‘Edge of Tomorrow’ Ending & Time Travel Explained

Published 4 months ago by , Updated September 29th, 2014 at 9:02 am,

Edge of Tomorrow Ending Spoilers Edge of Tomorrow Ending & Time Travel Explained

Based on the Japanese novel All You Need is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, Edge of Tomorrow tells the story of Major William Cage (Tom Cruise), a man who is forced onto the front lines for a major military operation against invading aliens known as “Mimics.” Untrained and unprepared for combat, Cage is killed within minutes – only to wake up 24 hours earlier with no choice but to relive (and die) the same day over and over.

Like many time travel (or time loop) stories, Edge of Tomorrow relies on heady exposition and mind-bending sci-fi ideas which may confuse certain moviegoers. For that reason, we’re here to help breakdown the Major Cage’s ability to “reset” time, as well as explain the film’s ending. Our discussion is going to be full of SPOILERS from here on out – for both Edge of Tomorrow and the All You Need is Kill source material. READ NO FURTHER unless you’re all caught up. You have been warned.

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MAJOR SPOILERS FOLLOW

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The Source of Time Looping

June Preview Edge of Tomorrow Edge of Tomorrow Ending & Time Travel Explained

In the opening moments of the film, we learn that Major Cage is a government-sponsored talking head who refuses to document the UDF campaign “Project Downfall” from the front lines. Branded a deserter, Cage is forced into military service (as part of J-squad) on the eve of a massive offensive, waking up at Heathrow airport in handcuffs (the starting point for the time loops he experiences throughout the film).

In spite of rigorous planning and secrecy, the Mimics see the attack coming and the offensive turns into a massacre – wiping out humanity’s last line of defense. On the ground, Cage watches as J-Squad and UDF war hero Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt) are mercilessly slaughtered by orange-tinted Mimic drones. During the fracas, Cage comes face to face with a blue colored “Alpha” Mimic, exterminating the creature as its acidic blood rains down on his face, killing him. That Alpha blood gives Cage the ability to “loop” (aka reset time by a day).

Edge of Tomorrow Aliens Rita Vrataski Edge of Tomorrow Ending & Time Travel Explained

Through countless trial and error attempts, Cage manages to befriend Vrataski and her physicist confidant Dr. Carter (Noah Taylor) who explain their theories on Mimic physiology. Carter asserts that the Mimics, named for their uncanny ability to adapt to human military strategies, are a highly-evolved hive mind capable of controlling time. At the center of the collective is the “Omega” Mimic, an extremely large and powerful creature that serves as the brain of the Mimic force but is hidden far away from the battlefield for its own protection.

Where the normal orange-colored Mimics are basic workers/pawns, sent into battle for the sole purpose of killing enemies, the Omega also employes the use of the blue-tinted Alphas, who serve as the eyes and ears of the Omega on the front lines. Unlike basic Mimics, Alphas are precious to the collective, and thanks to their direct link to the Omega, contain the head creature’s time-controlling essence in their blood. Should an Alpha die, the Omega resets time but retains the knowledge of everything that went wrong on the battlefield – allowing the creature to make tactical adjustments accordingly, and gain an upper hand in the new time cycle.

The highly-evolved power to wind back the clock is responsible for the extraterrestrial’s unrelenting adaptation to human military efforts, as well as the reason Mimics were able to see Cage’s invasion force coming: because the Omega had already watched it all happen in a previous timeline, and had mapped out a different strategy following one or many resets. In effect, the Omega is able to turn any fight that it experiences into an elaborate trap – until Cage inadvertently hijacks the time-loop ability.

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The Rules of Time Looping

edge of tomorrow tom cruise Edge of Tomorrow Ending & Time Travel Explained

At the time of his first death, Cage is drenched in the blood of a dying Mimic, essentially transferring the Omega’s time control ability to Cage. After saving her on the French battlefield, Vrataski reveals that she had experienced the same looping phenomenon during an assault at Verdun, but subsequently lost the ability after she was severely injured and bleeding out. During her time looping, she worked with Dr. Carter to understand how the time reset ability actually worked – attempting to find out if it could be transferred to others via physical contact, blood, or other bodily fluids.

The pair came to the conclusion that only one organism (Mimic or Man) could be in charge of the reset at any given time – meaning that when Rita acquired the ability, the Omega no longer had control, giving Vrataski (and later Cage) a temporary edge. The Alpha blood also caused Vrataski (and eventually Cage) to have visions of the Omega’s hidden location, and Dr. Carter surmised that if they could find the creature in time, before a reset, they could wipe out the entire Mimic invasion force – since the creatures were all extensions of the Omega. As it turns out, Vrataski and Cage’s “visions” were actually traps, planted by the Omega after it had figured out who was in control of the loop – by drawing Rita (and later Cage) to an isolated location, the Omega hoped to reclaim its looper blood, so that the Mimics could regain control of the time reset.

Edge of Tomorrow Alpha Mimic Edge of Tomorrow Ending & Time Travel Explained

Cage manages to survive the Omega’s trap (by drowning himself) and the encounter encourages him to revisit an abandoned piece of technology that Dr. Carter had built – based on the appearance of Vrataski’s original visions – to track the Omega by hijacking an Alpha’s connection to the Omega. After a number of resets, Cage and Vrataski successfully acquire the gadget, and Cage uses the device on himself (since his body contains Alpha blood), quickly locating the Omega. Yet, during their attempted escape with the device, UDF infantry destroy their getaway car, leaving Cage injured and bleeding out. He awakens hours later with an IV pumping fresh blood into his arm, having lost the ability to reset time – just like Vrataski had months earlier.

As a result, control of the loop reverts to the Omega - but, unless an Alpha is killed, Cage and Vrataski still have time to travel to the creature’s location and destroy it. The pair enlist the help of J-Squad, who Cage manages to convince of the time loop (thanks to the countless hours he’s spent with each of them in prior loops), and the soldiers set out for Paris – where the Omega is concealed underneath the Louvre. No longer able to reset time, Cage and his team only have one shot to kill the Omega, and are tasked with the added challenge of not killing an Alpha. As mentioned, should the team kill inadvertently kill an Alpha, the Omega would reset time, and Cage would not retain any of the memories of his previous exploits.

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The Ending Explained

edge tomorrow tom cruise emily blunt1 Edge of Tomorrow Ending & Time Travel Explained

J-Squad is killed-off one at a time while escorting Cage and Vrataski to the Lourve - where entry to the Omega’s lair is guarded by an Alpha. Vrataski sacrifices herself in order to distract (without killing) the Alpha, while Cage tries to destroy the Omega, which is hiding in a flooded portion of the parking garage. As Cage swims downward, he is impaled (and mortally wounded) by the Alpha, who spears him through the chest with a tentacle; in spite of his injury, Cage manages to release a cluster of grenades. The explosion kills the Omega, and since it is the brain of the Mimic collective, its death causes the remainder of its kind on Earth to wither and die, putting an abrupt end to the alien invasion.

Even though Cage survives the detonation, he is doomed to die – that is, until the Omega’s blood, rising through the water, seeps into his wound. As Cage dies he regains control of the Mimic’s ability to reset time – this time waking up hours before he was ever arrested (his usual start point in the loop). Furthermore, certain actions from the previous loop are retained – while others are not. The Mimics are dead following an unknown event (unknown to everyone but Cage) below the Louvre. Yet, J-Squad and Vrataski have all been resurrected, with no knowledge of their role in eliminating the Mimics during the prior time cycle.

NEXT PAGE: Time Loop Paradox Explanation >

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  1. I got it without the explanation. What is great is that they chose him. It leads into why did they even need him to fight on the battlefield. Vtaski must have seen the future with Cage before he was introduced. Or else they could have used anyone. That’s my take

  2. After cage killed the alpha on the beach, that alpha didn’t come back to the beach each reset. Was it eliminated completely by its death or was it avoiding the beach due to the omega knowing something went wrong there? The movie also made mention of them trying to find the person that had taken the reset power, as in, the mimics “DIDN’T KNOW” which human had it… but, they were trying to discover or search him out with the visions (ultimately leading him to the trap at the damn). As far as the ending,… If the alpha was actually eliminated and did not come back in every following loop, why? hmmm… Also, What if the omega was not the highest organism in the hierarchy of this race of creatures. In the entire universe, to think that there is only ONE omega that goes from planet to planet seems hard to believe. Maybe Cage killing the omega did give him a more powerful dose of alien blood allowing him to reset further back but, If there is a bigger more powerful being, it should now be aware that something here on this planet has taken one of the more powerful creatures looping ability… Sequel? doubt it but,… could be done… Cage maybe figures out he can reset at will, without dying and even after sleeping and waking,… and has a reasonable control over when he resets to (retaining all his previously learned info). Maybe he uses his trick for a brief while until the next higher organism of the alien race arrives on earth to remove the ability and fnish what they started?

  3. after Cage lost the reset, why did the mimics not just kill an alpha to win the war?

  4. I had another thought. What if the reset point for Cage and the Omega are different? The Omega may have been resetting time before, meaning it wasn’t the first time through the loop, which is why it knew when and where the invasion would occur. Maybe when Cage wakes up and the Omega explodes, that’s the reset point of the Omega…when Cage steals the reset it resets inside of that loop. After the Omega is gone, he can reset to where the Omega had been trying to loop.

  5. If we’re going by the book’s explanation, the mimics utilized tachyon waves (referenced by Dr. Manhattan on how he could see the future) to project just the consciousness back in time to the day before. Also see Days of Future’s Past.

    Basically, Cage had a very long dream of all the possible futures, until he absorbed the Omega, and had an earlier dream that he remembers he won.

  6. Well, he’d only keep it until his blood was swapped out.

    That doesnt only happen through transfusions though. After a certain amount of time, the blood in his veins would be replaced by new cells, essentially purging him of the power. So even if he did keep it, he wouldn’t keep it for the rest of his life.

  7. Let us say the Alpha’s blood contained some constiuents (ex. special particles) which grant to time travelling ability, and which ultimately seeped into Cage’s blood and cells.

    Cell building blocks are recycled to make new cells. Similarly, the special time-travelling particles also recycled into the new cells.

    Transfusion would remove these special particles dissolved in the bloodstream, thereby removing the time reset ability from a person.

  8. After a long hard think, this is what I think happened.
    The omega can reset time and everything around it, reincarnating everything it is more powerful then.
    But it can recarnate itself. So when it dies it dies permanently. Its blood was transferred to cage when it died. and when cage died he reset time again. With ought the reality of the omega being alive.

  9. After a long hard think, this is what I think happened.
    The omega can reset time and everything around it, reincarnating everything it is more powerful then.
    But it “cant” recarnate itself. So when it dies it dies permanently. Its blood was transferred to cage when it died. and when cage died he reset time again. With ought the reality of the omega being alive.

  10. This is what iI think happened. When everything restarted no one died. Not even the mimics. The biggest difference is, everyone now knows where they are. They wont be going to that beach, they will be going to the actual base, in Paris. How they came to know this i don’t know, so everything is restarted now they now where they actually are and going to attack them there

  11. Think Of it from the Omega’s point of view and the ending as a last ditch contingency plan to allow the Omega to retreat.

    Let’s say the the only being unaffected by the time reset is the alpha, or any being, that initiates the time reset. This means that when the death of an alpha occurs the only way that the Omega is made aware of what happened is by having the Alpha tell the Omega what happens. This would explain the necessity of keeping Alphas on the front lines.

    We also know that the Omega has some kind of subconscious, or telepathic link to all the Mimics and the time resetting Alphas. We can also assume that Cage has established a link with the Omega. How else would that interface contraption that the doctor made be able to locate the true location of the Omega otherwise. We can even deduce that it took time for the link between Cage and the Omega. (Or more accurately, Cage time) Perhaps as Cage became more aware of his ability and the existence of the Omega his connection to it was triggered. Once triggered the Omega would be aware that something was awry and would then react accordingly.

    We can assume the Omega is intelligent and aware of the possibility of humans using the time reset ability because it happened once with Rita and it prepared traps to lure out the time resetting humans in order to strip them of the power. If this is possible other contingency plans are also possible. Plans that would take into consideration the possible death of the Omega. (If a connection relays info to the Omega why not attack Cage at the base? Because killing him would accomplish nothing and preemptively attacking the humans to get to Cage would compromise the Aliens effort to eliminate humans as they attacked. Perhaps this was the Aliens last hope to finish off mankind.)

    Did the Omega know that Cage was disconnected? They killed the Omega as soon as they were able to locate it. Did the Omega have time resetting abilities? Obviously, if it passed them to Cage. We do know it was Cage that initiated the final time reset. And if Cage is reconnected to the Omega then the Omega is aware that Cage will win. So the Omega uses Cage to initialize a reset or whatever.

    One final reset from Cage and everything goes back to the past. Cage tips the past Omega that he kills it via renewed connection and the Omega bugs out. The reported power surge is a result of the Omega leaving planet and we have the possibility of a sequel.

    Nailed it. I win!

  12. I’ve read most of the responses here, and pretty much every single explanation has some massive internal contradictions with the movie, or the rules it established.

    I can live with that. It’s time travel, and no explanation will never be able to make sense of that. However, the only major problem I had with the movie is why Vrataski didn’t kill Chase the second that he revealed to her where the Omega was (Louvre). Instead, she decided to continue the car chase, and they eventually crash, and she goes unconscious. Pretty s***** decision making on her part, and an insanely stupid risk to take. She should have kill him right away, so he’d start the day fresh with knowledge of where the Omega actually is, and no need to take the huge detour and pickup the contraption.

    I haven’t read a single response that addresses this. Why didnt she kill him? Why did she keep driving? Even if they DID get away unscathed, that would be an infinitely worse scenario compared to starting the day over and saving a shitload of hours.

  13. The only possible internal consistency violation is if the Alpha isn’t actually destroyed by Cage taking its place on the beach the first time. It appears that it is, as that Alpha does not appear either by the beach or anywhere near there again, even though it apparently was the one leading the Mimic defense there.

    And yes, I agree with the whole car chase scene. Yes, Cage was surprised that they actually got the gadget that time – so surprised he appears stunned by the turn of events – but they should have been savvy enough to just act then and there to find the Omega and then kill Cage.

    I have no response to that one. I doubt anyone does, unless there is a chunk of script which was taken out explaining it.

    But that’s about the only issue I have found with the movie. Everything else adds up.

  14. I actually think the way it is it feels natural. People act on habits and experience. You can’t really fault them for not suddenly getting smart and acting outside of their frame, a frame that has carried them so far through the uncountable times of Cage dying accidently or on purpose.

    I mean if they were smart they should have tested the device right away while still in the office. Then reset and try it one more time just to confirm that the Omega hasn
    ‘t gone somewhere else. Then reset again and go for it.

  15. I agree with you but to play devil’s advocate a little bit…, maybe she lost her gun? NOW SHUT UP!

  16. “Why did Rita continue to drive instead of killing Cage as soon as he used the device that told him that the real location of the Omega was at the Louvre in Paris?”

    MAYBE SHE LOST HER GUN PRIOR TO THAT POINT AND SHE DIDN’T FEEL LIKE TRYING TO PUNCH HIM TO DEATH.

    “Why did Cage wake up on the helicopter during the last reset and not at Heathrow like all the prior resets?”

    TWO REASONS:

    1. AFTER KILLING THE OMEGA THERE WAS NO REASON FOR THE GENERAL TO MEET WITH CAGE. HENCE, HE NEVER GOT KNOCKED OUT BY THE GENERALS GOONS WHICH MEANS, HE NEVER WOKE UP ON THOSE BAGS AT THE MILITARY BASE.

    2. THE RESET TIME SEEMS TO BE ABOUT 24 HOURS BEFORE HE FIRST GAINS THE POWER. THE TIMES HE WOKE UP AT HEATHROW THE POWER WAS ACQUIRED FROM THE ALPHA EARLY THE NEXT MORNING DURING THE BATTLE ON THE BEACH. ON THE OTHER HAND, FOR THE FINAL RESET HE ACQUIRED THE POWER JUST BEFORE SUNRISE WHEN HE BLEW UP THE OMEGA. THAT IS WHY THE RESET POINT WAS A FEW HOURS BEFORE THE ORIGINAL.

    “Why was the Omega dead after the last reset?”

    ALTHOUGH THE OMEGA WAS RESET ALONG WITH EVERYONE ELSE DURING THE FINAL RESET CAGE HAD TAKEN ITS POWER AWAY. WITHOUT THIS POWER THE OMEGA CANNOT ALTER TIME ANY LONGER AND ALSO IT CAN’T LIVE ANY LONGER. WHO KNOWS WHY? SO SHORTLY AFTER BEING RESET, IT EXPLODED AND WHEN IT EXPLODED IT SENT OUT SOME ENERGY PULSE WHICH SHUT DOWN EVERY MIMIC. THE END. NICE LITTLE PACKAGE.

    ANYMORE QUESTIONS?

  17. They were trying to get back to the scientist in order to use it properly & were forced to wing it out of desperation; thought that was fairly obvious

  18. I have one that I’ve had since the beginning.

    If the Mimics know that the blood carries the power of time reset, why even send the Alphas into battle?

    Just watch the other Mimics fight, if the tide turns against them, kill the Alpha like Rita does to Cage.

    That would kill the whole core of the movie, but logically, if you have that power, you protect it.

  19. I am not sure..

    But the helicopter landings did not happen on the same day / time :)

    The first landing happened after 08:40h AM (big ben)
    And it is cloudy

    The second landing was around 12:30h PM (big ben)
    Sunny and shadow of the “nelson’s column”