Everything Everywhere All at Once Beat Sheet Analysis
See how Everything Everywhere All at Once hits Blake Snyder’s 15 story beats!
Written and directed by: Daniel Kwan & Daniel Scheinert
Opening Image: A mirror shows the Wang family laughing and singing karaoke together before suddenly changing to a reflection of a cluttered room devoid of life.
Set-Up: Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh) and her husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan) are in a place of stasis = death. Their family lives above a laundromat that they own and manage, and Evelyn is so busy that she doesn’t even pay attention to what is around her. In her thesis world, life is boring, busy, and unfulfilling. As she struggles to get the materials ready for their tax audit meeting, she also attempts to balance everything else: her father Gong Gong (James Hong) has just flown in from China; she’s trying to help customers; and she needs to prepare the laundromat for the Chinese New Year party that evening.
Theme Stated: As Evelyn stresses over everything, Waymond attempts to comfort her. “I know you want everything to be perfect for your father’s party, but he’s going to see you’ve nurtured a happy family and a successful business. He’ll be proud of you,” he tells her. Evelyn disagrees, saying, “You’re crazy. You know that’s not what my father is going to see.” Waymond replies, “But it’s what you and I see, right?” Perspective on the meaning found in one’s life is what Evelyn will need to learn, but it’s going to take a whole multiverse for her to discover this.
Set-Up (continued): There are so many things that need fixing that Evelyn seems to be falling apart, snapping at Waymond for doing silly things like putting googly eyes on items in the house and in the laundromat. She’s so busy that she does not even notice that Waymond is handing her papers for a divorce. There’s also tension between Evelyn and her daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu); Evelyn is afraid to introduce Gong Gong to Joy’s girlfriend Becky (Tallie Medel), insisting that the shock would kill him.
Although Joy intends to go with her parents to the tax audit meeting to help translate, their relationship is further fractured when Evelyn introduces Becky to Gong Gong as Joy’s “very good friend.” Joy is heartbroken, and Evelyn decides that they don’t need Joy at the meeting. When Joy leaves, upset, Evelyn stops her and begins to say something, but then pauses before telling her that she needs to lose weight.
Catalyst: As Evelyn, Waymond, and Gong Gong arrive at the IRS building, they enter the elevator. In an instant, Waymond seems to go into a trance, suddenly waking and telling Evelyn that the multiverse is in grave danger, and that he believes she is the only one who can save them. This is Alpha Waymond, and he gives her an earpiece and writes a set of instructions on the back of the divorce papers Waymond gave her, saying that when they get off the elevator, he won’t remember anything that happened. He gives her a choice: to turn left, or to turn right when she leaves the elevator here in what Evelyn knows as the real world.
Debate: As the elevator door opens, Alpha Waymond leaves, causing Waymond to come back to his senses. Still confused, Evelyn sits down with tax accountant Deirdre (Jamie Lee Curtis) and attempts to answer the woman’s questions. Deirdre goes through the receipts, noting the many business deductions that don’t make sense, such as a karaoke machine. Waymond defends her, saying that she has many talents but confuses hobbies for work.
Evelyn sits, trying to make sense of what happened in the elevator. She must choose. Does she continue with the interrogation or take her first steps toward saving the multiverse? It doesn’t seem to make sense, but she decides to follow the instructions Alpha Waymond wrote down for her, suddenly finding herself being pulled out of her real world and into the janitor’s closet.
However, it’s not the janitor’s closet in her universe, but a “burner universe” that Alpha Waymond is using to talk to her. As Evelyn finds herself in both universes simultaneously, Alpha Waymond tells her that he believes she’s the one to save the multiverse from a great evil, an omniversal being named Jobu Tupaki, and that Evelyn will know when to fight. Soon, they are interrupted when Alpha Deirdre breaks into the closet, killing both of them.
Evelyn is jolted back into her reality, where Waymond has convinced Deirdre to give them one last chance to fix their taxes. As Deirdre follows the Wang family to the elevator to bring them the materials they left behind, Evelyn overreacts, punching Deirdre, which causes security to be summoned.
Break into Two: Alpha Waymond reappears, using the fighting skills he’s accessed from a Waymond in another universe. After defeating the guards, he tells Evelyn, “Now, you can either come with me, and live up to your ultimate potential, or lie here and live with the consequences.” Although Evelyn is reluctant, Alpha Waymond takes her with him.
Meanwhile, in the janitor’s closet universe, Jobu Tupaki arrives, revealing that she is actually another version of Evelyn’s daughter.
B Story: Joy/Jobu Tupaki is the relationship story that will help Evelyn discover who she is and what matters in life. Alpha Waymond tells Evelyn about the Evelyn from his universe, a brilliant scientist who discovered the multiverse and how to link minds. In an effort to train young people how to “verse-jump,” she pushed one individual too far… her daughter. Jobu Tupaki will be a reflection of Evelyn’s relationship with Joy.
Fun and Games: At the IRS building in the real world, Evelyn learns the rules of verse-jumping, and in the promise of the premise, we discover the upside-down world of the multiverse, the antithesis of a life Evelyn knew. In her old life, her mind was distracted from what was right in front of her; now, as she begins to embrace her abilities, her mind will become pulled in different directions.
As Alpha Deirdre finds them and attacks, Evelyn tries to access a universe where she knows how to fight. In error, she finds herself in an alternate universe where she and Waymond went home to do their taxes after the meeting (the Taxes universe), where none of these fights have taken place. Back in her reality, she successfully accesses a universe where she knows kung fu and became a film celebrity. Using these newly-learned skills, she fights Alpha Deirdre, succeeding. She and Alpha Waymond flee to the hall, but Evelyn is soon drawn back into what she thinks is a better life in the other universe.
Alpha Waymond snaps her back to her reality, but they are soon discovered by Jobu Tupaki. Jobu fights her way toward Evelyn, telling her of the “everything Bagel” black hole she created that will end reality. Evelyn is transfixed when she gets a glimpse of it. Just before she is completely consumed with the vision, Alpha Gong Gong arrives in a powered chair, knocking Jobu into the wall.
Midpoint: In Evelyn’s real world, she and Alpha Waymond follow Alpha Gong Gong to an office room where Evelyn has doubts that she is the one who can stop Jobu. Alpha Gong Gong believes Evelyn must be destroyed before her mind completely fractures and she becomes like Jobu, but Alpha Waymond disagrees. He tells Evelyn that she has so many dreams she never followed, so many goals she never finished, and that she’s living her worst version of herself. Because she has had so many missteps in her life, those choices led to many other universes; she’s powerful because she’s so bad at everything she tries. Her potential is limitless. It’s a false victory as Alpha Waymond leaves, telling her she needs to get far away from Jobu.
As Waymond comes to his senses, confused, Joy knocks on the door, now free from Jobu. When Waymond lets her in, Evelyn restrains her to a chair and tries to explain what has been happening, how they are controlled like puppets by versions of themselves from the Alphaverse. Alpha Gong Gong insists that Evelyn kill Joy to prevent Jobu from spreading her evil, but as A and B Stories cross, Evelyn refuses to kill her daughter. Instead, she decides that to understand Jobu, she must become like her. Only by doing so can Evelyn stop Jobu from destroying the multiverse. The time clocks tick and the stakes are raised; if Evelyn can’t connect with her daughter, everything will be destroyed.
Bad Guys Close In: With Evelyn’s decision and new goal, Alpha Gong Gong turns against her, calling all verse-jumpers to attack her. Evelyn accesses the abilities of her alternate selves, fighting off the external bad guys. Meanwhile, Jobu finds Alpha Waymond in his own universe and kills him, leaving Evelyn to fight on her own. Jobu then verse-jumps into Joy’s body, and as Evelyn says she’s reaching her full potential, her mind begins to fracture, filled with all of her different universal selves. Collapsing onto the ground, she dies.
As the universes begin to seep together, the Evelyn in the Kung Fu/Celebrity universe watches the events unfold on a movie screen. Soon, though, her mind jumps into herself in the Taxes universe. There, she sits in front of a pile of receipts as she prepares for the Chinese New Year party. Heading down to the laundromat, she confronts Joy, who is soon embodied by Jobu. The two face off against each other, passing between different universes as Jobu tries to pull Evelyn into her way of thinking that nothing matters.
Evelyn’s internal bad guys come to the forefront as she struggles to stand strong against Jobu while trying to separate her from Joy. Soon, though, Jobu takes Evelyn to where the Bagel is, telling her, “I am your daughter, your daughter is me. Every version of Joy is Jobu Tupaki. You can’t separate us. I have felt everything your daughter has felt and the pain of having you as my mother.”
As Evelyn stares into the Bagel, she feels the meaninglessness that Jobu feels and soon finds herself coming back to life in her own universe, surrounded by all the chaos she has caused during the fighting. The futility seeps into the other universes, and each version of herself begins to act accordingly.
All Is Lost: The other universes begin to face the consequences as Evelyn gives into the nihilism. In the Taxes universe, she signs the divorce papers as the IRS seizes the laundromat. In the world where Evelyn began her journey, at the IRS building, she prepares to fight the Alpha verse-jumpers, meaninglessness overtaking her. Just then, as Waymond intercedes, she accidentally stabs him. She has become just like Jobu Tupaki.
Dark Night of the Soul: Overwhelmed, Evelyn’s mind becomes fractured and travels throughout the multiverse, landing in a universe where she and Jobu are rocks. There, Jobu confesses that she had hoped Evelyn would see something she hadn’t, that there was an answer to her view of a pointless life. The Bagel was not intended to destroy the multiverse, but to end Jobu’s existence.
Evelyn’s shard of glass is exposed as the Theme Stated beat resurfaces; Evelyn needs to see what is before her and focus on what her life is about, on who she is. As Evelyn crosses into the Taxes universe, she witnesses the way Waymond talks to Deirdre, asking for another chance; surprisingly, it works. Perhaps there is more to be learned from others then she had realized, that she had never truly “seen” them.
Break into Three: In the Taxes universe, Waymond tells Evelyn that she might think he is weak, but he chooses to fight differently, through kindness. Now, Evelyn sees him in a different light, and she begins to appreciate what is in front of her. No longer does she see him as an annoyance; she sees him for who he is, stands, and embraces him.
Finale: In Evelyn’s universe at the IRS building, Jobu confronts her and attempts to walk to the Bagel, intent on destroying herself. Trying to become more like Waymond, Evelyn fights, but this time uses a new tactic: kindness, helping the others instead of harming them. In a high tower surprise, she learns that Jobu wants Evelyn to let her go into nothingness, but Evelyn digs, deep down, telling Jobu/Joy that even though it might not make sense, she chooses to spend her life with her daughter, and she will cherish the specks of time they have together, no matter how unextraordinary they may be. Renewed, she uses her abilities to fix the problems she created in the other universes, finally saving Jobu/Joy from the Bagel by reaching in and pulling her out.
Final Image: Later, the Wang family sit across from Dierdre at the IRS building, ready to face their problems together. As Evelyn gazes at her husband, daughter, and father in loving admiration, she finally sees what she’s missed all along.
See the beat sheet analyses of these other 2023 award-winners:
All Quiet on the Western Front
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.