How Spectre Reaffirmed the Brainwashed Bond Fan Theory

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.

This film

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.

This guy.

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.

It’s a lot to ponder.

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.


  1. It may not be brainwashing, but a naming convention from an elite Orphange/school, that has become self perpetuating. Naming convention taken from The Emissary Creche Orphanage.
    Father Primary:
    Male child
    Fore Name: Same as Paternal Grandfathers first name.
    Middle Name: Same as Father’s last name
    Surname: Same as Mothers’ last name
    A few of the James Bond’s
    James Bond Latrelle, mother Simone Latrelle (Solitaire)
    James Bond Romanova, mother Tatiana Romanov, Soviet defector.
    James Bond Fearing, mother Patricia Fearing, Nurse

    The list goes on, starting with the bastards of Campion “James” Bond

  2. Maybe the missions that involve Specter are the training missions for Bond. Think about it like this, Bond presumably knocks out dozens of easier missions between films. These are the real missions that MI6 has Bond go on. These are things that a normal operative couldn’t even attempt but due to his intense training Bond knocks them out without a sweat, “take out a cartel leader, no problem, it’s not Specter” etc. The name Specter is even a kind of joke about this fact. Somehow this organization has seemingly infinite resources, connections everywhere Bond looks, can operate in total secrecy. This also explains why Bond never dies in the movies but is changed unceremoniously off-screen so often. The real dangerous missions where a stray ricochet could hit Bond between the ribs are off-screen, onscreen everything is carefully coordinated to remove 007s fear of dying and push his abilities to the utmost but without real danger (or as much real danger).

  3. Theories that Bond was more and less than met the eye circulated all the way back in the sixties, possibly even before then. Some of that speculation culminated in a show called The Prisoner with a hero who was very Bondesque, especially in the earlier episodes. Was Bond a person, a codename, or an induced state, an operative formed through some combination of mind games, torture, technology, drugs, and costume drama? Then there is the question of who or what is really controlling Bond. He seems to believe that he works for HMSS or MI6, but does he? How would he know if he didn’t all along, or if he were hijacked somewhere along the way? Do his operations against Spectre happen just exactly as is, or are these missions that have less palatable and therefore disguised objectives. Are they real world training exercises, perhaps, or do they take place entirely in his mind? Do you really desire closure, or do you really hope that every new film deepens the rabbit hole?

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