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!~


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. =(


When Vivian encounters the Traveler…
MESSENGER: So that you can save your son?
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.


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. =)


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?


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~

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