Jurassic World Dominion Botches The Franchise's Biggest Mystery

This post contains major spoilers for "Jurassic World Dominion."

With the release of "Jurassic World Dominion," one of the biggest movie franchises in the history of cinema approaches something that is meant to feel like closure. After all, this is the end of the current trilogy, and it brings things full circle by returning many characters from the original "Jurassic Park." Much of the marketing focus was (rightfully) put on Laura Dern (Ellie Sattler), Sam Neill (Alan Grant), and Jeff Goldblum (Ian Malcolm) reuniting on screen together for the first time in nearly three decades. But another character, an important one at that, returned to the fold in the form of Lewis Dodgson — and he brought with him a hugely important relic from the past.

For those who may not recall, Dodgson was the man from "Jurassic Park" who delivers Wayne Knight's Dennis Nedry a bag full of cash and a Barbasol Can to transport InGen's dinosaur embryos off Isla Nublar so that Biosyn, a rival genetics company, can catch up and presumably build their own dinosaur theme park. This plot thread was intentionally severed in the first movie, but "Dominion" finally brings things full circle, albeit in a wildly unsatisfying manner.

The Barbasol can

In a key scene early in "Jurassic Park," Dodgson meets with Nedry to deliver $750,000 in cash as well as a vessel to transport dinosaur embryos in a bit of corporate espionage that, in essence, sets this whole six-movie franchise in motion. The vessel in question? A can of Barbasol shaving cream that has a screw-off bottom to hide the embryos. As Dodgson states in the scene, it can hold 15 embryos and has enough coolant to last 36 hours. Unfortunately for Biosyn, Nedry meets his demise at the teeth of a Dilophosaurus in no small part thanks to a large storm that breaks out as the electric fences are shut off in the park. The Barbasol can is buried in the mud and we never see it again (at least officially speaking) in any of the sequels up through "Fallen Kingdom."

The Barbasol can became something fans have wondered about for years. Did anyone recover it? Did the embryos ever make it off the island? If so, what was done with them? "Jurassic Park: The Game," which is not officially canon, made use of the Barbasol can as a central element of its plot, and an abandoned version of "Jurassic Park 4," the one that might have involved human/dino hybrids, also would have used the can. But it's not until the third act of "Jurassic World Dominion" that the McGuffin makes its unceremonious return nearly 30 years later.

Dodgson (played Campbell Scott, replacing Cameron Thor) is essentially the main villain of the new film, serving as the head of Biosyn after ascending the corporate ladder in the years since that fateful meeting. The movie hardly makes any direct connections to let the audience know that these are indeed the same person but, in any event, that's who he is. And he is the one who is going to reunite us with this lost relic.

A relic of the past (briefly) returns

Once things go south at Biosyn's research lab, Dodgson looks to make his escape and start over with a new venture. In cleaning out his office, we see him grab a few trinkets and, wouldn't you know it, one of them is a beat-up, burned, old red and blue can of Barbasol, presumably the very same one he entrusted to Nedry all those years ago. I only say presumably because director Colin Trevorrow's movie, as it exists, does not explicitly address the long-lost can beyond showing it on screen a couple of times. It is hardly anything more than a little Easter egg in "Dominion," despite its curious history and attachment to the character we find it with once again.

This serves to frustrate in several ways. For one, the movie is nearly two and a half hours long. One would think with a runtime that meaty that if you're going to include something this important to the history of the franchise, you could actually spend some time with it rather than waste the opportunity with a little, "remember this?" on-screen moment that contributes nothing to the film. The question of why include it at all really comes to mind — this reeks of wasted opportunity. If you weren't going to do anything with it, why not save it for a better moment?

Beyond that, the fact that the movie doesn't truly connect this version of Dodgson to the guy who briefly appeared in "Jurassic Park" takes some narrative weight out of it. If the movie had done a better job at pointing out that this was the same person, seeing the can might have at least rung some bells. Instead, it's a nothing moment that wastes something a great many fans have actually wondered about.

Jurassic isn't done with the Barbasol can just yet

It is important to note that the Barbasol can is going to appear in the franchise again — and very soon. The animated series "Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous" is entering its fifth and final season on Netflix, with the show set to return in July. The teaser trailer already revealed that the can is going to show up in the series, and in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Trevorrow was asked about the can's retrieval and whether or not we're ever going to get any answers on that front. Here's what he had to say about it:

"If you happen to watch our animated show, Camp Cretaceous, there may be an answer to that in season five, which is coming in July. There may or may not be [an answer]. We'll see. (Laughs.)"

Now, here's the thing: I have quite liked "Camp Cretaceous," but it is very much a show aimed at younger fans that hardcore viewers can enjoy as well. The fact that they bothered to include something so important in the concluding film to this new trilogy only to have the director then say "go watch the animated show to get the answers to the questions you have" is pretty damn frustrating. Alas, that's how the people controlling the franchise currently opted to handle it. We can only hope that the answers that lie ahead in "Camp Cretaceous" are more satisfying than what we saw in the movie.

"Jurassic World Dominion" is in theaters now.