no way home spoilers
That look in Tobey's eyes when he's holding Tom's Peter back from killing Norman. He didn't have to say a single word. They both just knew. That look is haunting me it won't leave my mind.
It was so, so important how they did that moment - how Tobey didn't just snatch the hoverboard out of Tom's hands with a web - but rather he could look him in the eyes, look his younger self in the eyes, and stop him from making the same choice that he did. Not just physically stop him but to make him understand, and let him make the choice to let go himself, instead of making it for him.
I love how they really framed Tobey's as the oldest and the wisest. He's had all this time to look back on that choice he made. All this time to think about the things he would have done differently. All this time thinking if he had just known, wishing he could just go back in time and talk to himself, to stop himself. He never thought that one day he would actually get that chance.
That look. That look that won't leave my mind. That look that said you know you shouldn't do this. You know May wouldn't want you to do this. I know the pain it will cause you. I've felt it. I feel it every day. I don't want you to go through what I did. I don't want you to make the same mistake I did. I don't want you to feel the pain that I do. Please. I love you. Please. It didn't help.
And Tom's Peter listens. He makes the choice Tobey's couldn't. His younger self didn't have him to offer him his strength and compassion and wisdom and perspective. Tobey's Peter can never go back in time and save himself, but at least he could save this version of himself. He can go on living, and the pain will fade more and more every day. Whenever he looks back on his younger self at least he'll know, without a doubt, that in another world, there's a version of him that he was able to help. Who didn't make that choice.
(And then Tom's Peter could then do something else that Tobey's couldn't, that being curing Norman, which he said he's been thinking about for years. Even though he was dead he still wished he could go back and help him, and now he was finally able to give him a second chance.)
(And the fact that Tobey says in the very next scene after May dies that ever since he got here he's been trying to find Peter because he feels he needs his help. I know he probably got there earlier but part of me thinks he got there right after or when May died, and he goes through the portal a few hours later. Yes Peter needed him because of the villains but the real reason he needed him was because of May's death and how he was grieving - and how this universe's Peter was going to make the same decision he did if he didn't find him and help him.)
And Andrew. I saw someone else say that he's still grieving Gwen, which is so true. From his conversation with Tobey it sounds like he really just sunk himself entirely into his work as Spiderman in order to, maybe not so much cope but just keep himself occupied to block out the grief.
He thinks about her every day. Sees her falling. Feels the weight of her in his arms again and again and again.
And when MJ fell, every fiber of his being was screaming not again. Not again. Not again.
In that moment, he just saw Gwen. Like he does every day. Only this time it was all too real.
And this time it was different. MJ's Peter couldn't get to her, just like he couldn't get to Gwen. This time he was here. This time he could do something about it. This time there was someone who could spare Peter the pain he lives with every moment of his life.
Maybe when he caught her, for just a split second, it felt like he caught Gwen. He had relived the most horrible moment of his life again. That moment that lived in his mind, that was always there underneath everything else, burning just a little but without end. Then somehow, this time, it ended differently.
The worst thing that happened to Andrew's Peter was a tragedy, but the worst thing that happened to Tobey's was a choice. They're both things that they can never change, but wish they could. They're both things they were able to spare this young version of themselves from. This boy who's full of so much potential and been through so much already. This boy who needed them. This boy who is them.
Obviously this whole movie was about second chances and compassion. You can always give second chances to people, no matter what they've done. You can always start over with them. Everyone except for yourself. You will always know what you've been through and what you've done. And you can be compassionate with yourself, but you can never truly start over. We can never get second chances in life - we can only have them in the eyes of others.
I wish I could go back in time and be there for my younger self. I wish I could help them and guide them. I wish I could protect them. I wish I could save them. I think about it all the time. I think a lot of us do. But in the real world we can't save our younger selves from pain.
Tobey and Andrew were able to fulfill the impossible dream of giving yourself a second chance. Of saving yourself.
I think what this movie was saying was that, as much as we wish we could, we can't start over. You can't give second chances to yourself so that's why it's all the more important that you give them to others - because if we could give ourselves even one moment of the past that could be changed, we would all do it in a heartbeat.