Salutations, my pensive postage meters. In honor of Prometheus 2: The Search for Michael Fassbender’s Severed Head’s Gold, I bring you an answer to the biggest mystery in the Alien universe. Plus, the best Game of Thrones episode, the age conundrums of both Gotham and the Star Wars prequels, and... (dun dun dunh) I know the death which awaits me. Don’t want to miss that!

Hug It Out


I’ve always wondered if a Facehugger could use... um, other implant an embryo? I mean the interior of the host is the same regardless of which end the baby Alien is inserted, right?


Well, it’s all “interior,” but the two ends are, uh, pretty different. I mean, at the most basic level, sustenance goes in one level and out the other.

In terms of Chestbusters, the Facehugger deposits its—well, it’s not actually an egg, but we’ll get to that in a minute—load in the host’s esophagus, which is of course the tube that carries food from our throats to the stomach. It’s long, but not very wide—only 3/4s of an inch—but remember, somehow the Chestburster hangs out in there for several hours before popping through its host’s sternum.


As to what the Facehugger actually lays, here’s the canon according to a 1993 issue of the official Aliens magazine:

While the terms “impregnation” and “implantation” are liberally used to describe this process, they are not strictly accurate; studies by Lasalle Bionational have shown that no actual embryo is inserted into the host. Instead, the infant Xenomorph begins its life as a knot of specifically tailored cancers that bring about chemogenetic restructuring of the host’s cells, essentially “building” the Chestburster from the host’s own biological material at a cellular level.


The Facehugger deposits what it essentially a tumor in your esophagus, which then co-opts its host’s cells, and grows into the phallic critter we all love and fear.

So while there has been no documented case of a Facehugger hugging a butt in the vast Aliens expanded universe, I feel safe in saying there is 100 percent no reason why a Chestbuster couldn’t or wouldn’t result from being implanted anally. It would fit in the rectum much more easily than the esophagus, as it’s a wider space. The Alien tumor could co-opt cells just as easily from there as up top. This “Buttbuster” wouldn’t even cause any additional discomfort, because the thing we 100 percent know about Chestbusters from the movies is that it stays small and only grows to full-size a few minutes before birth, which is why hosts feel fine until it just about to hatch/claw its way out of your flesh.


Note: You have fucked my Google search history to hell with this question, TonyC.


Age Is Just a Number

Very Confused:

Dear Mr. Postman, Gotham seems determined to divorce itself from the history of the Batman series. I’m sure you can think of plenty of examples of the series’ entertaining hand waving around Batman continuity. However, its set-up backs itself into a corner. Oswald Cobblepot and Edward Nygma are in their late 20s or early 30s in Gotham. Yet the viewer is also supposed to believe they’re around long enough to eventually cause problems as The Penguin and The Riddler for the currently 10- or 12-year-old Bruce Wayne when he finally assumes the Batman mantle.

But Selina Kyle a.k.a. the future Catwoman is also the same age as “Gotham”’s Bruce Wayne. So how can the Batman and these future villains all be roughly the same age by the time of the “Batman” comics?


Please, please, please do not worry about Gotham adhering to any part of Batman continuity. Just… don’t. That way lies madness. Honestly, the ages might be one of the least problematic parts of the show, because very few of Batman’s villains truly need to be Bruce’s age.

Let’s say for simplicity’s sake that in Gotham Bruce is 15 and Penguin and Riddler are 30. The idea of Penguin and Riddler being 40 when Batman is 25 is fine by me; it’s not like these two were ever his most physical of foes. Additionally, Catwoman being 25 is no problem whatsoever. Mr. Freeze would be 45, which is cool (feel free to guess if that pun was intended), since he’s augmented by his suit and freeze ray enough that it would be a decent fight. Scarecrow would be 30, Mad Hatter would be around 35, and Hugo Strange would be pushing 60, but again, these foes mostly messed with Batman’s mind. Even if they were Bruce’s age, they couldn’t put up a physical fight anyway, so why not have them be older? Two-Face would be 40, assuming Gotham ever has Harvey Dent show up again, but his primary weapon is shooting people. Even the Joker’s age—which would be approximately 30—is okay, although everything else about Gotham’s version of him is utterly bonkers.


But then you have Poison Ivy. I’d say she’s physically about 25 in in the show, which would make her 35… but then you have to remember she was aged up by a super-creepy mutant power so when Bruce is 25 she would have the mind of a 22-year-old. THIS IS UPSETTING. Azrael would actually be 50… if he hadn’t been shot with a rocket launcher.

Plus, please remember that Bruce has had basically two weeks of Batman training over the last years; future GCPD commissioner Jim Gordon has murdered about a million people and worked for criminals a great deal; and god knows what happens if Gotham really does make Barbara Kean into Harley Quinn, as she would not only be 40 but several years older than the Joker and would have once been engaged to Gordon. And at the moment, the only reason it appears that this Bruce may be approaching Batman-ness is because the Court of Owls wants him to.


Look. I’ve said before that Gotham is the least accurate Batman adaptation of all time—I love it, but not only is it definitely doing its own thing, it seems to be going out of its way to shatter Bat-continuity wherever it can. You’ve got to let it go, because Gotham did about midway through season one.

Home Is Where the Hard Is

John N.:

Kind of cribbing this off a comment I made on another io9 article, but is it hipster-y of me to think “Hardhome” is better than “Battle of the Bastards”? Soon after it aired so many people were saying “Battle of the Bastards” was the best GoT episode ever (and then “Winds of Winter” aired and then people said THAT was the best episode ever). Maybe everyone was just amazed at what they just watched, but even right after I finished watching “BotB” I didn’t think it was as good as “Hardhome.”

I’ll definitely admit that technically/cinematically “BotB” is unmatched, but the sense of surprise and dread and suspense I got from “Hardhome” was just on another level. Is this like…an okay opinion or is it seen as a little too contrarian?


I don’t think it’s hipster-y of you at all. It may be going against popular opinion, but unless you think yourself super-fucking-cool for thinking “Hardhome” is better than the choice of the plebes, it’s not like “Hardhome” is an organic gluten-free quadruple IPA vinyl velocipede of an episode. Also? “Battle of the Bastards” is the episode where Jon Snow sported a man-bun.

But here’s a fun fact: I think “Hardhome” is better, too. I think “Battle of the Bastards” is a massive, epic fight scene, and it’s incredible, and it’s incredibly put-together, and the panic of seeing Jon Snow suffocate in the mass of bodies is visceral as hell. But. Yes, it’s a massive, epic fight scene but it’s primarily a spectacle, which Game of Thrones does regularly. In terms of storytelling, the battle is just one long prologue to one simple bit of information: Jon beats Ramsay.


But “Hardhome” is so much more than that. Yes, it’s massive and epic, given how many actors are involved, and yes, there is fighting, but it’s not just another battle. It’s more of a slaughter, and the amount of information it packs in there is astounding. It singlehandedly provides more information about the mysterious White Walkers than all of GRRM’s books put together—their organization, their powers, their utter inhumanity—and makes them just terrifying. It does so much heavy lifting in regards to the White Walkers that it establishes their threats totally and permanently. They could only show up in the series finale and they’ll still be scary solely because of “Hardhome.”

But for me, what makes it so much more impressive than any other Game of Thrones episode is how meticulously it’s constructed. I could talk about how perfectly the tension rises with the Wildling negotiations, how the conflict is settled to give characters and viewers alike a false sending of security, and the way the White Walkers’ attack builds slowly but exponentially, starting with screams off in the distance and ending with Jon Snow’s utter despair as he sees every single one of his fallen allies join the White Walkers’ army—and I have done so in the past—but I can remember being increasingly stunned by each new moment. Case in point: I have watched “Battle of the Bastards” twice; I have watched “Hardhome” at least 20 times, and I never get less impressed.


My point is that next season Game of Thrones will absolutely have a battle—maybe more than one—that will be even more epic that “Battle of the Bastards.” But it’s going to have to work very, very hard to create something that matches “Hardhome,” which stunned me with its excellence as a critic, but also made my jaw drop for about 20 full minutes as a fan.



Age Is Just a Number: Episode II


Hello Mr Postman, my 7-, 5- and 2- year olds are obsessed with Star Wars and constantly are watching Episode V (we’re good parents!) and episodes I-III (well, maybe not). They are SUPER confused how Anakin is a kid in ep. 1 and crushing on a late teen/early 20s princess, but in ep. 2 he looks older than her.

My wife (who dislikes sci-fi) came up with a mind-blowing theory( at least to me): the type of human-alien that Anakin was ages faster than other human type aliens. She then posited that the same was true for Luke in ep. IV, he looks like he might be about 20 but acts like an early teen. Thoughts on an accelerated aging process for the species that Anakin and son are a member of?


Sorry, but all humans in the Star Wars galaxy are humans. According to Wookiepedia, the new canon states that humans originated on Coruscant, but the only citation I can find to this is that comes from the Star Wars: Uprising mobile game, which is of course 100 percent canon like everything else is, but seems a weird place to drop this pretty important bit of knowledge.

On the other hand, maybe it’s reflective of humanity in Star Wars, in that they’re so prevalent throughout the galaxy no one really cares about where they originated from. Maybe the Star Wars team also thought it was no big deal, and threw it in a cellphone game. Why, it’s almost like the collective Star Wars galaxy, fictional and real, knows that not everything needs an origin, and sometimes leaving something mysterious is better than any answer (cough Anakin Boba Fett C-3PO the prequels cough).


So I’m afraid this blows a hole in your wife’s theory. But remember, Padme is supposed to be 14 in Phantom Menace, while Anakin is 9; Attack of the Clones is set 10 years later, which makes Anakin 19 in it, and is certainly long enough for him to hit puberty and come out the other side. Also, Natalie Portman was 16-17 when Episode 1 was being filmed, so playing 14 wasn’t a stretch; meanwhile Hayden Christian was 19-20 when filming Attack of the Clones, so Anakin being 19 there also checks out.

Is it baffling that George Lucas would decide to make Anakin a small child and portray Luke and Leia’s mom as a young teenager in Episode 1, but then in the next movie have a grad school Padme marry a college freshman Anakin? IT SURE IS. But in terms of the movies, the real discrepancy here is that in the 10 years between the two prequels, Padme appears to have only aged about a week, while Anakin actually did grow up.


Death Comes to io9-Town


All of a sudden I fell into a Final Destination bender and it made me wonder: what if you and the rest of io9's staffers past and present end up in a Final Destination scenario? Like, who do you think would be first in the streak, and how do you think would it play out? Is it gonna be as cheesy and campy as the films or more subtle and ambiguous?


James would be playing with his umpteen million Japanese action figures, would slip and manage to stab his eye with one of their swords, reel in pain, fall and stab himself on yet another weapon accessory, and repeat this until he bled to death.

Germain would be watching a movie for review when the film projector would overheat and catch fire, setting the whole theater ablaze; when he tried to leave all the doors would be barred by giant palettes of The Emoji Movie promotional material.


Beth would have a jet engine fall on her on her way to the office, from a plane that should have been carrying an indie comic artist from another country to a US con, but was inexplicably and shittily denied entry.

Evan would be beheaded by his PS4 ejecting a review copy of a video game at 800 mph.


Cheryl’s apartment building, which is already super-haunted in real life, would kill her, almost certainly by an elaborate series of events knocking her into the basement’s open furnace.

Charles would slip on a comic on the top of big stairs at the Gizmodo Media office, crack his head on every fifth step (there are a lot of them) and then, upon landing on the lower floor, a safe will fall on him.


Katharine would see a major Star Trek continuity error in a future Discovery trailer, and have an aneurysm. (Honestly, this may happen anyway.)

Finally, I will be driving my car when I accidentally enter a shot being filmed for a Michael Bay Transformers movie. The massive machine used to serve as Grimlock will effectively grab my car in its jaws, crushing it, but not killing me outright. Grimlock will throw the wreck to the ground, at which point a variety of Autobots will expel their robot bodily fluids on me. Finally, a vengeful Michael Bay will rig me and my shattered car so that it explodes for a full 60 minutes. This will be included in total—as one continuous shot—in Transformers 6: What the Fuck Ever.


I’m low on mail, gang, which may or may not be because sometimes while wandering the post-apocalyptic wasteland mail is all I have to eat. Please send your queries, mysteries, disputes that need resolving, advice that needs to be given, etc. to! 


Rob Bricken was the Editor of io9 from 2016-18, the creator of the poorly named but fan-favorite news site Topless Robot, and now writes nerd stuff for many places, because it's all he's good at.

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