cage wakes up for the final time (30 hrs before Omega is killed)? Or do they all die on the evening of Cage’s destruction of the Omega? But then why is Cage in London? gaaah!

  9. asw

    Is Rita’s blood the real antenna? I read a lot about the ending but I have yet to find someone exploring this possibility: Before the maggot call, Rita and the commander do something to his blood. Also, he may gain the powers from being splattered with Rita’s blood, not the Alpha’s, because she had it. In one scene Rita speaks of having watched her foregone lover die a hundred times, maybe this is Tom and she is faking it. She also acknowledges having tried sex to get rid of the taquionic power. She has no way of knowing that a transfusion removes the power unless the transfused dies, but Tom is also transfused and she watches it. So she arranges things with the commander and that’s why this man behaves so strangely by sending Tom to the front, even when he is an officer. This is also consistent with the commander having the device hidden in his office’s safebox. So rita and the commander make Tom unconscious, do something to him with the device, or maybe to his blood, mixing it with rita’s, and that’s why when he wakes up at the maggot’s call he is feeling like hangover. So the plot is a loop within a loop, similarly to the movies Inception or Primer. The point is, at the end, he is the only one to remember, so it has to be and even number of loops: his (first and most obvious), then Rita’s, and then his again. I wish someone explored this line and draw a nice infographic diagram with it, such as Cloud Atlas’ ^_^

  10. Jane

    Hi All !
    I watched this movie and loved it so let me chime in here.
    Question : Why does the day reset to the particular time T1 (when Cage is flying into London in a helicopter) in the climax ?

    My answer is based on this assumption :
    The time reset on the death of an Alpha or someone with Alpha blood happens this way – the day is reset to the point of time when the person woke up that morning.i.e., not 24 hours earlier or the crack of dawn, rather the start of the day as perceived by the subject. Note how the time reset by Cage’s death always takes everything back to the point when Cage is kicked awake ?

    Answer : In the climax scene when the Omega is injured by Cage, the Omega resets the day hoping to reverse the damage. The day is reset to the instant when the Omega had woken from its slumber – the beginning of that day according to the Omega – at which time Cage is initially flying into London. Though the Omega manages to restart the day, it is too badly hurt to be able to revive itself. (I think the Omega was never too physically robust in the place, possibly the reason it stays in hiding while the Alphas are out waging war) So after a certain time interval after sustaining injuries the Omega dies. Hence the explosion in Paris.

    As I understand Cage gains no special powers from the Omega blood in the climax fight, all the day-restart stuff is done entirely by, and for, the Omega.

    In the newly reset world, the humans can easily proceed to win the war against the mimics since there isn’t an Omega mastermind behind them anymore.


  11. Taylor Holmes

    Hey Jane,
    So as I read it, I’m thinking that the key to your theory is that it goes back to the day he woke up. And I’ve read your comment twice… and something is just not clicking for me. The Omega is dead. How could it reset the day? But regardless, let’s just assume the last gasp of the Omega is that it resets the day. Whatever. But the last reset was less than 24 hours. This final reset was something like 36 hours. No? I can’t figure out how the pop goes that far back arbitrarily. He doesn’t wake on the dufflebags. He wakes in the helicopter.

    So I buy that Cage doesn’t have special powers, but I don’t get the 12 hour difference in your explanation.

  12. Jon

    Great walkthrough, really good. Except I think your theories fail as they assume whole passages that was never shown. Plus the war is won before he wakes up that final time on the chopper. No need to deviate that much from the basket of possible explanations. Hear me out, and let me set up why I think it all works pretty well :)

    I had some trouble understanding this especially (but too many other questions which I will attempt to answer in the end of my comment):
    • why the Omega died in the end and why before Cage woke up
    • why Cage jumps to the Chopper that last time
    • why even try killing something that controls time


    • The invaders work like a singular organism, where the Omega and the Brain controls its soldiers via its Alphas. The Alphas is a direct extension of the Omega, and they are few in between – very rare.
    • Its secret weapon is the ability to reset time by transporting its (the Omegas) consciousness back in time. And thus react to future plans of the enemy.
    • Only the Omega has this ability, and it works it via one of its Alphas. The ability can only be executed by the connection to ONE singular Alpha in one timeline.
    • Only an Alphas deaths can initiate a time jump
    • The dead Alpha’s consciousness (or knowledge) jumps together/connected with the Omega (essentially they are one and the same). So in the jump the Alpha is dead and the Omega is alive.
    • When Rita and Cage gain the power, it means their respectful Alphas are killed off the grid. However, when they jump it is still together/connected with the Omega. Albeit, this time the Omega never gets the update of details surrounding the death and it is therefore none the wiser about what happened and is therefore forced to more or less repeat what it does until either it regains the power or until it somehow learns more of the details. The latter is its prime strategy.
    • The time resetting happens in the same singular timeline, it is not a multiverse kind of situation. If more than one has the ability, only one will survive the reset.
    • When the ability is owned by a human, the jump happens back about one day to a point where this mind was at rest. The person realizes this at the point they wake up, but the time jump might very well be any time during this rest
    • You can lose this ability by blood transfusion or bleeding out .


    Cage merges by a freak chance with an Alphas blood and gets the ability to reset time. His consciousness is transported from his point of death to about one day back, at a time his consciousness was at rest (read: when he was asleep/passed out on the bags).

    The Omega wants its power back (it knows it has been lost as it too jumps), as it can only be held by the connection to one “Alpha” in one timeline. So the Omega then tries to get it back by fake visions to lure Cage close enough (as they are still connected on some level via the jumps), so the Omega can have him bleed out.

    Cage losses the power to a blood transfusion in London and at this point the Omega gets it back.

    He kills it in Paris and in the process he again regains the Alpha connection and power of time reset. This time, though, he wakes up about one day earlier the last time he was at rest, which was when he was napping in the Chopper – and therefore before he got into trouble for attempting to blackmail the General. Though when he wakes up the Omega is dead and the war is already won as he lands in London.

    Simplified, the timeline is like this (timestamps are for illustrative purpose only)

    15:00 o’clock (day 1) – Arrives on the Chopper in London
    17:00 o’clock (day 1) – Wakes up on the duffle bags
    05:00 o’clock (day 2) – D-Day invasion and death and gets power to reset
    [resetting about 12 hours back, and he therefore wakes up on the duffle bags 17 o’clock on day 1]

    17:00 o’clock (day 1) – Wakes up on the duffle bags… from a previous death
    23:00 o’clock (day 1) – Flys to Paris
    03:00 o’clock (day 2) – Kills the Omega, and gets the Power again to jump 12 hour back

    15:00 o’clock (day 1) – Wakes up in the Chopper in London, cause he jumped back from his death 12 hours later in Paris on (day 2)


    A: The Omega is the central hub of the enemy. It can initiate time jumps by the death of one of its Alphas, which will bring it and the Alpha back in time. But since each jump in connected with the Omegas own consciousness, killing the Omega first will make a jump inefficient. So to kill the Omega, it is important to not kill an Alpha shortly before. If the Omega itself dies, their whole system collapses, and thus no jump will occur, at all Alphas then also ceases to function instantaneously. The mimics (the foot soldiers) will still exist, but without leadership, coordination and essentially purpose.


    A: The time travel is only the consciousness and not actual physical travel. The mind travels back into its younger body. This goes for both Cage and the Omega. Cage is merged with the blood of the Omega after the explosions in the end that severed the connections to its Alpha. He thus receives the Alpha connection and power to jump once more, which happens to a point in time in the Chopper (see explanation below). The Alpha did not use its ability to jump because its consciousness is connected with the Omegas, which was effectively cut by Cage before it could die. Cage, though, still had his consciousness intact at the time when their bloods merge. Since all jumps are connected with the consciousness of the Omega, it means that Cage this time brings a dead or rather a dying consciousness back to the present. So, when he wakes up in the Chopper with his updated consciousness, so is the Omega restored with its updated (read: dead) consciousness back in Paris [he is restoring an erroneous backup, so to speak].

    It dies one day earlier simply because the time jumps always happens connected with the Omegas mind – and this time around the Omegas mind was toast.

    The death of the Omega in the present (one day earlier) is while Cage is sleeping on the Chopper. This is because the jumps happen at a time where the mind of a human carrier is at REST, not when he wakes up from his rest; as many assume. So during his rest, the mind from the dead Omega is jumped back to the awaken Omega during that time, thus initiating the deletion of its mind before he himself wake up – but still while he is resting.


    A: If we accept my premise that each jump is based upon a connection between the Omega and one of its Alphas, it means Cage or Rita hijacked the role of an Alpha during their jumps. But since Cage and Rita have their own consciousness during their jumps, the Omega was never informed about any details (which is why it is forced to repeat its strategy until it lures the hijacker out of the equation – aka having Cage bleed out at the Dam). This is important to realize: The Alphas is a direct extension of the Omega, and this direct dependency explains why the Alpha is ineffective in the end and Cage is not, as he unlike the Alpha kept his consciousness even after the Omega explosion.

    The first explosion in the end is effectively severing the connection to the Alphas (whose consciousnesses consequently parish instantly). And since there are no conscious Alphas anymore in the world, no jumps can ever occur again. However, Cage is not dead (mortally wounded and drowning, but his consciousness is still intact). So when he merges with the blood, he still has the consciousness required for him to hijack the role of an Alpha once more. And he does.

    You might then ask: If the Omega is killed in the explosions, then there must be no longer any connection as the premise dictates, and therefore it doesn’t matter if Cage has become an Alpha once more?

    Yes this is partly true, but not the whole truth. The central hub of the enemy consists of two parts: The Omega and the Brain (as explained by the scientist earlier in the movie). We see two explosions in the end. The first one severs the connection to the Alphas, and the second one has reaching effects above ground too. The popular discussions considers the Brain and the Omega the same, but they are not and we do not know how they work. All we do know is that the movie deemed it necessary to differentiate them. And we also know the ability to time jump is connected with this hub somehow. Perhaps the Omega is only the connection to the Alphas, and the Brain is the actual time jumper? We do not know. We do not even know if the Omega or the Brain is effectively killed in the explosions. What we do know is that Cage again gets the ability. Thus I deduce the connection for a time jump is present. Either the Omega is simply mortally wounded and Cage can take it back and overwrite the healthy Omega in the past, or Cage this time bypasses the Omega and connects directly with the Brain, and thusly jumps with a dead Omega. Such detail matters little, what matters is that Cage re-establishes a connection somehow and in his jump he takes either a destroyed Omega (possible if the Brain still works) or simply a dying Omega back. Either way, his last jump overwrites its consciousness in the past with a bad copy.

    [I refute the popular explanation that Cage simply grabs the full ability from the Omega. There is no evidence in the movies that the Omega can initiate jumps without its Alphas, and so it makes no sense for me to grant it this power in the end. I instead say, the premise of an Omega-Alpha connection still stands and it does through most of the movie, and above I explain how Cage get the Alpha role once more, and how he thusly can bring back the dying Omega. This way we also avoid the question if he still has the power to reset in the very end or for the rest of his “life”. No he does not, the connection is effectively lost upon his wakening on the chopper]


    A: Since the travel is strongly connected with the mind, perhaps the cycle of about one day is because this constitutes kind of a default limit of the mind – we simply need a rest about every 12-18-24 hours, for our minds to work properly, and therefore the time travel of the mind is defined on some level by this interval. The above timeline assumes 12 hours, but it might as well have been 24 hours.

    A: My best rationalization to this conundrum is that the jumps are related to the typical cycle of the mind, and happens to the point of rest furthest away, but still within the 12-18-24 hour interval, which length I explain above. The above simple timeline illustrates this too.

    So the short answer is simply that the jump is defined within about 12-18-24 hours, and the nap on the Chopper fits that pretty well from when he got the ability in Paris. Just like the nap on the duffle bags fits this pretty well too, from when he got the ability later on the beach. In other words, the jump is about a day back from each of the two times he gets the ability, and for the second time the Chopper rest fits the bill.

    [I refute the popular explanation that the Chopper is now the only possibility, as his rest on the duffle bags consequently doesn’t exist anymore qua the deletion of the Omega. That would be an illogical cause/effect chain of events if we accept my explanation to why the Omega is killed in the present and not only in the future: The Omegas present death is a function of his jump, and thus his jumps defines when the Omega dies – logically it cannot be the other way around, so the final jump could therefore in principle still have been to the duffle bags. However, since it is not, I deduce the above simpler explanation that each jumps just happens about 12/24 hours back from when the power got snatched – logical fallacies or complicated paradoxes is avoided this way]


    A: Many seem to explain the movie with multiple time lines, like that the Omega transcends them all, and each death creates another line etc. It is my view that the multiverse concept defeats the whole idea of the movie. I will try to explain why: If it is a multiverse kind of situation, it means the universe continues every time Cage is killed. In other words, we will have countless universes where Rita is prosecuted for killing Cage. Also, the struggle and fight through the whole movie is about saving that one timeline – I think it is also the point of the Omegas jumping ability. If the jumps are to other timelines, or to setup other timelines, it sort of trivialises their otherwise brilliant tactics, as the jumps then will not change anything at all in any particular line.

    If you instead imagine the singular timeline loops each time Cage dies. Time doesn’t stop, but the line intersects with itself and continues in a “new” direction on each reset. This way one line can have many limited futures (one in each loop, and limited by each loop) but ultimately is has only one history…

    Anyways from a timeline perspective, branches of multiple lines is simpler to understand, and it fixes paradoxes, like why the Omega also dies when he arrives in London. But, from the story perspective it is much more multifaceted to grasp and really opens a can of complexity that is fundamentally not needed for this story to work.

    In fact, everything in the movie supports a singular timeline perspective, except perhaps why the Omega “also” dies when he lands in London. My above explanation seeks to avoid paradoxes; it seeks to explain why the Omega dies in the “past” and it seeks to keep the more sensible singular timeline perspective and I think it works pretty well.

    Great film

    • Elle

      Jon made this comment nearly two years ago and no one said, “Bravo! You nailed it!”…except Jon’s inclusionary point about multiverse is moot…but, still, he’s on it!

      This good movie really isn’t difficult to figure out and was entertaining to watch. It had a cool ending because by destroying the alien master-mind and soaking up its lifeforce, the hero of the movie became imbued with an even higher ability and means to set time further back as he pleased.

      Should an alien of that type invade again, the hero of the movie could manipulate time on a greater level and control the alphas since he has incorporated, through a second death and immersion in alien goo, the more advanced omega’s abilities to manipulate time.

      The Tom Cruise character of the movie chooses to return at that particular time simply so he can meet up again and—hopefully at long last!—win the heart of the powerful, strong-willed and amazing woman he loves.

      Although this film is for the fun of it, in regards to time travel, science has made discoveries in the sense that backward time travel is not feasible; we can only go forward in time. Also, a point to include but has no relation to the movie haha, is that we age a tad faster living in a higher altitudes. This means Taylor is aging faster than I since he resides in high mountains whereas I live in a low desert region.

      This movie’s song fits the ending, too, since there’s a love story simultaneously going on amid the “live, die, repeat” drama:

  13. Anna

    I find most the theories super interesting and they helped me evolve better theories than I originally was thinking. I think that Rita knew cage. I think cage was technically Hendricks, she just changed the name. The reason I believe that is the way she stopped dead in her tracks when she saw cage for the first time on the beach battlefield. It was like they both were having de Javu. Also, cage kept making a point that the only way he can move foward through the day was without Rita because she would always die in every scenario. When Rita had her reset powers lost during a transfusion makes me think it was a day she didn’t try to find cage so her life continued without cage knowing her. I do find it odd that the general would send cage out to battle without any experience. This scenario makes me believe that’s there’s more going on then my mind is allowing me to see.

    Timeline theory at end of movie. Cage lost his abilities that same day. How quickly does that information get sent to the omega? Is it possible that there was no looper because omega believed cage was still the alpha? But let’s say that’s not the case an a new alpha had looping power then the moment cage exploded the omega the looping signal was interrupted so alpha lost looping powers. Meanwhile, omega was not fully dead so the blood of the omega transferred to cage who died before the omega giving just enough time to restart the timeline. The reason cage woke up on the helicopter was because the events with the general couldn’t happen. I feel like choices have some part in the time line. Cage originally was waking up on the bags because his decision to tell the general to piss off led him there. Plus, I do think the sleep cycle has something to do with when you wake up. His last sleep cycle was on the helicopter before speaking to the general, since the war was won then that piece of the time line doesn’t exist for that particular day. If I stick to the theory that cage was going back a specific amount of time then is it possible that the time line of cage speaking to the general doesn’t exist which creates a gap within the timeLine. explanation, if timeline between cage and general was 2 hours (this may be totally off, just throwing out number) and now these 2 hours can’t exist and events that never happened can’t be factored into the timeline, then cage is waking up at the right time because he lost a piece of memory in his timeline. If cage is going back in time based solely on the events that happened the 2 hours are now gone because they can’t exist. So timeline lost 2hours making the jump to the helicopter scene exactly the restart event.

    Why omega died the previous day? The omega had an alpha for a reason. They can die over and over. I think the omega can only pass that power to the alpha but the omega itself can not change its own timeline. Maybe the omega had some sleep cycle going on and time for the omega was different. 1 day for us could be 10 seconds for the omega or even .1 of a second. The omega was able to produce a time wrap where it’s actually seeing the future not the past. Once the omega felt confident the war would be won then the looping power was turned off to let time continue as is. Unfortunately, that never happened until the explosion. That signal was interrupted by the explosion. We don’t know what really happened that morning once cage woke up on the helicopter. All that was said was was a power surge or something occurred. Omega knew it couldn’t win and somehow affected its energy source or the omega can be in two timelines. So omega dying in one timeline would make omega die in the original timeline.

    Fuck this movie makes my brain hurt.


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