Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Rey's parents and why fetishizing pre-planning is a dumb argument

This is an expanded version of a Twitter-thread I wrote last week.

I keep seeing this article, "J.J. Abrams Initial Plan for Rey's Parentage Was Very Different Than What We Saw in 'The Last Jedi'" used as ammo in the great The Last Jedi debate, as if it invalidates what Rian Johnson did.

This annoys me because it completely misunderstands the development process. In 1980, you could have written a similar article headlined "Darth Vader wasn't originally Luke's father!" And it's true. STAR WARS wasn't written that way. There are even drafts of EMPIRE that explicitly make them two different people. That's where George landed. And the fact he didn't intend it from the start does not invalidate where he ended up.

In the first 12 or so drafts of THE SIXTH SENSE, Bruce Willis's character is alive.

Do not fetishize pre-planning. The journey matters less than the destination.

This is putting aside the fact Pegg is a second-hand source and we have Johnson himself and Daisy Ridley both saying that where Rian landed on Rey's parents was the same notion that JJ himself ultimately had! Quoting directly from Rolling Stone:

Unlike almost everyone else in the world, Ridley has known for years who Rey's parents are, since Abrams told her on the set of The Force Awakens. Ridley believes that nothing ever changed: "I thought what I was told in the beginning is what it is." Which is odd, because Johnson insists he had free rein to come up with any answer he wanted to the question. "I wasn't given any directive as to what that had to be," he says. "I was never given the information that she is this or she is that."

Master Plans are overrated. What makes it to screen is what counts. I've said this before, but ages ago, people tried to sell me on BABYLON 5 as superior to DS9 because "He had it all planned out from the start!" Sometimes the best ideas happen late in the process.

When you write, have a plan, but always, ALWAYS adapt to better ideas as they come along. Indy shooting a swordsman wasn't the plan, but it's a BETTER idea than an elaborate whip-and-blade fight.

Also, sometimes "evidence" that something was planned from the start can just be a smart writer picking up a throwaway detail and giving it resonance later. DS9 is full of these kinds of things, particularly an arc that emerges in season 3.

More recently, I praised a couple details in 13 Reasons Why (details unique to the show) as being subtle plants for later stuff, but that all could easily have been a smart writer remembering what had been done before. After I posted this tweet storm, BREAKING BAD and BETTER CALL SAUL writer Gennifer Huchison weighed in, noting that this sort of thing happened often on their show.

1 comment:

  1. The Better Call Saul Podcast is great for anyone who wants to know what goes into creating a series.