RE: "Wild Horses"
on Sunday, September, 02, 2012 10:07 PM
A lot was going through Kevin Flynn's mind as he sat in meditation on the Solar Sailer. It wasn't that he hadn't already been thinking a lot for the past thousand-some cycles—twenty years—whatever you wanted to call it. But now, more than ever, he was forced to consider exactly the thing he'd tried not to give a too-thorough examination in all those years...what had happened with Clu.
Of course he'd thought about it. If one thing was true, it was that he'd had plenty of time to think. But delving into it too deeply was more than a little painful, and even after all this time, he just wasn't ready.
Was that why he had never really considered opposing Clu? Because coming up with a plan would mean he would have to carefully examine exactly why the once-promising program had gone astray, and admit his own role in the matter? Sam's arrival here, and his seemingly-rash actions, had forced Flynn's hand on a lot of things...not least of all this: Flynn's fear of his own thoughts and the truth that might lie within them. Yes, for all the time he had spent meditating over the cycles—not an activity for those afraid of what they might find inside their own mind—it had to come to this to get him to truly face the facts about Clu and consider how to make it right.
And perhaps there was also another reason he hadn't fought...
Childhood living is easy to do
The things you wanted, well I bought them for you
In many ways, Clu was still like a child. Well, yes... a program—even an advanced program—couldn't always be expected to grow intellectually in the ways a human being might. Especially without the defining life experiences a person would go through. In the Grid, life was different...there weren't always the same hardships and heartbreaks. Especially for Clu, in the hopeful early days of the system. Unfortunately, Clu hadn't had enough time to grow before he'd lashed out. Flynn could give Clu some of his personality traits and ideals, but he couldn't give him the wisdom that had come with living for 30-some years in a strange and imperfect world, with all the joy and pain and acumen that brought. Clu had never matured past the stage of seeing things only in black-and-white. His intellect hadn't had the chance to develop enough to discern the subtle patterns in shades of gray.
Perhaps Flynn should have been there more in the beginning. Perhaps he should've let Clu just...be....for longer than he had, before pushing the burden of running the entire system onto Clu's shoulders. Given him time to evolve and grow as all beings must do, the more experience they gain in the art of living. After all, he wouldn't have expected Sam to take over Encom at age ten or twelve. Why had he pushed Clu? Especially without being there to provide guidance?
In part, he had expected Clu to be too much like Tron. But he realized now that the two weren't the same. Tron wasn't a brand-new program, looking his user in the eye with the blind trust that only a young intellect could muster, needing someone else to tell him how things were. Tron had already been in the world for a lot of cycles before Flynn had even moved him to the new Grid. And, it could be said that Tron was a bit of a workaholic, completely devoted to the security and safety of the Grid, and not everyone was that single-minded or driven. It was like expecting a child to act as an adult, when the child hasn't had the life experiences and opportunity to grow and become the mature being an adult has learned to be.
Graceless lady, you know who I am
You know I can't let you just slide through my hands
Was there a way to fix this? He knew that if there was, he had to try. And maybe that was the true reason he had never left...because until he figured out a way he could make it up to Clu and show him a better path, he couldn't abandon the program he had created and then left too much to his own devices. He'd had a hand in what Clu had become, and he couldn't walk away from that responsibility, and he couldn't deny that he still cared about his former friend.
Wild horses couldn't drag me away
I watched you suffer a dull aching pain
And now you've decided to show me the same
But no sweeping exits or offstage lines
Could make me feel bitter or treat you unkind
Flynn waited for Sam and Quorra at the lightjet he'd commandeered, and hadn't much else to do but think more. He'd known Clu was unhappy. And Flynn knew even at the time that it was because he was gone so much. He hadn't been there when Clu had had questions or needed help. He had gone off to his happy, shiny life and left Clu to do the grunt work in the Grid. At the time, it hadn't really occurred to him that this was unfair and even a form of cruelty. He was too caught up, at first in the joy of his marriage and of his new son, and then later with his grief over Jordan's death and the trials of single parenthood, and with the wonder and pride at what Sam was growing into. It never crossed his mind that every time he spoke of Sam, he was reminding Clu that he had a real life in a bright world Clu would never see, while Clu would have to stay here and do the duties Flynn left behind to go live that life. No wonder Clu wanted to go there! If he was being honest with himself, Flynn had to wonder if Clu's true reason for wanting to dominate the real world wasn't so much a hunger for power and control as it was a desire to destroy the thing that had taken Flynn away so much.
And, while he was being truthful—might as well rip the wound open all the way—he had taken Clu for granted in just that manner. Treated him too much like a machine, there to serve him and do his work. And he should've known better, knowing what he did about programs and knowing they weren't mindless automatons of code to be used like objects. Flynn was deeply ashamed of this; some nights he'd been unable to sleep because of it.
It hadn’t escaped Flynn’s notice that when Clu had confronted him on the day everything changed, Clu had traded his Flynn-replica attire for something more personal. Of course he was tired of being a dim copy of Flynn—Flynn realized now, with that flash of insight that makes one want to smack the heel of one's hand against one's forehead; how obvious!-- and Flynn should have encouraged him to try to find his own identity from the start.
And all this was beside the fact that to Clu, who was the product of Flynn's mindset and intentions and ideals being captured at one small point in time...Flynn was the one pulling away. Abandoning the original plans and the purpose he'd given Clu. Betraying the Grid, to Clu's still-new and unmatured mind.
So how could he blame Clu? At least, he could not do so entirely. He wanted to speak with the angry program, take him in his arms and tell him he was sorry, that he hadn't been thinking for so long, he now understood what he'd done, and tell him that, yes, he had taken advantage of Clu and that was wrong. He couldn't be entirely angry. He couldn't write off the offended, resentful program when that resentment was in part his own fault.
That was when he decided.
Wild horses couldn't drag me away
I know I dreamt you a sin and a lie
And I have my freedom but I don't have much time
Pain has been suffered and tears must be cried
So let's do some living after we die
Flynn reached out to Clu. He could see the pain the program still carried, though he knew it must usually be locked up within where perhaps even Clu didn't know it existed. Perhaps he really could make it better. He had to. He'd spent far too many cycles hiding, allowing Clu to continue his cruel and selfish reign while programs suffered, allowing Clu to feel pain and betrayal for the injustice and abandonment and overexpectation and seeming deceit he had dealt to the bewildered program so long ago.
Flynn was so close to the thing he had dreamed about for twenty years. Mere yards away was the portal, his chance to return to the real world and the life he had loved....and his son, who no longer had to be lost to him. He was no longer trapped—not in the Grid, and not in his own mind, with its fear and doubt. But he couldn't leave until he at least tried to make this right. If anyone could make Clu see the light, it was him. If anyone could make reparation for all the cycles when he had hurt his creation and friend, it was him. Flynn longed to return to the real world, but he knew he would not be able to live in peace if he was always aware he'd left something undone here.
He spoke to Clu gently, apologetically. He couldn't find it in himself to be angry, or harsh, or to yell. Not in these circumstances. Not with Clu.
Clu was moving toward Flynn, his own arms outstretched. And for one hopeful instant, Flynn thought he could still repair all those years of pain and wrong. Then Clu lunged at him with a snarl, and that was the moment when Kevin Flynn knew for sure that he wasn't going home. It had been too long, and the damage had been done; it was too late to gain Clu's understanding and forgiveness now...and Sam would not be safe if he didn't act.
It felt almost surreal as he watched Clu discover that he had the wrong disc...make a run for the portal... Flynn took a deep breath and one last look at his son, then knelt, put one hand down, and concentrated all of his mind and energy on this one final act, the only way left to save Sam and Quorra, to redeem Clu and the Grid--and yes, himself--and make it all right. It took everything he had, but slowly, using the force of his entire will and all the love he could muster, he opened his arms and pulled Clu in; after the end, perhaps there was still some existence somewhere and they could still find redemption...
Wild horses couldn't drag me away
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Chaos.... good news.