The Last Metroid Fallacy
Alright, I've been giving this some thoughts. No, this isn't about the "genocide of one species on planet SR388 leads to an upset of the entire ecosphere" topic. This is about that infamous of lines, probably the most well-known phrase of the entire series:
The last Metroid is in captivity. The galaxy is at peace.
Metroid: Samus Returns is a very important entry in the franchise, because it's a remastered retelling of the most important part of the entire series: the genocide of the Metroids from their home planet. All the other games of the franchise lead up to or stem off of this chapter of the story. Samus kills the Queen Metroid, and then finds a Metroid egg, which hatches before her eyes and imprints on her like a child to its mother. (Or, her mother, as Other M alludes.) Samus then takes the Baby off the planet and to scientists, who study the Metroid and find that its capabilities could help the universe, instead of being used as weapons like the Space Pirates intended. In busts Ridley, who takes the Baby back to Zebes, where a rebuilt Mother Brain uses the new Tourian facility to clone Metroids from the Baby, using beta radiation. Samus infiltrates Zebes again, kills some of those clones, and then ends up killing Mother Brain, but not before the climax of the series: The Baby gives her life for Samus, and the Last Metroid explodes, never to skree again.
...But... IS she the last Metroid?
Let's back up a little.
Federation surveyors find a Metroid on planet SR388. Space Pirates grab the Metroid before it could be delivered to Federation HQ for studying. Pirates take the Metroid to their base on Zebes, where Mother Brain begins cloning the Metroid for Pirate usage.
Pirates take some Metroid specimens in their research frigates. When Samus arrives for her Zero Mission, the Pirates were elsewhere. Or fighting the Federation fleet, blockading them. Samus destroys some Metroids, and then destroys Mother Brain. According to a lore entry in Prime, three research vessels were in Zebesian orbit when Tourian blew up. This doesn't count the Mothership landed on the surface.
One of those vessels was the Orpheon, which Samus later finds over Tallon IV. The Orpheon transported Metroids off of Zebes, to the Pirate encampment on Tallon IV. These Metroids are experimented on with Phazon, and somehow they lose their imperviousness to anything but the Ice Beam, becoming weaker but still deadly.
Later still, Samus finds Tallon Metroids on Aether, as a result of a Pirate vessel crash-landing there after being pursued by Federation Marines. Some of the Ing possess some of the Metroids, but the Pirates maintain a lab where Metroid specimens are kept (largely) in check. At a certain part of the adventure, Samus finds the Metroids have begun breeding.
After Dark Aether's destruction, Pirate forces manage to escape the planet before the Federation comes in and claims whatever Phazon was left behind. Dark Samus snuck aboard their vessel and corrupted them. It can be assumed that they also had some Tallon Metroid specimens with them, and those too were corrupted. We can find Phazon Metroids in Skytown on Elysia, which were escaped specimens from a xeno research lab which might've either been Pirate based, or Chozo based. We also later find Phazon Metroids on the Pirate Homeworld, and then again on the source of all Phazon, Phaaze.
Then Samus destroys Phaaze, supposedly rendering all Phazon in the galaxy inert. This means that Pirate vessels charged by Phazon were stranded; cybernetic and genetic enhancements were shut down (yikes!), and Phazon-infused creatures self-destructed. I suppose this means all Phazon Metroids were simultaneously wiped out.
After these occurrences, another Metroid was sighted in the Bermuda system by the Federation Force.
AND THEN, according to the usual interpretation of the Metroid timeline, the Federation council unanimously agreed, that Metroids had to be exterminated. Cue Metroid II / Metroid: Samus Returns.
Hopefully, you can see where I'm going with this.
The Federation Council gives Samus the task with destroying all remaining Metroids, which happen to reside on the planet of their initial discovery: SR388. But... can it honestly be said or confirmed that those were indeed the last Metroids?
- Zebes, Zero Mission: Samus destroys every Metroid she comes across. Tourian is built for cloning Metroids by exposing them to beta radiation for 24 hours. Does this not mean that there could be other parts of the facility that Samus didn't get access to, that have Metroids in them?
- Zebes, Zero Mission: Pirate corpses can be seen in Tourain, likely a team of Zebesian Pirates from the Mothership evacuating some Metroids out of the facility before they get captured or destroyed. Unfortunately, the Metroids themselves would have none of it. But some Pirates DID nab some Metroids, since they were on the Orpheon. The question is, did any Metroids escape capture, between Tourian and the Mothership? Or on the Mothership?
- Zebes, Zero Mission: Did the Mother Brain time bomb actually destroy any remaining Metroids in Tourian? When Samus goes back to Tourian for OCD-fueled cleanup, only three rooms actually show any form of damage from the bomb: The Mother Brain / Zebetite chamber, the Rinka hallway right before it, and the vertical escape shaft right after. Did the explosion really destroy all remaining Metroid tissues in the facility?
- Frigate Orpheon, Prime: The lore scan says that three vessels were in orbit around Zebes, when Tourian exploded. Can we really assume that Orpheon was the only one with Metroids onboard? Also, where did the other two vessels go? Did they make it to Tallon IV for transporting their Metroid cargo to the Pirate base? Did they go to other Pirate bases? Were they attacked before they could make it to their destination? Were the Pirates themselves ambushed or raided by other marauders? If so, did they take Metroids with them?
- Tallon IV, Prime: Metroids were housed both in the Phendrana and in the Phazon Mine regions, not to mention deep within the Impact Crater, also. Samus left without killing every single one of them. Also, the Phazon helps them reproduce. Not to mention the Fission Metroids.
- Aether, Echoes: A few Pirate ships bring Metroids here. They can be found in the Agon and Sky Temple Grounds regions. Samus also leaves without killing every one of them here.
- Pirate Homeworld, Corruption: Phazon Metroids have the run of the town here. Samus again doesn't kill every one of them, but supposedly the destruction of Phaaze should take care of them. This includes the corrupted Troids on Elysia and Phaaze, plus the Valhalla wreckage, right? But does anyone actually confirm this?
- Bermuda System, Federation Force: Yup, there's a Metroid there. What happens to it?
As you can see, there's a lot that needs to be answered, before we can safely say that yes, SR388 is the last vestige of Metroids in the galaxy. And before we can say that the Baby Metroid is indeed
the last Metroid.
Though, there might be a way to cut the confusion enough, to actually be more mangeable. See, the major assumption that I made is, that the timeline of Metroid actually allows the Prime games to be in between Metroid NES and Metroid II.
But if you believe that all the Prime games are not canon...
...then you'd only need to ask about whether the massive Tourian explosion was enough to kill all remaining, unseen Metroids in the area. And the same of the Mothership explosion.
Just some food for thought. For the record, I subscribe to the
the Prime games are canonuniverse, but I now understand why some would argue that they shouldn't be.