Back to the Future: Overanalyzing

_First things first, big ups to my brother Jimmy for having random discussions about Back to the Future with me through the years. He gets co-author credit for this blog, despite not knowing it. Many of the ideas presented in here either originated from his mind or were bounced off of it, it’s hard to distinguish where any of the thoughts originated anymore. Except for the first idea. That was definitely him, because he called me up just earlier this week specifically to talk about it. Thanks for being dorky with me throughout all of these years, Jimmy.

_Follow me if you will…the year is 1955. Martin McFly has just received a letter via Western Union in the pouring rain near the future location of Lyon Estates. Upon learning that his friend, Doctor Emmett Brown [Doc], is alive in the year 1885 and was not vaporized as he though mere minutes earlier, he sprints 2 miles to Hill Valley square to enlist the help of past Doc, who has just laid witness to the fruits of his future labors in sending Marty back to the future in his DeLorean time machine. Upon seeing Marty in his present time mere moments after supposedly sending him 30 years into the future, Doc collapses due to shock. Fast forward. Doc awakens at his home, thinking the Marty he saw was just a figment of his imagination. Marty, who brought him back to his abode, has to do some convincing, which he does in the form of the letter Doc Brown sent Marty from the past. Scenes occur, and Emmett gets the wild notion of traversing to the local archives to look himself up. Marty’s reply? “I dunno, Doc. You’re the one that’s always saying that it’s not good to know too much about your own destiny.”

_Rewind. Marty is in Lou’s Cafe, writing a letter to Doc telling him about certain events that unfold on the night of October 26th, 1985. Most specifically, about how Doc gets shot a bunch of times by terrorists. He slips it into the pocket of Doc’s coat while he’s showing a local law enforcer his…”permit” for the weather equipment being strewn about the clock tower. During the pivotal minutes before harnessing the mighty power of mother nature’s lightning bolt to travel through time, Doc discovers Marty’s letter, sealed, with the words “Do not open until 1985” written on it. He confronts Marty about the letter, inquiring about the contents, despite knowing full well that whatever is contained within has details about Doc’s future. He tears the letter up in a fit, but during the process of tearing, a wire connected to the clock tower becomes dislodged. They are both startled by this and go into a panic. In his panic, Doc stuffs the torn letter back into his coat pocket [consciously or unconsciously, who’s to say?]. Marty, thinking that the letter was properly destroyed, arrives 10 minutes early only to witness his friend being gunned down once again…except the Doc is alive! It turns out that he taped the letter back together! When inquired as to the reasoning behind reading about his own future, despite his previous claims that one should not know too much about their own destiny, Doc’s reply was simply “I figured…what the hell?”

_Fast forward. Let’s dissect Marty’s reply to Doc after digging up the DeLorean. He’s actually walking an incredibly thin paradox tight rope. Doc is basically asking Marty, “Hey, can we go find out about my future?” Keep in mind, at this point, Doc hasn’t decided to tape the letter back up and read it. What if Marty’s response is “No, we shouldn’t look into your future.” Perhaps this would have an effect on Doc. He’d say “You’re right, Marty. Knowing too much about our own future is bad.” Then whenever he comes across the letter again, he remembers this and throws it away or burns it. It’d be very possible that Doc simply telling Marty “You’re right” about not knowing about ones own destiny would suddenly cause the universe to collapse upon itself. This seemingly harmless piece of dialog could actually have incredible import in the well being of the cosmos.

_Fast forward. The year is 1985. Dr. Brown has taped up Marty’s letter to him, warning him about being shot by terrorists on the night he’s sent back into the past. Now…let’s think about the likelihood of Doc not reading that letter for the full 30 years as instructed. In 1955, it’s in pieces and in his coat pocket. The month is November. The weather will likely be in such a condition as to warrant the wearing of his coat for the foreseeable future. Even if Doc was busy being a shut-in in his home [which really isn’t unfathomable], he’d likely have to go shopping for food and necessities at some point in time over the winter season. Even if he had the necessary nourishment to not need to go procure provisions for the season, it’s likely that at some point in time over the next 5 years, he’d go outside during the winter at SOME point. So…let’s say that, at the latest, he discovers the letter in 1960. Let’s say that he wrestles with the decision to tape it up for another 5 years. So…in 1965, he tapes the letter back together, finally. 20 years prior to 1985! There’s no way he could tape it together without seeing some of the contents. So…it’s a rather safe bet that Doc knows well ahead of time about getting shot by terrorists…and yet knowing this, he still decides to rip their plutonium off of them. Why would he do this? Marty said to take the necessary precautions to prevent getting shot from happening. Wouldn’t “Not stealing their plutonium” count as a precaution? I mean, yes, it’s a good thing he still took their shit, because if they don’t roll up on them, Marty doesn’t hop in the time machine and accidentally go back to 1955 and thus prevents a paradox from occurring, but if you knew about this, wouldn’t “Keep clear of terrorists” be your Plan A in “How to avoid getting shot by terrorists?” Maybe this is a situation where Doc knowing about the letter for so long helped prevent a paradox, as Doc would likely know how fragile the timeline would be. In fact, it’s fairly certain he knew, as he couldn’t have honestly expected that they would be fooled by a fake ATOMIC BOMB and that when they did find out, that they’d just say “Damn, he pulled one over on us! Lesson learned!” Or maybe he just connected the dots and figured out for himself “Terrorists…oh shit, plutonium!” and realized that Marty’s letter actually told him exactly where to find something to power his time circuits, and decided “Fuck it, I’ll avoid getting shot by them some other way, this eliminates having to look for some plutonium myself!”

_On a similar topic…the reason Marty goes back to 1885 is to prevent Doc from getting shot in the back by Buford Tannen over a matter of 80 dollars. Now…as evidenced by the fact that he dealt with terrorists to get his hands on plutonium, Doc might not be the best judge of character, or simply thinks he’s better with people than he actually is. But you would think that when a guy with Mad Dog Tannen’s looks walks into Emmett Brown’s Blacksmithery and says his last name is “Tannen,” Doc would know better than to do any business with him. I mean, he has the right to refuse service. Even if Doc decides that it would be unwise to turn away a guy nicknamed “Mad Dog,” he also knows that the Tannen’s aren’t particularly the sharpest knives in said drawers. He could just say “Sorry, I’m out of horseshoes. You’ll have to find another blacksmith.” Just turn him away, Emmett! The Tannen’s spell bad news! I hate to say it, but Doc brought that bullet in the back on himself the moment he did any smithing for Buford Tannen.

_In an alternate timeline, Biff wins a million dollars on his 21st birthday betting on a horse race. Cool story. Then…he won some more. He didn’t just win bets on horses…he got front page news stories about him winning. He won enough to have an article printed on him dubbing him “The luckiest man on Earth.” Realistically, any bookie worth a salt would have a picture of him plastered all over their backroom with big letters marked on it saying “DO NOT TAKE BETS FROM THIS MAN!” Hell, he probably got those pictures posted up well before the “Luckiest man on Earth” article. Sports books keep in contact with one another. Once one stopped taking his bets, most all of them would. Sure, he eventually parlayed his winning into a successful toxic waste disposal business, but he really could only make so much money from sports betting…at least, before he started hiring people to make his bets for him. But even then, he’d need a massive network of cronies to make bets for him, unless he was actually clever enough to have them make some losing bets along with the winnings ones so as not to arouse suspicion on THOSE guys too…needless to say, for a man of Biff’s intelligence, it’d be quite complex to keep his sports betting up for that long. Then again, even without the benefit of the Almanac, he’s savvy enough to procure the money to start and run his own successful auto-detailing business, so maybe he’s a bit smarter than I give him credit for? Probably…you don’t have to be dumb to be an asshole ;-D


_None of these things can ever keep me from enjoying the BttF movies. The trilogy is among my favorite series of all time, along with…fuck it, it’s my favorite movie series of all time. Nothing could ever stop me from enjoying the movies. These are just the random thoughts of various aspects of the films that my brother and I have thought of upon our numerous rewatchings of the films. Now go watch any of the 3 movies and think up some convoluted theories of your own regarding them =D

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