Beginnings are hard, and even though Save Point is the fourth episode of ReMade season 2, it was my first for the season—essentially a sequel to last year’s storyline—and I was worried I’d forgotten how to write Loki and ReMade. (Or, you know, forgotten how to write in general, but that’s true every time I start a new thing.)
I need not have worried, because I fell back into Loki’s character fairly easily, like I was checking in on an old friend to see what he’d been up to lately. It’s both a challenge and a joy to return to these characters every few episodes or so, because we have to show how their experiences are changing them, while maintaining continuity and making sure they seem familiar to readers; in the process, we’re getting closer to the heart of who they are and learning more about them ourselves.
Another challenge is jumping into the ongoing story, picking up what other authors have established and setting up the episodes to follow. We brainstorm together, outline, and have an ongoing discussion while we draft, but until we turn in a batch of episodes and read them all together, it’s hard to see how they fit.
In “Save Point,” I was charged with establishing some important details that others would build on, including what Sanctuary looks like and who Ozymandias is. Consequently, these concepts evolved quite a bit from what we originally discussed, what I outlined, and what you finally ended up reading.
Working on ReMade, with an amazing team of talented writers all at the top of their game, on an extremely tight and complex production schedule, accelerates the whole process—so while it might take three or four drafts of a manuscript to figure out “what is this all about?!” and “does this plot point even work?” (or perhaps at some point deciding to scrap it all and start over), in most cases we’re able to pretty much cut to the end and nail it in the second draft. Then it’s usually just a matter of fixing small issues and making it even better.
So then, how did “Save Point” change as I wrote it and we discussed it? The core of the story to me was always about Loki, a person who has been pretending to be a video game character, confronting a “video game” character who is pretending to be a person. In the original vision, Ozymandias—Oz—only appeared on video monitors throughout Sanctuary, passing himself off as a human male. But Loki picks up on something being off about him and starts picking away at the lie, even as he worries that others, particularly Sunita, are going to realize that Loki isn’t who he appears to be either.
In the second draft of the outline, the video monitors were gone. Instead, the face appeared on the walls of Sanctuary, sliding and shifting around so it could move with the teens more easily. Then at some point between the outline and writing the first draft (thank goodness!), Oz became a hologram, which was much more dramatic and SFnal—and he was no longer trying to trick them into believing he was human too. But as the writers talked about it, we missed that moment of deception and revelation, so in the next draft Oz appears to them as little boy (because little kids acting like adults are creepy), and it takes them a little longer to grok that he isn’t real—and Loki is particularly weirded out and distrustful by the ongoing charade.
So we went from a Max Headroom–like face on a screen to a creepy kid hologram in a very short period of time, and in the end, it felt like of course, that’s what it should have been all along. And I might never have arrived there on my own, or it would have taken a lot longer for me to realize the best way to tell the story. Collaboration! Just like the teens in ReMade have to work together to survive, the authors of ReMade work together—although we’re being chased by deadlines instead of killer robots, and we’re a little more functional as a group.
It might be fun to share some deleted scenes or early drafts from some of our episodes at some point. What do you think? Is that something you’d be interested in seeing?