A Meta/Speculation on the Framework, AIDA, and the Fitzsimmons journey of the 3rd Pod
I just finished my rewatch of 4.15, and I have a few things to talk about. Let’s jump right in, shall we?
AIDA, the flawed architect
During my rewatch, I caught sight of the innocuous little necklace AIDA wore on a close-up.
You can clearly see that it’s a snake eating it’s own tail, the symbol of the Ouroboros.
The Ouroboros is an occult symbol steeped in lore and history, but some of it’s chief meanings and associations are:
The cycle of life, death, and despair
Formless disorder and chaos needed for renewal of an ordered world
Jungian integration and assimilation of the Shadow-self (the darker nature, the Id, the subconscious, the unrecognized aspects of being)
Consider all of this, in the hands of AIDA, our perfect android, or immanently flawed, almost-human, and then, look at this Greek creation tale, from Plato:
The living being had no need of eyes because there was nothing outside of him to be seen; nor of ears because there was nothing to be heard; and there was no surrounding atmosphere to be breathed; nor would there have been any use of organs by the help of which he might receive his food or get rid of what he had already digested, since there was nothing which went from him or came into him: for there was nothing beside him.
Of design he created thus; his own waste providing his own food, and all that he did or suffered taking place in and by himself. For the Creator conceived that a being which was self-sufficient would be far more excellent than one which lacked anything; and, as he had no need to take anything or defend himself against any one, the Creator did not think it necessary to bestow upon him hands: nor had he any need of feet, nor of the whole apparatus of walking; but the movement suited to his spherical form which was designed by him, being of all the seven that which is most appropriate to mind and intelligence; and he was made to move in the same manner and on the same spot, within his own limits revolving in a circle.
All the other six motions were taken away from him, and he was made not to partake of their deviations. And as this circular movement required no feet, the universe was created without legs and without feet.
AIDA is our ‘Creator’, here - our flawed architect, who, very much like the Ouroboros’ creator in Greek myth, considers the creation of a self-sustaining existence, with nothing lacking, no need for reliance on anyone or anything, no movement, simply a stasis, to be the ideal existence. To a robot who can feel no pain, nor no emotion, to whom sustainability of the self is the only goal, this is perfection, achieved.
Now, let’s take a moment to imagine that first creation, that first snake, filled with the emotions and thoughts of any living creature, alone in the universe, trapped in place, with no ability to reach out or scream or cry for help. It’s only action, it’s only ability, to be it’s own self-destruction.
Imagine the Ouroboros, aware that it is the agent of its own end, constantly in fear, constantly in pain of one sort or another, constantly aware that it will always have to kill itself. That one way or another, it will die, and it’s choice will be the cause, and that either choice, to eat oneself or to starve to death, will always cause pain.
I can tell you one thing - that Ouroboros is definitely NOT in agreement with it’s creator about the ideal nature of its existence.
From this, let’s extrapolate to our pals in the framework.
Like rats in a cage, they’re probably running the same loops and routines, probably without contact from anyone in their previous/real Shield lives, because to exist as an ouroboros means that you must be totally self-contained.
This also makes sense when you consider that memory can be triggered by anything. So putting them in a room with people they know in their real lives, the interactions with which have been heavily suppressed, and you’ve got a recipe for synaptical misfiring and software errors. It’s like two versions of an OS running on the same computer. if they hit the same pathways, something’s going to glitch, it’s just a matter of time.
This also tells me that while AIDA, our flawed architect, may percieve her design to be ‘without pain’, in truth, she has removed their joy and condemned them to an existence, as they say in True Detective, of living time as a flat circle. Nothing changing, nothing living.
It also suggests to me that continuing in this existence is going to result in self-destruction, or self-destructive behaviours, which may help to suppress the hidden memories of their real lives.
Or, in another interesting read, it could suggest an immanent rebellion within the framework, if we consider the Framework to be the Ouroboros, and the agents to simply be ‘part’ of it, like appendages. If the Framework is the Ouroboros, then it, itself, will seek it’s own end. It won’t be able to help it, because that’s just the nature of it’s imperfect design.
The cycle of death and return
Hydra is dead. Grant Ward is dead. Radcliffe is dead. But in the framework, they return, and so do these callbacks to seasons past.
Some people claim this is going to be a ‘greatest hits reel’ before the show goes off the air (as always, we’re on the ratings bubble - They desperately need to fix their ratings system for TV guys. It just does not work! this show deserves so many seasons!!) and I’m not saying that it’s not, but what I’m suggesting is that, moreso, this was an inevitable path for the story to take, because of the nature of the Framework’s story, which is represented by the Ouroboros.
That’s why we return to Hydra, to Ward, to Inhuman fears, to all the old haunts of our show’s universe.
That which is dead will live again, and that which lives, will die. That’s why Daisy’s old life (her dead life with Ward) was resurrected. That’s why Jemma’s current life with Fitz was killed (Jemma in a grave and Fitz with someone else).
Which brings us to the next Greek myth tie in…
Orpheus and Eurydice
Fitzsimmons, an Underworld Love Story
Make no mistake, in symbolic terms, the framing of this episode shows Jemma (specifically) entering into the underworld to retrieve her trapped lover. By connecting Jemma’s entry into the Framework with her grave, she is metaphorically entering Hades’ Realm, becoming the gender-bent Orpheus to Fitz’s Eurydice.
This isn’t a new trope in fiction. It’s one of the oldest, and part of what’s known as the Hero’s Journey, or the Monomyth - which is basically perceived to be the original or essential hero-tale structure. Interestingly enough, we witnessed it last season as well, but with Fitz playing the role of the hero, journeying into the realm of death (the planet Maveth), to rescue Jemma.
However, I parallel this upcoming journey specifically to Orpheus and Eurydice for a couple of reasons (where I would not have classed Fitz’s journey with it in particular).
This is an ordered realm in-universe
Meaning that, like Hades in Greek mythology, the Framework has been designed. It has order, purpose, to each part. Maveth was an organic world created through the mechanics of physics and astronomy. It’s order was purely natural, not imposed by any larger, sentient creator, simply the cruelty of an unfeeling universe.
We already have a Hades and Persephone - Radcliffe and Agnes
Both Radcliffe and Agnes now exist solely (well, sort-of, for Agnes/AIDA) in the Framework, the underworld. Radcliffe is it’s ultimate progenitor, and because of that, I assume AIDA would give him a certain amount of power and control over his narrative within the Framework, making him like a God within the world.
Agnes, like Persephone, her mythological counterpart, exists half in the Framework, and half outside of it, in the real world. Her physical embodiment, AIDA, is outside. Agnes’ other half, her mental self, exists wholly in the Framework.
Like Orpheus, Jemma must enter into the underworld from an impossible ‘back door’
Orpheus is granted entry into the underworld by the gods, but can only enter through a realm even the gods fear to tread, the Stygian Marshes, which he must cross without the help of the boatman, Charon. Here are some choice quotes about the Stygian Marshes:
Homer, Iliad 3. 368 ff (trans. Lattimore) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) : “[Athena addresses Zeus :] ‘Never would he [Herakles] have got clear of the steep-dripping Stygian waters [on his journey to the Underworld].’”
Virgil, Aeneid 6. 323 ff (trans. Day-Lewis) (Roman epic C1st B.C.) : “[The Sibyl addresses Aeneas on their journey through the Underworld :] ‘What you see is the mere of Cocytus, the Stygian marsh by whose mystery even the gods, having sworn, are afraid to be forsworn. All this crowd you see are the helpless ones, the unburied: that ferryman is Charon: the ones he converys have had burial. None may be taken across from bank to awesome bank of that harsh-voiced river until his bones are laid to rest.’”
Statius, Achilleid 1. 478 ff : “Whom else [but Akhilleus (Achilles)] did a Nereis [Thetis] take be stealth through the Stygian waters and make his fair limbs impenetrable to steel?”
I don’t know about you, but my dudes, that sounds INTENSE. Achilles’ impenetrability was granted by being dipped in its waters, Hercules himself could not have surmounted their challenge. In similar fashion, I wonder if Jemma’s in-Framework ‘death’ makes her, in effect, immortal within the Framework, like Achilles being dipped in the Stygian waters?
Either way, it’s only through the faith of Orpheus’s love for someone else (there’s that bit about human connection, again, instead of the lonely ouroboros of self-sufficiency) that he is able to surmount the challenge that would have felled the greatest hero of Greek myth. This guy, this musician, who didn’t have any special powers except his ability to wail on his axe (okay fine, it was a lyre or some other ancient Greek instrument, whatever) and his utter, absolute love for Eurydice.
Jemma is just a human woman. There is nothing special about her, except the powers of her mind, and her utter, absolute love for Fitz, which has borne her across the universe, back to him, and now, that selfsame love will bear her back to him, through death. Because, nothing can keep their two souls halved. They will always be reunited.
In the myth, Orpheus enters the underworld and seeks audience with Hades and Persephone, appealing to their emotions and explaining the depth of his love for Eurydice. He played his lyre for Hades, who was so moved, he agreed to allow Eurydice to leave with him.
I think, here, Jemma will play her ‘lyre’ - she will draw upon her own gift, her genius in biology/chemistry/science to release the agents from their framework. Possibly, this might involve appealing to Radcliffe and Agnes to release Fitz in particular, and require Jemma to wax poetic about the nature of their embodied love, in scientific terms (much like the law of thermodynamics from season 1).
But it’s not all sunshine and roses, guys.
In the Myth, Orpheus must lead Eurydice out of Hades without looking back until they have reached the light. If he looks back, trying to find her, he will lose her forever. Orpheus is but a few steps from the light when doubt siezes hold, and without meaning to, he looks back, sees Eurydice as a Shade, who dissolves under his gaze, and traps her forever in the Underworld.
It was Orpheus’ faith and conviction that carried him through realms that Gods feared to tread and that Heroes would crumble within. It was his love that bore him through it, his faith in that love, his conviction in his ability to portray it in such a heart-swaying way that Hades would grant one single soul reprieve. But then, after such a harrowing journey for a single, noodle-armed lyre-playing wine-swilling musician, unused to such rigours of the soul, his doubt begins to unravel everything.
Jemma’s characterization, throughout the entire run of the show, is Atheistic. She believes in the laws of thermodynamics, not in an afterlife, but in a very scientific version of reincarnation. She doesn’t believe the universe ‘wants’ anything. And now, Jemma, our Atheist, must trust in something entirely outside her comfort-zone. she must trust in her Faith. her faith in Fitz, in their love, in the unbreakable, inalienable nature that binds them, that has tangled their souls up.
The thread that began to unravel the moment she was forced to doubt that his LMD double was truly the Fitz that loved her. She was forced to kill the thing that wore his face and spoke with his words. She was forced to sever a connection, no matter how tenuous, with a person she loved, who is now lost in this underworld existence.
I believe, without question, that Jemma’s biggest obstacle throughout this whole endeavour is going to be her self-doubt. That if she can kill a thing that looks like Fitz, sounds like Fitz, acts like Fitz, and has Fitz’s memories, is she, a ‘murderer’, and worse still a murderer of the person she loves more than anything, deserving of his love?
I believe Jemma will struggle deeply with these feelings of villainy and murder and that will eat away at her core of self-trust and self-esteem, even worse than last season, with Maveth and the inhumans.
To end on a happy note though:
The Greeks freaking loved a sad ending, they ate tragedy up with a spoon. Jed and Mo are not ancient Greeks, and they love a sappy, happy ending love-story just as much as we do.
It will be Framework Fitz that gives Jemma back that part of herself she killed to survive, that belief that she’s worthy of his love. He will start to come back to himself, little by little, and in that same way, come back to her.
I also believe, that, in the end, when they leave the Framework, Fitz is going to see the bruises on Jemma’s neck and go FULL OUT TERMINATOR ON FITZBOT’S ASS.
It’ll be like May vs May but with less nightgowns and more sparks!
For all that we make fun of Eddie Redmayne’s scenery chewing and acting choices regarding Balem Abrasax, the movie may actually address why Balem only whispers/shouts his way through conversations. It’s hilarious, but it may also be the answer to the seemingly dropped plotline of why Caine was booted from the legion and court martialed for ripping out the throat of an entitled one, as revealed by Stinger.
Simply put, Caine attacked Balem in the past, damaging his throat to the point where, even after a refreshing bath in regenex, Balem still has the psychosomatic trauma of his voice. In a world of regeneration how long could that damage have lasted? Well, in a process of rapid cellular regeneration (or in this case replacement), it would still take some time to fully recover from a grievous throat injury/involuntary tracheoscopy. A healing throat would require time, resting the voice, and would also probably leave a nasty scar. The costuming choice of high, protective collars, despite his exposed midriff, supports this, as despite his confidence in his position, Balem chooses the collar as an appeal to his vanity (in the case of a scar) or the paranoia of another attack. Balem only shouts at the height of his emotional outbursts, as the damage to his vocal cords may limit how willing he is to abuse his voice, even if it has been fully healed.
Caine claims that he has no memory of the entitled one he attacked, but in the final act of the film Balem is clearly aware of who he is. It could be that Titus, knowing that Caine was the splice that attacked his brother, hired him for that very reason. Who’s better to retreive your reincarnated mother than the man who almost killed your brother? This plays into the sibling rivalry regarding ownership in the house of Abrasax, because according to Kalique “Life is the most precious commodity.” Caine’s presence as the man who almost took Balem’s life adds the element of psychological warfare between the brothers, a reminder of how close Balem was to losing everything.
When we are first introduced to Andrew Neiman he is seen wearing white. By the end of the film he is dressed in head-to-toe black. Obviously this can be seen as a symbol for loss of innocence, the more corrupted he becomes. But it can also be seen as Neiman channeling Fletcher’s character, who always appears in complete black when conducting.
Neiman mostly appears in white and shades of blue and green through the film, with this white t-shirt becoming the closet thing to a ‘signature look’ this character has. When he wears a black t-shirt it is with jeans. Even when performing in a black suit he still keeps a white blouse. But the final concert marks the first time the audience sees Neiman in a completely black ensemble, very much in the style of Terence Fletcher. While there is room to point out that black is the most frequently worn colour of concert musicians, the majority of Fletcher’s JVC band retains white somewhere in their stage outfits, while Neiman nonetheless takes the stage in streamlined black, a la Fletcher.
This particular colour progression in film costumes is often an obvious literal metaphor for when a character ‘goes over to the dark side’, and this certainly holds true for Andrew Neiman and his arc. But given how this look is such a noticeably signature choice for Fletcher, the reading can be taken a step further. There has been much debate over the ending of the film, and if it is a victory for Neiman or for Fletcher. But it’s interesting that Neiman was so completely fitted-out like Fletcher. Costuming Neiman explicitly in the style of his conductor shows that he has become a product of Fletcher’s philosophy. And despite a triumphant finish, dressing him like his conductor shows that no matter who cues who, from an audience standpoint, Neiman now represents Fletcher’s methodology, and is a visual extension of Fletcher’s conducting.
I’d like to discuss the costuming of Loki a little bit more.
Loki chooses his clothing to exacting ends.
Let‘s look at his hands and arms here. Loki is the only one we see in the Asgard universe who covers and protects more than just the outside of his lower arm. Others have armor that wraps around the top or presenting side to an enemy. It is meant to deflect and protect from sword and axe swings. A warrior can protect themselves and push an attacking enemy away with the metal on their arms. This protection is not often seen on the underside of the arm, nor below the top of the wrist.
Loki does not use sword or axe or spear during battles. Loki uses knives to throw and magic to toss. He carries no shield like Sif does, no sword like Fandral and Volstagg nor mace like Hogun. Everything Loki battles with must be carried in his hands, ie: his knives or Loki must have his hand ready to fling a curse at an enemy with little to no notice.
His hands are the most valuable weapon Loki has. And Loki understands this. The armor on his arms wrap around further, nearly touching on the underside. He must protect not only the outside facing part of his arm, but the inside section also. Perhaps he carries his throwing daggers there. The arm covers reach past but do not constrict, where his wrist connects with his arm, well beyond what other warriors wear.This would allow greater protection to his wrists, keeping them protected from harm. Since his wrist is not constricted, he has a greater freedom of movement than if his armor came just to the end of his arm. If the arm covers came down to just where his wrist begins, each time he would need to flip his hand backwards, he would hit the edge of the armband, hindering his movements. The extended length allows him that extra movement.
And lastly, the half-moon curve covering his hand, no one else has this feature. Loki has finely tuned his armor to afford the greatest protection for his form of fighting. Nothing he does is without though as to its practical nature.
Other Asgardian’s wear body armor, Loki wear arm and hand armor.
Someday I’ll talk about why Loki has neck protection on the one side, wears a special sword carrying belt, but no sword is ever seen, and why he wears that long overcoat. Speed, protection, agility and deflection.
When we are first introduced to Rey - the protagonist, the hero of the movie, she is clad in white. An off-white, but white nonetheless (they probably do not sell bleach in the desert; In addition, Rey being a scavanger, trying to look like a fata morgana all the time is futile).
Her former costume’s shirt can be found underneath the new vest - the core is the same. But what is that over it… Gray? All around her arms and hands, the parts of the body that execute actions? Right after white clashed with black..? Yep. Her former costume might have been, as I have already mentioned, an off white, but look at the contrast between it and the clothes she acquires after fighting Kylo, and after, in my opinion, letting his power flow through her through their Force bond. In order to underline the difference between the shades of the black-to-white spectrum, the designers left the shirt there, for reference. Has someone been corrupted?
As mentioned here - http://moody-avocado.tumblr.com/post/140515248632/reylotfa-the-hidden-message-a-comparison-a-lot - many scenes we encounter in TFA are an homage to the previous six. We have already had Anakin as an example of this gradual costume darkening - a shade per movie (the prequels), and this is quite a common place in movies in general. Notice that he also started with an off-white (I am trying to point out that the purity of the white has nothing to do with the significance of the color; Anakin was certainly not an already corrupted child).
Similarly, I would not be surprised if the next time we see Kylo, he is wearing gray as well.
Are we getting our first movie-universe gray Jedi? Or a first villainess?
EDIT: Some people have drawn my attention to the fact that Luke’s clothes changed throughout the trilogy as well. Perhaps it could be the case with Rey - not an influence from the Dark side, but simply maturing. However, I’d rather stick to my theory, since it has been said that Rey will “flirt with the Dark side” in Ep 8 :)
Disclaimer: I own nothing, entertainment and educational purposes only
Jupiter’s wedding dress. While it’s relatively straightforward to find out the real-world history of this dress (a collaboration between Michael Cinco and Kym Barrett), we never find out how it came to be ‘in universe’. As far as I can tell, there are two main possibilities:
1. The dress and headdress originally belonged to Seraphi, and Titus happened to come into possession of them at some point in the past and find them useful for his diabolical scheme. This is not beyond the realm of possibility since the style of the headdress is highly reminiscent of the headdress Seraphi wears in her statue.
2. The dress and headdress were commissioned shortly after Titus learned Jupiter existed as part of operation ‘Marry Mum’. One can assume that he ordered several hundred wedding guest sims and booked an authentication minister from the Commonwealth Ministry at the same time.
I love this crazy movie. While you can absolutely have a ‘just go with it’ attitude, it’s much more fun (in my opinion) to come up with in-world explanations.
But what do you think? Does Titus have a wardrobe full of his dead mother’s gowns (the ones Balem didn’t grab first, of course)?
Can I talk for just a minute about the level of detail in Once Upon a Time?
This is the first proper impression Rumplestiltskin gets of Hook. Note what he’s wearing.
Knee-high boots, leather pants, loose open-necked shirt with a high collar brocade vest.
And how does Rumple dress later when he wants to impress Belle?
The color scheme is different (because Rumple has far too much flair to wear just plain black thank you very much) but the outfit is essentially the same.
I think this plays into what Carlyle said in the EW interview when he was talking about Rumple’s accent. “He’s met so many people over the years that he’s been impressed and unimpressed by, he’s taken on their voices, he’s taken on their accents and their mannerisms.”
It’s Overwatch history headcanon day on my dash apparently and I want to do one. :D
I am 100% into Gabriel getting a more complex and grounded narrative than turning bad over professional jealousy. So what if his falling out with Jack was because they had wildly, fundamentally different ideas of what Overwatch should be?
Like, Jack had this vision of turning this ‘peacekeeping’ force into something that went beyond a UN military presence. He spent years blowing it up into something else, expanding into science and medicine and going into countries to tackle the inequalities and injustices that led to conflicts arising, and giving people not just soldiers (even though they were soldiers) but heroes who could inspire people to try for something better. He was so devoted to this idea, to doing something that would really make the world better in the long run, that he gave almost everything in his life for it. And that kind of sacrifice and passion fed into things and made him and Overwatch just seem more admirable, but it also made him impossible to argue with.
Because Gabriel thought that was utterly the wrong approach, because it made Overwatch bloated as hell, and stepped all over their original mandate, and maybe he even had a problem with military guys making civil problems their problems, and yeah it’s lovely to want to fix peoples’ lives for them and all but where exactly do they get the right to rearrange societies that way? “From the people,” Jack would say and he’d point to how people asked for Overwatch and cheered for them. But that left a sour taste in Gabriel’s mouth because all that adoration came from a PR campaign that basically made them out to be the freaking Justice League. And as the guy who ran the part of it that continued to perform actual military operations, he saw that as a lie. He thought the pie-in-your-eyes fairytale sales pitch Jack was giving the world was inevitably going to collapse and backfire on them, because he knew that sometimes preserving world peace comes down to needing to shoot a guy in cold blood. And as the dude in charge of that, he expected to be the first one burned down on the day it all came down.
And as time went on and they both kept being right, all either of them could see was their former best friend methodically setting up the ruin of everything they’d worked for.