Am I the only one who always headcanoned that Tobias is the Ellimist?
Because I’ve always headcanoned that Tobias is the Ellimist.
This idea originated when I was rereading The Andalite Chronicles and this one passage near the end stuck out to me. Elfangor and Loren are standing over the Time Matrix, and he tells her to
«Imagine your Earth, your home just as it is today… We need to go back in time. Back before your mother would have noticed you missing. But not before the Skrit Na took you or we would undo this entire timeline… Imagine that you are eighteen and that everyone who has ever know you expects you to be eighteen.»
“Is this really going to work?”
«I don’t know.»
—The Andalite Chronicles p. 399
That’s right, sports fans: Elfangor and Loren created the universe. At the very least, they created the universe in which the entire Animorphs series takes place. They deliberately manufacture a time paradox—one in which Loren is simultaneously on Earth (so no one notices she’s gone) and bopping around the galaxy with Elfangor (to preserve the loop that created the paradox in the first place) for over two months. One needs no further proof of the resultant universe’s impossibility than the fact that Chapman appears back on Earth after having been kidnapped and then killed, and yet he would have had to have died in order for Loren to create that Earth for him to return to in the first place.
It’s also left ambiguous as to whether Chapman remembers being that alternate version of himself the way that Loren does. He claims not to know her or Esplin 9466, yes, but they also don’t exactly hook him up to a polygraph to check—and he is a known liar. It might even be possible that Loren makes herself forget all aliens, several years down the line… We see subconscious longings and urges drive the will of the Time Matrix almost as much as conscious desires do (Loren perceiving the McDonald’s cashier as a face without eyes, Elfangor making his soul-tree the center of his universe, Esplin 9466 conjuring creatures that a yeerk fears to use as weapons), so it’s possible that she however-accidentally built a reset button into her conception of the universe, such that she was always going to forget all about aliens the moment Elfangor was gone from her life.
But I digress. The point is: the Time Matrix is a literally omnipotent object, and the people who attempt to use it inevitably make some mistakes and have some unintended consequences. Just look at Visser Four accidentally erasing Albert Einstein from existence.
So what does this have to do with the Ellimist? Well, I think Elfangor (and to some extent Loren) created him.
In the chronology of the Animorphs series, there is no hard evidence of the Ellimist’s existence (or non-existence, for that matter) before Elfangor and Loren use the Time Matrix for the first time. He makes no appearance in The Hork-Bajir Chronicles or Visser, and his own Ellimist Chronicles might be retrospective only for reasons I’ll get to later. So then the Ellimist’s first appearance comes just as Elfangor makes contact with the Time Matrix, as “a being like nothing I could have imagined. It saw me. It saw us all. And it laughed” (Andalite Chronicles).
What’s interesting is that there are apparently multiple opinions about the existence of the Ellimist(s) before this moment. When Elfangor suggests that the Ellimist(s) created the Time Matrix, both Alloran and Arbron dismiss this belief as an outdated fairy story. Apparently only some of the andalites believe that the Ellimist exists, and even that belief is not regarded as being particularly plausible or normative. Furthermore, those who do believe in the Ellimists seem to think there are several, and yet we know that there is only one.
So what if the Ellimist in fact doesn’t exist… until Elfangor creates him?
We know from the mashup of realities that results immediately afterward that the Time Matrix is an incredibly powerful object, one that can not only create entire universes but can change the laws of physics, chemistry, and quantum mechanics to suit the desires of the user. We also know that the Ellimist we see in reality does not quite match the stories of the Ellimists that Elfangor mentions: there’s only one of him, after all, he does not in fact create the Time Matrix that we know about, and he’s not willing to gift the andalites anything they can’t make themselves. In fact, the Time Matrix is quite possibly more powerful than either the Ellimist or Crayak, given that neither of them shows the ability to change the past and yet it can. Therefore, IMHO it’s less likely that the Ellimist created the Time Matrix, and more likely that the Time Matrix created the Ellimist.
We know that these kinds of paradoxes (i.e. Elfangor creating a being who has then been there all along) are possible using the Time Matrix (MM3). Thanks to whacky time travel in this series, Jake dies before he is ever born, John Berryman is never born at all thanks to a string of events that require John Berryman to have been born in order to exist (MM3), the Animorphs being present to save the Meercora from the comet nullified the effect of the Animorphs being present to save the Meercora from the comet (MM2), and Jake literally exists in two places at once for a while before once again kicking the bucket (#11). (Apparently, time travel does not agree with him.) So it is very possible that the Ellimist doesn’t exist until Elfangor wills him into being, but that once he’s there he has always been there. Because the Time Matrix is literally omnipotent like that.
Assuming that the Ellimist only came into being in that moment, his backstory then comes into existence because it’s what Elfangor imagines for him (Ellimist Chronicles). In the instant where the Ellimist first appears, Elfangor is alone, cut off from his species, in love with someone he can’t be with, and forced to learn to adapt to living on his own. He is literally being sucked to his death through the void of space after having been taught an excruciatingly powerful lesson in the dangers of making short-sighted decisions (Andalite Chronicles). Ergo, the life history his subconscious creates for the Ellimist not only populates in these elements, it also nicely explains why he has heard so many stories of this all-powerful being: it casts the Ellimist as the creator of the andalites.
The andalites only exist because they were created by the Ellimist, who only exists because he was created by an andalite. John Berryman’s parents only never meet because Cassie intervenes because John Berryman gets infested by Visser Four which is only possible because John Berryman’s parents met and gave birth to him.
Anyway, all of that got me thinking: maybe the Ellimist wasn’t Elfangor and Loren’s only creation.
Then again, maybe he was.
Going beyond the fact that the Ellimist talks to Tobias more than any other Animorph, there are some interesting parallels between them. They have pretty literally the same perspective on the events of the series: Tobias describes seeing humans as “hair ovals” and feeling as though he loses a dimension or two any time he’s on the ground (#23), whereas the Ellimist is described as a three-dimensional person talking to stick figures (Andalite Chronicles). When talking with the Ellimist, Tobias perceives himself as a mixture of human and bird parts (#13); when manifesting himself, the Ellimist imagines himself in his original Ketran body which is comprised of human-like and bird-like body parts (Ellimist Chronicles).
However, both of them work hard to transcend their original bodies: Tobias deliberately becomes a nothlit to escape his human life, and the Ellimist allows his original Ketran body to fall into a black hole in order to transcend physical life and achieve a new form of being. The Ellimist repeatedly mentions that Rachel is his favorite Animorph; if you have any question at all about who Tobias’s favorite Animorph is then you’re clearly reading a different book series than I am. In fact, Rachel herself describes the Ellimist as being “just a kid like me” after seeing his life—maybe she’s being more literal than we realize (#54). The hork-bajir view Tobias as a messiah figure; the andalites have the same perspective on the Ellimist. Toomin is “unique to the universe” (Ellimist Chronicles); Tobias is “one of a kind” (MM3).
Maybe the parallels exist because they’re the same person. Maybe this is who Tobias is destined to become after he dies. Maybe the One absorbs Tobias at the end of the series, and Tobias survives after a fashion to do battle with the One. Maybe Tobias escapes the One with music and sadness and mourning for his lost people. Maybe Tobias then achieves a higher form of being, one that enables him to go back and ensure his own existence.
If that’s the case, then the Ellimist never breaks the rules of his and Crayak’s game. He just defends his own life.
Chronologically, the Ellimist’s first major intervention in the time stream is simultaneously pulling Elfangor out of his vacation on Earth and ensuring that Tobias survives the change. It should break the rules of his and Crayak’s game—and yet it wouldn’t, if he was just saving his own life (Andalite Chronicles). If the Ellimist doesn’t intervene the first time he does in The Stranger, the Animorphs will be eaten by a taxxon—and if he doesn’t intervene the second time, Visser Three will kill and eat Tobias (#7). Drode argues (with good reason) that the Ellimist had a hand in ensuring the Animorphs were standing just above where the Time Matrix was buried when Elfangor landed there to try and retrieve it; as Back to Before shows, if Tobias hadn’t become an Animorph then he would have become a quasi-voluntary controller and then been shot in the head (MM4).
The Ellimist makes a huge intervention in the time stream in The Change when he saves the hork-bajir and gives Tobias his morphing power back. Regaining the ability to morph might simply save Tobias’s life because it extends his life span far beyond that of a typical red-tailed hawk (#33). However, it also potentially prevents Tobias from just giving up and killing himself, which he has already attempted (#3) and is considering again as an alternative to starving to death (#13). At the end of The Change the Ellimist asks Tobias “Are you happy?” because that’s what he’s really accomplished: changing Tobias’s answer from “no” to “maybe” (#13).
When the Ellimist next intervenes in the lives of the Animorphs (#26) the competition between his team and Crayak’s for the fate of the Iskoort, it’s more or less exactly what it looks like—the only difference is that Ellimist only agrees because he already knows he’ll win, and that victory will enable him to continue to intervene and keep the Animorphs alive. Of course the Ellimist comes to Rachel at the moment she transitions from being a body to being a pure soul (#54), and of course he considers her one of the most impactful people in the universe. It is very possible that the hallucination of Elfangor which saves Tobias’s life in The Illusion was caused by the Ellimist, again to preserve his own life (#33).
Like I said, all of this is pure speculation. I have no idea whether it’s even a valid interpretation of the text. I just like to imagine that maybe when Elfangor and Loren brought this world into being, they had a happy accident along the way. That the Animorphs’ “eyes in the sky” might be the only guy in the universe capable of manipulating its fabric (#39). That one day when Rachel dies, the revelation about their guardian angel is something she never could have expected. That the guy looking out for the universe is one who can find the balance between killing one baby skunk and saving the rest of the litter, who sees a meteor crashing toward the Earth as the opportunity that everyone around him has missed.