Monday, May 30, 2016

12 MONKEYS: 02x06: Immortal: What is the deal w/Kyle Slade?

First off, something that hit me a few days after "Immortal" I think we finally know what Jennifer means/meant when she says…


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TWELVE IS NOT PRIMARY!

She's referring to Kyle Slade's twelfth victim, Victoria Mason. Victims one thru eleven, according to Slade himself, were all Primaries, while number twelve, Victoria, was not. I vaguely recall Jennifer getting excited at the idea of thirteen, following twelve, but don't remember hearing her expand on that. Perhaps Kyle continues his serial killing posthumously under a different name?
If that’s correct, then Jennifer’s been cluing James into his reality-changing encounter with Kyle since they first met. Or at least, since *he* first met *her*. I still think that Cole’s otter eyes will make an impression on a younger Saturday-morning-cartoon-watching Jenny G. in a Splinter yet to come for him.


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WHAT WE'VE LEARNED ABOUT KYLE…

From the research done by Team Splinter in 2044, we know that Kyle Slade is the identity of the serial killer known as the Immortal. He was responsible for 12 murders in the 70s, and died under mysterious circumstances on the day he killed his final victim, Victoria Mason, who worked as a waitress at a coffee shop. Those "mysterious circumstances?" Death by paradox, stabbed in the sternum w/one's sternum. Team Splinter takes this information and turns it into a plan. First, find Victoria at the coffee shop. Follow her until Slade kills her. Follow Slade from the scene of the murder. Intercept the Messengers when they try to paradox him, saving Slade.

What could go wrong?

When Cole and Ramse find Victoria, they learn that she's the mother of a young boy.
COLE: She had a kid…What's gonna happen to him when she dies?
RAMSE: Whatever already happened.
Gotta love time travel!

Then they learn that she's probably not up for mother of the year. They only just start to process that when Kyle Slade strikes.
COLE: This is me looking and not leaping, this sit right with you?
RAMSE: Don't like it any more than you do, but it's how it has to be.
But of course, our man James cannot sit by and watch this woman being killed by a psychopath. Cole's fist meets Primary jaw, scaring Slade off and saving Victoria from becoming his twelfth victim. Our heroes' reward? A wave of reality-rewrite pain, a… Timegraine? In the wake of the reality wave, both Slade and the unseen Messenger—who paradoxed him in the previous reality—escape.

Later in the episode, Cole has apparently won the trust of Slade, simply by revealing his identity. It's interesting… Slade does not immediately recognize him, but *we* know that he knew he was coming for him (as seen at the end of previous ep, "Bodies of Water"). It turns out that slade has been waiting for him. He explains to James that he can take him to the Witness. He's holding him captive in his abandoned warehouse-slash-bloody artist's loft lair.

On the way to his bloody sanctum, Kyle explains to James that he's aware of the Witness's plan to destroy Time by paradoxing Primaries. In order to ruin that plan, Kyle has been killing contemporary Primaries so that they cannot be paradoxed. He believes that he's been so successful w/his strategy that the Witness decided to paradox Kyle personally. He shows Cole the bone knife that was meant to kill him in a previous reality. We see his physical reaction to being in close proximity to it. When he then shows Cole the Witness himself—a man clad in a hooded robe with a mask sewn together from human flesh—he insists that it's Cole's role to take that bone dagger and kill the Witness with it.

WTF?

Oh, before I forget, when Kyle mentioned that his victims were all Primary, Cole pointed out that Victoria was not. Kyle explains that she was a "flare" that he sent up, to call for (Cole's) help across the decades. He selected Victoria knowing that she would be his last victim, the one whose death, connected to his mysterious demise on the same day, would lead Cole to 1975.

Now, where was I? Oh yes…

WTF?
KYLE: Take the dagger and kill the Witness. It is why I brought you here. It is your fate to do this!
RAMSE: [whistle] Hey, Cole, let's do both of these guys, get the hell out of here.
KYLE: What's he doing here?
COLE: Easy, we're all on the same side.
KYLE: Are we? Cuz I am seriously starting to doubt your commitment, man. Put your gun down.
RAMSE: You first.
KYLE: No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. This is not how this is supposed to go. It's supposed to be you [COLE] and me. Blaze of glory in the future and he [RAMSE] is NOT a part of it.
So, there's a lot of weirdness here, and yes, it *could* be chalked up to Kyle's apparent mental instability, partly fueled by his Primary connection and visions, partly fueled by whatever additional ding his brain chemistry took that led him to his brutal homicidal practice, but let's take a look at what he's given us (and Cole and Ramse) and see if there might be any useful clues.


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KYLE THINKS HE'S CAPTURED THE WITNESS…

I've got a theory that he believes this because essentially, it was true when he caught him. When Kyle reveals his prisoner's face to Cole, we know that he has a Messenger caged up, not the Witness. But, what do we know about Messengers?
VIVIAN: They never imagined I’d survive the paradox, but Father, he made us too well.
The Messengers were engineered. The Army invested in a number of technologies in the late 20th century and in Markridge, not only did they get the resources needed to create a humanity-decimating virus, but also a pioneer in human cloning. I think Father (whoever he is) used Markridge tech to create the twelve Messengers. We know that they are imbued with enhancements that resemble those possessed by quantum serum users. That's increased strength, speed, resilience and healing, as well as the ability to Splinter. I don't think it's a huge leap to think that Immersion is part of the standard Messenger package as well.

Giving the Witness a direct psychic link to the Messengers would be very valuable. Granted, if the Witness *is* riding psychic shotgun on the Messengers, he's only seeing 50-50 success so far, and that's in those who survived to Splinter in 2043. Nevertheless, I'm pretty certain everything is still going according to the Witness's plans.

In any case, if the Messenger in Kyle's cage had been Immersed, that would allow the Witness to inhabit his body when he attacked him. I believe that on encountering the Witness-controlled Messenger, Primary Kyle would *sense* the Witness's presence, and believe the man standing in front of him to *be* the Witness. Kyle gets the better of the Messenger, probably exactly as the Witness wished, for his capture (the reported capture of the Witness) is what leads to Kyle sending up his flare, Cole being Splintered to 1975, the conventional death of the Primary-killing Primary, and the extended life and motherhood of Victoria Mason. I have a feeling we'll find out what that's worth in future episodes. Perhaps a new Project Splinter labcoat w/a tag that reads "MASON?"


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KYLE CAN'T KILL THE WITNESS HIMSELF…

For some rason, Kyle insists that Cole is the only one who can kill the Witness. I'm thinking that he's right about that, but that he's wrong about the time and place. Will it be with a knife made from a homicidal maniacal Primary's bone? I don't know. That seems like such a strange detail. If it's an accurate detail… The only thing I can think of is that some version of Kyle Slade must be the Witness, then being stabbed by that knife would cause a paradoxidation death. Could that be right?
It feels unlikely, but honestly, still very possible. Within the events of this one episode, we saw Kyle Slade manipulate history in a way that resulted in him saving himself from the Messengers by tricking Cole into changing reality. That's pretty frickin masterful. Imagine if he was sane?

Hrm… I will have to think on this some more. I've been in love with the notion that the Witness began life as one of our heroes (or Sam, or Elliot Jones =), but the possibilities of Kyle Slade are interesting. It's the personal connections that are missing, tho. Why is Cassie so important? Why the focus on Ramse's story (and his love for his son)? Perhaps the relationships and stories aren't what's important to the Witness, and instead it's their tactical and perhaps misdirectional value. Cassie has to be kept alive until she leaves her "Leland Frost" message for the future. The story of Ramse and Sam is a parable for his followers, and perhaps meant specifically for Vivian.

Perhaps.

Is there some other reason that Kyle can't kill the Witness himself?

1. The Witness can only be killed with the bone of a Primary? That's crazy. Unless… Unless the Witness himself is that Primary. Hrm…

2. If Kyle kills the Witness it leads to Something Bad. Perhaps for Kyle alone—his death, perhaps for Time itself—his paradoxed death. Well, it seems that if Kyle had killed the Witness-Messenger right away, Cole and Ramse never would have come to 1975, and the Messenger partner would have paradoxidized him, just as it was reported. That just covers the notion that waiting to kill the Witness-Messenger contributed to saving Kyle’s life. It does not explain why Cole can’t kill him.

3. Kyle insists that Cole has to kill the Witness with the knife made from his own bone. If he really believes that, I supposed that explains why he couldn’t kill him himself. Holding the knife would be incredibly painful for him and could potentially trigger a paradox.

There’s just not enough reliable info to come up w/a definitive reason or reasons. Boo…


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KYLE DOESN'T "SEE" RAMSE…

For a few minutes I thought that Kyle's plan "clicked" for me when he talked about going to the future with Cole. That he himself was somehow an agent of the Witness and had manipulated everything to get Cole to kill the real Primary and sucker him into getting him to 2044 because… umm… history recorded that he disappeared after 1975, maybe that's the reason because possibly.

Of course, things didn't work out that way, but for a few minutes, pretty cool. Pret-ty pret-ty cool. =)

Yes, he's all mixed up in the head, even for a Primary, but he seems mortally offended by Ramse's presence in 1975, doesn't he? In fact when he talks about going-slash-returning to the future with Cole—ominously described as "blaze of glory"—it sounds like he's mistaken his life for Ramse's (or vice versa). Could his cracked version of Primary vision have dropped him into Ramse's POV for some reason? And/or the Witness's, pre-Red Forest?

Gotta wonder what's in store for Ramse and Cole that a mistaken-Ramse-identity would consider "blaze of glory," right?

Could it be that Kyle has held onto Primary visions from a previous reality? One in which Cole did NOT go back to save Ramse at Project Splinter in 2015, which would mean that Ramse wouldn't be around to jump to 1975 with Cole. Of course, I don't easily see how it would follow that Kyle would end up partnered with Cole as a result of Ramse's absence, but Time works in mysterious ways, right?

Also, lotta nuts in that Kyle Slade bar.


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PARADOXES/INCONSISTENCIES?

There are a couple of things in this episode that don't quite line up for me time-travel-logically. Still, I think I can creatively rationalize them to my satisfaction. I have to say, tho, these are probably the zaniest time traveling curves thrown so far in the show.

In the episode's original reality Team Splinter found reports of Kyle Slade's death by apparent paradox in 1975. What actually happened? If the Messengers had succeeded in paradoxing Kyle, Time should have collapsed (according to 2044 Jennifer, it only takes two). Maybe there's a funky causality explanation? Because, honestly, if the Messengers EVER succeed in killing two Primaries, time should have already collapsed, regardless of *when* they're killed. Instead, the passage of time relative to our players seems to matter. That is, the effects of events experienced by our heroes are felt in the same order. Always a tricky phenomenon when messing with time.

Note that Kyle uses his Primary abilities to work out that killing Victoria will result in Cole Splintering back in time to prevent him from killing Victoria. I don't find this inconsistent. I find this awesome. =)

When Jennifer in 2016 talks about how a ghost is a replay, an event recorded into its surroundings, she flashes to a vision of the Messenger punching the hole in the hotel room wall. This punch would not have been thrown by that Messenger if Cole and Ramse hadn't saved Victoria (and Kyle). Hrm…

MAYbe a different punch or other incident creates that hole in the episode's original reality?

MAYbe if we asked Cassandra in that moment if she sees a hole in the wall where Jennifer's hand is, she would truthfully answer, "No, what hole in the wall?" So, only Primary Jennifer sees the hole in 2016 before the reality change because that is what a Primary does—sees not only forward and back, but across, to other realities.

I hope that's the explanation, cuz I love the idea that we see Jennifer read an event from a timeline that has yet to become reality. And it seems totally in line with what we've heard from the Primaries we've met thus far, right?

Also, I'd say that the disturbances to Time caused by Tommy's paradox assassination would help explain away any other apparently paradoxical (inconsistent, not spacetime-tearing) interactions. Time may not be behaving as it normally does, allowing for inconsistent experiences and discontinuities.

Or something. =)


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WHO ARE "THE OTHERS?"
KYLE: You're not worthy.
Ramse shoots Messenger.
KYLE: You're not worthy. You're just like the others. You were meant to protect me.
COLE: Only from a paradox.
KYLE: I'm the Immortal. I'm not supposed to die.
COLE: Everybody dies.
Man. Kyle's wackadoo words really do sell me on the Kyle-is-the-Witness idea. Kyle lambasts the Witness for being so insane as to attempt to destroy Time to achieve immortality, yet all the while he calls himself the Immortal. One of Tommy's ramblings included "The Monkeys come for the Witness," or something to that effect. A strange sentiment when you realize that the Monkeys are the Witness’s followers (if you hear “monkeys” w/a capital M there). So, Tommy’s words mean: the Messengers come for the Witness. The Messengers have been sent to kill Primaries. So, the Witness is a Primary. Y’know, if we can trust the collective word of the Primaries…

Okay, I'm gonna say it, cuz I can’t stop thinking it…

KYLE SLADE IS THE WITNESS!

…is one of my theories. =)

Unmake history!

Keep on keepin' on~

P.S. My other favorite answers to “Who is the Witness?”:
James Cole. Jose Ramse. Samuel Ramse. Elliot Jones. =)

Monday, May 23, 2016

12 MONKEYS: 02x05: Bodies of Water: Word of the Witness, Immersion, and stuff…

Some *SPOILER*y discussion of the Word of the Witness. If you haven't watched episode 5 (”Bodies of Water”) yet, get thee to syfy.com and do it. Then come back for the crazy talk. =)

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THE WORD OF THE WITNESS…

So, while wandering stately Witness Manor, Jennifer Tyler Goines finds “The Word of the Witness,” the reality map that guides the Army, presumably created or commissioned somehow by the Witness. (See a very excellent fan reconstruction-dissection *here*…) It includes the names of some of our favorite players, Primaries, events we've seen and events we have yet to, in the future and past, most with rough coordinates in space and time. Also, familiar phrases, including the mantras we've heard spoken by Olivia and the Messengers, the Druze-y Pact of Time's Custodian, and—most conspicuous to me—"THESE ARMS OF MINE."

What's that phrase doing there? We know it as the song that Cassie and Cole dance to at the museum gala dealio, and a musical theme played throughout season 1, which would be unknown to the Witness unless we're gonna break a fourth or fifth or sixth wall in the future. That could work in a HOLY MOUNTAIN or ANIMAL MAN way, but the payoff would have to be a whole season of action after the reveal. That could/would be amazing. =)

But for now, we're gonna keep it to three walls, and the only important association of that song with our plot and characters so far is that it's the song they dance to. I had a flash to the idea that it would be a detail that Cassie and/or James would pass on in the story of how they met and fell in love, when they tell that story to their child. A sweet idea, yes? But not one that I'm holding onto right now…

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Something occurs to me—the Witness created this map. Maybe it's his own handwriting, maybe it's a custom font, doesn't matter. The content of it is dictated (as in decided upon) by the Witness. I think it's safe to say that the Witness knows where it's being kept, right? And, I think it's also a pretty safe bet that in the course of the war between Splinter and the Monkeys, the Witness knew/knows that it would be discovered by Jennifer Goines.

No doubt the Word is a map that describes the Witness's knowledge of past and future events, and is used by his Army as a guide and reference for their mission, but I also think that some of what's inscribed must be meant for Jennifer's eyes. A specific for-instance: the date of her death, made known to her in 2016, may be the inspiration for turning her Daughters of the post-apoc into a badass fighting force rather than a Temperance Society or Prog Rock Band.
COLE: And if the 12 Monkeys ever got to you…
JENNIFER: They won't get me with my Daughters around. My army is better than theirs.
And in general, for Jennifer at that point in her life, coming off the meds that suppressed her natural connection to Time, the Word is a trigger bomb. Who knows how many potential leads she will scribble off in the next few hours or days?

So, with that in mind, why include "These Arms of Mine?"

For someone specific to see it.

Think about it. What does "These Arms of Mine" mean to Jennifer? Maybe her Primary abilities gave her an unsolicited glimpse of that moment, ostensibly an important moment in James and Cassandra's relationship. Maybe not the moment when either fell in love w/the other, but definitely one that they would both recall fondly and over and over again later in life, regardless of how things end or last. How would Jennifer interpret this? I think it's safe to say that the Witness considers the song important, and so, that event—Cassie and Cole's dance—important. But who would know to associate that song with that moment? Only Cassie and Cole (and anyone they share it with, true, but let's keep variables to a minimum and say that no one they tell remembers). So, what else can Jennifer think except that one of them is the Witness. She's already been Primarily clued into some kind of doom associated with the two of them…
JENNIFER: You want her to love you, but she doesn't. Being single is not the end of the world. You two together is, though.
What will Jennifer do with this information? That’s the real question. Time will tell, I suppose. =)
A few other ideas about why "These Arms of Mine" should figure so prominently in the Word. Note that they are not necessarily mutually exclusive with the idea above…
  1. It's code. It stands for something else. Maybe a cycle or phase of a cycle. The initial letters strike me as somewhat conspicuous: T A O M. The Army of Monkeys.
  2. It's a password. It unlocks the files on the Druze USB stick.
  3. It's an anagram. Yeah, what are the chances? Lucky for you, I have trouble sleeping…
    The funnest I could come up with: RAMSE IS THE FENOM =)
    The most serious: TIME FEARS NO SHEM (or SHEM FEARS NO TIME), where "Shem" could be the name of Noah's first born (http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Shem.html), and/or Hebrew meaning someone's essential identity (http://beth-abraham.org/shem.html). The subtleties of Hebrew and Bible Study are not a specialty of mine.
    Some others…
    --- MEN R ASHES OF TIME
    --- RISE OF THE MASMEN
    --- THE ARMIES OF MENS
    --- RISE OF MME ATHENS
    --- FEAR SHOMEN TIMES
    Please let me know if you manage to solve the jumble in a way that really and truly clicks. Thanks! =)
A couple of specific Words worth noting…

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Kyle Slade (born 1939) is apparently somehow “equivalent” to (shares a “ring” with) Syria in 1322. The last time I remember Syria being mentioned was in connection to the origin of the Druze. I'm thinking that the Witness or a minion of his gained the trust of a tribe of Druze in that year. Perhaps he used present/future knowledge to save one or many of them from some threat, or win them some important survival advantage or resource? In any case, he engages them in the Pact of Time's Custodian, which I believe involves a series of directions that must be executed at specific times over centuries. The Druze as characterized in 12 MONKEYS are a people who choose to live outside of and apart from global society and technology. They would be highly insulated from ripples caused by tinkering with history via time travel, and thusly, the perfect long-term agents of the Witness in reality.

I’m looking forward to an encounter with a truly mad Primary. How would a Primary choose victims? Wouldn’t they be fated to die by his hand? A curse or a guiltless existence? Whatever the case, the vibe coming off of Kyle Slade at the end of this episode is pretty heavy on bloody murderer. That monkey painting on his unfinished warehouse/loft window looks to be a very particular coagulating red, donchathink?

I wouldn’t mind if it was a cheeky bait and switch, tho. What if he’s dangerous/not like Jennifer and Tommy because he can rationally process his connection to Time? And he leverages it as something more innocuous… A commercial artist? What if he’s doing something like making the Army of the 12 Monkeys cool and edgy?

Yeah… That’s a stretch. Let’s stick w/cerebral serial killer. Always a good time! =)

"The Pact of Time's Custodian must be honored." Seen next to “THESE ARMS OF MINE.” Also a reference to the Druze. I wonder if that time has already passed. Perhaps that's what led to Olivia's acquisition of the ancient relic that hid the USB drive. Hrm… Maybe that’s the case, but the Army has yet to deliver their end on an agreed exchange or compensation. Hrm… I wonder how many Druze have survived the virus and its mutations in the future. Perhaps they will be another force to contend with in 2044.

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IT TAKES TWO.

Jennifer dropped this little bomb on Cole…
JENNIFER: And if they paradox even one more Primary—game over.
Now we know—how many Primaries does it take to get to the Temporal Hell on Earth center of a Red Forest Pop…

T-hoo!~ (2)

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IMMERSED.

When Olivia guides Cassie to the Red Forest this time, it is at the specific direction of the Witness. He tells Olivia: PREPARE HER.

Executing the Witness's order involves what Olivia and the Tall Man refer to as Immersion.
OLIVIA: I will complete the Immersion with Dr. Railly. Alone. You have a plague to reconstruct for your beautiful, uncertain cycle.
This is the full Red Leaf Tea spa treatment. Cassie is placed in a tub of water treated with the crimson herb. Jennifer and Joan Jett appear to interrupt the ritual, drawing Olivia away from Cassie. However, the words prove to be less important than the brew…
TALL MAN: Dr. Railly's Immersion is complete.
In my mind, I immediately liken Witness Immersion to Smoke Monster Infection. Of course, the rules of that were never exact, so all that that really means is that Cassandra Railly cannot be 100% trusted right now. She may be a passive, unknowing, unwitting pawn of the Witness. Her every decision might be dictated by him (so, her decision to stay in 2016 with Jennifer might not have been wholly her own). She may be the Witness's sleeper agent, fully herself until the moment he decides to set her dial to "evil" at a crucial moment. Immersion seems like it will manifest itself as some kind of programming or mind control.

This begs the question: Who else has been immersed?

Olivia? Tall Man? The Messengers? I think not. As far as we know, these members of the Army have joined willingly, as true believers. Olivia has mentioned her father. We know Tall Man's mother was a Messenger, engineered to serve the Army. Maybe it's done as a kind of baptism for the loyal, and helps reinforce already existing faith? But I don't think it's required of the loyal Army soldiers.

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Could Jennifer's mother's attempt on her life have been a disturbed form of Immersion?
JENNIFER: They started as stick figures. Got better as I got older. My mother hated them. The disturbed images disturbed her already disturbed mind.
CASSANDRA: Your mother was mentally ill?
JENNIFER: Not Primary, just sick. She hated them. The things I saw… Madness feeding madness… There's a monster. She wants to destroy the world… It's me… I'm the monster. She tried to drown me, but the tub overflowed, then the maid came, called 911. Daddy spent a lot of money to make that one go away… And then he sent her away, and then eventually it was time for me to go away…
The psych records that Cassandra had indicated that Jennifer's Primary behavior manifested after her near-death at her mother's hand. Could that have been an intended result? What if Olivia (or another Army lieutenant) had Immersed Jennifer's mother? Could her mental illness have resulted from trying to fight the manipulations of the Witness? Would be some grand turnabout if Olivia was responsible for Mama Goines's illness.

When Jennifer rescues Cassie, she has to snap her out of the Red Tea trance. Half-dazed, Cassie says one word to Jennifer…
CASSANDRA: Olivia…
JENNIFER: Yeah… Right.
The way Cassie looks, the way she says "Olivia…" Jennifer knows exactly what Cassie means. Extreme prejudice. She confronts Olivia…
JENNIFER: You tried to make my friend crazy. No more tea, no more water, no more *baths*… You know what the difference between you and my mother is? I get to say good bye to you.
Did we just witness Jennifer's first attempted homicide?

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TALL MAN IS A FAN OF THE SHOW!
*So* love this meta-dialogue! =)
TALL MAN: It's 1975 to be precise. We sent two of our Messengers there after him… We *will* send… It's all this time travel! It's tricky to follow… It's rewarding when you do. Memories…
CASSANDRA: How did you survive the paradox at the bookstore?
TALL MAN: Oh, me? I have really good genes…
Good genes. Half Messenger, engineered by the Father for resilience and time travel. The other half…? I'm still rooting for Agent Gale.

HOW WELL DOES TALL MAN KNOW CASSIE?
TALL MAN: My how you've changed…
To which Cassie is Tall Man comparing her to? Does the Army not know that Cassie shot the Traveler? Perhaps that knowledge is overshadowed by Mama Vivian's story of how Cassie gave up a Primary to save that mifit nobody under the Witness's protection, James Cole.

MOVIN' RIGHT ALONG…

This, when Cole, Ramse, and Deacon pile into a truck for a field trip to an anomaly factory…
DEACON: You are… Lady Macbeth at best.
RAMSE: I never pegged you as a reader…
DEACON: Books didn't die in the apocalypse… which reminds me…
COLE: Jesus, would you shut up! I swear I'd drive this thing into an anomaly right now if I could get away from the sound of your voice!
There was a lot of great jibber jabber among the boys this episode. Including this perfectly pitched dumb boy stuff early on, when Cassie is getting ready to Splinter back to meet young Jennifer…

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DEACON: You all keep going on and on about how dangerous it would be for these Primary wackos to fall into the wrong hands. Maybe the smart move would be to gather whatever information you need and take them off the board.
COLE: Yeah, that would be your solution, wouldn't it, Teddy boy?
DEACON: Hey look, it's Time Jesus.
COLE: See you soon.
DEACON: Watch your back.
COLE: Splinter safe.
JONES: Gentlemen, if you please.
I'd love for Deacon to come out as gay, or otherwise somehow definitively declare his completely platonic relationship w/Cassie. I so want Deacon to be pushing Cole's Cassie buttons. Cassie doesn't even have to be in on it, because c'mon, put yourself in her shoes. It's ridiculous, why bother clearing the air when there's nothing to clear, right?

Not that Deacon doesn't have other buttons to push…
DEACON: Glad to see Cassie's cleaning up your mess.
COLE: My mess? How's that now?
DEACON: Weren't you supposed to save the world? Bang-up job. Love the red skies.
COLE: My job would be a hell of a lot easier if you hadn't walked the Messengers in through the front door. And for a guy who's always going on about traitors...
DEACON: Said the man whose best friend is a mass murderer.

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Gotta say, I love how Cole and Ramse win Deacon's respect. The post-apoc outside of Splinter and Spearhead truly is a wilderness, and the human culture that survives in that has seriously different standards and expectations compared to so-called civilization in 2016. I really appreciate the grizzly reminder of that difference given to us this episode by Deacon's bloody return to the facility after Cole and Ramse's trap.
DEACON: Now, my guys… They don't know what you tried to do, do they? I won't tell if you won't. Respect. Hey, next time you go to the past, why don't you bring back some whiskey? We can finally have that drink.
Think about what dating must be like. =)

Unmake history!

Keep on keepin' on~

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.

image

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?

image

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~