Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Back to the Multiverse: Part 2

In my last post, I discussed how the only way that time travel works in the Back to the Future film series was if you applied the multiverse theory to the movies.  To prove this, I broke down the first film and showed how traditional time travel did not make any logical sense considering the events that happened in the film, but it became more plausible once you assume that Marty was actually traveling between alternate universes.  Now I will breakdown the second film in the series.  I am actually very excited about this one because Back to the Future Part II has an obvious alternate timeline, which is one of the reasons why it is recognized as an alternate history film. 

The film begins on the morning of October 26, 1985, Doctor Emmett Brown arrives from the future and tells Marty McFly and his girlfriend, Jennifer Parker, that he needs their help to save their future children.  Though this scene was exactly the same from the final scene in the last movie, it had to be reshot after Crispin Glover and Claudia Wells failed to return.  Due to the small, but noticeable, differences between the two versions, one can almost assume that we are not seeing the same Marty we saw in the last film...but a Marty from another timeline who went through similar, but not entirely the same, experiences.  That theory, however, is splitting unnecessary hairs so let us just agree that this is the same Marty as before.

As they depart in the now-airworthy DeLorean time machine, Biff Tannen accidentally witnesses their departure. Since they are not actually time travelling this may be the last time this timeline ever sees Marty or Jennifer (unless of course another Marty arrives later).  Biff being the last to see them might be labelled as insane when questioned by the police (no really the car was flying officer, I am telling the truth).  Perhaps he would be a suspect in their disappearance, but he would likely be released due to lack of evidence.

When the trio arrives on October 21, 2015, Doc electronically hypnotizes Jennifer (to avoid answering further questions about her future) and leaves her incapacitated in an alley. Exactly why this is a problem for Doc is unknown, since in the last film he had no problem reading the letter Marty left him explaining that he was going to be shot in 1985 by Libyan terrorists.  Why is this Doc suddenly adhering to this philosophy again?  This is more evidence that we are dealing with alternate realities.  It is likely that Marty is not dealing with the same Doc he saw at the end of the last film.  This Doc probably was not put into a position where his philosophy on knowing one's future was ever tested, thus he acts differently from what the Doc who survived his assassination attempt would act.

Meanwhile, Doc has Marty pose as Marty McFly, Jr., Marty's future son, to refuse an offer from Biff's cybernetically-enhanced grandson, Griff Tannen, to participate in a robbery. Doc explains that the robbery will result in the arrest of Marty Jr., as well as his sister Marlene McFly for her attempt to break him out of jail and that these events would cause the collapse of Marty's family.  Marty successfully switches places with his son and refuses Griff's offer, but Griff goads Marty into a fist fight. Marty escapes the fight and leads Griff and his gang on a hoverboard chase across the town square, ultimately resulting in Griff and his gang crashing through the glass front of the Courthouse Mall. Griff and his gang are promptly arrested, changing the future. 

Now in the last film there was always the danger of objects from other universes fading away, but here we see objects from alternate realities changing.  This gives more evidence to my theory that there is a self-correction aspect to the multiverse.  Not only does the multiverse remove objects and people who do not mesh with the state of reality, it will even change those objects as well.  For some reason, however, it does not change the people (and if you read my last post you would see the issues I had with that).  This seems to suggest that this self-correction aspect of the multiverse is selective, suggesting some intelligence behind it, or else foreign objects in a timeline would automatically disappear once they entered this new universe.

Back to the film: on his way back to meet Doc, Marty purchases Gray's Sports Almanac, a book detailing the results of major sporting events for the second half of the 20th century. Doc discovers the purchase and warns him about attempting to profit from time travel.  It is too bad that both Doc and Marty still believe they are time travelling.  If they did realize that they were actually just skimming the multiverse they could have exploited this fact to eventually reach a universe where they are rich and successful.  Sadly there misconception of the nature of their travels and the extremely ethical Doc prevent them from profiting from their discovery.

Before Doc can adequately dispose of the almanac, however, they are forced to follow the police who have found Jennifer incapacitated and are taking her to her home. Old Biff, overhearing the conversation, follows with the discarded book in a taxi.  Meanwhile, Jennifer wakes up in her future home and hides while the McFly family has dinner together. She overhears that Marty's life, as well as their life together, is not what they had expected due to a car accident involving Marty. Jennifer witnesses the Marty of 2015 being goaded into a shady business deal by his friend, Needles, causing their supervisor to fire Marty from his job, as announced by numerous faxes (one copy of which Jennifer keeps and will become important in the next film).

While escaping the house, Jennifer meets her older self and they both faint. As Marty and Doc run to retrieve the younger Jennifer, Biff uses the DeLorean to allegedly travel back in time to 1955, gives his teenage self the sports almanac, then returns to 2015 where he promptly has a heart attack and dies. Marty, Doc, and an unconscious Jennifer return to 1985, unaware of Old Biff's previous actions, and Jennifer is left on the porch at her home.  Marty and Doc soon discover that the 1985 to which they returned has changed dramatically. Biff has become wealthy and changed Hill Valley into a chaotic dystopia. Marty's father, George, has been murdered, and Biff has forced his mother, Lorraine, to marry him instead. Doc has been committed to an insane asylum.  Meanwhile, we learn that Richard Nixon is still the President of the United States, implying he never resigned and has served multiple terms.  Nixon strangely appears in a lot of dystopias set in the 1980s (see Watchmen, another work of alternate history that uses the same trope).

Anyway, Doc finds evidence of the sports almanac and Biff's trip to the past in the DeLorean and tells Marty he needs to learn when the younger Biff received the almanac so they can correct the timeline. Marty decides to confront Biff regarding the almanac. Biff explains that he received the book from an old man on November 12, 1955 who told him that he would never lose as long as he bet on every winner in the almanac. He was also told to eliminate anyone in particular who questioned him about the almanac in case of any attempt to change the past so Biff attempts to kill Marty during which time he reveals that he killed George. However, Marty escapes with Doc and, with the new information, returns to 1955 (which in reality is a whole other reality).  They, however, leave Jennifer and Einstein behind, with Doc assuring Marty that they will be fine and when they fix the past everything will change instantaneously around them once they succeed.

Now let us back up a second.  There is something extremely wrong with what has been happening in this film from a time travel point of view.  We learned in the last film that when someone goes back in the "past" and changes things, they will arrive in an altered "future".  Yet when old Biff goes back to 1955 and changes things, he returns to a future that is exactly the same from the one he left.  Why?  Old Biff should have returned to a future where he is rich and powerful.  In fact Doc even said that once the past is changed the present and future will change instantaneously around any time travelers.  We should have seen the future that Marty and Doc were in change as soon as Old Biff left for the past, but we did not.

This cannot be explained with time travel, but it can be explained with multiverse travel.  Old Biff went to 1955 in another timeline and gave an alternate young Biff a tool to change his fortunes.  Presumably this young Biff did this and old Biff was sent to another timeline where he was rich and famous (where he probably died shortly after arriving not being able to enjoy it...karma).  So who was the old Biff who arrived in the 2015 timeline that Marty and Doc were located?  Probably another old Biff from an alternate timeline, who also had access to the DeLorean.  Perhaps this alternate old Biff felt remorse for his actions and thus used the DeLorean to change the past (again not realizing its true purpose) and arrived in another timeline that was the closest result to the actions he made in another timeline.  It may even be likely that the timeline he originated from was the same one the original old Biff finally arrived in.

Back to the film: Marty works undercover to trail the Biff of 1955. Marty is present when the Biff of 2015 arrives to give the Biff of 1955 the almanac, but Marty is unable to retrieve it. Marty is forced, with Doc's help, to try to get the book back during the dance, being careful to avoid undoing the events that he had already corrected in his previous visit.  This was a difficult task in the movie, as both Marty and Doc have run-ins with the Marty and Doc already there.  This other pair are alternate versions of the same Marty and Doc and while they are similar, they do not have the same experiences from the previous film.  Remember we never see Marty step over Biff's goons who are inexplicably unconscious and covered with sand bags.  We also never see future Doc talk to the past Doc.  In fact, never once do they even acknowledge having these memories, but they should since this already happened.  From Marty and Doc's perspective, they should be remembering these odd occurrences, coming to the realization that this makes a lot more sense from their new point of view (just like the scene in front of the convenience store in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure).  Yet we never see them realize it, but that is because it never happened to them.  I say it again, they were not time travelling, but instead were multiverse travelling.

Back to the film again: Biff leaves the dance as Doc and Marty follow him silently. After a struggle, Marty takes the almanac from Biff, who crashes his car into a manure truck as Doc and Marty fly away in the DeLorean.  With a thunderstorm approaching, Marty burns the almanac and restores the previous timeline.  Of course, we realize that is not true.  That horrible dystopia still exists somewhere in the multiverse.  Evil Biff woke up from his concussion, still finding himself rich and powerful and likely making a vow never to tell anybody what happened on top of his hotel.

Now as well all know from watching the film, the DeLorean is struck by lightning and disappears. Marty is depressed until a courier from Western Union arrives minutes later and gives Marty a seventy-year-old letter. It is from Doc, who has been trapped in 1885 after the lightning strike caused the DeLorean to malfunction. Marty races back into town and finds the Doc of 1955. Having sent the original Marty back to 1985 just moments ago, Doc is shocked by his friend's sudden re-appearance and faints.

Now I know what you might say: Mitro, how does your theory make sense with the letter clearly being from the past?  Well I will explain that...but you will have to wait until my next post where I will conclude my theory with a breakdown of the third and final film.

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