Monday, April 25, 2016

12 MONKEYS: Meet Whitney Ness…

Okay. This is gonna be quite the ramble. I’m gonna try and walk and talk thru some notions I’ve got regarding the nature of the timeline in 12 MONKEYS, as much to sort them out for myself as for anyone else who's curious. This will include rambling about the viral plague, the discovery of time travel, the extinction of life on Earth, and what a Witness to all of this might be up to…

SPOILERS (events up to the season 2 premiere) and CRAZY TALK follow!



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TIME TRAVEL AND ONE PRECIOUS TIMELINE.

One of the things I dig about 12 MONKEYS is that the show has been thoughtful and clever about its treatment of time travel and its effects. Sure, there *are* some "magical" phenomena. The two most significant have got to be paradoxes (and their resolutions) and Katarina's super-soldier Splinter serum. But they're applied consistently (at least to my mind =).

Oh! And maybe a special kind of "selective" memory (i.e. 2043 Katarina not telling or remembering that she's already met Cole and Dr. Railly in 2015), but I'll allow it for storytelling purposes, and explain-away-able by age, forgetfulness, willful caution when it comes to interfering w/future past events, maybe a visit to a hypnotist who specializes in retconning memories (perhaps w/the assistance of a certain red-leafed herb?), or the cosmos, tickling people's synapses to forget until it's safe to remember again (Katarina finds the Northside Garage business card).

The writers have been very good about the care and feeding of the single precious timeline in the world of 12 MONKEYS. Sure, the phrase "alternate timeline" has been thrown around within the show, but that's subjective to the characters that use it. When Cole Splinters back to the alternate 2043 in which One-eyed Ramse is leading the West 7, there is no other, original Ramse waiting for him in another universe. That universe is gone, overwritten from 2015 on by the one he arrives in. Cole can only "return" to it by re-creating it, undoing the change that destroyed it, the death of Cassandra Railly. And when he and Aaron save her, Cole Splinters back to a 2043 that is essentially identical to the one he originally left. Pirate Ramse's universe has been deleted, overwritten. He never was, except in the memories that Cole retains.

It's kind of creepy. When Cole Splinters—when ANYONE Splinters—interacts w/history and then returns, well, the people s/he returns to are not truly the same ones they left (BACK TO THE FUTURE, anyone? =). The butterfly effect at work. Still, over 28 years, the interactions by Splinterers so far have not rippled in such a way that significantly alters the histories and personalities of any of our favorite characters. Will be interesting, entertaining, and perhaps traumatizing to see such effects on the fly in the course of season 2, as it promises to wreak more than a little havoc on history.



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THE LESSER OF TWO APOCALYPSES…APOCALYPSI? APOCALYPSA?

Even a world in which humanity has been decimated by a virus is better than one in which humanity is extinct, right? What if the plague (or some phenomenon like it, that catastrophically reduces the human population) is the lesser of two evils, the other being extinction?

How could anyone KNOW that this extinction is the alternative? Because they lived thru it, witnessed it, and somehow escaped it.

So… Let's say some guy—we'll call him… Whitney Ness—grows up in a world very much like ours, until the early 21st century, when a viral outbreak ends civilization as we know it. He lives a life similar to James Cole's, a survivor of a plague, eking out a life in the post-apoc. When in his 2043 he's found by a group like Jones's Project Splinter, a team of scientists and military who seek to change history and save the world from the virus, he takes the job as their agent of change. He Splinters back in time to kill whomever needs killing, destroy whatever needs destroying, and/or save or convince whomever needs it in order to prevent the creation and/or release of the virus in his past. And—Huzzah!—Whitney is successful! However, for some reason*, he doesn't wink out of existence as expected and promised…

* Let's say the Splinter serum, which turns out to be stronger than its creator knew.

Instead, he Splinters back to 2043 (the way Cole did after Cassie died in 2015), to an abandoned Splinter facility. After some exploring, he discovers that not only the facility, but the city, the entire world, is abandoned. Lifeless. In a world without a plague to catastrophically check human overpopulation, conflict over resources leads to wars that devastate humanity and the environment. The Earth is rendered uninhabitable. No one, perhaps nothing, is left alive. As best he can, the Witness learns as much as possible from his post-apoc vantage point about the events that led to the end of humanity. He concludes that without the virus, or an event like it, this end is inevitable. Whit Ness's new mission: save life on Earth by ensuring that the plague happens.

So Whit conjures a plan to ensure that the virus is released. He must undo what he's just done in his previous Splinter mission. Luckily, a working Splinter device with a Core energy source (did we ever hear/learn what the Core's tech is? fusion?) is still intact in the "new" uninhabited post-apocalypse. He Splinters back in time to prevent himself from doing what he did the first time around, whatever it was that prevented the plague. He succeeds! The virus is released and humanity is decimated, but not extinguished. Humanity saved—Woo-hoo! This is the universe in which the events of 12 MONKEYS unfold, one that's already been overwritten and rewritten.

One wrinkle in time, tho… In the process of undoing his earlier deeds, putting the plague back on track, he encounters and apparently kills his earlier Splintered self.

CRAZY paradox, right? How is the cosmos going to resolve this one? How about by creating a bubble of weird spacetime out of the region affected by the discharge of paradox energy? Thusly removing the timeline-contaminating paradox from the universe. Could this be what happens to every the "extraneous" matter involved in any and all paradox events? Ideally, this would be a sphere centered on the location in which Whit confronted and killed his younger self. A region that happens to be home to a house on the edge of a forest, a forest whose leaves have turned from green to red in the wake of a (bloody?) paradox event.



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Maybe present-future Whit confronted his younger self and convinced him that he had to die (and likely delete himself). Familiar with the energetic discharge associated with paradoxes, together they choose to kill/die in a remote location and eliminate any collateral damage. But "now," a reconstituted Whit Ness is a permanent resident of this Red Forest bubble universe, existing outside of our space and time, but "reachable" via a form of astral projection to anyone who's mind and senses have been expanded via the chemicals of the red leaves left behind.

Whoa… Is the blood of the Red Forest (some of it, anyway) James Cole's "superfluous" blood, ejected from the universe when resolving the paradox caused by injecting himself w/his younger self's blood? Wack!



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OKAY, EVEN IF THAT'S TRUE—CRAZY, BUT SOMEHOW TRUE—WHY THE ARMY?

I'm not sure about how Whit could actively interact w/the universe from outside it, but maybe… Maybe he didn't succeed in killing himself and saving humanity on his first Splinter back from the empty Earth future. Maybe he learned that one fix wasn't enough, because other forces and events—Even other Splinterers, perhaps other versions of himself—end up leading to one non-plague extinction event or another. So, he keeps track of these events, and concludes that he needs the help of agents native to the timeline, to counter them. So, he makes visits to various points in time to plant seeds, and the seeds of seeds. Perhaps he only make one deep Splinter, to the beginning or early days of the Druze tribe, to help establish the Pact of Time's Custodian.

Using superior technology and knowledge, Whit could influence the tribe to adopt his orders/directions and the protection and delivery of certain artifacts as part of their sacred traditions. Living outside of and apart from modern civilization, the Druze would inject Whit's influence as needed according to a plan spanning centuries. And with the rise of modern tech and society, the Army of the 12 Monkeys would form to clandestinely shape events such that they lead to the creation of time travel and a certain deadly virus (among other things). These are the two ingredients necessary for Whit's plan to even be conceived after all.

Huh. Maybe the first thing that Whit tried to do, before interfering with his earlier Splintering self, was eliminate time travel completely. But he learned that it was impossible. For whatever cosmic-logical reasons, once time travel exists, and is used to influence events, it must always exist.

Yeah, let's just say that.

So, at the end of season 1, we've just seen the Army succeed. It seems that the Witness's long game plan has come to fruition. However, Olivia explains that this is only the end of one Cycle, and that a new one is beginning with the entrance of the Messengers…



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OKAY, EVEN IF *THAT'S* TRUE—WHY THE MESSENGERS?

I think that Whit's existence outside of time has become unbearable. His, life, such as it is, may be unending, a Jinn, or series of Jinns. His curse, to observe the universe without living in it. Maybe he's actually done his task—is always doing his task—hundreds, thousands, millions of times over, and he wants it to end. He wasn't born a cosmic entity. He was born a human. This Sisyphean existence would surely drive anyone mad. Not so hard to imagine mad enough to want to end everything to escape it, right?

Or, perhaps instead of growing mad, he's grown wise, adapting to his cosmic role and senses. In that wisdom he's gained an understanding that his task IS Sisyphean, that he must always be developing measures and countermeasures to time traveling interference native to the universe, new and different versions of Project Splinter, as well as the dice-rolling decisions of human geopolitics and technology over unfolding history. Understanding that in continuing down this path his task will be never-ending, he decides on a new course. A reboot. Time travel in this universe is persistent and once created, necessary. In order to remove time travel's influence on events, this universe must be removed, and a new one created in its place.

How to end everything? Not just humanity, but the world, the universe, the timeline? That's where the Messengers come in.

Six of them have been sent from 2043 to other time periods. Katarina immediately suspects that they have designs on changing events in the past, and so gives herself an injection of serum, apparently to stay "in sync" w/her original timeline (shared with Cassie, Cole, Ramse, and probably the higher-ups of the Army). Katarina says that with the serum in her bloodstream, she will be able to recognize changes in her environment and history compared to her memory of them.

How do you destroy a massive construct? To be most efficient about it, you attack its most structurally vital point or points. I think the Messengers have been assigned to do that to the timeline. They have been sent to different eras to interfere with key events that shape the human world. This may involve assassination, meddling, and/or the triggering of physical paradoxes to such a degree, and ideally, in concert*, that the cosmos cannot heal itself. Instead, the timeline will be wounded, broken. Perhaps these paradoxes are so massive that they break through the barriers that separate the Red Forest from the mainstream universe, unleashing more paradoxical events, resulting in a chain reaction in which the universe and the Red Forest eat each other and themselves… Leaving nothing but the void, ready for a new Big Bang.

* The Witness being the Witness and all, I expect that his plans for the Messengers would allow for any ONE of them to succeed in order to kill the universe. Additional Messenger successes would hasten the demise.



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SO, WHAT SHOULD OUR HEROES DO?

Well, until/unless the Witness reveals himself to them, they probably won't understand his motivation. It seems like the teases of season 2 show us that our Agents of Splinter will be following the Messengers to thwart their plans. But what if they shouldn't? What if the greatest good is for everyone and everything to be wiped clean to allow a reboot? Given the relentless burden of responsibility laid upon the Witness—the survival of humanity across millennia of its history—what other option is there? The Witness will crack or fail at some point, as individuals like our heroes do their (mostly) pure-hearted to save the world from a plague, only to usher in the extinction of life on Earth. Or, the Witness can relieve himself of the pressure and destroy the timeline, letting the universe and humanity try again. Humanity or intelligent dinosaurs, whichever.

You know what might lessen the burden of the Witness?

How about a partner? Maybe a team? =)

Probably just a partner, tho.

Or… Someone willing to take the Witness's place.

But, y'know, depending on where adventures take our characters, a partner would likely be very satisfying. A partnership that becomes a family, maybe?

WHO IS THE WITNESS?



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It's still a tough call. It’s not someone named Whitney Ness, sorry. =)

For now, I’m going to take the Army’s references to the Witness as a “he” to denote a typical human male (if there is such a thing). So, who fits the bill?



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COLE?

An original (or at least “earlier”) "alternate" Cole does have its appeal. One that has experienced most of what our Cole has so far, but also much more, and perhaps many times, interfering with his younger doppelgangers in the process. But is the kind of long game machination implied by the Druze, the Army, and the Messengers really in Cole’s character? He certainly IS adaptable, but pretty exclusively in a man-of-action way. Subtlety and manipulation are not exactly his strong points. =)



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AARON?

I gotta say, after his burnination, being left for dead by Cassie and Cole, having Aaron Marker be the Witness definitely has some melodramatic Phantom-of-Project-Splinter appeal. When he finally comes around to understanding that Cole’s story is true, he focuses on two things: Cassie and survival. When he steers his professional career down a path that leads to post-apoc survival, he encounters Olivia (the investor) who labels him as just that—a survivor. This is a man who can understand wheels within wheels, although practical and selfish goals seem to outweigh the altruistic. With the right help and access, I can see him Witnessing.

When you consider how Olivia passes on such glad tidings from the Witness when Cassandra Railly falls into her hands, it certainly points to someone who doesn't just care for her, but may be obsessed with her. Sounds like Aaron, right?  And the Witness's plans (and the Messengers' demonstrated "faith") seem to guarantee her safety until she dies in 2017 at whatever age she is.

Aaron's certainly a possibility. But if it IS him, I think he must have somehow hijacked a Splinter opportunity from one of our heroes. Perhaps he has survived to 2043/2044 and knowing everything that he needs to know about the Project and how to Splinter, he may have Splintered his aged self back in time to interfere with events, or contact himself with intel wherever he retreats to recover after the fire.

Could he, under his proto-Spearhead authority, have gained access to Project Splinter—legitimately or not so much—after Cassie was sent forward and before it was apparently mothballed? Then he could have Splintered forward, knowing that there would be a machine in operation waiting to receive him.



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RAMSE?

I feel like of the characters we know and love, Ramse has the mind, temper, and motivation for the work of the Witness. And he's already so wise and OLD, right, Cole? =)

It would be a nice reveal because he is already the Traveler. If the Witness ever revealed himself to Ramse, Ramse would immediately get it. Of course, an older Ramse-Witness would name his younger self the Traveler to hide himself from himself, a la Ethan Seki vs. Jose Ramse.

And yes, the Army *is* currently motivated to kill our Ramse. Why would Ramse-as-the-Witness want that? Because he's not the same individual, and a Ramse on the loose poses a legit threat to his plans. Or maybe this is exactly as it's supposed to happen. Witness Ramse plants the false history of Ethan Seki's death next to his time travel device, just as he remembers it happening (during one or most of his previous Splinters).



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NOT THAT JONES?

A long shot, which of course makes it my favorite right now—What about Elliot Jones? He's one of the people—or is he THE PERSON?—who actually developed the technology that enables time travel. Yes, Katarina and her team understand it, and knew enough to get it up and running after decades in sleep mode or whatever, but Elliot pioneered it. AND, he was super keen on Splintering a live human subject into the future.

And in all of history, who would you pick as a person most likely to be in league with some kind of schemer, benevolent or not, from the future? I'd have to go with the inventor of time travel.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Okay, I think that's enough crazy talk to chew on for now, eh? If you made it to the end, hopefully I didn’t completely lose you in parts. I'm afraid that's the nature of my fan conjecture—it works best in my head, where, believe me, it's best no one else ventures. =)

Unmake history!

Keep on keepin' on~

P.S. I’ve got a bull-pucky half-baked notion that the only part of the timeline that matters is that part that supports sentient life forms who observe and remember and record it. A kind of “quantum physic-y” take. The timeline is changed—charged, alive, somehow even—because humans are present to observe it. This premise makes the scale of things just a little easier to deal with, altho, for a human mind and lifetime, what’s really the diff between a couple millennia and infinity, right? It’s kind of a sad notion because it assumes that we’re the only life in the universe, or if there is other sentient life, that we never make contact with or influence it in any way. Sad.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

12 MONKEYS: The Goines family tree…

Allright. I've got a rabbit hole I'd like to show you. Navigating it successfully depends on a couple of small details and some guesstimation, so I'd love to hear if anyone thinks my 12 MONKEYS math works or doesn't and why… If you haven't watched season 1, turn back now, for here there be *SPOILERS!*

NB: I do my best to avoid pre-episode chatter and promotional material. I’d always rather encounter characters and story in their full episode text. So, I may very well have missed some bit of press or clip from season 2 that totally conflicts with my math here.

Hey, I *do* tag this “crazy talk.” =)


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Okay. Let's start in 1987. One night at the White Dragon night club in Tokyo, Leland Goines mentions that his daughter wanted him to see THE GOONIES with her (01x11, "Shonin"). That didn't bug me at all when I first heard it. I was just excited about the idea of little Jenny Goines being keen on seeing THE GOONIES, and maybe a bit mystified at the notion that Leland might once have been a "cool dad." Later, I tried to imagine Leland taking Jenny to the movies and wondered just how old she would have been then. For a GOONIES fan I'd think 10-ish would be right. Maybe younger, what/w Jennifer's precociousness.

So, if we say 10 years old, that puts her birthday in 1977. Which means that in 2015, she'd be…38. Which, if you'll excuse my judging by appearances, seems like it adds a decade to the age of the woman we and James meet at J.D. Peoples. I took that Jennifer to be in her mid to late 20s, post-higher ed (probably accelerated) and w/a couple of years of legit and black site lab work experience under her now-committed belt. MAYbe 30.

So—one—we've got Leland's daughter wanting to go see THE GOONIES in 1987. Note that THE GOONIES was released in 1985. I can't remember Leland's exact phrasing, but maybe he's talking about a second run screening or picking it up at that new Blockbuster Video in town.

And—two—we've got a 2015 Jennifer Goines in J.D. Peoples (and later, fashionably hostilely taking over Markridge) who seems maybe a decade too young to be that daughter.


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Hrm…How to explain this discrepency?

Obviously, there's only one explanation: Jennifer has an older sister.

Wanna know her name?

Marion!

In 2015, Cassie and Katarina meet Cole's father, Matthew Cole (01x12, "Paradox"). At the time James is a young boy, maybe 7 years old.


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Matthew is suspicious of the pair-o-docs until they mention the Army of the 12 Monkeys, reminding him of something James's mother said…
MATTHEW: Marion, the boy's mother. She was going on about some monkey army.
Matthew calls James's mother Marion, and gives a cursory description of an apparently cursory relationship…
MATTHEW: I didn't know her that well, Marion. I loved her like crazy, but it was a short thing. I asked her to marry me but she wouldn't. Then took off pretty soon after without saying much. When she tracked me down a year later, she had a kid. My son—You. Told me she couldn't protect you. I never understood what she was talking about, but I was grateful. Every day. Look at that. He's a… he's a good boy.
COLE: He won't always be. But I'm trying to make up for it. I'm sorry I can't.
So, I'm thinking that it's Marion, age 10-ish, who wanted to see THE GOONIES with her dad in 1987. Jennifer would've been wee yet. Maybe Marion was on track to be a Markridge rock star, perhaps a Night Room specialist, but not necessarily. But she turned her back on Leland and his work when she somehow uncovered the dark forces that were backing it (the Army of the 12 Monkeys, which would have included Ethan Seki for many years). Or maybe she never got that deep into Markridge operations. Perhaps she was simply a good daughter to her mother, her confidante, and Mom reveals the machinations of the 12 Monkeys to her, urging her to escape their designs and leave the family. When Leland uses his wife's supposed ravings as grounds to have her committed, Marion does just that, leaves the family. Leland disowns her, black sheep that she is, bumping Jennifer into the position of Goines heir.

And while on the lam, doing the David Banner INCREDIBLE HULK thing in Philadelphia in 2007, Marion meets and falls a bit in love with Matthew Cole. Fearful of the Army and perhaps Leland/Markridge, she can't stay anywhere for very long, so she leaves Matthew after a short time. However, once James is born, she realizes she can't raise him while on the run, so she returns, and entrusts James to Matthew for a chance at a decent normal childhood.


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I have a feeling that Marion knows that Cole is meant to be with his father, for as long as he can be, and to be there to help save his future self. I believe that the Goines women (whether Marion is one or not) have a gift-slash-curse of some kind of extrasensory sight. I suspect it's connected to ingestion of or exposure to red leaves. My favorite imagined scenario has Mom Goines being dosed w/red leaf tea while pregnant, either by an unwitting Leland, prescribed by an Army doctor, or a direct agent of the Army, affecting both herself and her unborn child/ren.

And now—well, as “now” as we can get in 12 MONKEYS—Marion is still at large. Does Jennifer remember her? I suspect that tracking her is probably a pet project of the 12 Monkeys. Or not… What if she successfully faked her own demise at some point? Early enough that Jennifer and Leland believe her dead for many years in 2015? That might be an "easier" explanation for her not being a factor in Goines business over the years.

* Of course, the EASIEST explanation is that I'm off my rocker, but where's the fun in that?

Oh. And who would play Marion Goines?

How about Madeleine Stowe?


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So, to recap my crazy talk theory:

Jennifer Goines is James Cole's aunt. =)

Keep on keepin' on~

P.S. Leland Goines is James Cole’s grandfather! =)

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

12 MONKEYS: Rambling on the rules…

This is a ramble on my take on the rules-slash-nature of time travel in the universe of 12 MONKEYS, after watching the season 2 premiere, “Year of the Monkey” (available via Hulu and Syfy). So, if you haven't watched it, turn back now, for here there by *SPOILERS!*


RAMSE: Listen. You believe in the past. I believe in the future. It is what it is.
Honestly, I wanted more to happen, and maybe didn't love the way that some question marks at the end of the season 1 finale have been resolved (I say maybe because I feel like I'll need to give the ep another viewing to properly take it all in), but I love the reinforcement of the rules (or illusions thereof) that we get to witness. More on that in a bit. First off…

I do believe we now know where the Annapurna Remains came from—the first Blue Man to take the Splinter chair. What do you think?


Pretty foolish and naive of the Smurfs to let Jones have the Splinter helm all to herself. Until Rodell (Do we know this guy? I've completely forgotten : P) explains that Jones set the machine to Splinter only part of the subject's body, I simply believed that Blue Man Group set coordinates that were too deep in the past, resulting in spatio-temporal vaporization. In the first season, Project Splinter was pushing hard to get Cole safely back to the 80s, remember? Was it established (and did I forget) that the acquisition of the Spearhead's core increase Splinter's "chrono-range?"

Anyhow, Blue Leader is not pleased with the mistification of their first soldier—LOVED Deacon’s reaction, heh—but I believe that it went exactly as it was meant to (sorry, Blue dude). Of course, few individuals in the world of 12 MONKEYS can see the entire picture (how events across time are connected), so Blue Leader of 2015-2043 couldn't know that the ancient remains of one of his soldiers was uncovered in the Himalayas in the 80s and sold to Markridge.


Hrm… It's totally possible that no one knows that except for us (the audience) and *maybe* the Witness.

If I'm right, this is an illustration of the rules that are at work when it comes to the timeline/history in 12 MONKEYS—basically, that time or history or the past or the future or whatever you want to call it from your vantage point canNOT be changed. Everything happens exactly as it is supposed to (and has already happened). The illusion of change is the phenomenon experienced by those who are told that something is supposedly recorded history in the future and that they've failed to make or allow it to happen.

So, the Witness has a note in his future diary that Ethan Seki is found dead in 2015 next to the Time Machine he helped build. But, we see Cole rescue his bro-from-another-mo, thereby giving fate the finger, right?


OR… We understand that the Witness's future diary is wrong. Or perhaps inaccurate in just such a way that it sets the Army of the 12 Monkeys to tracking him, which for some reason is the truly significant outcome.

I like thinking of the 12 MONKEYS Witness's predictions like THE MATRIX Oracle's readings: people are not necessarily given the truth, but rather, what they need to hear to get them to do or be or understand what is needed at just the right time.

Oh—Another example! Right after Blue Man one is turned into time traveling jerky, Blue Leader attempts to motivate Jones to cooperate by threatening Cassie's life. Jones plays the very awesome time traveling card of "You can't kill her because you need her to live long enough to leave us the message that leads to us being here in the first place!"


Awesome. =)

I have to admit, I was surprised that Blue Leader would threaten Cassie's life, as if they didn't know who she was. I have this vaguely remembered impression of the season 1 finale showing us that the Blue Man Group seemed to be awaiting her arrival… Am I way off on that? Frack. I'm gonna hafta do a season one rewatch, aren't I? *sigh* I need a Splinter device of my own.

But, it seems he does know who she is. He is ready to use a threat on the life of an individual who is crucial to the events that lead to the plague and Project Splinter as a lesson, challenging Jones to stand by her abstract intellectual understanding of time in the face of a deadly threat to a friend and ally.
BLUE: Your philosophy is still marred by your simplistic notion of causality. If something is meant to be, it shall be.
BLUE: If causality is your religion, madam, have faith in it.
Jones believes that the Smurfs can’t kill Cassie without punching a hole in spacetime. Blue Leader believes that he can execute Cassie and somehow, a message will be recorded that leads to the creation/resurrection of Project Splinter. To misquote JURASSIC PARK’s Dr. Malcolm: Time finds a way.

We'll never know if Jones caves in to Blue Leader's threat because Rodell serendipitously manages to crack the encryption on Jones's Splinter programming. This is another demonstration of history being unchangeable. In this case, the universe itself steps in to keep history and Cassie's personal timeline intact and continuous. It does this by nudging Rodell to try exactly the right algorithm or whatever to bypass the encryption before Blue Leader can kill Cassie.

Crazy talk? Perhaps. But I don't think so. I like it.

I'm certainly still open to the possibility that history can be changed cuz who doesn't love free will and saving the world, right? But between Cole and Cass and Ramse and Jones living thru history one day at a time, without only clues and not true foreknowledge of events, and the Witness and his monkey army being unreliable fortune tellers, the net experience of this story in a universe in which history canNOT be changed will be just as rewarding (like season 1—SO good =). And—hey!—the future beyond 2044 is still wide open and "unwritten."


Okay. I'm gonna hafta wrap this up. I hope to get around to really digging into the action of the ep in a later post, cuz I definitely need to gush over crazy lovely Jennifer Goines and her end-of-the-world speed dating session!
JENNIFER: Stock tip—invest heavily in very deep holes.
Would be a-MA-zing to see Dale in 2044 among the West 7, talking about his now-worthless investment portfolio… =)

Hopefully, I'll get around to it before the second ep of the season airs! =)

Keep on keepin' on~

Friday, April 01, 2016

BATMAN V SUPERMAN: Explaining the Post-Apokoliptic vision…

Okay, I’ve got three theories mostly sussed out that explain the “vision” of the future that we see in BATMAN <3 SUPERMAN. *SPOILERS* after the pic…


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Note that I’m referring only to the sequence which begins with future Batman leading a group of rebels to collect a sample of Kryptonite from some unidentified agent/ally and ends with his execution at the hand of Superman, Kal-El Ma’ed.
=)

So, what *are* these scenes from a post-Apokoliptic Earth?


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1. They are an older, future Batman’s memories of an “earlier” timeline, one that has been overwritten with the timeline we’re focused on. The overwrite happens as a direct result of “our” Batman acting on information gleaned from future Flash’s message. Batman is able to retain these paradoxical memories (at least for a short time, I suspect they fade, leaving behind general impressions, like a dream) since—according to standard comic book physics—he is an agent responsible for the change that creates the new timeline. That’s just science, people. =)


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2. They are a payload, delivered to Bruce’s psyche via the Boom-time Tube that Flash helps generate in the future. This is NOT an ability of the Flash’s, but made possible w/the help of telepathy (provided by a certain Martian Manhunter or other meta, perhaps a once-villain?), magic (Wonder Woman’s backstory should connect us to “magic” in the DCCU), or advanced/exotic tech (in MAN OF STEEL, Zod & company demonstrated a shared mental virtual world that could be manipulated, a la the Matrix), or maybe some combo. Maybe future Bats had some kind of implant that recorded his experiences, to be dispatched in just this way to his youthier self as an ultimate contingency plan. One of those if-you’re-seeing-this-then-I’m-dead contingency plans.


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3. The scenes are purely cinematic storytelling. A cut to the future. A simple flash forward meant for *our*—the audience’s—eyes, not Bruce’s, to show *us* a possible future, one in which Batman has not already stolen Luthor’s Kryptonite (or, hasn't held onto it, but I'm gonna ignore that possibility =).
All of these explanations fit the data, such as it is, presented in the film I saw in the theater. Will any or all of them hold for the "director's cut" or whatever it is we'll get on DVD? No idea, but I hope so. Honestly, the mystery and ambiguous nature of the scenes are okay with me in this movie built from comic book parts. It can fuzz up the logic of things, but emotionally and anecdotally, it gets us where we need to go…


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1. We understand that Superman is just one bad day away from being Earth’s alien overlord.

2. It helps sell Bruce's hyperbolic line to Alfred: If there is even a one percent chance he could go bad, we have to take it as an absolute certainty (pardon the paraphrasing, can't recall the exact words). That's some dangerous invective he's trying to sell there, but with the vision of a future firepitted Earth fresh in our minds, if not his, it doesn't sound quite as fascist-alarmist, right?

2.a. It also helps legitimize Luthor's purported stance on planetary security. Justifying rich white men scheming to destroy the hard-working law-abiding immigrant.


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3. We can piece together that Batman can avoid this future by acting in the present. In the future, he is engaged in acquiring Lexcorp's Kryptonite sample when he's capture by Super's soldiers. If he can get his hands on that in the present, that future may never come to pass. Cut to: Lex finding a Batarang embedded in his just-robbed-by-Batman Kryptonite sample chamber.

4. It also serves as a treat (not sure if 10 minutes of action can really be an "Easter egg") to the DC reading and gaming geeks in the audience, potential movie evangelists/apologists.
Here endeth the crazy talk.


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For now, at least. =)

Keep on keepin' on~

Click for my earlier take on BVS Futurama!
Click for a breakdown of the Knightmare!
Click for all my BATMAN <3 SUPERMAN crazy talk! =)

BATMAN V SUPERMAN: Breaking down the Knightmare…

So, what's up with the memory-within-a-vision-within-a-dream-within-a-bad-burrito sequence in BATMAN <3 SUPERMAN? *SPOILERS* after the pic!


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First, we see a vision of an Apokoliptic future, one in which Darkseid has come to Earth and transformed it into a New Apokolips. This vision is not a story or a message. The best way to describe it is a memory. A memory of Batman's own experiences in this future. We see Darkseid's omega symbol burned into the Earth, firepits in the distance. Batman leads a group of rebels who are meeting with another group who has promised to deliver a sample of Kryptonite. When Batman opens the Lexcorp-branded case, he learns that he's been betrayed—no Kryptonite. Why would the Batman need Kryptonite to fight Darkseid? The answer becomes apparent as the the trap is sprung and the couriers reveal themselves to be part of a military police force, sporting uniforms with the Kryptonian character for "Hope" sewn into the shoulders. Superman is working for Darkseid.


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Batman resists, but when Parademons join the fray, he's overpowered and knocked unconscious. He comes to in an underground cell, chained to a wall. Superman enters the cell and approaches him, casually powering up and executing the prisoners chained beside him with his heat vision. He removes Batman's cowl and considers it. He then puts his right hand on Bruce's chest, looks him in the eye and says, "She was my world, and you took her from me." Superman then kills Bruce.


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The events we see here (and *maybe* Bats sees as well) unfold in the future of the, oh, let's call it timeline Omega.

In the film, this is when Bruce of 2016 snaps awake, seated at the Batcomputer, apparently from the shock of dying in the vision (based on the cinematic cut), but perhaps also or only due to the eruption of a spacetime portal just a few feet away from him in the Batcave. The energies of the portal are throwing the cave into chaos, whipping anything that's not bolted down around the cave and wreaking havoc with the electronics. Through the portal we see an older, scruffier looking Flash, sporting some variation of his red suit as well as some extra bits of wearable tech or armor. I don't remember his exact words, but he is yelling over the chaos, telling Bruce, "Lois—Lois is the key! You were right about him! Oh, am I too early? I'm too early! Find us, Bruce. Find us!" Those aren't the exact words and order, but those are the substance of the four parts of his message I remember.


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This Flash is communicating with Bruce from the same future in the timeline Omega. I'd wager it's *after* future Batman is Kal-El Ma'ed, probably following orders left as part of a worst-case-scenario Batman contingency plan.


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I forget the order of Flash's statements, but let me start with "You were right about him, Bruce." I think there was some emphasis like, "You were right about him all along… Fear him!" Something that stressed that Bruce didn't trust this "him" from the get-go. Given the context of Batman's future memories and the recent devastation caused by Supes v. Zod we're meant to think that Flash is talking about Superman.

But take into account "I'm too early!" This tells us that Flash's message is reaching Bruce too early, too far back in Flash's past, which means that the "him" that Bruce was right about could be someone he has not met yet, perhaps one of the metahumans—a future Justice League member. Given the four metas in Lex's files, I'd say Aquaman, heh. But, like I said, it could be anybody. Perhaps a DCCU Steve Trevor?

"Lois is the key." The key to what? Given everything we've seen so far, we should conclude: Superman's humanity. Next to Clark's parents, she's the emotional touchstone that enables the superhuman to appreciate and relate to the human. Taken with future Kal's last words to future Bats, we can surmise that Lois dies in the near future, and Kal blames Bats, or the League, or humankind in general, and the Flash is correct—losing Lois drives Superman to go fascist tyrant on the planet, apparently in service to Darkseid.


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But then again, there's a chance that she might be the key to something/someone else. She is a snoopy journalist, supposedly an excellent one (although I suspect that's info we bring to the movie, not info the movie actually presents to us). Maybe she ends up uncovering some important secret or connection? A government/military plot to subdue, control, or destroy the League? Maybe she knows or has something vital, but doesn't know it? Perhaps the engagement ring is the key to Kal's as-yet-unseen Fortress of Solitude? Just a thought. =)

And "Find us!" Here the Flash urges Batman to seek out the metas, unite them, prepare them to protect the world and fight the future that he's living. The urgency may be about gathering them SOONER this time, that maybe if they'd been ready for Darkseid (and/or other Big Bads), the Apololiptic future could be averted. Then the portal seems to collapse.

And with it, timeline Omega.

This is when Bruce of 2016 really snaps awake, seated at the Batcomputer, no rip in spacetime, no mini-tornado of chaos in the cave. Just the computer, ticking away.


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This is timeline JL. Divergent from timeline Omega at the point when Flash contacts Bruce and imparts information that leads to him taking actions different from those his timeline Omega counterpart took. Most immediately, the Bat-theft of Luthor's Kryptonite. When Bruce decides to do that, it ripples forward in time, leading to events unfolding in timeline JL differently from timeline Omega, enough so that the future Flash of timeline JL does not need to contact Bruce in the past. Y'know, cuz he's too busy fighting off his kooky Rogues at the ground breaking of the Flash museum; Supes is preoccupied rescuing malfunctioning spaceplanes and kittens from trees; and Batman enjoys a picnic w/his wife and kids while Nightwing and Batwoman BOFF! SOCK! and POW! the streets of Gotham clean of crime.

Or perhaps, Flash simply can't reach Bruce in the past because he's been Omega Beamed by Darkseid. =(

But probably not, right? =)

Keep on keepin' on~

Click for my earlier take on BVS Futurama!
Click for 3 explanations of the Knightmare!
Click for all my BATMAN <3 SUPERMAN crazy talk! =)

Saturday, March 26, 2016

BATMAN V SUPERMAN: Alternate Futurama *SPOILERS* (Batman's "Vision")

SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS follow. Turn back now if you haven't fought your way thru BATMAN <3 SUPERMAN yet!


Welcome… to the world of the TOMORROW!~

So, what the heck was it that Bruce saw/experienced in the Batcave? It appeared to be a vision of an Apokoliptian future Earth, delivered via a future Flash, perhaps harnessing some combo of Boom Tube tech and Speed Force, maybe some Martian telepathy or backwards-speaking magicks for good measure?


But how many visions was it? I think there are two, nested within each other. The innermost one, vision 1, is a packet of Bruce's own future memories/experiences. This starts with that view of a desert Earth (future Gotham?), with the "Omega" character branded into the ground… Firepits burning in the distance… An apparent rebel operation run by him to acquire a chunk of Kryptonite, contained in a Lexcorp-branded case… And a betrayal by the courier of his forces and himself to a contingent of armed —in uniforms sporting the Kryptonian character for "Hope" on the shoulders—as well as a platoon of Parademons.

Tangent: RE: The Parademons. I was a little disappointed at their apparent inspect/wasp-like design, but that final Parademon who knocks Bats's lights out looked the part to me. Maybe the waspy ones are a different breed? I really hope the Parademons are all chunky winged Luchador types, a la Kirby's style.


When future Bats awakes, he's chained to a wall in an underground jail. Supes drops in to judge, jury, and execute the prisoners hanging beside him. When he approaches Bats, he tears off his cowl and tells Bruce, "She was my world." Maybe he said something like "and you took her from me," too? I can't be sure now, but that's the kind of line that feels right there, right?

Tangent: "She was my world" is what Jonathan Kent's ghost tells Clark about Martha on his Canadian(?) walkabout.

Then Kal places his hand on Bruce's chest, pauses a moment, and then applies pressure, apparently killing Bruce and snapping him out of the vision and back to the Batcave in 2016, when and where he apparently wakes up at the Batcomputer and sees the head and shoulders of what looks like a future Flash (a scrubby and aged version of the kid we see in the metahumans Lex files), wearing some kind of red armor or tech, ringed by some kind of portal in spacetime, and yelling at him that "Lois is the key!" He also asks/exclaims something like, "Is it too early? I'm too early!" This could be directed at Bruce, someone off-portal, or maybe himself. I think the last things we hear him say are "Find us!" and "You were right about him! You were always right about him!"

Bats was Kal-El Ma'ed!

This is vision 2, and within it, vision 1 was part a payload delivered to Bruce of 2016.

Meanwhile, the portal phenomenon is making a mess of the Batcave, blowing anything not bolted down around the cave, and perhaps wreaking havoc w/the Batcomputer. When the portal closes, Bruce snaps out of this vision, and back to the Batcave in 2016, when and where he apparently wakes up at the Batcomputer and sees… Nothing out of the ordinary.

What happened? What did we see?

I believe we saw events that transpired in two realities or timelines, first an original, or at least, "earlier" one, and then a second one, that diverged from the original due to actions taken by Batman based on the Flash's message.

So, in the first timeline, a few years into the future, Darkseid comes to Earth and manipulates or controls Superman into becoming his enforcer after the death of Lois Lane (ostensibly due to machinations of Batman) drives him to Ubermenschism. A group of metahumans (maybe they had enough time to call themselves the JL before Darkseid's arrival?) attempt to resist, but apparently find Darkseid + Superman to be unbeatable (as it would be). Indeed, in this future, Batman is dead, Kal-El Ma'ed. So—executing a plan that I'm willing to bet is future Batman's own last resort contingency plan—the Flash sends his message back to Bruce of 2016. And although the message is delivered too early, it motivates Bruce to do something different—steal the Kryptonite from Lexcorp *now*, in 2016—and thusly change the future, apparently eliminating the need for a future Flash to send that message in the first place (but maybe possibly creating a future in which a future Flash CAN'T?). So, that time-Boom Tube portal dealio (pardon the technical jargon) never opened in the Batcave of the Bruce we see fighting Clark in BATMAN V SUPERMAN.

But, since Batman is an agent of the difference/s that change the future—comic book rules—he retains a memory/vision/echo/dream of the message. And since it's a movie, we get to SEE it. =)


At Clark's funeral, when Diana asks Bruce why he says that they need to find the other metas, why they'll need to come together, he says something like, "Just a feeling" or something, right? Sure, he could be playing it cagey, close to the vest, as is every Batman's nature, right? But what if right then, that's the truth.

Tangent: I think it's kind of funny-slash-bold to assign Batman the job of assembling a team. Classically, while he always ultimately acknowledges the value of a Justice League, he is the last one to be a joiner. It will be interesting to see his recruiting technique (and Wonder Woman's). Man, is Flash gonna be Barry or Wally? If it's Wally, how many times is WW gonna be kindly (or violently? =) shooting down his hormonal behavior?

So, does Bruce remember the details of the events of this earlier iteration of reality? Perhaps they were fresh when he "woke up" from them in the Batcave, and they've been fading since? While I think I'd dig Bruce Wayne retaining the insight of this alternate future—can't trust whoever that courier is in the future, that Flash kid can time travel!—I kinda like him moving forward on instinct and momentum.

When it's still fresh, the vision—of his future hunt for Kryptonite and the "Super-soldiers"—certainly seems like a direct inspiration for him deciding to steal the Kryptonite and confront Superman. "I'm older now than my father ever was. This may be the most important thing I ever do." Something like that, right?

But think of those memories dissolving, or resolving, into a desire, a will, maybe even just a hunch, to find and collect the other metas, to stand together against an imminent threat (Lex can help fill in those blanks), and perhaps keep an eye on Lois Lane. That's enough, isn't it?

And—hey!—who does Bruce NOT keep track of once the Super-$hit goes down? Lois Lane. So maybe those echoes fade quickly.

Maybe we'll get other glimpses into alternate, Apokoliptic, futures in the next couple of DCU movies. The future changes just enough that the Flash (of the same future, or perhaps successively different Apokoliptic futures) needs to try to contact a different hero at a different critical moment in each one.

Keep on keepin' on~