Sunday, May 22, 2016

12 MONKEYS: 02x05: Bodies of Water: Visiting the Witness…

Some *SPOILER*y discussion of what we see (and don't see) of the Witness in this episode. If you haven't watched this week's episode yet, get thee to syfy.com and do it. Then come back and have your mind blown!

Or at least your eyes strained a bit.

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Meanwhile, at stately Witness Manor… When Olivia visits the Red Forest via a dose of red leaf brew—taken in a ceremonial chamber designed specifically for such communion (it could probably do with a good fainting couch, tho) we learn that she communicates with him by entering the simultaneously crumbling-building-rebuilding house on the edge of the forest. She speaks her thoughts and dares some questions and the walls of the house answer with words supernaturally scrawled on them.

Was kinda surprised that the Witness *seems* to own up to being fallible.

Technically, though, that's not what he says…
OLIVIA: Time has been altered. Change was not supposed to be possible. You promised the cycle would hold…
MY WITNESS THE HOUSE: TIME EVOLVES
Pretty rude, that, donchathink? ALL CAPS? I suppose his minions are all a bit too afeared to school him on polite wall post etiquette…

I still believe that the Witness is feeding half-truths and hidden misdirection/motivation. He passes on enough information to have his players advance to a certain next stage, then redirects or discards them. We saw it pretty explicitly with Vivian Rutledge (aka Lady Messenger) who, as a Messenger, was indoctrinated to believe in the Witness's word and the promise of a deathless paradise called the Red Forest, and trained for a singular purpose—the paradox assassination of a Primary. She was not taught to think of a life outside or beyond that mission. Yet when she survives, she goes on to become the mother of a very important lieutenant in the Army in the early 2000s, Tall Man. I can't believe the Witness doesn't know that that will happen, that that is "luck."" He's used Vivian to complete a Primary mission (pun intended) and then left her in just the right time and place and state of mind to be of even more service to the Army, and perhaps allows her to do it believing it's of her own free will (which it is and isn't, depending on your POV =).

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Tall Man kind of puts it into words when he somewhat snidely welcomes Olivia back from the Forest…
TALL MAN: You get your answers, darling? Of course not. The one who sees all, knows all, asking us to see nothing and know nothing. It's chaos. It's beautiful. A new uncertain cycle has begun.
He's seeing this apparently unmapped cycle as a great challenge and adventure, which, if you buy my explanation of Witness direction above, is exactly how he needs to see it in order to achieve what the Witness wishes. While the Tall Man certainly operates as a true believer, personally, it seems he'd rather not feel like a pawn or puppet while fulfilling the Word.

Later in the episode, when Olivia guides Cassie to the house, the Witness appears as the Plague Doctor and then as Aaron, the right side of his face apparently scarred from the fire which Cole and Cassie believed he died in. The Witness does not speak as either figure, at least, not that we get to see/hear.

It's interesting. The Witness's communication method certainly seems like a Primary's—writing on the wall. However, I think that this user interface is out of necessity, not any kind of Primary-esque mania.

What we/visitors to My Witness The House see seems to be instantaneous and/or otherworldly. The Witness's words as writing on the wall appears instantly. Apparitions (whether Plague Doctor or burninated Aaron) appear spontaneously. I see this and it inspires the following thought: try to reduce this "supernatural" behavior to some trick of physics, based on—what else?—time. What if the Witness is in the room, but moving/living at a hyper-accelerated state? Like the Flash, or, better yet—and better demonstrated on screen—Quicksilver? We've seen this very effect on the show a couple of times. First, when Cole was caught in the blast of the watch paradox. And again (I think) when the Messengers took over the Splinter facility.

So, from the POV of a visitor to the Red Forest, words appear and disappear on the walls in a flash. However, from the Witness's POV, he writes them casually, and leaves them on the walls for days, possibly even months, in order for them to appear for the seconds needed for his visitor to read them. This is all just theory (one that I realllly love), but let's just say that for every second a guest experiences, the Witness experiences an hour. That means that 2.5 days would pass for him while only a minute passes for Olivia or Cassie.

The Witness himself could be pacing back and forth in the room next to a visitor and they wouldn't notice. At most/best, a guest might notice a blur. For the Witness to appear as the Plague Doctor, and then burninated Aaron, he would costume up and stand in place for hours, maybe days, for a guest to register his presence. Maybe he sets a timer/alarm/reminder and stands in position for a minute every hour for several days. Whatever frequency it would take to fool a visitor's persistence of vision. Painstaking work, but we know that the Witness is nothing if not meticulous, right?

The real trick involved in communicating is understanding the speech of his visitors. He would perceive their speech as radically slowed down. Like Bugs Bunny and that mini-Frankenstein doctor when they break that jar of ether, y'know? Perhaps he's just trained his ear/mind to understand. Or maybe he uses the timer/reminder trick again to record mouth shape and position and plays them back for himself on a zoetrope or flip book and reads lips. Or, if he's real lucky, there was a reel-to-reel in that house when it got paradoxed or anomalied and he uses it to record and speed up the spoken words of his visitors.

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We haven’t seen the rest of the house. And I think it must have been rooted in reality (at least *a* reality), along with the forest, at some point in its past. Maybe it was loaded with 20th or 21st century technology that he takes advantage of and keeps hidden from guests. Or perhaps the Witness has items scavenged or “washed up” from different eras when the Red Forest has bordered/borders reality (via an original paradox event, anomalies, and/or time storms).

And all that wallpapering! I wonder if he's learned to make his own paste and paper. Does he ever change the actual design? Why not paint? Hrm… He could probably only make red paint after any original paint runs out, right? So…He has to recycle and re-use the wallpaper. He must be going nuts! (Safe to say, right?) Probably doesn't have cable, fiber, or dish, right? I hope he has some good books in that house. He should really ask his minions to bring him some offerings. The red leaf seems to offer an astral form of visitation. I wonder if there's any way visitors can take or leave anything besides words and ideas. Visitors turn the front door knob. Can they draw on the walls as well? Break things?

Some writing on the wall worth remembering…
When Olivia enters the house: 1957-1959 THIS WAS HOME
This seemed unprompted, not a response to a query by Olivia. Perhaps Olivia caught him in a century of forgetfulness? Or maybe that message is meant for someone else whose visit overlaps hers?
When Olivia asks what the Witness wants from her: FIND CASSANDRA / PREPARE HER
Olivia responds that Cass is a threat who should be eliminated…
To that: NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO *
* Punctuated with a scare-stare by the Plague Doctor.

Something that sticks in my mind… Olivia says something interesting when complaining about how things have not gone as they were foretold.
OLIVIA: We want the contingencies.
What's that about?

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Unmake history!

Keep on keepin’ on~

Monday, May 16, 2016

12 MONKEYS: 02x04: Emergence: some thoughts…

Had some random-ish flashes about the show this week. The following are not necessarily directly connected to events of “Emergence” but related to events from season 1 and season 2 up to “Emergence.” SPOILERS follow!~



COULD TALL MAN BE A DOUBLE AGENT?

First: Who the heck is Vivian?

I saw that a not-lazy-like-me 12 MONKEYS fan had looked up the character I call Lady Messenger on the imdb. Her name: Vivian Rutledge. Sure, why not? When I googled that name myself—it sounded oddly catchy/familiar—I found out that that’s the name of Lauren Bacall’s character in THE BIG SLEEP! Makes me wonder if the Army has given its Messengers names from TV, movies, or novels that fit the years/eras that they’ve been sent. Guess we’ll find out when they hit the 70s. Maybe we’ll meet a David Bowman? George Taylor? Nova? Edith Bunker? J.J. Walker? Mary Tyler Moore? Chewbacca? =)

Anyhow, when Lady Messenger Vivian Rutledge says her last farewell to her son, Tall Boy, from her literal deathbed in 1971…
MESSENGER MOM: My journey ends, but yours begins. The Army of the 12 Monkeys will show you your path. Have faith that the Witness has spoken, and that one day you, my son, will set things right.
Take into account the context of Lady Messenger’s life, upbringing, and mission as shown in the episodes of this season thus far. She was raised by the Army, indoctrinated in the teachings/word of the Witness, lived a sequestered life thru 2043, then launched into the timestream to 1944 to paradoxidize a Primary, fully expecting to die in the process. When she finds herself alive after her successful mission, she is purposeless, much as Jennifer finds herself when Cole talks her down from releasing the virus. Lady Messenger learns that she has other, personal, drives besides those programmed into her by the Army—she wants to live, and she wants to be a mother.

And that is what she does, despite, in her mind—and perhaps in rebellion against—the designs and wishes of the Witness. Of course, we know that Tall Boy grows up to become Tall Man, a powerful lieutenant in the Army. We’re not privy to the details of Lady Messenger’s life between 1944 and 1971, but I imagine it unfolds like so…

She is completely disconnected, lost in 1944. The only person who knows about her true situation is a certain G-man, Agent Gale. I’m not sure how he navigates the potential law enforcement red tape involved, but I believe he takes a special interest and does what he can to help her begin a life in 1944. Compassion leads to attraction and ultimately to romance. Perhaps they become partners, professionally as well as romantically, and work his pet project together at the FBI, the Splinter Files.

And they have a son. Tall Boy.

Maybe while investigating some temporal mischief or traces in the 50s or 60s, Agents Gale and Rutledge run afoul of the young Army, and Gale is killed. More fuel for the fire of revenge in Rutledge’s heart. Something she passes on to their son. Eventually, she reconnects (connects for the first time) with the Army, perhaps with a cover story, perhaps not. The Army would welcome her for one reason or another: she’s a Messenger from their future and possesses vital knowledge as well as potentially valuable genetic material. Perhaps experiments conducted by the Army lead to her death in 1971. Perhaps it’s the result of exposure to the toxic atmosphere of the 20th century compared to the post-virus environment of the future.

In any case, Vivian has established an in for her son with the Army of the 12 Monkeys, and from her deathbed, directs him to follow the Witness’s words, and in the end, set things right by making the Witness pay for stealing half of her life, her husband, and making her participate in the death of Time.

Or… She could still be a true believer, have seduced or otherwise taken advantage of Agent Gale for his genetic material, and raised Tall Boy to be a true believing Tall Man for the Army. But where’s the fun in that, right? =)

Don’t see the family resemblance? Watch the ep again and look at Agent Gale in that hat and suit. I’d love to see the Tall Son inherit that very hat from his father. Or, sadly, taking it from Gale’s dead body after killing him, completing the first mission given to him by the Army. =(

“EMERGENCE” REALLY WANTS US THINKING THAT RAMSE OR SAM IS THE WITNESS…



When Vivian encounters the Traveler…
MESSENGER: So that you can save your son?
RAMSE: Yes.
MESSENGER: I have known of your cycle my whole life. Your love for your son is long and storied by the Witness. A child is something I cannot have. My cycle ends here.
She mentions how the Witness focuses on the Traveler’s devotion to his son in his “has spokens.” I don’t believe any Messenger knows the Witness’s face or identity, so I don’t think she’s being coy here. She’s simply stating the truth of her experience—the Witness considers Ramse’s story, and more importantly, his motivation, to be important. Now, who in our cast of characters would be most likely to emphasize that in his teachings to his minions, hrm? I’d say it would be either the father or son in the story: Ramse or Sam. So, the Witness is a future (possibly alternate) Ramse or Sam, a version of one who’s lost the other, and who seeks to somehow save or restore him, or maybe re-create the world so that they can be reunited.

No mention of Elena, tho. That doesn’t seem very cool, eh?

Not seeing it? Well, how about this? That’s a video that a 12 MONKEYS fan pointed me to, entitled “12 Monkeys Bonus Scene - Ramse to His Son on Creating the Virus S2E04 | Syfy.”

My usual M.O. is to ignore “extras” until maybe a series or season is over, but the title of this video piqued my curiosity. Please give it a watch yourself and consider again the Witness’s identity.

WHAT ABOUT THAT SERUM IN 2015?



Remember the season 1 finale? Ramse, as Ethan Seki, drops in on Project Splinter for a special, private visit. He meets Dr. Elliot Jones, the director and presumed designer of the Splinter device. Dr. Jones present Ethan with a case containing a dose of Katarina’s quantum serum. Presumably a very early prototype of the one that she develops and uses in 2043.
RAMSE: The item.
ELLIOT: This took a lot to procure… Mr. Seki, this is beyond dangerous…
RAMSE: Thank you.
At the time, I believed that he would need it for himself, that he would need to inject himself with the serum in order to successfully Splinter back to the future.



I realize now that I was wrong. Ramse already has the serum in his bloodstream. He was never sync’d w/the 2043 device, so there’s no tether, but the serum is still in him. We can see it in his arrested aging and enhanced strength and healing. That vial in that case was meant for Sam, not Ramse. Ramse would have Elliot Splinter him forward to 2043, when he would find Sam, inject him, and either run off to live out their lives in the post-apoc w/the scavs and Daughters, or Splinter back to some quiet patch of the past and become their own ancestors. =)

WHERE DID THAT SERUM COME FROM?



Elliot, Katarina’s not-impotent husband of six days, explains to Ramse that the contents of that case were not easy to acquire. It’s a pretty perfectly vague way to say that he somehow exploited his connection to Katarina to get his hands on the serum, without providing any details. We’re left to fill in those blanks. Some possibilities…

1. Elliot STOLE the serum from Katarina.

2. Elliot STOLE the methodology/research to create the serum from Katarina.

3. Elliot somehow got custody of a vial in the divorce.

Yeah, number 3′s not very likely. Katarina explains to Cassie that after six days her husband left her, and that she didn’t want to keep any part of him, which was her rationale at the time for aborting her pregnancy. If we can take Katarina at her word (I think we can) then Elliot would not be in any position to extort anything from her in a split.

It’s weird, tho. Katarina began working at Raritan National because of their work with quantum splintering, which seems to be a term which would refer to the science and/or tech of time travel, right? So, both Elliot and Katarina worked at Raritan, and probably together for some of their time there. Maybe even after the divorce. Possibly after Cassie’s trip to the future?

Did they meet there? Or did she join him there after they met? Either way, that’s a pretty weird scenario given how their relationship ended, right? It would be difficult for Elliot to not know about his daughter, right? And if he DID steal an actual vial of serum from Katarina—option 1, she would be right there to task or even prosecute/ruin him for it, right?



Hrm…

So, the most reasonable explanation is number 2—Elliot stole/duped Katarina’s research and managed to fabricate a dose of her prototype quantum serum. A prototype that was close enough to the 2043 version to send Cassie successfully (and so far as we can tell, safely) to the future.

Q: What was it about the 2040s serum (or was it the device?) that resulted in all of the Splinter failures/mishaps before Cole?

Did Elliot seduce or begin a relationship with Katarina specifically to get his hands on her quantum serum prototype? That seems coldheartedly nuts, but any more nuts than Ethan Seki funding Katarina’s husband’s time machine and contracting him to acquire the serum in the first place?

NB: I think it’s very interesting that neither Ramse nor Katarina has shared Elliot’s identity as the inventor of the Splinter device.

There’s also another possibility…

4. When he says “a lot to procure” Elliot’s referring to difficult steps he had to take—or perhaps amounts paid?—that had nothing to do with Katarina.

In this case, I imagine that Ramse has some Army intel about a cache of serum that was left or lost in the past by a Splinterer from the future. Perhaps encased in a Druze artifact for a couple of centuries? He contracts Elliot, an outsider/non-Monkey, to get his hands on it for him, because his plan to return to the future for his son may not have been official Army business. I rather like this explanation because it makes the Jones’ relationship real, if still fleeting, and not just more collateral damage of the activities of the 12 Monkeys. It also explains how a 2015 serum could enable a successful Splinter.

After watching “Emergence,” I thought of another longshot…

5. Elliot synthesized the serum from the red ivy.

After hearing Katarina explain her take on the origin of the source of Jennifer’s red tea—leaves transformed by a temporal disturbance—a zany possibility occurred to me. What if the composition of red leaf tea turns out to be similar to the quantum serum. Not identical, but similar. IF that’s the case, then could a version of the quantum serum be created using the red tea as a vital ingredient?



Who do we know who happened to have a lab full of red leaves? That’s right, Elliot Jones. Back in 2015, the machine was only capable of sending things forward into the future. 2015′s Project Splinter generated all that red ivy by sending samples of green ivy forward for short increments of time. They’d only JUST started pushing their samples decades ahead when Ethan visits the facility. That’s what’s responsible for the red ivy that arrives overnight in 2043.

So, perhaps, with or without the help of Katarina or her purloined research, Elliot manages to synthesize a version of the quantum serum using the red ivy. That could explain why/how a 2015 serum produced by Elliot Jones works for Cassie, when a 2042 serum produced by Katarina Jones fails for her pre-Cole subjects.

I’m not saying that one leads to the other. Katarina would have developed her serum independent of any red leaf (unless Elliot was instructed to put it in front of her by Ethan =). I’m saying that they end up having some of the same exotic active ingredients. Yeah, that’s pretty thin, I know. Unlikely, right? That’s why I called it a longshot. But, wouldn’t it be elegantly cool if the tea and the serum were connected/related somehow? A physical, material expression of Jennifer and Katarina’s different philosophies or expressions of time.

NB: Elliot Jones is my favorite candidate for Witness. His USING Katarina to get the quantum serum clicks nicely into place when thinking about that. Also, simply, it pits Katarina vs. Elliot. And while Elliot does not have a son, Ramse’s story would be inspiring to a father who lost his child (Hannah), don’t you think?

Unmake history!

Keep on keepin’ on~

Thursday, May 12, 2016

12 MONKEYS: 02x04: Emergence: Rambling on the plague and Time…

Collecting some of my thoughts on the pros (for the Witness and his Army) of a plague in the world of 12 MONKEYS after “Emergence” or “How Katarina Got Her Temporal Groove Back.” =)

HOW DOES A PLAGUE HELP KILL TIME?



“Kill Time” as in *destroy* Time, not, like, playing solitaire… =)

If all the Witness wants to do is kill a few mental patients (and thereby destroy Time), why does he have the Army spend decades ensuring that most of humanity is wiped out by a viral outbreak in the early 21st century?

Well, In order to kill those Jenga Primaries by paradox, time travel is needed. To cause a paradox, matter from one time must be made to contact with that same matter from another [more on paradox]. Well, it turns out that the only realities in which human beings develop time travel technology are those in which a catastrophe like the 2017 plague (or whichever year it’s shifted to in the “latest” reality) motivates scientists like Katarina Jones and her team to revive and complete Project Splinter.

That’s some legit supervillainous mastermind calculus right there, isn’t it? Release a virus that kills billions so that you can hitch a ride to the past in the survivors’ time machine. Impressive planning and execution. But, hey, no supervillain believes he’s a supervillain, right? I’m sure we’ll find that the Witness has his reasons [more on the Witness and his possible plans/reasons].

The good of the many…
The life of his son…
The life of his father…
The life of his fiancĂ©…
The end of his own life…
Y'know, something.

Cuz no one believes they’re a bad person.

BUT MAYBE THERE’S ANOTHER REASON FOR PLAGUE…



I can’t remember when I started thinking this, but it arose out of a consideration of paradoxes—Time has a will. It makes choices. It cares about what things mean. I’ve had this loose idea of Time being given this will, this sentience, by the creatures that inhabit it, specifically, human beings.

In “Emergence,” characters finally begin to explain this idea for us. Katarina is right, time has existed and will exist as long as the universe does. But when does time *matter*? When does it have *meaning*? When it’s marked, experienced, lived, anticipated, remembered, shared. Pretty metaphysical, I know, but I like to think that it’s (armchair) quantum physical, connected to the notion that observation affects the observed. I like it.

If a clock ticks in the woods and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

It’s a classic conceit, but I’m just gonna go with it since Jennifer Goines is the one who told us: Time only started to matter when HUMANS began caring about it. Jennifer seems to go so far as saying that Time was born with the first human. And I believe that Time becomes stronger as the human population that experiences it grows. So, more humans, stronger Time. Fewer humans, weaker Time.

So, if you buy that bit of crazy talk, what can you say about the state of Time circa 2044? Given the decimation of humanity in the wake of several mutations of the virus, Time is perhaps the weakest its been in millions of years, right? I believe this explains why the instabilities caused by the paradoxidation of a Primary in 1944 manifest themselves in 2044 as these bubbles of chaotic time, and why additional Jenga Primary paradox deaths would intensify the disruptions, further setting the stage for the Red Forest on Earth. Time, and thus, reality, are weakest near the end of humanity, when there are fewer human minds living in it.

WHY KILL TIME?



So, the plague may play multiple roles in the Witness’s design, but why? Why would the Witness and his Army want to kill Time? Or is that not the what he wants? The Witness wants to bring/connect/create the Red Forest on Earth, make it reality, which both Jennifer and Katarina agree would break time, but would it actually kill Time? If we are to believe Jennifer and Tommy, if all of humanity existed at once and forever, wouldn’t Time do the same?

No, because Time is NOT just the minds of humans and primaries, it’s humans and primaries experiencing and living in time. Time is the medium in which Time grows.

Here’s a question that bugs me: Why would one of Time’s synapses (Timey Tommy) willingly sacrifice himself?

The quick answer: He’s destined to. If you think about it, that seems like bull-pucky, tho, right? So, maybe it’s part of Time’s plan. Tommy’s death moves events and characters closer to some moment when Time can be properly defended and saved.

Allright, enough already. Darn this show and its frickin frackin rabbit holes. Not since LOST… *sigh*

ABOUT Time VERSUS time



I very much like this interdependency of Time and humanity that Jennifer explains to Katarina. Tommy’s analogy of Primaries as gears in the clock of Time and further explanation of them as synapses in Time’s brain is a little less awesome to me. It depends on where it goes from there. Cuz right now I do not want to SEE some entity representing Time, or hear its voice, y’know? Or maybe more specifically, I don’t want our characters to see or hear Time as a creature, unless maybe it’s at some weird temporal singularity moment. Whatever that is. Maybe.

Or that sentient galaxy that Bender meets in FUTURAMA. That would be cool.

Or Apollo from that episode of STAR TREK.

O man, they’re gonna do a CONTACT thing, aren’t they? Where Time will appear to someone “astrally” as one or several figures that are familiar to the character, reflecting the nature of the conversation or message that’s to be delivered. (The Speed Force just did that to Barry this week.) First I was gonna not like that, but in the span of writing the first dozen words of this paragraph, I came around. That would be okay. What would be awesome is if after Time explains its appearance to one of our gang, heh, Cole or Ramse wills Time to change into a cartoon character in mid-sentence. Could also be a way for Cole to speak to his mother, Cassie to speak to Aaron, Jennifer to Leland, Ramse to…himself? Heh.


Hrm… How many primaries are walking the planet at any given moment? I liked the idea of it being one, and roughly one per generation, a la the Slayer, but maybe there’s a need for more. If Time gets its life from humanity and its thoughts “thru” primaries having both increase as population increases makes a kind of sense, right? What happens to Time when a primary fights his/her connection, the way Jennifer did for some time in her life?


I would be more pleased by the idea that Time as Jennifer and Tommy know it is not the same time that Katarina has studied. Time is a…pseudo-consciousness that exists, lives, within time, for as long as humans have been walking around. Time is a hive mind across the millennia, composed of the minds and lives of primaries, a sentience and will that emerged from them.

But maybe that’s exactly what Tommy and Jennifer mean? It could be, I just haven’t heard that yet, at least, not to my satisfaction.

Time will tell, right?~

Hope I didn’t lose you. Too trippy? What did you expect? It’s you’re-your-own-mother-flarkin time travel! =)

Unmake history!~

Keep on keepin’ on~

Sunday, May 08, 2016

CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR: Notes to self…

Okay! Screening the second, complete! Now for another brain dump! This is gonna be rambling on whatever comes to mind, to help me remember details of the film, maybe try and connect some dots and guess at some future connections, and express great great satisfaction with most every part of the film. =)

This won't be much of a REVIEW—there won’t be a lot of analysis of character and conflict or cinematography or style—but it will be very SPOILER-ful. So! If you haven't seen CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR yet, get thee to the theater and watch the heck out of it! And once you have, return and read and compare notes.

Here’s my earlier ramble, post-first-screening. I’m gonna try not to cover any of the same ground, but may refer to it.



Please note that my MCU-memory is a bit faded. I haven't watched WINTER SOLDIER or AGE OF ULTRON since they were in theaters (hope to change that soon-ish). I mention that because I'll try to connect events from CIVIL WAR to other MCU happenings, but may be a bit off in details.

YOUNG TONY…

Thought for a couple of minutes that young Tony, from the NARF sim at his MIT address, was played by a Culkin. Didn't see a credit for a Mr. Softee tee'd Stark at the end, tho, so I'm gonna assume that it's some (quite good) makeup + CG magic. And, bonus—always great to see John Slattery!

VIBRANIUM…



Is vibranium magnetic? Maybe? If so, seems like it would be an exploitable vulnerability that so far hasn't been, right? I'm gonna say NO, not magnetic.

However, is Cap's SHIELD magnetic? Some part of it is SOMETHING, that's for sure. In FIRST AVENGER we learn that the shield that Steve chooses, from the bottom of the pile of items Howard Stark offers him, is pure vibranium, and made of all the vibranium that's available at that time (outside of Wakanda, we have to assume).
STARK: Stronger than steel, and a third the weight… The rarest metal on earth, what you're holding there, that's all we've got.
In the CIVIL WAR opening fracas in Lagos, Crossbones uses some kind of attractive force to get his sticky bomb attached to his shield (a damn good move). An electromagnet seems like the most likely force, right?

So, maybe steel or some alloy that includes iron, nickel, or cobalt is used for the straps. And there's the added hardware that makes the shield retrievable from a distance. I can't remember when the modification was made, in an AVENGERS movie or WINTER SOLDIER, but the shield now clicks into place on Cap's back instead of being worn via straps, and he's "recalled" the shield to his arm/gauntlet, too, right? Why didn't we see that used in CIVIL WAR? Maybe in the cases where he could/should have used it the shield was legit too far?

One thing I was pleased to see in CIVIL WAR that I missed in WINTER SOLDIER was Cap using the shield to cushion his landing from a huge leap or fall. I kind of remember a missed opp in WINTER SOLDIER, when I fully expected Cap to thread his feet into the shield's straps and land on the ground standing up. In CIVIL WAR we saw him take the landing while holding the shield, but then rolling right into a run. Vibranium doing its thing!

MORE VIBRANIUM?



Bucky's mechanical arm reacts to Black Panther. I THINK we see the weirdness, something that looks like motor malfunction, both when the Panther confronts him in and out of costume. This makes me think that the reaction is between tech in T'challa's ring, not just his armor. Perhaps they are one in the same, tho.

The ring. did it change once T'Challa put it on his finger? It seemed a smooth square torus when he held it in his hand, presumably remove from his father's. But once on his finger, it seemed to hug his hand, and the design appeared different, similar somehow to the way Stark's tech unfolds itself. Did some of it embed itself in T'Challa's hand? Spread throughout his body?

I don't think we've had any official analysis of the tech/material in Buck's arm. It's stood up to Cap's shield, it's bulletproof, it's protected him from Panther's claws, it's had that weird reaction. I THINK it's safe to say that at least part of his arm is vibranium. And whose science is capable of working w/vibranium to create actual tech except Wakanda's and maybe Stark's (but only as far as creating a shield, right?). Remember, Wakanda is very protective of their vibranium and their tech (see AGE OF ULTRON). Maybe T'challa's got an ulterior motive for helping Steve out by keeping Bucky on ice in Wakanda. He's hoping to draw out whomever's responsible for creating Winter Soldier and stealing their tech and vibranium. It may involve someone or group still operating within Wakanda. Should be a good time.



But… Tony DOES managed to destroy Bucky's arm. It appears to be disintegrated by Iron Man's uni-beam, not just blown off, the hand and forearm lying somewhere on the concrete floor of the Siberian base. Blown off would make sense if it was vibranium allow, right? Disintegrated? I'm not sure. Maybe a high enough setting of repulsor + laser/heat would work. Vibranium IS smeltable at some temperature, right?

Maybe the Panther armor manipulates vibranium dust somehow, together with a forcefield (a la the comic book Iron Man once did, using EM/energy to turn flexible mail into bullet and energy proof armor) or nanites?

IF ONLY…



Zemo offered to let that Russian Hydra colonel live if he gave up the December 1991 mission report. Instead, "Hail Hydra," drowned in a basement sink. That decision gives us the first half of the movie, right? The only reason he frames Bucky is to get him into the Joint Terrorism Task Force's custody so that he can recite the Winter Soldier trigger code and get the intel on the Siberian base. The bombing of the UN conference to sign the Sokovia Accords did not have to happen—its sole purpose was to flush Bucky out of hiding—but it definitely tips the Avengers into disassembling. Kinda nuts, but not part of Zemo's original plan.

VISION & SCARLET WITCH…



I rambled a bit about Wanda’s perplexing abilities in my earlier post. Is it TK? Is it chaos magic? Is it reality-warping? All that I can say given what we’ve seen of her powers at work is that it’s inconsistent w/TK unless she has some kind of preternatural sense of reality as well. This post, I’m gonna speculate on what Vision’s sympathetic words to Wanda could mean for their powers.

When Vision talks to Scarlet Witch, he tells her that he doesn't know what the gem in his forehead is. He knows it came from Loki's staff, he knows that it's responsible for his own creation, and the Witch's powers, but he doesn't UNDERSTAND it, but someday he will, someday he'll master it. This is to explain and express sympathy for Wanda's misgivings about herself, her own powers, and the threat they can pose to anyone around her.



I forget, which Infinity Stone do we think it is?

Is the Witch's power still connected to it? Or did it change her and her brother for good? Zola and Hydra siphoned power from the Tesseract and stored it. Is similar tech what transferred Vision's/Loki's gem energy into the Maximoffs?

If she does still have some kind of connection to the gem, that may help explain how she sends Vision underground. Wanda somehow "reaches into" the gem to manipulate and overpower Vision's density control.

What was up w/Wanda when imprisoned in the Raft? She seemed to be not just imprisoned, but sick, suffering, somehow. Is proximity to the gem important? She and Pietro were probably never too far from it when Hydra created and handled them, right?

What's happened to Extremis? We've seen it out in the wild in AOS. Couldn't, wouldn't, Stark revisit it to help Rhodey recover?

ZEMO IS A MASTERMIND, BUT…



His manipulations are remarkable, and make this unenhanced human being the most effective foe the Avengers have so far faced. However, on paper, he's a bit confusing. He was part of some Sokovian secret police, but easily acknowleding that Sokovia was already a failed state, in my mind kind of reveals himself to be an opportunistic soldier of fortune. The last voicemails from his wife, and the story about finding the body of his father, wife, and child after days of searching, are meant to paint him as somewhat sympathetic. Altogether, that should have been presented to us in a complex and, I'd hope, dynamic character package. What we got… Well, not so much. His abilities (and patience and experience): formidable. His presence: not so much.

Perhaps that's the point? A point?

Helmut Zemo, of Sokovia's Echo Scorpion program, really does his homework. Puts together some dates and locations and deduces that Winter Soldier is responsible for the Starks' deaths. He also gets that the target of that mission, Howard Stark's cargo, is some form of super-soldier serum (blue, like Erskine's original formula, also like Kree blood =). He also gets that this stolen serum was used to create Winter Super Soldiers from Hydra's most elite bastards. Were they ever deployed? Given their volatility, it seems unlikely, but perhaps their existence was whispered of, a ghost story in the covert intel community? And Zemo found enough clues in the Hydra data to connect real dots.

But hey—how the heck does Cap know that Bucky killed the Starks? Bucky remembers every assignment, true, but when would he have had a chance to share that with Cap? Or was this something that Fury kept to himself, and passed on to Steve, but not Tony, for y'know, reasons. I'll go with that for now.

At the end of the film, REALLY felt like the stage was set for Zemo getting a deal/offer of some kind from Martin Freeman's Ross (is he related to Thunderbolt?). I immediately thought/hoped that Freeman was Hydra, looking to recruit, but then thought that perhaps it might be a "legit" offer from the Joint Terrorism Task Force or whatever the entity is called. The way the gov recruits black hats to be white hats in hacker-dom. Zemo has proven himself able to take apart a team of enhanced so-called heroes. He could be valuable asset when it comes to checking supers in the future. Of course, one has to wonder what kind of motivation he would need to participate in such a program.

I covered this in my earlier ramble, but will say it again—I wish that the name Zemo had been reserved for a more comic book Zemo-like nemesis of Captain America. Perhaps, tho, that is what he will become…?

IRON MAN vs. CAPTAIN AMERICA.



Spidey tells Cap, "Tony told me to go for your legs." I wonder if Tony/Friday's got files on all of the Avengers, a la Bruce Wayne vs. the JL. Given his extended battle w/Cap and Bucky, tho, it seems like maybe not. Kind of a huge oversight on the part of the futurist who developed Hulkbuster armor, tho, donchathink?

When engaged vs. Cap in the Winter Soldier complex, FRIDAY tells Tony that you can't possibly beat him in hand-to-hand (comics fans have got to be loving that =). Tony then orders FRIDAY to analyze Cap's attacks and after a few seconds of taking hits, she loads up a countermeasure program that unshields Cap and gets him on the ground. Does FRIDAY take over the suit when he orders countermeasures?

LOVE the callback to FIRST AVENGER when Tony gets the upper hand and gives Steve an ultimatum, and Steve rises to the occasion…
TONY: Stay down. Final warning.
STEVE: I can do this all day.
In FIRST AVENGER…
BULLY: You just don't know when to give up, do you?
STEVE: I can do this all day.
If you really take that as an echo, that puts Tony in the position of the bully. A simplistic reduction of his character and motivation… Is it fair?

It's hard to defend Tony's petulance in the writing of this film. It's not inconsistent (it’s maybe all too consistent), but it seems unfair, doesn’t it? We almost only get to see him at his weakest and worst. Can you imagine a counterpart film, IRON MAN: CIVIL WAR, that covers most of these same events, but from Tony's POV? Could it be written and made in such a way that we're sympathetic to Tony and less so to Steve? Are we missing more of what's at stake on Tony's side?

DOES ANYONE IN THE AUDIENCE CHOOSE TEAM IRON MAN?



Something I would have loved to have had spelled out in the film—Cap has the luxury of always doing the right thing because Stark and Fury and SHIELD exist.

I'd love to see the acrobatics needed to get us to see Cap as in the wrong. What is the straw that could break his camel's back? WW2? Peggy? The future loss of Sharon? The future loss of millions in some disaster he failed to prevent? If I could shape it, I think the best place would be in INFINITY WAR, when the gauntlet is full assembled and powered and anyone who touches or wears it has a glimpse of how they could reshape reality. Maybe everyone actually agrees it should be up to Cap to fix whatever damage Thanos has done, and Cap is tempted to save/restore losses that are personal, perhaps wipe out evils done and evil doers, but it takes Tony to stay his gauntleted hand, because those people had and made their choices, killed, cared, sacrificed, suffered, and in the end, led to the present/future that they're protecting to begin with. Changing/rewriting that undoes the good as well as the bad. Or something… Something left in the hands of better writers. =)

How much of Tony's stated resentment of Steve is real? He loves to mention how Howard never shut up about knowing/meeting Steve when he was growing up, but honestly, we've never seen that in AGENT CARTER. But then, we've never really seen Howard interacting w/young Tony except in the NARF. Still, I like to think that it's a snarky cover story, fabricated static to jokily cover his real I-can't-believe-you're-such-a-boy-scout disbelief at Steve's purity of heart. An impossible bar to set, an impossible standard to try and live up to, and impossible ideal to stand beside.

CAPTAIN AMERICA + ?



In my second screening, someone in the audience actually voiced a, "Whhhaaaa?" when Steve kissed Sharon. Heh. I'm totally okay w/Steven putting the moves on his friend's niece, but chemistry-wise and time-wise, it all seemed a bit fast. All that we know of their close interaction that hints at real attraction happens in the events we see in this film. The broproval from Falcon and Bucky made it worth buying into, tho. And Sharon certainly proves herself "worthy" if I might be so judgy, in martial skills, tactics, duty, and loyalty.



I kinda felt at least as much, if not more, real chemistry between Steve and Wanda. Thing is, Steve thinks of her as a "teenager" while I in the audience think of her as an adult and legit peer of the rest of the team. And, of course, the chemistry between Vizh and Wanda is dialed up quite a bit higher, and, I'm into pursuing that.



It's interesting that in the MCU they are somehow energetically/origin-ally connected, via the an Infinity Gem. What if that's manipulating them into feeling an attraction? Parts of a whole seeking reunification? Having an intelligence and personality connected to a gem will certainly be an interesting facet of Gauntlet control. Will Vizh (or Vizh and Wanda in a FIFTH ELEMENTal combo) sub for Adam Warlock and the Soul Gem?



Perhaps the Steve-Wanda appeal is something for the long game. If the MCU goes long enough, Cap and the Witch may yet be a thing. Or maybe we'll get a glimpse of a reality in which that's so.

SPIDER-MAN's (aka UNDEROO’s) NOT-A-ONESIE!



Spidey's eyes! One aspect of his abilities involves heightened senses in general (which I'd wager add up to his net "Spider-sense"), so having eyepieces that iris up and down to reflect his expression and focus—in a suit augmented w/Stark-tech—makes complete sense and is pretty much a stroke of cinematic storytelling genius, trumping even comic book and animated storytelling, which of course takes artistic license when reflecting Pete's expression/emotions in the features of his mask, but doesn't have an in-universe justification for it. Genius. =)

The Spidey-signal was a bit of a let-down for me. True the Peter-May dialogue was fun (getting punched by Steve, getting a few shots in, getting taken down by a big big guy), and signing off w/Spidey was a good way to tease/push Spider-Man's return, but that little projection as a post-credits reveal? Hohum. Maybe I missed a detail? If it was obviously an Avengers app-communicator, or maybe an "Avengers Assemble" call, or an alert that he's needed somewhere, or a message from Tony (or Cap?), well, that would've been something.

Peter's driven to mess w/his new webshooter (presumably part of the Stark 100-point upgrade) because it's suddenly itchy/irritating. So it would make sense that the tech is signalling him to check it (but of course, he didn't read the manual). An alert or message would've been a strong follow-thru.

But y'know, if THAT's what I'm complaining about, goes to show how frickin great the rest of the movie is, right? And Spider-Man is definitely one of the best realized elements of the film.

BLACK WIDOW / WINTER SOLDIER HISTORY?



Did anyone catch what Natasha gasps when re-activated Winter Soldier has her by the throat? It's something like, "Recognize me!" Or "Why don't you recognize me?" How much face time did they ever share in WINTER SOLDIER? I haven't seen it since it was out, but don't remember any, honestly. So, my mind goes to her as-yet-unrevealed origin—some incarnation of the Red Room, which is where the counter-agents of AGENT CARTER were trained and indoctrinated, ostensibly for the Russian government, but actually/also, for Hydra. Some advanced form of this technique/program was no doubt used to bring Bucky under control as the Winter Soldier. I think that Black Widow must have worked on a mission with him, maybe even trained with him, to learn strategies for facing a powered opponent. Maybe this history/mystery could be the basis of a Widow-Soldier team-up film?

But, if they DO have some history together, why DOESN'T Bucky acknowledge it? Perhaps his mental "files" have been updated to consider her an enemy of the state/Hydra? Hrm… Could Bucky have been in contact w/Natasha while in hiding? Between the events of WINTER SOLDIER and CIVIL WAR? Or maybe Natasha encountered the Soldier as an enemy or (friendly?) competitor on a mission for her Russian superiors?

Frack. I've gotta watch WINTER SOLDIER again. I vaguely remember Natasha recognizing the code name "Winter Soldier" somewhere in the course of the film, and so, having some intel/knowledge of the program. But whatever she volunteers about it must not have been specific to personal experience with him, or knowing that it was Bucky Barnes, right?

FUN BITS AND PIECES…



The Wanda-Cap fastball special! Very nice! Also, Wanda containing and funneling the poison gas used by Crossbones's goons out of the disease control labs? Wanda's got some crazy control of her abilities. Impressive. What kind of person could train her or train with her?
Love the rival Cap partners. Too bad we don't have a Rick Jones in the MCU to add to the mix. In the low profile getaway car…
BUCKY: Can you move your seat up?
SAM: No.
On the floor in the airport concourse after Redwing takes Spidey for a ride…
BUCKY: You couldn't have done that sooner?
SAM: I hate you.
So many great voices added to the mixx… T'Challa, Peter Parker, Scott Lang… He's just happy to be there, y'know? =)
On seeing Wanda in the airport garage…
SCOTT: I know you. You're great! Captain America! I'm shaking your hand for too long!
On returning to normal size after Giant-Manning it up…
SCOTT: Does anyone have any…orange slices?
Taking a jab at Tony in his cell on the Raft…
SCOTT: Hank Pym always said, never trust a Stark.
TONY: Who are you?
SCOTT: Aw, c'mon, man.
Stan Lee—Fed Excelsior! Lee’s CIVIL WAR cameo is a great little Tony Stark sting and a winning spirits-lifter for Rhodey =)
RHODEY: Table for one… Tony Stank!
Also, THE RAFT. The frickin RAFT, man! That is gotta be the basis for AVENGERS 5 or 6 or so, right? I was soooo hoping that we'd see more cells, more prisoners. Are these Avengers the only inmates so far? Who is managing the Raft? Doesn't seem like SHIELD. Secretary of State Ross has access and authority, so, American? Or part of the UN Joint whatzit?

Thaddeus Thunderbolt Ross as Secretary of State. Nice detail, moving familiar characters/supporting cast around in the background of our heroes' adventures.

THINGS THAT MAKE ME GO HMMM…



GREAT POWER (tm?)

Does Sony own the use of "With great power comes great responsibility" in movies? Slightly painful watching Peter NOT say that. Although what he DOES say is just what Tony wants, maybe needs to hear when recruiting a new Avenger. When recruiting someone who might be helping to fill a void left by the absence of Captain America, the heart of the Avengers.

WHO'S CHARLIE SPENCER?

Who is Charlie Spencer? In CIVIL WAR, he's the son of the state department worker who confronts Tony about the aftermath of Sokovia. The face that gets put to the remorse that Tony feels for what happened in the wake of Ultron's creation. Wondering if the name has significance in the Marvel Comics universe, or perhaps in the real world.

A SIGNIFICANT DATE?

12/7/86
1/27/86
Is there a Marvel Comics or MCU in-universe significance to either of these dates? 12786 is the passcode to the Winter Soldier complex in Siberia.

WHAT ABOUT THAT BIOWEAPON?

What was the "bioweapon" that Crossbones stole? Who was the buyer?



Allright, I’m calling it. End ramble.

THIS one, at least. =)

So—Until the Watcher joins Hair Club for Men…

Make mine Marvel!

Keep on keepin’ on~

Friday, May 06, 2016

CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR: Excelsior!

AWESOME BRILLIANT SO VERY SATISFYING! Nuff' said!

The rest of this rambling post is gonna be making notes for myself if no one else. So, if you haven't seen CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR yet, turn back now, for here there be *SPOILERS*!

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THE GOOD/GREAT…

The wild kingdom of superheroes!

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SPIDER-MAN! This incarnation is very much in line w/Bendis's Ultimate, which is really the logical play given the existing MCU. Superheroes are new, so Spider-Man should be, too. And he's still in high school, which will give us THAT whole scene to enjoy again. I enjoy high school/teeny drama if decently executed, or flipped, and I think I can trust the MCU to not waste our time. I had a smile on my face for most of the movie, but maybe slightly smilier when Tony meets Peter and when Spider-Man meets everyone. They're writing him really great, immediately likeable and thoughtful and pure of heart, y'know? I hope his solo stories get to be as powerful as ones in the first two Sam Raimi films. He's probably my ideal fave Marvel character.

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BLACK PANTHER! Boseman sells the martial abilities, the nobility, and the wisdom. Granted, I'm coming at this with that already attributed to the character, but he is just so ready to wear all that, and well. Powerful, commanding, thoughtful (if still vengeful), and damn relentless. He wasn't quite set up as a match vs. Captain America—maybe more of Bucky's opponent?—but I think he is, in skills, power, and nobility.

FALCON! Love the intro of Redwing. And have to give him a lot of credit for playing Vizh against War Machine the way he did.

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ANT-MAN! Loved seeing the application of Wacko (i.e. West Coast Avengers) Hank Pym's literal bag of tricks in this movie. Only wish that they'd used it more than once! And Giant-man! SO well realized on the big screen! I would've liked some sidebar exposition about his mass and strength and durability at that scale (will the "science" ever be consistent? =), cuz he took and dealt some serious punishment that he wouldn't have been able to stand at human scale.

Spidey has a nice choice remark on Cap's shield not obeying the laws of physics. I'll just take that as being applied to everything.

VISION! Learns that he can be distracted! By a telekinetic redhead. =)

What are Vizh's origins again? All JARVIS? Any Ultron? Any human engrams involved?

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THE DRAMA!

When Cap and Bucky arrive at the Siberian Winter Soldier outpost and are then joined by Iron Man, I got confused. This looked like the setting that we see in the trailers where Cap and Bucky take on Tony, but here they are, truced up and ready to take on the five Soviet Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Any one of them could take down a country and disappear. Heh, that line landed with a bit of a thud for me. But dammit if this movie didn't do a damn good job of keeping me happy and in the moment like 90 percent of the time. I didn't put together the clues until right when Tony says, "I know this road…" And then it all clicked. So weird how the drama of it vibes for me with classic comic book lore, as if it's a comic booky thing, and not just a dramatic, narrative turn. I guess it's just where I come from, all of the comics reading and plotting I've absorbed over the years.

It does remind me of SOMEthing, tho… A little bit of Batman/Bruce Wayne, but something else. Something Greek? Maybe structurally Oedipal? Shakespearean? Dammit, I can't put my finger on it…

Still, a great turn and even if I do/did feel the writing is unfair to Tony Stark, it is consistently so. That piece of info, that secret revealed, is just the thing to get us from point A—Cap and Bucky and Tony ready to save the world—to point B—Tony needing to avenge his parents and Cap needing to defend his best friend.

THE CONFLICTED/CONFLICTING…

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Turning Baron Zemo into this Zemo. I like this character's origin/back story, but it seems almost a waste/mismatch to make him a Zemo. I guess there's kind of a correlation with the Zemo of THUNDERBOLTS, who at least for a time seems driven by righteous or right-seeking motives. I'm afraid I didn't follow that plot thread consistently or to an end. Yeah, I think I might've been happier if this had been a completely new name, unconnected to familiar Marvel Comics baddies. A Zemo with no history vs. Cap, no ties to Hydra or Nazi Germany, just doesn't seem like a Zemo. I mean, he should be engaged in some kind of bet w/Zola, trying to one-up each other in ruining Cap's life.

He does finish strong, tho. Taunting the UN joint task force head, John Watson, with the notion that his machinations did NOT fail. He broke the Avengers. Now, we've got Tony's legit, daylight (still UN-sanctioned?) Avengers team, and Cap's shadow, off the radar, independent, secret Avengers team, that has a friend in Wakanda. It's interesting that cinematic CIVIL WAR ends with the adjusted status quo that the comic book CIVIL WAR series maintained for most of its year-long run.

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Crossbones. Although he went out with meta-purpose, it seems a shame to cut down such a capable Hydra field leader already. In the comics, he's a thorn in Cap's side for a good long time, brutal and smart and a lieutenant of the Red Skull.

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Scarlet Witch's powers. She describes her abilities as "moving things with her mind," so, telekinetic. But what does she do to Vision? It seems to me that she manipulates his own density-control abilities against his will. Does she have Phoenix-level control over matter? Does she "see" more than just matter? Is she manipulating the flow of electrons in Vision to manipulate his systems? Or is she manipulating probability? Hrm… Is it similar to the comic book Scarlet Witch's powers in that it's been described as one thing for a long time, but is then revealed to be something completely different? In the comics, it was described as chaos-magic, but Strange at some point says, nope, and with other concludes that it is reality warping, and not magic. Perhaps it's magic and she's instinctively limited it to telekinesis and every once in a while reaches in a different way and accomplishes not-quite-telekinetic feats. I always liked the idea of probability-altering, shifting the odds so that something very unlikely actually happens.

AM I MISREMEMBERING…?

Wasn't Cap outfitted w/some kind of energy tether that connects one (both) of his gauntlets to his shield (and back)? I forget if it was WINTER SOLIDER or AGE OF ULTRON, but when activated, it behaved like magnetic attraction. But y'know, that wouldn't be all that accurate or smart. Is vibranium magnetic? Maybe there's some iron/steel in the alloy of Cap's shield (is that what it is—an alloy?), but even so, you'd get that powerful an electromagnet attracting silverware through the walls, right? I think it's gotta be something different. Would be a neat trick if it affected ANY vibranium.

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Wait, so…

Cap left his shield with Iron Man. Did we see where it ends up? Somewhere at the Avengers compound? Can the Black Panther hook him up w/a new one? Perhaps Coulson will reach out somehow and offer him a version of Fitz's shield? Altho that doesn't help in the distance weapon department.

That's all I've got just now. Gonna see it again, so probably more gushing soon-ish. =)

Keep on keepin' on~

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.