100 Moments where I Understood

One of the processes that is at work with any writing, and particularly fictional storytelling, is figuring out how to give your audience enough information to keep them grounded in what is going on, while at the same time raising questions in their minds that keep them interested. Much of the story unfolding is then made up of the revelation of the answers to those asked or unasked questions, coming in the timing, order, and rhythm that the author intends.

I enjoy and appreciate those moments of understanding – the instants where, as an audience member, I am able to finally perceive the full tableau of connections and relationships that were being set up from the beginning. Sometimes, this moment is the big twist, where you find out that the best friend is really the murderer. Other times, it’s the heroic reveal, where you see exactly how the protagonist is going to stop the villain. And still other times it’s just the point–which can even come early on–when you realize what your story is actually about.

In every case, it’s a story beat that succeeded (for me, at least) because it came in a way that was surprising, and yet made perfect sense in the context of what I’d seen so far.  Here is a 100 of them (obviously, in some cases, with spoilers).  They’re listed in more-or-less alphabetical order by the name of the story, but with the titles omitted, because that’s how I feel like doing it.

• Abruptly, Shannon dies.  That means we basically lose both her and Boone (as she was our link to him via potential flashbacks).  OK, on this show, nobody is safe, regardless of whether I feel their story has been told or not…a point that’s driven home even more so later in the year when Libby is abruptly killed.

• Macon Leary advises you to never take anything valuable with you on a trip, as we see him with a photograph of his son…his dead son.

• The trial…never ended.

• Luthor could escape whenever he wanted to.

• The Unknown Superman…he is from the future, but not AD 4500.  He’s our Superman, from the present, taking the opportunity to see his father, one last time.

• Amy isn’t really Amy at all – she’s a “flesh” duplicate!

• All those pictures of that creepy guy…he was just repairman for the photo booths.  It’s perfectly innocent.

• Natasha isn’t coming under the big bad’s influence…she’s playing him.  “Thank you for your cooperation.”

• He borrowed the blue box – brand new and ancient at the same time. Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. “Raggedy Man, I remember you, and you are late for my wedding!” Awesome.

• Good grief – Joey Heric just said he was guilty of murder on the witness stand…just like he’s been saying all along!  Yet he still got himself immunity!

• He only jumped a few feet to the next building.  Bang! Affirmation of life and sanity!

• They don’t worship the sun.  They worship the son…the Son of God.

• I knew the whole thing about the sled, but the moment when Charles Foster Kane throws his tantrum in Xanadu was when I really understood – everything that this guy has gained in life just means nothing.

• Vincent Lauria threw the game.

• How do you stop the nearly omnipotent living embodiment of entropy? Just throw at him the nearly omnipotent living embodiment of the infinite cycle of death and rebirth!

• A “disturbing hypothesis” proves true as we discover the crew are actually duplicates from the Demon-class planet.

• I didn’t really understand when I first read it, but having another look so many years later, I’m pretty impressed.  In the cover of darkness, a vengeful curse is exacted, and the most innocent among them is the first to fall.  A little child will grow up to become one of his parents’ greatest enemies.

• During a fight, Bumstead falls to his death out of the hole in the wall, revealing to himself and to us that the city he lives on actually a large island floating in space.

• What is Dr. Schreber up to? What are his intentions? Ah, to inject John with a lifetime of memories of training about how to fight and defeat their enemies.

• They’re in a petri dish!  That thing is a bacteria, and that dude is The Atom!

• How will Neil Armstrong’s foot stop our enemy? Oh…

• The most interesting answer would be if it were somehow Jacqueline and Simon, but how could that be possible?  Oh, she’s an expert marksman, there’s an extra bullet…I get it now.

• Nancy is little Jamie’s mummy.

• The Masked Man who killed everyone…it’s a descendant of Mxyzptlk.  That’s how we’re going to reset this.

• “Why did you save five minute?!” The fake policewoman is a grown up Amelia! (Of course I knew this, but I still love the moment)

• Hmm.  Looks like Ayelborne and his friends aren’t so helpless after all.

• Clementine caused the damage to Joel’s car, and we’ve already seen the second “first” meeting between them.

• There is a fiendish plot, but the target isn’t Bob.  It’s Helen!

• Linda Cooksey isn’t dead, and she never married Mike Yanagita!

• People stumbling through the fields, smoke everywhere.  What’s happening?  War?  Refugees?  Vietnam?  No…a plane crash.

• Max Klein is allergic to strawberries.  He’s been even more on the edge than I realized.

• Jenny Next…doesn’t exist.

• Kasidy was just a distraction – the real spy is…Eddington.

• Doctor Moon isn’t a villain – he’s a well meaning computer designed to care for young Charlotte Abigail, and is motivated to save the people in the library.  (There’s a similar revelation about Mr. Lux later in the story as well).

• That guy they were interrogating just got sucked into the sky.  OK, I guess we are dealing something alien or supernatural, after all.

• Nicholas Van Orton killed his brother and is falling to his death…how depressing!  But wait…breakaway glass?  A big air cushion?!  It was all a game!

• Tex Thompson is really the Ultra-Humanite! (Added bonus:  Dan Dunbar is Hitler!)

• It wasn’t a chicken…it was a baby!

• Why is the detective poking around with a metal detector? To find the third bullet. What third bullet? Of course – the one the murderer fired into a pile of dirt a year ago. It will prove that the murder weapon is his gun. Now…how is he going to explain that?

• Oh great, Graham is speaking to wife or girlfriend on the phone – the idiot.  But no…it’s his daughter, and he’s a widower.

• Norville is falling to his doom!  How will he survive?!  “Strictly speaking, I’m never supposed to do this.” Old Moses is more than he appears, and so is Aloysius, the janitor.

• When we realize just how a handbag with a baby in it wound up in the cloak room at the Victoria station.

• “I’m a police officer.”  And it’s not even the scene’s best line.  This movie is going to be awesome.

• What’s in that box they’re carrying around?  Locke!  I guess dead really is dead.  But then who–?

• Wakes up to find a huge golden eagle on top of the wardrobe looking down on him…What?!  Oh, Milligan is a taxidermist

• The FAA inspector, the friendly coast guard officer, the police detective, the cop…all of them!  They aren’t working for Locus.  They are someone we trusted…someone we all trusted.

• Arthur King?  Morgan?  Camelot Elementary School?  Merlyn the teacher?  A locker that only opens for the worthy?  This story is about the legends of King Arthur!  Of course, the title should have been the giveaway, but somehow, it wasn’t.

• Hmm…I wonder if Dudley will turn out to be a bad gu—what the heck?!  He just spun around and killed Jack!!  I guess he is!

• Tinya…she’s been with us all along. But all that time, she’s been an illusion created by….

• Why can’t Nura see anything beyond a certain point in the future?  Because that’s the moment she dies.

• Amy’s friend Mels, apparently dying of a gunshot wound, reveals that she is is really her daughter, and turns right in front of our eyes to the woman who will be River Song.

• A lamppost grows.  The tree becomes a wardrobe.  The boy grows up to be the Professor.

• Mr. Anderson wakes up.  Whoa…

• Leonard set up himself to blame and kill Teddy for his wife’s murder.

• She wasn’t just staring in the direction of that picture – she was staring at the picture itself, thinking about her baby that was lost to the German measles all those years ago.

• It’s Jim!  Jim was behind it all!  The only thing Ethan isn’t sure about is whether Claire is involved (to be fair, I didn’t fully get this until after I’d finished the movie)

• Julia isn’t dead.  Davian killed his translator instead.  So there’s still hope.  This changes everything.

• “That’s why I created the Mosaic.”  The odyssey of John Stewart.

• Jonathan Frisby came from the same lab experiment as the rats – that’s why everyone is so willing to help his widow.

• The Hyperclan fear fire…and thus their true identity is exposed.

• How are Ulysses, Delmar, Pete and Tommy possibly going to survive this time?  Of course…the flood that we’ve been talking about from the beginning…

• This Thursday is fictional – but influenced by some characters from Psychological Thriller.

• The big bad of the season…is all of them. The Daleks, the Cybermen, the Autons, the Sontarans…all of them.

• The somewhat simplistic story of the explorer looking around the planet with the castle and the treasure, which seemed so easy to play and included explanations for any words that were remotely difficult – that’s a story being told to a little girl by her babysitter, the main character of the story – the one who died in the car crash.

• Bernard Fallon isn’t just a double of Borden…he is a twin – as much the real Borden as the other Borden is.

• It was Darcy! He was the one who forced Wickham to restore Lydia’s honor, and therefore saved the entire Bennett family.  Not such a jerk after all.

• Charles van Doren talks to his father in his classroom, trying to explain things but lacking the courage to do so.  It was the moment that I understood where he was coming from, and what sort of man he was.

• Detective Shaker – he’s not tracking down the kidnappers.  He’s one of them.  He’s their leader.

• He didn’t develop a key that could open any and every computerized system.  It was an illusion, a trick.

• He’s back!  But where did he come from?  How did he get into that suit?  Looking back a few installments…hey!  He was right there, in that issue a few weeks ago!  They made it look like it was one of the replacements, but it wasn’t!  It was him – the real deal Man of Steel!

• It was never Barry Allen at all, but Professor Zoom in disguise, come from the future.

• Why has Wally always run slower since his uncle died? Because he’s never wanted to replace him.

• That dude…it’s Marian in disguise. (Of course, I should have realized this instantly, but unobservant that I am, I did not).

• Sherlock didn’t abandon Irene after all.

• The Rot isn’t a disease…it’s a colour.

• The warden throws something, there is a rip.  All those years of posters of pin-up girls – they were hiding his escape tunnel!

• “What’s the big idea?!” – when Lina Lamont first speaks.

• Inspector Doppler is really…Milo Tindle

• A bit of a different one, less to do with the actual story than with movies in general:  An earthquake or a volcano (I don’t remember which) goes off and a big rock falls on the little band of bad guys trying to escape, killing them all.  And in that instant, I suddenly understand that a movie’s plot threads are meant to be resolved before the story is over.

• Both of Thursday Next’s grandparents have passed away.  Then who is Granny Next?

• They searched everything that came out of that operating room – everything…except me.

• At first, I assumed it was the murderer sending all those text messages, but actually, it’s Sherlock himself.

• When everyone was acting so crazy with Komoto, demanding a “special dance.”  What is going on?  Swish zoom into the locker, and “This is.”

• But wait, how did they get the remote control from the future if it was lost in the mud 100 years ago?  Oh!  The dog dug it up!

• The Aplans had two heads. That statues don’t. We are surrounded by Angels.

• Saveen is dead.  They knew that in the future, so it must be true today.

• Santos and Bartlett were playing off each other…on purpose, to accomplish a common goal.

• Why is the detective so insistent that the villain create a false clue of rubber gloves with gunpowder marks on them? Ah…so that he can check the inside of gloves for fingerprints that will tell him who the murderer really is.

• Cole buys that shirt, Kathryn dyes her hair and, leaves that phone message…oh no.

• Seito didn’t drive away the previous inhabitants of the house.  He is the previous inhabitant, having stopped caring about his home ever since his wife and family left him.  But now that he’s in a relationship with a new woman….

• Leland Palmer standing in front of that mirror…he’s BOB

• When David Dunn shakes Elijah Price’s hand – I knew he was on the way to being a villain before that, but only at that moment did I realize he had been a villain all along.

• Virgil stops limping. I should have seen that one coming, and somehow, I didn’t.

• The lady in the wheel chair, the one with the daughter…that was the DMV lady’s mother!  Of course!

• Elliot Gould and Margot Kidder are married.

• G’Kar and Mollari – they weren’t just killing each other, as prophesied.  They are actually saving Sheridan and Delenn.

“I think it’s Adrian.”

• I did it thirty-five minutes ago.  (The last one revealed the plot, this one revealed just what sort of story we’re reading).

• Sydelle Pulaski stands and sings America the Beautiful – and we realize that the clues that everyone received add up to the song’s lyrics.

• What’s happening to Jean?  The danger she’s sensing, it isn’t just the situation with Stryker.  It’s the oncoming of Phoenix.

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