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No Time To Die: The Darkest Theory Behind Madeleine Swann's Big Secret

Madeleine Swann stands with a questionable expression in No Time To Die.

In the midst of anticipating how No Time To Die’s finale will change everything, the last movie in James Bond's Daniel Craig era holds another crucial mystery. It all has to do with Dr. Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux), a woman who apparently holds a huge secret that could “kill” the secret agent she loves. While we’ve still got some time before we discover what hidden facts might be so lethal in the world of James Bond, let’s take a look at what could possibly be the darkest theory behind Dr. Swann’s shadowy revelation.

Just a warning before we move ahead: there are tons of spoilers for all of the Daniel Craig movies here. Should you need to catch up with everything from Casino Royale to Spectre, it’s best to turn back now. With that warning in mind, here’s the hypothetical scenario that even James Bond himself is probably worried about in the opening of No Time To Die.

Daniel Craig approaches a cautious Lea Seydoux in No Time To Die.

The Darkest Theory Behind Dr. Madeleine Swann’s Big Secret

The largest suggestion that’s been made in reference to Madeleine's big secret is that she’s connected to SPECTRE in some way. Between her father, Mr. White (Jesper Christensen), playing an integral role in their operations, as well as some interesting phone calls that James Bond receives during the early moments of No Time To Die, there’s a lot of curiosity being stoked about how Dr. Madeleine Swann could be connected to the infamous terror organization. The darkest possibility being that Dr. Swann has been working for SPECTRE the whole time and handing them the psychological weapons to destroy James Bond.

Her background as a psychologist positions her as a potential expert in SPECTRE’s efforts to undermine the intelligence community throughout the world. But James Bond, the constant thorn in the side of Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Christoph Waltz), deserved some special treatment. So knowing his adopted brother’s tragic past, and the scars he’s picked up throughout his career as a 00-agent, he enlisted Dr. Madeleine Swann in the ultimate psychological war against 007.

The trump card to the operation, quite possibly, could be the romance between Madeleine and James, which may or may not have inspired her to shift loyalties to the side of good. By the time Spectre shows us the couple driving into their future together, the damage has already been done. Whether she’s still serving SPECTRE or not, Blofeld now has an advantage that could send James Bond into the ultimate tale spin. But in this darkest scenario, we’ll assume that Dr. Swann is indeed a baddie.

Lea Seydoux sitting in a train car telling a story in Spectre.

Dr. Madeleine Swann’s Past Is Mostly A Mystery

When starting to look at the evidence presented throughout the James Bond series, most notably in 2015’s Spectre, it becomes clear we know very little about Dr. Madeleine Swann’s past. Save for some stories she told James throughout their adventure together in Sam Mendes’ second Bond film, there’s a wide gulf to explore. And part of that past might be coming back to haunt her, not only through her secret, but also through the presence of Safin (Rami Malek).

Her potential service to SPECTRE could range from actually getting her hands dirty as a child soldier to running psychological warfare programs that keep the group ahead of their potential foils. Remember, that CinemaCon footage did make references to Madeleine Swann as a “daughter of SPECTRE,” and hinted at a sacrifice that would make her father, and the organization, proud. James Bond is suspicious of Dr. Swann’s secrets, and he may have a good reason for that, as her total personal history isn’t quite clear.

Jesper Christensen shouting while sitting behind a chess set in Spectre.

James Bond Would Have Never Met Madeleine, If It Wasn’t For Her Father, Mr. White

As James Bond started to connect even more of the dots between Quantum and SPECTRE, his trail eventually leads him to Mr. White, also known as “The Pale King.” Apparently human trafficking was the cause of Blofeld and White’s falling out, which led to SPECTRE’s leader ordering a hit on his former associate. Of course, that wasn’t before Mr. White made 007 promise to take care of his daughter, the first big step in connecting these future lovers. But what if Mr. White hadn’t truly defected, and his actions in Spectre were part of a larger game.

He could have already been dying and been allowed the chance to live the rest of his days in solace, for a price. Acting as a believable pawn between James Bond and Ernst Stavro Blofeld, Mr. White put his foe on the path to meet his daughter, who will ultimately become his greatest weakness. That's fitting enough, as his death is a suicide over a chess game in progress. Considering the business he’s in, this is as comfortable of a “retirement plan” as one could hope for, but it also ties into a previous effort that Mr. White had launched to win over James Bond.

Eva Green in Casino Royale and Stana Katic in Quantum of Solace, side by side

Spectre Has Become Quite The Experts In Running This Particular Game

James Bond isn’t the only intelligence agent that SPECTRE has turned in the name of love. Both Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) in Casino Royale, and Canadian intelligence operative Corinne Veneau (Stana Katic) in Quantum of Solace were revealed to be turned by the same agent. SPECTRE has always been trying to knock James Bond off his game, whether it’s by recruitment through an attractive turncoat, or by inflicting pain throughout his early adventures. Most knowingly, Mr. White made the following admission during his interrogation in Quantum:

I was always very interested to meet you. I heard so much about you from Vesper. The real shame is, if she hadn't killed herself we would've had you too.

Blofeld even flat out crowns himself as “the author of all [his] pain” in Spectre. As not only a jealous adopted brother, but also the head of the organization that had a hand in the deaths of Vesper Lynd and M, this is absolutely true. While Vesper’s end was her own doing, the attack on M may have been suggested based on Dr. Swann’s psychological profile on Bond; the same profiling that was used against other operatives time and again. And what pain would be greater than just as he starts to think he can love again, Madeleine Swann is revealed to have targeted key intelligence operatives around the world, Bond included, in order to compromise them through honey trap operations?

Daniel Craig looking weary in a colorful club in No Time To Die.

Madeleine Swann May Be SPECTRE’s Ultimate Weapon To Destroy James Bond

Knowing all of his weaknesses, and working for SPECTRE as a psychological profiler, Madeleine Swann holds all the cards to destroy James Bond in this dark theory. Her knowledge of his past is exactly what she needs to make him fall in love for the first time since Vesper, which would put him in his most vulnerable spot yet. There’s a potential she may have fallen for Bond, and decided to actually make an attempt to go straight in No Time To Die. But after all of her past sins, it might just be the death of James Bond, as Safin is ready to kill him to get to her.

If this theory is true, Dr. Madeleine Swann may have been intended as the ultimate neutralization of James Bond. Preying on his psychological weaknesses, she convinces him to take himself off the board and live a life of love away from the world of spies. But when Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) comes calling with a very important mission, the darker option is executed by breaking Bond’s spirit through a shocking revelation, just as he’s ready to trust Madeleine once and for all.

Many factors may have changed, and Madeleine Swann just might be on the side of good in No Time To Die. Even if that’s true, her perceived actions above prove that at one point, she was the sharpest knife in the drawer of weapons SPECTRE used against James Bond. Those past actions will almost assuredly come home to roost, as Safin’s diabolical plan sounds like it’s partially based on personal vendetta.

We’ll find out the truth behind Dr. Madeleine Swann, and see Daniel Craig’s James Bond embark on an epic conclusion to his five film arc, when No Time To Die releases in theaters this fall. For our UK readers, that means September 30 is the big day; while US readers will have to pencil themselves in for showings starting on October 8. The clock is ticking, and whatever the result is, the wait is almost over for the moment that James Bond finally returns.

Mike Reyes

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.