Let’s Go Back to ars PARADOXICA: “27: Breach”

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.


“27: Breach”

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

Transcript
Written by: Tau Zaman


So, what happens in this episode?

Picking up just before the end of the last episode, the first scene is a conversation between a frustrated Chet Whickman trying to explain protocol to Hank Cornish. Cornish wants Whickman to get him the files on the plasticity experiment stat, but Whickman explains how thin his team is stretched. Whickman stands up for himself until Cornish points out that Whickman’s job is already tenuous, and he’s not making it any better–especially since ODAR would replace him if they had recommendation from Cornish.

Meanwhile, Petra is bringing Ida in for questioning. Ida’s cavalier attitude becomes even more worrisome as the lockdown starts, and Ida seems thoroughly unsurprised. Ida slips away as Petra gets into the room with Dr. Grissom and Bridget Chambers from the previous episode, and the room locks. Petra covers for herself, not giving away that she potentially let a spy escape within ODAR. Dr. Grissom suspects that the lockdown is just a drill until she realizes how quiet it is, and Chambers posits that they’re just actually under attack.

After a few hours, Petra, Dr. Grissom, and Chambers are all thoroughly frustrated with each other and the situation. They wonder why Whickman still hasn’t said whether or not this is a drill, meaning he’s likely locked in too–meaning someone else started the lockdown. Eventually, Dr. Grissom takes the opportunity to ask Petra why she came back to ODAR. Petra says that initially, she wanted to use the Blackroom to talk to Carmen more easily, but then when the Blackroom went down, she went to Moscow to investigate, and then everything kept getting more complicated. Petra asks Dr. Grissom the same questions, tensions running high again, and Dr. Grissom says that even though she didn’t directly affect how things happen in the future, she has a responsibility to change them now. Petra says that Dr. Grissom hasn’t done anything helpful since staying with ODAR, and says that essentially, all Dr. Grissom has done is ruin Petra’s life. Dr. Grissom tries to argue with this, but Petra points out that this is just another facet of Dr. Grissom’s philosophy on responsibility.

Dr. Grissom decides to leave the room via the air vent.

While in the vents, Dr. Grissom finds the network of microphones throughout the building and yells at Whickman. Whickman, in another room, hears her, and yells back at her. Dr. Grissom navigates the vents to find Whickman in the dining hall, where she joins him but dislocates her shoulder in the process. Whickman helps her put her shoulder back in place but does a lackluster job given he only learned how to do it from movies. She confronts him about the microphones, and he points out that he only had them installed because they were openly planning a revolt. Frustrated, the two look for food, and Whickman cooks up some eggs for them. They look through film reels to kill time and stumble upon a reel of Reefer Madness, which Dr. Grissom has him put on for a laugh. She says she’d kill for a join and, shockingly, Whickman has one on him. The two start smoking.

Dr. Grissom and Whickman talk about how little real choice they have in all of the choices they make day to day. Whickman makes the hard choices with little thought because it’s his job–which Dr. Grissom says again does not excuse the fact that he killed her friend. Dr. Grissom admits that she has to do what she does out of moral responsibility. Eventually, she realizes that there’s no way Whickman doesn’t know where Jack Wyatt is, but that Whickman is still keeping it secret from everyone as a mercy to Wyatt–but Whickman is already asleep.

Meanwhile, Petra, like Dr. Grissom, isn’t going to stay locked up for long. She and Chambers escape the room via the air vent where they run into Hank Cornish, who seems all too at ease and in control. Cornish asks Chambers about the plasticity papers–it turns out she’s had them checked out for some time. Lou Gaines and Ida show up, with Gaines pulling a gun on Cornish and Ida showing she’s been working with Cornish all along. Cornish accuses Chambers of being the mole, and the two groups of people get into a fight before Chambers and Gaines get away.


Key facts and characters

None in this episode! As the series comes to a close, we’ll have fewer and fewer of these sections with new information.


How does it hold up?

This episode was a nice, somewhat calm reprieve from the intensity of the third season. The writing of Whickman as far too stressed out, taking an edge off with a join every now and then, works well here–Whickman is the last major player in need of some more development. Zaman’s writing helps solidify him as a real person versus an uptight boss archetype. The timing with Gaines and Ida in the end did feel a little too convenient, especially with Gaines also having a spare gun he somehow got past security, but the rest of the episode is fun enough that it feels like a nitpicky complaint in context.


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.
    • XXXX: Dr. Nikhil Sharma goes back in time with two conflict missions: kill Dr. Grissom or bring her back to the current year.
  • 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.
    • October 27th, 1949: Dr. Grissom establishes the answering machine in The Blackroom, and Esther Roberts reunites with Bridget Dreyfuss. Dr. Nikhil Sharma is brought back from XXXX.
    • November 2nd, 1949: Dr. Nikhil Sharma is killed by Chet Whickman.
    • February 27th, 1953: Dr. Roberts is put in house arrest.
    • March 3rd, 1953: Dr. Roberts’s trial.
    • May 19th, 1985: Petra, Carmen, the other children, and Van arrive after travelling back in time.
      • Loop 1: Liam travels back in time ten minutes to see himself.
      • Loop 2: Liam A meets Liam B from 10 minutes in the future, giving him severe Butterfly Syndrome.
    • December 13th, 1990: Petra, Carmen, the other children, and Van travel back in time to May 19th, 1985.

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.

Elbourne’s experiments

  • Experiment 1: Food is sent to a mouse back through the Timepiece.
    • Loop 1: The mouse, Kronos, pushes a button, and receives his food an hour later. Food is brought back to Loop 2 through the Timepiece.
    • Loop 2: Kronos receives his food as soon as he pushes the button. The food is received from an hour into the future via the Timepiece.
  • Experiment 2: A mouse is sent back through the Timepiece many times to complete a maze.
    • Loops 1-6: The mouse, Hermes, attempts to complete the maze with quickly declining proficiency.
    • Loop 7: Hermes is dead at the start of the maze.
  • Experiment 3: Three mice are sent back to their past selves. Pushing a button, the future mice will receive food but shock their past selves.
    • Loop 1: The mice–Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos–are raised to adulthood. They are trained to receive food by pushing a button.
    • Loop 2: The adult mice are sent back through the Timepiece to adjoining cages to their past selves.
      • Future Clotho pushes the button, indifferent to the pain of Past Clotho.
      • Future Lachesis refuses to push the button, starving herself.
      • Future Atropos attempts to kill Past Atropos by abusing the button, regardless of receiving food.
  • Experiment 4: A mouse will be sent to raise itself in the past with its mother.
    • Loop 1: A mother mouse raises a child mouse in isolation.
    • Loop 2: The child mouse, now an adult, is sent back through the Timepiece to raise itself with the mother. The adult mouse attempts to kill its past self.

The Recruitment of Gaines and Marian

In a version of the current timeline, both Gaines and Marian are recruited into ODAR. Sometime after October 28th, 1943, Marian is given the order to stop Gaines from joining ODAR.

  • Loop 1: Both Gaines and Marian are recruited by ODAR.
  • Loop 2: The current timeline, Marian destroys Gaines’s offer letter to work for ODAR.

The Multiple Petras

In order to execute the jailbreak plan for Maraczeck and Lambert, an infinite number of Petras traveled to the past, to other Petras’ timelines, to help them learn from their mistakes.

  • Petra 1: Taught by all the iterations before herself, Petra’s mission fails, so she uses the Timepiece to travel to the timeline of Petra 2.
  • Petra 2: Taught by Petra 1, she attempts the jailbreak plan and fails. Petra 1 dies, and Petra 2 travels to the timeline of Petra 3.
  • Petra 3: Taught by Petra 2, she attempts the jailbreak plan. Petra 3 is the Timeline 1 Petra, and she is currently still joined by Petra 2.

ODAR & You!

  • Linguistics time!: The word “hacker” has a surprisingly early origin, first appearing in its modern use as someone who hacks into computers in 1975.
  • The film Dr. Grissom and Whickman watch is Reefer Madness, an absolutely absurd anti-marijuana PSA film from 1936. You can watch the film in full on YouTube–but you should also watch the delightful musical adaptation:
  • The mystery of the numbers station at the end of each episode is. If you’ve been decoding them–or, like me, just reading them on the Wiki–you can see that they become clearer and clearer messages for characters in the story, sent back through time by Morales and Dr. Sharma.

On Thursday (6/6/19), I’ll be recapping episode “28: Adversary.” 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

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: