A show all about time travel wouldn’t be complete without some good ol’ fashioned revisionist fun, and luckily for us Loki insists on having it. In the series first episode, Loki explains the resolution of the legendary D.B. Cooper heist with a bit of magic and Heimdall’s magic portals. While trailers made it seems that was the only crack the show would take at explaining an unsolved mystery, in this past episode the show writers decided to go at it once more and tackle the infamous mystery surrounding the USS Eldridge — also known as the Philadelphia experiment conspiracy.
For those of you not familiar with the USS Eldridge and its strange, urban legend, strap in because it’s a weird one. Constructed in the 1940s, the USS Eldridge was built to help the US transport both troops and supplies abroad during World War II. However, according to the legend, the most action it saw was actually during its construction. In 1956, 13 years after the Eldridge was first commissioned, a man named Carlos Miguel Allende claimed the ship had a mysterious past. According to Allende, on October 28, 1943 — as the U.S. Navy sat at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard — the USS Eldridge was the subject of an experiment in vehicle cloaking.
Allegedly, the ship was outfitted with generators that would render the ship invisible to enemy radars, however, when the generators were turned on, this ship was surrounded by a “green fog” and then disappeared. Now, while testimonies generally agree with the ship’s dramatic exit, there are several rumors regarding where it appeared. According to some, the USS Eldridge emerged 200 miles away in Norfolk, Virginia. Others claim it reappeared in the same spot or, more unusually, went back in time. However, while where the ship landed is up for debate, nearly all the reports provide grim details regarding what happened to the crew.
According to the reports, nearly all of the crew members aboard when the experiment took place wound up sick or mentally unstable upon their return — but that’s not the worst of it. Some testimonies said the members were severely burned or had their bodies melted and merged into the ship. To this day, however, the U.S. Navy denies any of this actually occurred, and it’s widely regarded as a hoax.
While the show’s fifth episode doesn’t delve all that deeply into exactly what happened to the USS Eldridge — after all, it’s a bit hard to take such a sharp detour in a series penultimate episode — what’s shown is indisputably a reference to the ship. The USS Eldridge makes its big appearance when Loki and his motley crew of counterparts await a deviant’s entry into the void so the team can get a better look at Alioth. As soon as the ship drops, Alioth makes their move, and attacks the crew members, horrifying and completely disintegrating them. Whether or not the ship was pruned or perhaps the military accidentally created their own version of a TemPad is left up for debate, but either way, it’s an interesting take on a pretty infamous event.
With only one episode left, we might be out of luck when it comes to seeing any more of these fun revisions, but with What If… only a few months out, we know it won’t be long until Marvel is back at it.