Back to the end of Back To The Future

Train of thought crashing onto the DeLorean

While driving on an empty road one early morning I’ve been floating with my mind over Back To The Future final moments. I’ve been a fan since I was seven and more often than one could think I reconsider specific details of the movies.

Let’s start from the end.

Doc’s arrival at the level crossing is not casual. In order to meet in time the two main characters always set time circuits few minutes before or few minutes after the previous trip. In the end however Doc grants himself a little margin so that Marty has enough time to pick up Jennifer from her porch and (not) challenge Needles at the red light. Doing so Marty avoids crashing his future onto a Rolls-Royce.

Doc could not possibly know the exact moment in time when Marty and Jennifer would be standing along the railroad, unless he came before with a flying train unnoticed. But he knew, and he knew since 1985, that at some point of that year Marty would have been caught in a car crash with a Rolls-Royce because of his youthful pride. That’s why in 1885 Doc tells Marty about the car accident but he rapidly changes the subject. Doc wants to strictly follow his rule about time travel info but later on he decides to reach Marty just when he should be crying on his wrecked Toyota.

Doc has been in the future three times. Which future though? The one with or without the crash? In the first trip Doc finds out that Marty was involved in the car crash (he’s a sad old guy e he can’t play the guitar anymore). Same story when he goes back to the future with Marty and Jennifer to prevent their son to go to jail. But Marty will race only as consequence of all the events in the 2nd a 3rd movie, otherwise he will never be there confronting Needles eventually. Even the alternative future where Biff is “corrupt and powerful” is just an inevitable but useless go-through to get to young Needles in 1985. I suppose it’s not just a coincidence the fact that Needles is still bullying Marty in 2015.

In 1885 Doc knows that the accident will occurr because, just like Jennifer hiding in the closet, he saw the outcome on older Marty. He knows when, how and where it will happen considering he knows specific details of the event, first of all the model of the car involved. Doc cannot prevent it to from happening though, since he cannot reveal details from the future to Marty. He doesn’t even know, in 1885, if Marty will ever go back to 1985 with an empty tank in the DeLorean. When Marty goes back to 1985, just a second before the train dearails into the ravine, Doc gets to know everything that happened or will happen to Marty starting from Twin Pines Mall to the Rolls-Royce crash. But he can only hope that Marty will change his future for the best this time.

At the level crossing Doc eventually reveals to Marty that he’s already been to the future to get the train hover converted. If he went to the future, again, he checked for sure about Marty’s life and therefore the accident. When he leaves the Old West to get to the distant future Marty hasn’t decided yet wether to confront Needles, so from Doc’s point of view (or timeline) Marty’s future is probably still a bad one. I like to think that Doc is so happy to see Marty getting off the train because he had been living in 1885 with the excruciating doubt that Marty still had the accident in 1985.

So the car crash is the focal point of 2/3 of the saga since Marty’s first trip to 2015 is directly related to the accident and so are the events of the 3rd movie. When Marty decides to listen to his brain instead of his gut his awful future is erased instantaneously and a new better one takes place, even though it hasn’t been written yet.

I want also to believe that even the first accidental trip to 1955 is somehow related to the car crash considering Doc, in 1955, is not so good at inventions. Neverthless he will build the time machine without any help in the first original timeline. When Marty meets young Doc he changes the original timeline in a new one where Doc can see and touch and study his future invention parked in his garage for a whole week. At the beginning of the 3rd movie young Doc get his hands on even more technical info from his older self. Older Doc could not avoid to share such delicate informations to his younger self beacuse they’re necessary to 1955 Doc to repair the DeLorean’s time circuits and send Marty back to his loved ones in 1985. So after all that Doc must build the time machine. He’s a scientist and the inventor of time travel, so he knows that the chain of events in motion since Marty’s first trip to 1955 cannot be broken not building the time machine. It is to be done, whatever the consequences.

Never forget that there are no temporal loops in Back To The Future. Otherwise it would always be “Lone Pine Mall” with Marty running down Peabody’s pine over and over in time. The story behind the movies is indeed built along different timelines with no possible loops. So everything can be changed since there’s no strong causality link between the past and the future. Even preventing his parents from meeting Marty would just delete himself from existence generating a new time line where he was never born.

In that Marty-less future, Doc can still choose wether to build the time machine because Marty won’t need it. He just doesn’t exist anymore. But when Marty let his parents fall in love so romantically Doc has to build the time machine so that future George and Lorraine do not wake up one morning with a missing kid they’ll never see again.

That said, I only have one piece of advice for you my friends in time.

Drive safely.

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Husband, father, commuter (lately remote worker).

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Marco Parravano

Marco Parravano

Husband, father, commuter (lately remote worker).

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