Normal service will be resumed…

…as soon as possible, I was just going to type, as for various reasons I didn’t feel much like blogging today. But thinking about that phrase – and, oddly, ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ – made me realise that there’s much to unpack in it.

I love ‘The Empire Strikes Back’. Partially for Yoda; partially for the fantastically depressing, open ending, which left me shell shocked when I was 11; but mostly for the fact that the entire plot hinges on the fact that the Millenium Falcon breaks down.

Han Solo’s malfunctioning hyperdrive is the broken engine that drives the action of the whole. That breakdown is very significant; it literalises the fact that all drama comes from disruption of one sort or another.

Whether it’s Godot not arriving, Oedipus sleeping with his mum, or the Silver Surfer announcing Galactus’ imminent plans to eat the Earth, plot starts when the expected, relied upon order stops.

‘Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible’ flags up that kind of moment. Disruption has happened, and the breakdown has to be dealt with. Normal service no longer exists.

Of course, chances are that normality will be restored – but it’ll be a new normality, and it won’t come until there’s been a little drama, because ultimately drama is the action either of restoration, or of the failure to restore.

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