Friday, April 10, 2015

12 MONKEYS: paradoxical rambling…

Gonna beb-bop and scat-a-ma-tat on the timey-wimey goodness of paradoxes as encountered in 12 MONKEYS so far…

Oh, hey. What was the title of that last episode again…?

Oh, right—”Pair o’ Docs!”

Ha! Nice one, Terry, Travis, and company. Gen-gen-gene-genio-genius. Loved the road movie buddy-doc feel of this team-up. =)


When an item or being from one moment in time is placed in close proximity to that same item from another moment in time, a reaction occurs. Having these two instances of the same item in the same time and place is an affront to the natural order. A paradox. The universe wants to resolve this paradox—interaction of a future instance with a past instance will change the experience of the future instance, creating a wack-a-mole causality loop (apologies, I'm pretty sure I'm misappropriating a phrase that otherwise does solid and respectable work in reality). Just sharing the same time causes some instability, but when two such instances come in contact with one another, Science happens! And *voila* the two items are destroyed / disintegrated and then reassembled to create one new original version of the item that will reconcile itself with the known/experienced past and future history of the item and a remainder of discarded bits (down to subatomic particles and history) are destroyed releasing a massive amount of energy.

Or something.

The watches. Cassandra's present-day 2015 watch and her future 2043 watch (taken by Cole from Cass's body) are placed in close proximity. The paradox reaction releases energy in light and some kind of explosion. We see everyone and everything except Cole slow down while he pulls a caffeinated Fry and rushes Cass to the relative safety of the hallway. Afterward, one watch remains.

The pendants. Tall Man's present-day 1995 pendant and his future 2043 pendant (given to Ramse by Jennifer) are placed in close proximity in the center of a garden. The paradox reaction releases energy in light and again in an explosive way (we see the trees bend to the pressure wave). No one seems to slow down (or speed up), altho it all seems to pass in "real time speed" relative to Olivia, Ramse, and Tall Man, so maybe all three of them are sped up or slowed down at the same rate. We know that Ramse has the serum in his blood. Olivia and Tall Man may have it in some form, injected or perhaps passed on down a bloodline. Afterward, one pendant remains.

Cole. James the Younger's present-day 2015 blood is injected into James the Elder's 2043-aged body. The paradox reaction releases energy in light and an explosive force (knocks down Tall Man and the Monkeys and blows out the windows of Cass's bookstore). We don't observe any wonkiness in the experience of time (slowdowns or speedups), but who knows what Cole was experiencing as he was being retconned? Afterward, one adult James Cole remains. I'm not certain of the why of it, but I suspect that in sorting thru the bits of younger and older Cole, the Universe discarded the serum and extrapolated from his DNA (cuz, why not?) what a healthy adult James should be like. And that's what was left deposited on the floor of Cass's bookshop. A newly minted James Cole, and naked as a Terminator, ladies!~

So, without the serum in his blood, he can't get yanked back to 2043. At least, not until he gets a hold of some of young Katarina's prototype.

Sadly, we know he's not around in 2017, when Cass leaves her message (when will they clean up that thing and play it back in its entirety?) and dies. Or, he's hiding somewhere nearby, ready for this visit from memory, having prepped Cass with a certain amount of knowledge/warning, too. And when his past self Splinters back to the future, he will inject Cass with an antitoxin for the toxin she'd been administering to herself to simulate the virus's symptoms, and she and Cole will get bonus lives from 2017 to 2043, working and living under aliases and changed appearances until AFTER 2043, when they can step out from behind the curtains of Jennifer's Daughters' nomadic culture and get back in the game in the open.

Or something completely different…

A kee-razy thing I'm hoping for is that the older Cole, now living forward from 2015, will surprise his past Splintering self on that visit. *THAT* would be a timeline-busting paradox! A universe-in-which-the-game-is-being-played-changer! Maybe it will be a reset that will save the actually plagued Cass? Maybe it will cleanse the world (or the immediate area) of the virus? Maybe it'll just blow Cole into an alternate, parallel universe, and the paradoxical remains will be a virus-infected husk, slingshot back in time to a cave in the Himalayas…

Or something…

Question: What are the limits/rules regarding what a Splinterer can have in his inventory while skipping across time? Size? Mass? Organic vs. inorganic? A force field extending so many millimeters from the surface of his/her body?

Question: Did the Cosmos force Jones to forget her encounter with Cass and James in 2015? Or did that meeting not happen the first time? But then, what happened instead of that encounter that led to her keeping Hannah?

Question: Did the Cosmos force James to forget his encounter with Cass, James the Elder, and the death of his father? Allowing him only flashes we saw in his visions? Or did he get these flashes because of his unique status as a chrononaut? Did he live through a childhood in which he never met his older self, Cassie, or Katarina? Never saw the Tall Man execute his father? I like that idea. Cole says that Katarina will always have will have had to come, but maybe not, right? I love that we can't be sure from inside the story. I do love a good time travel yarn. =)

The universe doesn't only deal with matter in the moment. It's dealing with matter across its "lifetime." In a… meaningful way. The universe / cosmos / time seems to have a will or judgment. If it was just physics as we know it, it would be about the same subatomic particles meeting themselves from different times. But it "knows" that young James's blood in the syringe is connected to adult James's life. With the watch and the pendant, those are fixed, static objects, but Cole is a living breathing creature, composed of cells that live and die and decompose into molecules that are then reconstituted in the soil, other plants, other creatures, and maybe even flung into outer space. Odds are, no atom of young James's blood is actually in old James's body.

Randomish tangent to one of those questions that's like a lesson, y'know? You have a car, every part of it breaks down and gets replaced over time, and it looks the same, runs the same, feels the same. In the end, is it still the same car?

Oh, oh oh oh oh! I’ve got another 12 MONKEYS jokette for you… Ready?

When Cole lands in 2015 for the second time, he finds a note in his jacket pocket. Placed there by someone before he Splintered out of 2043. What did it say?

No time for love.
             —Dr. Jones.

Keep on keepin on~

Friday, April 03, 2015

12 MONKEYS : Why join the Army?

Why become part of a group that seeks to wipe most of humanity from the Earth?

Have we heard any Army of the 12 Monkeys propaganda yet? I feel like I'm imprinting from other sources (the film and other superfun eschatological storylines) a manifesto that involves restoring a balance to the planet's ecology, one that human beings have been upsetting with unchecked population grown and the exploitation of resources required to support it. Reduced for fun semantics, the Earth is the host and humankind the virus. The plague, then, is a cure.

I'll buy that as the pitch given to recruit true-believer footsoldiers (I'm not sure we've seen any, mercs will work for $$), but I've got to believe there's more to it than that for an Inner Circle / upper Monkeys management. I suppose Tall Man does seem to be a legit horticultural enthusiast, though, right?

I'm definitely not convinced that Olivia would be into it. She's committed to a mission, as far as plague-starting goes, but what's really in it for her? She describes a plan that her father had for her, along with a thing in a box that came with instructions…

The only thing in a box we're familiar with so far is the Annapurna Remains, but that's only been in a box since the 80s. Unless—whoa!—was it excavated and found in that cryotank? That would be pretty awesome, but also a ridiculous thing for the Yakuza (or anyone) to overlook in a sales pitch, right? Oh, something that kinda bugged me: if the Yakuza didn't know about the virus, how would they know that a frozen rotting corpse would be valued at half a million dollars? Perhaps a little bird named Olivia told them, following the gospel of Ramse?

Hrm… Could she be referring to herself? Was SHE the thing in a box? An slowly aging time traveler like Ramse, but transported without knowing? Sedated and/or on life support? Could Olivia be…

Hannah? Launched in a cryotank by Katarina into the past in the hopes that Splinter serum + Splinter process would supercharge her system enough to defeat the virus and live out her life in the past?

Who would be Olivia's father? Someone who communicates with Jones by leaving messages/signs in the present/past that she uncovers in the future? I've been hoping to have a connection like that revealed at some point.

Wait—What was I talking about? Oh! Right. The plague. Why would anyone want to release such a thing Where's the advantage? Some possibilities…
  1. 1. Protected bloodlines. The Army has engineered the virus to ignore those w certain genetic markers, those belonging to members, agents, and benefactors of the Army, to spare them and their posterity. We've seen that the immune produce immune offspring (Sam Ramse).

    This idea falls apart when you factor in the mutating nature of the virus. Maybe the Army didn't plan on it? Could Peters have added it as a poison pill? But Cole and Cass have been telling anyone who'll listen that it mutates. Could it be that the Army wouldn't believe them?

    Seems unlikely. So, not part of the Army's plan. However, a promise of such engineering would be a good way to sell the plague's development to certain parties (like Goines and Markridge), so maybe the initial iteration *is* designed to protect certain bloodlines, but successive mutations roll the dice.

    So, this could be a false pretense advantage, another part of the means to some greater, so far unknown, end…
  2. The aftermath of the plague is an environment that produces something unique: successful time travel. In this scenario, the virus (and death of billions) is a means to the end of time travel, and at least one specific Splinter into the past that enables Something Important to happen. Something on the order of the extinction of the dinosaurs and an ice age.

    So, before the plague, Project Splinter was in development, but doomed to failure or incompletion. Perhaps they didn't have the right minds or resources and/or funding was cut. Whatever the circumstances, it was a dead end, decommissioned, mothballed. Then along comes the plague, which triggers the execution of Spearhead protocols, followed by Foster's coup and Jones's revival and completion of Project Splinter.
  3. Paradise / Utopia. Perhaps humanity rebuilds civilization sometime beyond 2043, in a benevolent and near-perfect fashion. And the only way that it could have come about was in the aftermath of the purge brought on by the virus. If NOT for the virus, humanity's unchecked growth would have led to the destruction of our ecosystem and the extinction of humanity, whether by war, plague, or hunger. The virus allows humanity to reboot and rebuild, correcting for the errors of pre-21st century society.

    So perhaps this is what drives the Army's Inner Circle. They may not live to participate in it, but if they don't manipulate events to release the virus, no man or woman ever will.

    Olivia's mentioned "the twelve," and when she has, I certainly don't think "monkeys." She's talking about people. Peters tried to clue us in a little…

    PETERS: They kept talking about the Messengers. Part of their plan… The Twelve.

    Twelve emissaries from the future?

Basically, I like to think that these trips, these loops, that Cole, and now Ramse, are creating, connecting 2043 and 1987 and back, are concentric. The innermost rings of a larger pattern of circles and trips, ultimately ending in some great payoff or return for our players and humanity. But will that payoff be worth it if it means that it is Fated, that no one living within these loops truly has any freedom or free will? Does it matter?

Maybe the story really begins when someone—Cassie? Cole? AARON? =) —says F-U to Fate and posterity and promise. Amerca!

I do love this show. Or maybe the one in my head. Whichever. =)

Keep on keepin on~

P.S. If you haven't watched it, see THE WORLD'S END. Why? Oh, no reason.

P.P.S. Also, maybe CABIN IN THE WOODS. And ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK and/or L.A. =)

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

12 MONKEYS : 01x11 : Shonin

Okay. A recap-type write-up of episode 11 quickly got away from me with tangents and what-ifs. So, I'm gonna try and keep this non-epic by going thru and rambling a bit on new info/insights we get on some characters this episode…


LELAND: I don't know boys… One-Eyed Willy's a little lackluster…
Was Leland, like, a cool dad back before he was a virus-weaponizing corporate villain? I like the idea of Leland going with his precocious nerdgirl daughter to see THE GOONIES. Maybe a couple of times. =)

When Leland visits Jennifer at J.D. Peoples in 2014, he mentions her mother, who was also thought to be mentally ill. When he leaves, one of his cronies explains that Jennifer shouldn't be locked up for killing her Night Room colleagues. Security footage clearly shows that she did not kill them. Goines explains that she is exactly where she should be.

When Olivia visits Jennifer after her apparent release, she asks about her mother, and seems to know that Leland had her locked away and forgotten as well. Perhaps Jennifer and her mother share a natural ESP of some kind, something that manifests as symptoms of mental illness, informally, a Cassandra complex.

I'd like another look at the drawings she makes in the hospital. Animals and nature retaking cities. Maybe red leaves? And then, the fierce black monkey. From where does she pull that image? From Markridge labs' test subjects? She said she freed them, right? Six and six? Or did the agents of the Army wear the image as sigil on their clothes or as tattoos (the Chechnya assassin had one).
Hey, did you hear what Jennifer was murmuring outside the Markridge conference room in 2011…?

JENNIFER: Everything's changing… Green to red. Everything's changing… Green to red.
So, she's either been present for a paradox shower, has had visions of one, or is somehow "reading" the effects of one (perhaps ripples from the 1995 one?). This is at a time when she's working as a Markridge scientist, before the Army's Night Room massacre, before Jennifer's stay at J.D. Peoples. She's definitely vibrating at some kind of special frequency. Maybe like her mother? Who perhaps was prescribed a certain red tea while pregnant…? By Dr. Guy-who's-Olivia's-father…?

Perhaps this extra sense or sight is an ability resulting from engaging in the nasty in the past-y ((c) FUTURAMA =). Remember what Jennifer told Ramse in 2043…

JENNIFER: We're the daughters of mothers and midnight and fathers. It's all out of order. But there's still time. For you, and me. We have work to finish.
It's all out of order.


What happened to his hand? His left hand, right? Was he injured in 2043 before Splintering? Wounded during his fight with Cole in 1987? Oh! Maybe he had that hand outside of the Splinter stream, holding his gun on the technician who executed the Splinter? Given the layout of the Splinter lab, tho, probably would've been his right hand. Hrm…

One day Olivia interrupts Ramse while he's thinking of Sam, recalling memories from the future. The first time I watched, I heard…
OLIVIA: Time isn't perfect. Yet I'm envious how most of you seem to defy it.
She reaches out to touch him, he pulls away, and the scene continues, revealing how the Army has made strategic investments for profit and to help events along their proper, future historical, paths. She seems to be speaking of Ramse and humanity as something different from herself, ready to fight fate, time, mortality.

The second time I watched, I heard…
OLIVIA: Time isn't perfect. Yet I'm envious how most of you seems to defy it.
She reaches out to touch his hand, which he pulls away, and the scene continues… She's referring to most of RAMSE, not most of humanity.

For the most part, it appears that Ramse's aging has been arrested, or at least dramatically slowed. The only part of him that shows the signs of time's passing is his hand (and wrist/forearm). Visually, this was difficult for me to make out. Early on, I thought that his hand seemed to be coated or covered with something silvery/metallic, maybe some compromised protective gear? Later, in prison, maybe a brace or cast? Then, in a shot while in prison, it seemed to be scarred. Only when I properly (I think) heard Olivia's words with her actions and his reaction, did it click that it's meant to be age, and in contrast with the rest of his body (at least, of what we can see). I'm still not sure what it looks like, tho. Wrinkled? Gray? Oh! If it was his gun hand, maybe the metal/materials of the gun became embedded in his flesh? Combine that w serum-healing and that's kinda Wolverine!

Remember when Peters analyzed Cole's physiology back in 2015? Scans showed that he was running hot, featuring upgrades like enhanced strength and healing. I think he might have described his blood as a biological computer, too? When cumulative Splinter events don't drain away years of your life, the Splinter serum seems to act as something of a Super-Soldier Serum (w Vita-Rays, turned Steve Rogers into Captain America in the MCU). Would love to see that exploited in some superhuman feats and action scenes.


When Olivia comments on Ramse's moisturizing regimen, she seems to imply that she herself ages like a typical human being. Gotta say, it's difficult to confirm that by observation, right? It's 20 years from when she welcomes Ramse into the fold to when she confronts Aaron Marker outside the Army's container lab. She looks like an ageless replicant every time we see her.

When the pendant paradox mitzvah is complete…
TALL MAN: Your father was right.
OLIVIA: Yes. He has come.
And when Olivia meets Jennifer in 2014…
OLIVIA: My father was the same. He had plans for me. There was a thing in a box, with printed instructions. Difficult… Problematic.
Who is her father? What plans did he have for her? The only thing in a box we've seen thus far is the precursor, but it's only been in a box since the 1980s, and her father is spoken of in the past tense already in 1995. Huh, Jennifer has actually already seen the precursor when Olivia speaks to her. So, I'm thinking that the thing in a box that Olivia refers to is something else. Printed instructions. Some relic of the future—a box containing some artifact and perhaps a timeline or calendar, a written history or diary, which would be interpreted as instructions—deposited in the past, and passed down across generations.

I love that we get to see her—and so, the Army of the 12 Monkeys—as an influence behind so many people and projects we encounter in their more developed forms in the future. She and Ramse meet with Leland in 2011 because the Army's financial group is heavily invested in Markridge. She plants the seed of the Daughters in Jennifer's mind in 2014. She shows up at Senator Royce's office in 2015 because the Army is funding the "selective survival protocol" that will ultimately become Project Spearhead.
ROYCE: Tell you what, the investor is on their way over here right now, and they're looking for someone to spearhead the project…
The one big ticket item we haven't seen Olivia connected to (yet) is Raritan National Laboratory and Project Splinter. I think it's in the first episode that Cole describes to Cass that scientists from his time used technology from her time to develop a solution to beating the plague. In my head, I believed that Splinter was unfinished at the time of the outbreak, and that Jones's ragtag Spearhead refugees sought out the facility to complete the work. Hence the early ghastly test runs and results.

But—who's to say it wasn't operational before the plague and then abandoned, de-powered, and/or disabled? That would open up some very interesting possibilities. At the time of the growing outbreak, Splintering would have offered not a cure for, but an escape from the plague. Perhaps someone/s from the original Project Splinter is manipulating the manipulators to ensure that s/he is able to make the Splinter that save his/her life?

You see how a mild-mannered write-up of episode 11 would quickly get a bit superfantastical? Yeah, I might have a problem. =)


JONES: The greatest lie is believing we are shaping them, that we have any control. No. They make us. They can destroy us.
That's Katarina talking about how both Ramse's and her own actions are inspired by their children. Hannah's death set Jones on a path to change the past as they know it. Sam's life sets Ramse on a path to preserve it. Reminds me of another nugget of fried wisdom for Ramse (the not-Witness) from Jennifer in 2043…
JENNIFER: Death can be both cause and effect. That's how it works. No straight lines. You're ready. It's time… to go.
It seems the child pretty consistently destroys the parent in the world of 12 MONKEYS. Sam inspires Ramse into Atari (a situation he’d otherwise never fall into). Hannah drives Katarina to seek a solution that will erase her own existence. Marcus Whitley chooses Dr. Jones over his father. Jennifer Goines is in part responsible for events that lead to Leland's death (and legacy). And Olivia and Tall Man do speak of her father in the past tense…
Fun times!

Keep on keepin on~