The most head-spinning twist of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom will surprise viewers not just because it feels so uncharacteristic for the franchise, but because it seems like an obvious direction these movies should have gone in years ago.

With all this talk if dinosaur cloning and genetic manipulation, how come we never hear about animal or human clones? Where’s the mad scientist that manipulates the human genome?

Dino-sized spoilers follow for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom hit theaters on June 22, delivering a toneless spectacle that recycles familiar plots to destroy one Jurassic World and build towards another. But along the way, Fallen Kingdom also introduces a bizarre but seemingly crucial subplot about human cloning that forever changes the franchise.

The obligatory “Jurassic kid” in Fallen Kingdom is Maisie Lockwood, the supposed granddaughter of Sir Benjamin Lockwood, a new character retconned into the Jurassic universe as John Hammond’s original partner. Together, these two men unlocked the secrets of genetic manipulation decades ago.

But, we eventually learn that Maisie is, unbeknownst to her, actually a clone of Lockwood’s dead daughter. Lockwood and Hammond had a falling out as friends and partners because Lockwood wanted to clone dead humans instead of dead dinosaurs. So it goes.

Maisie is threatened by the Indoraptor in its cage.
Maisie is threatened by the Indoraptor in its cage.

Since the very beginning of Jurassic Park, when that Colonel Sanders-looking scientist unlocked the key to cloning dinosaurs via some funky genetic manipulation, these movies have explored genetic science fiction. But it’s always “dinosaur this” and “hybrid dinosaur that.”

If the scientific advances were there 25 years ago to extract dinosaur DNA from mosquitos, splice it with frog DNA to fill in the missing chromosomes, and create legitimate dinosaurs, then why isn’t there more genetic manipulation going on in this world?

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom hints at genuinely compelling questions about manipulating the human genome by introducing Maisie to the mix, but the movie doesn’t do enough to explore the implications of her existence.

The closest thing we get is Maisie deciding to release a couple dozen dinosaurs into the wilds of California rather than let them die. “They’re just like me,” she says shortly after finding out she’s a clone. It’s a shame, however, that neither we nor Maisie are given a chance to reflect on her status as a clone. We’re not even given enough time to care about Maisie, who gets very little screentime in Fallen Kingdom, before this bombshell is dropped. So this supposed “revelation” falls flat.

Imagine that this major twist — one that changes the world of the franchise as much if not more than the release of a couple dozen dinosaurs — wasn’t pegged to a minor character and essentially glossed over. What if it had been a character we knew already, like Claire. The logistic of making that twist work might’ve been complicated, but it no doubt would’ve hit harder. Claire could’ve made the same choice Maisie did to free the dinosaurs, delivered the same line, and the whole movie would’ve been better for it.

Claire and Owen team up with Maisie in the third act of 'Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom'.
Claire and Owen team up with Maisie in the third act of 'Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom'.

From the beginning of Fallen Kingdom, there’s political turmoil in America because the government doesn’t know what to do about Isla Nubar’s impending destruction from its newly active volcano, which would’ve killed all the remaining dinosaurs had Claire and Owen not intervened. The government essentially decides that the dinosaurs are clones of extinct creatures and don’t have the same rights as “normal” animals.

So what happens then the wider public realizes that cloned humans — or at least one — exist? How will the government handle human rights related to clones if they were so opposed to the animal rights of clones prehistoric dinosaurs? Are human and dinosaur clones really the same, like Maisie says?

Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom had a chance to explore how society might handle these ethical questions. But beyond a bland politician mumbling his way through Congress’s decision to abandon the dinosaurs, we don’t really know how people in this world feel about cloning. Now that clone rights is an issue that spans both dinosaurs and people for the next movie, this should be a huge deal moving forward.

It’s all but certain that these ideas will be explored even further in the next Jurassic World movie, because with dinosaurs roaming about North America, the wider public’s going to have a lot more to say. We’ve seen more than enough cloned hybrid dinosaurs, but what about cloned hybrid humans?

Photos via Universal Pictures