Thanks for reading another installment of Fan Theory Friday! They’re not every Friday—and they’re not always on Fridays—but they are on some Fridays, sometimes.
I come to bury Spectre, not to praise it. Not that I think it undeserving of some praise. But it’s time to write this article—one that I’ve been putting since November, 2015—that finally considers whether or not Spectre reaffirmed the fan theory that I wrote, based on the 2012 film Skyfall.
I’ll tell you the answer first: yes, I think Spectre reaffirms my brainwashed James Bond fan theory.
Next, the evidence. But first, a recap.
The Original Code Name Fan Theory
The first James Bond code name theory—which I did not invent—suggests that Bond is not James Bond’s name but, instead, is a name assigned to various MI6 agents. This explains the lack of continuity between the Bond films, all the different actors who played Bond over the years, etc.
My Improved Code Name Theory, Involving Brainwashing
The trouble with this theory is that it was seemingly shredded into irrelevance by the 2012 film Skyfall, in which Bond goes to the Bond family home, Skyfall.
The argument I made in 2015 is that, rather than contradicting the fan theory, Skyfall lent it credence, if one chooses to view (in typical fan theorist fashion) a separate narrative overlaid onto Skyfall, in which Daniel Craig’s character is a victim of brainwashing by MI6.
The final setting of the film is thus not just a return to Bond’s home, but a return to a major origin of existence for the three central characters: Craig’s Bond, Judi Dench’s M, and Javier Bardem’s Raoul Silva.
How does Spectre fit in?
Spectre is one of the strangest James Bond films. At times it feels like the rebootiest soft reboots possible—despite being the fourth film in the Craig sequence—with M once again a man, Moneypenny once again an administrative assistant, and Q back to being a gadget-dispensing funnyman.
It also sees the return of Blofeld—the primary antagonist of three Bond novels and many early Bond films.
It’s Blofeld—and the use of his character—that, for me, confirms the brainwashed Bond theory in Spectre. A recap of the entire plot of Spectre isn’t needed here, but what deems repeating:
- Christoph Walz, as Blofeld, pretends his name is Franz O-something but then turns out to be named Blofeld. He reveals this via a big villainous monologue, much the same way that Cumberbatch’s John Harrington revealed himself to be Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness
- Blofeld turns out to be Bond’s sorta adopted brother figure or something
- Blofeld has a cat, just like a) Connery-era Blofeld and b) Dr. Evil, who was inspired by Connery-era Blofeld
- Bond decides not to kill Blofeld at the end, even when he can
Most important to Spectre’s relationship to the brainwashed Bond theory is that it turns out Blofeld has been puppet-mastering everything that happened to Bond over the last three films. He’s the reason all the Bond women die. He’s the reason for every Bond (mis)adventure. The blood-weeping Le Chiffre in Casino Royale, the forgettable bad guy in Quantum of Solace, the Javier Bardem villain in Skyfall—each of these, we learn from Blofeld, were his doing.
As he declares:
Me. It was all me, James. It’s always been me. The author of all your pain.
This is before Blofeld appears, at the end of the film, with his trademark scar.
Yes, Spectre fits within the brainwashing fan theory
Not only does Spectre fit well with the fan theory, but once you accept it—once you really lean into the “James Bond is a name given to brainwashed secret agents who don’t understand the extent to which they function as secret agents”, it’s hard to understand what’s happening otherwise.
Why the dramatic reveal of the name Blofeld, as if that name would mean something to Bond?
Why the sudden suggestion that Blofeld has been the author of all Bond’s pain? And no, not just what we’ve seen in the films. All your pain, Blofeld says.
So what exactly is happening?
How does Blofeld literally fit into my fan theory?
A few possibilities:
- Blofeld himself is another brainwashed entity, not entirely aware of how he fits into this. Far from the true pain author he imagines himself to be.
- Blofeld was literally the author of Bond’s pain, all the way to the beginning. He worked for MI6, brainwashing agents to believing themselves to be Bond. He then split off and became his own entity
- Or, the above, but he still does work for MI6 in some function. Spectre and MI6 serve the same master. Some kind of prescribed good-and-evil, duality of man, order and chaos Janus-faced dynamic.
I know that my typical style—and the style of all fan theories—is to choose an absolute stance and to argue for that absolute. In this case, I’m reluctant to do so.
I don’t know what the answer is and, frankly, it’s why it has taken me several years to get around to writing this blog post. I think that Walz’s Blofeld easily fits into my take on Bond. How, exactly, is something I still haven’t determined.
What I do look forward to is the new film. Perhaps No Time to Die can finally give me the evidence and closure I need to understand how this fan theory exists across every Bond film.