Fanfiction Fridays: After, Now by lc2l

(via TV Guide)

There probably aren’t very many people who remember Fox’s ill-fated reboot/sequel of Minority Report, which was quietly canceled in 2016 after a supremely lackluster first season. The TV series had so much potential—it introduced a huge number of characters of color to a canon that was predominantly white and it discussed complicated issues like immigration, genetic engineering, and police profiling, though it never got deep enough into any of these issues to really be satisfactory. I can honestly say that I enjoyed watching it, despite its many writing missteps.

However, the main failure of the show was its handling of the PreCrime program and the precogs who were used against their will to run it. While the original Minority Report film ended the PreCrime program because John Anderton proved that people could choose not to commit a crime and thus change their own futures, the Minority Report TV show made this touchy issue into a procedural cop drama by assuming that all the futures the precogs saw would definitely come to pass. This uninspired utilization of the original film’s themes meant that the TV reboot was neither as creative nor as thought-provoking as its predecessor, and it unfortunately meant that the potentially meaty conflict between leads Lara Vega, a Metro P.D. cop who believed fervently that PreCrime was the best way forward for society, and Dash, a precog who wanted to help people but didn’t want to be put back in the milk bath, was quickly erased so that the procedural cop drama could move forward. We never got to see a connection between the themes and characters of the film and the themes and characters of the show. But fortunately, in fanfiction, other writers can tackle these problems for us.

After, Now ties together the Minority Report film and the Minority Report series by discussing how Lara Vega got into the Metro P.D. to begin with. A year before PreCrime started, Lara’s father, a cop, was murdered, and his killer was never found. Lara started training to join PreCrime because she believed that if PreCrime had existed just a year earlier, her father would still be alive. But before she’s able to join, the entire program is dismantled, the precogs have disappeared, and John Anderton, the PreCrime chief, is nowhere to be found. The fic details her search for Anderton and the precogs while her family worries, intercut with news reports on the downfall of the PreCrime program and the resulting social chaos.

“I know what it was like, he was my father.

“And you think chasing the shadows of this system will bring him back?” Her mother shakes her head. “Locking up people who could well be innocent is wrong, Lara, I know you know that.”

Lara’s fingers tap over and over on the bottle. “I don’t need – if we had the precogs, we could still stop murders. And they might have information, we could solve crimes, if we could just get them back in the city –”

Her mother stands up from her chair and steps in front of her, pulling both hands on Lara’s shoulders so she has no choice but to let the restlessness under her skin settle and look up into her mother’s face and in that moment the truth spills out. “They might know something about dad. If we could just get them back.”

“And put them in a pool, connect them to a computer like they’re microchips.” Her mother sighs softly. “You could do anything with your life, Lara. You’re smart, you’re dedicated, you could help real people. I loved your father more than anything, but if you could find three people who don’t want to be found, if you could get your hacker friend to show you a murder from before they were even online, what would seeing it prove?”

Lara swallows down the lump forming in her throat. “We could catch the killer.”

“You could potentially catch a possible killer. With no evidence admissible in court, no food on the table, and no good to anyone!” She turns away for a moment, reaching up to run a hand across her head, shoulders shaking a little. “They showed five men on the news tonight, any of them could have been someone’s father. Those people Halo’d without trial, maybe they were someone’s father.”

Her voice, when it came out, was small. “If we had the precogs –”

Her mom shakes her head, turning back to her. “I would not condone putting three human beings into slavery if it brought your father back from the dead.”

In the show, Lara does tell Dash about her father’s death, and she and Dash both agree that they can use Dash’s visions to help people. Then…. they just mostly ignore the fact that the future isn’t set in stone and all the other ethical implications of essentially enslaving precogs and using precog visions to arrest people without other evidence. After, Now doesn’t allow its readers to forget this. It expands on Lara ‘s and Akeela’s relationship as hacker and detective—another thing I wanted to see more of from the show—and Akeela warns Lara of the dangers of looking for the precogs and Anderton. The news reports scattered throughout the fic also emphasize the social implications of the PreCrime program—the ACLU threatens to sue the government on behalf of the people arrested under PreCrime, the public finds out about the conditions in which the precogs were kept, and Anderton himself eventually meets and talks with Lara and Akeela.

Akeela and Lara, teenage detectives of color. (via io9)

After, Now paints a bridge between the end of the film and the start of the TV show, and it fills in the significant gaps in the story’s narrative in ways that the TV show probably couldn’t have done (I doubt Fox was willing to shell out for a guest appearance by Tom Cruise). Most importantly, it uses its 9k words to focus on Lara and explain her character development and her views on PreCrime in a way that the show did not. You can find After, Now here on the AO3!

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