Role: Goatkeeper and resident genius
Who I’d Cast: Kodi Smit-McPhee
Finn McGregor was born in West Englewood, a high-crime neighborhood in southwest Chicago. From the age of two, Finn’s dad was in and out of the picture, and his mother Evelyn was battling undiagnosed bipolar disorder.
Since Evelyn didn’t have any support system or help for her condition, she self-medicated with alcohol and drugs for most of Finn’s life. At times she was attentive and cheerful, but whenever Finn’s father would come around, he would beat his wife and son and send Evelyn into a spiral of depression.
Because Evelyn couldn’t hold down a job, the McGregors were perpetually impoverished and on the brink of homelessness. The only saving grace was Evelyn’s talent for painting. In good times, she worked feverishly to produce works that she could sell to her small but affluent fan base. In bad times the electricity would get cut off, and their landlady would threaten them with eviction.
Finn was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome in elementary school after his teachers noticed that he had difficulty reading facial expressions and interacting with the other students. Finn’s condition was made worse by the fact that he had such limited social interactions at home. His mother spent much of Finn’s waking hours asleep, and the other neighborhood kids only wanted to make fun of him.
Since he was alone in the world, Finn found solace with animals. He scavenged for food in dumpsters, which he would feed to the stray dogs and cats in his neighborhood. After a while, the animals started to gather outside his house, and he sneaked them into his bedroom to keep them from being victimized by the rowdy neighborhood boys. He also spent a lot of time at the public library on 63rd street, where he nurtured his interests in math and science.
Despite being exceptionally bright, Finn was bullied relentlessly all throughout junior high. When he was fourteen, he was accepted at Lindblom Math and Science Academy, a selective enrollment high school. Finn flourished at Lindblom and earned the respect of many of his high-achieving peers.
Finn managed to earn good grades from most of his teachers and eek out a high SAT score, which earned him a full-ride scholarship to MIT. Finn majored in biological engineering and got a job in the cafeteria to earn some extra money.
For the first time in his life, he wasn’t a weirdo or a freak. He was surrounded by smart people who found his ideas interesting, and he was free to focus on school rather than the problems at home.
Everything seemed to be going all right until Finn came into conflict with a particularly conceited biochemistry professor, Elian Schafer. Schafer was a celebrated biochemist and academic, well known for his research on brain-wasting diseases.
Eager and excited to take Schafer’s class, Finn read all of his professor’s most recent research papers. Unfortunately, Schafer wasn’t all that he was cracked up to be.
A few weeks into term, Schafer brought up one of his own studies as an example during a lecture, and Finn had the bad taste to challenge Schafer’s findings. He thought that the study had serious flaws and that Schafer and his colleagues had failed to control for several important variables that could have muddied the results.
Furious at having been embarrassed by a student, Elian Schafer made it his mission to destroy Finn. He began docking points on quizzes and assignments for no reason, calling out Finn in class for the sake of embarrassing him, and even flunking him on a project for no apparent reason.
Schafer’s wrath was bad news for Finn, who needed to maintain top grades in order to keep his scholarship. Angry and confused, Finn stayed behind in class to ask Schafer about his grade.
Elian was cruel and dismissive, and he managed to push Finn too far. Finn attacked Schafer in the classroom and threatened to blow up the university.
Finn was charged with aggravated assault, but that wasn’t the worst of it. In Massachusetts, bomb threats are punishable by up to 20 years in prison, which meant Finn was doing some serious time.
Under normal circumstances, Asperger’s combined with a history of violent outbursts would have disqualified Finn from earning a spot in San Judas, but Finn was no ordinary felon. He was an Ivy League drop-out with an IQ of 145, so San Judas decided to make an exception.
Unfortunately, Finn’s IQ didn’t help him much in prison. Almost at once, the other inmates singled Finn out and began to torment him any way they could think of. They stole his shoes, ruined his food by pouring salt in his bowl, and shoved him into a pile of manure.
Jorge, the head cook, took pity on Finn and brought him to work in the kitchens as a dishwasher. For a while, Finn seemed to be doing better. He thrived on the strict kitchen schedule and was obsessive about cleanliness. But one day a fellow kitchen worker pushed him too far, and he had another violent episode.
Normally an outburst like Finn’s would have been met with a swift and brutal punishment, but Jorge had an autistic brother, and he appealed to Hudson Peters personally. He also spoke to Willie Texas Ranger, who oversaw all the ag workers in charge of the colony’s animals.
Willie Texas Ranger had his reservations about Finn, but after just a few days, it became clear that the goat pen was where Finn belonged. Finn was a natural with animals, and being surrounded by livestock throughout the day gave him a respite from the overwhelming and confusing social interactions he had to endure around the colony.
The goats didn’t care that Finn was different, and the repetitive tasks gave him a sense of peace. Plus, when the day’s work was finished, Finn was free to retreat to the library. He read whatever he could get his hands on, but he found himself looking forward to the day he could walk out of San Judas and study topics that were beyond the scope of the prison library.