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March 31st, 2011

gfish: (Default)
Thursday, March 31st, 2011 11:32 am
(This is the last BttF post. I think.)

It strikes me we have no idea exactly how much subjective time passed for Doc Brown before his return at the end of the first movie. He seems comfortable enough with hover and Mr. Fusion technologies, at least, and seems comfortable with the ins and outs of 2015 society. That could take years. He already hadn't visibly aged in 30 years, so there is no reason another decade or two couldn't have passed for him. Or longer, if you assume he could find life-extension treatments somewhere in the future...

He is emphatically opposed to the idea of intervention, yet he wants to save Marty's future son from prison. Of all the wrongs to right, why that? Compared to what could be done with time travel, why limit yourself to that? It could be he decided to start small, but why the fear of altering history, when it really worked out quite well the one time we saw? I don't think this was his first intervention. I think it was his last.

After mastering all the future science possible, literally learning everything about how the universe works, after trivially becoming the richest person in history and sampling the greatest pleasures of all the ages, after decades or even centuries of this, what would be left for him but to start trying to tweak things? How could he resist? He's a man of science, and he has the one tool which can make history and sociology into real sciences -- he can run counter-factual experiements on human history itself! And once you start doing that, how could you not try to use your powers for good? How long did he spend, bouncing around trying to fix human history? He could have spent millennia trapped in some altruistic Groundhog's Day loop. Constantly trying to save humanity through the ages from war and genocide and natural disaster, only to see his efforts go horribly wrong time after time.

Broken from this endless struggle, he finally decides to make one last effort, one last futile attempt to make the world an incrementally better place. Note how distracted and unworldly he is upon his return to 1985. He hasn't seen Marty for multiple lifetimes at that point! Marty is a mythical figure to him, the one person who managed to rewrite history for the better, a story grown in his own internal retelling far beyond the actual events we saw.

What a bittersweet relief it must have been to get stranded in 1885, far from the temptation of the next life-extension treatment. No wonder he was simultaneously angry and delighted to see Marty.