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Film / Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials

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"The Maze is one thing, but you kids wouldn't last one day out in the Scorch. If the elements don't kill you, the Cranks will."

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials is the sequel to The Maze Runner, and the second instalment in The Maze Runner Series. It was released on September 18th, 2015. It is based on The Scorch Trials by James Dashner (the second book in The Maze Runner trilogy).

Transported to a remote fortified outpost, Thomas and his fellow teenage Gladers find themselves in trouble after uncovering a diabolical plot from the mysterious and powerful organization WCKD. With help from a new ally, the Gladers stage a daring escape into the Scorch, a desolate landscape filled with dangerous obstacles and crawling with the virus-infected Cranks. The Gladers only hope may be to find the Right Hand, a group of resistance fighters who can help them battle WCKD. As they team up with them, they uncover more shocking truths, uncovering WCKD's ultimate plan for all.

This film is followed by Maze Runner: The Death Cure.

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials contains examples of:

  • Adaptational Early Appearance: In the original book trilogy, the Right Arm, a resistant movement working against W.I.C.K.E.D, are introduced in the third book The Death Cure. Despite this movie being the film adaptation of the second book The Scorch Trials, the group is revealed to exist about a third of the way through the movie, and the plot then becomes about the protagonists finding and meeting up with them — which they do shortly before the climax.
  • Adapted Out: The "Bulb Monsters" that appeared during the climax of The Scorch Trials, don't appear in this movie.
  • Adaptation Distillation: Most of the second book is distilled to incorporate elements of the third book, The Death Cure.
  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: In The Scorch Trials while travelling across the scorch the Gladers are caught in the middle of a lightning storm, where the lightning appears to be actively chasing them, with several characters getting struck. It’s implied, and outright speculated In-Universe by Thomas, that the lighting is being artificially created by WICKED. The film keeps this scene, but only having Minho being the one struck and removing Thomas’s theorizing. However, unlike in the book WCKD are no longer in their control of the Gladers who have already escaped from them and don't have the level of technology required to artificially make or manipulate a storm like their book counterparts had, making it unclear how apparently naturally occurring lightning is able to chase someone.
  • Adaptational Heroism:
    • Aris. In the book, he is in full league with WICKED throughout the ordeal in the Scorch and assists Teresa in her plan to deceive Thomas. No such thing happens in the film and he is just a victim of WCKD as everyone else (except for Teresa).
    • Similarly, Brenda and Jorge. They are both agents of WICKED in the book, sent to take notes regarding the progress of the Scorch Trials. In the film, they are survivors of the Flare who happen to live near WCKD's headquarters.
    • Vince. In the book, he is far more morally ambiguous and treats Thomas merely as a pawn for his own ends.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Teresa. In the book, she works for WICKED because they threatened to kill Thomas if she refused. In the film, she works for WICKED because she genuinely believes that they are capable of finding a cure for the Flare virus.
  • After the End: While it was first mentioned at the end of the first movie, here we actually get to see the shattered remains of civilization post-solar flare.
  • Age Lift: Jorge. Thomas describes him as "young" in the book, so no older than 40. Giancarlo Esposito was 56 at the time of filming. His film portrayal seems to have crept in into James Dashner, however; in The Fever Code, Jorge is retroactively described as looking old.
  • Airvent Passageway: The heroes are able to navigate dangerous territory by way of the vent system.
  • Artifact Title:
    • The film doesn't feature any maze running, since the maze had been solved in the last film. This wasn't the case with the original novel, which was just called The Scorch Trials.
    • Given the film's Adaptation Distillation of the original book, The Scorch Trials part becomes this. In the book after Janson revealed to The Gladers that they were still under WICKED’s control, the Gladers were made to cross the Scorch as part of a second trial – their first trial being the Maze from the previous book. In the film the Gladers themselves discover that they’re still with WCKD and escape from them by crossing the scorch, meaning that they are not on any trial.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • Assistant Director Janson a.k.a. "The Rat Man" only appeared in one chapter near the start of The Scorch Trials and didn't appear again until the next book — The Death Cure, where he became the Big Bad. Here he’s promoted to main antagonist status and spends most of the film pursuing the protagonists.
    • The Scorch Trials briefly featured a Crank nicknamed "Blondie", who appeared briefly to kidnap Thomas and Brenda forcing them to drink hallucinogenic-spiked drinks and party with him and two other Cranks. The film turns the character into Marcus, who the Gladers have been searching for in order to find The Right Arms’ base of operation, which he would know the location of as a former member of said organization. His aforementioned actions from the book are changed from the delusional actions of someone going insane from The Flare virus, to a deliberate ploy to drug, capture and sell Immunes to WCKD.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Teresa ends up betraying Thomas by calling WCKD to their location, resulting in Mary's death, Aris's, Minho's and many Immunes' captures, as well as the breaching of the Right Arm's safe place. Luckily, some of the survivors repel WCKD's forces, and Thomas begins to formulate a plan to save everyone in WCKD's capture and kill the leader of WCKD, Ava Paige.
  • Body Horror: The effects of the Flare Virus are garish; whatever part of your body got infected first starts to fester and turn black as your respiratory functions start to cease, followed by a degeneration of your mind to a feral zombie-like state. Advanced cases have horribly twisted limbs, skin marred by black tendril-like growths, a twitching and jerky gait likely caused by some form of palsy, and most Cranks have gouged their eyes out to stop the hallucinations they're plagued by.
  • Call-Back: Brenda tells Thomas that she had a brother, George, who was taken by WCKD, after successfully passing some "tests". In the first film, the Maze's list of names had George's name as a Freeze-Frame Bonus.
  • Canon Foreigner:
    • Whilst The Scorch Trials revealed that in addition to the Gladers from the first book, there was also a second group of Gladers in a different maze – consisting of a group of girls and one boy. The film goes further adding in multiple groups of Gladers who weren't in the books.
    • Mary Cooper; a scientist working for The Right Arm and had previously been a part of WCKD, is also a film-only character.
  • Conveniently Timed Attack from Behind: One of the guys in the hideout attempts to shoot Thomas and the gang, only to dramatically fall forward, revealing that he'd been shot in the back by Brenda.
  • Cool Plane: WCKD makes use of a slick black VTOL flyer significantly larger and more advanced than its standard helicopter fleet.
  • Dying as Yourself: Winston is scratched by a Crank and becomes infected, so he begs his friends to do something to stop him from becoming a Crank himself. Newt hands them a loaded gun and the rest quietly leave. After the group travels far enough, a gunshot is heard.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Teresa betrays the team to WCKD, since she believes in their mission.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In the abandoned shopping mall, the first Crank that Thomas and Minho see after turning on the power is a female that has bloody, eyeless sockets. Later on in the film, Teresa reveals to Thomas her recovered memories: when she was young, her mother ended up catching the Flare, inducing hallucinations. To stop them, she gouged out her own eyes.
    • During the rave party, Thomas hallucinates seeing Winston and Newt as Cranks. By that point, Winston had turned into a Crank and died, but Newt hasn't. At least, hasn't until the next film, where he does turn into a Crank and ends up being mercy killed.
  • Hallucinations: After downing a drink spiked with hallucinogens, Thomas starts freaking out when he sees hallucations of his friends turned into Cranks and a Griever, one of the biomechanical spider monsters from the previous film.
  • Human Resources: There is a treatment for the Flare, but it requires draining an enzyme from the immune which cannot be synthesized and requires a lifetime of treatments lest the Flare relapse.
  • Hypocrite: Teresa explains to Thomas that they should go back to WCKD to help all those who aren't immune to the flare, yet this is a sacrifice she is unwilling to make herself, having cut a deal with WCKD to exempt herself and her friends.
  • In Name Only: The film is radically different from The Scorch Trials, with only a few key elements and themes remaining due to Adaptation Distillation as well as some elements of The Death Cure being merged into it.
  • Kissing Under the Influence: Thomas and Brenda make out at a post-apocalyptic rave party after they've been imbibed with hallucinogenic drugs. This also causes Thomas to imagine Teresa in her place, whom he's really in love with.
  • Mythology Gag: The beginning of the credits are surrounded by sand blowing to the right. However, before going to the crew's names, the sand appears to turn whiter and colder. It's actually snow, a setting where the next book installment, The Death Cure, took place.
  • Named by the Adaptation: An unnamed Crank, nicknamed "Blondie" by Thomas in The Scorch Trials, is given the name Marcus here.
  • Race Lift:
    • Jorge is explicitly described as a "young Hispanic male" in the book. Giancarlo Esposito is not.note 
    • Aris has olive skin in the books, while Jacob Lofland is very white.
    • Retroactively done with Rachel, in The Scorch Trials she was a Posthumous Character and never got a physical description, but she appears in a brief scene as a white girl with straight hair. Two years after the film was released, Fever Code - a prequel to the books came out revealing Rachel to have dark skin and tightly curled hair.
  • Scenery Gorn: The vast shots of the empty and crumbling buildings and bridges.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The three unnamed gladers who escaped with Thomas’ group from the maze disappear after the first scene. One of them, a guy named Jack, escapes from the facility with them but is killed by cranks in the abandoned mall.