It may seem strange to describe the eighth film in a blockbuster franchise as a transitional moment in the series, but then again, few franchises have had to deal with the death of an actor as essential as Paul Walker. The Fate of the Furious was always going to be a bittersweet affair for those involved; while the movie promised to push new characters and new relationships to the forefront, fans wondered how exactly they would choose to address the loss of Walker’s beloved Brian. The solution screenwriter Chris Morgan came up with should leave diehards and newcomers alike very pleased.

We’re in full spoiler mode from here on out, so turn back if you haven’t seen The Fate of the Furious.

With Furious 7 making it clear that Brian is alive and well in the Fast and the Furious universe, fans wondered how members of Toretto’s crew would handle his betrayal. Wouldn’t their first reaction be to reach out to Brian, the man who knew Toretto better than anyone else? To its credit, The Fate of the Furious doesn’t shy away from Brian’s existence, with Michelle Rodriguez’s character explicitly stating at one point that reaching out to Brian for help wasn’t an option because they had agreed to let him and Mia retire in peace. In a conversation with Collider, Morgan explained his thought process behind this line of dialogue:

It’s so dramatic for the characters that at some point they would definitely turn to each other and say, ‘Oh my God, we gotta tell Brian, we gotta tell Mia. Something is going on with Dom, we don’t know what it is’ So I think from a practical point of view for the characters you needed to address it. For the audience, and just as a fan as the writer on it, I also wanted to have one moment where we were able to — specifically at the beat at the end of the film — say to the audience, ‘We’re thinking of him too’ in a respectful sort of way.

Morgan is, of course, talking about the scene where Toretto names his infant son Brian, a welcome homage to Walker’s character and an extension of the family theme that runs throughout the franchise. While moving on from Paul Walker’s character was never going to be an easy task, in this regard at least, Morgan and the whole Fast and the Furious crew have done the best they could in an impossible situation. Brian and Mia get their happily ever after while Toretto and the gang continue to have high-flying adventures. In a world where cars fall out of the sky and Jason Statham has a gunfight while holding a baby, it’s these little moments of humanity that keep fans coming back for more.

The Fate of the Furious is now playing in theaters everywhere.

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