Wednesday, March 2, 2011

K.I.B.A. Honorary Member #8, March 2011 - Tron

*info for this profile is gathered from the films TRON and TRON: Legacy.
**SPOILER ALERT**  -This profile contains spoilers for the two aforementioned films.  If you have not seen one or either movie, I strongly urge you not to read this profile until you've had a chance to see the films.  If you don't mind spoilers, or if you have no plans to see either film anytime soon, then read on.

"I fight for the users."

Tron is a self-monitoring security program originally created in 1980 by ENCOM programmer Alan Bradley.  Work continued into 1982, culminating in the program's completion.  As described by his creator, Tron is "...a security program itself, actually.  It monitors all contacts between our systems and other systems.  If it finds anything that's not scheduled, it shuts it down."  Tron operated apart from the Master Control Program of the ENCOM systems, as part of its/his programming was to 'watchdog' the MCP.

Shortly into the events of the first TRON film, we learn that Tron is a prisoner of the MCP, forced to compete in gladiator games.  After Kevin Flynn is digitized into the same computer world, Tron, along with Flynn and another program named Ram, is put into a lightcycle battle, during which he and his fellow combatants escape the arena through a crack in the wall.

After Tron, Flynn and Ram escape the pursuing forces of the MCP, Tron reveals that in order for the MCP to be taken down and the system restored, he needs special information encoded onto his identity disc - information that can only be provided by communicating with his user Alan-One (Bradley) via an I/O tower.  However, communication with users via the I/O towers has been strictly forbidden by the MCP.

The trio start towards the nearest tower, however, they are soon spotted by a patrolling tank, which fires upon them.  Tron escapes the attack, but Flynn and Ram's lightcycles are hit.  With no lifesigns and no responses to his call, Tron continues on alone to the I/O tower.

He enlists the help of his 'girlfriend' Yori and together, they convince the tower guardian Dumont to allow Tron access in order to communicate with his user.  After receiving the information from Alan-One, Tron and Yori escape on a solar sailer and fly it towards the heart of the ENCOM system, where the MCP is located.  En route, he is reunited with Flynn, and learns of the death of Ram.

When the solar sailer is ambushed, Tron apparently falls to his death, while Yori and Flynn are captured by the MCP's primary enforcer Sark.  Tron, however, survived the ambush and clung to the outside of Sark's carrier.  Making his way to an escape pod, he hung on as Sark boarded the pod and made his way to the vast mesa when the MCP was located.

When the MCP told Sark that he felt a 'presence' on the mesa, Sark immediately turned and saw Tron making his way to the MCP.  In the ensuing disc battle, Tron defeats Sark by throwing his disc with such force that it breaks through Sark's disc and splits Sark's head open.  The MCP noticed this, however, and transferred all his functions to Sark, which not only revived Sark, but increased his size and made him immune to disc attacks.

Despite seeing a hole in the MCP's shield, Tron is unable to throw his disc into the center and destroy the MCP.  It is not until Flynn jumps into the MCP itself and distracts it that Tron is able to throw his disc past the shield and into the MCP, destroying both it and Sark as well.

Shortly thereafter, Tron reunited with Yori and Dumont, and together they watched as all of the I/O towers began lighting up.
[Author's Insight]
I know that up to this point in the TRON timeline, that Tron himself has exhibited many honorable qualities, but none that would immediately qualify him as having 'battered armor.'  In fact, going by the events in the first film alone, one could argue that Tron does not fit the description of a knight in battered armor, and I would agree with them.  In the first film, Tron is selfless, ready to fight for his fellow programs, and for the users.  He does not shirk from his programming, even after the apparent death of Flynn and Ram.  How many of us, when put in a similar situation, would be able to go on after witnessing two friends fall to enemy fire?  Would you let it drive you, or consume you?

Tron lets it drive him further, if not harder.  Even to the point of the final confrontation, battling it out with Sark, and then the MCP-upgraded Sark.  Granted, Tron is a computer program, but I sometimes wonder if Tron felt any fear or apprehension on the doorstep of the MCP, as he prepared to battle Sark and the MCP.

Whatever went on in Tron's mind in those final moments, he did what he was programmed to do, and with Flynn's assistance, defeated the MCP and freed the system.
[end insight]

Over the next few years, Tron was upgraded and moved onto Flynn's personal server in order to help protect the Grid.  In 1989, when a peace ceremony between the ISO's and the Basics was interrupted by a virus program named Abraxas, Tron decided that it was too dangerous for Flynn to remain in the system.  Along the way to the portal, Tron and Flynn were attacked by Clu 2.0 and his elite Black Guard.  During this conflict, Tron took possession of a guard's identity disc, using it in conjuction with his own disc.  After defeating the Black Guard, he turned to Flynn, who had fallen under attack from Clu.  Tron threw himself into the path of Clu's attacks, buying time for Flynn to escape, but ultimately falling to a strike from Clu's identity disc.

[Author's Insight]
Once again we see evidence of Tron's selflessness and dedication to his friends and the users.  Fighting for others, even when his own survival was in jeopardy, took extraordinary courage and bravery.  Was there any doubt, any hesitation, in Tron's mind as he and Flynn were ambushed?  Possibly, but I want to say there was not.  How else would you explain Tron leaping into the fight, first against the Black Guard, then against Clu himself?  No second-guessing, no time to consider the different possibilities or outcomes.  There was the situation: five adversaries between Tron, Flynn and the portal.  There was the objective: protect Flynn.  Therefore, there was only one choice for Tron to make: fight.

In this day and age, there isn't often a call for defense such as that.  Granted, there are times when violence is inevitable.  I'm not advocating violence as a way to constantly defend your friends and family.  Defending them could involve speaking up when they don't know what to say, or possibly taking their side in an argument or discussion.  The point I'm trying to make here is that Tron did what was necessary in order to protect Flynn from Clu, and that he did so without taking time to think about repercussions, damage to his ego or reputation, or worrying about something trivial.  There was no question in his mind as to what he needed to do; no doubt what the right thing to do was.  Was fear present in his mind?  Maybe, maybe not.  If it was, it didn't affect the decision he made.
[end insight]

Fast forward one more time, to 2010.  Flynn long believed that Tron was de-rezzed when he was struck by Clu's identity disc.  However, it is later revealed that Tron was repurposed to serve Clu under the identity "Rinzler."  As Rinzler, Tron served as Clu's primary enforcer and right-hand man.  His former identity as Tron is first recognized by Flynn, when he (Rinzler/Tron) captures the ISO Quorra.  Later, as the heroes are flying towards the system portal, Rinzler begins to overcome Clu's reprogramming.  During the light jet dogfight, Clu orders Rinzler to fire upon the heroes aircraft.  This is perhaps the most crucial point for Rinzler.  In an act of defiance, Rinzler, having regained his identity as Tron, turns on Clu and makes a partially successful attack on his former master, leaving the two in freefall with the Sea of Simulation below.  As Rinzler/Tron was about to activate a second light jet with his spare baton, Clu collided with him, stole the baton and used it to escape, leaving Rinzler/Tron to fall into the Sea of Simulation.  As he sank beneath the surface, Rinzler/Tron's orange circuitry flickered out and returned to its original white, showing that he was fully able to overcome all of Clu's reprogramming.  However, Tron's final fate is unknown, and we can only guess and what has become of our hero within the system.

[Author's Final Thoughts]
When I first thought about featuring Tron as an Honorary Member for the Knights In Battered Armor, I wondered what people would say, thinking that they would point out that Tron doesn't screw up, or do something that is detrimental to other people.  I could point out that he was reprogrammed as Rinzler to serve Clu.  Brainwashed, essentially.  Amnesia?  Split personalities?  You can call it whatever you want, but it doesn't change the fact that this character did what he did under the Rinzler identity.  For you Star Wars fans out there, you should be aware of the time Luke Skywalker went over to the dark side.  Yes, in the end, Luke returned to the light, as did Tron.  Whether intentional, with or without personal knowledge of the effects of his actions, there were things that Tron did that caused harm to those he had previously been sworn to protect.

There are things in Tron's personality and traits that I wish were more present, more evident, in my own life.  As stated by the Tron Wiki page (

"Tron's personality is that of a determined warrior, willing to do anything for the users and for the freedom of his fellow programs. He is usually serious and objective focused and has a deep reverence towards users, especially his user, Alan-One. Tron displays a particularly high loyalty to Kevin Flynn, who is both his friend and a user. Tron bravely stood his ground against a superior number of soldiers, and Clu, to protect Flynn."

How many of us have friends we care about so much that we would willingly go to the lengths that Tron did in order to keep them from harm?  One friend?  Two?  Ten?  The exact number is not important.  For my part, I am willing to do everything I can to be there for my friends, in whatever capacity they need.  Shoulder to cry on; an ear to hear their worries, fears, thoughts, etc; someone to hold them in troubling times...I want to be there when they need someone.  And I don't think about what I could get in return.  Being there for them, being the best friend I can possibly be - I do my best to put others first, and most of the time I'm successful.  There are times when I'm not, but I don't let that get me down.  If I've wronged someone, I apologize for it and try to do better next time.

Tron's universe is obviously different from our own.  Real world vs digital world.  Different friends with different needs, and different ways of standing up for and defending those we care deeply about.  But that doesn't mean there isn't anything to learn from his example.  Yes, Tron is a warrior, and the majority of us aren't trained in any kind of combat.  We can take note of other traits of his.

Start putting the needs of others first, before your own.  Stand up for your friend or loved one, especially when they are not able to defend themselves.  Forget about your ego or your reputation, your fears and worries - to the world you may just be one person, but to one person, you could be the world.  Fight for them.

Welcome to the ranks of K.I.B.A. Tron.

[end of line]