Warning: SPOILERS for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom are in play. If you haven't seen the film yet, bookmark this page and come back once you're caught up.
Repeatedly throughout Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Bryce Dallas Howard's Claire Dearing asks people if they remember the first time they saw a dinosaur. While this question helps anchor down the film's point of the wonder and majesty of these creatures living in our time, it also sets up one of the most devastating scenes in Jurassic Park history. It does so by invoking the very first moment we the audience saw a Brachiosaur on the big screen, thus turning it into an elegy to John Hammond's dream.
The scene occurs right after Owen, Claire, and Franklin land themselves on the last boat out of Isla Nublar. It's the ending to a huge action set-piece that sees the three of them running from an eruption that's already taken out several dino residents of the island, and forced several others to fall to their presumed drowning deaths. But just when we're catching our breaths, a low, mournful noise is heard. It's a Brachiosaur, standing on the dock where moments ago our heroes and villains were loading up the last boat out. Slowly, but surely, the score starts to amp up the sorrow, with the volcanic ash obscuring the creature. In one final moment, it rears up its front legs in horror, as the fires of Sibo's rage deliver it to death.
With its last moment of life, the silhouette Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom's volcanic victim is actually a direct call back to the very first dinosaur sighting in Jurassic Park, when Doctors Grant, Sattler and Malcolm are driven out to see the beautiful beasts roaming around, feasting on trees. During their feasting, one Brachiosaur rears up on its hind legs, in similar fashion to the dinosaur killed in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, and wows its captive audience. It was the first time we saw a dinosaur in the Jurassic world come to life, and as you relive it below, notice how much it resembles its darker mirror image in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.
This was certainly no accident, as J.A. Bayona admitted to THR this weekend that he was connecting the two moments in the following statement:
That scene from Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is a big, heartbreaking divide that separates the adventure on Isla Nublar from the action-packed stretch at the Lockwood Estate, which presumably kicks off the events that'll carry us into Jurassic World 3's eventual climax to the trilogy. By bookending the history of Isla Nublar's dinosaur park era with Brachiosaurs in joyful and mournful splendour, the book is officially closed on John Hammond's dream of, "living biological attractions so astounding, they'd capture the imagination of the entire planet."
Much like John Hammond's portrait and the gentle sting of horns signaling the Jurassic Park theme's slight presence in the film, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom wants you to remember the first time you saw a dinosaur in this franchise, and it wants you to remember it well. No matter where you stand with this series, this is the moment that defines where things go from here: we're no longer going to be safe on an island. Dinosaurs are roaming on the mainland and the gentle Brachiosaur is no longer one with this earth. Eli Mills was right: we as a species are drawn to war, which meant that all the dinosaurs with defense mechanisms found safe passage, while the Brachiosaurs were left to die. It reminds us of Jurassic Park's show-stopping debut of the creature is a great heartbreak, while also offering a portent for the catastrophe ahead. Maybe if we saved the right dinosaurs, we wouldn't be headed towards Jurassic World 3 with such a grim and uncertain future.