The story's title, "The Things", refers to humans this time,
rather than the alien.
In The Thing, Dr.
Copper and Childs seemingly test negative for "thingism". In this
story, it is suggested that they were actually Things.
Initially, the Thing refers to Earth life simply as "the
world", because it believes it is a world of communion among
all life forms like the worlds it has travelled to
previously. It does not initially recognize the concept of
individual life forms.
The story suggests that all of the imitated humans are now
the same creature, merely spread out over several different
At some point after MacReady's test, the Thing gets to
Childs and imitates him. At one point, Childs assists Blair
with getting back inside the outpost to steal parts, etc.
and the two commune and share information by extruding and
The story suggests that the Thing needs to consume the dead
organic bodies of life forms in order to gain energy and
extra mass for other transformations. Childs consumed part
of the body of Fuchs after he killed himself to prevent
takeover and Blair secretly consumed the biomass of Clark
after being let back into the outpost by Childs.
The story reveals that the reason Childs ran out into the
storm close to the end of
The Thing was because the creature had decided to
allow his Childs-form to become frozen in the ice again, to
thaw out in some later time period when, perhaps, the world
might not be so hostile.
The Thing laments on how it was so much more before the saucer
crash: an explorer, an ambassador, a missionary, spreading
communion and advancement of life on countless worlds
throughout the cosmos. Most of the Thing was killed in the
crash, only a small portion of itself (a few trillion cells,
with only a small portion of the larger Thing's soul) was
able to crawl away from the burning wreckage of the ship and
became frozen in the ice, to be found 100,000 years later by
the Norwegian camp.
The story suggests that the main portion of the Thing's soul
hid inside the Norwegian dog and fled while the human forms
it imitated fought off the attack at the Norwegian camp.
The story suggests that Palmer was already a Thing when he
went with MacReady and Norris to investigate the crash site.
It further suggests that Palmer was the first human imitated
at Outpost 31 (the shadow on the wall
at 15:38 on the DVD of
The Thing does not seem to know how long it was buried in
the ice, despite Norris' estimate of around 100,000 years.
It wonders how many eons have passed and guesses perhaps a
million years (although on Earth, geologically speaking, an
eon is generally considered to be around a billion years).
Since there was no rescue of itself, by itself, in all that
time, it wonders if the rest of it even exists out there in
the cosmos anymore.
Like it did at the Norwegian camp, the Thing stages a final
battle with the human survivors as Blair-Thing so that they
think they destroyed it, while the Childs-thing freezes in
the ice outside the camp to reawaken in some far distant
The story suggests that, after being perfectly imitated, the
humans continued to move and act as themselves, with their
own personalities, which is something the Thing had never
encountered before; Earth is the first world in which the life
forms on it are not all already in communion with each other and
open to communion/joining with the Thing, embracing the
addition of new forms for adaptability.
The Thing ruminates that it has the templates of life forms
on a thousand worlds.
The Thing wonders how much of it's own soul/intellect it has
lost due to the loss of so much of itself in the crash.
Observing the autopsy of the malformed human mass brought
back from the Norwegian camp as both Palmer and Norris, the Thing
sees Copper remove the brain from the body and doesn't know
what it is. It thinks of the brain matter as "a great
wrinkled tumor...cellular competition gone wild...a huge,
twisted clot of tissue...encysted...a thinking cancer..."
The story suggests that the incomplete creatures we see the
Thing begin to form at various times in the film are the
result of only half-remembering all the creatures it has
been since it has lost so much of itself.
The Thing is used to "incorporating souls, not rooming with
them" as it has to do with Earth creatures.
As the story progresses, it begins to become clear that, of
the thousand worlds the Thing has "communed" with, Earth is
apparently the first whose life forms are all individuals
and whose biomass cannot change into other forms.
The Thing finds that it can use a small burst of
bioelectricity to wipe out the most recent memories of the
imitated human so that it would forget that something else
had controlled their bodies on those occasions.
The Thing is unfamiliar with the concept of dreams and
nightmares until spending time in a sleeping human body and
experiencing them. For some reason, it capitalizes the first
letter of each word when discussing this new experience of Dreams
At first, the Thing is only able to take control of the
human skins after they have gone to sleep.
The Thing reflects that it is taking extreme concentration
to remain hidden in the human skins. It's used to communing
with the world it's on, not hiding within its forms.
The Thing refers to MacReady's blood test as the "thing
detector". Perhaps it got the term from MacReady himself in
an unseen bit of dialog.
The story reveals that the Thing left false clues and leads
and destroyed real ones. For example, it created the
computer animations and calculations that lead the outpost's
occupants into believing the world could be taken over in a
relatively short amount of time and it allowed the imitated
Blair to run amok, destroying the outpost's means of
communication and escape and then allowing Blair to be
incarcerated away from the rest, where he could begin work
on his own escape craft.
After being locked up in the tool shed, the Blair-Thing was
able to change shape and easily slip out through the cracks
and gather the mechanical parts it needed for the escape
The story suggests that the Palmer-, Norris-, and
Childs-Things volunteered to bring food out to Blair in the
shed so that they could bring extra food for his
required metamorphoses (although the novelization of
The Thing suggests that it
was the cook, Nauls, still human, who delivered the food).
The Thing ruminates that events could have turned out much
differently if it had never become Norris. Norris' heart
attack and subsequent death ended not just the human
personality's control of the body, but also the Thing's; the
explosive reactions of Norris' body after death were
just the instinctive survival reactions of the alien cells
under the shock of the defibrillator paddles; this is what
MacReady the blood test idea.
The shapes of life forms stored within the Thing were always
used as adaptation before, not to hide and mimic as it has had to
The Thing allowed Copper to die as if he were human after
his arms are severed by the teeth that opened up on Norris'
chest during defibrillation, not letting on that Copper was
The Thing's narrative seems to suggest the dog-thing that
emerges from its body during its final confrontation with MacReady
was the half-corrupted memory of the assimilated dog, determined to
retain its individuality, and the Thing feels it has been
corrupted by our world and begins wondering who is assimilating
who? So, in a way, Earth was assimilating the Thing as much
as it was trying to assimilate the life forms it
Near the end of the story all of the assimilations of the
Thing have been destroyed except for Childs and there seems
to be a bit of an internal argument going on between Childs
and the Thing about which of them is the real monster, until
Childs' soul dies in the freezing cold, leaving only the Thing in control of the
imitation Childs body.
During the blood test MacReady devised, the Thing was
expecting the humans remaining to be shocked that they were
all shapeshifters from the beginning, as nature intended.
Instead it itself
was shocked when it saw that the humans' blood didn't react
that way at all.
The Thing's narrative suggests that Copper's blood did
react, just slightly shivering, when contacted by the hot
needle. But the humans didn't notice it or, if they did,
just attributed it to the trembling in MacReady's hand. The
Thing hadn't been Copper long enough to have completed
assimilation, so the blood wasn't able to react in the
violent manner the other Things did. And Childs had been
imitated for an even shorter period, so again, he passed the
The Thing reflects on the humans' biophysical shortcomings;
that besides Norris' bad heart, Copper had sore joints and
Blair had a curved spine.
By the end of the story/film, the Thing seems to feel sorry
for the life forms of Earth, with statements in the
narrative such as "each skin fights as desperately as I
might, if one was all could ever have"; "the scale of their
loneliness, the futility of their lives, overwhelms me"; "I
was so blind, so quick to blame"; "I cannot escape into the
future, not knowing what I know now...how could I leave them
like this?"; "offered the greater whole, they see the loss
of the lesser...offered communion, they see only extinction";
"I will save them from the inside, or their unimaginable
loneliness will never end."
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