Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Recap: "Back to the Future Part III" Part 2: A Match Made in Time

And so, Doc and Marty return to 1985 in the DeLorean without incident and dismantle it, the end.

Yeah, right. Maybe in the alternate reality where Marty's played by Eric Stoltz.

And where OJ Simpson landed the role of the Terminator. No, really, that almost happened.
Marty and Doc head to to Doc's workshop, whereupon Doc examines the photograph of his own tombstone that says he'll die next Monday.

Doc Brown: "Now I wish I'd paid him off."

Yeah, who would have foreseen that making the Wild West outlaw with a bad temper and an itchy trigger finger angry could be a bad idea?

Doc wonders who this “beloved Clara" person is, especially since he knows better than to get romantically involved with anybody in the past. He fiddles with some heavy duty machinery as the talks, shortly before the mayor shows up. Apparently, Doc promised to meet the new schoolteacher arriving tomorrow, and the mayor gives him the details.

Mayor: "Her name's Miss Clayton. Clara Clayton."

Yeah, Clara usually does work with kids, doesn't she?
Marty: "Well, Doc. Now we know who Clara is."

Doc rebukes the idea of love at first sight, but Marty protests.

Marty: "You meet the right girl, it just hits you. It's like lightning."
Doc Brown: "Marty! Don't say that."

Though Doc seems to take the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’s stance on love (avoid, if at all possible), Marty goes on about how it happened between him and Jennifer as Doc goes back to working on his machine. After reassuring Marty (and the audience) that Jennifer's alright, his magnificent machine spits out its finished product.... a single ice cube.

Doc Brown: "Iced tea?"
Marty: "No thanks. ...It's a refrigerator!"

No, Marty, it's a freezer.

Doc vows to never meet Clara at the station, thus eliminating any potential problems, and gets ready to head back in the DeLorean with Marty. Marty brings up the broken fuel line... which horrifies the good doctor.

Doc Brown: "Mr. Fusion powers the time circuits and the Flux Capacitor. The internal combustion engine runs on ordinary gasoline. It always has. There's not gonna be a gas station around here until sometime in the next century."

So what? Remember, there are two DeLoreans in the Old West now. The one in the mine, waiting for Marty in 1955, and the one Marty just hid in a cave for later. They can’t drive off in the Delorean in the mine because it’s broken (and fixing it would cause a time paradox), but they can siphon its gas. After all, 1955-Doc gives the car new tires, fixes the time circuits, and fills the tank up. So if the gas is going to be replaced already, why not take whatever gas is in the tank, do a quick 88 mph burst, and be done with it?

But let’s assume that maybe the car was already running on empty when Doc got hit by lightning. With the proper, minor modifications, gasoline engines can be easily converted to run on alcohol or even kerosene. Both of which Doc has access to. All they need is enough power for one trip to 1985, so again, they won't even have to fill the tank. But Doc seems to be under the impression that without gasoline, there's no way to get the DeLorean up to 88 miles per hour.

Naturally, being a mechanically-minded scientist, the first thing Doc tries… is having a team of horses pulling it. But they're not nearly fast enough. As if to address my nitpick, the very next scene is Doc pouring a bottle of whiskey directly into the engine while Marty tries the ignition. Alas, it doesn't work and simply blows out the fuel injection manifold. I would like to point out that Doc just dumped some whiskey into the engine, rather than distilling his own, purer ethanol with a homemade still. So my above point still stands. This shouldn't have been a problem, but Doc just made it into one.

Doc comes up with several alternative ideas, but he doesn't have enough time for any of them. He has three days until he dies. They can't get the car to work, and they can't pull it... but can they push it. With, say... a train?

A quick talk with the conductor yields some fruit, though I’d be a little cautious if I were them. After all, he’s played by the actor who demanded that Ned Beatty squeal like a piggy. But before the banjo music can kick in, the conductor reckons that if they had a straight enough, level track with no cars and an engine as hot as Hell, then it's theoretically possible.

The next train comes in Monday morning, which is cutting it a little close, but there's a disused section of track that should do the trick. It heads out to Clayton Ravine, which Doc picks up on. He notices that Clayton Ravine is referred to on their map as "Shonash Ravine," and surmises that it's still using the old Indian name. Meanwhile, some lady in purple waits for somebody in the background as Marty points out a problem. There's no bridge over Clayton Ravine yet. They head out to survey the Ravine, and the map was accurate. No bridge yet. So Marty starts trying to come up with a new plan. But Doc tells him that if they get the DeLorean to 88 before the track ends, then they'll come out the other side in 1985 when the bridge actually exists.

As they get ready to ride back into town, they see some poor woman with an out-of-control carriage and do the only thing they can, which is to mount an exciting and daring rescue. Doc manages to get the woman onto his own horse before her carriage goes over the edge, saving her life.

If she falls, he will catch her. Time after time.
And when she lifts her hat to take a look at her rescuer, it's as if they both get struck by a bolt of lightning.

"Run you clever boy, and... oh, sorry, I thought you were somebody else."
They introduce themselves as Emmet Brown and Clara Clayton (Mary Steenburgen), respectively, and the musical cue that plays as they ride into town hints that perhaps something is could develop between these two....

Having completed their meet-cute, Doc Brown delivers Clara to her new home, near the schoolhouse, where they continue to hit it off. Marty tries to get Doc back on track as Doc promises to straighten everything out after the incident.

Clara: "You know, I'm somewhat glad that snake spooked those horses. Otherwise, we might never have met."

"Well, actually, if I had picked you up like I was supposed to, you never would have...."
"I said it's a good thing I was there to rescue you."
Clara: "I suppose it was destiny."

Doc promises to see her again, and accidentally refers to himself as a "scientist," when he's supposed to be a blacksmith. This piques her interest, because she finds nerds sexy over a hundred years before it will be cool. Marty finally manages to get Doc back on his horse, so with a "toodle-oo," they ride off back into town. They talk about how Miss Clayton almost ended up at the bottom of Clayton Ravine... which sets off alarm bells in Doc's head.

Marty: "Hey, Doc. Clayton Ravine was named after a teacher. They say she fell in there a hundred years ago."
Doc Brown: "A hundred years ago? That's this year!"
Marty: "Every kid in school knows that story 'cause we all have teachers we'd like to see fall into the ravine."

Yeah, I've had one or two of those. I had a teacher my Freshman year of high school who didn't tell me she was failing me for most of the semester because I thought we were supposed to go over our homework before handing it in. Not after. Meaning that she was just rattling off answers with no context. And she never updated grades online, either. Add to that her generally unpleasant disposition and contempt for other human beings, and you have a recipe for somebody no one would miss if she fell down a ravine.

But Doc quickly realized that Miss Clayton was missed. By rescuing her, Doc has altered the future name of the ravine, and who knows what else.

Doc Brown: "I wish I'd never invented that infernal time machine. It's caused nothing but disaster."

You know, when I talk about the trilogy as a whole on Saturday... well, let's just say that Doc's journey is interesting.

Later that day, Marty double-checks the batteries on the walkie-talkies while Doc puts train wheels on the DeLorean. In yet another callback to the first film, Doc has set up a model of the area.

Doc Brown: "I apologize for the crudity of this model, but I...."
Marty: "Yeah, I know, Doc, it's not to scale."

You know, if he had spent this same amount of time altering the car to run on kerosene, they'd be home by now.
Tomorrow, they'll set up the DeLorean. Monday morning, they'll hijack borrow the train, uncouple the cars, and head to the dead end track, where Doc will begin ramping up the speed. They'll hit 88 right before they hit the dead end, and end up in 1985, where the bridge exists. But once they pass the windmill, if they don't have enough speed... it really will be a dead end.

Doc's model train set works perfectly, but like in the first film, there's a woman knocking at the door. So they hide the DeLorean and let Clara in. Apparently, in the kerfuffle earlier, her telescope was damaged, and she was wondering if Doc could fix it. Doc takes a look at it, and as they fiddle with the long, hard device, things get a bit... romantic.

Phallic symbol ahoy.
Thankfully, Marty gets Doc back on track, and he promises to have it fixed by evening. She tells him not to worry about getting it done so soon. After all, it’s the night of the town festival. Hint hint.

Marty can see what's happening. And they don't have a clue.
She promises to see Doc there, and politely leaves. That night, the mayor dedicates the clock and gets the festivities underway by starting the gears in motion. Doc and Marty wish that they could get some kind of memento of this moment.

Marty: "It's too bad I didn't bring my camera."

"I'd be able to invent the selfie over a hundred years early!"
Luckily, there's a man with one there already. And so, history is changed yet again.

"Hey, Doc, are you sure it's okay if I alter the picture that makes me go back in time to get you?"
The festivities really start to get swingin' when ZZ Top starts playing

No, really. It's ZZ Top.
Doc and Marty dance awkwardly in the corner, until Marty notices a man with a shooting gallery set up to sell his fancy-schmancy Colt Peacemakers and Doc notices Clara in her finest dress. They smile at each other, he compliments her, and they... stand there awkwardly for a bit before Doc manages to ask her to dance.

"Doesn't the universe implode or something if you dance?"
"Well, I've got the moves, but I wouldn't want to boast."
A good time is had by all as Marty, dumbfounded, stares at Doc and Clara. The gun salesman snaps him out of it, though. And I’d make a reference to the role the actor (Burton Gilliam) had in Blazing Saddles, but since 90% of his memorable lines aren’t exactly things you’d necessarily want to repeat, I’ll just move on to his sales pitch.

Gun Salesman: "I just told you that even a baby can handle this weapon!"

Makes sense to me. That gun requires you to use your hands, like a baby's toy.

Gun Salesman: "Surely you're not afraid of trying something that a baby can do!"

An appeal to Marty's cowardice gets him to give it a shot, but the man's advice to shoot left handed (because the Peacemaker was designed to be fired with your left hand while riding a horse) leads Marty to miss spectacularly. So for his next try, Marty switches hands and unleashes his skills at the Wild Gunman arcade cabinet, shooting down every single target.

"You ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?"
Gun Salesman: "Where'd you learn to shoot like that?"
Marty: "7-Eleven."

On the edge of town, Mad Dog and his gang ride up to try and attack Doc, though Marshal Strickland makes them check their weapons. He stops short of calling Mad Dog a slacker, though. I’ve gotta say, he returned from that out-of-town hanging pretty quick. I can only imagine it’s because the hanging was canceled to make the intended victim the Sheriff of Rock Ridge.

Once the gang checks their iron, Strickland gives his son a reminder of the importance of discipline, setting the stage for Stricklands for generations.

"Another thing that's important? Hair. Long, beautiful hair."
Over at the food table, Seamus and Marty meet back up as Marty gets a kick out of seeing a Frisbie pie tin, to the confusion of the McFlys. Meanwhile, Clara and Doc are the life of the party as Mad Dog's gang shows up. Mad Dog himself whips out his secret, tiny pistol that he was keeping under his hat and goes up to stick it into Doc's back.

Gang Member: "Careful, Buford, you ain't got but one bullet with that."
Mad Dog: "I only need one."

When Doc gets the gun in his back, he's very confused. This isn't when he's supposed to get shot.

Mad Dog: "Last time I used it, fella took two whole days to die."

Ah. That'd do it, then.

Clara tries to tell Mad Dog off and resume dancing, but Mad Dog thinks that perhaps a dance with Clara might be just he needs.

Doc Brown: "I wouldn't give you the pleasure, you'll just have to go ahead and shoot."

"Now, if you'd like to dance with me, on the other hand...."
But she agrees to a dance while the others hold back Doc, and Mad Dog muses that perhaps he'll get his $80 from her. And not in cash, either.... Clara kicks him in the shin, creating a scene, and Mad Dog re-aims his gun at Doc. Marty, thinking fast, throws the pie plate at Mad Dog, simultaneously starting a trend among kids and making his one bullet knock Doc's hat off instead of killing him.

"Dude, you better not have eaten that whole pie without leavin' me a slice."
Marty: "Hey, lighten up, jerk!"

Tannen, having no idea what this means, challenges "Clint" to a duel, but he declines.

Mad Dog: "What's wrong, dude? You yella?"

Aw, crap.

Marty: "Nobody. Calls me yellow."

Mad Dog wants to settle this right then and there, but the Marshal has their guns. So they'll settle it tomorrow! ...except they have a robbery planned. So Monday. They'll settle this Monday.

Marty: "When? High noon?"
Mad Dog: "Noon? I do my killing before breakfast. Seven o'clock!"
Marty: "Eight o'clock. I do my killing after breakfast."

The marshal comes in to break up the hubbub, and ZZ Top resumes playing “Doubleback” with their signature instrument flip. Apparently, while they were filming this, a camera broke. So to pass the time, ZZ Top took requests. Two hours later, somebody finally thought to ask if the camera was fixed. And it had been for quite a while. Robert Zemeckis just didn’t want to put a stop to the impromptu party.

Mad Dog angrily leaves the party as Doc asks Marty exactly what he thinks he's doing challenging Tannen to a duel. Marty tells Doc that by the time he's supposed to meet Tannen, they'll be gone.

Doc Brown: "But what if the train's late?"
Marty: "...late?"

Doc goes to take Clara home as the townsfolk thank Marty for his gallantry, including the gun salesman give Marty a Peacemaker and some gear. Free advertising, don'tcha know. Unless Marty loses, in which case the guy's taking it back.

Marty: "...thanks again."

Seamus comes up to tell Marty that he could have just walked away scot-free and threw that opportunity down the outhouse.

Seamus: "Instead you let him roil ye. Roil ye into playing his game. His way. Boy his rules."

Seriously, though, there's a reason that this performance ends up on various "Worst Fake Accents in Film" lists.

Seamus and his wife agree that "Clint" reminds them of poor Martin McFly, who had a similar sore spot.

Seamus: "That's how he got a Bowie knife shoved through his belly in a saloon in Virginia City."

"Is he okay?"
They bid him farewell, and we cut to Doc and Clara looking at the moon through her telescope, talking about lunar geography. She explains about how her father bought her the telescope when she was quarantined for diphtheria for three months as a little girl.

"Emmett, do you think we'll ever be able to travel to the moon the way we travel across the country on trains?"

Doc knows that we'll go to the moon and do the other things, so he tells her that it will take 84 years and will take rockets, not trains. Because **** the timeline, I guess. What happened to not messing with history, Doc? You're being very irresponsible! But she thinks he's just talking about Jules Verne's From the Earth to the Moon.

Doc Brown: "You've read Jules Verne?"
Clara: "I adore Jules Verne."

I take it back, Doc. A woman who's read Jules Verne in 1885? That's the 19th Century equivalent to a female gamer. More common than people realize, but that's still an automatic keeper. Doc talks about reading 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea as a little boy... which Clara notes is impossible. That book only came out ten years ago.

Doc Brown: "Oh, yes, well, I meant it made me feel like a boy."

Like finding a girl who plays Dungeons and Dragons. Again, not unheard of, but still uncommon.
And so, they kiss under the stars.

The next day, Marty wakes up as Doc's clockwork breakfast machine gets going. He groggily gets out of bed with one butt cheek exposed through the flap of his long johns. With Doc missing, Marty goofs off in front of the mirror with a bit of the old "You talkin' to me" routine.

Marty: "Go ahead! Make my day."

Although, strictly speaking, the way this mirror's lined up, all he can see is the camera.
After getting dressed, Marty struts into town. He spots Doc taking a nice walk in a very good mood. Oh, yeah. He got some. Marty and Doc take a look at the tombstone that was to become Doc's, spurring Doc to take a look at the photo. His name is gone, but the date remains the same. Somebody's going to get shot on the seventh... but who?

And all the Clara haters repeat "Please be Clara" to themselves under their breath.
The undertaker measures Marty for a coffin, just in case, and that answers the question.

Marty: "Great Scott!"
Doc Brown: "I know, this is heavy."

Doc asks why Marty has the gun on him if they're going to be gone before the duel, but Marty insists that if Tannen comes along looking for trouble, he'll give it to him. Doc protests that reacting like this to name calling is exactly what gets him into an accident in the future. Doc refuses to say any more just in case. Because I guess he still cares about the time stream?

That night, as they set up the DeLorean for Monday, Doc tells Marty that he's going to stay behind with Clara. Despite Doc's speech about how he can't let fear of the future dictate his actions, he says that he has to follow his heart. Marty, recognizing the hypocrisy and the danger to the timeline, convinces Doc that he's being reckless. And worse, unscientific.

Doc concedes, but heads off to tell Clara he's leaving. She deserves that much. He waffles around the subject of exactly where he's going and why she can't go with him, so doesn't go well. And when he does tell the truth, it goes even worse. Apparently, she doesn't buy the idea of Doc being a time traveler.

Clara: "You concocted those mendacities in order to take advantage of me!"

"Well, at least you're not upset that I apparently lied to get into your panties."
After getting a slap to the face and a slap to the soul, Doc leaves Clara's house, just as heartbroken as she is. Before he goes, he returns the flower she gave him. And after he leaves, he falls back on the old standby of the heartbroken and heads to the saloon to get drunk.

Coming up in Part 3! Gunfighting, train robbery, and a damsel in distress!

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