Monday, July 9, 2012

Tron: Legacy as Season 1 of a TV series.

Tron: Legacy was on a channel I'm getting a free preview of, and I was struck by a different way to redo it than what I talked about before.

Before I said that I think it wouldhave been better as a pilot episode, and noted that that would require a lot of things to be less final (major characters wouldn't be killed, off, the traitor wouldn't be revealed, the system wouldn't be escaped, so forth). The reason that I thought and think it would work better in the context of a series is that it needed to look at things in more depth, and that would take more time.

On this viewing, again not from the very beginning but this time from pretty close (I came in at young Sam rides off on his bike, cut to adult Sam on motorcycle) and I started to imagine that instead of being altered to be used as a pilot it was expanded to be an entire season of a TV show.  Most of what is in the movie would still be in the show, it would just find itself surrounded by a lot more stuff adding depth and bredth an
d everything that was missing from the movie. I took notes on where individual episodes might begin or end as I watched,and planned to make a more complete write up when the movie came on again on the sixth.

The viewing on the sixth was to be important because some of the notes I took were just be me being silly, and without a rewatch I'd be stuck with that instead of well thought out breaking things up.

Then, on the sixth, I discovered that it was now only playing on channels that are not part of the free preview so this post is going to be a lot more from memory than originally intended.

It is worth noting, in general, that there are world building problems with the movie that would have to be addressed for the series to make sense. I'm not primarily interested in those here, so I'll stick them in a footnote.*

Ok, so, the Episodes:


Pilot Episode (2 hours)

As mentioned I didn't catch the very beginning, but I have to say that I like the on earth sections, more than I would have expected. I think I'd keep them. The one thing that I regret is that the characters introduced can't be more heavily featured.

When I try to say why I ended up describing the first 20 minutes or so of the movie in detail, which isn't actually my goal here, so I'll try to keep this short.
First off, the timing is, if I've got my commercial to time ratio figured out right, almost exactly one half of a one hour episode. This, I think, is good. A two hour pilot would be divided into to parts in reruns so it pays to think of it as two different episodes. In some ways. Having the earth section of things be one half of the first hour gives a decent introduction to the world left behind and the people in it without making it so you've got an entire episode of, “What the hell? Why are we here when the show is about being inside the computer?”

The introduction to earth also serves as the introduction to Sam, privileged dude. He's an orphan with abandonment issues, but mostly he's someone who is rich enough to do whatever the hell he wants and get away with it. He breaks into ENCOM, steals their flagship operating system moments before it was to be released, uploads it to the net for free, base jumps off the roof of the building, and then is finally caught when the helicopter makes him realize he can't escape. Cut to a shot of him walking out of jail and receiving his bike from the impound lot cop, whom he knows by name.

All of this when it would have been simpler for all involved if he'd just walked in the front door, said, “I think we should give this particular one away for free, our current sales figures make clear that we do not need the money, and by the way I own the place.”

Notable lack of thought on his part goes out to the security guard, who he jumped off a building in front of without the security guard having any idea he had a parachute. Poor guard thought he'd just witnessed a suicide for a few moments.

He did it because he could, because it was fun, because, as Allen says, he has an interesting way of being disinterested.

It also shows us that he's tech savy, a good motorcycle rider, and athletic.

And finally, the after conversations will show us his home and his lack of connection to anyone other than Allen (which is becoming strained) and his dog.

It's a good introduction to Sam. Privileged late 20s wonder.


It also introduces Allen and Dillinger. Allen I love. He sells the movie and if the movie could live up to his sale of it the movie would be fantastic. Before that he demonstrated the ability to pull out just enough snark to be assholic to an asshole without himself being an asshole. That's talent. I want more Allen. I, unfortunately, won't get it.

Dillinger is an interesting character.

He initially comes off as a jerk. When Allen asks what improvements the new operating system offer given how much they plan to charge to students and schools (groups that would have gotten it for free under Kevin Flynn's rule) The CEO has no answer beyond changing the version number from 11 to 12. Dillinger does speak up, he says it's the most secure ever, then he makes a dig at the departed Kevin Flynn in the course of saying no one will get a free ride.

His father was the bad CEO of the first movie, a jerk who got his job by stealing from Kevin Flynn. What set the events of that movie in motion were Flynn's attempts to prove he had been robbed. In the end Flynn got his proof, and ended up with control of the company. Which means that Dillinger's father was disgraced, probably arrested. Dillinger likely had his life thrown into turmoil. Since then he'd doubtless had to live in the shadow of his father the fraud, the outlaw CEO. Now, he's working within that very same company that his father briefly came to lead, via fraud. He's probably had that shadow in place with such force that he doesn’t know what it's like to not be under it.

Yet, here he is, so important on the software development side that he's been invited to the big kids table at a board of directors meeting about his software. (Based on Flynn's prior work.)

I'm impressed that he's in the room at all. I can understand why he wants to put down Flynn, and I'm more impressed by how he responds to crisis.

Sam has stolen the OS and uploaded it, for free, to everyone. He's also made it so that their screen shows a loop of his dog barking. Allen locates the file and announces it's on the web, everyone else panics (they're about to go on the news live) except Dillinger. He quickly turns off the barking dog video meaning that everything looks as it should, and advises everyone to relax.

They don't, which means then when they go live the CEO is shouting, but Dillinger's plan was solid: “Say it was all part of the plan, a little gift from ENCOM.”

That would have been a perfect way to make the situation not go to crap, this was being timed to coincide with some other things and they could say that as part of the celebration they decided to give this away free because everyone should be able to use their computers in style and once people get a taste of how good ENCOM products are they'll be hungry for more.

It's a good save. It isn't used, but I like Dillinger for being quick acting and quick thinking.

Neither Dillinger nor Allen will have a place in the series, at least in season one, after this. The time difference just makes it too difficult to do flashes to, “Now on the not in Narnia side of things.” That's too bad.


Allen meets with Sam and reveals that a night before he got a page from Flynn's (I'm just going to go Kevin Flynn = Flynn, Sam Flynn = Sam, from here on out) office at the arcade. (He was a CEO of an incredibly important company, and he owned an arcade.) This is interesting because the number has been disconnected for the past 20 years.

Allen talks about the way Flynn was before he left, claims he wouldn’t have left it, and recommends that Sam look at the arcade (gives him the keys.)  Did I mention at Allen sells the movie?  I swear, if everything in the movie were as good and profound as it sounds when Allen is talking about it based on a 20 year old memory of being told something second hand, this movie would have rocked.  I would love a way to work more Allen into the hypothetical series.

Eventually this looking leads to finding a secret room, in which Flynn had been working, Sam repeats a command and then finds himself transported into the computer. Then comes out of digital equivalent of the arcade to see, for the first time, cyberspace.

The above is all a place where I'd keep the movie pretty much unchanged, this is the first major place I would expand.

In the movie Sam rushes outside, looks around, “says this isn't happening,” all well and good. Then immediately he is picked up by a patrol. At the earliest I'd leave that for the end of the first hour, half an hour away. (Less when you take into account commercials.)

For the half hour that's not in the movie I'd have Sam actually traveling around in this world, trying to get his bearings, meeting people, and learning.  There's no one on the street that implies either curfew or a low population area, either way the people who Sam does meet in such a place are probably going to be from a different end of the social order than Sam is used to.

These interactions can do a bit to flesh out Sam and the setting, but more than that they give us a doorway into an entire perspective the movie never had time to explore.  That of the ordinary people.  These programs will be people whose perspectives we can return to throughout the story to see what's going on on the ground while the top tier is fighting for the fate of the world above them.

Then, only after that, would we get to him getting caught.  In what could be a show of some character development, he could intentionally lead the patrol away from some of those he just met, and be caught by helping them.  Maybe.

The way the helicopter played a role in catching him earlier, it shone its light on Sam and he knew it was time to give up, is clearly set up as a parallel for Sam getting caught here.

Definitely want to play with that parallel because it'll be useful for the contrast that comes after. Helicopter catching him was prelude to him walking out of jail, picking up his bike, and going home. Rich people don't suffer consequences and all that.

Him being caught here, halfway through the two hour premiere episode, would be prelude to him being treated rather differently. He'd be sorted and cataloged, he'd be treated as no one and nobody and nothing and see all of his privilege stripped away.

It's actually tempting to make that be an episode in itself (sprinkled with whats going on with the programs he met in the first half) with his entrance into the games of “What am I supposed to do?” “Stay alive” and then disappearing toward the light being where the credits roll.

But then we'd be left with an episode of just games and more than that the point here is to stick to the original hastily jotted down notes, not replace them.

The games and the post confrontation with Clue take up less then ten minutes in the movie and that's a thing that I don't see best expanded into a television episode.  The games will get boring if they go on too long, the confrontation with Clu didn't need too much more meat on it's bones.  Probably better if they remain the same length and the previously mentioned lead up (the privilege stripping processing of Sam Flynn) is expanded enough that the two together constitute an hour of TV time.

Anyway, episode 1 ends with Sam realizing that the person in front of him is Clu, not his father, and being dragged away while demanding to know what happened to his actual father.


Episode 2: The LightCycle Grid
This is about maybe 8 minutes of movie time, and there's probably not a lot on the movie side to add to that time, though there is a bit. Instead what would fill this to the size of an actual episode is everything else.

The programs who Sam met in Episode 1 would be reacting, or failing to react, to his capture and the rumor that he's a user. Everybody would be reacting to the rumor that there's a user about. The portal, which can only be opened from the outside, would be visibly open. Rumors would fly on swift wings.

Which should give the episode a decent chance to show the wider world. What are the ordinary programs thinking?  What's the talk on the street?  What's happening out there?

As for what happens to Sam, as in the movie he's taken to the light cylce arena, as in the movie Clu personally challenges him to a duel in hopes of forcing Flynn to actually do something (Flynn's strategy of inaction has been difficult for Clu to combat.) As in the movie Quorra saves Sam, and Clu is happy with this saying, “Game on, old friend,” (he thinks Flynn is doing the rescuing) while pursuit light cycles appear.


Episode 3 Father and Son Reunion
Quorra and Sam are able to escape the light cylces pursing them, go off grid, and eventually reach the place where Flyn has been hiding. The initial reunion involved hugging, but when Flynn learns that Sam came because of a result of a page he never sent, he steps outside to stare toward Clu's city, explaining that it will be dinner soon and they'll talk then.

In the city the revelation that a user, son of the original creator, has escaped and is out there somewhere is stirring the existing unrest. The number of programs and places that show up on screen should be expanding, and it might be time to start dropping references to things like the End of Line club, people like Zuse, and events like the Purge.

While Sam and Quorra look through the things at Flynn's home (well, Sam looks, Quorra talks to him, she already knows about everything without needing to look, she lives there) Clu is back in the city staring into the wastes, “Your move Flynn, come on. Come on!” And the episode ends on that.


Episode 4: The Rise and Fall
[This will be one of at least two flashback episodes]

The episode begins with an awkward dinner between Sam, Quorra and Flynn. (All that is learned is that he's a college droppout with no job, or relationships save a rescue dog and checking in on ENCOM once a year.) That changes when Flynn points out that Sam must have questions of his own, and Sam says he only has one, which leads into the story of why Flynn never came home.

This opens up a top down version of the history of the world, he was the creator of this world and he, Tron, and Clu shaped and ruled it together. He is someone who had all the power and all the privilege and his description should reflect that. He can afford to talk in broad strokes rather than specific details because that was his perspective.

This is where we first learn what “the miracle,” Flyn told Sam about before disappearing was. This is where we first learn what the profound breakthrough was that Flynn told Allen about before disappearing. The arrival of the ISOs (isomorphic algorithms), unprogrammed programs that emerged from cyberspace as soon as there was a place for them to emerge into.

(As in the movie, the flashback would be interrupted to allow for some significant glances Quorra's way at this point.  In fact it's probably best to just assume that all the around the table conversation from the movie remains, it's just that massive flashback separates and elaborates on what was said there.)

This is where we first start to see Clu and Flynn split apart. Flynn notices the ISOs and walks away while Clu was showing Flynn something, presumably plans for their perfect system. While Flynn looks on the ISOs and their work with wonder and amazement Clu looks on with growing disdain.

Since we have some more time, we can see there be more progression of Clu's reaction, but eventually it catches up to the movie.  Clu double checks, he asks, “Flynn, am I still to create the perfect system?”

Flynn replies with a casual, “Yeah,” and the coup beings.

We see the resistance, and the crushing of it, from the point of view of its leader. We see the Purge (the genocide of the ISOs) from an outside point of view: Flynn's.

And then we come back to the present. Flynn never made it back because the portal closed on him. Sam points out that it's open now, and Flynn finally lets Sam in on the fact that Sam is a pawn. He was brought in not because of a page Flynn sent to Allen, but because of a page Clu sent. Clu wanted a new piece on the board, and he got it. Sam is doing everything Clu wants him to do.

More than that Flynn lets Sam know that there's more at stake than just them. Clu wants out of the system. Clu wants access to earth and if he gets his hands on Flynn's disk he'll have the means. After spending an episode describing and showing both Clu's war and Clu's genocide of those he finds imperfect, it should be clear why unleashing Clu upon our imperfect would be a bad idea.

Episode ends on Flynn saying, “It's his game now, the only way to win is not to play.”


A note about the portal. It's described as being open for about eight hours and based on a couple of things I'm tempted to think that means earth time. That would make it open for about 20 days internal computer time, assuming we're using the 60 to one conversion.

On the one hand, that makes the, “We've got to get there NOW cause it's gonna close,” thing seem a bit absurd. (Though that's only a position had by the one who hasn't internalized the time difference yet.) On the other hand it would make the fact that the war was over before the portal closed in the flashback in the movie a little less absurd.  It would still be very fast, but a 20 day war is a bit more believable than an eight hour one.  I'd probably rewrite it so that the portal closing wasn't the end of the story, but instead something not noticed until the end.  "By that time the portal had closed on me."  Something he didn't even notice until the war was over, or did notice but didn't let himself dwell on.

60 to one would also mean that Flynn has spent 1,200 years inside the system. That's probably worth thinking about. Human aging is keyed to earth time so he's only physically aged 20 years, but he's mentally had sixty times that. This fact is never really expanded on beyond the offhand comment.  Do memories fade 60 times as fast, or is their retention also keyed to earth time?

For Flynn, does it really feel like he's been gone 1200 years, or does it feel like he's been gone 20 years each of which somehow managed to be 60 times as eventful as an ordinary year?  These things matter.


Episode 5: Searching for the lost.

Late in the last episode Flynn mentioned that there are programs disappearing, that there is unrest, even revolution, stirring. His plan to sit tight isn't solely based on not wanting to risk earth, it is based on the fact that given a little time, it might be possible to bring Clu down without risking earth.

That would be replayed here, but it would go on a bit longer than it did before, all the way to Flynn ending the argument by removing himself from it and going to bed.

It would serve as a frame for the actual story of this episode.

This episode is about the programs going missing and the building unrest.  Episodes 1, 2 and 3 all featured programs in the city as part of their story.  Episode 4 probably introduced some, or featured some already introduced, in the flashback.  Regardless we've got this foundation of programs in the city to build on, we've been following some of their stories for a good solid three episodes.  It's their time to shine.

This episode is bookended by Sam-Flynn-Quorra, but it's about the overlooked characters.

At least two threads would run through this episode.  One being programs trying to investigate the disappearances.  Who took the missing programs?   Where were they taken?  Why?  What is being done to them?

The other is the resistance.  There are groups ready to resist but they're divided, and they need to believe they can win before they'll stick their necks out.  One thread would be trying, with limited success, to recruit and form the resistance.  Unrest exists, but it is unrest tempered by fear, and one must overcome the fear to get the resistance moving.

And a third ever present thing would be those just trying to survive, their stories as everything changes around them.

The Episode would end with a return to a Sam-Flynn-Quorra bit.  Straight from the movie, Sam trying to convince Quorra to help him get to the portal so he can deal with the problem from the outside.  As in the movie, he doesn't appear to get the help he wanted and ends up going to his bedroom himself.

Also, reintegration, especially the way it took out the carrier, really felt like little more than a cheap plot device. I think I'd drop it.  So this wouldn't be straight from the movie, because I'd cut out that part.


Episode 6: The City

Quorra tells Sam about a program she once knew, named Zuse, who fought alongside the ISOs. It is said he can get anyone anywhere. She sends Sam to his sector telling Sam that Zuse will find him.

Flynn, unable to sleep because of thoughts of Sam, heads to Sam's room to talk to him only to found that Sam has stolen his custom vintage light cylce.

As soon as Sam gets into town he trades the lightscycle for a nondescript cloak.

This is an entire episode of A Story meets B Story. Sam is trying to find the right part of town, bumping into programs he's previously met, avoiding ones that would wish him ill, and generally reconnecting with the people side of the show that can be lost when it's all on a level of users and Clu.

The investigators and agitators of last episode might cross Sam's path, even if none of them notice it. And those stories would, of course, continue.

The episode would really be about the City and those in it.  Clu, high above in his administrative offices would be absent from all but the end.  Quorra and Flynn would be absent from all but the beginning and end.  This episode would just be Sam and the city population.  It would be all about the programs pushed to the background or not shown at all for whatever constraints (possibly time) in the movie.

The episode ends with three short scenes, all from the movie:
--Sam bumps into a woman he met before, one of the programs that prepared him for the games, who knows he's looking for someone.
--Clu is informed that the downtown sentries recovered Flynn's light cylce and traced it to it's point of origin.
--Quorra sees Flynn dressed to go out for the first time in God knows how long. He simply says, “Prepare the light runner Quorra, we're going down town.


Episode 7: Off sides
The start of this episode can be taken directly from the movie.

It begins on motion. As Sam takes an elevator up to extreme heights, Clu takes a flying vehicle toward Flynn's hideout. Back at the hideout, unaware it's location has been compromised, Quorra argues that Flynn doesn't need to go (he'll be a target as soon as he steps out of hiding, it's his disk Clu wants.) because she sent Sam to someone she could trust, but Flynn insists anyway, and so all of the major pieces are in motion.

Sam is taken to a program named Castor, who controls access to Zuse. On his way in he overhears resistance members recapping (“Programs are disappearing Castor, soon none of us will be left, Zuse can unite the factions, foment revolution.”) It would be good if at least one of the three people here, doesn't have to be the speaking one, was the primary person we saw attempting to instigate revolution for at least the last two episodes.

The Castor cuts off the meeting with the resistance to turn his attention to Sam, the moment the Resistance leader sees Sam he says, “It is happening.”
Sam goes to speak to Castor in private. (First major deviation from the movie is that in this episode Castor does not light up the signal, the resistance is outside and might notice, so he strings Sam along until he can isolate Sam from them, more on that later.)
Clu arrives at Flynn's home, to investigate the place. Which they do. Some better than others. Clu has a big canonical moment of self reflection and discomfort here, that will obviously stay. It would be good if Rinzler had one too, though not as obvious. In fact every one of these episodes should be considered to have “And Rinzler's character is developed” implicitly added.

Rinzler needs to show some doubt.  Some emotion.  Some redeemability.

Completely deviating from the source material, Quorra and Flynn arrive in the city and begin their own attempt at investigation. They don't know where Zuse is any better than anyone else. They'll have to look for them.

This will, naturally involve coming into contact with the secondary characters I've been talking about. The actual people of the city, so often forgotten about.

Also, the arrival of Quorra and Flynn at the city might be shuffled to predate the arrival of Clu and his at the hideout.
The episode ends when the signal does go out (maybe it was lit initially, maybe not) Or something similar notifies Clu that something has happened.  The episode ends when  Clu says, “Let's move,” and he and his crew head back to the city.


Episode 8: I'm on my way
The episode begins with Castor admitting that he really is Zuse, it will end with his betrayal. In the movie that took about two minutes. I really don't find that acceptable.

That's one of the reasons I'm unclear on the exact timing of the signal.  It might be worthwhile for the signal to be in two parts, Clu is signaled to make his lengthy journey back, but the nearby troops aren't signaled until later based on the previous idea of being wary of sending it out when resistance is present.

Or, the Signal could go out, but then Zuse gets a message saying it's going to be a while, so he has to string Sam along until Clu gets there.

Regardless Zuse told Sam he'd need three things:
--New Attire.
--A forged disk

This episode will consist of Zuse apparently working with Sam to get these three things, it will place Sam alongside resistance members, and bring him into contact with the lower classes, it will give him a chance to reconnect with programs he met in previous episodes (notably 1, 6, and possibly 7 if the part before he met Castor were expanded a bit.)

Through all of this all Zuse will appear to be helpful, if uneasy, and should be extremely uneasy and subject changy every time Quorra comes up, as he is in the movie. (He isn't betraying Sam, he doesn't know Sam, he's betraying Quorra, and doing it behind her back no less.  He's not going to back out, but he doesn't feel good about it either.)

Quorra and Flynn should be attempting to figure out where Zuse is operating now, as they're both well out of the loop.  That means a good deal of them talking to ordinary programs.  More story A meets story B here.

Several programs clearly recognized Sam when he first walked into the club, the rumor mill should be churning.

Clu, for his part, should be in transit for the duration. Sam, Flynn and Quorra only had to go one way, Clu has already done that and is now going back, the lag created by that should be showing up in this episode.

The episode ends when, all the pieces finally in place, and large numbers of resistance not currently filling the club (though still doubtless a few) Zuse decides the charade has to stop, and (quietly) calls in the troops. (I imagine the casual touch of a button.)

Episode ends with a scene from the movie: Zuse saying, “This is going to be quite the ride,” and the troops breaking in through the ceiling.


Episode 9: Unstoppable

This is the first of three episodes that take place over very short times, and compensate for this by showing what is going on in that amount of time in great detail.  This episode should hit like a feeling of shock and terror, the next like frenetic battle, and the last of the three like finally having a chance to breathe.
All three will cover events throughout the city, and for all three of them Clu will still be in transit.


The soldiers who break into the the End of Line club are unkillable, but people resist anyway. Sam begins to fight as soon as he realizes there will be one, Quorra is soon to join in. Other programs, nameless ones we've never seen before as well as regulars from the city side of the story who happen to be in the club join in as well.

The battle is impossible.  The best one can hope for is not to be killed as the other side cannot be stopped, success, such as there is any, is in allowing non-combatants to escape to safety.

News of what is happening at the End of Line club spreads fast, and throughout the city two things break people from their ordinary lack of interest, one is that a nightclub is under government attack.  Civilians in a civilian establishment are currently, apparently at random, being killed off by the government.  This spurs people who otherwise were willing to bear injustice to step up on the resistance side.

The other is that the solders attacking those civilians are unkillable.  That breeds a lot of fear and disillusionment.  If they're unstoppable, how can they be stopped?

Everyone reacts in different ways, some attempt to get to the club to provide reinforcements for the innocents, others attempt to sabotage those places and things that could provide reinforcements for the soldiers.

What started as an attack in a single club became acts of revolution in multiple sites throughout the city.

But a problem remains. Somehow, these warriors appear to be immortal.

In the original location, in the End of Line Club, Quorra's arm is damaged and falls off. She collapses to the ground. Sam is able to kick away those who hurt her, but can do little else. Suddenly a cloaked figure enters and touches the ground. All power shuts down.


Episode 10: Evitable
Power starts to return, the cloaked figure is revealed to be Flynn.

Someone attacks one of the unstoppable foes and finds it stoppable. This repeats.

This pattern is found through out the city, something has changed, the tide has turned. (Though not quite as fast as it did in the movie, not by a long shot) as seen from a multitude of perspectives, the resistance is winning the fights across the city.

And when I say across the city I mean that we're seeing the perspective of every program we've had a chance to meet so far and thus getting all the angles on the event.

But what will also become apparent is that they cannot hold the ground they've gained.  Reinforcements will come, and the triumph will soon turn to retreat.

That shift in tone, the shift from triumphant, "We did it," to, "Crap, we've got to get out of here," will be signaled by Flynn saying to his son, "We've got to split, man." followed my a montage of resistance fighters and random people caught up in the situation running and hiding, finally coming to rest back on Flynn and Sam trying to escape with Quorra.  This can play just as it did in the movie, even the music is perfect.

They get her to the elevator (passing a praying program on the way) one of the few surviving troopers is able to steal Flynn's disk with what looks to be some kind of grappling hook, just as the elevator doors close, then a bomb is thrown at the elevator, blasting it into freefall, Zuse murders the soldier and steals the disk, does a little victory dance, and Quorra, Sam, and Flynn are all left falling, apparently to their deaths.

Quorra is damaged, unconscious probably worse.

Episode ends.


Episode 11: Post Casum

Another episode that looks at short parts of a lot of people's stories rather than long parts of anyone's story.

By this point we should have dozens of characters all over the city, and word just went out that the users, both Sam and Flynn, are dead. They just went from the single greatest proof of a user's existence in 20 years earth time (which is way longer system time) to hearing that the users had died.
Everybody needs time to react that that's exactly what they'll do in this episode.

The central characters will barely be in it. Clu is still in transit. Quorra is unconscious. All that's going to happen on the central character's is about two minutes worth of stuff that's fine as it is in the movie, no need for expansion.  And some of that is because I want to start this episode a little before the last left off to get the entire elevator drop as an opening to it.

Because all that they really do is stop the elevator without dying have Sam notice that Flynn's disk is gone, have Sam be apologetical and Flynn lose his cool, and finally have what I'd save for the end, Flynn come up with an idea, “You ever jump a fright train?”

I was thinking of them getting on the train at the end of this episode, but I think the actual act of getting on works better as an episode starter.

Regardless, most of this episode is just everyone reacting with, "What now?"  The resistance had two things they could potentially rally behind: Zuse, a user.  Zuse is a traitor, now known to be one.  The users are presumed to be dead.

"Where do we go from here?" has never seemed as hopeless a question, everyone has to cope with it.


Episode 12: On the line

Flynn and Sam hop on a “train” (solar sailer simulator, if I recall terminology correctly) that will take them to the portal in the hopes they can beat Clu there. On the way Flynn attempts to repair Quorra's code, revealing in the process that she's an ISO, so far as anyone knows, the last ISO. Sam appreciates the value in what Flynn has been doing more now that he knows it wasn't just hiding, it was also protecting Quorra.

The resistance regroups. They've just had what amounts to their first successful operation in forever, but they're still outgunned, they're still on the margins, and their biggest potentially rallying points have just fallen apart. To recap from last episode: One was Zuse, now known to be a traitor. The other was the users, now believed to be dead. Briefly united by the common cause that was stopping the slaughter at the End of Line club, they now have to struggle to move forward as a united front, or even move forward at all.

Those seeking what has been done with the missing programs probably leave the resistance to do its thing and return to their work.

Clu finally reaches the End of Line Club, he is the only one to whom it is a surprise at this point that “The boy and Flynn are gone.” Zuse, along with most others, assumes they died in the Elevator, Clu does not and sends Rinzler to find them.

Sam and Flynn catch up on the train (technology, politics, sports, economics, family) Flynn goes off to meditate when Quorra starts to reboot, leaving her in Sam's hands.

More on the resistance groups and assorted city programs, see above.
Rinzler begins to track Sam and Flynn, Zuse and Clu talk for a while, Clu ultimately blowing up the club (with Zuse still in it) at the end of the discussion.


Episode 13: All around me

The second flashback episode. This one Quorra's.

Episode begins with her recovering, being brought up to date on a couple of things, then right into her story. Sam asks how she found him, and she gets up and starts to walk away. He says, “It's ok, I know,” which kind of leaves out some vital information, like the fact that she was only outed because a vital medical procedure happened to reveal her secret in front of Sam and this is not a result of her being intentionally outed.

Though, that being said, the amount of discussion on her and what she means after that happened might be disturbing even from the standpoint of accidental outing to a sympathetic person.

Anyway, the story.

The last flashback, Episode 4, looked at the story from the perspective of Flynn. From when there was nothing to when Clu had driven him out and the closing portal had locked him in. From the position of a leader, and then a deposed leader and a resistance leader and a former leader. From the top down. And as for the Purge, it was talked about in terms of how Flynn saw the ISOs: the miracle. What they could mean for the world.

This episode is a very different flashback. Quorra was just an ISO, if she is the last then she's just the one who happened to last long enough to be saved, if she isn't the last then she's just the one that everyone thinks is the last. She's not the queen of the ISOs or long lost Anastasia. She wasn't a leader.

Her view was from the bottom up. Her perspective on the exact same events is going to be completely different. Even in the movie there's recognition of this, it's not political, it's, “Everyone I knew... disappeared.” Her people were executed in the streets, she had to give up and run away to survive, she depended on the sympathies of others, not of her kind, to make it as far as she did but soon all hope was lost, and then Flynn found and rescued her.

The period covered will be slightly different, it will start and stop later than Flynn's flashback.  She obviously can't be in the parts before the ISOs came but from that on she can tell her story, and her story continues after Flynn gave up because he found her as she was running away, the only reason for him to be there is because he was running away, but his story ended before he started running.

The difference in timing will be the least of the differences.

The cast in this episode need to be chosen with care, anyone playing an ISO needs to be someone the viewer has never seen in the series before and will never see again. The story is of genocide as seen from the one victim who escaped it. It needs to be, well, genocide. The ISOs being great in number at first, dwindling, then gone, for the final part Quorra is surrounded entirely by people, whether they are good or bad, who are not of her kind. And when she's rescued in the end it's by someone even more unlike her. Someone who isn't even a program.

But like I said, the big thing is that it's totally unlike Flynn's flashback because it is a bottom up view. It's a narrow view. High on detail, low on scope. It's a personal view. She may not know whether her area is the first or the last to be hit by the purge, and it doesn't matter because what matters is what's in front of her. That's the story.
Flynn sees everything from a bird's eye view possible only because he was the creator of the world, the ruler of it at the start, and the defacto ruler of the resistance immediately after. Quorra had to experience everything through her own senses. She was on the ground and probably couldn't tell what was happening on the next street over.

Flynn's flashback should give you an overview of the forest. Quorra's should be so visceral that you know exactly what kind and how much moss there is on any given tree that was passed, even if you have no idea what the forest looks like.

And, species aside, Quorra's should be the more human story.

The episode ends with Quorra saying, “I guess you could say I'm a rescue,” and the camera panning to show that Rinzler is following them.


Episode 14: The Missing

This would primarily be a back at the city episode split largely between the resistance and the loosely affiliate groups investigating the disappearances.

On the resistance side we've got planning, organizing, maybe even a small scale raid or two.

The more important side for this episode is the investigation side which is quickly reaching the end of their search but finding that everywhere they look is just a temporary holding area that's already been cleared.

Finally they'll put it together and realize that everyone who has been abducted has been shipped out of the city, there will be a question of, “Where to?”

And then we'll return to our heroes. Flynn is still meditating, Sam and Quorra are discussing the view, she's never seen the sun and imagines it's what a sunrise is like, she asks for the sun to be described to her, that sort of thing.

Then Rinzler's vehicle pulls into view only it doesn't go after them, it goes forward. Flynn shouts for the others to get below and the episode ends on, “This isn't supposed to be here.”


Episode 15 : The Found

Picking up from where the last episode left off, Quorra, Sam and Flynn have taken their 'train' to a place that shouldn't have existed, some new construction, and in order to hide left the top of the train and run to a lower level where they're concealed between the cargo pods.

This has allowed them to see inside the pods for the first time and what they see are programs. Lots and lots of captive programs.

Meanwhile, back at the city the resistance has captured a base with vital Clu related information in it, combining forces with those looking for the missing, now aware that they've been taken to a special offsite location, pieces of the puzzle begin to be fit together.

On the ship, Quorra asks, “What is this?” Flynn explains that Clu can't create programs, he can only destroy or repurpose them. Quorra asks, “Repurpose them for what?”

As our three heroes search the ship, the resistance searches for information at home. They find inventory data, they find suspicious lines of code, on both fronts the conclusion leads to only one conclusion: “He's building an army.”


Episode 16: The Ship

Rinzler, who followed the three to the ship, is now searching for them while they investigate the ship.

The resistance is attempting to determine more information about this army. There is also speculation that if this army is being massed outside of the city, that might mean that security forces inside of the city are not on the highest alert or the best staffed. The idea of a massive united assault is proposed.

Back at the ship, investigations are cut short when Rinzler is on the verge of finding the group. All they are able to do is hide and wait to be discovered. Quorra has a different plan. She gives her disk, and with it all the potential ISOs have to do good for the world, to Flynn, then runs away to lead Rinzler off.

She is quickly defeated (but not killed.)

Which leads to a realization from Flynn, “Tron. He's alive.” Sam says they can't just let Quorra go, Flynn says there's another way. Rinzler also known as Tron captures Quorra and leads her away.


Episode 17: Counterbalance

Clu's ship docks on the main ship.

Almost entirely Resistance back home episode. They're working out where to attack, gathering allies, gathering records. They're also working towards finding if there's a way to undo the repurposing they've now discovered Clu has been doing to the taken.

They're using stolen records to recruit by saying, “We know what happened to [missing loved one] the regime took zir, and we can prove it.”

They're building an army of their own.

Clu plugs Flynn's disk into a place designed for that purpose. One of is underlings asks him what it does.


Episode 18: Ignition
Plugging in the disk has sent a surge of power through the ship, and the army marches out. Sam states his fear that Quorra will wind up like one of them.

Back home, at the city... Honestly at this point I was putting in potential episode breaks wherever and counting on the undeveloped characters to hold down the fort. I was also thinking about how much time SG1 could spend stuck on an enemy ship. Plus, some of these have notes saying that they should not be taken seriously.

So, Sam and Flynn do some ship investigating, and back home at the city there's more work in trying to find a cure for repurposing, trying to recruit an army large enough to fight off Clu's forces, and trying to survive, and whatnot.

The episode ends with Clu and Quarra meeting, and Clu ominously saying he has something very special planned for her.


Episode 19: Out There

Episode starts at the city, programs trying to sort through the information they've gathered, trying to make sense of it.

This is intercut with Sam and Flynn investigating the ship.

Over the course of the episode one conclusion becomes clear, whatever army Clu has been building, it isn't intended to be used against the city. It has a different target.

On the ship Clu begins to give a speech, the ship launches, Sam and Flynn realize that he intends to take the ship, the army, the weapons, everything, through the portal and back to earth.


Episode 20: Same Team

The realization that the army is directed outward means that plans can be changed because it was assumed to be directed inward. The resistance quickly tries to prepare for a massive all out assault to retake the city, secure in the knowledge that the army is directed at another front.

A splinter group decides that they have to warn whoever is actually going to be attacked. Civilian programs begin to make preparations to survive the war they know is coming.

Researchers attempting to determine if Clu's repurposing can be reversed remain at their posts even though, largely within resistance areas that will come to light should a war come, they assume themselves to be at high risk.

On the ship Sam and Flynn debate what to do. Flynn wants to get Sam to the portal first so that he will be safe. Sam believes that will be the same as leaving Flynn and Quorra to die. He settles the argument by calling in a promise 20 years overdue. Next time, they were to play on the same team. Flynn remembered that promise, and was afraid Sam would too.


Episode 21: Our Destiny

Nervous preparations begin, and then end.

The battle begins in the city.  Small strikes at first.  Attempts to keep the city defenses confused and off balance.

On the ship Sam and Flynn have split up, Clu is still speaking.

The Battle for the city heats up.

Separate from the battle for the city, but forced to try to navigate it, the search for a cure continues, it should be possible to rerepurpose, but is it possible to un-repurpose. To let people return to what they would be in the absence of modification rather than impose further modification upon them?

During fighting attempts are made to capture alive those who have been repurposed in hopes that they can be saved.

On the ship Clu wraps up his speech, “Out there,” he says, “is our Destiny.”  The War for Earth is Set to start.


Episode 22

This actually comes with a note that says that this is almost certainly not a place to put an episode, yet is marked as a potential one anyway. Why almost certainly not? Because the cannon side of it would consist entirely of the two main characters, Sam and Flynn, getting from point A to point B, with almost everything they do at their respective points B saved until the episode after.

Obviously one could put almost anything here on the non-cannon side.

The idea of putting a break here, which would have ended just after Sam identified himself, would be to make the getting there interesting enough to fill an episode in itself with the lions' share of the fight being saved for the next episode.


Episode 23: The Key
While Sam makes his way toward Flyn's disk, Clu's army is moved so that it will be battle ready, and Flynn works on securing a getaway plane.

Back in the city the resistance makes slow, halting progress. They have to fight block by block, and attempting to use nonleathal means is slowing them down. The disks of the fallen are carefully preserved in hopes that, maybe, they can be used to resurrect those who were lost.

Flynn is able to secure a plane (by reprogramming the program guarding it to allow him to, advancing the moral question: is it ethical to reprogram someone a little in the service of good if they've already been reprogrammed a lot by the side of evil and are currently operating under the influence of said evil reprogramming, or is Flynn just an asshole?) Sam gets the disk (in the process letting Clu know something was wrong in the disk room) but he isn't ready to leave until he's sure Quorra is safe.

She shows up, still held hostage by Tron, and shouts for him to go. The two get ready to fight.


Episode 24: Fly away

Sam and Quorra (bound hands and all) fight against Tron.

In the city the resistance makes a major breakthrough when they finally capture an base from which flying ships are launched. The sudden existence of resistance air support begins to turn what had been an uphill battle into more of a fair fight.

At long last someone in the city realizes that the army Clu was making must have been intended for Earth. There is no time to think about the implications because of the ongoing armed conflict.

Scientists looking at the problem of reversing repurposesing believe, in theory at least, they may have found a way.

With Tron temporarily defeated and with Clu on the way, Sam and Quorra make a daring acrobatic escape to the flight deck where Flynn is waiting with a plane.

Tron recovers from being almost pushed off a cliff, Clu arrives. Clu, Tron, and several others follow the three in planes of their own.


Episode 25: Flight of the LightJets
Two things will happen in this episode, one is a light jet fight which, honestly, probably can't be expanded beyond the time it was allotted in the movie without becoming extremely boring. That's where Clu, Tron, Quorra, Sam, and Flynn will be.

The other is the, potentially, final victory of the Resistance in the city.  It isn't necessarily a lasting victory.  It is not lost on the leaders that a fair number of loyalists are still out there, a lack of enemy leadership played a decisive role in said victory, and that with a returned Clu for the other side to rally around everything they've accomplished could be undone in a matter of hours or days.

This is to say nothing about the power that Clu would have over the system if he escaped from it.  He'd be untouchable and more or less wield the power of a god.

Likewise those researching the unrepurposing should come to the conclusion that it will definitely be possible but it would take one of the original administrative triumvirate to do it: Flynn, Tron, or Clu.

The splinter group who thought it important to try to warn whoever was to be attacked could reach the ship as well. Ok, maybe more than two things.

The episode ends with Sam triumphant but Flynn getting serious and asking something of Quorra.


Episode 26: Everything is middle game
My hastily jotted down notes say, “From here on out would be completely different.”

That's not entirely true, but there are needs for some serious changes.

As mentioned last episode it should be realized by the resistance back home that not only would Clu showing up potentially ruin everything they've achieved, so too would Clu getting out. If he escaped the system then with a few keystrokes he could do whatever the hell he wanted.

To be honest, the initial plan had Clu's regime in the city not overthrown at all at this point, and maybe that would be better, it's just that if I'd had every summary be, “The resistance resists without forward motion,” I'd have gotten sick of it pretty fast.

Anyway, the important point is that everything hinges on what happens here because it has the power to override what happens elsewhere.

So what does happen here?

The movie version starts with the good guys flying in while Clu and Tron fall from the sky with but one backup aircraft between them. Clu steals it from Tron and flys away while Tron falls into the sea and reverts to his original colors.

Clu beats the protagonists to the portal and confronts them there. His speech makes me feel sorry for him because he did do everything Flynn ever asked of him as he saw it. He saw it badly, but even so. Some disk switching for good measure, people waiting way too long to leave when if they'd just gone when they were supposed to they might have saved those they nominally refused to leave behind, and finally it all comes down to reintegration.

Flynn magically reintegrates Clu, killing both of them and a massive explosion that conveniently takes out the war ship. Have I mentioned that I don't like that? I don't like that. It's too convenient. I say drop reintegration entirely. “I brought you into this world,” does not mean, “I can take you out of it at a moment's notice.”

A better ending for me is them realizing that if they open the portal they can't stop at least part of the warship from coming with them, which would be bad, so instead, while fighting Clu, the three work to sabotage the portal in such a way that it damages but does not destroy, the warship.

This produces a lot of worthwhile results. Those captured innocents on the war ship? If any of them that have yet to be repurposed are saved from destruction. Those brainwashed soilders on the warship?  Perhaps they can be unbrainwashed.

It also preserves both Clu and Flynn who are both characters worth saving for seasons two and beyond.

The original plan was for the resistance to not yet attempt to take the city and season 2 would be Sam, Flynn, et al. Trapped inside with the the portal now closed attempting to fix the city. Tron could make an eventual reappearance, and finally, perhaps as the season 2 finale, I'd like to bring Allen in. (This would require sending him another page, which would require working out how Clu did it in the first place.)

As mentioned in the original Tron: Legacy post, at some point it would be good to get out of that system and get onto the internet.

But for the moment, I write while half asleep, I have tenative list of possible episodes of what could have happened if instead of being a movie it had been stretched out to a series.

[Added while only 1/4 asleep]

One possibility is for season 2 to open with Clu returning to the ship and bringing it, damaged, back to the city to assert control.

The resistance is forced back underground, but the small resistance contingient that located the ship is able to free a lot of the captured not yet repurposed programs.

Sam, Flynn and Quorra work to repair the portal in hopes that they can call in Allen for help.

Major arcs of season 2:
1 Have to break into Clu's records to figure out how the hell he paged Allen the first time.
2 Overthrowing Clu isn't as simple as getting him out of town or blowing up a ship.  Now that his super-weapon for invading earth has been defeated, the actual work of deposing him can take place.
3 One of the reasons I think Clu is worth saving is that he is a conflicted character who is trying to do the job he was assigned to the best of his ability and fucking up everything as a result of that.  Fucking up to the point of genocide, yet he does seem capable of redemption and that would be interesting to see.  I'd like to see more of the conflict working its way toward the eventual redemption.  Once this series takes to the internet there will be villains that make Clu look like nothing in comparison, by the time we get there, Clu could be redeemed.
4 Stuff.




* Clu can't create programs. He can only repurpose them. That's why programs have been disappearing in advance of his attempted invasion. That's important, that's worldbuilding, and that's a problem. If Clu can't create programs, and Flynn, the only one we know of who can create programs isn't creating, then whence are all these programs coming?

The most logical answer is from nowhere. There is no new blood. The program population is finite and dropping. Programs die, but none are created to replace them. Clu should be very aware that every lost program brings him closer to the end, yet he runs the games. Gladiatorial games between programs fought to the death.

This is his response to a Children of Men scenario: let's kill the world faster.

But it's more than that. Programs, unlike people, don't age. They can live forever without new programs being created and so there is hope for a world without new programs, provided that no one goes and sets up a program killing institution. Like, say, gladiatorial games that are waged to the death.

Clu wants to leave, and he wants to take an army with him, but that army has to be drawn from the ranks of existing programs. Wouldn't it be best to not kill them off when he doesn't need to?

Combine this with the other, barely examined, bit of worldbuilding: Narnia Time. The conversion we're given is hours to minutes. 60 to 1. Clu's revolution was 20 year years ago. That's 1200 years of cyberspace time. 1200 years of time spent in the computer, if Clu has been forcing programs to fight and die in the games all this time, with no way to replace the dead, and also suppressing any attempts at revolution, how much population is likely to be left, really?
Maybe we could figure out a way around it with saying the games are only to the death some of the time (it was that way in Rome) and are reserved for special occasions, or something.

The point is that the movie didn't really think this out. The series, if it's going to be good, would need to dwell.

That said, the relationship between programs and disks isn't entirely clear. It may be the case that since the games don't seem to result in the destruction of disks, the programs who die in them can be reconstructed.


  1. A standard US TV hour these days is about 42 minutes, and a half hour episode is 21 minutes. A 26-TV-hour shooting schedule is brutal on the cast and crew; somewhere around 22-24 is a lot more doable.

    I confess I have problems with the characterisation, particularly the way the only female character is basically Exotic Foreign Babe To Be Won, but that's not your problem...

    Going by the original film, I thought the idea was that user-written programs became sapient entities inside the computer - and when people's software keeps vanishing, it's going to get re-written, or at least restored from source (which on inside terms might well mean the same face but a memory wipe).

    1. I confess I have problems with the characterisation, particularly the way the only female character is basically Exotic Foreign Babe To Be Won, but that's not your problem...

      Hopefully that would be solved by the additional cast, the city programs, being more gender balanced. Then the difference would be that one of the female characters was exotic and foreign and seemed to be hitting it off with Sam, not that the only prominent female character was.


      A 26-TV-hour shooting schedule is brutal on the cast and crew; somewhere around 22-24 is a lot more doable.

      Like I said, this was a result of hastily jotting down possible places for episodes while watching the movie. I didn't even keep track of how many I was creating.

      Especially since I'm not sure that I want the back home resistance to succeed in taking back the city, there's a lot of room for condensing, it might work better instead of staging a revolution they were preparing a resistance, and that could possibly be shown in less time.

      Right now I have 26 episodes one of them two hour. So 27 hours and you recommend a max of 24. 22-24 could be condensed into one makeing it 25 hours.

      If there isn't a need to show a full scale revolution in the city at the end, then major meat of episode 25 is also going to be missing. So 25 and 26 can be combined.

      That brings it down to 24 TV hours, spread across 23 episodes (two hour pilot.)

      The major accomplishment in the city was the organization of a resistance movement, not the overthrowing of the regime.

      Getting rid of the overthrowing also saves a lot on the effects that would be necessary, and has a much better lead in to season 2: We've stopped Clu from invading earth, but we haven't beaten him yet. With Season two being about beating him.


      Going by the original film, I thought the idea was that user-written programs became sapient entities inside the computer - and when people's software keeps vanishing, it's going to get re-written, or at least restored from source (which on inside terms might well mean the same face but a memory wipe).

      The problem is that Tron: Legacy all takes place inside one system that's been running for 20 years without anyone on the outside even knowing. No users have been available to replace their programs. Now things would get more interesting in later seasons when the show finally expanded outward onto the internet, because then you have that. Not to mention the idea of back ups: never breached in the original movie.

      Now maybe there is some automated program that makes new programs at a semi steady rate, but the problem would be this:
      1 Where is it?
      2 Why hasn't Clu taken it over and used it to make programs for himself.
      3 What does that even look like from the inside?

    2. Yeah, makes sense - I'd forgotten that aspect of the new film. If one's being at all realistic, new programs are basically spawned as required, but realism has never been an important aspect of these films.