Season 1: Moses, Plague-Bringer & Liberator (Adapting Exodus)


"The Rod of Aaron Devours the Other Rods," James Tissot, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

This week is the final segment covering the plot of Season 1 of my speculative Exodus adaptation. The action primarily follows the back and forth confrontation between Moses and Pharaoh that ultimately leads to the final plague and the expulsion of the Israelites from Egypt.

One of the values of an adaptation of a biblical story is that it can take difficult-to-believe story elements like this and weave around them a backstory and relational dynamics that help make the motivations of the characters more understandable.

As a modern reader of Exodus, what stands out to me as the most unbelievable element in the story is how many times Pharaoh flip flops between hard-hearted pride and contrite submission. One of the values of an adaptation of a biblical story is that it can take difficult-to-believe story elements like this and weave around them a backstory and relational dynamics that help make the motivations of the characters more understandable. The Ten Commandments does a great job at this, leveraging the complex dynamics of the love triangle between Rameses, Moses, & Nefretiri. Throughout the earlier segments of Season 1, I've been trying to lay the groundwork for a complex relational dynamics in a few different relationships:

  • The Relationship Between Moses & Pharaoh-2: Rather than a simple rivalry, I opted to begin their relationship on a positive foot, with Pharaoh being protective of Moses. Although that positive relationship was shattered by the accusations against Moses, we can presume that it hasn't completely disappeared and that this contributes to Pharaoh's wavering emotions.

  • The Relationships Between Pharaoh-2 & Israel: This was one of my more innovative decisions. Instead of making Pharaoh-2 a harsh oppressor from Day 1, I started him out as a pragmatic supporter of light slave reform. After his break with Moses & his ascent to power, he ends up doing a 180 and following in the footsteps of his father, but a keen scriptwriter and skilled actor could plant seeds that remind us that Pharaoh-2's choice to harden himself is a suppression of his better judgment.

  • The Relationship Between Pharaoh-2 & the Magician: The two have a complex relationship, where antagonism, fear, and respect are all mixed together. The Magician himself goes through a mixed response to Moses, starting with his attempts to subvert Moses by spying out his miracles & creating sorcerous countermeasures and ending with his recognition of Moses' power. As Pharaoh observes his adviser/rival undergo this complicated journey, it will affect him in complicated ways.

  • The Relationship Between Pharaoh-2 & the Task Master: This isn't nearly as significant, but it does help to have a stalwart thug on hand to push Pharaoh over the edge.

Dramatis Personae

  • Pharaoh (Pharaoh-2) - King of Egypt, oppressor of Israel; Moses' adopted uncle

  • The Magician - The wiseman advisor of both Pharaohs; an Egyptian sorcerer

  • The Student - The apprentice of the Magician; helps him spy on the Israelites

  • The Task Master - The Egyptian in charge of the slave force

  • Aaron & Miriam - Moses' siblings; Aaron is a member of the Council of Israelite Elders

  • The Appeaser-2 - son of the former Appeaser; like his father, he has become chief of the Council of Israelite Elders; collaborates with Egypt in order to maintain his own power

  • The Rebel - a Israelite leader who wants to join the Foreign Nation & lead a rebellion against Egypt

  • Hur - a young Israelite preacher & friend of Aaron in the Council.

  • The Angel of the Lord - the visible embodiment of God on earth

Notes on the Outline

  • The three main columns correspond to the primary storylines. This doesn't work out perfectly in Episodes 10-12 because some of the scenes are a little more wide ranging or involve a montage.

  • The three main rows correspond to a general division of the episode into three acts. The precise order of events is indicated by how each event in the act is numbered. This order does not always proceed from left to right.