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 and do it. Then come back for the crazy talk. =)



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…


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 (, and/or Hebrew meaning someone's essential identity ( The subtleties of Hebrew and Bible Study are not a specialty of mine.
    Some others…
    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…


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.



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)



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.


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…
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?


*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.

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.


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…


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.


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~

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