An alternate interpretation to the ending of Source Code

Warning: This post contains spoilers for the ending of Source Code. Since it’s release, I’ve listen to several different reviews of Source Code. Positive or negative, most reviewers seem to fixate on a specific aspect of the films’ ending. In the climactic scene Colleen Goodwin sends Colter Stevens back through the Source Code one last time, severs Stevens connection with the machine, and allows him to live out the rest of his life as Sean Fentress in the world in which he stops the bomb from ever exploding. In the last 2 minutes of the film, we then discover that in every trip Stevens took, an alternate reality was actually being created. What I’ve found is that most reviewers seem to share the common belief that Colter Stevens is killing Sean Fentress by taking his place in this alternate reality. I, however, see things a little bit differently.

You see, Stevens can’t kill Fentress in the new reality because Fentress’ consciousness never existed in that reality. Let me explain. I have a little different interpretation of how Source Code works and what condition the participants must be in, in order for the “temporary-consciousness-shifting-dimension-generation” to actually work. You don’t simply take two people who’ve died and swap their consciousnesses. That doesn’t make sense. If you just needed a dead person, why couldn’t they just pull a body off the train and use the civilian who died? I think the process requires 1) A person who has just died, and 2) Someone who WAS moments from death.

The way I interpreted the science was that upon death, a person’s brain caches the universe (or reality) in which it exists in. Saving it as sort of an afterglow (as described by the creator). Alternately, the closer a person is to death, the more in tune they become to pick up that afterglow. When the first person dies, their consciousness ceases to exist, leaving behind an empty vessel containing only the afterglow of that reality. The Source Code device is designed to do two things: 1) perpetually keep a person suspended in a near death state, and 2) temporarily shift that person’s consciousness into the empty vessel and allow them to relive the buffer of that afterglow.

The generation of a new reality is simply an unintended consequence of the process. Either way, I don’t believe Sean Fentress’ consciousness ever exists in the new reality to be “killed off”.

posted by Christopher Schnese