So, what this is gonna be—what this is—is me walking thru the events we witness occurring from 1957 to 1959 in “Blood Washed Away.” I’m not touching the events that we saw unfold at 2044 Titan at all. Then I’ll explain what I think they might mean. I’ll admit, I’m going out on an ethereal limb here, but I find some stuff out there that I like, and even though it may not be suitable for prime time, I’m gonna take a look at it.
Do feel free to skip the two years of play-by-play and zip on down to “THE THING IS…” to get down to the nitty-gritty crazy. =)
1957 to 1959, APPARENTLY.
C+C spend 11 months in 1957 trying to identify the Primary as an employee at the Maxwell-Rigfield Manufacturing factory to no avail. Of course, it turns out that the Primary, Melinda, is the wife of Charlie, an employee and friend of Cole's. Charlie, whose life began in 2015, sent back in time from 2043 with a Messenger partner to kill Melinda.
Come November 7, 1957, Charlie is married to Melinda, who is suffering from cancer (and its chemotherapy, according to Charlie). His Messenger partner? Dead, circumstances unknown (I suspect that he's the nimrod who "fell" from the factory rooftop some time ago, tho). That mishap is part of some excellent choreography on the part of Charlie Messenger, as it removes the threat of his partner and sets the stage for the introduction of Reginald “Red Herring” Dupuy.
Melinda's paradoxidation is a bit perplexing to me. Emotionally, I get it. But Charlie-philosophically, it seems a bit muddy (after two viewings, maybe number three will clear it up).
She walks into the factory with the instrument of her own paradox—the bone dagger from the future. As a Primary, she has seen what happens to her, where, when, and how she is paradoxed. It happens at the factory and Charlie is the one who does it. In his words, Charlie is resistant…
CASS: You're one of the twelve. You're a Messenger.
CHARLIE: I was, but I won't be. Not to her. I can't hurt her.
CASS: She's Primary. If you paradox her, you'll destroy everyone—everything. Where's the other Messenger?
CHARLIE: He's dead. I'm not like them. Not everything the Witness said was true. Because when I saw you. I just…I couldn't do it.
In his deeds, however… Well, he accepts the box from Melinda, opens it, and takes the dagger in his hand. He is ready to use it. Melinda has a gun. Cassandra brought a gun. Cole brings a gun. If it's about ending Melinda's suffering, a bullet would do the trick, possibly near-instantly. However, Charlie chooses the dagger.
MELINDA: Do this…and we can live forever in the Red Forest like you said…Damn, that could mean so many things. Charlie doesn't just know Cole. As a Messenger, he knows ABOUT Cole. All of the gosh-shucks advice he gives him, he gives him knowing his actual Time Jesus-y circumstances.
CHARLIE: I'm sorry, Cole. But you of all people should understand this.
CHARLIE: It's just so cruel. So when I say what I say, you know I know. Because when it comes down to it, the only thing you'll be wishing for is more time. Trust me.And just a minute or two earlier…
CHARLIE: See? You do care. And whatever is stopping you two, it isn't worth it. This whole world could eat shit and die, It wouldn't matter if you were together.An interesting echo of some of Jennifer's rambling on C+C in 2016…
JENNIFER: You know, like a kiss. You just have to close your eyes and let the world die. You can be with him.So, Charlie seems to deny the Witness when he says not everything big W says is true. But in the end, he goes along with his mission, and Melinda's wish/Primary vision, and paradoxes the woman he loves, against his own word—he won't be a Messenger to her, he can't hurt her.
Of course, my take is that the Witness knew and planned on/for everything that happens as we saw it (see the aside above).
Charlie stabs Melinda. Cole gets a shot off, maybe hits Charlie, since his stab follow-thru has him facing Melinda, his back to Cole. The pink and gooey paradox effect seems to catch Cassie, but not Cole. Cole's paradox speed seems to kick in and he pulls her to the shelter of some machinery. We see the paradox effect blow out the windows of the factory from outside as flames from exploding tanks of something or other shoot out of them.
Nineteen days later we learn that Cassie is in a coma and no one else survived the explosion (none are as lucky as she is). Well, no one but Cole, who apparently was able to make himself scarce soon after. He visits her, surreptitiously, and explains to her that he is sorry that he failed, and that the best thing for her when she wakes up is to forget about him. And he leaves…
We then see that Cassie is reliving her trance sessions with Olivia, hearing her voice guiding her to the House of Cedar and Pine in the Red Forest.
Six months pass in a lighting and/or filter change (two seasons later, not a huge mystery, right?) and Cassandra wakes from her coma. That drops us into May 26, 1958.
No comment from the medical staff about Cassie's blood or any funky effects of the Quantum Serum. Maybe they don't have the technology to recognize that there's anything unusual? Fifteen years earlier, a physical didn't reveal anything unusual about Ramse's health (aside from the advanced localized osteoporosis). In any case, she must've been in a REALLY bad way if it takes her serum-enhanced physiology six months to heal her.
Another six months (November 26, 1958—Thanksgiving and Christmas soon) finds Cassandra working as a nurse for Dr. Ed, diagnosing Lyme disease years before it's officially recognized. I wonder if the boy she saves grows up to be someone important.
A few months later and it's 1959, and we learn that Cassie spends some of her downtime writing in the Emerson Hotel bar.
CASS: Where are you right now? Some place warm? Safe? Next to someone you love?This must be the origin/creation of those words, familiar to us as voiceover we've heard in several episodes, first in Cole's voice, then in Cassandra's. This moment, their creation, as ink on paper, is interrupted when Cass turns to look at the man who's just ordered a whiskey sour. Alas, not James. We don't see if she continues writing, and which words follow, but it immediately makes me wonder under what circumstances does James ultimately read/recite them. After her death? Her disappearance? The words found in her belongings? Or planted in his pocket for him to find after some final mission or last stand.
Next, we see a bellhop pass along a message revealing that Cassie's been searching for Cole, at the speed of 1959. A search for Morris Morrison, the alias given to James by Jennifer Goines in 2016 (Jennifer enables Cassie to find him!), has turned up an address…
10 OLD PINES RD.
Cassandra drives there and ends up parking in front of the House of Cedar and Pine, in reality, not the Red Forest. She approaches the house and finds James playing handyman beside it. He's just cut his thumb while sawing some wood for some home improvement project.
COLE: What are you doing here?And they exchange pointed words about hurting each other, and when Cassie feels she's gotten the last word in about James leaving her out of fear, she turns to leave… And it begins to rain. The red tea deja vu familiarity of the rain stops her, and she turns back to him and notices that he's bleeding. The healer in her kicks in and she offers to help clean it up. While doing that…
CASS: What are *you* doing *here*?
COLE: The house? It's mine. I bought it.
CASS: Why this house?
COLE: I was driving by, saw the "for sale" sign. Needs a lot of work. The hospital… They weren't sure if you were ever gonna wake up. But I knew you would.
CASS: Easy…We have to wash it first. It's not as bad as it looked. Just bled a lot.
OLIVIA & CASS: Most of the blood has washed away…
The exact words from Olivia's red tea trance guidance. The rest of the words come back to Cass as she wanders into the next room and recognizes it as the room in which she was trapped while possessed.
She understands that Olivia, the Army, the Witness, they KNEW that this moment happens, exactly as it does.
CASS: Like a memory of tomorrow… They knew this place. This moment. You.It's aggravating how she still doesn't spill everything. The most she's ever told anyone about her experience while red tea'd or possessed seems to be what she shared with Ramse, about being in the Witness's head while he was in hers and seeing Titan. No details about the environment of the Red Forest or the house. Boo…
COLE: What are you talking about?
If you're Cassandra, what are you thinking and wondering at this point? Does it dawn on you that Cole may be the Witness? Perhaps YOU are? Even if it crosses your mind, tho, no time for that! Gotta talk Cole out of giving up on saving the world again. Nope, he’s not hearing it. So, time to leave (again). Oh, but wait, Cole's saying ridiculous stuff about doing everything for me. Gotta straighten him out. Okay, I've said my peace. Huh. He just said that I don't have him. I’ve “succeeded” and there's nothing between us. Is that true? He looks pretty damn good, even in this creepy house. I better kiss him just to make sure there's nothing, and kiss him hard.
Yeah, that's probably not how her thinking goes, but you've gotta wonder, right? There do seem to be a couple of moments when she was ready to storm off/out, but she kept getting pulled back in by something, either some Red Forest deja vu or more bittersweet nothings with Cole. In the end, she kisses James and she's thankful she packed her 2015 underwear when she followed him to 1957.
When they started going at it, I thought of that wonderful Buffy-Spike homewrecking coupling. It’s a slight stretch, but I had a flash that these two serumed-up Project Splinter super-soldiers might very well replicate that scene here, and destroying the house could save them from a Red Forest fate, right? Alas, they exhibited no super-strength, and the house stands, intact and ready to be beamed to or re-created in the Red Forest. However, the episode did provide us with some intercut mayhem and some tres grandes morts to go with C+C's petite one. A pretty excellent bit of manipulation in its mix of despair and, umm, consummation. But also an aggravating bit of storytelling in its possible connection-by-juxtaposition of the two events. Sex and death—rock on!
The show's writers are a pack of wonderful bastards, aren't they?
THE THING IS…
Cole and Cassie fail to stop the Time-killing paradox of Melinda Primary by husband Charlie X. Messenger in November, 1957. However, the effects that we see do not seem to correspond to either Katarina's or Tall Man's expectations.
KATARINA: But we've picked up an enormous amount of temporal fallout between 1956 and 1958. The highest readings coincide with a single event… An explosion at a factory in New York on November 7, 1957. Hundreds of people were killed. The temporal signature indicates a massive paradox.
TALL MAN: A paradox so powerful, it destroys the fabric of time... At least locally... Enough to maintain erosion forever. The birth of the Red Forest.This apparent inconsistency has me thinking that C+C's experiences from 1957 thru 1959 unfold in a bubble/pocket universe—a shared reality that exists for the two of them. One in which the paradox resulted in a fire at the factory which killed everyone except the two of them, but not in the fracturing of Time. In reality, however, the paradox decimated the factory and much of the surrounding area.
I've theorized that a massive paradox caused by the physical confrontation of the mature Witness with his younger self creates the Red Forest. That the effect of the paradox of contact of a living time traveler (possibly Primary) with himself would result in blasting a chunk of the world out of reality and into the limbo of the red tea zone. This chunk would include the region that becomes the Red Forest and the house on its edge and also result in trapping the younger Witness within it. The older Witness might survive, resolved by the cosmos back into reality, and broken out of his loop, or, he may simply be disintegrated.
So, when I heard both Katarina's and Tall Man's descriptions of the 1957 event, I really hoped this is what we'd see.
Alas, not exactly. Not quite. But "not quite" could still be pretty frickin cool.
I want to reach a bit now and say that the paradox-affected region covers at least as far as Binghamton and the Emerson, with C+C as the only survivors, serumed individuals caught nearly at the center of the event. But they don't survive in reality. The paradox has bumped them *out* of reality, into the red tea zone, the realm outside of time and the limbo into which the cosmos shunts paradox remainders. A release valve for temporal pressure and inconsistencies. This is the realm in which the Witness "lived/lives" until he departs for Titan. The realm those who partake of the red leaf visit via astral projection.
We are seeing C+C living out their lives on an astral plane, a mental "Matrix" of a virtual reality. Why does it look and feel the way it does? Well, I'm not certain if the environment and its population of NPCs are…
- Duplicates, based on reality at the time of the paradox…
- Constructed by the Witness, designed to his liking…
- The product of C+C's own unconscious/subconscious thoughts and expectations.
I pondered the possibility that the bubble might be filled with and inhabited by everything and everyone caught in the radius of the paradox event, but given how much geography is covered—from Binghamton to Manhattan to wherever the Maxwell-Rigfield factory was—and that 1957-1959 includes technology that connects any place to the rest of the world, I'm not going to follow up on what that could mean in this post. But I'd love the logic of it. Alas, I think that those non-serumed individuals caught in the paradox died, perhaps experiencing the chaotic aging effects of the anomalies seen in 2044.
So what is the meaning or purpose of this bubble universe?
It's kind of what Desmond thought the Sideways universe was in LOST. It's like the Fortress of Solitude in SUPERMAN II (did anyone else get that vibe?). It's like the Mars in ANGRY RED PLANET and that one Martian Chronicle. It's like the virtual reality of the Library Planet. It's SOLARIS. It's Mabel's Prison Bubble from Weirdmageddon. It's the Nexus from STAR TREK: GENERATIONS. It's a honeypot world. A trap which gives you your heart's desire/s. A trap meant to keep Cassandra and/or Cole from pursuing the mission and meddling any further in the Witness's grand design.
What will it take to free them?
C+C begin to build a home together. They make plans that don't involve weapons and ammo checks or Splinter coordinates. They have lots of sex, and one of those sexytimes results in a pregnancy. Or rather, it will. We may not actually find out that Cassie's pregnant. Maybe we do, but maybe not. What we do find out, what we and Cole get, is a visit. A visit from their fully grown and mature daughter—possibly granddaughter?—named Lillian (Madeleine Stowe’s character). I want to say granddaughter, because if C+C have a daughter, how do they NOT name her Katarina or Jennifer, right? Hrm… But I suppose she could be their second daughter… Okay, I’ll allow it. Daughter Lillian appears to Cole one day, relatively soon after we last see him in "Blood Washed Away.""
Is she real? If C+C have children in the bubble universe, in the red tea zone, are they real? I'm going to say real enough and you're going to pretend that that's an answer.
When Lillian reaches puberty, she begins to experience visions, she becomes one of Time's neurons, a Primary. As a Primary within this bubble, she becomes aware of the experiences of other Primaries within the bubble and perhaps without. She knows about her grandparents and their time traveling history. She sees the screaming monkey. She sees the Witness.
In the future-meantime of the bubble, a scientist named Elliot Jones develops time travel into the future. His early tests of the technology result in the transformation of English Ivy into red leafed ivy. Lillian seeks it out and experiments with it, learns to navigate the red tea zone outside the bubble. From C+C's bubble future, she travels to C+C's bubble present, where and when she will explain to her not-yet-but-always-father the true state of their existence and experience. They are in a trap. They must break out. Yes, it will mean Lillian's death or deletion, but as a Primary, her duty is to the preservation of Time and Reality. Sadly, it seems many Primaries are wired to be satisfied with, even dedicated to, their envisioned, apparently predestined, fates. Also, hopefully, as a Primary, she has seen that she will succeed in freeing them, in freeing their minds.
I think that once she shows them a flaw in the logic or environment of their bubble world, it will begin to fall apart. Perhaps it will require that both C+C see it and acknowledge it, and that will be an issue (I'm looking at you, Cole). But in the end, they break out. Maybe they take advantage of some Neo-like abilities in the red tea zone and conjure up some advantages to take with them once the bubble bursts. I can see the burst being a transformation of their world, with the House of Cedar and Pine as ground zero, into the Red Forest.
That would be lovely.
But how do they get back to reality? Well, with the bubble gone, they are loose in the freshly minted Red Forest, the hottest property in the limbo of the red tea zone. If time flows at all in the zone, it's going to be wonky. Maybe Lillian will have given them instructions/Primary wisdom to follow, but maybe once the Red Forest is revealed, Cassandra will have a sense of what they need to do and where they need to go—Titan.
Remember, Cassandra saw Titan town through the window of the Witness's house. It appeared in the red tea zone without any fanfare, Red Forest-adjacent, and picked up the Witness. If C+C can catch the flow of time just right, or perhaps just camp out in the right spot and wait until Brigadoon Titan appears again/for the first time, they can hitch a ride back to reality, 2044, Colorado, by walking from the house right into Titan town.
If they beam into reality with Titan town at the right time, they may be able to prevent the deaths of their friends.
I can see Lillian and Cole engaged in a conversation similar to Yoda and Luke's in EMPIRE before he leaves to save his friends in the city in the clouds. =)
CRAZY TALK 2…
Adding a little wrinkle… In this scenario, Lillian is not C+C's daughter. She lives in reality, rooted in the/our present, 2016. She is a Primary and is aware of C+C's honeypot captivity, the Witness's manipulations, and the bleeding of Time. The skies above her are turning red. She has gained access to red leaf, perhaps thanks to Elliot Jones, maybe even Tall Man, and navigates the red tea zone to contact C+C in their bubble world. And everything after they meet plays out as it does in the first scenario.
Maybe Lillian is a best friend of Cole's mother. If Marion's best friend was a decently functioning Primary, it would explain how she was clued into the threat of the Army to her son James, right? And she'd be able to share something more than just destruction-of-Time intel with him, perhaps something that gets him to see beyond Cassie and the idyllic world of the bubble.
I'd like that.
Of course, none of the above covers any of the action in 2044. Says anything about Cole (or Cassie) not being the Witness. Includes none of my rambling on several zany Witness theories…
I’m my own worst enemy. So much so that I’d probably Katar an alternate self in the back in front of the Witness mainstage in Titan town.
Or something… =)
Keep on keepin' on~