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This one time at Writer's Camp…

15* Rules to Surviving the Abrams Dystopia

Before I start this, let me first say that I am a huge J. J. Abrams fan. I loved what he did with Star Trek, and Lost wasn’t too bad (except for the ending). Super 8 was very entertaining and I really do enjoy most of what he produces.

But damn it all to hell, what the hell is going on with Revolutions? The show makes sense at some points, and at other points it leaves me scratching my head and wondering who comes up with these scenarios. I mean, I really have to wonder why some people think that after 15 years of living in a post-apocalyptic dystopia wouldn’t harden people to, oh, I don’t know, inequality, oppression, dangerous surroundings, and the law of the gun?

Yeah, I’ve been complaining about the show for over a month now (ask my coworkers; they’re getting tired of hearing it), primarily about the writing of character reactions to certain sequences (being raised in dystopia and still being confused about what’s going on being the chief complaint) but fortunately, the show has been providing me with enough material to form up a Survival Guide to an Abrams’ Dystopia. Hopefully this list will help you if you ever find yourself stuck in a dystopian future written and produced by J. J. Abrams.

Rule #1: Have no family that can be used against you in time of crisis. — seriously, it’s this way at every turn in the show. I created this rule in episode 1, and to this day I have yet to be disappointed in it. Even the most hardass of all, Colonel Tom (whose last name I forget at the moment) has a wife and child, and eventually get used against him. The best thing to be in an Abrystopia (you like what I did there, right? right?) is a lone wolf single male.

Rule #2: Act like you know what is going on, even when you don’t. — Do you know how many times I’ve seen people killed on this show because they don’t seem to know what’s going on while wandering around in obviously hostile territory? It’s like every single one of them failed their bluff check and then rolled a 1 for INT. One of the episodes (“The Children’s Crusade”) has children who seem better equipped to survive in the crazy Abrystopia than our intrepid heroes. Of course, then they screw it up by throwing in with our heroes to get their leader back. BLUFF. Bullsh*t your way through it. This is the end of the world here, cupcake. Your doe-eyed innocence is only going to leave you lying in a ditch somewhere. Unless, of course, the writers like your character, in which case…

Rule #3: Keep flashback scenes to a minimum. — You are the hero. You are wandering around trying to rescue someone (in direct violation of Rule #1) when suddenly something triggers your flashbacks. Oh, sh*t, right? Yeah. Bad time to flashback, because someone out to kill you will always attack the moment you come out of your flashback. As the great adventurer Habib mentioned once, “Let us go into the lair of evil at midnight, so that the odds will be more even.” Don’t be a Habib.

Rule #4: Don’t wander around the countryside unarmed. — Seriously, end of the world, right? Everyone seems to be either out to rule, survive or destroy. So why in the nine circles of hell would you even consider wandering around the countryside unarmed? Oh, wait, you’re the hero. Heroes only use weapons when threatened, or don’t need them because their goodliness carries the day and everyone respects their virtuosity. *snort* Get yourself a tree limb or something.

Rule #5: Don’t attack a numerically superior force. Also, don’t attack an obviously weaker foe. They may be hiding something. — This seems to be self-explanatory to everyone… except for our heroes. You’re outnumbered dozens to one, and surprise is not on your side. So… you attack, right? Or better yet, a numerically inferior force is holding something vital (bridge, building, etc). They must be easy to defeat, right? Because there’s no way that the inferior group has held the location for as long as they have on anything other than luck, right? Right? You believe that, cupcake, and I’ll say a few nice words at your memorial service.

Rule #6: Be boring. — The most entertaining people in the Abrystopia die. All. The. Time. Be boring, be alive. Keep it simple. Don’t carry anythign valuable in plain sight. Keep your head down. Avoid the roads. BE THE DULLEST PLOT DEVICE IN EXISTENCE!

Rule #7: Trust no one. — Seriously, why do strangers say “Trust me” and people listen? All throughout the Abrystopia people say “Trust me”. Why should they? They could be a deep cover operative of some shady militaristic organization or, worse yet, some kind of zealot who wants to live and is convinced that the only way to survive is to TAKE YOUR SH*T! Ugh. Just make it easier on yourself and trust no one. Not even mommy dearest because trust me, that bitch is going to be slightly off her rocker after watching her baby slaughter someone in the name of a can of green beans.

Rule #8: Traitors are the ones who want you to trust them the most. Shoot them first. — If you ignored Rule #7, then this rule will come in handy. This one seems to be prevalent in dealing with traitors and their ilk. You see, despite what television and superheroes say, everyone has their price. Whether it be family (see Rule #1) or simply surviving the next five minutes (see Rule #6), everyone has their pressure point. That being said, in the Abrystopia there will always be that one slightly shady guy you can’t quite put a finger on the reason you don’t trust him. He goes above and beyond to make himself “trustable” for some reason. He’s the traitor. Shoot him (or her). Screw your conscience, this is about survival. Shoot. The. Traitor.

Rule #9: Do not think that your one advantage will remain so forever. — This rule came about after watching how everyone thinks that walls are impermeable. “Look throughout history,” people will tell me defiantly, probably while sipping a $7 latte. “Walls of castles have held invading armies off for thousands of years.” Yes, of course, that’s why all rulers ruled in castles and their empires lasted forever… oh wait, hold on. Technology. Yeah. Forgot about that, did we? The advantage of a sniper rifle versus a crapload of muskets is the range. That advantage cannot last forever, right? Running out of ammo or something, then all you have is a very heavy club versus lots of clubs. Odds in favor they are not. Be prepared for the day when you no longer have the advantage and have another ace in your sleeve. Keep your advantage, keep living.

Rule #10: Don’t trust the rebels. Especially if you were once their enemy. — They’re called “rebels” because they’re rebelling against established order. You spent a good chunk of your surviving avoiding these guys or, worse yet, affiliating yourself with what the rebels were rebelling against. You were the enemy. So why would you trust the rebels under any circumstance, especially considering that they are willing to do anything to further their cause? Avoid rebels, especially if they know you as “the enemy”. You’ll thank me later.

Rule #11: The easiest way is always a trap. Listen to your Admiral Ackbar. — You would think that by now, with all the books out there telling you that there are no easy ways, that an obviously easy way might as well have a sign posted above screaming “Die Here!” If you think it’s a trap, it probably is. That means you do not go wandering around with your back to the obvious ambush point, ala Habib. Don’t be stupid. The easiest way to danger means the furthest way to be harmed… or something like that, in any case. I don’t know for certain. The last guy who took the easy way is lying in a puddle of crap and blood o’er yonder.

Rule #12: Find yourself a munitions expert. They’ll save your ass more than any leader will. — What do you need to survive the Abrystopia? A good, strong leader? Nope. Plucky young heroine? Nope. Smart computer guy who is a coward? Nope. You need someone who can make explosives out of bottle caps, some ant sh*t and glue. That person will save your life more times than not, and will always be able to find a place to replenish their bomb making supplies. Look at Nora, for example. She always had explosive materials on her. She’s the reason the TSA live to shove their gloved hands up our posteriors. Yep, end of the world, all on the line? I want me a Nora.

Rule #13: If you don’t have many friends left in a town you abandoned, it’s probably not a good idea to go them first when you come back. — For some reason or another, you violated Rule #7. Your reasons are your own. So you trust a friend. A friend who you left behind in a town where you are most assuredly not welcomed. So the townspeople hear you’re headed back. Who do you think they’re going to look for first? The guy whose daughter you knocked up before you ran out of town, or the guy you were best friends with before your daring escape? Yeah. Don’t be predictable. Go to the guy whose daughter you knocked up or, better yet, don’t go back at all. I hear Florida is nice this time of year.

Rule #14: If your character has been a coward and whiner the whole entire show, it’s probably not a good idea to suddenly grow a pair during the most emotional confrontation the character has to face. — This is more of a character problem than anything else. You have followed almost all of the rules, and suddenly find yourself face to face with something that will cause you to have an emotion. Deciding to grow a pair right at this time and ignore everything which has kept you alive up to this point is probably a bad idea. Why would you suddenly forget how to survive? Why would you cast aside all that hard work which kept you alive just to get something off your chest that has been bothering you for years? Yeah, your timing sucks, cupcake.

Rule #15: At least the anti-hero knows a trap when he sees one. — Yeah, chalk one up for your team. That guy who pissed you off by stealing your woman, being a better leader and still a jackass to boot? Yeah, he can spot a trap like it was nobody’s business. Of course, it would have been even more impressive if he had avoided being put in the place to spot an obvious trap in the first place, but still. Keep him around for a little while longer. After all, you’re going to need someone to make that heroic sacrifice to end the Abrystopia. Let the anti-hero stick around until then, and find all those nasty traps while he’s at it. So what if he steals your woman? She’ll come crawling back when anti-hero is a rotting corpse and you’re still there. That’s how TV romance works, right?

Rules #16: A good hostage works every time. — This one is stolen directly from one of the villains of the show. As always, violations of Rules 1, 7, 10 and 11 usually lead up to the necessity of hostage negotiations. You see that? If it weren’t for breaking Rule #1, Rule #16 wouldn’t exist. The only possible way to survive this? Kill everyone close to you before someone else can**. It’s the only way!

Did I miss any? Let me know.

*ed.– The author never claimed the ability to count.

**ed.– The author is not advocating homicide. Please don’t kill everyone close to you unless, you know, it’ll appease the Mayan gods or something “end of the world” drastic.

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