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En Route Sum-Up

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When the Five-Man Band (or similar team) has a new mission in store, the Mission Control or an equivalent character (The Hero, The Smart Guy) will almost always explain the situation on the way, not beforehand.

This will often include the entire relevant Back Story of the location or characters that the team will encounter, as well as an outline of the planned course of action. Common statements that prompt it are "Let Me Get This Straight...", "Wait a minute", or postponed questions. Just as often, though, the scene will simply open with the description.

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Narrative reasons for this:

  1. Traveling in the Cool Car, or simply walking, makes for a more interesting background visual than standing around a table in the Home Base. Just as the crew is obligated to Never Give the Captain a Straight Answer, so too must The Captain wait until a narrative-appropriate time to tell the crew what's going on.
  2. The mission may be so urgent that there's No Time to Explain beforehand.
  3. Revealing the details of the mission en route lessens the chances of a security breach.

During this talk, characters may be seen suiting up and otherwise preparing, despite their presumably not yet knowing the exact nature of the mission. This can lead to some Fridge Logic… what did The Hero say in order to get everyone to go? Also, did she consider whether a member of her not-yet-informed team just might have, in storage, a handy tool for this particular job (which would be inconvenient to go back for)?

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This can be outright perplexing if one of the in-the-dark characters is the vehicle's driver (or pilot), given that he presumably doesn't yet know the destination. (Does the team follow some traditional "pre-route", such as a circle around the block, before "really" embarking?).

This is a common practice for the duo at the center of a Crime and Punishment Series or Buddy Cop Show.

Compare Sealed Orders.


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Examples:

Live-Action TV

  • In Criminal Minds, while the team are alerted beforehand where the next crime is, they almost always cover the backstory during the plane ride (unless it's local).
  • This has been done in House in various ways. On occasion, it is not noted what the MRI of Doom is being used for until it is already in use.
  • This has been done on foot in The West Wing and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Characters frequently discuss sensitive situations in the hallways.
  • In the episode "Hollywood Babylon" of Supernatural, Sam explains the case of a mysterious death on a movie set as they walk to the stage the movie is filming on in the Warner Bros. Studio.
  • One episode of Castle saw Beckett and Castle working with an intelligence agent to take down a Chinese spy. Due to the urgent nature of the mission, they are strapping up their gear outside the target building while briefing each other on the plan and possible escape routes from the building.
  • Done in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Chain of Command." In this case, Picard is under orders to do this, as Justified by reason #3.

Film

  • At the start of the Firefly follow-up film, Serenity, Captain Malcolm Reynolds briefs Zoe and Jayne about the heist they're going to pull off while driving their hovercraft to the heist. (One would think that discussing their plans and the layout of the facility ahead of time would increase their chances of success and help them plan how to deal with unforeseen circumstances, like an unexpected attack by Reavers.)

Video Games

  • HAWX 2: on the first Russian level, it seems that General Morgunov is explaining the mission to Denisov's squadron en route. Especially odd considering that they are supposed to intercept a flight of enemy bombers.
  • In Call of Duty: Black Ops, the beginning of the Khe Sanh mission is Woods explaining to Mason how MAC-V-SOG was formed.

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