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"THE SELECTION" EPISODE 1.01: "PILOT" SCREENPLAY BY ASHLEIGH HAYNES BASED ON THE BOOKS BY KIERA

"THE SELECTION"

EPISODE 1.01: "PILOT"

SCREENPLAY BY

ASHLEIGH HAYNES

BASED ON THE BOOKS BY KIERA CASS

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 1

DISCLAIMER: THIS IS A WORK OF FAN FICTION. I, ASHLEIGH HAYNES, DO NOT OWN THE SELECTION. FURTHERMORE, THIS WORK DOES NOT REFLECT THE VIEWS OF KIERA CASS, HARPERTEEN, OR ANY OTHER PARTIES INVOLVED IN ANY OFFICIAL OR UNOFFICIAL CAPACITY WITH THE SELECTION. THIS FAN SCRIPT BELONGS TO ASHLEIGH HAYNES AND MAY NOT BE PRODUCED IN ANY WAY/SHAPE/FORM. THIS SCRIPT IS FOR READING ONLY. NO PRODUCTION OF THIS SCRIPT IS INTENDED.

SCREENWRITER'S NOTE: I HAVE NO PROFESSIONAL TRAINING OR EDUCATION IN SCREENWRITING. I AM BASING THE FORMAT OF THIS SCRIPT ON MY PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE READING SCREENPLAYS.

TO CONTACT ME WITH ANY INQUIRIES, FEEDBACK, CONCERNS, OR QUESTIONS, PLEASE EMAIL: ahselection2014@gmail.com

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 2

PART ONE

ESTABLISHING:SHOTS OF SEVERAL MODERN CITIES (NEW YORK, LA, CHICAGO, TORONTO, ETC.). THE CITIES ARE BUSTLING WITH PEOPLE, MOVING HURRIEDLY BACK AND FORTH, NOT PAYING ATTENTION TO THE WORLD AROUND THEM. A VOICEOVER BEGINS AS THE SHOTS ALTERNATE.

AMERICA

Three hundred years ago, the countries that made up North America were attacked and invaded by the countries of the East.

BRIEF SHOTS OF BOMBS EXPLODING, REGULAR AND NUCLEAR; RAGING FIRES ON BATTLEFIELDS; SCREAMING IN THE BACKGROUND. FINALLY, THE CACOPHANY DIES DOWN, AND THE SCREEN FADES TO BLACK FOR ONLY A MOMENT.

AMERICA (CONT.)

After millions died and suffered in the third World War, the western countries came together to form a new nation from the ashesIlléa.

AN AREIAL SHOT OF A NEW CITY, THE CENTER OF WHICH IS A LARGE PALACE, APPEARS WITH A CHYRON THAT IDENTIFIES IT AS “ILLEA: YEAR 2326.” THE OVERALL EFFECT IS CALMING, PEACFUL EVEN. THIS NEW COUNTRY LOOKS LIKE THE UTOPIA WE COULD NEVER HAVE. THIS IS ANGELES AND THE ROYAL PALACE.

AMERICA (CONT.)

And so began the time of peace.When they created the

new

country, the new leaders

also

created a

caste

system

to

give

every

person

a

place

in

the

new

society, assigned with a number, Eight through One.

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 3

AS AMERICA CONTINUES, DESCRIBING EACH OF THE CASTES, AN IMAGE APPEARS ON THE SCREEN OF SOMEONE OR MULTIPLE SOMEONES FROM THAT SPECIFIC CASTE PERFORMING THEIR SET OF SKILLS GIVEN TO THEM BY THEIR CASTE, WITH A NUMBER FLASHING OFF TO THE SIDE OF THE PERSON BRIEFLY TO ASSOCIATE THE NUMBER WITH THE CASTE.

AMERICA (CONT.)

There are the street rats…

IMAGE OF A HOMELESS PERSON ON THE STREET, HUDDLED IN DIRTY, RIPPED OLD CLOTHING AGAINST A BRICK BUILDING. THE NUMBER “8” IDENTIFIES HIM.

AMERICA (CONT.)

the labor class

WE SEE A CONSTRUCTION SITE, WITH MEN SLAVING AWAY IN THE HOT, DIRECT SUNLIGHT. THE NUMBER “7” APPEARS, THEN FADES AWAY ALMOST INSTANTLY.

AMERICA (CONT.)

the servants

WE SEE A YOUNG MAN—ASPEN LEGER, THOUGH WE DON’T KNOW IT YET— WORKING IN A KITCHEN; SHOT ALSO FLASHES TO SHOW MAIDS RUNNING AROUND THE HOUSE OF SOME RICH TWO. THEN NUMBER “6” FLASHES ON SCREEN.

AMERICA (CONT.)

the artists

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THIS SHOT IS ACTUALLY INSIDE THE SINGER HOME IN CAROLINA, SEEING SHALOM AND MAY PAINTING IN THE STUDIO. THE NUMBER “5” IDENTIFIES THEIR CASTE.

AMERICA (CONT.)

the merchant class

WE SEE A SMALL FAMILY-RUN SHOP, THE OWNERS SMILING AS THEY HELP A CUSTOMER. THE NUMBER “4” APPEARS.

AMERICA (CONT.)

the intellectuals

THIS SHOT MOVES INTO A SCHOOL, WHERE A TEACHER IS TEACHING SMALL CHILDREN. MANY OF THE CHILDREN ARE UNHEALTHILY SKINNY AND ARE WEARING DIRTY, RIPPED CLOTHING. THESE CHILDREN ARE SIXES AND SEVENSTHE HIGHER CASTES HAVE PRIVATE STUDIES AND THE EIGHTS HAVE NO EDUCATION. ANOTHER SHOT MOVES TO A HOSPITAL AS TWO DOCTORS WALK DOWN A HALL, CONVERSING. THE NUMBER “3” IDENTIFIES THEM.

AMERICA (CONT.)

the celebrities, politicians, and guardians.

A SHARPLY-DRESSED MAN AND A BEAUTIFUL YOUNG WOMAN STAND TOGETHER ON THE FRONT VERANDA OF A RIDICULOUSLY HUGE MANSION, COMPLETE WITH MARBLE STEPS AND GIANT COLUMNS ACROSS THE FRONT. THEY GREET SEVERAL FRIENDS, ALL EQUALLY AS WELL DRESSED. OF THE PEOPLE THEY GREET, ONE IS A SOLDIER IN DRESS UNIFORM. THEY GREET HIM AS WARMLY AS THEY GREET THE OTHERS.

AMERICA (CONT.)

And then there are the Royals.

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WIDE SHOT OF THE ROYAL PALACE IN ANGELES. THEN, WE MOVE INSIDE THE PALACE, MOVING THROUGH THE FRONT HALLS, PAST A COUPLE OF CORNERS, AND THEN INTO A THE THRONE ROOM, THE TITLE OBJECTS NOTICABLY EMPTY. CAMERA PANS AROUND AND IMMEDIATELY STARTS BACKING UP TO SHOW SEVERAL PEOPLE FILING INTO THE ROOM. WHEN THEY REACH THE EDGE OF THE RAISED PLATFORM ON WHICH SITS THE THRONES, THE VISITORS SIMULTANEOUSLY BOW. THE CAMERA CONTINUES TRACKING BACKWARD TO SHOW THE BACKS OF THE THRONES AS WELL AS THE PROFILES OF THE PEOPLE NOW ENTERING FROM A DOOR TO THE SIDE OF THE PLATFORM. WE ONLY SEE THESE PEOPLEKING CLARKSON, QUEEN AMBERLY, AND PRINCE MAXON—IN PROFILE. WE DON’T ACTUALLY SEE THEIR FACES UNTIL MUCH LATER IN THE EPISODE. TOGETHER, THEY COME TO A STOP, EACH IN FRONT OF THEIR OWN RESPECTIVE THRONES, AND LOOK DOWN AT THE VISITORS.

AMERICA (CONT.)

With the new country came the monarchy. And with that monarchy came the Selection.

SHOT TRANSITIONS FROM THE LUXURY OF THE PALACE TO AN ESTABLISHING EXTERIOR SHOT OF DILAPIDATED TINY HOUSE IN A RUNDOWN NEIGHBORHOOD. IT'S THE SINGER RESIDENCE. (AMERICA’S VOICE OVER NOW RESUMES). WE SEE MAGDA, AMERICA'S MOTHER, WALKING THROUGH THE FRONT DOOR, CARRYING A BAG OF GROCERIES UNDER ONE ARM, THE MAIL IN HER HAND AS SHE CAREFULLY OPENS THE DOOR. SHE IS A MIDDLE AGED WOMAN THAT, THOUGH PERHAPS ONCE BEAUTIFUL, TIME HAS NOT BEEN TOO KIND TO. CAMERA FOLLOWS HER AS SHE MAKES HER WAY THROUGH THE FRONT DOOR, PAST THE SMALL ENTRY WAY, AND INTO THE SMALL KITCHEN, WHERE SHE HAPHZARDLY DROPS THE MAIL ONTO THE TABLE BEFORE MOVING TO PUT THE GROCERIES UP. THE SHOT ZOOMS IN ON THE PILE OF MAIL, WHICH FEATURES SEVERAL SMALL, DULL ENVELOPES SITTING ON TOP OF A MUCH BRIGHTER AND MORE COLORFUL LARGER ENVELOPE, MADE OF A THICK PAPER. THE ENVELOPE CLEARLY STANDS OUT IN THE PILE OF MAIL. AMERICA'S VOICE OVER CONTINUES AS HER MOTHER PLACES THE GROCERIES.

AMERICA (CONT.)

Thirty five-girls, one from each

chosen to vie for the heart of the crowned Prince of

of the provinces,

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 6

Illéa, their chance at his hand in marriage. Their chance at royalty. Their chance at being the One.

V.O. PAUSES AND CAMERA FINALLY PULLS AWAY FROM THE ENVELOPE AND MOVES THROUGH THE SMALL HOUSE, MAKING ITS WAY DOWN A HALL UNTIL IT REACHES A DOOR THAT STANDS SLIGHTLY OPEN.(AMERICA’S VOICE OVER NOW RESUMES). THE CAMERA MOVES THROUGH THE DOOR INTO A SMALL BEDROOM. IN THE ROOM IS A SMALL BED, SITTING ON WHICH IS A VIBRANT REDHEAD, HER BACK TO THE CAMERA. SHE FACES A MUSIC STAND IN FRONT OF HER AS SHE PLAYS A VIOLIN THAT RESTS ON HER CHIN. WE HEAR THE SWEET MELODY SHE PLAYS; SHE IS QUITE TALENTED. THIS IS AMERICA SINGER, 16, FIERY TEMPER TO MATCH HER BRIGHT RED LOCKS.

AMERICA (CONT.)

But this isn't the prince's story. It's all mine. My name is America Singer. I’m a Five. I always have

been,

wanted was to stay exactly where I was. I just wanted to live my life as a Five, maybe even as a Six if things went the way they were supposed to; marry the love of my life, have children, grow old, and die. Was that really so much to ask?

and

I

never asked

for anything

more. All

I

THERE IS A SCREAM OF SURPRISE OFF SCREEN, FOLLOWED BY MAGDA'S VOICE CALLING HER DAUGHTER'S NAME.

America!

MAGDA (O.S)

THE GIRL SITTING ON THE BED PULLS THE VIOLIN AWAY FROM HER FACE AND TURNS AROUND TO FACE THE DOOR, A MIXTURE OF FEAR AND CONFUSION ON HER FACE. THIS IS THE FIRST LOOK WE GET OF AMERICA SINGER, AND SHE IS POSITIVELY RADIANT. IT'S NOT MAKEUP OR BEING OBNOXIOUSLY OVERTLY BEAUTIFUL; SHE'S JUST NATURALLY ATTRACTIVE. SHE JUMPS UP OFF THE BED AFTER ONLY A MOMENT'S HESITATION, LAYING THE VIOLIN DOWN ON THE THIN COMFORTER AS SHE RUNS THROUGH THE DOOR.

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 7

SHOT RETURNS TO MAGDA; SHE'S STANDING IN THE KITCHEN, THE MAIL DROPPED AT HER FEET, ALL EXCEPT ONE LETTERTHE BEAUTIFULLY COLORFUL ONE WE NOTICED EARLIER. SHE STARES AT IT, AWESTRUCK, A HAND OVER HER MOUTH, WHEN AMERICA RUNS INTO THE ROOM. WE HEAR HER BEFORE WE SEE HER.

Mom? What's wrong?

AMERICA (O.S)

SHE STOPS IN THE KITCHEN DOORWAY, STARING AT HER MOTHER WITH A PUZZLED EXPRESSION.

AMERICA (CONT.)

Mom, what's going on? You scared me to death!

MAGDA DROPS HER HAND REVEALING A HUGE GRIN, HOLDING OUT THE LETTER AS HER ONLY EXPLINATION. AMERICA, HALTINGLY, STEPS FORWARD TO TAKE THE LETTER. SHE FIXES HER MOTHER WITH ONE LAST QUESTIONING GLANCE AS SHE LOOKS DOWN AT THE ENVELOPE IN HER HAND. THE CONFUSED LOOK ON HER FACE DOESN'T DISAPPEAR, BUT HER URGENCY AND WORRY FADE AWAY.

AMERICA (CONT.)

A letter from the royal palace in Angeles?

SHE TURNS THE LETTER OVER IN HER HANDS TO OPEN IT.

AMERICA (CONT.)

What's all this ab?

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 8

SHE FALTERS, FREEZING AS SHE FINALLY SEES THE EMBLEM ON THE BACK OF THE ENVELOPEA GOLD-EMBOSSED TIARA, WITH THE LETTER 'S' PRINTED BELOW IT. HER EYES RAISE TO HER MOTHER'S, AN UNEASY LOOK ON HER FACE. SHE DOESN'T BOTHER TO OPEN THE LETTER NOWSHE KNOWS EXACTLY WHAT IT WILL SAY.

AMERICA (CONT.)

Let me guessPrince Maxon has a birthday coming up.

MAGDA'S EXHILARATED EXPRESSION FALLS.

MAGDA

Why aren't you excited? This could be just what we needed. This could be an opportunity for us.

AMERICA

You're right, it could be an opportunity. If I was Selected. Which I won't be. Being Selected generally means that you have to put in your application, and that's something I'm not going to do.

MAGDA

And why is that, exactly? Give me one good reason for you to stay here for the rest of your life, a Five with next to nothing, when you could be living in a palace.

AMERICA

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 9

Mom, I am not entering for even the slightest chance to become a part of the most outdated, pathetic show that is the Selection. I am not going to try to be one of thirty five girls that fall all over themselves trying to become a royal while our pompous snob of a prince just chooses the prettiest and most obedient of them to marry.

MAGDA

We could use the money. You know that. The Selection contestants and their families get paid just to be at the palace, even if they don't win! And imagine what this could do for the family in general, how far it can move us up

AMERICA

I'm happy where I am, Mom. Sure, we don't have tons of extra cash lying around, but we get by just fine. Besides, do you know how many girls in this province alone are going to be entering? They're all vying for that one spot in the Selection. It wouldn't be fair for us to get May and Dad's hopes up when there's no way I'm going to be chosen.

MAGDA

If you're so sure you aren't going to be chosen, then what's the problem?

THEIR VOICES HAVE RISEN TO SHOUTS AT THIS POINT, DRAWING THE ATTENTION OF THE OTHER MEMBERS OF THE HOUSEHOLD. MAY AND SHALOM COME IN FROM ADJOINING ROOM, MAY'S HANDS COVERED IN PAINT WITH A FEW STREAKS ON HER FACE. MAY IS LIKE AMERICA'S 13-YEAR-OLD DOPPELGANGER, WITH THE SAME HAIR AND A SIMILAR FACE, ONLY THREE YEARS YOUNGER. SHALOM, AMERICA'S FATHER, IS AN OLDER MAN, MID-

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 10

FORTIES, WITH A FACE WEATHERED BY TIME AND STRESS. THERE IS CONCERN ON HIS FACE AS THEY ENTER THE ROOM.

SHALOM

What is going on in here?

MAGDA STARTS TO ANSWER, BUT AMERICA INTERUPTS HER BEFORE SHE CAN GET A WORD OUT.

AMERICA

Nothing, Dad. It's fine. Just go back to whatever you were working on.

SHALOM

It

certainly didn't sound like nothing,

Magda?

America.

MAGDA SNATCHES THE LETTER OUT OF AMERICA'S HAND AND HOLDS IT UP.

MAGDA

This came in the mail today. A letter from the court of the Royal Palace in Angeles.

SHALOM STEPS FORWARD TO LOOK AT THE LETTER, PUZZLED. THEN HE STOPS IN HIS TRACKS, A REALIZATION COMING TO HIM.

The Selection?

SHALOM

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 11

MAY GASPS, CLEARLY OBLIVIOUS TO THE TENSION BETWEEN AMERICA AND HER MOTHER. SHALOM EXCHANGES INTENSE LOOKS WITH HIS WIFE. MAY GUSHES, EXCITED.

MAY

The

Maxon choosing his future wife and the future Queen of Illéa from thirty five normal girls from across the country?

Selection? As in, Prince

Selection? As in

the

AMERICA TEARS HER GAZE AWAY FROM HER PARENTS TO LOOK AT HER SISTER.

AMERICA

Is there any other Royal Selection out there that I've forgotten about? Maybe that's the one Mom's talking about and I've just mistaken her meaning entirely. Because surely she's not trying to talk me into basically selling me off to jump up a few castes.

MAGDA BREAKS HER GAZE FROM SHALOM'S AND GLARES AT AMERICA.

MAGDA

That's hardly fair, America. I only want what's best for you.

AMERICA

No, that's not what you want. You want to sell me off to the highest bidder because you're a caste-jumping psychopath. What you're trying to do is one step off from prostitution, actually.

MAGDA

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 12

Whatever you think of me, America, you cannot talk to me like that. I am still your mother and you will respect me as such.

MAGDA LOOKS DOWN AT THE ENVELOPE IN HER HANDS FOR A MOMENT BEFORE RIPPING IT OPEN AND PULLING OUT THE LETTER INSIDE.

AMERICA (RESIGNED)

Mom, what are you doing?

MAGDA

Hush. I think your family deserves to know exactly what it is you're denying them so selfishly.

AMERICA BEGINS TO PROTEST, BUT MAGDA CARRIES ON OVER HER, READING FROM THE LETTER OUT LOUD.

MAGDA (CONT.)

"To

of

sixteen and twenty currently resides in your home. We

would

census has

confirmed that a single woman between

the House

like

to

of Singer.

make

you

The recent

aware

of

the

ages

an upcoming

opportunity to honor the great country of Illéa."

Mom.

AMERICA

MAGDA CONTINUES UNINTERUPTED.

MAGDA

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 13

"Our beloved Prince Maxon Schreave is coming of age this month. As he ventures into this new part of his life, he hopes to move forward with a partner, to

marry

daughter, sister, or charge is interested in possibly

adored

princess of Illéa, please fill out the form…" Blah blah blah"One woman from each province will be drawn at random to meet the prince." And here's the best part. "Participants will be housed at the lovely Illéa Palace in Angeles for the duration of their stay. The families of each participant will be generously compensated for their services to the Royal family."

becoming the

a

true

daughter of

bride

of

Illéa.

If

your

eligible

Prince

Maxon

and

the

MAGDA REFOLDS THE

SUPPORT, WILLING THEM TO SHAME AMERICA FOR HER SELFISHNESS. SHALOM SPEAKS, BUT OFFERS NO SUPPORT TO HIS WIFE.

LETTER

AND LOOKS

AT

MAY

AND SHALOM FOR

SHALOM

Who knew Maxon was already nineteen? How time flies.

MAGDA

That’s hardly the point. America could be bringing in serious money for this family. She doesn't even have to win.

AMERICA

Well, that's a relief, because there's no chance of that happening, is there?

MAGDA

But you don't know that, America. You could be the princess of Illéa.

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 14

MAY

Not to mention a One. We'd all be Ones. Royals, Ames. We could have everything we ever wanted.

AMERICA

But it's not what I want. I've never wanted that.

MAGDA

Your sister married a Four, America. Don't you think you could do so much better?

AMERICA

James! Kenna's husband's name is James. He's more than just a number, though I can see where you might not realize that. And James is a good guy. Kenna's happy with him. Maxon Schreave is a spoiled little brat who

doesn't know anything about the world outside

palace walls or what it's like to be in one of the lower castes. He has no idea what it's like to work for a living. But I do. And I'm happy to do it. I love the music, the singing and playing. It's what I'm good at. I'm good at being a Five.And it's what I'm going to do for the rest of my life.

the

THE FOUR OF THEM STAND IN A STRAINED SILENCE FOR A MOMENT. THEN WE HEAR A SMALL VOICE AS WE SEE A LITTLE BOY (GERAD, AGE 7) PEER AROUND THE EDGE OF THE DOORWAY, LOOKING IN UNCERTAINLY.HE LOOKS NEAR TEARS.

GERAD

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 15

'Merica?

AMERICA TURNS AROUND, CATCHING SIGHT OF HER LITTLE BROTHER. SHE KNEELS DOWN AND OPENS HER ARMS TO HIM; HE RUSHES INTO THEM, HOLDING ONTO HER NECK TIGHTLY AND PUSHING HIS FACE AGAINST HER SHOULDERAS SHE PICKS HIM UP. AMERICA'S DARK DEMENOR DISAPEARS AND SHE PUTS ON A HAPPY FACE FOR HER BROTHER.

AMERICA

Hey, buddy. What's wrong?

GERAD

I heard you guys shouting.

AMERICA SHOOTS AN ACCUSING GLANCE AT HER MOTHER, CAREFUL NOT TO LET GERAD SEE.

AMERICA

It's alright, Gerad. Just grown up stuff. It's over now.

MAGDA

America, this conversation is not over.

AMERICA

Yes, it is. It's my decision, and I've made it.

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 16

THERE'S A MOMENT WHERE SHE SHARES A LOOK WITH HER MOTHER AND THEN PULLS HER GAZE BACK TO HER LITTLE BROTHER IN HER ARMS, SPEAKING EASILY TO HIM.

AMERICA (CONT.)

Hey, you want to come hear me play violin? I can play your favorite.

GERAD IS SILENT, BUT NODS AGAINST AMERICA'S SHOULDER. SHE SMILES AND RUFFLES HIS HAIR AS SHE SHOOTS ONE LAST GLANCE AT EACH OF HER FAMILY MEMBERS, UNIQUE EXPRESSIONS ON EACH OF THEIR FACES (ANGER ON MAGDA'S, SYMPATHY ON SHALOM'S, AND CONFUSION ON MAY'S) BEFORE SHE TURNS AND CARRIES GERARD THROUGH THE KITCHEN DOORWAY AND BACK DOWN THE HALLWAY TO HER BEDROOM.END SCENE.

THE TREEHOUSE. MIDNIGHT. INTERIOR SHOT.IN THE SINGER'S SMALL BACKYARD, THERE IS A DILAPIDATED OLD TREEHOUSE. AMERICA CLIMBS UP THE LADDER, LOOKING AT HER FEET TO MAKE SURE SHE DOESN'T FALL. IT IS PITCH BLACK INSIDE, AND SHE DOESN'T REALIZE THAT SHE ISN'T ALONE UNTIL SOMEONE SPEAKS RIGHT AS SHE GETS TO THE TOP OF THE LADDER, PULLING HERSELF UP INTO THE TREEHOUSE. YOU CAN HEAR

HIS SMIRK IN HIS VOICE.

Boo.

ASPEN (O.S)

SHE GASPS IN SURPISE, JUMPING OUT OF HER SKIN AND LOSING HER GRIP, NEARLY FALLING BACKWARD. A HAND REACHES OUT AND GRABS HERS TO HELP HER STEADY HERSELF AND TO PULL HER ALL THE WAY INTO THE ROOM. ASPEN, STILL OFF SCREEN, LAUGHS LIGHTLY AS HE PULLS HER UP. AS SOON AS SHE IS STEADIED, AMERICA PUSHES THE ARM AWAY, FURIOUS.

AMERICA (WHISPER SHOUTING)

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Aspen! You are such an idiot. I almost died! What would you have done if I'd have screamed or something? We'd have been caught out after curfew and we'd be screwed.

A LIGHT FLARES UPAMERICA HAS LIT A MATCH AND SUBSEQUENTLY LIT A VERY SAD, USED CANDLE THAT PROVIDES THE ONLY LIGHT IN THE ROOM. THE DIM LIGHT GIVES US THE FIRST LOOK AT THE PERSON AMERICA HAS CALLED "ASPEN." WE'VE SEEN HIM BEFORE, THOUGH, WHEN HE WAS BUSY OPENING CAR DOORS FOR THE UPPER CASTES. HE HAS SINCE CHANGED, AND NOW WEARS DIRTY JEANS AND A LOOSE, THREADBARE SHIRT.

ASPEN

Oh, come on, Mer. It was funny. Admit it.

AMERICA GLARES AT HIM, LETTING HIM KNOW THAT SHE FOUND IT THE OPPOSITE OF FUNNY.

ASPEN (CONT.)

Come on, America. What's wrong withOh. You got the letter today, didn't you?

AMERICA

The twins got matching ones, too, I'm assuming.

ASPEN NODS.

ASPEN

Sixteen

for

two

weeks. They

just barely made

the

deadline.

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AMERICA SETTLES IN NEXT TO HIM, HANDING HIM THE SMALL BAG SHE'S CARRIED UP TO THE TREEHOUSE. HE OPENS ITIT IS FULL OF FOOD, LEFTOVERS FROM AMERICA'S DINNER. THEY PICK AT THE FOOD THROUGHOUT THIS SCENE, ASPEN MORESO THAN AMERICA AS HE EATS MUCH MORE INFREQUENTLY.

AMERICA (UNENTHUSIASTICALLY)

I bet Kamber and Celia are just thrilled.

ASPEN

Delighted. Though you clearly aren't.

AMERICA

Don't even get me started on the Selection, Aspen. It's all I've heard about from anyone today and it's driving me insane. And I was finally in a good mood to come meet you.

ASPEN

Oh,

ranting about the things that you despise. The good

news is that I’m not your family—I'll sit here and listen to all of it. I never tire of hearing your voice.

angry and start

but

you're cute

when

you

get

AMERICA HITS HIM PLAYFULLY ON THE ARM AND SIGHS, GIVING IN TO HER ANGER AN LAUNCHING INTO EVERYTHING SHE'S BEEN HOLDING BACK ALL DAY.

AMERICA

every sixteen to

twenty year old in the country excited, thinking that maybe they'll be chosen and go from rags to riches in just two weeks like a fairy tale. And then they don't

It's

just

so

barbaric. They get

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 19

even get Selected in the lottery, except for those

thirty

enough, they have to watch the prince fall in love with one particular girl, maybe even the candidate from their province. And they torture themselves and go crazy, thinking it should have been them. Then they

wasn't bad

five girls.

And

then,

as

if

it

marry lovelessly and lead what they only see as a pointless existence. But if they're lucky enough to have daughters, then there's hope! Another chance for that girl to do what you never could.

ASPEN

Are we still talking about women in general? Or just your mother?

AMERICA GLARES BUT DOESN'T ANSWER THE COMMENTASPEN KNOWS HE IS RIGHT.

AMERICA

What am I supposed to do? I mean, I am happy staying here and living in Carolina with you. But how do I explain that to my mother? And it's not like she's

wrong when she says we could use the money, as much as

I hate to admit that anything that woman says is ever right.

ASPEN

I know, Mer. Especially about the money. If Kamber or

Celia just got in… It would be a game changer. It’s all that I've been able to think about all day. For now, though, I'm going to see if I can pick up some extra work. Just on Sundays, make a little more money so the others don't have to worry about supporting us.

AMERICA

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 20

much

already. So much that we have to break the law to

sneak

Aspen

Leger,

up

don't you

dare.

You

to

work

see

too

here every

night

just

each other

because you work all day. You can't do everything.

HE KISSES HER.

Says who?

ASPEN

AMERICA

Aspen, I'm serious. Don't overwork yourself before you even turn twenty.

ASPEN SMILES AT HER REASSURINGLY, BUT HE'S UNEASY. HE'S GOT SOMETHING ON HIS MIND, A DECISION WARRING IN HIS MIND. HE DOESN'T KNOW HOW TO SAY WHAT HE HAS TO SAY. HE FINALLY TAKES A DEEP BREATH, STEELING HIMSELF AS HE SPEAKS.

Mer?

ASPEN

AMERICA

Oh no. That's your 'we need to talk' voice. I hate that voice.

ASPEN

Look, don't take this the wrong way. Please. But… I think you should enter the Selection.

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 21

AMERICA STARES AT HIM. SHE ISN'T REALLY MAD SO MUCH AS SHE'S TRYING TO FIGURE OUT IF SHE JUST HEARD HER BOYFRIEND OF TWO YEARS RIGHT. SHE LAUGHS NERVOUSLY SEEING HIS SERIOUS FACE.

AMERICA

What? Aspen, you can't be serious. I mean, you want me to enter for a chance to get married to another guy? I can't be that bad a girlfriend, can I?

ASPEN

We both know that a future with him would be three times the life I could give you.

AMERICA

Except for the fact that he isn't you. You're all I care about. I couldn't care less about the money or the status

ASPEN

You won't be saying that when your kids are having to work at eight years old just because you can't afford to feed them otherwise.

AMERICA IS TAKE ABACK, A HORRIFIED LOOK ON HER FACE.

AMERICA

Where is this coming from? Do you… I mean, you still love me, don't you?

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 22

ASPEN ROLLS HIS EYES IRRITABLY AT HER.

ASPEN

Of course. Of course I still love you. There's no falling out of love with you, America Singer. It's just that…

HE LOOKS AWAY, FROM AMERICA AS HE CONTINUES.

ASPEN (CONT.)

If you married me, you'd become a Six. You know that.

But, marrying him, you'd become a One. Any sane person

would

there. And I know the only reason you're making it a decision is because of me. If I knew that you had a chance, however small, to have a better life, a more stable life, with someone else

a decision

see

that there shouldn't even

be

AMERICA

Aspen, please. Don't

ASPEN

I would never forgive myself, America. That guilt

would be on my shoulders for the rest of my life. I can't do it.

AMERICA LOOKS LOST, SHAKING HER HEAD AND LAUGHING HUMOURLESSLY.

AMERICA

Everyone has something to say about it. You say you just want what's best for me. My mother actually tried

to bribe me at dinner, saying that, if I enter, she'll

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 23

let

performing solo. May can't even fathom why anyone in their sane mind wouldn't want to be a princess. But none of you seem to really understand how desperately I do not want this. I mean, what happens if I get chosen? If I have to go stay at the palace? Even if I go home in a minute, everything will change. Everyone will look at me differently. You know, the letter said that the Selection girls become automatic Threes from the moment their names are chosen. What then? My whole life, I've been a Five. I'm a musician. What the Hell would I do as a Three? Teach? Write? And God forbid I actually win.

and

me

start

keeping

my

own

commissions,

ASPEN

Getting a bit ahead of yourself there, aren't you,

Mer? Remember how long it took me before I could stand

being in the same room as minutes?

you for more than five

AMERICA

How can you be joking right now? I'm serious.

ASPEN

So am I. America, the guy has lived in a guarded

palace his whole life. He's probably only seen about

two Fives. Ever. He's looking for cookie-cutter princess. Not you.

a

prim, proper,

AMERICA

I'm not sure whether I'm supposed to be insulted or flattered, though I'm heavily leaning toward insulted.

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 24

ASPEN

You know what I meant.

AMERICA

Yeah, I do. But it doesn't make any difference. Any chance that I might not spend the rest of my life with you is too much of a chance for me. I'm sorry.

ASPEN

You're sorry? America, you're nobler than any title could ever make you; but it would be selfish of me to let you keep yourself from an opportunity like this.

AMERICA

No. What's selfish is you trying to get me sent away to fall in love with someone else just for the money. As if that were ever possible. You're just like my mother.

ASPEN DOESN'T MEET HER EYE, BUT HE'S ANGRY. REALLY ANGRY.

ASPEN

Just tell me one thing: is it just me? Am I the only thing that's making this so complicated?

AMERICA

It isn't complicated

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 25

ASPEN

Just answer, America. Am I the only thing holding you back?

HE

UNDERSTAND HOW HAPPY SHE IS RIGHT HERE IN CAROLINA? SHE CLOSES HER EYES AND SIGHS.

AMERICA SHAKES HER HEAD AS SHE LOOKS

AT

HIM.

WHY CAN'T

AMERICA

Yes. You are the only real reason I am staying here and not even thinking about the Selection. Are you happy now?

Hardly.

ASPEN

HE STARES AT AMERICA, A SAD BUT RESOLVED LOOK ON HIS FACE.

ASPEN (CONT.)

hard choice for

impossible one. So let me make it easier on you. Take me out of the equation.

you, America. An

It’s

obviously

a

AMERICA

What are you saying?

ASPEN

I won’t live with that kind of guilt, Mer. I can’t

live the rest of my life with you knowing that you

wouldn’t

could have done

so

much better, but

you

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 26

because of me. You can’t ask me to do that. But if you are…

AMERICA

Aspen, don’t do this—

ASPEN CONTINUES, IGNORING HER PROTESTS.

ASPEN

I guess that means that you aren’t the America I’ve known my whole life. You certainly aren’t the one I fell in love with.

ASPEN SHUFFLES TO THE HATCH IN THE FLOOR BOARDS AND THE LADDER BENEATH. AMERICA IS TAKEN ABACK, NOT QUITE SURE WHAT TO SAY. SHE IS IN PURE SHOCK. SHE FINALLY FINDS HER WORDS AS ASPEN STARTS TO CLIMB DOWN THE LADDER.

AMERICA

Aspen, stop. Please. You can’t be serious right now!

ASPEN STOPS A FEW STEPS DOWN ON THE LADDER, BUT DOESN’T LOOK UP AT AMERICA.

AMERICA (CONT.)

Don’t do this. Don’t make me choose.

ASPEN

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 27

That’s the problem, Mer. There shouldn’t be a choice. There’s only what’s good for you and what isn’t. And you, for whatever reason, are choosing wrong. If you can’t do what’s best for yourself, well… How can you expect me to?

AMERICA IS STUNNED INTO SILENCE AS ASPEN CRAWLS THE REST OF THE

ON

AMERICA’S FACE; SHE IS TRYING NOT TO CRY. OFF: AMERICA CLOSING

HER EYES AS TEARS FINALLY SPILL DOWN HER FACE.

WAY

DOWN

THE

LADDER AND

OUT

OF SIGHT.

CAMERICA STAYS

END OF PART ONE

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 28

PART TWO

AMERICA’S BEDROOM. THE NEXT MORNING. INTERIOR SHOT: AMERICA LAYS IN BED. SHE STARES AT THE CEILING, DEPRESSED. LETTING OUT A BIG SIGH, SHE FLIPS OVER, HER HAND FALLING OFF THE SIDE OF THE BED AND COMING INTO CONTACT WITH THE SMALL MASON JAR HALF-FULL OF PENNIES SITTING UNDER THE EDGE OF THE BED, NORMALLY HIDDEN BY THE BLANKETS. AMERICA PICKS IT UP AT STARES AT IT SADLY. SHE CLOSES HER EYES, LETTING HER MIND TAKE HER BACK TO HAPPIER TIME. WE HEAR ASPEN’S VOICE BEFORE THE SCENE COMES UP, BUT HE ISN’T ANGRY OR SAD LIKE HE WAS BEFORE; NOW HE’S JUST CAREFREE AND YOUNGER.

ASPEN (O.S)

I brought you something.

WE HEAR AMERICA’S LIGHT LAUGHTER AS THE FLASHBACK COMES UP. INSTEAD OF AMERICA’S BEDROOM, WE ARE NOW BACK IN THE TREEHOUSE, A NIGHT FROM A WHILE BACK. AMERICA IS CURLED UP IN ASPEN’S ARMS, A BLANKET WRAPPED AROUND THE TWO OF THEM. ASPEN REACHES DOWN NEXT TO HIM AND PICKS UP A SMALL MASON JAR WITH THREE PENNIES IN IT.

What’s this?

AMERICA

ASPEN

Well, I know we talked about the whole wedding thing…

AMERICA

And I am not changing my mind, Aspen. I’m not backing down on it. I love you.

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 29

HE SMILES AND KISSES HER LIGHTLY.

ASPEN

Let me finish, will you, smart ass? You aren’t backing down and I see that now. So… I am.

You arewhat?

AMERICA

ASPEN

Backing down, I guess. I realized that a wedding might be expensive and starting a family as a Six is going to be hard, but if you’re willing to try, then I’m willing to try. And the first step is going to be to save up money in advance. I really think that will help uswhy are you looking at me like that?

AMERICA IS SMILING WIDELY UP AT HIM, WIDE-EYED IN WONDER AND EXCITEMENT.

AMERICA

You’re serious. I never thought… I thought you said this wasn’t you? Being in love? Doing something this permanent?

ASPEN

How

myself before I knew you, Mer. This is all new to me.

Now, these pennies don’t seem like much, but I am going to bring you every single extra one I get from now on. It’s going to take a while, but it’s going to work. We’re going to work, Mer. I love you.

didn’t really know

would

I

know

back

then?

I

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 30

SHOT SWITCHES BACK TO AMERICA IN HER BEDROOM NOW, SITTING UP ON HER BED AND HOLDING THE SAME JAR FROM THE FLASHBACK, SMILING SADLY AT THE MEMORY. WE HEAR HER LAST LINE AFTER THE FLASHBACK IMAGES HAVE DISOLVED.

AMERICA (VOICE ONLY)

I love you too.

THE SHOT REMAINS ON AMERICA AS SHE REMINESCES. AFTER A MOMENT, THERE IS A KNOCK ON AMERICA’S DOOR THAT STARTLES HER AND MAKES HER LOOK UP, EFFECTIVELY BREAKING HER REVERIE. HER MOTHER CALLS TO HER FROM THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DOOR.

America?

MAGDA (O.S.)

AMERICA JUMPS INTO ACTION, STOWING THE JAR OF PENNIES UNDER THE BED AND MANAGING TO SIT BACK UP, MASKING HER FEATURES TO BE IMPASSIVE AS HER MOTHER ENTERS THE ROOM.

MAGDA

What are still doing in bed? It’s noon.

AMERICA

Sorry. I’m up now.

MAGDA

Awake, maybe, but still in bed, so technically not up.

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 31

AMERICA

Did you need something?

MAGDA

Well, if it’s not too much of an inconvenience to you, you had promised to go with me to the market today. But I can understand if that’s asking too much of you.

AMERICA

Mom, please don’t start.

MAGDA

I don’t know what you’re so sore about. What are you still doing in bed, anyway? Have an exhausting night of being a teenager with no sense of responsibility to her family, or to anyone for that matter

AMERICA

Mom. Enough. Please.

alright? Just let me get ready.

I’ll

take

you

to

the market,

MAGDA DOESN’T RESPOND. SHE JUST TURNS TO LEAVE, SCOWLING. AMERICA SPEAKS UP, STOPPING HER. HER EXPRESSION IS TROUBLED; SHE HAS A HUGE DECISION WEIGHING IN HER MIND.

AMERICA (CONT.)

Mom, wait.

SHE SIGHS HEAVILY. THE DECISION IS MADE.

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 32

AMERICA (CONT.)

Were you serious? About the money? You’d really let me keep half of what I make, let me do solo gigs?

MAGDA

I always mean what I say. Yes, I was serious. Of course, you’ll still be responsible for helping around the house and cooking and cleaning, everything you’re doing now. But that’s only if—

AMERICA

I enter the Selection. I know. But… Mom, you know that there are thousands of other applicants in Carolina alone. The odds that I’ll be chosen—

MAGDA

The deal is for you submit your application, America. Not to win the competition, or even to be Selected. All you have to do is fill out the form and take it to the Province Service Office and you’ve held up your end of the bargain.

AMERICA NODS, BUT STARES SILENT. MAGDA LOOKS AT HER EXPECTANTLY AND ANXIOUSLY. FINALLY, AMERICA CRACKS A SMILE AND LOOKS UP AT HER MOTHER.

AMERICA

You’re still carrying the application and your good pen around in your pocket, aren’t you?

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 33

MAGDA EXCITEDLY REACHES INTO THE POCKET OF HER DRESS, PULLING OUT THE APPLICATION AND AN INK PEN, RUSHING FORWARD TO HOLD THEM OUT TO AMERICA.

You have to ask?

MAGDA

AMERICA TAKES THE PAPERS FROM HER MOTHER WITH A MELANCHOLY SMILE AS SHE LOOKS THEM OVER.

MAGDA (CONT.)

I have to ask you, though, America. This is a complete about-face from last night. You were adamant that nothing would change your mind. So… What did?

I

AMERICA

SHE STOPS, WONDERING WHAT SHE CAN SAY. SHE CAN’T EXPLAIN ASPEN TO HER MOTHER; SHE CAN’T TELL HIM HOW SHE’S SPENT THE PAST TWO YEARS IN LOVE WITH SOMEONE, ONLY TO HAVE THE SELECTION COME ALONG AND RUIN THE ONLY CHANCE AT TRUE LOVE SHE EVER REALLY HAD. SHE SHRUGS HER SHOULDERS NONCHALANTLY.

AMERICA (CONT.)

I guess I realized that I have everything to gain by doing it and everything to lose if I hold back.

MAGDA SHAKES HER HEADSHE THINKS AMERICA IS TALKING ABOUT HER

AND

SHOULDER.

BEFORE—AND PUTS A HAND ON AMERICA’S

HER

ANGER

THE DAY

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 34

MAGDA

America, I know I was harsh yesterday, but I don’t want you to think I’d ever stop loving you if you didn’t do this. I mean, I’d be disappointed, but I’d have gotten over it eventually.

AMERICA

Of course. I know that mom. But what I was doing by not entering… It just felt selfish.

THEY FALL SILENT. MAGDA IS ABOUT TO SAY SOMETHING, MAYBE REASSURING, MAYBE CHASTISING FOR BEING OVERDRAMATIC, BUT WE DON’T HEAR. AMERICA CUTS HER OFF.

AMERICA (CONT.)

It’s too dark in here. I’m going to go fill this out in the kitchen. Do you want to help?

MAGDA’S EXCITED EXPRESSION RETURNS DAUGHTER.

MAGDA

AND

I thought you’d never ask.

END SCENE.

SHE

BEAMS AT

HER

THE PRINCE’S BATHROOM. LATER THAT EVENING. INTERIOR SHOT. SIDE

SHOT OF

BATHROOM SINK, LOOKING IN THE MIRROR. THE LIGHTING IS DIM AND THERE IS A SHADOW DARKENING HIS FEATURES SO WE CAN’T PROPERLY MAKE OUT HIS PROFILE. HE TURNS THE SINK ON. THE SHOT SHIFTS SO

LEANING HEAVILY ON THE

A

TALL, MUSCULAR YOUNG MAN

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 35

THAT OUR VIEW OF THE ROOM IS FROM BEHIND THE MIRROR. MAXON’S HEAD IS BENT AS HE SPLASHES WATER ON HIS FACEWHICH WE STILL HAVEN’T SEEN FULLY. HE TURNS THE WATER OFF AND STARTS TO RAISE HIS HEAD, GRABBING A TOWEL TO DRYAND STILL INFURIATINGLY COVERHIS FACE AS HE STRAIGHTENS UP. AFTER PATTING HIS FACE DRY, HE FINALLY PULLS THE TOWEL AWAY, REVEALING A GORGEOURS, YET SOBERINGLY NERVOUS, BOYNINETEEN YEARS OLDSTARING STRAIGHT AT THE CAMERA. THIS IS PRINCE MAXON SHREAVE, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN. AND HIS MIND IS REELING THINKING ABOUT THE FACT THAT, IN JUST A MATTER OF DAYS, 35 GIRLS WILL ARRIVE AT THE PALACEONE OF THEM THE ONE HE MUST CHOSE TO MAKE HIS WIFE AND HIS PRINCESS. NOT THAT THE AUDIENCE REALIZES THISTHE ONLY THING THEY KNOW IS THAT THIS GORGEOUSLY HANDSOME YOUNG MAN IS NERVOUS, EXCEEDINGLY SO.

MAXON EXITS THE BATHROOM, WHICH WE NOW SEE IS ATTATCHED TO HIS BEDROOM, PULLING A JACKET OFF THE COUNTER AND SHRUGGING IT ON. HE IS LOOKING DOWN AS HE REUTRNS TO HIS ROOM, AND SO IS UNAWARE OF HIS FATHER’S PRESENCE UNTIL THE KING SPEAKS.

KING CLARKSON (O.S.)

Nervous, are we?

MAXON’S HEAD JERKS UP AND HE SEES HIS FATHER LEANING UNEXPECTEDL AGAINST HIS BEDROOM WALL. KING CLARKSON IS IN HIS MID-TO-LATE 40S, HANDSOME, BUT WEATHERED BY TIME, AS WELL AS THE STRESS OF RUNNING BOTH A COUNTRY AND A FAMILY. MAXON’S RELATIONSHIP WITH HIS FATHER ISN’T EXACTLY ICY, BUT IT IS FAR FROM BEING WARM AND CUDDLY, TOO. MAXON BOWS STIFFLY TO HIS FATHER BEFORE RESPONDING.

MAXON

Father. Forgive me. I wasn’t expecting to see you for another

MAXON LOOKS DOWN AT THE WATCH ON HIS WRIST AND SIGHS.

MAXON (CONT.)

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 36

Half an hour ago.

CLARKSON TSKS HIM.

CLARKSON

A king must always be aware of everything around him, especially the time. What if it were a state dinner with the ambassadors of a potential ally that you were late to and not a simple birthday celebration being held in your honor? Punctuality is something you absolutely must learn, Maxon.

MAXON, HAVING HEARD THIS SAME LESSON A THOUSAND TIMES BEFORE, TRIESAND FAILSTO HIDE THE SARCASM DRIPPING FROM HIS WORDS.

MAXON

Of course, Father. I do apologize. I’m out of sorts tonight, as you might imagine.

CLARKSON

A leader must always keep his wits about him. It’s like I’ve taught you nothing, son. If you can’t even keep calm for a birthday dinner, I have serious doubts about your ability to rule the entire country. God forbid I should die tonight. The country would fall to ruin.

MAXON

It is not the dinner that has me distracted, Father. It is the day itself, all this birthday means for me. Becoming eligible for the Selection, having thousands

the chance to become the next

queen, and myself having to choose the one I’ll spend

of women eager for

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 37

the rest of my life withand who will rule by my side— from 35 girls selected at random. It’s all a little intimidating, if I’m to be honest.

CLARKSON

Intimidating? Don’t be foolish, Maxon. It’s meant to be exciting.

MAXON

And it is. But I feel like everything’s moving so fast I can barely see straight in front of me.

CLARKSON

What’s fast for you has been years in the making on my end, son.

MAXON EYES HIM, CONFUSED.

MAXON

I don’t understand. What does that mean?

CLARKSON ONLY GRINS MISCHEVIOUSLY. MAXON OPENS HIS MOUTH TO ASK SOMETHING ELSE, BUT THE DOOR TO HIS BEDROOM OPENS AND QUEEN AMBERLY RUSHES IN.

AMBERLY

Are you two nearly ready? The crowd downstairs is getting impatient.

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 38

CLARKSON GRASPS AMBERLY’S SHOULDERS GENTLY AND KISSES HER CHEEK. MAXON SMILES AT HIS PARENTSTHEY MET THROUGH THE SELECTION. SURELY THAT MEANS THERE’S HOPE FOR HIM AFTER ALL?

CLARKSON

Stunning as ever, my Queen. And yes, I do believe we are ready. Maxon?

MAXON NODS POLITELY. AMBERLY KISSES HIM ON THE CHEEK FONDLY AND PUTS A REASSURING HAND ON HIS SHOULDER, SEEING THE ANXIETY IN HIS EYES.

AMBERLY

Happy birthday, sweetheart.

MAXON SMILES WARMLY AT HER.

Thank you.

MAXON

BEHIND AMBERLY, CLARKSON CLAPS HIS HANDS TOGETHER TO DRAW THEIR ATTENTION. HE HOLDS OUT AN ARM TO AMBERLY.

CLARKSON

Right then. If we are all quite ready, shall we?

AMBERLY TAKES CLARKSON'S ARM, MAXON FOLLOWING BEHIND THE TWO OF THEM AS THEY LEAVE HIS ROOM AND START DOWN THE ORNATE STAIRCASE,

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 39

INTO A FLURRY OF REPORTERS SHOUTING FOR THE ROYAL FAMILY'S ATTENTION, MOST OF THEM SHOUTING FOR MAXON. OFF: MAXON'S WORRIED EXPRESSION BEING REPLACED BY A FAKE SMILE HE PLASTERS ON FOR THE CAMERAS.END SCENE.

SINGER HOUSE'S KITCHEN. SIMULATENOUS W/ PREVIOUS SCENE. INTERIOR SHOT. AMERICA SITS AT THE KITCHEN TABLE; HER FATHER SITS NEXT TO HER; TOGETHER, THEY LOOK OVER THE APPLICATION.MAGDA IS BUSY PREPARING DINNER, LISTENING TO AMERICA READ OUT EVERYTHING OFF THE ENTRY FORM. MAY SITS AT THE TV IN THE LIVING ROOM ATTATCHED TO THE KITCHEN, ENGROSSED, WHILE GERAD KICKS A BALL AROUND THE ROOM.

AMERICA

I could have walked all the way to Angeles and told the king personally that I wanted to marry his son in the time it has taken me to fill out half of this application. I mean, why do they have to know this stuff? I get them asking about my age, my height, my hair color, even my weight. But my favorite color? Really?

MAGDA

It’s for after the names have been Selected, darling. It's for the prince to try to get to know the girls before they arrive at the palace.

AMERICA

Well that isn't fair, is it? We won't know any more about him than he would know about us. I mean, them. They won't know. As in the Selection candidates. As in not me.

MAGDA

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 40

It could be. You have as good a chance as any of those

girls.

talented

prettier, more

Even

moreyou're

smarter,

AMERICA

And still just one entry among thousands in Carolina entering the Selection, only one of which will be drawn at randomwhen they choose the candidates. It has nothing to do with how pretty I am or how smart. It all comes down to luck. (SHE SPEAKS UNDER HER BREATH) Which I seem to be sincerely lacking in lately.

MAGDA BEGINS TO RESPOND, A QUESTIONING LOOK ON HER FACE, BUT SUDDENLY MAY SHRIEKS IN EXCITEMENT AN SHE JUMPS UP TO MOVE CLOSER TO THE TV SCREEN, TURNING IT UP PAINFULLY LOUD.

MAY

Quiet! Everybody keep it down! It's coming on!

AMERICA ROLLS HER EYES, BUT FINDS HERSELF WATCHING THE TV ANYWAY. ON THE SCREEN, WE SEE A NEWS CASTER (GAVRIL) INTRODUCING A VIDEO OF MAXON'S PARTY.

GAVRIL

And tonight, straight from the Royal Palace in

special day. Our

beloved Prince Maxon turns nineteen years old. A very

more

exciting is what this special birthday means for all of Illéa. That's right, ladies and gentlemen! As I'm sure you all have heard by now, the Selection is upon us! Now, I know you're all anxious to get a glimpse at those thirty-five lucky candidates from all over the country, one of them the future princess of Illéa, and aren't we all? For now, let's see what the Prince has

important milestone

Angeles, we're celebrating

a

very

certainly.

But

what's

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 41

to say about all the excitement in this brand new footage from the Prince's royal birthday celebration.

THE TELEVISION FEED SWITCHES TO SHOT OF MAXON, STANDING AT THE FOOT OF A LARGE STAIRCASE (THE ONE HE HAD BEGUN TO DESCEND AT THE CONCLUSION OF THE PREVIOUS SCENE). HE SMILES HIS SAME, POLITE SMILES AS EARLIER, LOOKING DECEPTIVELY AT EASE IN FRONT OF THE CROWD. HIS PARENTS STAND BEHIND HIM, OFF TO SIDE. HIS FATHER SMILES, BUT IS WATCHING HIM CRITICALLY, SEEING HOW HIS SON HANDLES HIMSELF IN FRONT OF THE PRESS. SEVERAL REPORTERS THROW OUT QUESTIONS FOR MAXON TO ANSWER.

REPORTER #1 (O.S.)

The wait for the Selection is positively killing us, your Majesty. Exactly when will the candidates be Selected?

MAXON

The applications have been pouring in by the thousands since yesterday, and I think I speak not only for myself, but for my whole family, when I say that we can hardly wait as well. The names will be Selected and announced this Friday on the Capitol Report and

Palace the

the

candidates will arrive here at

the

following Friday.

REPORTER #2 (O.S.)

Are you nervous at all, your Majesty?

MAXON

About meeting, falling in love with, and marrying my future Queen on live television? Oh, it's all in a day's work.

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 42

MAXON SMILES AND WINKS AT THE CROWD, WHO LAUGH COLLECTIVELY. WE FLIP BACK BRIEFLY AND SEE AMERICA SCOFF AND ROLL HER EYES BEFORE WE GO BACK TO THE PRESS CONFERENCE.

REPORTER #3 (O.S)

Prince Maxon! Do you have anything to say to the girls entering the Selection?

MAXON PAUSES. CAMERAS FLASH IN THE SILENCE. AGAIN, WE SEE A GLIMPSE OF AMERICA, LEANING IN EVER SO SLIGHTLY, WAITING TO HEAR THE PRINCE'S RESPONSE. MAXON HESITATES ONE MORE MOMENT BEFORE A WIDE GRINS SPEADS ACROSS HIS FACE AND HE LOOKS DIRECTLY AT THE CAMERA FOR THE FIRST TIME.

MAXON

Only this: the girl I choose to marry will rule by my side as Queen of Illéa and so I do not in any way take the Selection lightly. That being said, let me also

a

point

companion cannot possibly be of sane mind, but I still

might be

look forward to

like.Now, ladies and gentlemen, I'm afraid you'll have to excuse me. I have family visiting and I’m already terribly late.

out

that any

girl

who settles

that

for

me

as

knowing what

woman

MORE VOICES DRAWL ON IN THE BACKGROUND AS WE RETURN THE SHOT TO AMERICA AND HER FAMILY. AMERICA IS ROLLING HER EYES AT THE PRINCE, TURNING BACK TO THE APPLICATION.

AMERICA

What a positively obnoxious, self-deprecating prick.

SHALOM LAUGHS AND CHOKES ON THE COFFEE HIS IS DRINKING, TRYING NOT TO SHOW HIS SMILE; THE BOWL IN MAGDA'S HANDS CLATTERS TO THE TABLE; MAY GASPS AND SPINS AROUND TO GLARE AT AMERICA; GERAD,

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 43

SENSING SOMETHING IS HAPPENING, STOPS RUNNING AROUND AND LOOKS BACK AND FORTH BETWEEN EACH OF HIS FAMILY MEMBERS.

MAGDA

America Singer, you watch your mouth! How dare you talk about the Prince like that?

MAY

I'm starting to think that we really shouldn't let you send your application. I can't imagine what would happen if you got Selected and actually had to hold up

a conversation with Maxon. Knowing you, you'd probably insult him before he even learned your name. I'd be

surprised if you didn't end up getting arrested within

a day for, like, treasonous speech or something.

MAGDA

May, enough. That's not funny.

AMERICA

I don't think she was joking, Mom. Look, I told you

guys. I just don't care for the Royal family that much. I mean, what have they ever done for anyone around here?

MAY

I do care, though. I want all of it. The tiaras, the ball gowns, the Prince.

AMERICA

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 44

The staying locked up in a palace twenty-four seven?

MAY

Yes! What's so bad about all that? Two years. Two more years and I could have entered.

AMERICA

Hey, you could just take my application. We can just put all your information down and then send you. No one ever has to know.

MAY SCOWLS AT AMERICA, BUT FAILS TO SUPRESS THE SMILE THAT SPREADS ACROSS HER FACE.

MAY

Now there's a good idea. I knew you were good for something, Ames.

Hey!

AMERICA

THE TWO OF THEM START LAUGHING, JOINED ALMOST IMMEDIATELY BY GERAD.

AMERICA (CONT.)

No, really. I could totally see you as the princess. Though I'd love to see you try to walk in heels.

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 45

MAY

You're right. That might be a deal breaker.

MAGDA SLAMS A PLATE DOWN ONTO THE KITCHEN TABLE, CUTTING OFF THEIR GIGGLES.

MAGDA

Enough. Dinner's ready. May, Gerad, go wash up.

THE TWO YOUNGEST CHILDREN EXIT AND AMERICA LOOKS UP AT HER MOTHER.

AMERICA

Mom, relax. It was just a bit of fun. Look, we even got Dad to laugh.

SHALOM IS TRYING TO HIDE HIS GRIN. HE LOOKS TO AMERICA.

SHALOM

Oh, no. Don't drag me into this. I'm not getting in trouble with you, Kitten.

MAGDA

You'll have to forgive me if I don't see eye to eye with your humor, America.

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 46

MAGDA EXITS THE ROOM, LEAVING AMERICA ALONE WITH HER FATHER. SHE LOOKS UP AT SHALOM, AN EXASPERATED LOOK IN HER EYES.

SHALOM

Don't be too hard on her, America. She's just stressed right now. And I'd imagine all this is bringing back memories of her own.

AMERICA

I know she missed out on her own Selection, Dad. I

for

know

anything. I'm filling out the application aren't I?

why

she's

doing it.

I

don't

blame her

SHALOM

Are you sure your mom's who you're doing that for?

AMERICA'S DEFENSES GO UP. SHE VISIBLY TENSES. HER FATHER KNOWS ABOUT ASPEN. BUT HOW? SHE VENTURES AS CASUALLY AS POSSIBLE, TRYING TO ASSES WHAT HE REALLY KNOWS.

AMERICA

Who else would it be for?

SHALOM

Oh, come on, America. I think you know that we all know your little secret. Did you think you could hide it forever?

MAGDA REENTERS

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 47

THE ROOM,

NOT PAYING

ATTENTION TO THEIR

CONVERSATION. AMERICA'S FACE IS FROZEN IN TERROR.

SHALOM (CONT.)

We both know you've been wanting to be a princess

Maxon on

since

television.

you

were

four

and

you

first

saw

AMERICA LAUGHS, LETTING HERSELF BREATHE FINALLY. THEY DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT ASPENYET. MAY AND GERAD RETURN TO THE KITCHEN AS WELL, TAKING THEIR SEATS AT THE SMALL TABLE.

AMERICA

That is not true, and you know it.

SHALOM

Oh, yes it is. You might not remember, but I know I do

Remember what?

MAY

HER

COMFORTABLE NATURAL RHYTHM WITH HER FAMILY. SHE TURNS TO HER FATHER, EMBARASSED, POINTING A FINGER AT HIM.HER EARLIER FEARS

ARE FORGOTTEN.

AMERICA HAS ALLOWED HERSELF TO RELAX AND

FALL

INTO

AMERICA

Nothing! Don't you dare tell her that story! She'll believe anything she hears.

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 48

SHALOM

When you were still really little and your sister had just turned four, she

AMERICA

I didn't do anything! Stop!

MAGDA

Don't shout at the table!

MAY

Okay, but Dad has to tell the story now!

AMERICA'S HEAD FALLS INTO HER HANDS AS SHE LAUGHS EMBARASSEDLY. THE VOICES SLOWLY FADE AWAY AS THE CAMERA PULLS BACK, WATCHING A GENUINELY HAPPY FAMILY MEAL WITH AMERICA'S FATHER TELLING STORIES AND EVEN MAGDA ALLOWING HERSELF A SMILE. OFF: AMERICA'S FACE AS SHE CRACKS UP WITH LAUGHTER LISTENING TO HER FATHER. END SCENE.

END OF PART TWO

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 49

PART THREE

THE GREAT HALL OF THE ROYAL PALACE. PRINCE MAXON’S BIRTHDAY EXTRAVAGANZA. INTERIOR SHOT.THE ROOM IS FULL OF PEOPLEIN ONE CORNER, FOREIGN DIGNITARIES, IN ANOTHER ARE REPORTERS. TABLES ARE COVERED WITH DARK BLUE CLOTHS, CANDLES ARE THE ONLY LIGHT, AND THEY SHINE BRIGHT FROM ALL AROUND THE ROOMON THE TABLES, HANGING IN ELABORATE CANDELABRAS ON THE WALLS, ETC. THE CROWD CHEERS AS MAXON ENTERS AND HE SMILES, WAVING. HE’S LOOKING THROUGH THE CROWD, OVER HEADS, BUT WHO FOR? BEFORE HE CAN FIND WHOEVER IT IS, CLARKSON COMES UP BEHIND HIM.

CLARKSON

Still distracted, I see.

MAXON TURNS TO SEE HIS FATHER, PUTTING HIS DEFENSES UP AND SPEAKING FORMALLY.

MAXON

No, sir. Just checking out the crowd is all.

CLARKSON

Looking for anyone in particular?

MAXON LOOKS PAST HIS FATHER’S SHOULDER AND HIS FACE LIGHTS UP AS HE FINALLY SEES HER.

MAXON

As it so happens, Father, I believe I’ve found her. Excuse me, if you will.

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 50

HE BEGINS TO WALK OFF, BUT CLARKSON CATCHES HIS ARM, FOLLOWING HIS GAZE TO A BEAUTIFUL YOUNG WOMAN, WHO DROPS HER GAZE (AND SMILE) FROM MAXON WHEN SHE SEES THE KING WATCHING.

CLARKSON

The French princess? That’s who you were looking for? What is her name? Diana? Dahlia?

MAXON

Daphne. Her name is Daphne. She did stay here in court for a time when she was younger. I’m surprised you’ve forgotten her.

CLARKSON EYES MAXON SUSPICIOUSLY, LETTING HIS EYES FLICK BACK TO THE GIRL FOR A MOMENT BEFORE COMING TO REST ON MAXON ONCE MORE. HE SIGHS, BUT KEEPS A TIGHT SMILE FOR THE CAMERAS THAT FLASH EVERY FEW MILLISECONDS.

CLARKSON

Maxon, please tell me you haven’t been foolish enough to let yourself fall in love with

MAXON

Love? What are you talking about? It’s not like that. She’s only my oldest friend, Father. I have no love for her aside from the love one might have for a sister.

CLARKSON

Does she know that? Because all it would take would be her getting her feelings hurt to talk. That is how

people of Illéa

rumors

get

started, Maxon. If

the

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 51

thought that you were cheating their daughters out of the opportunities the Selection could bring their families, there would be uprisings, civil war. All because you’ve been carrying out an affair with a foreign princess

MAXON

Unless you count us sitting in the palace library, talking about life the few times a year we are even in the same country an affair, I don’t believe there is anything to worry about, Father.

CLARKSON

Why can’t you take this more seriously?

MAXON

Of course I take it seriously!

CLARKSON

Running a country is no joke, Maxon. You can’t be as

flippant as you were with those reporters earlier. It is no laughing matter, nor is the Selection. The only way to prevent rebellion from the lower castes is the

idea

ruling at

become

Princess, could eventually be the queen, your side.

that

any

girl from

any caste

could

MAXON

I know that! I’ve known that my whole life. You’ve taken every opportunity to remind me of it. It is all I’ve been thinking about all day.

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 52

CLARKSON

Your sarcasm with those reporters

MAXON

Was meant to lighten the mood.

CLARKSON

You called your future wife a madwoman!

MAXON

Because it’s a party! Forgive me, but I thought it would be appropriate to put on the air that I was not troubled by the Selection, that it isn’t ruling my every thought. That it hasn’t done so for the past few months.

CLARKSON IS CLEARLY ANGERED BY MAXON’S INTTERUPTIONS.

CLARKSON

Be careful how you speak, son. Do not think that it being your birthday gives you the right to speak to me, your father, in such a callous manner.

MAXON CAREFULLY CONSIDERS THE THREAT, FINALLY CONCEDING HIS PREVIOUS DEFENSIVE ATTITUDE.

MAXON

Please forgive me, Father. I only meant to reassure you. I do take the Selection seriously. This woman will one day rule by my side as my queen. She will be

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 53

my wife. Choosing her wisely is a decision I can never take lightly. I am ready for this.

CLARKSON

We shall see, won’t we?

A MOMENT OF TENSION BETWEEN THEM. THEN, AMBERLY APPEARS AT HER SON’S ARM.

AMBERLY

I hope I’m not interrupting anything too important.

CLARKSON IMMEDIATELY HIDES HIS DISDAINFUL EXPRESSION FROM MOMENTS BEFORE IN LIEU OF AN ADORING ONE WITH WHICH HE LOOKS ON HIS WIFE. HE TRULY ADORES HER.

CLARKSON

Of course not, my dear. I was just giving Maxon some advice from my own Selection experiences.

AMBERLY

Dear God, Clarkson. Don’t scare the boy with the tales of his parents’ courtship. It’s supposedly like poison to teenage boys.

AMBERLY TAKES MAXON’S ARM, TUGGING ON IT LIGHTLY.

AMBERLY (CONT.)

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 54

Take a walk with your mother for a moment, won’t you darling?

MAXON GLANCES AT HIS FATHER, THEN SMILES BACK AT HIS MOTHER.

Of course.

MAXON

OFF:THE PRINCE AND THE QUEEN WALKING AWAY FROM THE CROWD TOWARD A DOORWAY. SEGUE TO:

AN EMPTY HALLWAY IN THE PALACE, JUST OUTSIDE THE GREAT HALL. INTERIOR SHOT. AMBERLY PULLS MAXON AWAY FROM THE CROWDS IN THE GREAT HALL INTO A NARROW HALLWAY DEVOID OF PEOPLE. THE MUSIC AND SOUNDS OF THE PARTY CAN STILL BE HEARD.

AMBERLY

Are you having fun?

MAXON

Does it look like I am?

Yes, it does.

AMBERLY

MAXON

Then, that’s all that matters.

AMBERLY

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 55

To the others, perhaps. To your father. But I am a mother first and Queen second. You are my priority, Maxon. I’d like to know what you are thinking. Do you not like the celebration?

MAXON

Of course I love it, Mother. I just wish… I don’t

know,

Perhaps next year we can just have a small event with family and a few close friends?

smaller?

that it had been something slightly

AMBERLY

Oh, I wouldn’t count on that, Maxon. You’ll be married this time next year. Well, you should be if all goes well. And that means it will be your wife’s first

think you’ll be

birthday to help

lucky if she doesn’t invite half of Illéa to the grand gala she’ll no doubt be planning.

you celebrate. I

MAXON

Or maybe she likes things small and quiet, as I do.

AMBERLY

Maxon, if a girl wanted small and quiet, she wouldn’t be in the Selection at all.

MAXON

then? Even you?

Because it seems to me that you make appearances only

when necessary, you stick strictly to Father’s side, and then you leave as soon as is socially acceptable.

the

And

that

goes for

all

girls,

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 56

AMBERLY

Every girl dreams of being a Princess, Maxon. Most of them, anyway. They dream of the gowns and balls and wearing the gorgeous tiaras and jewels. But I was in it for Clarkson, not the wealth. I watched your father religiously on television long before I entered the Selection, as I’m sure many girls do for you right now.

MAXON LOOKS HORRIFIED AT THE THOUGHT. AMBERLY CONTINUES, MORE SOMBER, ALMOST SAD.

AMBERLY (CONT.)

But those girls don’t know what it really means to be a princess. The roles you have to play, the pressure on your shoulders constantly, the lack of privacy. The girl you choose will be going through a lot of changes when you marry her. I think you can endure at least one more big party for her sake, can’t you?

MAXON SMILES.

MAXON

Well I suppose I can find it in myself to at least try.

A PAUSE, THEN MAXON CONTINUES.

MAXON (CONT.)

Mom? Do you ever regret it? Being Selected? Becoming a princess, a queen?

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 57

AMBERLY

How can you even ask that? Maxon, no matter what has happened or what will happen because of the Selection, I will never regret the choices I made. They didn’t just give me your father, whom I love so dearly. Those choices, the Selection… They’re what gave me you as well. And because of that, I am nothing but grateful. To say that the Selection changed my life is a tragic understatement. And it is going to be the same for whatever girl you choose.

I know.

MAXON

AMBERLY

And it is your choice, Maxon. Yours alone. Not mine,

not

your

father’s, not any

advisor’s,

not

all

of

Illéa’s. Yours.

Of course. Why…?

MAXON

THE QUESTION HANGS IN THE AIR AS MAXON COMES TO THE REALIZATION. HIS MOTHER LOOKS AT HIM SADLY.

MAXON (CONT.)

I’d heard rumors that you weren’t in the Kings favor during your Selection, that he and his advisors didn’t want you to be Queen.

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 58

AMBERLY

No, they didn’t. And they tried everything in their power to sway your father away from choosing me to marry.

MAXON

But why? You are intelligent and beautiful and the best queen Illéa has seen in generations.

AMBERLY

Thank you. But it had nothing to do with any of those things. The reason they did not want me on the throne was because I offered nothing new to the country, to the relationship. Only love.

MAXON

Well, what else did they expect? What did they want from you?

AMBERLY HESITATES.

AMBERLY

Maxon, do you know what I was? Before I came to the palace, before the Selection?

MAXON

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 59

You mean your caste? I’d never really thought about it. I guess I assumed you were a Two or a Three, at most.

AMBERLY

A Four, actually. Until the Selection, I worked in a factory. My hands were always cracked and my nails were caked with dirt. You should have seen the maids’ reactions when they first saw me, all the preparations they had to go through to make me “presentable” to Clarkson. I had absolutely no political connections or wealthy family members. We had no title. I was the last person anyone in the palace thought of as being the next princess, including the King and his advisors. I wasn’t exactly treated the same as the others.

MAXON

But that’s madness. You were cast aside because of where you came from, not because of who you are. If they’d have been successful, who knows what could have happened to the country?

AMBERLY SMILES GRACIOUSLY AT HIM.

AMBERLY

Maxon, I’m telling you this not to anger you, but to let you know what might lie ahead for you. Your father will be looking at each candidate from the perspective of a ruler. He will be looking as his father did, to make sure your wife is good for Illéa. But I am here to tell you that I will be looking at each candidate openly. I promise you now that I will try to see these girls, not as a mother or a queen, but as you see them. I will not judge any choice you make as I do trust your judgment. I only ask that you realize this from what I’ve told you: any woman can rise to the

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 60

occasion of being a Queen. They don’t have to come from money or nobility; they don’t have to know right away how to speak to foreign dignitaries; they don’t even have to have the best manners at first, thought that might be of some use later. What a Queen truly needs is patience. She needs to be able to listen. Above all, she must be strong and resilient. Palace life is not exactly paradise, as you know. And this girl will need to know how to weather the hard times without letting her head fall in defeat.

MAXON

So, you’re saying I shouldn’t choose from the higher castes?

AMBERLY

I would never tell you that, Maxon. I am merely saying that you must truly know the woman you are choosing before you choose her. If you can promise me that, I shall promise my support of whatever choice you end up making. Whether you choose a Two or an Eight, I will stand behind you. This is my gift to you, Maxon. I’m only sorry I can’t be of more help.

MAXON TAKES THIS ALL IN, THEN SMILES WARMLY AT AMBERLY.

MAXON

Thank you, Mom. And know that, even though I will soon be bringing a new woman into my life, I will still always make room for you. She’ll never be able to replace you.

AMBERLY

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 61

You are welcome, my son. And thank you. Come now. We should return. Before people start missing you.

MAXON OFFERS HER HIS ARM AND THE TWO OF THEM EXIT BACK INTO THE PARTY. END SCENE.

PALACE

A

GLOWING FIRE BURNING IN A MONSTER FIREPLACE; SHE STARES CONTEMPLATINGLY INTO THE FLAMES. UNBEKNOWNST TO HER, THE DOOR TO THE LIBRARY OPENS AND MAXON ENTERS OFFSCREEN.

LIBRARY.

INTERIOR

SHOT. DAPHNE

STANDS IN

FRONT

OF

MAXON (O.S.)

I thought I’d find you in here. You know, the party is

a lot more fun when you’re actually in the room.

DAPHNE SMILES AND TURNS TO HIM.

DAPHNE

Funny. You didn’t seem to be enjoying yourself all that much.

MAXON

Really? Am I that obvious?

DAPHNE

Only because I know you so well. I’m sure your father and his guests were pleasantly fooled.

MAXON

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 62

Well, that’s all that really matters. That’s what you always say, isn’t it?

DAPHNE LAUGHS SOFTLY AND NODS IN AGREEMENT.

DAPHNE

So, you found me. Why were you looking?

MAXON REGARDS HER IN CONFUSION AT HER NEAR-HOSTILE TONE. HE STAMMERS BEFORE FINALLY ANSWERING.

MAXON

I… Well, I wanted to talk to you. We haven’t had a chance all night. I looked around the Great Hall and saw that you’d disappeared. I was worried that you’d decided to leave early, without even saying hello.

DAPHNE

Why would it matter? It seemed to me that you’ve been actively avoiding me all night.

MAXON

Avoiding you? No. I would never. My father invited quite a few more people than I was expecting. You know how it is, Daph. Hand shaking and small talk with every head of state, ambassador, and family member in attendance. This is the first break I’ve had where I could slip away without my father noticing.

DAPHNE

Right. Because we mustn’t do anything your father wouldn’t approve of.

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 63

Are you alright?

MAXON

DAPHNE

You do know that it’s going to be you running the country one day, not your father. You’re eventually going to have to make your own decisions.

MAXON

Where is this coming from? Are you… Are you angry with me?

DAPHNE

No. No matter how hard I try, Maxon, I don’t know that I could ever be angry at you. It’s just that this party and everything it means… It’s making my head and my heart do crazy things.

MAXON

The party? It doesn’t mean anything. Just that I’m a year older

DAPHNE

It means everything is going to change, Maxon! You’re

of

you’re going to go fall in love with some girl you don’t even know yet. And then she’s going to be your queen, your wife. But she will never know you, not like I do.

happen and

age

now.

The Selection

is about

to

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 64

MAXON

The

understand

Selection? That’s what this is

DAPHNE

about?

I

don’t

No. You don’t. You never have, have you?

MAXON SHAKES HIS HEAD, CONFUSED, AND DAPHNE SUDDENLY REACHES FORWARD, THROWING HER ARMS AROUND MAXON’S NECK AND HOLDING HIM TO HER AS SHE KISSES HIM FERVENTLY. HE’S IN SHOCK FOR A MOMENT BEFORE HE ANXIOUSLY SEPARATES FROM HER, BACKING AWAY WIDE-EYED.

MAXON

What are you doing?

DAPHNE

You can’t tell me you don’t feel anything for me. You love me just as much as I love you. I know you do.

MAXON

No! Daphne, you’re my best friend—

DAPHNE

It’s more than that! You and I both know it!

MAXON IS STILL REELING, TRYING TO FORM A RESPONSE AS HE LOOKS AT HER PLEADINGLY. SHE CONTINUES DESPERATELY.

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 65

DAPHNE (CONT.)

My father’s arranged a marriage with some ambassador’s son, but I don’t want to marry him. You can’t want the Selection, either. If we talk to our fathers, explain

be

to them that married

we

are

in

love, that

we

want

to

MAXON

Daphne, no. I’m not… I don’t feel that way about you. I’m so sorry.

DAPHNE

You’re lying to yourself!

MAXON

No, I’m not! Daphne, please. You’re like my sister. You’ve been the closest friend I’ve ever had but… I don’t love you like that. I never could.

DAPHNE IS IN TEARS NOW, QUIETLY SOBBING AS SHE GAZES DESPERATELY AT MAXON. MAXON HAS NO IDEA WHAT TO DO WITH A CRYING GIRL IN FRONT OF HIM. HE TRIESAND FAILS MISERABLYTO STEER THE TOPIC AWAY FROM HIS LOVE FOR DAPHNE.

MAXON (CONT.)

Don’t. Please don’t… Um… Please don’t cry. Look, our parents are probably wondering where we are. Should we maybe go back to the party, try to still have a good time tonight?

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 66

DAPHNE GLARES AT HIM, SHAKING HER HEAD IN DISBELIEF.

DAPHNE

I was wrong. I can be angry with you. I hate you. God forbid you actually fall in love with a girl in the Selection, Maxon. You won’t even realize that’s what

you’re

in

grooming you to be King, he has made you entirely numb to real emotions, yours and others. I really do pity

any other girl that falls in love with you. You’re going to break her heart, Maxon Schreave. Just as you have broken mine.

feeling.

Whatever

your

father

has

done

SHE BOWS HER HEAD AND BRUSHES ROUGHLY PAST MAXON, LEAVING HIM ALONG IN THE ROOM IN SHOCK. OFF: MAXON’S STUNNED EXPRESSION. END SCENE.

END OF PART THREE

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 67

PART FOUR

ESTBALISHING: PROVINCE SERVICES OFFICE. EXTERIOR. THE PROVINCE SERVICE OFFICE IS AN OLD DILAPIDATED BUILDING IN THE MIDDLE OF TOWN. A RIDICULOUSLY LONG LINE OF GIRLS, MOST OF THEM DRESSED OVER THE TOP AND/OR ARE MADE UP WITH CRAZY MAKE UP TO MATCH, STRETCHES OUTSIDE THE OFFICE, DOWN THE SIDEWALK. AMERICA ENTERS WITH HER MOTHER WALKING BESIDE HER, AND TAKES IN THE LONG LINE OF HUSSIED UP GIRLS AS THEY APROACH.

AMERICA

Apparently I missed the section in the letter where we’re supposed to show up in our best clown costumes.

THERE IS AN UNFAMILIAR VOICE THAT SPEAKS FROM OFF SCREEN TO AMERICA AND HER MOTHER.

MS. LEGER (O.S.)

It’s for the picture you’ll have to have made.

AMERICA AND MAGDA TURN AROUND TO SEE MS. LEGER AND HER TWO DAUGHTERS, CELIA AND KAMBER, BOTH WEARING DRESSES AND MINIMAL MAKEUP, THE LITTLE THEY CAN AFFORD. MAGDA ADDRESSES ASPEN’S MOTHER BEFORE AMERICA CAN THINK OF ANYTHING TO SAY.

MAGDA

Lena, my dear. How lovely to see you. And Celia and Kamber as well. Hello.

CELIA & KAMBER

Hi Mrs. Singer.

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 68

You

picture?

two

AMERICA

look beautiful. But

what did

LENA LEGER

you

mean by

Well, I was cleaning the Magistrate’s house yesterday and I overheard mention that they would be requiring a headshot to be submitted along with the application for each girl. I guess it’s so they can show off the Selected girls when they air the Capitol Report. It’s not supposed to be common knowledge, but it seems word has spread.

AMERICA (SARCASTICLY)

I wish I’d known. I could have worn one of my good performance dresses or something.

MAGDA

Nonsense, America. You are beautiful just as you are. You have a natural look no amount of makeup could do anything but enhance slightly. You’re gorgeous.

CELIA

Really, America. You shouldn’t worry.

KAMBER

Yeah, we’d kill for your face.

Or your hair.

CELIA

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 69

Or both.

KAMBER

AMERICA

Don’t

alone, I think we’d have a pair of twin princesses.

be

ridiculous.

If

this

was

a

beauty contest

LENA

Isn’t that a thought? Two daughters as Ones. I think Aspen and I would spend weeks just lying around, resting.

MAGDA

Where is Aspen? I half expected him to be here today.

LENA

He wanted to be. But some Two he’s worked for before had a last minute opening getting ready for a party tonight and he grabbed it up. To tell you the truth, Magda, he’s been acting really strange lately. He’s been taking more jobs, saving up everything he doesn’t spend on us and what we need.

AMERICA IS HAVING A CONVERSATION WITH CELIA AND KAMBER, BUT IS LISTENING INTENTLY TO MS. LEGER.

MAGDA

Saving for what, I wonder?

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 70

LENA

Do you want to know what I think? I think he’s saving it for someone special. A girl.

AMERICA’S HEAD JUMPS UP; LENA NOW HAS HER FULL ATTENTION.

A girl? Who?

MAGDA

LENA

I couldn’t tell you. I haven’t actually met her yet, but I see it in his eyes. He’s in love. He’s found someone that he truly cares about. And do you know what else?

What?

MAGDA

LENA

I think he’s planning on marrying her. I think that’s what he’s saving the money for, so they can start a life together well.

AMERICA GASPS QUIETLY, A SMILE STRETCHING THE CORNERS OF HER MOUTH.

MAGDA

Marrying her? Well, that’s fantastic news, Lena.

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 71

LENA

Isn’t it? And, even though I don’t know the girl yet, I love her. She makes my son happy in ways he’s never been before. I feel like she is already a daughter to me.

AMERICA’S SMILE COVERS HER FACE NOW, TEETH SHOWING. SHE LOOKS AT HER MOTHER, WAITING FOR A REACTION.

MAGDA

Well, she is a lucky girl. Your Aspen has always been a sweet boy. I wish them all the best.

THE REST OF THE CONVERSATION IS BLURRED AS WE WATCH AMERICA’S REACTION. ASPEN STILL LOVES HER. THEY ARE GOING TO BE MARRIED ONE DAY! THE SMILE ENCOMPASSES HER FACE. THE SHOT JUMPS FORWARD IN TIME AS AMERICA HANDS IN HER APPLICATION AND SITS DOWN ON THE TALL STOOL IN FRONT OF THE CAMERA, HER SMILE NEVER FADING EVER AFTER THE CAMERA FLASHES ONCE. A SECOND FLASH PROVIDES THE SCENE TRANSITION.END SCENE.

THE KING’S STUDY IN THE ROYAL PALACE. THE DAY AFTER THE PARTY. INTERIOR SHOT.THE KING’S MUFFLES VOICE IS HEARD; HE IS PACING AND SPEAKING TO MAXON, WHO IS SITTING DEJECTEDLY IN ONE OF THE CHAIRS IN FRONT OF HIS FATHER’S DESK. WE SEE A BRIEF FLASHBACK TO DAPHNE LEAVING THE NIGHT BEFORE, SEE MAXON FALLING DOWN INTO A CHAAIR IN THE LIBRARY AND PUTTING HIS HEAD IN HIS HANDS. WE HEAR CLARKSON’S ADMONISHING VOICE SNAPPING MAXON OUT OF THE REVERIE.

CLARKSON (VOICE ONLY)

Maxon? Are you listening?

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 72

SHOT RETURNS TO MAXON AS HE SNAPS HIS HEAD UP SUDDENLY. CLARKSON LOOKS PISSED AT HIM. HE’S OBVIOULSY BEEN SPEAKING TO MAXON FOR QUITE SOME TIME.

CLARKSON (CONT.)

Your attention span is getting worse. You normally have the attention span of a squirrel. It seems that has now escalated to the attention span of a pinecone.

MAXON

I was actually paying attention, Father.

CLARKSON

Oh, really? What was I saying, then?

MAXON SIGHS AND CLOSES HIS EYES AS HE SPEAKS; HIS HEAD-TO-MOUTH FILTER IS BROKEN. HE LOOKS EXHAUSTED.

MAXON

Something about the rebels, I’m sure. Isn’t that what you’re always talking about?

CLARKSON IS SURPRISEDAND OUTRAGED, BUT THE LOOK OF SHOCK SEEMS TO BE WINNING OUT FOR THE MOMENT.

Are you ill?

CLARKSON

MAXON

Ill? No, I’m not sick.

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 73

CLARKSON

You must be. Nothing else explains your absurd behavior over the past few days. First, the way you acted with those reporters before the party, then your obvious lack of interest in the party itself. You disappeared before it was even over and didn’t return afterward. If you’re trying to convince me that you aren’t having an affair with that damned princess, who was also very noticeably missing

MAXON

Trust me, Father. You’ll never have to worry about her again. I doubt she’d even speak to me if we saw each other again before her wedding.

CLARKSON

Oh. So now the both of you are betrothed to others. Wonderful. That only makes the situation more tedious.

MAXON

Aren’t you listening? There’s nothing to concern yourself with regarding Daphne, Father. I’ve ruined the best friendship I’ve ever had, no thanks to you.

CLARKSON LOOKS MURDEROUS. HE TOSSES HE PAPERS DOWN ON HIS DESK FORCEFULLY ANS STRIDES OVER TO MAXON DANGEROUSLY. MAXON DOES NOT COWER OR CONCEDE.

CLARKSON

Whatever you think I’ve—

A PAGE ENTERS, CUTTING HIM OF MID SENTENCE.

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 74

Majesty!

PAGE

CLARKSON DOESN’T PULL HIS GAZE FROM MAXON AS HE BARKS OUT A RESPONSE.

What?

CLARKSON

PAGE

There’s been another rebel attack, sir.

CLARKSON GLARES AT MAXON A MOMENT LONGER AND THEN LOOKS UP AT THE PAGE, THIS NEW DEVELOPMENT TAKING PRECEDENCE.

Where?

CLARKSON

PAGE

Dominica, your Majesty. Outside a Province Service Office.

CLARKSON

Any serious injuries?

PAGE

No civilians, sir, but a few soldiers sustained non- life-threatening gunshot wounds. NO fatalities have been reported.

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 75

CLARKSON

Good. Please contact General Shaughnessy and tell him that I will be expecting him in the Council Room in fifteen minutes.

Yes, my Lord.

THE

PAGE

BOWS AND

ANGRY. MAXON SPEAKS ENTERED.

PAGE

EXITS. CLARKSON LOOKS MORE TROUBLED THAN

THE PAGE

UP

FOR

THE FIRST

TIME

SINCE

MAXON

Province Service Office? They’re after the Selection candidates. Are you sure this is a good idea? Bringing thirty-five extra girls here when we’re the target of so much hatred and destruction?

CLARKSON

Do yourself a favor, Maxon. Let me worry about keeping

worry about

the Selection girls safe.

deciding which one will look best in a wedding gown.

You

just

END SCENE.

ASPEN IS

CLIMBING UP THE LADDER, SPEAKING IN HUSHED TONES AS HE REACHES THE TOP. THE SHOT MOVES INSIDE THE TREEHOUSE, WATCHING THE HATCH IN THE FLOOR AS ASPEN APPEARS.

THE TREEHOUSE. A FEW NIGHTS LATER. EXTERIOR SHOT.

ASPEN

I got your note. What did you want to talk?

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 76

HE PAUSES MID QUESTION AS HE PULLS HIMSELF INTO THE TREEHOUSE AND STARES IN AWEAMERICA SITS, SURROUNDED BY AN ABUNDANCE OF FOOD AND BRAND-NEW LIT CANDLES. HER JAR OF PENNIES SITS ON THE FLOOR BEHIND HER. SHE SMILES BRIGHTLY AT ASPEN.

AMERICA

I hope you’re hungry.

ASPEN

Mer, what is all of this?

AMERICA

I told you last time I saw you. Mom’s been letting me

take my own solo jobs and then keep the commissions. My prize from her for submitting my application. You’d

be

surprised

how

many

Twos

and

Threes have been

throwing

parties,

so

sure

that their

daughter or

sister is going to be the one that wins the lottery.

ASPEN

Oh, I know. I’ve been working them too. Mostly in the kitchens. But, America, I still don’t understand what all of this is for.

AMERICA

Is it too much? I’ve just been baking and cooking all week long, trying to pass the time and I just thought I’d bring some—

ASPEN

Mer, you know what I mean. Why did you tell me to come here?

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 77

AMERICA

I told you. I entered the Selection. I submitted my application the same day Kamber and Celia did. Didn’t your mother tell you?

ASPEN

Yeah, she did but it doesn’t change anything.

AMERICA

It changes everything. I did this because I didn’t want to lose. I did everything you wanted me to. What do you mean… Unless this isn’t about the Selection.

ASPEN

America, there is so much I wish I could tell you. So much I had hoped to do with you. But I can’t anymore. I can’t be with you. I’m sorry—

AMERICA

Sorry? What are you sorry for? Just tell me what’s going on. You said

ASPEN

I said that I’d stay if you entered the Selection because I never actually thought you’d submit your application!

AMEERIA

What are you talking about? You just wanted a reason

up understand. Your money.

to break

don’t

saving up

with

me

or

something?

Why?

I

mother said you’d

been

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 78

ASPEN SIGHS HEAVILY, PUTTING HIS HEAD IN HIS HAND.

And

young?

you… You

thought

ASPEN

it

was

to

get

married? This

AMERICA

Well, I did. Back when I made the stupid mistake of thinking that I meant something you.

ASPEN

You mean the world to me, America. And I want this. But

AMERICA

But what? What is so horrible?

ASPEN

I’ve been drafted, America.

AMERICA FREEZES, STRAING AT ASPEN IN HORROR. SHE STUTTERS OUT A RESPONSE.

AMERICA

That’s a cruel joke, Aspen.

ASPEN REACHES INTO HIS BACK POCKET, PULLING OUT AN ENVELOPE, FOLDED IN HALF. IT’S CLEARLY BEEN OPENED AND RE-OPENED SEVERAL TIMES ALREADY. HE HOLDS IT OUT TO AMERICA.

ASPEN

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 79

Read for yourself.

AMERICA HESITANTLY TAKES THE ENVELOPE, UNFOLDS IT AND PULLS THE LETTER OUT. ASPEN CONTINUES SPEAKING AS SHE READS.

ASPEN (CONT.)

I’ve been saving money for my family, Mer. Soldiers

as

they’re alive. From what I hear, the rebels aren’t

get paid pretty

well,

sure,

but only

as

long

making that very likely in my case.

AMERICA

I can’t believe this is happening.

SHE BEGINS PUTTING THE LETTER BACK IN THE ENVELOPE AND STOPS. SHE RUNS HER HAND OVER TE FRONT OF THE ENVELOPE.

AMERICA (CONT.)

Wait. Aspen this

from Angeles the same day as my Selection letter. You…

You got this the nearly a week ago and didn’t mention anything?

This is post marked… This was send

Mer…

ASPEN

AMERICA

Aspen, this changes so much. You’re a Two now. We wouldn’t have to worry about anything.

ASPEN

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 80

Except me surviving the Royal Army for ten years. Or have you forgotten? Soldiers can’t marry, can’t even see anyone. Not until their ten years of service are up.

AMERICA

I don’t care. I can wait.

ASPEN

You shouldn’t have to.

AMERICA

But I will. I love you. Ten years is nothing.

ASPEN

What if it’s forever? What if I don’t come back alive? What if that day I shipped out was the last time you ever saw me? Could you live with that?

AMERICA HAS NO ANSWER FOR HIM.

ASPEN (CONT.)

I thought so. You deserve to love and be loved. Not to mourn me or wait for me.

AMERICA

Is

then? Seeing if I could give my heart to someone else after you?

that

what the

Selection application was about,

ASPEN

No! Like I said, I never thought you’d do it! I needed a reason to… Distance myself from you. Then, when I

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 81

finally left, you wouldn’t know and wouldn’t try to stop me until I was already gone.

AMERICA GLARES AT HIM WITH TEARS IN HER EYES, BUT ANGER COVERING HER FACE.

You’re a coward.

America, please.

AMERICA

ASPEN

AMERICA

No, you were right to be afraid, Aspen. You are going to die in the army. Fighting rebels or some war in New Asia. Because you are a coward. I actually hope I get into the Selection, just to see your face as I fall in love with our snob of a prince—someone I can’t stand— because at least it’s better than loving someone I know I’ll never see again.

ASPEN

You don’t mean that, America. I know you don’t.

AMERICA

Don’t tell me what I mean, Aspen. Get out. Now.

ASPEN LOOKS AT HER PLEADINGLY, BUT CONCEDES, BACKING TOWARD THE HATCH IN THE FLOOR. AMERICA SEEMS TO CONSIDER, THEN CALLS TO HIM.

AMERICA (CONT.)

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 82

Wait.

ASPEN STOPS AND LOOKS UP AT HER. SHE DOESN’T MEET HIS EYES.

AMERICA (CONT.)

You

family, right? In case something happens to you?

said

that you

were saving the

money

for your

ASPEN DOESN’T ANSWER. HE JUST STARES AT AMERICA WEARILY. AMERICA REACHES BEHIND HER TO PICK UP HER PENNY JAR. SHE GAZES DOWN AT IT SADLY.

AMERICA (CONT.)

I brought this because I thought you were saving money for us. I thought you wanted this as much as I did. I wanted to show you that I was saving every single one you ever gave me. But…

AMERICA UNSCREWS THE TOP OF THE JAR.

AMERICA (CONT.)

I guess there is no “us” anymore. So you should use this for your family, even if I’m not going to be the part of it I thought I would be.

ASPEN SHAKES HIS HEAD AND MOVES CLOSER TO AMERICA, PUTTING HIS HAND OF HERS AND THE JAR.

ASPEN

America, no. I gave you those. They’re yours. Keep them.

AMERICA

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 83

I don’t want them. I don’t want anything that’s going to remind me of you.

AMERICA SHRUGS OFF HIS HAND AND PULLS OPEN A POCKET ON HIS SHIRT, POURING THE PENNIES IN NOISILY. ASPEN MAKES NO MOVE TO REMOVE THEM.

ASPEN

America, please. Don’t be mad at me like this.

AMERICA

Your family needs the money more than we do. Now go. Get out. Now!

ASPEN HESITANTLY SCURRIES OUT OF THE TREEHOUSE. OFF: AMERICA IN A VERY SIMILAR POSITION. NEW CANDLES, MORE FOOD, MORE MONEY, BUT STILL ALONE AND CRYING IN HER TREEHOUSE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT. END SCENE.

KING’S STUDY IN THE ROYAL PALACE. THE NIGHT BEFORE THE BIG CAPITOL REPORT. INTERIOR SHOT. CLARKSON HOVERS AROUND HIS DESK, READING THROUGH SOME PAPERS HAPHAZARDLY. THERE IS A KNOCK AT THE DOOR AND MAXON ENTERS.

MAXON

I heard you were asking for me.

CLARKSON

Ah, yes. Come in. Close the door behind you.

MAXON DOES SO AND MOVES FORWARD TO

FATHER’S DESK. CLARKSON’S HAND FALLS ON A THICK STACK OF FILES, A SMILE PLAYING ON HIS FACE.

STAND IN

FRONT

OF

HIS

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 84

CLARKSON (CONT.)

Well, here we are, son. The Capitol Report is tomorrow and your future wife is right here, in one of these applications. Would you like a sneak preview?

MAXON

I didn’t think I was supposed to see them or know them until the Capitol Report.

CLARKSON

True. You aren’t. But one of the perks of being the Prince is that you don’t answer to anyone except me. And I’d give you permission to look at them if you’d like. I know you must be anxious just to see them.

Of

tomorrow.

course I

am.

Still,

MAXON

I

think

I

can

wait until

CLARKSON SHRUGS AND SITS DOWN BEHIND HIS DESK.

CLARKSON

Suit yourself. It’s your choice, I suppose.

MAXON SITS OPPOSITE HIS FATHER.

MAXON

Have you? You know, seen them?

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 85

CLARKSON SCOFFS AND STARES AT MAXON AMUSEDLY.

CLARKSON

Of

Selection has been years in the making on my part. I needed to make sure everything turned out as planned.

Maxon, this

course

I’ve seen

them.

I

told

you

MAXON

I don’t understand. How could you really plan for anything? It’s a lottery. You couldn’t have known who ended up getting Selected.

CLARKSON

The lottery? Oh,

responsible king would let the fate of his country

rest on the chance of a good wife being chosen at random from thousands of eligible women?

think any

grow

up

Maxon. Do

you

MAXON SITS BACK AND TAKES THIS IN FOR A MOMENT.

It’s

specifically.

fixed.

You

MAXON

chose

every

single

candidate

CLARKSON

Not every single one. Most of them, yes, have some

kind of ties that could be useful. Some have money,

contacts

difference between war and ruin. I was only thinking of the country I will be handing down to you soon,

the

in

New

Asia. Things

that could

be

Maxon. Of course, some of the girls really were in a

"THE SELECTION" PAGE 86

lottery. In places like Columbia and Carolina, we couldn’t find any specifically favorable candidates, so we chose at random. Well, almost. We couldn’t very well let anyone below a Five in, now could we? Good lord, there have to remain some standards.

MAXON

I don’t understand. You said the Selection, the fact that anyone could be Queen was all that was keeping the lower castes in line. If we aren’t doing that—

CLARKSON

Why do they have to know? There are some secrets, some lies you must tell for the good of Illéa. You’ll do well to remember that. As long as the idea of the Selection lives, so we live in power. That’s how long we stay in favor with the rest of the country. It’s a necessary secret. Can I trust you with it?

MAXON SEEMS TO WAR WITH HIMSELF BEFORE NODDING.

Yes, sir.

MAXON

OFF: MAXON AND HIS FATHER LOCKED IN AN INTENSE STARING CONTEST. END SCENE.