What kills me about Furiosa telling Max the code to start the rig is that just a few minutes previously that’s the ONLY thing that kept Max from leaving them in the dust to their fate in his panic to escape. Yet Furiosa makes a decision to give Max the code and give him the power to completely screw them over if he wanted to. But he doesn’t because Furiosa reads him correctly and in giving him that level of power back actually causes him to calm down since he knows someone just gave him a huge amount of responsibility in something he’s not even really sure what’s going on about, but this person is treating him like a human and acting like he’s part of the team and Max is so obviously taken off guard that he doesn’t even question it and is just like “yes ma’am” and starts helping her. Yes Furiosa is a bad ass, but her brilliance in this moment isn’t beating the crap out of Max or outwitting him or forcing him to do anything, it’s realizing he’s acting like a trapped animal because he thinks he IS and she gives him an option to act like a human, which he does without hesitation. She doesn’t hold it against him that he just held them at gunpoint and Max in return just immediately throws his weight in with the group.
Furiosa ultimately accomplishes her goal partially because she makes a decision to treat a person who had been treated like a commodity (just like the wives) up to that point as a rational, functioning human.
I think it’s arguable that this is the entire point of the film: We Are Not Things. Not just women, but all human beings. Immortan Joe only sees commodities, not people: women for milk or heirs, men for battle to protect his empire. For crying out loud, the entrance to the Wives’ living area is a bank vault door!
But the Wives and the Vuvalini refuse to treat anyone as an object. They may be forced to kill, but they won’t do so needlessly. It struck me that Joe announces Furiosa by her titles, her symbols of power, but she announces herself to the Vuvalini in terms of family: who she is, who her mother was, where they came from. Furiosa and Max are struggling to retain their humanity in a world that doesn’t seem to value it. Their way out is not escape, across teh sand flats, but redemption: going back to those who have been treated as objects, who have treated others as objects, and showing them a better way.
Dammit, this film gets better the more I think about it.
My favourite part about this scene is that when she enters the code, he’s watching her- he’s ALREADY memorized it. It’s her trusting him that makes him think about how crucial this mission is, how he needs to trust her back. And when she shouts “fool”, the Rig is moving within less than a second- he’s already prepared for the worst and he knows to be ready in case things go sideways, he knows he has to help them and that he’s going to have to gun that engine either way. From the point on where Furiosa makes that split second to trust him out of her last desperation, and they both realise that’s all they have left at that point- that trust is the only way they’ll survive.