Tasha: Let’s face it, the Fast and Furious movies have moved far, far away from any kind of grounded, reality-based narrative that would studiously answer all our questions. This is more the kind of franchise that ignores physics and linear time, then has a character lampshade that by yelling about it in frustration.
In Fast X, the latest installment in the series — and one of two or maybe three (or more?) total wrap-up movies for the franchise — the yelling character is Aimes (Alan Ritchson), the new head of the Agency, the sort of “CIA but for the whole world” organization that keeps Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his people hopping around the world, stopping rogue agents and collecting dangerous tech.
Aimes has a lot of questions about how Dom, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), and their sprawling crew of very simply characterized allies keep turning villains into cookout buddies, and why basic science doesn’t stop them from launching cars into space. And he doesn’t have any answers. We’re doing a little better in terms of pinning down Easter eggs, references, and mysteries in Fast X — but as a more casual fan of this series, Austen, I came out of this movie with a bunch of questions, and I’m hoping you, as an expert Fast family fan, can help.
Austen: Let’s race — or at least do the best we can, since the one thing the Fast Family can’t outrun are its retcons.
[Ed. note: Spoilers ahead for Fast X, and the Fast and Furious movies in general.]
Who dies in Fast X? Han, Tej, Roman, and Ramsey survived, right?
Tasha: So Fast X gives us a big, obvious fake-out in the form of a big chunk of the Fast family away-team getting shot down in a plane that promptly explodes. There’s no way any of those people died, since they’re fan favorites, they go down without any big emotional drama, and we don’t see any bodies. But do you have any theories here about how they made it out? Is there a car on board that plane that we’ll later find out they shot into space?
Austen: If Jakob (Dom’s brother, John Cena’s character) has a kayak-sized glider that can make it through the TSA without comment, I would guess that Roman’s crew probably anticipated needing some fancy way to escape their massive airplane in case of an attack. Plus, it wouldn’t be the first time Han survived a seemingly certain-death explosion, so maybe he just taught the rest of the crew his secrets.
Rita Moreno is Dom’s grandmother? Since when?
Tasha: I definitely thought I’d forgotten something from a previous movie, and that there was no way this franchise would just arbitrarily give Dom what appears to be a new family-member-by-blood out of nowhere. (Not to mention not actually giving her a name, and just crediting her as “Abuelita.”) But apparently this is her first appearance in the Fast and Furious franchise — yup, just out of nowhere. Any theories where this family member has been this whole time? Or why she didn’t step in to do something about her exiled grandson Jakob before he became F9’s villain?
Austen: Based on the activities of Dame Helen Mirren in this series, Rita Moreno has probably either been running either a crime syndicate in the Dominican Republic, or organizing car-based heists herself. Unfortunately, the real answer is that we don’t know — but who knows, we can dream that her adventures will be the next Hobbs & Shaw-style spinoff for the series.
Are the heroes in this movie really murdering American agents?
Tasha: It took me a while to remember that “The Agency,” the group headed by Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell’s “not appearing in this movie” character), is not the CIA, even though it meets pretty much all the requirements for the CIA as it normally appears in this kind of glossy action movie: engaged in massive international chicanery without respect for borders or local law enforcement; has more advanced tech than any other law-enforcement agency in the world; general air of menace and corruption; endless faceless operatives; source of a lot of back-stabbing and side-switching. Plus also being called “The Agency.”
But even if The Agency isn’t U.S.-based, it’s currently being run by people who appear to be American. And in previous movies, all these agents have been on the same side as the Fast family. (In fact, their Agency handler Little Nobody, played by Scott Eastwood, still is on their side.) But the crew is now just murdering those agents with impunity, and in droves. I get that in this kind of movie, you need an army of goons to fight, but isn’t it a little weird that none of the heroes pause for even a second to think about who they’re killing? Isn’t this basically like Finn fleeing from being an Empire slave, and then killing every other Stormtrooper he meets without the slightest moral qualm?
Austen: The Agency is an incredibly convenient organization for the Fast and Furious movies, because it really is only as good or bad as the person in charge of it. As an extra-governmental task force with seemingly infinite power, resources, and jurisdiction, it’s mostly just a symbol of power and control. So its agents — like Stormtroopers — are meant as symbols of oppression in this movie, not people.
In other words, for most of this movie, The Agency is a team full of anonymous people who are perfectly fine to kill, apparently. Maybe there’s a reason they all wear face-covering helmets — again, like Stormtroopers. It’s to keep you from seeing them as people instead of obstacles.
What’s the deal with Elena’s sister?
Tasha: Here’s another character I assumed I’d forgotten from a previous movie, especially the way she’s introduced as if she was some kind of old rival turning up again. But no, this is the first movie for Elena’s little sister Isabel (Daniela Melchior), who I guess is here so Dom has a lady to hang out with while Letty is in jail — besides Dame Helen Mirren, I mean. Did we have any previous clue that Letty had a sister?
Austen: No, Isabel is new. And kinda redundant. But she does have some old non-computerized intel for Dom to dig through, so that’s something at least.
Who is that guy Shaw has in the body bag?
Tasha: If the whole business with Shaw’s dude-in-a-bag was just a single quick shot, I’d dismiss it as a one-off visual gag. But we spend a couple of minutes — an eternity in a Fast movie — dealing with this guy waking up in the body bag in his undies, and hitting the road. Do we know who he is?
Austen: No, but we know that it’s neat that we got back to him. This is a callback to a mid-credits scene in F9, where Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) is interrogating some guy for information, and Han shows up, in what turns out to be a flash-forward to Fast X. We never do learn who is in the punching bag, or where Shaw got him.
How did Gisele survive? And didn’t that submarine explode a couple of movies ago?
Austen: Here’s the thing. There doesn’t seem to be any explanation for even a moment of this. On the one hand, it was very much assumed that Gal Gadot’s character Gisele died in Fast & Furious 6, and the nuclear submarine from the end of Fate of the Furious also exploded. On the other hand, who cares? This is Fast and Furious, and apart from faaaamily, the only thing you can really count on in these movies is that they’ll retcon whatever they want.
Tasha: Fine. But… can you explain what’s up with the robot spider laser surgeon? This series has those now?
Austen: Sure, why not? Look at the prison that has those laser-spiders. If they can build that in the Antarctic, what can’t they do?