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 and do it. Then come back and have your mind blown!

Or at least your eyes strained a bit.


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…
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 =).


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.


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…
* 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?


Unmake history!

Keep on keepin’ on~

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