Today we continue our line of interviews with Mike Stemmle, designer and script writer for ToMI and co-director/co-designer for Escape from Monkey Island and Sam & Max: Hit the Road. According to Wikipedia, he also worked on Star Trek Online which will be released soon. How awesome is that? We should’ve asked him if it’s difficult to “jump” from one universe to another when writing the stories.
Anyway, Mike really confirmed some important theories that we, the fans, have regarding Elaine. Go on. Read. Now!
SWP: There are a lot of controversial talks between the fans regarding the story of ToMI. Can you clear it up a bit for us? For instance, is it implied that Elaine knows about everything from the start? How much DOES she know and what was her plan, if she had one?
MS: Elaine has a history of being one step ahead of Guybrush, LeChuck, and everyone else in the world of Monkey Island. That’s because, well, most of the cast isn’t all that bright.
Our take is that Elaine has long suspected that the Voodoo Lady has been putting Guybrush and LeChuck through a never-ending cycle of conflict for mysterious purposes. This annoys the heck out of Elaine, who is ultra-protective of her hubby and chafes at the notion of being manipulated by forces beyond her control. But Guybrush trusted the Voodoo Lady too much for Elaine to simply say “Hey, I think this nice lady that has helped you on umpteen previous occasions is using you like a puppet.” Besides, she didn’t want to get on the Voodoo Lady’s radar.
When LeChuck suddenly became human at the start of the first episode, Elaine intuitively realized that LeChuck was also playing some sort of long game against the Voodoo Lady, so she went along with it, keeping an eye on LeChuck all the while, and nudging Guybrush in ways both small (“trust me”) and large (“take the ring”).
Of course, she didn’t plan on being overwhelmed by the Pox. Or LeChuck actually managing to kill Guybrush. That’s why she’s so forlorn at the start of the final episode; she’s played things too close to the vest, and now her snugglebunny is dead.
SWP: Why didn’t DeSinge appear in the Crossroads? Was that place only for pirates?
MS: Handwavy Answer #1 – While the Crossroads is not only a place for pirates (Le Flay was there, after all), De Singe very quickly moved on to his personal Paradise for Snooty Not-French Scientists.
Handwavy Answer #2 – It’s possible that the lingering effects of De Singe’s Jus De Vie kept him technically alive (in dust form) throughout the events of the final episode.
SWP: Why didn’t we see Noogie there as well?
MS: After an unseen encounter with Morgan in the Crossroads, Noogie’s unfinished business was taken care of, so he moved on to his final reward. At least, that’s what I like to think.
SWP: Why does Guybrush’s Poxed hand STILL exist and has been taken by the Voodoo Lady?
MS: First of all, it’s important to recognize that Guybrush’s body at the end of the final episode is, in fact, an all-new body. His previous one had pretty much fallen apart by the time LeChuck had finished slapping it around. So that’s where Guybrush’s spiffy pox-and-hook-free hand came from.
But that DOES leave the issue of Guybrush’s poxed hand. Why does it still have the Pox, since Guybrush allegedly cured the Pox? And what, if anything, is the Voodoo Lady doing with it?
Yup, those are good questions, you betcha.
What, you expected answers? Bwah-hah-hah-haaaa!
Okay, here’s a half-answer. Somewhere in the middle of plotting out the season, while we were working out how Guybrush was going to get his hand back (we knew we weren’t going to get away with permanently cutting off his hand), we suddenly got very giggly about the subversive idea that Guybrush’s Evil Poxed Hand would somehow continue to exist and have rollicking adventures on its own. Eventually, this bit of silliness wound its way into the story, and that’s how it landed in the Voodoo Lady’s at the end of the season. As for its future, who knows? Personally, I’d pay real money for the adventures of Miss Prettywhiskers and the Poxed Hand of Guybrush Threepwood, but I’m… odd.
SWP: Why is Elaine wearing at the end the same clothes she was wearing when she became the undead bride? Does she still have powers?
MS: I don’t think her clothes reflect anything other than the fact that we really liked the outfit. The only power she has at the end of ToMI is her usual uncanny ability to think 23 moves ahead.
SWP: What elements of ToMI were planned for Ron’s MI3? Did he use some of the ideas he kept for his version of the sequel?
MS: I may be forgetting something, but I’m fairly certain that Ron NEVER mentioned that any of the ideas he kicked in for ToMI (and there were truckloads) came from his ideas for MI3. Which was generous of him, ’cause I’d hate to feel like I was poaching on stuff he wanted to do.
SWP: What are your sources of inspiration (books, films, games)?
MS: I’m way too fond of Douglas Adams, Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, Mel Brooks, David Lynch, Cole Porter, and Stephen Sondheim. At least, that’s where I am this week. Next week it’ll probably be Joss Whedon and Lady Gaga or something. I’m a bit flighty.
SWP: Okay, you released the first episode on july 7, but when did you start working on the game? I mean, when did you actually put the pen on paper and started scribbling ideas?
MS: I have a Word file named “A Buncha Monkey Island Thoughts” with a creation date of 11/24/08. So I guess that’s when I started. Looking over the doc, it’s a good thing that we didn’t use any of THOSE ideas. Oy. Curiously, by December 8th, all those ideas had been discarded, and we’d come up with a plot that had the Pox, Mer-People in the second episode, Guybrush spending the third episode trapped in a sea monster with Murray, human LeChuck, a fourth episode trial, and the beginnings of the characters that would become DeSinge and LeFlay. Talk about a productive two weeks!
SWP: Thank you, Mike! We’ve got one more interview for you, folks! See ya!