The Thing I Like About …

Mission Impossible III: the part where Luther congratulates Ethan on his marriage.

MI:III starts with Ethan throwing an engagement party with his fiancée Julia. Of course, he’s called away on a mission, and then another mission, and the nature of the missions becomes so dangerous that Ethan realizes he needs to accelerate some of the things in his off-duty life: he and Julia get married way ahead of schedule, before Ethan leaves for the next part of the mission.

Throughout the film, the people around Ethan, especially Luther, caution him that lives like theirs don’t lend themselves to ordinary things like marriage and family. They tell him half a dozen times that if he gets married, eventually – probably sooner than later – the union will fall apart. They tell him that it isn’t fair to him or to Julia, that the relationship will be based on deception (no matter for how noble a cause). They tell him he’s making a mistake, and he’s obliging Julia to make a mistake too, and that he shouldn’t get married.

Then Ethan interrupts Luther’s latest lecture to reveal that he and Julia got married a few days ago … and Luther smiles, and says, “Congratulations, man!” And he never says another word about doom, gloom, or caution.


Is it because he ultimately just wants his friend to be happy? Is it that he wants to support Ethan in this choice for his own happiness, even if it results in failure or heartbreak? Well, sure. Of course that’s why … for the most part. But underneath that is another reason, one that these agents encounter every day as they risk their lives, and as they watch their co-workers risk – and lose – theirs.

What’s done is done, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

You can’t bring the dead back to life. You can’t un-make your mistakes. You can’t go back again, and have a do-over. If something happened to you, then it happened, and it will always have happened, and all the wishing and pleading and shame and anger and regret won’t change it one little bit. If someone broke your heart, then you will bear those scars. If you broke someone’s heart, then that someone’s heart will bear those scars. There are no do-overs, no matter how much you want to go back. You can’t go back. What’s done is done, and there is absolutely, under no circumstances, any way ever at all that there is anything you can do about it.

So you might as well let it go, and just move forward.

And that wisdom, couched in Luther’s “congratulations, man,” is more important than any of his cautionary advice.

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