Out Like a Lamb

I haven’t posted an interpretation in a while, and I know there was quite a few I had in mind to do. Well, here’s one of them: Out Like a Lamb, a song by The Verve Pipe. It’s off of Pop Smear, and it’s one of my favorite songs from that album. This album came out July 1, 1997. April 19, 1993 is when the Branch Davidian compound went up in flames, after a standoff that lasted through the entire month of March. The words of this song are from the point of view of David Koresh. Just a note that I got most of my information about the Branch Dividians from the Report to the Deputy Attorney General that’s available on the Department of Justice website and specials I saw on TV.


I’m feeling very Moses like
You think that I could lead you?
Or humble, more like David
Would you help me cause I need you?
Or I’ll be charismatic
With the power to persuade you

Supposing I’m a savior
Or a drunkard, or your highness
You slither in these sheets
And then you ask me for forgiveness
I’ll tell you parables of making love
And spreading kindness

Flames rise like butterflies
Been frightened by my stompin’
I’m laughing ’cause they don’t know who I am
The philistines toss tangerines
’cause springtime is for dancing
In like a lion and out like a lamb

Goliath sits and watches
Tired of this investigation
So children grab your m-16s
And load your ammunition
I will work all night
Rewrite the book of revelations

Flames rise like butterflies
Been frightened by my stompin’
I’m laughing ’cause they don’t know who I am
The philistines toss tangerines
’cause springtime is for dancing
In like a lion and out like a lamb

Now go and tune your guitars
And I’ll meet you here tomorrow
Grab that case of scotch
It’s all the courage you can swallow
I’ll burn for all your sins
But I’m expecting you to follow

Flames rise like butterflies
Been frightened by my stompin’
I’m laughing ’cause they don’t know who I am
The philistines load magazines
’cause springtime is for dancing
In like a lion and out like a lamb.

So we start out with this idea that David is a religious leader, comparing himself to Moses and King David: Strong leaders with large followings who obeyed what they said. Koresh sees himself like that. Koresh was described as a charismatic speaker, who could quote large sections of scripture from memory, and harmonize disparate, seemingly unrelated scriptures showing how they all tied together. So you add Koresh’s charisma to the low self-esteem of his followers, and he was pretty much given free reign to do whatever he wanted. He was able to persuade the followers that as the “Lamb of God” only he was “pure” enough to have sex with the women and girls of the compound.

So in the second verse you also get a references to Koresh’s habit of talking about his sexual experiences with the women of the compound, including wives of followers, during their Bible Study sessions.

Now we hit the chorus:
Flames rise like butterflies
A reference to the fire that burned the compound down.

Been frightened by my stompin’
The government, fearing the accumulation of weapons within the compound.

I’m laughing ’cause they don’t know who I am
I see this going two ways: 1.) The Branch Davidians didn’t really know who he was.. thinking he was the return of Jesus, when he wasn’t. or 2.) The rest of the world, not realizing that David [from his perspective] was the return of Jesus.

The philistines toss tangerines
Philistines are the government agents; the enemies of the Branch Davidians. Tangerines would represent the things used to try to get the Davidians out of the compound. Tear Gas, etc..

’cause springtime is for dancing
In like a lion and out like a lamb

March is said to come in like a Lion, and out like a lamb… it’s also the start of spring… The standoff in Waco took place across the entire month of March, ending in April.

The next verse talks about Goliath (The US Government) starting its investigation, and Branch members training with weapons. One of the preaching points of David Koresh was that the end of the world was coming soon in an apocalyptic showdown: An retuning of the words of Revelation to support his teaching.

Then the final verse includes the line:
I’ll burn for all your sins
but I’m expecting you to follow

A call to the fiery end of the standoff.

A very interesting song, and a good song. A song that didn’t really make much sense to me until I knew what it was about. And now you know… and knowing is half the battle.

Losing My Religion

“Losing my religion”, according to Michael Stipe, is a southern expression. The idea is something like this: It means when there’s something you want so bad, you’re willing to sacrifice everything else that exists in order to get/achieve it. This thing is so important that you’d be willing to give up your religion In the words of Stipe during the VH1 Storytellers, it’s when “something has pushed you so far that you would lose your faith for it.. it’s pushed you to the nth degree”. So we’ve got that part down. So what is the song about? When you have a crush on someone, and you’re afraid.. and you want to find out if they like you, and you desperately want them to know that you like them, but you just can’t… And so you’re subtly dropping hints, and you’re certain each time that you’ve gone too far, and you’ve ruined everything… or you lay out these hints, and the person responds in a way you didn’t expect, or don’t understand… and so there’s this constant struggle inside your head to 1.) figure out what you have to do to get this person to notice you, and 2.) figure out what that person is thinking based on their actions/reactions… and it’s all just too much for you, and you’ve got this crush so bad that you’d give anything in this world for it.. That’s what this song is about. This song in one word: Unrequited


Oh, Life is bigger
It’s bigger than you
And you are not me
The lengths that I will go to
The distance in your eyes
Oh no I’ve said too much
I set it up

That’s me in the corner
That’s me in the spotlight
Losing my religion
Trying to keep up with you
And I don’t know if I can do it
Oh no I’ve said too much
I haven’t said enough
I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try

Every whisper
Of every waking hour I’m
Choosing my confessions
Trying to keep an eye on you
Like a hurt lost and blinded fool
Oh no I’ve said too much
I set it up

Consider this
The hint of the century
Consider this
The slip that brought me
To my knees failed
What if all these fantasies
Come flailing around
Now I’ve said too much
I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try

But that was just a dream
That was just a dream

Oh life is bigger
It’s bigger than you
And you are not me

I like to think of this as a opening moment of clarity in what will become a fairly obsessive song. I don’t really know if that’s what’s intended with the lyrics, but I like the idea of the first few thoughts being the understanding that life is bigger than all of this, and there is an overarching purpose that’s more important than this crush.. than this person.

The lengths that I will go to
We begin the obsession. And I should note that I use that word without any desired negative connotations. I’m not thinking freaky stalker crazy guy.. I’m thinking someone so overwhelmed with a crush that everything just seems less important in comparison, and all events only matter in their relation to this crush. It’s probably unhealthy, but I’ve lived a good chunk for my life living that way, and still find the idea terribly romantic. So here we have 2 things. First, we have the realization that this guy would do anything for this girl. Nothing is too much. But we also have the thoughts about how far he can go (as far as hinting at his feelings, etc.) without it going too far. There’s this idea, and I was a true believer almost my entire life (and I’m sure I am still sometimes now) that these kinds of things all need to be very planned out, and once these millions of seemingly insignificant things happen, everything will proceed as it ought, and true happiness will follow. So you don’t dare say too much too soon, or it’ll ruin the overall plan, that always seems to require a long, long time, and lot’s of plans that never pan out. So he’d do anything for her, but doesn’t want to blow it by saying or doing too much.

The distance in your eyes
But she seems either uninterested, or doesn’t notice.. and something must be done.

Oh no I’ve said too much
I set it up

The fear that he’s gone too far, and ruined everything.

That’s me in the corner
That’s me in the spotlight
Losing my religion

Now he’s feeling exposed.. he’s said too much, and everyone knows, and it’s becoming too much for him.

Trying to keep up with you
And I don’t know if I can do it

Sometimes I think of this as the more stalker-esque “he’s trying to physically stay where she is at all times, to see her, and try to win her over by just sort of being there”, but more often I think of it more as him trying to keep putting forth the effort to win her over. Like love/relationship is this big game and he’s just trying to keep up with her in it, with the hopes that at some point he might win.

Oh no I’ve said too much
I haven’t said enough

The constant doubt about what you’re currently doing… if it’s too obvious, too much, not enough, if it’d get missed or misinterpreted.

I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try

Trying to gage her reactions, or read her somehow… which sometimes leads to trying to force yourself to believe things are a certain way.

Every whisper
Of every waking hour I’m
Choosing my confessions

The hours spent trying to think of the right words to say to win her over… or just to explain your actions…

Trying to keep an eye on you
Like a hurt lost and blinded fool

There are inevitable feelings of pathetic and self-loathing, or at least doubt that leads to thinking everything you’re doing is really dumb.

Oh no I’ve said too much
I set it up

Consider this
The hint of the century
Consider this
The slip that brought me
To my knees failed
What if all these fantasies
Come flailing around

When I hear “the slip that brought me to my knees failed” here, I think of a situation where the guy let’s slip this giant crush, or alludes to it in such a way as to make it obvious (at least from his point of view) how he feels.. Some small picture of his desire, and his hopes.. and nothing happens… It just falls flat. Maybe it doesn’t blow up in his face, but nothing changes at all.. That’s just horribly frustrating…. Because now all those feelings are out there, but they aren’t doing any good.. and you can’t really take them back, or make them new.. They still exist, but they’ve accomplished nothing.

Now I’ve said too much
And with that, you know that you’ve let too much out..

I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try
But that was just a dream
That was just a dream

And all those reactions you thought you saw, you realize aren’t really there at all… Pretty much nothing has changed. Back to the drawing board… more sleepless nights of thinking of ways to win her over.

Rearview Mirror

On occasion, I get the impression that the music I’m listening to is actually the perfect song for the situation. It’s as though my life is one very long, (and usually quite boring) movie, where the soundtrack has been set up an matched perfectly to the scenes. Rearview Mirror is one of my favorite Pearl Jam songs, and has been for a long time. But there was a day when everything just kinda came together, and it was when when this song started playing that suddenly everything came into focus. It was like being hit in the head with a 2×4, but in a good way.

It was the end of summer after my sophomore year of College. I had spent almost the entire summer living in Indiana, working with my Grandpa and my cousin, Sven. My on again, off again relationship with Sarah was pretty much “off” when I had left, but after a few weeks of being gone, she started calling me out there. But while I was out there, I started talking with some of Sven’s friends, who consequently became friends of mine as well, and in talking with them, and just hanging out with them out there, I came to see how unhappy I was with my present situation with Sarah. When I returned home to Zeeland at the end of summer, I resolved to end things with her for good, and the next time she called, I did just that. Now, I had become pretty good friends with her family after all this time, including her brother, Ben, who was a really kewl guy. I got a call from him later on that day, wanting to know if I could help him install his new CD-Burner. I had promised him I’d help once he got it, so I didn’t want to break my work. Anyway, I headed out there, set it up, and spoke briefly to her Mom before heading out. It was obvious that her mom had heard, but that her brother hadn’t. Anyway, there I was, having finally gained the courage to do what I probably should have done years earlier, and as I’m driving away in my car, I look back in my rearview mirror at the house I would likely never pass by again, and the music started to play…


I took a drive today
Time to emancipate
I guess it was the beatings made me wise
But I’m not about to give thanks, or apologize
I couldn’t breathe, holdin’ me down
Hand on my face, pushed to the ground
Enmity gauged, united by fear
S’pose to endure what I could not forgive…

I seem to look away
Wounds in the mirror waved
It wasn’t my surface most defiled
Head at your feet, fool to your crown
Fist on my plate, swallowed it down
Enmity gauged, united by fear
Tried to endure what I could not forgive

Saw things
Clearer
Once you, were in my…Rearview mirror…

I gather speed from you fucking with me
Once and for all I’m far away
I hardly believe, finally the shades…are raised.

Saw things so much clearer
Once you were in my Rearview mirror

I took a drive today

This is a car song. Pearl Jam has a number of car songs, that all seem to be linked, if even only slightly. It starts with Rearview Mirror, then MFC, and this Untitled track on Live on 2 Legs, which is one of my favorite songs as well:

I got a car, I got some gas
oh let’s get out of here
get out of here fast
ooh everyone’s confused
so I stay in my room
if I go, I don’t want
to go alone

I hope you get this message
oh you’re not home
I could be there in
ten minutes or so
ooh I got my things
we’ll make it up as we go along
oh with you I could
never be alone
never be alone

So back to Rearview Mirror: So far he’s in his car.

Time to emancipate

Finally breaking free of this relationship, this person that’s turned him into a slave.

I guess it was the beatings made me wise

All the pain that he’s endured because of this relationship has finally come around to show him that it’s just not right. It’s not what he’s looking for, and he knows he has to get out.

But I’m not about to give thanks, or apologize

My take on this line, and of this whole song in general, is that this whole experience has made him a stronger person, but he’s pissed that it took all this pain and self-abuse in order to finally reach this point. He’s mad at himself for letting it get this far. He’s mad at her for treating him the way she did. He’s frustrated to see just how weak a person he really was. And he’s humiliated to recall just how much he allowed her to get away with at his expense. Like I said, that’s my take, and it may be heavily tainted with my own personal biases, but that’s what interpretations are all about.

So here he is, he recognizes that he’s grown as a person, and feels stronger, and more self assured. But he doesn’t credit her [“give thanks”] for this change, nor does he feel bad about what he had to do [“apologize”] in order to achieve this point (i.e. breaking up with her)

I couldn’t breathe, holdin’ me down
Hand on my face, pushed to the ground

The first line makes me think of drowning. “Holding me down” underwater. It’s as though so much was put on him while he was in the relationship, that it was all he could do just to keep himself [or the relationship] alive. “Pushed to the ground” sounds like forced supplication. He became like a slave, or a doting follower. Everything she asserted he was forced to accept.

Enmity gauged, united by fear

Enmity: deep seated, often mutual, hatred. So they’ve reached a point where they pretty much both hate each other, but they were “united by fear”. I’d think it was more the case that he was afraid to leave. If you’re stuck in a relationship where the other person doesn’t really seem to appreciate you, you start to believe that no one really appreciates you, and that no one could possibly appreciate you. With that in mind, you grasp on tighter to the one you’re with, cause at least you’ve got something. If that person was to go away, you’re all alone, and no one would ever even look your way ever again. It’s sadly ironic that the one that’s causing your self doubt is the one you’re relying on for validation. The only way to really fix the problem is to just get away, but that’s also the one thing that scares you to death.

S’pose to endure what I could not forgive…

It’s a funny thing that happens when you have those moments of clarity… You’re just sitting there, and something happens to make you realize that there’s no reason at all for you to put up with all the crap you’ve been taking from this person. And once you realize that, and truly believe it, things just look different. You’re no longer willing to just allow the other person to walk all over you. Here we have someone who has finally realized how messed up this relationship is. The other person doesn’t know things have changed. She expects to just continue on as things were before. But he’s no longer willing to just accept the things as he did before.

I seem to look away

Now we’re back in the car. He’s leaving, and doesn’t even want to look back. He’s through with it all, and just wants it to go away.

Wounds in the mirror waved

All the pain and misery that that person and that place represented… it’s all going away as the car drives away.

It wasn’t my surface most defiled

Here I’m not certain. I think it might be the idea that now that it’s all said and done, it’s her “surface” [appearance, reputation, etc.] that’s been tarnished or destroyed.

Head at your feet, fool to your crown
Fist on my plate, swallowed it down

More supplication. We’re back to how the relationship was. “Fist on my plate” seems like another example of him having to do or accept everything she said or demanded.

Enmity gauged, united by fear
Tried to endure what I could not forgive

Saw things
Clearer
Once you, were in my…Rearview mirror…

Saw things so much clearer… Hindsight is always a lot clearer. You look back and thing “what did I ever see in her” or “Why did I allow myself to endure that?” and you honestly can’t even say. You can accept that at the time, it seemed right, but man.. how warped and stupid can a relationship make you? And you just can’t realize it or accept it until after you’re out, and you can look without the blinders of fear or loneliness, and see what everyone else was probably trying to tell you all along.

I gather speed from you fucking with me
Once and for all I’m far away
I hardly believe, finally the shades…are raised.

So here we have it. He’s finally realized that the relationship was messed up, and hurting him. He’s finally gotten the courage to end it, which is no small feat. That takes serious strength and courage… but it is so very necessary sometimes. And now that is finished, he sees that what he’s done is right, and “the shades are raised.” That phrase sounds so optimistic.

Saw things so much clearer
Once you were in my Rearview mirror

Country Feedback

This is a song about a relationship that failed, and trying to deal with it. It strikes me as almost a stream of consciousness type song, where all there things spinning around in your brain comes spilling out as this song, trying to figure how and why things happened the way they did, and what the hell you’re supposed to do now. I listened to this song many times in my late High School years and early college years. The repeated “I need this” struck a chord with me, and then the lines “These clothes don’t fit us right, and I’m to blame”… I frequently found reasons for why failures in my relationships were completely my fault, and would then focus on that forever… This song just sounds sad, and full of regret.


This flower is scorched
This film is on
On a maddening loop.
These clothes,
These clothes don’t fit us right
I’m to blame
It’s all the same
It’s all the same

You come to me with a bone in your hand
You come to me with your hair curled tight
You come to me with positions
You come to me with excuses
Ducked out in a row
You wear me out
You wear me out

We’ve been through fake-a-breakdown
Self hurt
Plastics, collections
Self help, self pain,
EST, psychics, fuck all
I was central
I had control
I lost my head
I need this
I need this

A paper weight, junk garage
Winter rain, a honey pot
Crazy, all the lovers have been tagged.
A hotline, a wanted ad
It’s crazy what you could’ve had
It’s crazy what you could’ve had
It’s crazy what you could’ve had
I need this
I need this

This flower is scorched

When I was in 8th Grade, I had to grow this zucchini for my science class, and after a few failed attempts, I came up with this great idea of just dumping this crazy blue fertilizer stuff on it. Sure enough, it sprouted quickly, and grew by leaps and bounds for about 2 days. But then it kinda burned itself out, and it just crumbled to pieces, just like plants aren’t supposed to do. Anyway, this first line reminds me of that. A flower overexposed to the sun, like someone was trying way to hard to make this flower [relationship] grow, and it just fried it.

This film is on, on a maddening loop.

The same things just keep happening over and over, and it’s driving them insane.

These clothes, these clothes don’t fit us right. I’m to blame. It’s all the same. It’s all the same.

When I hear “these clothes don’t fit us right” it makes me think that he wanted the relationship to be a certain way, and that vision never really fit. And so it feels uncomfortable, like an outfit that is supposed to make you look nice, but just makes you feel awkward. “These clothes”, as though they’ve been thrust upon them, rather than “our clothes” or “my clothes”, that suggests a more personal attachment to them. And now he blames himself, just as he blamed himself for every other failed relationship in his life. It all ends up the same.

You come to me with a bone in your hand
You come to me with your hair curled tight
You come to me with positions
You come to me with excuses

While I’m not certain what exactly these phrases mean, I get the sense that they’re all different ways in which the girl tried to make the relationship work. “Hair curled tight” makes me think of a girl all done up: hair, pretty dress, etc. “Positions” could mean a number of things: different positions in an argument, sexual positions, or maybe different positions that the relationship finds itself in. “Bone in your hand” I have no clue, but it suggests something more primitive or basic. It ends with “excuses”, when the relationship is dying, and she’s just trying to save face and explain why it’s not her fault.


Ducked out in a row.

“ducked out”, like she gave up and ran away when things got rough.

You wear me out, you wear me out.

He’s had enough, and it’s just making him tired.

We’ve been through fake-a-breakdown
Self hurt
Plastics, collections
Self help, self pain,
EST, psychics, fuck all

Different failed attempts to make the relationship work. Fake-a-breakdown and self hurt suggest attempts at eliciting sympathy. Plastics could mean plastic surgery; superficial attempts to re-energize the relationship. Collections suggest some sort of charity, trying to get others to fix the problems they can’t fix. Self help: Trying to fix the problems themselves. Self Pain: Things start to get a bit more desperate. EST: Electro-shock Therapy? Psychics: Abandoning all reason and just grasping on to anything that might help, even for a little while. Fuck all: it’s all over.

I was central
I had control
I lost my head
I need this
I need this

The song started talking about “us” and “we”, then moved to “You”, and now, finally, “I”. He now replays his role in the failing of the relationship, He was in charge, and it became too much, and he lost his head. “I need this”. He can’t imagine how life an continue without this relationship. And it was that mentality that caused him to do anything to save it, even when it wasn’t healthy for him anymore.

A paper weight, junk garage
Winter rain, a honey pot

A paperweight is kinda useless. It covers paper, something thin and pretty fragile, and makes sure it doesn’t get blown away. But in and of itself, it’s not all that useful. A junk garage is a place where you can just keep shoving things that have no other place to go, and never give another thought to how they fit. This relationship has become useless, except to sort of protect 2 weak people with fragile emotions, and has become a place where emotions can just be tossed so they have some place to go. “Winter Rain” Cold, dismal, and desolate. While rain in the summer helps plants grow, winter rain just leads to snow, ice, bleakness, despair. Honeypot: something sweet but without substance… that eventually just gets sticky and disgusting.

A hotline, a wanted ad

Desperate attempts to find something to fill the void that’s been created by the relationship’s collapse.

It’s crazy what you could’ve had
It’s crazy what you could’ve had
It’s crazy what you could’ve had
I need this
I need this

I see the line “it’s crazy what you could’ve had” as that thought that you get after the relationship is over “They just missed out on something great -> me. If they only knew how great I really am, there’s no way they would’ve let the relationship die.” But it slips back into the self pitying “I need this.”

Donnie Darko

This has quickly become one of my favorite movies of all time. Any movie that involves a seemingly demonic man in a 6 foot bunny suit is already a winner in my book. Add to that some of the funniest lines I’ve heard in a long, long time (“Baby mice“,”Sometimes I question your commitment to Sparkle Motion“,”What’s the point of living if you don’t have a dick?“), and an amazingly complex and intrueging plotline, and a performance by Jack Gyllenhaal that is nothing short of brilliant, and you’ve got yourself a wonderful, wonderful movie you can watch over and over again.


Ground Rules:

The standard “Star Wars Canon” rules apply: The movie is taken as being completely trustworthy, whereas outside information: Director’s Commentary, the website, notes, Philosophy of Time Travel, and writings made by the director, actors, etc. are seen as helpful, but can be flawed. I’ve decided to accept the deleted scenes as pretty much Canon as well, as they were things that would have been in the movie if movies were allowed to be as long as you wanted.

Alright, you can start with one of two assumptions:

1.) Everything that’s happening is really happening (i.e. It’s not just in Donnie’s Mind), and time (not counting the events surrounding the plane engine.) is traveling as it normally does.

2.) Everything that’s happening is in Donnie’s mind as he is either dreaming, or on some sort of mental adventure (ala: A Christmas Carol, with the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come.)

Then, I think there are one of two other assumptions, independent of the previous 2:

A.) Donnie is crazy. His mind is messed up, and what he sees we can not believe.

B.) Donnie is not crazy. The things he sees, though strange, are actually happening, in one way or another.

These things the film tells us are true:

1.) Donnie’s pills are placebos.

2.) For seemingly unexplainable reasons, a plane engine smashes into Donnie’s room.

I’ll start off by saying that I don’t believe A is true, mainly because I think it destroys what I’d like to believe is the point of the movie. If Donnie is crazy, and we can’t believe what he sees, then nothing he does can be taken as being very significant or meaningful. (example: If I had killed Hitler, but only because I was insane and accidentally drowned him because I thought he was a beached whale, you can’t look as that action as being a noble or meaningful action made to save millions of lives.) The fact that the pills are placebos add some credibility to this idea, though it by no means proves it.

I could go either way with the first one (1 or 2), though I lean towards 1, because I think it’d be more interesting, and there seems to be more support for it inside and outside the movie. That being said, the underlying theme would remain the same, I think. Basically, if #2 is true, then I’d see the whole movie as an “It’s a Wonderful Life” in reverse, where Donnie sees what will happen if he doesn’t get out of his bed, with the knowledge of what, then, won’t happen if he stays in bed. So that being said, I’m going with an interpretation where Donnie is not crazy, and everything that’s happening is really happening.

A jet engine from the future enters a wormhole, and crashes into Donnie Darko’s room. This triggers a parallel “Tangent” Universe. From that point on, everyone in this Tangent universe is affected/altered. I see like this: Everyone besides Donnie in this Tangent universe exists for the sole purpose of guiding Donnie towards fixing this rift in the space time continuum, though most aren’t aware of it. The Universe (-> God) wants the universe to be made right again, and has thus endowed Donnie with supernatural abilities (at first only while sleepwalking, but at the end he’s harnessed that power), and a messenger, Frank. I don’t think Frank is God, but neither is he the devil. I think of him as a messenger that’ll do whatever it takes to make sure the universe gets back to how it is supposed to be. If you’ve ever seen the episode of Star Trek : The Next Generation -> Cause and Effect, The basic idea is the same: The universe has been altered to broadcast a message, in the hopes that the universe (or at least your portion of it) can be saved.

I think the ways the people have been altered are fairly obvious so I won’t go through each one, but it’s interesting to note that some seem willing or predisposed to helping Donnie on his quest (Gretchen Ross, Dr. Monnitoff, Karen Pomeroy, Dr. Lilian Thurman), and some that seem less willing, basically helping him despite themselves (Jim Cunningham, Kittie Farmer). The more Donnie learns about time travel the more he seems able to harness his new powers (he can see those pseudopods extending from people’s chests, for example). Donnie, with the “help” of Frank, continues to learn. At times, he’s forced to do things he doesn’t want to do (Leave Gretchen to burn Jim Cunningham’s house), but it’s all just another piece in the puzzle. Finally, he knows he has to go to Grandma Death’s house, and once Gretchen is killed, and Frank is shot. Donnie knows what he has to do, so he heads off to the cliff, guides the engine into the wormhole, and with that, the Tangent Universe is sealed and wiped out. We flash back to Donnie in bed, right before the engine crashes through, and he laughs. My take: for the first time (and final time, incidentally), he knows exactly why he’s there, and what he has to do. And he knows by his sacrifice things will be set right: His mom won’t die in the plane crash, Gretchen won’t die, Frank won’t die, etc. The bigger thing that has struck me the last few times I’ve watched it though: His biggest fear seemed to be dying alone… and he finally wasn’t alone. He had met Gretchen, and she really seemed to love him. His dying was suddenly less empty, cause he had that person who loved him, and his death was saving her. So afterwards, you get a quick look at the main characters back in the original universe, and I think it’s implied that they’ve retained small snippets of the events that occurred in the Tangent Universe. Kittie seems to know Jim is a kiddie-porn freak, and Jim seems to know that others know. Charita, the downtrodden girl that no one appreciates is shown at the end as happy. I think she remembers the message Donnie gave her: “I promise you things will be better some day”. And the music matches up to this perfectly: “The dreams in which I’m dying are the best I’ve ever had.”