Let me start of by saying that I know this week’s post is going to have limited reach. I’m not sure what the intersection is between parents forced to watch the Disney Channel and readers of Vampirenomad, but I’m betting it’s not huge. Still, I found myself compelled to write about what I recently witnessed on the aforementioned Disney Channel.
No, I’m not about to spend an entire post complaining about the quality of shows and movies on the channel. Things vary. I find Girl Meets World to be at the higher end, while Jessie sends me fleeing from the room.
Instead I want to talk about one of the biggest things to hit the Disney Channel this Summer: Teen Beach 2, the sequel to last year’s Teen Beach Movie. The movie itself was ok. I enjoyed the first one more. But the second… I just have to wonder if the writers really understood the full implications of the ending of that film. If they did, I have to applaud them for slipping something so incredibly dark into the mass of pop songs and silly gags.
Before I explain what I mean, a little background is probably in order. The original Teen Beach Movie is the story of Brady and his girlfriend, Mack. Both are avid surfers, and Brady also has an obsession with a 1960’s beach musical movie called Wet Side Story, which, as the name implies, is a West Side Story/Romeo and Juliet-esque tale of rival gangs of bikers and surfers and the love that blooms between surfer Tanner and biker Lela (I am way overselling this story). Due to a bad storm and a magical (I guess) flower emblem on a surfboard, Brady and Mack end up inside the movie. They inadvertently get in the way of Tanner and Lela meeting and have to repair the relationship while also dealing with a mad scientist who’s built a weather machine (Don’t ask).
At the end of the movie, Brady and Mack get back home, but we are left with a final image of several of the Wet Side Story characters emerging from the ocean into our world.
Dun DUN DUNNNNNN….
This brings us to Teen Beach 2, in which we learn that Lela and Tanner actually came through first, using a necklace that Lela gave Mack, who then took it back to the real world. She then lost it in the ocean, where it traveled back into Wet Side Story. Lela found it, took it as a sign to go find Mack and Brady, and then she and Tanner used it to go to our world (Convoluted, I know).
Lots of stuff…ok…some stuff happens after that, but let me just hit the main points that are necessary for the rest of this discussion.
- Brady first met Mack when he was on the beach watching Wet Side Story.
- Characters from Wet Side Story are disappearing from existence because Lela and Tanner are missing from the film.
- Mack tells Lela, who has already proven herself good with machines and able to pick up advanced mathematics and chemistry in no time, to make her own story.
- At the climax of the film, Mack and Brady send Tanner, who is starting to vanish, and Lela back into the ocean on a self-propelled surfboard that has the magic flower emblem from the first movie attached to it. If Lela and Tanner don’t make it back into Wet Side Story before they vanish, the movie will cease to exist, pretty much undoing everything.
So what happens?
Wet Side Story does cease to exist; however, rather than blinking out of existence entirely, it has been replaced by a new movie: Lela, Queen of the Beach. Because of that, though, Brady was never a fan of Wet Side Story, so Brady and Mack never met. Instead Mack is a fan of Lela: Queen of the Beach, and she finally meets Brady at the end of Teen Beach 2.
Let’s piece together what happened after Lela and Tanner took off on that powered surfboard. Presumably, Tanner vanished. The process was already starting, and it didn’t take long with any of the other characters. Lela, however, did not disappear. She made it back into the movie world, at which point all of the missing characters reappeared. However, they had all been reset to their original mental states, meaning that they no longer knew about Mack, Brady, or the real world. It’s clear in the bit of Lela, Queen of the Beach that we’re shown that Lela is the only one aware that she’s in a movie.
So Lela returned to the film to find that she’s the only who remembers what happened. What does she do? Rather than stick to the script (I am just going to completely ignore the whole issue that Wet Side Story was a movie that was made with actors and such.), Lela starts changing things. Judging by the fact that the new movie title is Lela: Queen of the Beach, the changes she makes must be pretty drastic.
And why wouldn’t they be? It’s established that Lela is a genius. She’s also returned to the movie world with future technology (Brady’s self-propelled surfboard) and knowledge of the weather machine sitting in the villain’s lair. Additionally, she knows everything that is supposed to happen in the movie. She’s in the absolute perfect position to manipulate events.
She could tell her brother (the leader of the bikers), her boyfriend (Tanner), and her other friends everything, allowing them to create a utopia within the movie. Or she could use her skills and knowledge to take control of the near-mindless rubes around her. The movie’s new title makes it clear that she chose the latter path and has established herself as leader and possibly even a complete despot.
In making that decision, Lela also shows complete disregard for Brady and Mack. She changes Wet Side Story into a completely different movie, which destroys the original timeline and the relationship of two people she supposedly considers to be her friends. Yes, by the end of Teen Beach 2, Mack and Brady have met anyway under circumstances that somewhat mirror their original meeting; however, there’s no guarantee that the rest will play out the same way. They have already lost the entire Summer of surfing together and, more importantly, their adventure into Wet Side Story, which was a major bonding event for them as a couple.
There’s a more troubling conclusion to be made as well. Lela has the magical surfboard emblem and can therefore move freely between the movie and our world, a world that contains technology undreamt of in hers. Yes, there’s the risk of disappearing from existence, but she also has a way around it. Based on Teen Beach 2, characters vanish in the order of their importance to the movie Wet Side Story, with the extras going first and eventually moving through the cast to Tanner and then finally Lela. All Lela has to do is bring along an “away team” of other characters to use as a timer of sorts. She can use their disappearances as a gauge of how long to stay in our world. As long as she’s back in the movie not long after Tanner vanishes, she’s fine. Upon her return to Lela, Queen of the Beach, all of the people who disappeared reappear without any knowledge of what happened or that there is a world outside of their own.
With this method, she can raid our world for whatever she desires. Considering her genius and engineering skills combined with her total disregard for her friends or the timeline, I fear to see the results.
Because based on what we can conclude from the end of Teen Beach 2, Teen Beach 3 will chronicle Lela’s ascent into a full-on supervillain.
Or maybe I’m overthinking it a bit.