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Thursday, June 30, 2016

the 12 Monkeys viewer perspective

I just created an infinite loop linking this pic >=D
original I made is here 
I copied this draft to SyfyDesigns earlier today. I'll just leave it here as backup.

If you follow me on twitter, you may have picked up that I'm lately soaking my brain in a 12 Monkeys brine. This is a continuation of a thought I've been working on for years, but what the heck, let's splat it out there and see what happens.

I've been thinking about the problem of causality and infinite loops. The 12 Monkeys viewer's perspective can only happen if we keep Cole's continuity intact. Real time travel wouldn't happen like that, but we have to be able to tell stories about it, so we usually pick a few 'prime' characters so we can distinguish them from themselves changed or in alt timelines. The injections given to Cole that let time flow around him are never explained, but I'm betting it would have to involve nanite technology, and right now, those shots are the only way that allows his story to be told, so that's a convenient plot device that can go into more depth later if they wish.

This is a writing perspective that has been used for a very long time. For instance, the Sliders gang called their own earth 'Earth Prime' and desperately looked to get back to it from numerous uncatalogued and sometimes wildly variant 'copies'. When Star Trek fans discuss new Trek, the original canon timeline is 'prime', so prime Khan and Spock and can be distinguished from alt Khan and Spock after Nero changed the timeline and created alt Trek, which I just simply call new Trek because it also means new generation reboot. (I handle the alt Trek stuff at Things To Do On Your Phone When You Can't Sleep.)

So Cole and Cassie in episode 1 "Splinter" are prime. After that, everything starts changing. By the time we get to season 2's version of Jose and Sam, which simply looks like a single alt change, there have been numerous other changes way too lengthy to even list, if  you get onto every little bitty detail like some fans have been doing. Compared to Continuum, which basically involved one metro area, 12 Monkeys is worldwide, and even though Continuum's time travel changes affect the entire world because of policy and political changes, 12 Monkeys directly affects billions of lives every single time they loop de loop, as it were.

By the time Cole holds dying Cassie, I noticed her watch was unscratched again. What's up with that? I wasn't live watching, don't know if the fans noticed on twitter, haven't checked the wikis and forums very deeply yet (but here's one questioning what happened), and it's never been mentioned in the show as far as I know, BUT, that must mean something. Cole apparently didn't notice. That watch had just about come full circle, and it's the same watch he'll be taking off her skeleton arm in the future, but because of the paradox he created, unless there's a specific time it unscratched, shouldn't it now be scratched when he first finds it in the future? If the writers are indicating that at Cassie's death there is a reset, Cole never looped back the same way the reset happened over Jones. We might possibly be looking at more than just a paradox and a time loop.

Cube 2: Hypercube also focused on a watch, but there the time was always frozen. Lots of things happened in many alternate dimensions, but time didn't actually pass. I have a fascination for watches in scifi shows.

I want to propose a different way of looking at time travel. I've been thinking about this for a long time, have probably mentioned it in passing elsewhere because I blurb sometimes about time thoughts (this section -Waking Up- is a first draft for a book I'm writing- I was doing the untimed house visual in 2007, so it was cool seeing that kind of visual filmed out in 12 Monkeys), so here goes, and I think it will help a bit with how we view the 12 Monkeys thing.

Time travel is currently still more a philosophical subject than a scientific one, and thinking through and mapping all the 'loops' in all the shows (Doctor Who sites really go wild with it) is difficult for some of us to keep track of. I visualize time very differently than one line sprouting into many, and I personally think Douglas Adams is right, time kinda smooths itself out no matter how much you mess with it. Everything Cole and the rest do is set in motion by what they themselves have already done, so everything they're doing is just role playing into all the preset loops. It's like exponential self fulfilling prophecy creating more and more loops (preset changes) until there is such a tangle of possible outcomes that the loops start dangerously tipping off the outer edges of the light cone of events, sort of like the High Roller in Las Vegas.

So here's the deal. Most of us have seen macrame. It's a particular kind of weaving that depends on 'interlocking', which you could metaphorically call 'fixed points' or 'primaries'. The Fates of old were more powerful than the gods, and they wove single threads into the destinies of men. Instead of seeing Time itself as one thread to map loops with, we should be seeing all the threads of all the characters weaving in and out of each other, but still part of a bigger whole, like a rope. All the loops and mini ropes that split off from the main whole can still come back together and remain intact on their own, like a macrame plant holder. I think threads of time going off in rogue directions is only a micro view, and if we pan out, we can see that every move Cole makes is necessary to the entire woven structure of his time traveling. Things may look like they've changed, but he's simply looping through parts of the weaving.

It looks like all that can be lost to the Red Forest. Logically, if the Red Forest is an immutable thing, all the rest should already have collapsed and there is no story to tell, so the Red Forest is a rogue fixed point that all the threads might appear to have to pass through or go around, if we look too closely at it. I'm not sure time can be unmade like that. It is only the human perspective that becomes corrupted. However, their situation is admittedly dire, and yes, they must do something about it.

If this were Minecraft, the Red Forest would already have a big section to play around in, like the Nether...

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