On Things Stranger and Strangerer

Just finished a scene and starting the next one: I am back to the Castle, where newly arrived Sir Alann and Sir Vernon (and the rest of the riders) are met by Verra, Marque, Veneammen and Northhill. This should be fun to write, for as long as I keep it short (right…) and make it advance the story further toward the final battle.

While figuring out ways to achieve said goal, I allowed myself a little treat in the form of brainless screen gazing, and, taking advantage of Netflix free promotional month of service, decided to check out the show which is praised as the best Netflix original show of all times: Stranger Things.

I have to admit that while I am not a fan of the horror genre at all (even spiced up with a hearty pinch of interdimensional-governmental-conspiratorial sci-fi seasoning), this one I like. Four episodes in, and I am still watching (between writing scenes, or when there is no seat on the train), and likely to finish the first season, and not just because I am not a quitter (I even survived Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV, which is now officially my new unsurpassed etalon of ultimate shit with the one and only exception: the animation was nothing short of spectacular—they even track facial micro-expressions!), but because I do like the show. Even despite the fact that my age kinda makes it easier to identify with the evil professor, rather than the teenage protagonists.

Nice surprise—to find myself in agreement with almost everyone else’s opinion on a subject. Rare case.

Which brings me to the other highly praised piece of work, this time in the sacred genre of epic space opera.

Rogue One: a Star Wars Story

Where to start…

Let’s try a synopsis (if I left anything out it’s because I did not get it—I tend to veer away when they tell me stuff in the movies instead if showing it). I feel like I will have to do one for my own epic at some point, so why not to practice?

Prologue

A disillusioned Imperial science officer Galen defects from the force and hides with his wife and his little daughter Jyn on a distant planet where they spend their idyllic life farming crops and enjoying the priceless treasures of a life simple and pure—only to be discovered by his former commanding officer Krennic, who for some reason wants him back to work (instead of being court-marshaled like any ordinary deserter). In order to convince his former employee, the commander kills his wife, which seems to do the trick. Galen leaves with Krennic, abandoning his only child on a remote planet without any means to survive instead of taking her with him back to civilization, so he could actually protect her and care for her. The girl is soon discovered in a bunker, where she is hiding, by a suspicious thug who tells her to stay put and shuts the bunker’s hatch closed. The screen fades to black.

Inciting Incident

Fifteen years later, Jyn awakens (from what seems to be a coma) in a concentration camp. Apparently, she survived the bunker, and then some. Meanwhile, another deserter from the Imperial forces, a cargo pilot, is said to have a message from Galen, addressed to the suspicious (and by this time prosthetically enhanced and slightly undead) thug from the prologue, leader of the extremists (bad rebels). The Alliance (good rebels) somehow learns about the message and sends their man Cassian to retrieve everything (that includes the pilot, the message, Galen, and, along the way, Jyn, whom they need to negotiate the retrieval with the prosthetic thug, because he likes her since that one time he saw her in the bunker and will listen to her for sure).

Main Storyline

Cassian breaks Jyn out of the camp with the help of a defective droid who insists on calling himself “re-programmed” and brings her to the good rebels who quickly convince her to cooperate (she doesn’t like the idea of going back to the camp). Cassian is quietly ordered to kill Galen despite the fact that he is the most valuable source of intel on the Death Star schematics and clearly willing to cooperate, likely so the plot would have at least one twist. They go talk to the prosthetic thug, meeting on their way a highly spiritual blind warrior, who is super good with a quarterstaff, but has problems walking without bumping into things and talks like Rain Man. As an added convenience feature he has a devoted trigger-happy friend.

Sub-plot

Krennic is involved in an office power struggle with another, higher-ranking officer, who looks exactly like him, but dressed in black.

Plot Thickens

The prosthetic thug loves Jyn so much that he shows her the message from daddy, where Galen reveals a trojan horse bug he has built into the Death Star and gives them the pilot. The Empire attacks his base, deploying a low-level shot from the Death Star. Everyone dies, including the thug, who decides not to live anymore; the band of heroes, reinforced by the blind Rain Man and his trigger-happy partner, escape at the last moment and fly to the research facility where Galen works, to retrieve and kill him. Krennic accuses Galen’s team of leaking intel. When Galen takes the blame, Krennic executes the team regardless but keeps Galen alive for reasons unknown.

Plot Thickens Further

Good rebels attack the facility. Cassian decides to disobey his order to kill Galen (twist), bit Galen dies in the crossfire regardless. Band of heroes escapes again. Jyn proposes a plan to retrieve the schematics by means of another attack, but Alliance suddenly votes to cease rebelling in favor of peaceful farming, clearly so the band of heroes could assemble a team of insubordinate volunteers, steal a ship, and call it “Rogue One” for the sole purpose of making it the title of the movie.

Main Struggle

The band of heroes and a group of insubordinate rebels infiltrates the facility. The Alliance suddenly feels bad about quitting and decides to help. After an epic battle, during which most of the notable characters die, including the defective robot, Rain Man and his buddy, Jyn and Cassian retrieve the coveted schematics and transmit them to the Alliance ship. The black-clad Krennic orders a planetary-level shot from the Death Star, which successfully destroys the planet, the remaining soldiers (on both sides), and white-clad Krennic, who is previously wounded by Cassian and kept alive only so he could be ironically executed by the Death Star’s strike. Meanwhile, Darth Vader attacks the Alliance ship which carries the schematics and kills everyone on board, but does not get the files back. Bummer. Jyn and Cassian are left hugging on the beach, waiting for the tsunami to wack them. Their faces are aglow with pride and an acknowledgment of a job well done. The screen fades to black.

Resolution

Synthetic Princess Leia says “Now we have hope!”. The screen fades to black.

Pretty much it. And I even left many things, which normally bother me, out, like, why do Storm Troopers wear clunky armor, which makes it impossible to move, but doesn’t protect them from anything? And so on.

I should probably practice more before I write a synopsis to my own book. :-/


Also published on Medium.

2 thoughts on “On Things Stranger and Strangerer”

  1. Although I disagree with your assessment of the quality of the film, your summary of Rogue One was pretty spot on. I would only critique the fact that you missed that “prosthetic thug” and Galen worked together for the rebellion while Galen was an idyllic farmer and that the plan was for the whole family to escape to the bunker for the sole purpose of being retrieved by said “prosthetic thug”. When he finds Jyn there alone, he takes her in and raises her as his own daughter until she rebels (goes “rogue”, may I say?) and goes off the grid, gets into trouble and ends up in a sort of prison camp.

    Plus I think Rain Man running into things is just an act he likes to put on.

    Anyway, I think as far as first attempts at a full synopsis go, you made a version worthy of Cliff Notes, if they made those for movies, so nicely done. :-)

    1. Yes, there was a short phone call at the beginning, when Galen and Saw Gerrera discussed the backup escape plan, but then the film skips a whole fifteen years! That is such a cop-out shortcut, and they would have done so much better, if they would put in a quick montage of Jyn, growing up among the (bad) rebels, in a classic way of all the coming-of-age hero stories, instead of just mentioning it in passing (“you were one of my best fighters, blah, blah…” without showing it! It is a two-hour-long movie, damn it, not a 43-min procedural series episode, show them, things! Cut a few explosions, even, whom are you going to impress with CGI these days?).
      To add to the synopsis: Galen’s wife actually commits “troopercide“, when she takes a shot at Krennic (knowing perfectly well that there is no way for her to achieve anything by doing it), and Krennic kills her fairly in self-defense.
      About the Blind Rain Man: he might be masterfully hiding his acute spacial awareness, but I doubt it: were it so, why does he die, trudging across a battlefield, stumbling over everything, when he goes to press some mission-critical button? Or his connection with the Force comes and goes like a headache? So underplayed; I was totally waiting for him to take down a brigade of storm troopers with his Force-infused quarterstaff, and he just gets shot instead.
      Oh, well.
      Thank you for the compliment (had to look up Cliff Notes site, though)!

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