Let’s Go Back to ars PARADOXICA: “07: Distraction”

Let’s Go Back to ars PARADOXICA is a relisten and recap series for season one of ars PARADOXICA released every Tuesday and Thursday.

Let’s Go Back to ars PARADOXICA is a relisten and recap series for season one of ars PARADOXICA released every Tuesday and Thursday. You can see the full series here.


“07: Distraction”

An embed to RadioPublic’s direct link for the episode, which you can also find here.

Transcript
Written by: Daniel Manning


So, what happens in this episode?

The episode opens with Partridge talking to one of the various unnamed doctors in the episode, trying to figure out how he can possibly help Donovan–who, in last episode, was showing some troubling signs of cancer and brain damage. The most notable symptom is a sort of aphasia in which Donovan mixes up or misuses verb tenses.

But quickly, Dr. Grissom’s narration takes over. The date is August 18th, 1946, and Dr. Grissom is still shockingly enjoying her time in Point of Exile. She’s taken up the hobby of tinkering, and word of her “answertron” has spread around town, causing quite the excited stir from residents. Using her tinkering skills, she plans on working her way to building a computer for the timepiece, starting with a transistor.

 

Dr. Grissom explains that with Roberts’s thesis about forward time travel with the timepiece disproven, she’s had to move them to another project. Now, they’re trying to find a way to travel backwards in time at a rate that would keep them in, essentially, a “time bubble.” The idea is that if they constantly stay traveling back one second every second, they’ll be able to keep moving while everything else is stopped.

While explaining all of this, Dr. Grissom says the version of her who would have stayed in the future never would have believed it–but as she discusses, her voice is overlaid with heavy interference. In a moment of “tricky” words, she says:

“But… will grow since then. Have grown since then? Now, I only mostly want to have run away… I mean, I just only mostly want to run away.”

In the lab, Roberts leaves to prepare for an unnamed event, and Dr. Grissom and Partridge start talking as soon as she’s gone. Wyatt isn’t in the lab, as he’s been leaving Roberts to shoulder most of the work. Dr. Grissom shows Partridge the circuit she’s been working on–the transistor–and he’s blown away by it. Dr. Grissom tells him that in the future, transistors like these will be so basic and small they’ll put them into Hallmark cards, which devastates Partridge; he’s done the math, and he won’t survive to Dr. Grissom’s time. He also laments that she showed him the transistor in the first place; now, he’ll just be obsessed with it.

But Partridge also brings up something worrying. He says that he recently saw Hank Cornish in town, which means they’re being watched. He and Dr. Grissom half-joke about everything in Polvo being bugged, and Partridge says he’s probably just being paranoid (hint: no he isn’t). Using the TAP, Dr. Grissom and Partridge look in the area where Cornish was spotted, and then follow him to his destination–until Dr. Grissom sees that Cornish had been met by Chet Whickman. Dr. Grissom posits that the two are working together, and that her team is being watched.

But there isn’t much time to reckon with this; Dr. Grissom points out that they have to go to the event, Helen Partridge’s performance with a jazz band. Anthony Partridge says he isn’t going, and to not tell Helen what he’s been doing. Dr. Grissom initially doesn’t want to lie to her, but doesn’t see much of an alternative, and when Anthony confirms he’s not cheating on Helen, Dr. Grissom agrees.

At the performance, Dr. Grissom sits with Whickman, Roberts, Wyatt, and Penny Wise. As Helen sings, tensions flare up between Roberts and Wyatt, who now completely resent each other. Coding their work like a board game, Wyatt blames Roberts for her ambition and gray morals, while Roberts blames Wyatt’s ineptitude and laziness. The fight is broken up by Penny, who apologizes on behalf of Wyatt as she leaves with him.

Away from the party, Wyatt talks with Penny about his ennui. He tells her that he’s almost died for the company, and he doesn’t even know what they’re doing or why. When Penny points out that they’re not treating him properly, he defends Roberts and the project, saying he believes in it and Roberts herself. He confesses that since he’s been off of morphine for his head injury, he’s had self-medicate with alcohol, and it’s developed into an addiction. Instead of running away like he expected, Penny tells him she wants to help find healthier ways to manage his pain.

The episode ends with another call Partridge makes to a doctor who can’t help him. Whickman says there’s potential in an experimental treatment given to rats–treatment that doesn’t often go well, but could. While Partridge is unsure of this, Whickman points out that they don’t really have many options.


Key facts and characters

  • Not really any new introductions this episode! The calm before the storm.

How does it hold up?

This was a solid episode of rising action, with more lovely focus put on Roberts and Wyatt. These two are some of the most interesting characters in the series–especially Roberts–and tracking their development early on is so interesting. The audience is already getting some small hints at who they will be by the time the series ends. It feels like the writing for these two has solidified properly in this episode, and it only gets better from this point on.


The Butterfly Effect

Timeline 1

  • Starting time: Dr. Grissom is from a modern-day alternate timeline (see ODAR & You! for more on that) that she is pulled out of on August 14th, 20XX.
    • 20XX is sometime after 2014, a year that has not been redacted; 2014 is when Dr. Grissom received her PhD from MIT. If she started working at the SSC directly after graduating, 20XX would be 2016.
  • Jump back: On August 14th, 20XX, Dr. Grissom lands back in October 29th, 1943.
    • On October 29th, 1943, Dr. Grissom is brought to her new home of Polvo, New Mexico.
    • On January 17th, 1944, the blackout hits, but Dr. Grissom does not move forward with the test on the Timepiece.
    • On Wednesday, July 16th, 1945, Dr. Grissom, Anthony Partridge, Helen Partridge, and Chet Whickman witness The Trinity Test.
    • On September on an unnamed date, Quentin Barlowe is killed by a bullet in a time loop:
      • Loop 1: Quentin Barlowe is shot by Chet Whickman.
      • Loop 2: Dr. Grissom is shot by June Barlowe, which is then sent back in time to kill Quentin Barlowe, also closing the loop.
    • Quentin Barlowe’s funeral occurs on September 16th, 1945.
    • Dr. Grissom invents the TAP on September 20th, 1945.
    • The ODAR Christmas party, and subsequent mass firing, is on December 21st, 1945.
      • Loop 1: When the Polvo power grid overloads, Dr. Grissom A uses the timepiece to help save Polvo.
      • Loop 2: Dr. Grissom B goes to RAINBOW A and pulls the lever to regulate the power. RAINBOW B explodes.
      • Loop 3: Dr. Grissom C chokes out Lambert and saves RAINBOW A, saving the town in conjunction with Dr. Grissom B or Maraczek.
    • December 24th, 1945: Dr. Grissom A wakes up. Dr. Grissom B and C have been killed by Cornish and Donovan.
    • February 1946: Dr. Grissom, Roberts, Wyatt, Anthony Partridge, and Helen Partridge are moved to Point of Exile, Colorado, by Donovan and Whickman.
    • March 1st, 1946: Dr. Grissom concludes that forward time travel using the timepiece is impossible.
    • August 18th, 1946: Helen Partridge’s jazz performance.

Timeline 2

  • Starting time: Dr. Grissom is from a modern-day alternate timeline (see ODAR & You! for more on that) that she is pulled out of on August 14th, 20XX.
    • 20XX is sometime after 2014, a year that has not been redacted; 2014 is when Dr. Grissom received her PhD from MIT. If she started working at the SSC directly after graduating, 20XX would be 2016.
  • Jump back: On August 14th, 20XX, Dr. Grissom lands back in October 29th, 1943.
    • On October 29th, 1943, Dr. Grissom is brought to her new home of Polvo, New Mexico.
    • On January 17th, 1944, the blackout hits, but Dr. Grissom moves forward with the test on the Timepiece, which then sends an electromagnetic pulse backwards in time into Timeline 1.

ODAR & You!

  • In the last post, I talked about Kristen DeMercurio’s mic quality. DiMercurio saw, replied, and told one of the greatest stories I’ve ever read. Her thread starts here:

  • Each episode ends with a color, a set of numbers, and an identification of the “weather in Tulsa.” Each of these is a Vigenere cipher, all of which have been solved on the podcast’s Wikia.
    • The weather in Tulsa today is: SHOWERS

On Thursday (3/21/19), I’ll be recapping “08: Cage,” an episode title that made me gasp as I read it to write this. For all of the ars PARADOXICA recaps, start with this post, or see all of the posts in the series here.


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