Let’s Go Back to ars PARADOXICA: “28: Adversary”

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. You can see the full series here.


“28: Adversary”

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?

This episode starts with Anthony Partridge himself, answering the question of what exactly happened to the Blackroom. He says that he stopped the Blackroom in order to save everyone, keeping it vague as the scene shifts back to the action with Dr. Grissom, Petra, Lou Gaines, Ida, Bridget Chambers, and Hank Cornish.

In this scene, there’s a scuffle as Cornish tries to escape. Ida escapes being captured by chomping down on a poison capsule, dying quickly. It’s revealed that Hank Cornish has been the mole this whole time and Dr. Grissom, upon hearing her neighbord Ida was working with him, wishes she could just have one normal friendship.

The episode cuts back to Partridge just before the Blackroom went dark, when he spoke with Ken Sugimura on the Moscow job. After Partridge sends his reply, he narrates an audio log about a strange and suspicious document request he received from “Esther Roberts”–a request for all of the documentation on the Timepiece. Partridge immediately clocks this as bogus, blaming Chet Whickman for allowing it to even get to Partridge in the first place. Partridge decides that he is going to be the hero and stop this request, and the person who actually sent it, before things get worse.

Dr. Grissom and the others investigate Cornish’s house to find the documents and secrets he hid within. They find the blueprints for the Timepiece and the CAGE along with a trapdoor under a rug leading to a secret tunnel. They also find a file with information on Cuba, which confuses everyone except Petra, who quickly explains the U.S.’s role in the political ongoing os Cuba, including Operation Northwoods (see “ODAR & You!” below). Nobody knows how something like the Timepiece will affect the global politics of this timeline, though.

Partridge, meanwhile, is trying to process some predictions on what will happen with all of this. Unsurprisingly, the results aren’t good, and will lead to a massive war.

Back at the ODAR HQ, Chet Whickman turns in his resignation, wondering if he even did anything useful or beneficial for ODAR or the country as a whole. Whickman reveals to Amelia that his agreement included leaving his job if it meant Dr. Roberts’s life would be spared.

Partridge, the Blackroom now dark, spends his time playing Tetris, winning Tetris, hacking Tetris to make a “better” version he dubs Tony’s Blocks, and then beating Tony’s Blocks. He decides it’s time to open one of his cat boxes to see what other iterations of him had requested, hoping for some more entertainment. In the boxes, he finds:

  • A new oxygen recycler
  • His suit
  • More GameBoy games
  • More books
  • Another copy of The Stand
  • A replacement record player
  • Curdled milk (“Why did I think that would work?”)
  • A “magnetic storage device” (floppy disk) with audio editing software

Cutting back to Dr. Grissom’s narration, she says that she’s shocked that Cornish was the mole. More, though, she’s focused on how even though this has all transpired, she still hasn’t heard from Partridge. She assumed that the Blackroom going dark was tied into it all, and he’d be back once it was over–but now she’s worried that he might just be dead. If nothing else, she’s relieved that they had enough evidence to get Dr. Roberts exonerated.

Petra shows up telling Dr. Grissom that she has a package meant for her. Using the audio software, Partridge has compiled his logs and sent them back for Dr. Grissom. In his audio, he thanks her:

Oh, and Sally? Sally Grissom? If you end up hearing this, somehow? Thanks for sticking by me. Even at my lowest point, you stayed. You made me believe that . . . maybe someone could do some good with this. I think . . . there are worse people who could have invented time travel. I’m glad it was you.

Dr. Roberts and Bridget Chambers reunite, then decide to go get ice cream with Dr. Grissom.

Cutting back to the moment in which Hank Cornish was about to flee, we finally hear how Partridge stopped him: instead of sending back the files, he activated the Timepiece where Cornish was, blowing him into another timeline and into the sea, where Cornish drowns to death. His body is found by a younger Chet Whickman, who reports the body to Donovan.


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 was the first episode of ars PARADOXICA I found myself disliking. In the plot, the revelations in this episode felt too rushed and simplistic. Having an entire episode to reveal Cornish’s duplicity, find all of the evidence, get Dr. Roberts freed, and get Cornish killed was too much of Cornish’s long narrative crammed into too little time. Dr. Roberts being exonerated so soon after her trial made the trial itself–one of the most interesting arcs in the series–feel essentially like wasted time, regardless of how intriguing those episodes were. The highlights of this episode mostly fell on the acting and editing, whether it be the hilarious Tetris scene or Dr. Grissom’s heartfelt worry about Partridge.


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.

The Death of Cornish

In Timeline 1, Hank Cornish almost escapes after being revealed as ODAR’s mole. Partridge, from the Blackroom, rips him out of time and lands him in another timeline, where his corpse washes ashore and is found by that timeline’s Chet Whickman.


ODAR & You!

  • Petra’s discussion of the United States involvement in Cuban politics is astute and, unfortunately, not unique to Cuba. The United States government has supported, aided, and benefited from authoritarian regimes in countless countries for decades.
    • One instance Petra explains is Operation Northwoods, an instance of the U.S. attempting to fake terrorist attacks by Cuba.
    • Here’s a source on how U.S. military bases support authoritarian regimes.
    • And here’s a list of regimes the U.S. has supported and currently supports.
  • 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.
    • The weather in Memphis today is: SWELTERING
    • Time: 6600

Next week, I’ll be recapping episode “29: Odyssey.” 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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