Let’s Go Back to ars PARADOXICA: “10: Consequence, Act I” and “10: Consequence, Act II”

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.


“10: Consequence, Act I”

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

Transcript
Written by: Mischa Stanton

“10: Consequence, Act II”

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 these episodes?

“10: Consequence, Act I”

This episode starts with a distorted, sometimes reversed version of the theme song, still landing solidly on its final note. Instead of narration from Dr. Grissom, the narration here is from Bill Donovan. Like Partridge as of the end of episode 9, the listener is hearing the tapes from Donovan’s office.

The tapes begin October 28th, 1943, the day of the Project RAINBOW test. Donovan ruminates on how this will be the last war they ever fight with traditional weapons, that they’ll start being more roguelike and strategic versus just using mass firepower. Donovan talks about how much he hates J. Edgar Hoover, director of the FBI and Donovan’s nemesis, but that thanks to Partridge using algorithms to predict the war, he’s been able to assemble ODAR.

Donovan reluctantly introduces J. Edgar Hoover, director of the FBI, to Lambert and Maraczeck. Hoover laughs at Donovan’s idea that Project RAINBOW will actually work. The test begins, as signaled by the voice of the person who reads the numbers at the end of each episode–but, as expected, the test seemingly fails, thanks to the arrival of Dr. Grissom. Donovan talks to Whickman, who convinces him to recruit her.

In another tape, we heard Dr. Grissom yell at Donovan for making everyone hate her, but he confirms he’s doing nothing of the sort. After she leaves, Donovan tells Partridge to be nice to her, and that he must volunteer to be on her team whenever she assembles it.

Another tape starts, and Donovan introduces himself to the self that will be listening to the tape in the past; he’s recording the tape on August 1st, 1945, to send back in time to himself on July 10th, 1945. He tells himself not to fight back when he hears that Partridge is taking the team on a random trip to Las Vegas. He says he’s found evidence that Hoover is gay, and that he can use that to leverage Hoover to back their project.

There’s a jump back to Donovan and Whickman hearing the tape from the future. Whickman seems to think it’s a good enough plan, and Donovan orders Whickman to take the schematics for the Timepiece, wipe Dr. Grissom’s team’s names from them, and have one made for him immediately.

From here, the episode barrels into all of the tapes Donovan has sent to himself from the future. What start out as being pieces of actual advice become updates on his life, politics, or even just confiding in himself. Donovan send over 20 different tapes, almost all of which are set to arrive on July 10th. His tapes track his experiences through that first year of the Timepiece project, with several tapes on Christmas Eve. The listener finds out that not only did Donovan know about the explosion, he let it happen–and he used the duplicate Dr. Grissoms to show physical evidence that the Timepiece was working. This is how he got the funding from Hank Cornish for the project’s additional year in Point of Exile.

As the tapes continue, the listener can hear Donovan’s illness get worse and worse. He’s mixing up his tenses. He’s coughing more and more. At one point, Donovan talks to Whickman, but his tenses are almost incomprehensible. Whickman confides in Cornish, saying that everything is on his shoulder’s with Donovan so ill, and the two decide to use Donovan’s plan to reel Partridge and Wyatt back into their work. Cornish convinces Helen Partridge to leave Point of Exile by saying he’s a talent agent, and using his knowledge of Partridge’s absence in her life to manipulate her. Whickman takes a more direct approach with Penny Wise, telling her that if she gets Wyatt to stop drinking and gives him something to come home to, he’ll pay her father’s missed mortgage bills.

Donovan’s last tape is recorded December 15th, or 18th, or 10th, of 1946–Donovan isn’t able to keep track of dates at this point. He explains how difficult his illness has become: he repeats words for hours at a time, he’s constantly coughing, and his tenses are getting worse. He’s furious that Partridge hasn’t found a way to fix him yet, but then the tapes arrive. They can still save him.

“10: Consequence, Act II”

The second act picks up where we left Anthony Partridge in episode 9. Like the listener, he’s just finished listening to the tapes, and he is furious.

But the episode quickly switches to Dr. Grissom. Recording a tape of her own on December 25th, 1946, she’s very quickly interrupted by the sound of the Timepiece whirring–and she’s visited by herself, from the future, in a CAGE.

The episode shifts rapidly between Partridge and Dr. Grissom. For the sake of clarity, I’ll be writing out each of their plotlines for the episode in their own dedicated sections.

Meanwhile, Jack Wyatt and Penny Wise have run away. They get a call from Esther Roberts, who says she sent people in the opposite direction of where they went. Roberts and Wyatt bid their farewells, and Roberts tells Wyatt where the bug in his car is so he can destroy it.

Anthony Partridge

Partridge is visited by an old, but very lucid, Donovan, in a CAGE. Medical devices hum in the soundscape, and Donovan explains that Partridge saved him with the idea to give him exposure therapy in the CAGE. He says that he’s been able to think more clearly than since before Dr. Grissom showed up, and that it’s been about 30 years since he last spoke to Partridge.

But Partridge is still furious. Donovan says that everything Partridge ever did was for himself, not his wife, and not for his country. Donovan tries to insist that he did what he did for America, but Partridge says he’s listened to the tapes. The fight gets so heated that Partridge strangles Donovan to death.

Whickman sees what happened and is furious with Partridge. Partridge is initially defensive, but eventually asks if Whickman can just kill him. Whickman brings Cornish in, and they give Partridge a choice: he can either spend the rest of his life in a cell, or he can use the Timepiece to save Donovan. Either way, Whickman and Corish say he’s going to be erased from history. Partridge decides to try to save Donovan, but this turns out to just be a plot from Whickman and Donovan to trap him in the CAGE.

Dr. Grissom

To make this section a little less confusing, we’re going to call Dr. Grissom from the podcast’s main timeline “Sally” and Dr. Grissom from the future “Dr. Grissom.”

Sally is elated to be talking to herself from the future. She finds out that Dr. Grissom is visiting her from 1967 to bring her important information–though Dr. Grissom does confirm that they never make it back to “their” future, because it just doesn’t exist anymore.

Dr. Grissom say that she doesn’t have much time, so she wants to get through information quickly. She explains that she and Sally are suffering from a disease that will eventually be called Butterfly Syndrome, but that it can be treated with stays in the CAGE: the CAGE keeps people anchored, helping their brain sort through the damage of time travel. Dr. Grissom tells Sally that Donovan is also afflicted with Butterfly Syndrome because he’s been using his own Timepiece to travel back in time frequently.

Dr. Grissom says that Sally won’t see Partridge again–that he’s not dead, but she still can’t save him. She tells Sally that Whickman and the others aren’t bad, just misguided, and to not make her mistakes by trying to run away from them. As the two start showing signs of Butterfly Syndrome again, Dr. Grissom tells Sally that she needs to work with Whickman and the others–and that she needs to find something called The Pumpkin Papers.


Key facts and characters

  • J. Edgar Hoover: The director of the FBI. J. Edgar Hoover is played by Pete Lutz.
  • Butterfly Syndrome: The proper name for the Timepiece illness Donovan suffers from.
  • The Pumpkin Papers: The mysterious clue Dr. Grissom from 1967 gives to her past self.

How does it hold up?

“10: Consequence, Act I”

Mischa Stanton’s first solo episode in writing, Act I is a pivotal look into the first season from a completely different perspective. Like Julian Mundy’s episode, Act I feels congruent and cohesive with the series as a whole so far, while also opening up the narrative to a completely different perspective. The play with timelines here feels both meticulous and chaotic, especially as Donovan’s tapes become more and more rapid. Using the tapes as a way to speak to Donovan’s only friend–himself–is both pathetic and genuinely heartbreaking, especially as Donovan tells his past self to tell someone how much she means to him.

Unfortunately, where this episode fell flat for me was in the acting. While all of the performances in ars PARADOXICA are standouts in the medium, Rob Slotnick’s Donovan just never quite feels settled in for me. Something about his timbre and rhythm feel just a touch to jazzy at times for Donovan. The cadence of his voice never quite matches the cadence of the writing for me.

“10: Consequence, Act II”

Act II is an incredibly memorable episode, not just for its plot significance, but for its almost frustratingly fantastic performances from Kristen DiMercurio as two different iterations of Dr. Grissom. In these roles, DiMercurio doesn’t try to age her voice or change her natural rhythm of speaking. Dr. Grissom will always sound exactly like Dr. Grissom, something that DiMercurio understands completely.

Instead, the difference between the two voices is entirely in attitude. While Sally is excited and goofy, Dr. Grissom is impatient and to the point. The two are both immediately comfortable, though, with Sally more comfortable than we’ve heard her in an interaction versus just in her audio diaries. At no point does it feel hard to keep track of which Dr. Grissom is speaking–which is also helped by their locations in the room via the sound design. Her scenes are so wholly considered, so thoroughly thought out. They’re scenes I’d play for someone if they wanted to know what makes ars PARADOXICA special.


Butterfly Syndrome

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 A1: Quentin Barlowe is shot by Chet Whickman from Timeline 3.
      • Loop A2: 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 B1: When the Polvo power grid overloads, Dr. Grissom A uses the timepiece to help save Polvo.
      • Loop B2: Dr. Grissom B goes to RAINBOW A and pulls the lever to regulate the power. RAINBOW B explodes.
      • Loop B3: 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 2nd, 1946: Dr. Grissom accidentally gets stuck in the CAGE for an hour and a half.
    • August 18th, 1946: Helen Partridge’s jazz performance.
    • September 9th, 1946: Roberts and Whickman stay in the CAGE for just over 22 hours.
    • December 23rd, 1946: Helen Partridge leaves Point of Exile.
    • December 24th, 1946: Partridge discovers Donovan’s tapes.

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.

Timeline 3

  • 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, and Dr. Grissom does not go forward with the test on the Timepiece.
  • On September on an unnamed date, Quentin Barlowe is killed by Chet Whickman after Whickman finds out that Barlowe’s records are fake. The bullet is sent through a rift in time to Timeline 1.

Fragment Timelines

Throughout the series, there are fragmented timelines that the audience is never given the full details of. Instead of trying to factor these into the main timelines, they’ll be given their own sections.

Bill Donovan’s Tapes

In the first season, Partridge finds the tapes that Donovan has been sending to himself from the future using his own Timepiece to make sure he gets his way. Only certain tapes were played in the episode, “10: Consequence, Act I.”

  • Tape 1: Recorded August 1st, 1945; sent back to July 10th, 1945. Donovan tells himself to let Partridge take the others to Las Vegas. He tells his past self that J. Edgar Hoover is gay.
  • Tape 2: Recorded July 17th 1945; sent back to July 10th, 1945. Donovan tells his past self that the intel on J. Edgar Hoover wasn’t sufficient.
  • Tape 5: Recorded July 26th, 1945; sent back to July 18th, 1945. Donovan tells his past self that Winston Churchill lost the United Kingdom general election and that they should call in a favor.
  • Tape 7: Recorded August 10th, 1945; sent back to August 4th, 1945. Donovan tells his past self that Truman still will not fund their work until he sees good evidence that it’s going towards something.
  • Tape 12: Recorded September 12th, 1945; no date listed for when it was sent back. Donovan says that he found the tape of Chet Whickman from Timeline 1, Loop A1, shooting Quentin Barlowe.
  • Tape 16: Recorded December 3rd, 1945; sent back to November 28th, 1945. Donovan tells his past self that Hank Cornish has arrived in town.
  • Tape 19: Recorded December 12th, 1945; sent back to December 11th, 1945. Donovan tells his past self how to avoid being hit by a car.
  • Tape 20: Recorded December 12th, 1945; sent back to December 11th, 1945. Donovan tries again to tell his past self how to avoid being hit by a car.
  • Tape 21: Recorded December 12th, 1945; sent back to December 11th, 1945. Donovan tells his past self to not go outside.
  • Tape 26: No dates given. Donovan tells his past self to tell “her” how much she means to him.
  • Tapes 29-33: Recorded December 21st, 1945; sent back to December 20th, 1945. Donovan tells his past self how to trigger the explosion in Polvo, make sure Dr. Grissom uses the Timepiece to create duplicates of herself, and then use those duplicates as physical proof that the timepiece is working to get their funding.
  • Donovan’s final tape: Recorded December 10th/15th/18th, 1946: Donovan tells his past self that his illness is getting worse, but he receives the tapes.

ODAR & You!

  • J. Edgar Hoover was a very real person, and the first director of the FBI. There were, in fact, many rumors of him being gay or otherwise queer–or, as one source confusingly says, “just a man who has sex with men.” You know, like a man who is was not straight (including men who are bisexual, pansexual, etc.) does.
  • 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: CLEAR

On Tuesday (4/2/19), I’ll be recapping “11: Blackroom.” For all of the ars PARADOXICA recaps, start with this post, or see all of the posts in the series here.


Listen to ars PARADOXICAApple | SpotifyStitcher RSS

  1. […] “10: Consequence, Act I” and “10: Consequence, Act II” […]

    Like

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: