Someone else on tumblr pointed out that PASSENGERS might have been a more meaningful movie if it was about just THE ONE person dealing with being alone on the ship for the rest of their life. And if, to cope, they go through and make it a point to learn everything they can about all of the other people on the ship.
And I just keep thinking about this idea.
There are 4999 other people on that ship and what if the protagonist spent the remainder of their life (and they do live their full life) learning about each of them.
They took an interest in their hobbies so that they could have some sort of connection to them.
As their sanity flexed in an effort to cope, they could have had these really involved imaginary conversations with the crew about their interests. And by the end of their natural life they will have known everything they could have ever known about these other 4999 people.
AND THEN THE REST OF THEM WAKE UP. And they have some
90 odd years of security footage of this one crew member talking to each of them in turn. And it goes far beyond ‘I have figured out how to cook that one dish you were struggling with’ or ‘I have read THE SILMARILLION at your suggestion and Jesus Christ I have thoughts about it.’
They actually start making connections between all of the crew.
Like ‘You like bugs! You should totally talk to Cindy! She’s an entomologist!’
Or ‘Did you know that you and Said’s grandfathers were both in the same infantry?’
Or ‘You and Jamie are both avid bee keepers and I think you need to meet.’
Or ‘I know you’re really struggling with this, but Aneesha said she went the exact same thing and I think talking to her can help.’
And because all of these crew members are watching the videos that have been individually addressed to them (Because why not? They’re colonizing. There’s not a lot yet available by way of entertainment) they sort of start talking to each other at the Protagonist’s suggestion. And within a year they are THE MOST unified interconnected colony of any of the colonies because this one crew member broke the ice for them a lifetime ago.
Several of them are engaged.
Two are about to have children named after the Protagonist.
AND BECAUSE EVERYONE KNOWS EVERYONE NOW they notice when one week a crew member isn’t out and about and no one can get in touch with them. So finally somebody goes to check and they find them huddled in a ball and mourning.
Because Protagonist is dead.
And the other people are like: ‘Yes. We know. This is literally the first thing we knew about them.’
But Mourner is like: ‘You don’t understand. I got to the end.’
And then everyone realizes that the mourner has basically been BURNING through all of the videos Protagonist has addressed to them and got to the last one they made to them before they died. And Protagonist left a final message for each of them.
Suddenly everyone’s having a real frank conversation with themselves about how fast they’re going through their videos and if they’re prepared to keep going at that rate and get to the end, or if they should put it off indefinitely.
And one by one, in time, each of them realizes they can’t put it off. Not only are they invested in the end, but they care enough about Protagonist to really acknowledge their death.
Each crew member does this at their own pace. It becomes a rite of passage of sorts. And Protagonist is given some sort of proper memorial so the colonists all have a place to go when their time comes to grieve.
BUT BEFORE EVERYONE GETS TO THE END, someone has started noticing how Protagonist treated the robots on the ship over the years. And surprise, surprise, Protagonist named all the robots too and treated them like individuals depending on their quirks. So now someone has finally solved the mystery of why droid 808 insists on being called ‘Bob,’ and why 239 knows ASL, and why the auxiliary robots are so salty about nobody ever being able to tell them apart.
Not only that, but security logs shows that the robots were about 19% more efficient when Protagonist was alive than they are now. And THE VERY SECOND the rest of the crew starts observing the same habits Protagonist used in treating these robots ALL OF THAT EFFICIENCY COMES RIGHT BACK.
Because they missed Protagonist too.
And things settle. Everyone thinks they’ve reached the end of Protagonist’s surprises.
THEN THEY ARE FINALLY ABLE TO START TRANSPORTATION BETWEEN THEMSELVES AND THE OTHER COLONIES.
And a visiting party shows up.
The visitors are surprised to see HOW WELL everyone on this colony is getting along, because, wow, people are civil where they come from but GODDAMN.
And one of these visiting members is really excited to see their sibling.
And ‘Oh, that’s so nice! Who is it?’
And then the visiting member says a name every single person on this colony knows.
The colonists have to tell them what happened to their sibling, Protagonist.
But they also HAVE to tell the sibling what knowing Protagonist MEANT to them. And what Protagonist knowing THEM, meant to them.
And it’s sad.
The colony pretty much wholesale adopts Protagonist’s sibling as a part of their family because they don’t know what else they can do to fill that void. But just in case, they give the Protagonist’s sibling THE ENTIRETY of Protagonist’s security footage. Because there is 90 years of it and that way they can carry their sibling with them for the rest of their life even if only in video.
And then the colonists think:
‘This. This was the end of Protagonist’s story. And this was a good a proper way to observe it.’
AND THEN ONE DAY A SHIP SHOWS UP THAT IS NOT LIKE ANY SHIP THE COLONISTS HAVE EVER SEEN.
And the people driving it aren’t human.
They speak English and passable French. They can chicken scratch Urdu, Mandarin, and Swahili.
Everyone is stunned and wants to know ‘why…?’ and ‘how…?’
And the aliens are just, like, ‘Oh. Protagonist. We ran into them while you were in space. They told us you’d be settling here and asked that we check up on you whenever we were rolling by this quadrant next.’
‘They were really nice. Taught us English. Gave us the files on a couple of your other popular languages as well just to be safe. How’s the colonizing going anyway?’
And everyone thinks back to THAT ONE MONTH of security footage where Protagonist was NIGH IMPOSSIBLE to find. And when they finally did come back to their normal routine they were really quiet and thoughtful for about a week before really getting back to themselves.
The linguists all suddenly remember that IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING THAT REALLY WEIRD MONTH, Protagonist had a new coded language saved to their personal affects and was very insistent that they LEARN IT. ‘FOR REASONS.’
And very quietly, the entire colony makes peace with the fact that Protagonist established a very successful first contact while they were all asleep.
Because of course they did.