THE RED FOREST…
TALL MAN: 1957. Upstate New York. A paradox so powerful, it destroys the fabric of time…At least locally. Enough to maintain erosion forever. The birth of the Red Forest. Try to stop it, but you can't, because it's already happened. It's like a memory of tomorrow.This sounds very similar to how I've imagined the creation of the Red Forest. A massive paradox that blows away a chunk of reality out of history and into the red leaf limbo-slash-plane. I suspect that this paradox is also the origin of the Witness as we know him. Someone we know will lose their physical form in reality, while their consciousness, their self, will survive in the Red Forest. How long will it take him to master the abilities he's demonstrated this season? Immersion-possession, mental suggestion and shape shifting, receiving/directing his followers in the house…?
I suspect this will happen, or be thwarted, and somehow collapse/reboot everything, in the season finale. Damn. That's gonna be nuts. =)
It *does* seem very traptastic, tho, doesn't it? It's not like Cole didn't legitimately torture the heck out of TM to motivate him, but I get the sense that TM chose his moment to reveal this info. He paced it all just right, ready for every beat… He gives up the Red Forest origin story, then asks about Oliver Peters's press conference, counts the seconds til his bomb goes off, then his henchman showing up, and wriggling himself free in time to escape.
Maybe "trap" isn't the correct word. Tableau? TM gives up the info in a very Witness-y way, to manipulate players into the positions he needs them in. I'm fairly certain that Team Splinter will understand that getting that info was "all too easy." I'm hopeful that they'll have a plan B and time-traveling plan C ready in anticipation. =)
TALL MAN v. OLIVIA.
Before Cole played "Those Endearing Young Charms" on Tall Man's bones, we got to listen in on the two leaders of the Army in a quiet moment at stately Witness Manor…
OLIVIA: Do you remember when Mother would speak of the Red Forest? Promise that we were important, that the cycle would lead us to a world without time…without death?I definitely hear a capital M at the beginning of "Mother" as spoken by Olivia, referring to a title rather than a biological description. Perhaps Mother is an Army higher-up, someone who used to have Olivia's role as guide and speaker for the Witness?
TALL MAN: Your father gave his life for it.
I wonder if the Messengers called Olivia "Mother."
And Tall Man mentions Olivia's father again. The first/other time I recall was at the Paradox Ceremony for Traveler/Ramse/Ethan way back when. Tall Man seems to hold her father in high esteem, apparently saying that he sacrificed his life for the Red Forest. Could he mean specifically its creation, or is he speaking more generally of the cause? I want it to be for the literal forest, which, according to Tall Man, is spawned in the wake of a paradox in 1957 in upstate New York. That would make for a problematic timeline, tho, Olivia's father dying/disappearing in 1957 and Olivia likely born in the 70s, *maybe* late 60s, right?
Hrm…Does it sound to anyone else like Tall Man knew Olivia's father? At the Paradox Ceremony he said something like, "Your father would be so pleased to see this." Was he a Monkey peer and colleague? A Primary on the side of the Army?
OLIVIA: Why hasn't it come? The Witness...
TALL MAN: Works in mysterious ways, dear.
OLIVIA: As do you. I never expected you to embrace technology this way.
TALL MAN: We've spent far too long looking to the past for answers. Your leadership proved that. It's time to look to the future.
TALL MAN: Peters has finally come up for air.At this point Tall Man does something a bit horrible. He walks up to Olivia, places his hand over her mouth, and begins to asphyxiate her, keeping a tight hold and seal as Olivia helplessly attempts to twist out of his grip. He releases her before she passes out, or worse. As he walks away, Olivia gathers her wits as best she can, nonplussed, and asks…
OLIVIA: The Witness didn't foresee this, did he? Did he? He lies…
OLIVIA: Where are you going?Olivia is losing her faith while Tall Man holds steady. Opposite reactions to the same issue: The Word of the Witness can no longer be trusted. Olivia's beliefs are shaken to their core. Tall Man revels in taking the reins in the Cycle of Uncertainty. He's never been comfortable with the idea of his fate being written for him.
TALL MAN: To secure *our* future.
How far will Olivia's questions of the Witness take her? Is it possible that she will decide that she's been betrayed and used by the Witness? Will the Witness become a greater enemy to her than Project Splinter? Simply put, will she turn against Tall Man and the Witness and join Team Splinter, if only for one crucial mission or moment?
And is that exactly as the Witness planned?
JENNIFER'S SHELL GAME.
Gotta say, I *love* the circle that Jennifer and Cole open and close this episode. In 2044, Cole takes Jennifer to task for sitting on 30 years of foregone conclusions, "while" in 2016, Jennifer asks Cole how it all ends. And Jennifer tells Cole what she heard him tell her 30 years earlier which is what Jennifer tells Cole that she heard him tell her 30 years earlier which is what…
COLE: You got 30 years on all of us. You know how this ends, don't you?
JENNIFER: A wise man once told me, "There are many endings, but the right one is the one you choose."
JENNIFER: Then tell me what happens…How does this end?The writers really got me with this one. My immediate first thought in 2044 is, hey—I bet Cole said that to her. But then I realize Jennifer says "a wise man," which is not how Jennifer would label Cole (but of course, it IS, if she wanted to obfuscate the identity of the teller =). So, I settled on the words possibly coming from Ramse, who may or may not be destined to be Jennifer's good friend, in some time period.
COLE: There are many endings.
JENNIFER: Which is the right one?
COLE: The right one…is the one that you choose.
In the shell game lesson that precedes this, Jennifer drops several interesting bombs, which, of course, Cole doesn't think to follow up on. Is that because he still considers her to be "crazy" as well as special? After everything that he's seen, heard, and experienced, and how well he's apparently adapted to the outside-iest of the box thinking there is—time travel, mental time travel, profiling Time as a conscious entity—how can he just discount remarks by this, or any, Primary?
COLE: I didn't come here to see you do a magic trick, Jennifer.
JENNIFER: This isn't magic. This is a lesson. Perception versus deception. Cassie, Ramse, Katarina, her daughter, my daughter…all of them, distractions… You keep watching the ball, you should be watching the hands.
COLE: I'm beginning to think you get off on this.
JENNIFER: There was a time when you could have known for sure.
[JENNIFER bites COLE’s hand]
COLE: Ah! The hell was that for?
JENNIFER: I told you to watch the hands.
- GETTING OFF?
Being a dopey boy, well, I think you can hear Cole's clueless blinking in the wake of that, even if there's no actual time for it in the scene, right? And that little bomb whizzes right on by. =)
Maybe specifically a reference to their kiss? But I think what's more important is that in general, she fell for him. Did/will she get the chance to actually be in love with him? Sadly, given the tense of her words—barring any Primary tense confusion—it seems not.
- WATCH THE HANDS?
But, it turns out that in fact, he would have done well not to take his eyes off of Tall Man's gnarly hand, which wriggles loose just in time to allow him to escape in the wake of a well-timed entrance by his henchgun. Jennifer gave him two warnings in one.
Or is it three? When I first heard her speak the words to Cole in 2044, I thought to connect them to something colorful, "hands…like the hands of a clock?" But after Tall Man's escape, I wondered if it might mean someone else's hands. Who do we know who might have a little thing, a bit of sensitivity, maybe, about their hands? Technically, it's only the one hand, but only creepy dudes and Kings of Pop can get away with wearing just one glove, right?
I'm talking about Ramse. Who, since his time in the Japanese prison seems to be pretty careful about wearing gloves whenever he can. I still haven't seen or heard anything in the show that explains why it is his one hand and arm didn't get the same protection the rest of his body did from the Quantum serum. The only "official" recognition of the fact was in the diagnosis he received when hospitalized in 1944—advanced osteoporosis in one arm. Was the serum not in his system long enough before he Splintered? Was his hand partially outside the stream when the Splinter initiated? Was his hand injured at the time he gave himself the serum, and so wasn't applied to a completely healthy "original?" Remember this, from "Shonin?"
OLIVIA: Time isn't perfect. Yet I'm envious how most of you seems to defy it.
- WHAT ABOUT THAT BITE?
Nah, probably not. I have an odd feeling that it was Something, tho. Heh. Maybe just a little mark that Cassie can ask about at just the right wrong time? =)
DON'T WORRY, COLE, BE HAPPY…
Was interesting to see Cole's reaction to the Hyenas' plan to broadcast the truth about Markridge and the plague. In this sort of situation, in stories of this and adjacent genres, whistleblowing is a positive, righteous act. Transparency is The Right Thing, the Good. But here we have Cole, ostensibly our hero, explaining from a very difficult-to-argue-with position, that of someone who's *lived* through the aftermath, that the world is better off *not* knowing, at least for as long as possible.
He frames it as a loss of hope, which *is* foremost in his mind after recent events in his life. Well, maybe foremost after torturing the man who killed his father…and anything/everything that Cass seems to be withholding…But after that stuff, hope, definitely hope!
COLE: What? What, you want to tell the world the truth? That there's no hope? That they're all gonna die? I've seen what happens when people think their days are numbered. It's ugly. We're not speeding that up.And Jennifer tries to reason him over to the side of the Hyenas…
HYENA: People need to know the truth.
COLE: No. They don't. I know what happens. We turn on each other. We become animals. Real ones, not like you're pretending to be.
JENNIFER: I get that you're afraid. We are entering uncharted territory, but old me told you to come here, right?"Uncharted territory." This Jennifer seems to know that Cole is not from a timeline in which Oliver Peters played blew the whistle on Markridge, its shady investors, and the plague. So, she and the Hyenas are going to Change things, and since they couldn't do it the way their doing it unless her older self sends Cole to join them, then they're…guaranteed to succeed?
COLE: Yeah, so?
JENNIFER: What do you think it took to face the Monkeys head on? Fearlessness, right? Fearlessness that comes from knowing that everything is gonna be okay. Old me is proof that I live to fight another day.
COLE: What about everybody else? Hmm? Who's gonna save them if your little crew here is wrong?
But it's here where Cole out-Primaries the Primary. He's like—I dunno—an analog Primary, doing it longhand, somehow. He can see what she apparently can't. That others may not make it. Cole is becoming quite the tactician. In season 1, he was basically a weapon pointed at the past, aimed and fired by Katarina and Project Splinter, and to my mind, a stretch for the secret identity of the Witness. Now, though, he's grown to be so much more, so much smarter and more capable than that. I love/hate to say it, but he's definitely getting/got a head for it now. And of course, he ultimately wants to create a world in which Cass can be happy. Scrapping everything to start again might be the only way to do that right.
HANNAH DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT KATARINA…
A little disappointing. Hannah was 4 or 5 years old when the Daughters took her in, so she should have some memories of time w/Mama Katarina, right? But I suppose those would fade quickly enough in the 24 years since, with Daughter-ly duties, learning, and the fairy tale story Mother Jennifer told her.
I just *really* wanted the possibility of Hannah stealthily visiting and/or watching over Katarina as the years went by. Perhaps protecting her from scavs while out in the field and visiting her lab and rooms in the wee hours, going thru her photos, books, mementos, and notes…Maybe even learning enough to help complete some equations a few times when Jones falls asleep working on them.
O well *sigh*
And what about Hannah's remarks about the Splinter device?
HANNAH: Science killed the world. Now your machine is going to finish off what's left of us.Where is this coming from? Is this judgement similar to Sam Ramse's take on his father's time traveling quest to save him? A wise child's reflection on her parent's reckless behavior? Or is this the culmination of teachings, learned with Jennifer and the Daughters? As a Primary, does Jennifer see the machine as an abomination (even though Time *likes* time travel)? As a survivor of the plague, with the knowledge of a Primary, does she see it—and technology—as evil?
Does Jennifer have good reason to teach Hannah and her Daughters to be wary/untrusting of science? Of the Splinter device specifically? That conditioning could be a positive if the Daughters are an army that Jennifer plans to sic on the Witness and his technology. Will she lead them on an assault of Titan?
Or, does Jennifer know that there is a time in the near future when the device must be destroyed or crippled and her Daughters will be the ones to do it. Another set of Messengers, waiting for the right moment? September 2044? Perhaps it will be done to prevent someone who's Splintered from returning (sent to distant past or future, as a trap?), or to prevent someone from the 2040s from exploiting it, or maybe to isolate some dangerous side effect or phenomenon, like the red skies, in the 2040s.
"The A-Team with all Murdocks!" Howling Mad Hyenas! Jennfier Goines is awesome in every time period. I just wish she wasn't so sad.
Early on, Ramse asks Cole about his bullet wound—man, for a best friend, he sure perforates Cole a lot, doesn't he? Would love a JAWS-y scar scene with some of our main characters. Maybe back in Kat's office w/her good hooch. Or maybe a flashback to that whiskey that Cole brought back to share with Deacon, although that would leave Cassandra out of the mix, so maybe not. Boo.
Kat and Project Splinter have been tracking the progress of the anomaly storms in 2044. On her wall is a record of recent observations and the last is dated September 14, 2044. Just a week to Jennifer's alleged expiration date!
In this ep, for the first time for me, Jennifer said "Otter eyes" and I heard "Otterize," as in, to transform into an otter. It makes me wonder if this is the seed of a clue or hint, fuzzy and incomplete, in her Primary mind, something that will make sense in a crucial moment. A password? Or that it sounds like another word or phrase that will be one choice among several. "Authorize?" "Cauterize?"
In any case, I still hope/believe that it connects to a yet-to-be-seen moment in Cole's future and Jennifer's childhood. A Splinter mission (or maybe misfire?) that has Cole drop in on the Goines's home one Saturday morning while 8-yo pre-Primary Jennifer is cartooning and Kellogg's Sugar Bombing, maybe w/a wide braced smile. She will see/meet him and dub/associate him with "Otter eyes." Years later, that will come back to her, fuzzily.
Cole explains that anomaly storms are eating the future and working their way back in time (to 2016 at the time). Did Katarina explain that much to him before he Splintered? Is this a demonstration of a special connection or awarnes that Cole has to Time? I don't think so, not exactly. I think it shows just how adept he's become at navigating the weird logic of time travel and its side effects/collateral damage.
Marcus makes an interesting point back in 2044, tho. In his—and Adler's—opinion, no one really KNOWS how the outcomes of Splinter missions are affecting the anomalies. Where there *seemed* to be a correlation before, there is not. Of course, other measures/countermeasures made in history via the Witness and the Army may have been/be/will be compensating, but basically, Whitley and Adler seem to be right.
What if the time storms aren't working their way "backward" but are following the cracks in time left by Splinter events? What if they're appearing in 2016 (enough to make the news crawl on cable news) because Project Splinter has visited the time repeatedly? Next, would be 2015, then 1944 and 1975 (the Messengers Splintered then, too). Of course, there's no telling how the aftermath of the 1957 paradox—which, if the Tall Man wasn't b.s.ing them, is responsible for the creation of the Red Forest and thusly is a fixed point in Time—will affect or accelerate the red skies' spread. Fun times. =)
Thought it was interesting that the Keeper was quick to taze with Ramse, but not so much with Cassandra. Did he lose someone, wife or daughter? Does he have a Daughter, perhaps?
Yes, I did catch the use of past tense in Cass's truth about her hating Ramse.
CASS: I hate him…because someone I cared about…someone I sacrificed everything for…chose him over me.She says "cared" and the Keeper reads that as true. When Ramse says "same," the Keeper reads that as true, too. So, do Cass and Ramse both no longer care about Cole? Of course not. Past tense "cared" and present tense "care" are not mutually exclusive states. So, she tells the truth while possibly playing—for Ramse's benefit—at not being as interested in Cole as she once was, and getting to spit some bile she'd been building up.
I love that Ramse gets to express himself by echoing others in such succinct ways…
That’s so Ramse =)
I hope we get a reason to see the Keeper again. I wonder how well he'd be able to read a Primary hooked up to a polygraph, eh? Did he ever identify who or what he was back in the world?
He *feels* like a test or challenge in a heroic quest, doesn't he? Like a Sphinx, but not quite. A creature or being who will trades in truths. Sounds a little more Whedon than D'Aulaire's, right? But that feeling… A truly excellent character creation.
KEEPER: You know, whatever battle you're about to walk into together...It won't be your hatred for each other that will divide you. It will be the lies you tell to camouflage it.Mythic, man.
And I didn't even get to the Elliot Jones, TITAN, and “See you soon” rabbit holes! I'm gonna try and cobble together something about EJ (*so* pleased to see him again! =), T-town, and the knock at the door in a post before Monday.
Keep on keepin' on~