The Doctor Goes Through Hell In Heaven Sent

Back during “The Zygon Inversion,” I thought I finally saw Peter Capaldi’s Doctor shine through. It was also around that point, when he truly became poignant, that I worried about the character’s upcoming fate. After all, almost every time The Doctor has a particularly striking moment, it heralds the beginning of his next regeneration.

Well, perhaps I was wrong. Maybe it was an omen for something else entirely. Certainly, Clara as a Doctor substitute would suffice here: she died attempting to imitate him. But we see in “Heaven Sent” that there are many other ways you can die which do not necessitate regeneration.

Perhaps you were expecting the righteous wrath of a furious Doctor being unleashed on an opponent after “Facing the Raven.” Instead, after The Doctor appears in a teleport tube with his Time Lord threats quite clear in the air is a particularly vicious and cerebral form of torture: tailor-made specifically for this current incarnation. There is a lot that is excellent about “Heaven Sent.”

For instance, we get to see — intimately and in detail — precisely just how The Doctor’s mind actually works. It’s no mean feat. Steven Moffat truly brings out an advanced and alien mindset that is still affected by intense emotion. His mind is specifically assembled, probably through mnemonic training, like his TARDIS and he retreats and interacts with this fortress — his safe place and home — in his psyche even as he deals with death-dealing situations with a sharp and analytical mind.

But this episode is brutal. It didn’t take me long to realize who the person who activated the teleporter at the beginning truly was. There also was too much time to figure out whom each of those skulls in the bottom of the sea in the abandoned castle and its turning gears also belonged. In early stories pertaining to The Doctor, he dealt with the Eternals of Time and Death: which makes the shuffling monster surrounded by flies coming after him a bad pun and something eerie altogether. Even the music sometimes veers into strange eighties synthesized tones.

Moffat could have seriously ended “Heaven Sent” on a major down note. He was quite capable of having The Doctor get out of this in the upcoming “Hell Bent.” But that would be nonsense. Instead, through watching The Doctor fall over and again, you have a reminder of precisely how strong-willed and relentless he truly is. The way his prison works is that he would get a moment’s respite for every fear-based truth he told. But it was a losing proposition.

Think about it. If The Doctor told all of his truths, he would still die over and again. He would continually go insane. And his enemies, whomever they are, would know everything about him. If he just continued moving throughout the castle, he would still die and come back to life each time. A lesser mind would break either way.

But then The Doctor realizes something. He notices, each time after he brings himself back through the teleporter, that the stars are not in the right alignment as his innate Time Lords senses tell him. He also keeps punching a crystal in front of him: whittling it away through each incarnation, dying again, and crawling back to resurrect himself. The gears in the castle turn. It’s as though the entire prison is a puzzle calibrating precisely at certain temporal and spatial coordinates.

By the time The Doctor smashes through the crystal and finds himself in a desert, he doesn’t seem at all surprised by the revelation. First, we find that his prison was actually his confession dial. Second, he is back on Gallifrey.

The third truth is for us though. You know that Hybrid we’ve been hearing about from Davros onward this season? Well, apparently, it’s The Doctor. And from the way he looks at the end of the episode, there is going to be a reckoning.

For all the brilliance of this Doctor Who episode made by Sisyphus, there are still some issues. If The Doctor drowned in several incarnations — becoming those stacks of skulls underwater — how did he get to the teleporter to bring himself back those times? And, I’m sorry, but even in death Clara seems to be tagged on by the writer: a continuation of how important she actually is, while you just don’t really … feel it. Even her dialogue from the subconscious of The Doctor is contrived and outright callous. The episode keeps telling us we should care about Clara but it’s hard to when you already weren’t doing so. It just makes you aware that even though she’s gone, the badly written Clara Oswald is unfortunately going to linger on for a while.

All that said, however, here are some questions to consider. Who last held The Doctor’s confession dial? And is The Doctor lying for the benefit of whom might have done this to his dial? Are long time fan theories and certain lines from the 1996 Doctor Who movie about The Doctor’s origins true? Just how did Missy get out of Gallifrey exactly? Why did The Doctor leave Gallifrey to begin with? Who else did he leave with? And when he says “The Hybrid is me,” does he mean “Lady Me?” The same Lady who had a vast portion of pages torn out of one of her journals?

Perhaps we will find out next time on Doctor Who: “Hell Bent.”

Jessica Jones Gets Real

On November 20th, Season One of Marvel’s Jessica Jones launched on Netflix. I admit I was fairly ignorant of the character and I didn’t know how the beginning of this series would play out. Even though it takes place in Hell’s Kitchen, and Daredevil on Netflix more than proved itself, I’d only known about Luke Cage in passing — and only realized he would be in the series by the second episode — and I knew a whole lot less about Jessica herself.

But there is an advantage in that. First, I had no preconceived notions about Jessica Jones as a character. I was allowed to see how her adventures would play out in a realistic, gritty cinematic version of the Marvel Universe. And, second, I find there is something creatively liberating about reinventing or reintroducing characters who aren’t necessarily “top-tier superheroes.” There are so many stories inherent in their struggles and in themselves that you can tell in a distinctly modern fashion: and this is definitely the case with Jessica Jones.

Jessica Jones

And from the very beginning the series creator and screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg recreates an uncomfortable reality for Jessica. Jessica Jones is a former superhero and current private investigator. She possesses superhuman strength and the ability to leap far distances. At the same time Jessica is an orphan, former abuse victim and survivor. She copes with this through copious amounts of alcohol, disillusionment, and biting sarcasm. Her dual rundown apartment and office’s constantly broken front door says a lot about her personality. Yet while Jessica’s persona is brittle and often unpleasant, underneath it she is a good and decent person that wants to save people’s lives.: who ultimately still wishes to do the right thing. It this combination of physical and emotional vulnerability and strength at play with one another that makes her so captivating. The fact is: Jessica doesn’t always have to be a likable person, but that just makes her more human.

Jessica Jones 2

In addition, Jessica Jones has symptoms of post-traumatic stress: from flashbacks to her abuser and interrupted childhood to having to constantly repeat street names to remind herself of something material and concrete to hold onto when her panic attacks set in. She is an abused woman in the process of coping with the events and trauma that led her to this point in her life. Krysten Ritter portrays this well in how these facts affect Jessica’s behaviour and relationships. And she isn’t the only one.

Jessica’s friend Patricia Walker, or Trish, is a radio talk show host who became Jessica’s adoptive sister. She was abused constantly by her mother, physically and emotionally, as a child star. This has led her to adopting a friendly public facade while letting few people into her private life: an existence made up of a high security apartment and intense Krav Maga martial arts training. Whereas Jessica protects herself with superficial abruptness, Trish does the same with a literal fortress. Jessica doesn’t want, or have to smile to please anyone. Trish wears her smile as another shield.

It is just one more thing the two women both have in common, but it’s not the main element that brings them together. Both of them protect one another as much as they can and, even with Jessica pushing Trish away, they are the closest people to each other that they have. Jessica herself tries to remain emotionally detached from the other people she knows, while Trish tends to call her lover by his last name. And even so, both try to do good with power they have: and cope with their surroundings.

And then there is the antagonist of the first Season. Kilgrave.

Kilgrave

Imagine a man who has the power to mind control anyone he wants by simple verbal commands. Consider the fact that for his entire life he is used to being obeyed: that his every whim never goes unfulfilled. Consent doesn’t matter to a being like him. People are barely sentient beings in his eyes. For the most part, they are objects for his use and nothing more. Kilgrave casually violates the free will of his victims and leaves shattered lives in his wake. What makes his villainy even more terrifying is how David Tennant plays him. Consider the whimsy and man-child demeanour of the Tenth Doctor, with his gentle British accent, and his razor sharp intelligence except it’s warped by sociopathy, psychotic temper tantrums, and a tremendous sense of self-entitlement. He even goes as far as dressing in a purple uncomfortably close to the blue suits The Doctor used to wear. Kilgrave also wears pajamas.

Even if you disregard the dissonance between Tennant’s role as The Doctor and Kilgrave for the Whovian fans out there, there is this sliminess underneath all the flair and brilliance — this lack of personal responsibility and even the shunting the blame on his victims — that just makes you ardently wish for his imminent death.

Jessica Jones and Kilgrave

And he is the one who violated Jessica Jones. He is her abuser and he has come back into her life. Kilgrave claims that she and others actually wanted or “asked for it.” And no one in law enforcement or society would believe her or his other victims. It becomes Jessica’s mission to save another victim, that of a young woman whose life Kilgrave ruined, prove what Kilgrave can do to the world at large, bring him to justice, protect her loved ones, and bring closure to her demons. It is no tall order for a woman, even with superpowers, to confront her abuser and the insidious systems that surround him, as well as the expectations around her to do what she must to survive and save the lives of others.

Jessica Jones is a series about a group of flawed characters, some completely selfish and others wanting to make a difference: even achieving the bare minimum goal of living another day and maintaining a broken and ramshackle apartment building in the worst side of New York. But, among other things, it is also a narrative arc about superpowers almost being secondary to the true nature of evil — of separating and silencing, of not being believed — and, most importantly, the strength decent people have when they are allowed to speak out and when they can stand together: if only for a time.

It is definitely a show that bears watching.

Opposite of a Dog

Dedicated to Toby Fox’s Undertale. Warning: there be Spoilers here. Reader’s discretion is advised. 

You are at Lesser Dog’s sentry post. You’re tired now: resting your back against the crumbling shack, your legs covered in a thin blanket of snow. It almost matches the long grey hair that’s covered your gaunt, exhausted face.

A faint smile flickers at the corners of your mouth and eyes when you look at the toppled snow sculptures of the long-necked dog. It’s been a while since he was here, you think to yourself. If his kind have the same lifespans as their cousins on the Surface, then he hasn’t been here for a long time and any successor he had probably had a post somewhere else that you must have somehow missed on the way here. It’d certainly explain why no one touched the sculptures: out of a sense of love and respect. You somehow know they spread his dust around his creations. It’s sad, somehow it fills you with a rosy sense of sentimental Determination … just for a little while longer.

Undertale Lesser Dog Sculptures

Your arms are wrapped around your upper body: enveloping the frayed and tattered blue and purple sweater on your body with warmth. You hold an object against you, huddling it into your chest.

And you wait.

“hey.” a voice says, waking you up from another longer blink. “ice to see you.”

So he is still alive. Somehow, this doesn’t surprise you. In fact, you were hoping for it.

“heh.” Sans walks out of the snowfall with his hands in his jumper pockets. “wasn’t my best, i gotta say. but i’m still on human-watching duty, so … freeze!”

You chuckle, but it comes out as a coughing fit. Still the same old Sans … in all the ways that mattered. The snow crunches under his feet as he comes closer to you. Somehow, those empty eye-sockets seem to squint down at you. Sans always said that he’d learned how to read people’s faces, but it’s you that sees it takes him a while to realize who he is looking at.

“kid.” He says, simply. “so this is what you’ve been doing these past couple of years? i mean, uh, pap and i could’ve shown you how to make snow angels.”

You see some lights in his eye sockets and, if you didn’t know any better, you’d think the blue glow lifting you slightly off the ground, warming you, was another hallucination brought on by the cold.

You laugh again. It crackles a bit, but you aren’t doubled over this time. Even though Sans smiles, because he can’t do anything else, you can sense his intended frown.

“you leaving and not phoning us. i’ll admit: that was cold.” He says as he lowers you to the ground. “and it’s just, uh, icing on the cake to find you like this.”

If you didn’t already know that many of his puns and jokes were defense mechanisms more potent than what he really kept in reserve, the bead of sweat on his skull would have given away the fact that Sans is worried about you. As you feel your back gently land back in the snow, you know it’s time. Slowly, and with some effort, you uncurl your arms. Now that you’re trying to move again, they scream like a Nice Cream headache.

“hey.” Sans holds your arms and helps you move them apart. “what’s … that you got there, kid?”

Sans looks down and slowly pries the object out of your arms. You remember now. It’s an old, battered notebook. It’s ripped at the edges. Some of the papers had been ripped out but you’d found the missing pages and added new ones. Through the receding pain in your limbs, you manage to nod at Sans. The skeleton doesn’t ask if you if you want him to read it. You were never really much for small talk anyway. In fact, you were not much for any kind of talk at all. You know what you wrote in there. You’d written in it so much … and so many times that you know it all off by heart. You watch as Sans scans the first page of the notebook.

Hey Sans:

It’s not really a way to start off a diary. But this was never a diary to begin with. It was a Torn Notebook got it at Waterfall, from Gerson’s shop. It belonged to one of the humans that came here before me. They recorded some observations about the Underground and other things that I missed the first couple of times around. 

I’ve had a long time to think about this. I’ve had too much time to think about it, and do a lot about it. I think you know exactly what I mean. “let’s get to the point.” Right.

I’m a stupid doodoo butt.

I’m the legendary fartmaster.

Undertale Sans Password

Sans looks up at you as he found that passage. His eyes pierce your own. You now know that there is no turning back. He looks down, somehow closing his eyes, and he continues to read the pieced together notebook.

First, I’m going to tell you what happened this time around. After I met you in the great hall, I went to Asgore. I went to Asgore as I had many times before. I went there and he killed me. I went there and I killed him. I went there and Flowey betrayed and killed him. Sometimes he just killed himself. I went there and all of you interceded on my behalf. Toriel, the woman you trade puns with through the door to the Ruins — my Mom — saved me. 

But this time, I was going to do something different. I did my research in other Loads and Resets. I tried to find out as much about the other Souls — the other humans — as I could. I wanted to see how they died. Who killed them. I wanted to know if any of them just gave themselves up. 

Maybe you knew that. Maybe you even asked me about it and followed me. Perhaps you even helped me. But I can’t remember. There are too many variables and I can’t take items with me. Or Save them. 

Sans, I was going to give myself up. I’d do it myself and make sure that you didn’t break your promise to Toriel. I was going to give Asgore my Soul.

But I didn’t. I couldn’t.

Undertale Asgore

Asgore let me go: to take care of any business I left unfinished. I think we both hoped I would never come back. I was surprised that you didn’t stop me or ask me what was going on. Everyone else thought I got past him somehow. No one ever came looking for me in any case. But I thought you, of all people, would have seen me. 

Perhaps you did. 

“kid …”

Sans briefly glances at you again and it is all the confirmation that you need. You incline your neck. You want him to keep reading.

So I ran away. I hid like a coward. I went back to the Ruins and Mom took me back. She never asked me what happened this time around. Maybe she thought the responsibility was too much for me. It makes sense. No matter what I was capable of doing, I was still a child Sans. I was scared. Still, it’s no excuse for …

She taught me things, Sans. Mom taught me more than how to survive in the Ruins. In addition to collecting and cooking snails, I managed to learn a little more about the humans that came before me. What each of them did. You know, a little more than the impressions I had when I had to face them, or free them so many times before. More than the objects they left behind. 

Mom also taught me some magic. I’ll never be as skilled as the rest of you, of course, but I know how it works now: just enough for when it counts. Between her and the encounters I’ve had I’ve learned how to bare my Soul. I’ve read the murals and spent time in the Library, Sans. I talked with Alphys. I even saw the True Lab and what she made with good intentions. 

Good intentions … Souls … They say that a human soul can survive without love. A being can even survive without a Soul. But that’s not true, Sans. A Soul can exist without love. A being can function without a Soul. But that’s not the same as living. Trust me, Sans. I should know. 

Undertale Flowey the Flower

You see Sans stop turning the pages as something catches itself between them. The large petal is still golden yellow after all this time. You avert your eyes from it, even as you remember why you put in there this time around. It is to remind you. You are so much older now, and he was still there taunting you, threatening you and your loved ones, waiting for you to die … You couldn’t risk that happening again. Not to them. Not to him. Even so, Flowey hadn’t resisted when you came that last time. But even his relief will never wash that guilt away.

There was another being who could utilize Determination. He was a being that could Reset. In almost every timeline Flowey took advantage of Asgore and stole the Souls away from him. It was one of the reasons I left. If I had died and Flowey had gained all Seven Souls himself … But it was not ever about the power, even with him. He was lonely, and soulless. He didn’t deserve what happened to him. We knew each other too well, Sans. 

The problem talking with you about any of this is that, every time I try, I never know just how much you know or remember. At one point you showed me your workshop and its drawers. I know that you can keep items and notes in there from other timelines. Maybe that is how you remember. Perhaps you have some psychic ability, or you just read faces well in addition to that sense of deja vu that a few other people get when I come around again. I just don’t know. 

And it’s not really important. As for why I came back to the Ruins, many of the above reasons are true. But there is one more thing.

I was afraid.

Again, I don’t know how much you know. You and Papyrus came to Snowdin a while ago and that is all the information I could get on you. But maybe you were working in the Hotlands then. I still don’t know much about Gaster: aside that I am aware that you had some association with him, or some of the … inventions that he created. Even finding the scraps and echoes of his presence — in the “Fun Values” of existence itself — it took every inch of discipline that Toriel ingrained into me in other timelines in addition to my Determination. 

Undertale DT

I don’t even know if he was involved with Alphys’ studies into the Human Soul but I know enough to realize that he could study timelines, perhaps much like you if you examine the graphs I pasted next to this entry. 

If you didn’t have Sans’ attention before, you know that you got it now. His eyes are definitely glowing and you can see his bony fingers shaking. And you know what’s coming next. You know what might happen.

Darkness. Darker and darker still … I didn’t want to admit it. It all began one day, after Mom kept me from leaving the Ruins. I ran upstairs, terrified from our first encounter, and lay down in my bed. That was when the memories started. But that’s not true. They started before, right after I fell. I saw the tapes in the True Lab. I heard about them at the Capital. I saw their clothes and their toys. 

I heard their voice in some isolated Echo Flowers. We even wore similar striped shirts. And we both fell through Mount Ebott. We even have … had the same colour Soul. And how could I read the Monster language on the murals and in the Library without having learned it from somewhere? There were times, Sans. It’s not so much a voice, at least not anymore. But it was a series of feelings and memories that weren’t my own. Most of the time they were impulses. I was so scared when I first came here. It seemed like everything was trying to kill me: to take my Soul. I thought everyone was like Flowey. Pretending to be nice, but biding their time … 

“It’s kill or be killed …”

Undertale Mirror

“kid.” Sans is shaking more than you are now. “that’s not possible. it can’t be …”

You shake your head violently. He needs to see this. He needs to understand and read on.

Sans puts the book down and his eye sockets are dark. “no.”

You look up at him. Your eyes start to blur. Your eyes are wide and pleading silently with him. You’re begging him to keep going. Sans regards you for a few moments, judging you much in the way that he did back in that palace hallway so many decades ago, so many different timelines ago. Your friend, your judge, your enemy continues to read the direction where your thoughts are headed.

Alphys never determined, if you’ll pardon the pun, what happens to a Human Soul when a Monster doesn’t claim it. She also didn’t determine what happens when a Monster carrying that Soul dies. Where does that Soul go, Sans? What does it do? Does it linger on the Earth forever? Does it move on? Or is it a cycle? Like a Reset. When Asriel died so many years ago, when he turned into dust, just what happened to Chara’s Soul? 

How is it possible to have two sets of memories? How it is possible for one set and its feelings and impulses to grow over your own? I thought they were a parasite or a demon. Perhaps a vengeful ghost buried in the flowers. I thought they were outside of me. But those early days, when I was first here, I fed them. I gave them what they wanted so I could survive. 

And when I was done, when they were done, I Reset and … the darkness, Sans. That’s why I really left. No matter how many times I Reset, or Load it’s there. Waiting for me. It eats at me, Sans. It chips away at what experience, what life I had, and I just couldn’t … I didn’t know if I could keep it at bay. I still don’t know … if I can keep it, from keeping myself, from killing everyone. Again. 

Undertale Chara's Deaths

You can’t even look at him. Tears flow down your withered cheeks. Sans is glaring into you now. And you can see it. Even through your blurry eyes what you’ve been building up to has finally happened. Sans has dropped the notebook completely. Only one of his eyes is glowing now. It glows with a luminescent cyan and baleful yellow. You remember that energy well. It haunted your nightmares for years. And now he remembers … now he knows too …

Sans glares down at you. “you dirty brother killer.”

You squeeze your eyes shut and turn away from him in shame. Those four words hurt you more than any bone, or Gaster Blaster ever could. But maybe now it will be easier. Perhaps now you can do what you set out to this time. Maybe you can finish what you’ve started.

“i should kill you.” Sans says. “i always felt something was off, with you. to think everyone, to think pap misses something like you. i can’t believe i didn’t see it at the palace. you looked so innocent. so determined. you’re disgusting. i wish didn’t make the old lady that promise.”

“Please.” You manage to say.

Sans pauses for a few moments. “please? please what?” Then you see understanding dawn in his expression. “you mean, you want to die?”

The skeleton is silent. He is looking at you, looking right into you. It is his judgment in the palace all over again: except this time with all of the facts. Just as suddenly, however, Sans’ eyes are back. He shakes his head, slowly, and then shrugs his shoulders.

“you know what? no.” He says. “i’m not going to do it. you know why, buddy? you’re just going to reset anyway, right?”

Undertale Sans Meglovania

“No.” You say, quietly. “I …” your voice is hoarse and quiet from disuse. “I don’t want to Reset anymore.”

“quit jossing me.” Sans’ grin is manic, angry. “what? you think this elderly shtick is going to make me feel sorry for you? you think letting yourself get all wrinkled and grey is going to get me into your sick little routine? no. i’m not giving you what you want.”

Sans picks up your notebook. “you chose the darkness. you even said it’s a part of you. you’re the one that dropped the ball, buddy. the moment you gave into it, you deserved everything you got. the only reason you’re pulling this guilt and remorse thing is so that you can save yourself. so i can put you out of your misery. and even if i wanted to, and i don’t, it won’t even work. you’ll just come back. but that’s fine. i’ll tell you what buddy.

“i’m going to take this here notebook and, uh, put it in my drawer. i’m going to read it. and when that darkness takes you again, because you’re weak and you’ll do it, i’ll be ready for you. i’ll use what i find in here to give you a bad time. i’ll use it to hurt you. but death? nah, kid. that’s too good for a brother killer like you.”

“… you’re right.” You say. “I am a brother killer.” You let the sins of other timelines and other lives crawl down your back. “I killed mine too. I’m glad you will never have to know what that feels like.”

Sans’ eye burns into you. “live with it or just don’t come back. it’s not our problem.” He starts to turn away.

“You can stop me from Resetting.”

Sans stops. You start coughing again. They are hard, raucous spasms. A minute of the sound goes by before you get your breath back.

“You can stop me from using the Reset. Forever.” You repeat. “You’ve read this far.” You tell him. “I know you want to stop me. Please. Finish reading. I … it will save us … save you time.”

Sans stands there with your notebook in his hands. Finally, he shrugs his shoulders again. “well, i guess we both, uh, got some time to kill, huh.”

You watch as Sans flips through more pages. They are diagrams of the different coloured hearts, the Souls currently in Asgore’s collection. You placed it right next to your findings and theories about Souls and your current predicament.

Undertale Asgore and the Six Human Souls

I’ve realized that the Reset is not always a conscious force on my part. I’m not even sure that Chara themselves is responsible for it. I recall Flowey’s observations, when he told me about how close to death he was once. There was a will, a struggle to survive, to live, to exist. I think that Determination is just another aspect of self-preservation. It’s inherent in everyone: Human, Monster … Plant. 

I could die, I have died a thousand times, but something, sheer animal instinct perhaps, will always bring me back: and specifically bring me back here to the Underground. I can’t end myself. I can’t stay dead. I’m too weak, Sans. 

But I think I know what I have to do now. It has, ironically, taken time Sans. I gathered all the information here into this book: taken from the Purple Soul who had it before me, the murals, the Library, Alphys’ notes, transcripts of your timeline graphs, my own recollections and interactions. All of it. 

The final reason that I ran from Asgore was partly for this purpose, and also out of pure selfishness. It never occurred to me before to live out my life down here. I needed more lived experience, more knowledge, and a sturdier sense of reality. But I also wanted to spend more time with my Mom, before … She doesn’t know Sans. I mean, she knew I had to leave again. I’ve lived a long life, for someone of my kind. I sharpened my mind and my will, and I let my body age. I robbed that other part of me of almost any other tool or weapon to get to this point. 

But I am getting older and Mom doesn’t age like most people. I just couldn’t do that to her. I don’t want her to see me like this. But I’ve had my time, Sans. I’ve had more than my time. I took all of yours. I mentioned good intentions earlier. And even in staying away from Asgore, I’ve only allowed the Underground to suffer. I can see the decline in birthrates and the stagnation setting in. I abandoned you. But I won’t turn away from this final task. 

I regret what I’ve done with my Resets, with all the people I’ve hurt through my actions and inaction. There is one thing I need you to do now. I think you already know what it is. I still can’t surrender myself to Asgore. We both know that he can’t handle this burden. No one else can. I’ve seen what that kind of power does to a Monster, or something close to it. 

I know you don’t like to work Sans. You pride yourself on your laziness if I can still say so. But you know, or you can view the timelines. You are aware of the SAVE state, of LOADING, of the RESET and the TRUE RESET. You are already a master of spatial travel. And you have the will. All you need is time now. And I have honed myself to the point where I can help you do what needs to be done. 

You know what to do, Sans. You know how to end this.

You can’t afford not to care. 

Undertale Sans Lab

Sans closes the notebook. You look up at him, silently pleading, knowing that he has now seen everything. You await his decision. Sans shakes his head.

“it’s not fair.” He says. “taking your time travel and using my own jibes back at me before i even make ’em. heh, you really are a class act. you know that?” His shoulders slump. “the sad thing is, i can tell you really mean it. you did some shitty things, killing us and taking our future away, but i can see it. you’re tired. but i’m tired too. and, uh, no offense, but after everything i really don’t want that soul of yours in me.”

You know this is your last chance. Sans is on that brink. You just need to hit home your point now. You dive deep into what strength you have left.

“Think of the timelines.” You say, your voice quavering. “Think about Monsterkind.

“Think about Papyrus.”

Undertale Papyrus

You lay your head back in the snow. That’s it. That is everything you can say to him now. The pain in your limbs is becoming more distant: just another set of memories that aren’t your own. You hear Sans’ footsteps crunch near your head. You focus your eyes and look up at him.

“you really want to die, don’t you.”

“This …” you cough for a long time. “This was never … about me … Sans. I read.” You force the cold air into your lungs. “I know the Prophecy. I was just a kid that never even knew how to make a snow angel.”

“… dammit.” Sans crouches down near you. “kid …”

You start shaking. Sans’ hand is on your head. “kid!”

It’s almost time now. The feeling is almost unbearable. You moan and writhe as you will the sensation out. You can feel Sans’ blue magic enveloping you.

“it’s ok, buddy. i’ll get us to snowdin and …”

You push up your sleeves. The pinpricks that are Sans’ eyes seem to shrink in horror. “kid, what did you do …”

“Too late. I … prepared. Before this.” The red through your cut wrists contrasts against the white around you. “I had years of practice …”

“no.” You can feel Sans’ magic attempting to knit your flesh together, but your body is too old and it would take Sans time to move you and potentially cause you more injury. “don’t do this …”

“Don’t worry.” You say, trying to lighten the mood. “It’s all right. If it makes you feel any better … it’s like my Soul … it tastes just like ketchup.”

Undertale Heart

“… t h a t ‘ s  n o t  f u n n y.”

“No.” You shudder. “I don’t … suppose it is. I’m … sorry. I’m sorry for everything.”

You can’t make out Sans’ face now, but there seems to be something running out of his blurry sockets. “it’s … it’s ok buddy. just hold on … no …”

You feel the warmth of your Soul rise up. Everything is red. It’s redder than your own blood. It is bathing the white around you in vitality. Your pain is gone now. The darkness of lifetimes is finally gone. You feel at peace.

“Sans …” You say. You find his finger bones clutching your hands. “Promise me … please … take my Soul. Take the others that Asgore has. End this. I … I believe in you.”

“buddy …”

You look up and see the dog sculptures: some spiraling out of themselves, or deep into the ground. Others broken and crumbling. Still more are left unfinished. It’s somehow fitting: that it would all end here. Another thought occurs to you.

“Hey … Sans …”

The bony hands hold yours tighter. “what is it, kid?”

“… I have a joke for you.” The crimson of the floating heart of your Soul envelops the both of you now, but you are still looking at the sculptures. “What do you become when you spell a dog backwards?”

Sans pauses, tears coursing down his eye sockets. “i don’t know, kid. what do you become?”

Undertale Lesser Dog

But you are already gone.

Sans looks at the old human, who had once been a child, lying there in front of him. All that is left of them is their Soul … and a smile on their face. Slowly, tenderly, the skeleton closes their eyes.

He stares at the human Soul floating above their chest. He thinks about the timelines, and his friends. And Papyrus. He thinks about himself. Sans exhales the invisible knot of grief and pain that had somehow been in the centre of his fleshless rib cage.

And then: Sans understands.

“heh.” he says. “i get it now.” He regards the red Soul. “still not funny.”

Then he slowly shakes his head.

“eh.” he sighs, reaching one hand towards the Soul. “just how much can i still afford to care.”

Doctor Who: Clara Dies in Face the Raven

A few episodes ago in Doctor Who we had the phrase “truth and consequences” to ponder over. But if “Face the Raven” can be summarized in a few words, it would be “actions and consequences.” The episode begins as most Doctor Who episodes with Clara Oswald do: with an off-screen adventure and praising of each other’s abilities. It’s only when the spray painter Rigsy, from “Flatline” phones the TARDIS directly that things become serious fast.

Facing the Raven Plans

And I do mean fast. Rigsy has a number tattoo that keeps counting down towards … something. This “something,” of course, is Rigsy’s imminent death. This is obviously something that neither The Doctor nor Clara can tolerate as Rigsy has a family and, in particular, a small child. He also doesn’t remember how he even got this strange black tattoo. This leads to some fascinating research and the discovery of a hidden street and neighbourhood on par with Neil Gaiman’s London Underground in Neverwhere.

It turns out there is a hidden refuge for aliens and other beings on Earth. It is has a “misdirection circuit” that protects it from outsiders with any knowledge of its existence. It has existed for about a century and guess who operates as its Mayor?

Lady Me Facing the Raven

That’s right: our old friend Lady Me.

One way she decided to protect the world against The Doctor’s “good intentions” was to create this refuge. And it contains quite a number of beings shrouded in advanced holograms: including and not limited to a Cyberman. But the real mystery begins here. It turns out that Rigsy apparently murdered someone in the refuge, a model citizen, even though he has no memory of this. As such, Lady Me is responsible for the tattoo on his neck that will summon what looks like a raven to enter his body and kill him with excruciating slowness: the price of any crime that would endanger the refuge.

So of course The Doctor and Clara seek to prove that Rigsy, who had no way of even finding this place on his own to begin with, is innocent so that Lady Me will remove his tattoo. The good news is they prove that not do they prove that Rigsy didn’t murder anyone, but that his supposed murder victim is still alive in stasis.

The bad news is that it had all been a trap.

Face the Raven Trap

It turns out that Lady Me, having watched The Doctor’s doings for centuries, found out about Rigsy and lured him to the refuge and faked the entire crime: just to lure The Doctor to her. She then captured him: for a mysterious benefactor who gave her the misdirection circuit and cloaking technology that she uses to protect the refuge. Further, she also takes his Confession Dial away from him: though whether or not it was for her benefactor, or herself remains uncertain.

And then … it gets worse. As if Lady Me not learning from her last negotiation with an alien benefactor weren’t enough, Clara also didn’t learn … until the end.

The symbolism is heavy. After all, it is no coincidence that the alien woman supposedly murdered is a Janus. In addition to having two faces that can see the past and the future, Janus himself — the deity which the species is based from — is a god of beginnings, transitions, and endings. Before they solved the murder that didn’t happen, Clara and Rigsy had figured out that the Raven’s mark could be transferred to a willing host. And so Clara decided that she would take Rigsy’s mark: figuring that The Doctor would succeed and thus save her as he always did.

Except he doesn’t.

As it turns out, Lady Me can’t remove a tattoo from someone who accepts it willingly. There is literally nothing she can do. It is only in those last moments that Clara begins to understand. It is a hard lesson. More often than not, The Doctor has always managed to outsmart both their opponents and threats that come their way. In fact, The Doctor has saved Clara from quite a few moments that should have led to her death and, after a time, she started to take this for granted. It is only at the end, realizing that The Doctor can’t save her that Clara understands that her actions have consequences.

Clara's Last Moments

It is a fairly tragic end to the character for a number of reasons. Even as she processes and accepts her impending doom she still acts as a mirror to The Doctor: stating that she wanted to be like him. She also grimly mentions that perhaps all of her risk-taking was, in reality, leading to this moment: or that maybe she can find meaning in her sacrifice as Danny Pink had done.

To be honest, all of these possible explanations seem pretty tacked on to a character who alternated between self-righteousness, tagging along, becoming a joke in this season, and having one moment of genuine grace in “The Zygon Inversion.” Even so, when she dies she goes out with a certain degree of dignity as the raven kills her very slowly in the refuge.

Clara Dies

Suffice to say, The Doctor is teleported away to meet his new captor but not before it becomes very clear that Lady Me should hope to never, ever, meet him again. The episode ends after a pause where Rigsy leaves the TARDIS with beautiful graffiti commemorating Clara’s sacrifice.

What makes this episode so sad is how cleverly it begins and how it ends much in the way that Clara’s time with The Doctor began: with bravery, impetuousness, and stupidity. Clara didn’t have to die. If she had just waited and continued to do her part to help The Doctor, they could have saved Rigsy and left the refuge intact. If there had been symmetry to her character arc such as it was, she could have died peacefully in old age at a fixed point in time in “Last Christmas.” If Clara’s actions as “The Impossible Girl” had been shown to viewers, rather than told perhaps her death would have more impact than attempting to elicit pathos through three slow frames of motion. Just her final words themselves to The Doctor would have been more than enough.

The real tragedy of Clara Oswald, when it comes down to it, is that she could have been so much more and as abruptly as she came into Doctor Who she was just as arbitrarily removed. Frankly, she deserved better. Despite this, at the very least she faced her death as bravely as any Companion: and her exit from the show leaves an emptiness that we will have to see bridged in some way.

Because one thing is certain. Perhaps Clara was successful in keeping The Doctor from becoming the Warrior again, and convince him to “heal thyself,” but while he may not unleash vengeance he is most certainly going to seek justice next time, on Doctor Who.

Some Nightmares Fail: Doctor Who’s Sleep No More

Doctor Who‘s “Sleep No More” had a brilliant start. First, there was the eerie fact that the episode lacked the usual thematic introduction that we’re so used to. The subdued, eerie atmosphere simply begins with the introduction to a man named Professor Rassmussen. He gives us, the audience, his account of what happened on the Le Verrier space station: where a rescue team was sent to find out what happened to them … and failed.

It’s definitely not the last time we will see Professor Rassmussen. The episode itself, written by Mark Gatiss, is patterned after a found-footage film, or even a piece of epistolary fiction: a story told from a first hand account. No matter which way you look at it though, from the very beginning where the Professor warns us not to watch his recordings, Gatiss attempts to tell a horror story through the tropes of Doctor Who. This is not the first time. Doctor Who has often verged on the horror genre with its vast selection of monsters.

Unfortunately, it’s not only the rescue team that fails in this episode.

It turns out that the good Professor had created machines called Morpheus pods: things that allow humans to have a good night’s sleep in just five minutes to increase productivity. It is such a banal reason to unleash such horror because, wouldn’t you know it, you know those grains you get in the corners of your eyes? That sleep dust? After you sleep? Well, it is actually the growth of a mucus lifeform that usually gets killed off by semi-regular human sleep but because of the Morpheus pods and their electric signals, these lifeforms aren’t stopped by the human immune system in slumber and consume their hosts … and everyone around them.

These Sandmen, Dustmen, or Sleepmen can’t even see: they need the eyes of those who have apparently used the pods to find their prey. Also, interfering with the electric impulse that keep together disintegrate their bodies into dry grains of sand.

To be honest, they are … kind of underwhelming: more of a parasite that grows from these electro-magnetic impulses more than anything. The team, with the exception of the Grunt — a human cloned specifically and only for combat — are pretty unmemorable and they die with very little fanfare. Even with the interesting twist of The Doctor and Clara actually meeting and getting involved with the rescue team — instead of arriving after they are gone — doesn’t offset this. Mind you, there are some good character moments from The Doctor and Clara if you can believe it: The Doctor referring to the Professor’s pods as an abomination, and Clara calling the creation of human life made and bred to fight and die in wars morally disgusting.

In the end, The Doctor and the others destroy the station and the Sandmen within it: after one of the soldiers on the the rescue team kills the good Professor for actually trying to help his inadvertent creations take over the universe. Because, you know, we totally didn’t see Rassmussen being evil and behind everything totally coming a mile away.

But then we realize the truth. You know how Rassmussen recorded his last living moments on the ship? Well, he did it after he was supposedly killed. It turns out Rassmussen was captured and at least partially converted — or replaced — by the Sandmen at some point in the episode and by virtue of leaving his found-footage and sending it across the Sol System, he will spread Sandmen through all life everywhere: including through us the viewers. In the immortal tradition of M. Night Shyamalan, ‘What a twist!”

So as Rassmussen, or whatever he has become, crumbles into dust — the happiest dying villain ever having apparently one-upped The Doctor — you begin to see what is wrong with this episode. It can summed up by having a fascinating premise that could have made it on the level of “Listen,” with a cautionary tale introduction, interesting found-footage segments, followed by disappointing monsters, confusing information about what they are and how they get destroyed, lackluster secondary characters, and the particularly disappointing reveal of Patient Zero whom — if you are really following the plot at this point somehow — should have totally been the good Professor himself. I mean, he is already insane and driven so why wouldn’t he have tested his Morpheus pod on himself first and perhaps the Sandman that came from his eyes had been manipulating them the whole time?

Whereas “Listen” was all about psychological terror and playing with perceptions, at best “Sleep No More” at best an attempt at a NoSleep meme using Doctor Who as a medium. And it was just as bad as a rushed and amateurish creepypasta failed to go viral. In fact, it’s almost like a choppy superficial parallel of what happens in The Russian Sleep Experiment creepypasta. It’s a shame because with more time and effort, this could have been a classic creepy Doctor Who episode. Still, it is a fascinating failure when you look at what the episode tried to be. And who knows? Perhaps the experiment isn’t yet because, after all, there are some nightmares need more than just five minutes of sleep to come into full fruition.

Anthony Martignetti From the Mouth of the Wolf

I met Anthony Martignetti in 2013. Actually, that is something of an exaggeration on all accounts. I read about Anthony at the time and not long afterwards I read his memoir Lunatic Heroes. Then I wrote a review of it and sent it to him. After all, he had put his email address and Twitter handle at the back of the book: and Amanda Palmer had his information on her Blog.

It was about that point that Anthony and I started talking. And while he took issue with the fact that I gave Lunatic Heroes a four out of five (I knew that he could do better: that he had more stories to tell), he liked my review. He put a link to it on his Endorsement page and he and Nivi Nagiel — his editor, writer peer, and friend — sent me a green Lunatic Heroes T-Shirt that I wear when I know I am going to be facing something particularly tough with which to deal.

Then we sometimes played games of witty pithy words on Twitter. There was even one point he accused me of getting my new budgie drunk as he wore his bell as a party hat. And then he challenged me to write a review of his next book: Beloved Demons. It was challenging: not just because it was about his adult life this time around, but also due to the fact that I had other projects and Toronto had been hit by a freak ice-storm that made me aware of just how powerless I really was. That pun was unintended, I assure you, but I suspect Anthony would have appreciated it.

The last time we really talked though, and I mean really interacted, was outside my parents’ house for a change. I was staying overnight at the Toronto Global Game Jam of 2014. I had my own computer and everything. So here I was at this computer at George Brown College’s School of Design, surrounded by creatives in a field that sort of related to my own, and having come from a particularly bad day with Ontario Works and bureaucracy when I got an email from Anthony.

He sent me a link and, sure enough, all the work I’d done with Nivi to polish my review of Beloved Demons had paid off and he included a link to that article on his Endorsement page as well. It inspired me. It encouraged me even more when I sent him something that I wrote and he gave me some feedback on it. He promised, when he had time, to give me a more indepth critique of the work and to look at some of the other things I sent him.

But there was one thing he sent me during that time, when my own loneliness was changed by into gentle solitude by the creatives around me, that I won’t forget. In response to the story that I sent him, Anthony quoted an old operatic and theatrical Italian saying:

“In Boca al Lupo . . . crepi il Lupo.”

I admit I actually took a while to find a good translation of the idiom, but ultimately it seems to amount to this: “In the mouth of the Wolf … may the Wolf die.”

I knew, somehow, that I could use this. I knew it even before I found a smooth enough translation and it was appropriate. In a small, but meaningful way that was the apex of our conversations: our relation to each other.

These words stayed in my head as I introduced my own therapist to Anthony’s work and they had actually had their own interaction. I am glad I did my part to help them meet at least on some level. But I wasn’t entirely accurate when I stated that the Game Jam was the last time Anthony and I interacted.

The last time we actually talked was when I sent him a copy of my first published story “When You Gaze Into An Abyss” in the Heroes in Hell anthology Poets in Hell.  It too was appropriate, all things considered. Anthony emailed me back to let me know that he got the book I mailed him and that he would read my story first.

I never met Anthony. I only talked with him online. He had touched many peoples lives: and that doesn’t even include the books he wrote after Amanda all but had to strong-arm him into doing so. I always knew he had been sick, and sick for a long time, but it’s weird. Even with that knowledge there are times I still find myself expecting to see something on his Facebook page, and I even ponder sending him more things. But I never really forget that he’s gone.

I’ve been sad for a little while and it took me a while to actually put one of the reasons into words. Last week, there was a memorial service for Anthony: held by his writing group the Souled Out Artists. I unfortunately couldn’t attend as it was in the States, in Boston, I have been dealing with anxiety issues, and I just didn’t have the logistics for a stay there. But I were to be perfectly honest, those are just part of the reason. Anthony said, once, that he and I should one day meet for owl sandwiches. He also said he wouldn’t have minded a phone call.

The fact is, I didn’t know whether or not he was being facetious. I didn’t dare ask, but jokingly said sure. But as I said, we never did physically meet. And I never phoned him. I regret that sometimes.

Many people that attended that service, or didn’t attend, actually knew Anthony personally. And, in retrospect, I would have felt weird being there. I was just a person on a fringe of lives that happened to appreciate his writing and influence. I wasn’t a family member, or a patient, or a student. At best, I’d to think we were casual friends that sometimes had time for each other for non-serious things and an appreciation for good writing.

I am glad that people went to Boston to the Souled Out Artists to celebrate Anthony’s life. His stories will continue on as living signs in the people that loved him. And his idiom of the Wolf will be an epigraph at the beginning of a novel that I plan to release one day: and it is all thanks to him.

Anthony understood the importance of mythology. He knew that the Wolf was symbolic of a great many dark things. And in so knowing, he created stories that fulfilled his old Italic proverb.

In the mouth of the Wolf … may the Wolf die.

Those are some words that I hope I will continue to live by. You can find more about Anthony’s stories here. Trust me: they are worth reading.

wpid-wp-1447229690679.jpeg

Doctor Who: Hail to the Zygon

Things looked pretty grim in the last episode of Doctor Who. UNIT was supposedly neutralized, at least in the United Kingdom, and a missile was headed towards The Doctor’s World Presidential plane from a Zygon assuming Clara Oswald’s form. I also mentioned, last time, that the plan of the Zygon radicals was worthy of HYDRA.

But perhaps “Hail Zygon!” was a little premature.

Take, for instance, what the Zygons did with Clara. They put her in a pod: her trapping her mind in a dreamscape to gather more information from her subconscious. And this is where the writers of “The Zygon Inversion” do something very … interesting. As it turns out, despite having a year to prepare and work itself into UNIT, the radical Zygon faction didn’t do their homework. They didn’t know about the events of “Last Christmas”: where Clara and The Doctor were held by dream crabs. Of course, that might not be entirely fair. I mean, they wouldn’t have had reason to know about “The Bells of Saint John” with the Great Intelligence or even “Asylum of the Daleks” and “The Name of The Doctor.” UNIT, assuming the faction even went as far as getting all of its information, didn’t even know about many of those events.

Clara has had her mind influenced before. It has been split across space and time. The Great Intelligence tried to synchronize it. And there have been many times she has been trapped somewhere: at the fringe between the damsel and refrigerator tropes. But “Last Christmas” in particular made Clara painfully aware of dreamscapes and the flaws within them. The Zygons did a shoddy job of making a dreamscape that was believable: a contrast to Steven Moffat and Peter Harness who use “the Gimmie” — the suspension of disbelief — to make us believe that she has a strong enough mind to resist and even influence the Zygon trying to access and steal her memories.

As unbelievable as it might sound, the way that Clara faces off against her Zygon counterpart Bonnie is nothing short of bad ass. Somehow Moffat, Harness, and Jenna Coleman make the character have this about face moment: leading you to realize just how screwed Bonnie — Clara’s Zygon duplicate — is going to be. Clara’s “schooling” of Bonnie is a hint of what Clara should have been from the very beginning.

Clara Turns Off the TV

But the epic element does not stop there.

You see, it’s really a combination of things. For instance, the show hits home exactly what the problem is with the Zygon radical faction. In my last recap, I likened them to HYDRA but I fear I might have grossly overestimated them. Oh, they shared HYDRA’s hubris, but their planning is only similar on a superficial level. The fact is: the radicals could have done a lot of damage in the longer term if they had been smart about it. They had about a year to prepare for an invasion without war. They are shapeshifters and are aware of what they are. Especially after one of the Osgoods died, they could have infiltrated UNIT across the world or — better yet — taken out the Zygon High Command first and dealt with UNIT later.

They could have appealed to the rest of their kind’s need to be more open, or to gain more resources through hit and run means. Meanwhile, they might have expanded their plan to use revealed Zygons — preferably “traitors” to their cause — as lightning rods to distract the humans and make a show of stopping them. Over time, they could have taken over places of human government and slowly improved human technology to make them more dependent on their innovation. And if they had taken UNIT in particular, it wouldn’t have taken much to place a bomb on, say, a World Presidential plane while its crew might have been … distracted by events.

The Zygon radical faction could have become the new Zygon High Command if they had been smarter: rallying the others of their kind by their example and using human civilization as its slave that they could monitor from within itself.

What happened instead was that Bonnie, as the leader of the radicals, wanted to make a statement. She wanted to reveal twenty million prepared and unprepared Zygons to seven billion humans right away. She didn’t care that those Zygons would most likely get slaughtered over time. Zygons are shapeshifters. Their greatest strength is hiding who they are until they have the advantage. Getting the Osgood Box would have only taken this advantage away by outing all of them.

The radicals are shown to be short-sighted and fueled by rage and a tremendous sense of self-entitlement. As The Doctor himself explains, they are more like rebellious children than anything else: rebels that are willing to destroy themselves and everyone else to be right rather than build anything lasting.

Bonnie is Mad

And this is where Peter Capaldi’s Doctor shines. He presents the radicals, through Bonnie, with a challenge. It seems as though The Moment affected him greatly as both humans and Zygons don’t merely have one box that could reveal or destroy them: but two. And it is almost a sick joke that both boxes have the radical motto on them: truth or consequences.

It is revealed that many threats to the Human-Zygon ceasefire have happened before. This is why The Doctor knows so much about Bonnie: because others had tried this before and he had erased their memories. But it goes further than that. He derails both Kate Lethbridge Stewart’s violence and Bonnie the Zygon’s fanaticism by showing them just how terrifying war is essentialized into two boxes with push buttons. He tells them about what real war is all about. And then he gives an excellent lesson to Bonnie. He teaches a shapeshifter that “thinking is a fancy way of changing your mind.” Of course. The Doctor himself is a much longer lived shapeshifter that did horrific things in the Time War so he would know all about it. The way he calls her out on the futility of revolutions and rebellion as a cycle and his own experiences in War made for a compelling and poignant moment in his own portrayal worthy of his other incarnations.

Doctor and Bonnie

But even when you put Clara and The Doctor aside, there is Osgood to consider. When asked if she is either a Zygon or a human, Osgood basically says, “Yes.” She holds her own to The Doctor, still respecting him, but recognizing his strengths and flaws. And she stands by her convictions. Many fans believe Osgood to be the Companion that he should have had, but now it’s clear that she has her own destiny as an agency in her own right. And it’s not everyday that someone discovers they have a new sister after the loss of their other sibling.

Osgood the Bad Ass

I do think that Bonnie got off very lightly for what she and the others had done to human and Zygon lives. If this was a learning experience for her, it was a costly one. One can only hope that she will continue to improve herself as the next Osgood. She has great shoes to fill.

“The Zygon Inversion” took the concept of a Zygon infiltration, and a wasteful revolution of radicals and turned it into something else entirely: an examination of the futility of war and the working towards something greater. Almost every character in this story had their bad ass moment and even The Doctor’s manipulation of the situation — in an almost terrifying manner — hits home one fact that may not have always been clear in the last season. Because in those lines, and in those words there was The Doctor. There he is.

SAVE FAILED

Dedicated to Toby Fox’s Undertale. There be Spoilers here. Do not say that you were not warned.

I’m not sure when it happened. Sometimes I forget … sometimes …

Yes. Recording. I don’t know how much time I have left. Or there’s too much time … to contemplate what happened. I’d reached Entry 17 of my Scientific Journal. I hope that you both found it in my attachment.

I remember now. I was examining the Souls. The Barrier was created around us: sealing us Underground with the power of human magic. There are two schools of thought on this matter: first, that humans only gained power through the consumption of Boss Monster Souls that exist longer than those of most Monsters. However, there have historically been few Boss Monsters among our kind and even they do not last as long as Human Souls.

Human Souls are energy sources that utilize a power known as Determination. Alphys, or perhaps you — Sans — will come up with this label. It makes sense that if the apex of Monsterkind can gift Humans with power, that any Human Soul grants us a far greater measure of possibility.

Undertale DT

I made plans for a DT Extractor, but I fear that won’t nearly be enough. But I have made a machine that allows me to utilize this energy in a limited capacity. I didn’t want to use the Souls themselves — that power was to be for His Majesty — but I distilled enough energy through the matrices to view the time lines: to see what possibilities there are to escape from the Barrier’s properties.

Through my machine, I was able to find the underlying codes and variables of reality. During the War, it was said that the Humans were able to cancel out previous actions, or come back from death itself. Some could even change events entirely and … confuse the memories of others. A truly terrifying, and magnificent power if there ever was one. One common theme in my research into the matter was that this Human SAVE function created a node in reality: a place that intersected between psionic, spiritual and geomantic dimensions. Essentially, a SAVE is a spot in the land itself created by the power of Determination.

I realized that seeing the timelines, and then the codes of existence — the “fun values” — was the first step. The second would be to observe and eventually manipulate said values. Eventually, if taken towards its inevitable conclusion, one could theoretically create a RESET: that same power that took victory away from us time and again: leaving all but a few without memory of our past achievements in the War and perhaps even the deaths of other Boss Monsters for Human ends. Truly, a distressing concept.

With a RESET, we wouldn’t even need to circumvent the Barrier with the correct number of Human Souls. Rather, we would restart reality itself and change history. We could rewrite the War. We could have made it so that the Humans had never won. Or perhaps that the elements that began the War never occurred. We could have made it so that we had never been imprisoned to begin with.

But before that final phase in our potential endeavours, there was the third phase: the SAVE function. This would be essential in case anything should go wrong. In fact, SAVING would be valuable in and of itself. Aside from the potential therapeutic qualities of spontaneous regeneration more potent than even healing magic, imagine if anything should happen to the Underground: if there were a calamity of some kind such as a sickness or even an invader that our magic isn’t capable of halting. The ability to LOAD from the SAVE would allow all denizens of the Underground to survive. Perhaps, over time, we could even begin to slowly and gradually absorb the powers of Determination from our SAVE points. If not in our generation, then certainly in further and future generations we had the potential to develop that power and free ourselves altogether. Certainly, learning from our previous mistakes and memories would only bolster our potential as a species.

The possibilities are endless. But so are the tribulations.

You couldn’t conceive of what I saw. When I extracted that small amount of Determination into my machine, I saw all the building blocks of life, space, and time. All of the possibilities. Well, that isn’t true. Sans, you know exactly what I’m talking about even now. The experience was greater than anything else I’d ever achieved: more than my Blasters, even more than utilizing the geothermal power of the Earth to create the Core seemed minuscule compared to this. Even so, the work that led to the Core, miniaturized, was just the first step in utilizing geomantic energy to make our first SAVE point.

I think you know the first mistake by now, you two. The darkness I warned you about earlier. There was … there is an anomaly. I can’t account for it. It threatens all the timelines. I’ll admit: it terrified me. That was when I knew. The Barrier was petty compared to the threat of this cosmological aberration. I had to make that SAVE. I had to override reality to save us all.

I should have spent more time … but that’s exactly what I have now. More time. Yes. I said that already. I accessed the fun values. I attempted to change them. I tried to focus the machine’s Determination energy into one area and then I SAVED.

It didn’t work.

I didn’t unify in one place as I know I should have. Instead, I felt my body, and my being, spreading thin … disintegrating … I scattered everywhere. I’m data in the Core. I’m a child who should have died. I am a man who, in another time, decided to walk away from a Spider Bake Sale. Or I’m a face from the ground talking about myself, listening to everything …

I’m right behind someone. I’m sailing down a river? And I’m in a grey version of a room that I changed with tainted SAVE data. Use it to store anything. Not even a RESET will erase the matter in there. Not even the broken machine …

Undertale Sans Lab

But there is, there was some strange creature in front of me … Perhaps that is the anomaly? I was so focused on understanding it, on stopping it.

But there is a difference between Determination and obsession.

My friends, I don’t know how coherent I’m going to remain. I don’t even know if I’m talking to you in one timeline, or another. Or all of them. But you are all in danger. The Darkness will come from either outside, or within … Don’t listen to the Flowers. Beware the Child … I don’t understand … I’m everything, I’m …

Sans. Papyrus … I’m you. I’m will try to find a way to find you. Take care, my … take … Stay determined. Stay Determined … stay de-terminated … deter … mine …

….

Doctor Who: Truth and Consequences

It’s actually extremely appropriate that Doctor Who‘s “The Zygon Invasion” came out on Halloween. After all, there is something incredibly symbolic about a species of shapeshifters, subtly infiltrating human society, on a holiday that — at least presently in North America — celebrates child, masks, costumes … and the dead.

This episode of Doctor Who encapsulates all of these things. It begins like a modern fairy-tale would: recapping the events of the Zygon-Human ceasefire back in “The Day of the Doctor” with all of its idealism and promise, and then gradually transitioning the introduction into the gritty horror of realizing that this tenuous peace is about to be destroyed. All costumes threaten to come off, even as the masquerade actually seems to expand.

Doctors Ten and Eleven, along with The War Doctor, have left the hopeful party long ago and it is up to Twelve to clean up and keep together the dirty remnants of their dream: and he has to work with UNIT to do so. It’s a dark mask for a grim situation, so perhaps it’s just as well that Osgood is there to help out.

Ah yes: Osgood. As it turns out, there were actually two Osgoods and both of them eventually identified as Zygon and Human. It was part of the peace process and they were entrusted with a device of last resort by The Doctor in case that cease-fire should ever be threatened. And things have gotten bad. Osgood died in “Death in Heaven,” murdered sadistically by Missy and the other Osgood had retreated into grief: completely forgetting about her role in maintaining the peace.

Also, The Doctor referred to Osgood as “something of a hybrid.” That word again. Just where are they going with this?

Osgood’s negligence, along with the bureaucratic incompetence of UNIT, and one accidental reveal of a child Zygon’s true form to an American town leads to … badness. Very contemporary, real world badness. As it turns out, the Zygons — who have been secretly integrated among humankind — have factions that wanted to walk free and openly as themselves. When the revelation of one child leads to that child’s death and the murder of others of their kind, this leads to a radical faction arising … and taking matters into their own hands.

“Truth and Consequences” becomes the buzzword of this new faction: willing to kill humans and “treacherous Zygons” alike. The young of the Zygons are rebelling and have been surprisingly adept at what they do: especially using the forms of their foes’ loved ones against them in an ingenious use of psychological warfare. It’s not so much that they have made an invasion so much as it is a grand level infiltration that almost, just almost puts HYDRA to shame.

Hell, we didn’t even know that Clara was acting more inconsistent than usual as a character until the end where she becomes too calm and collected and too much of a deadly stone-cold bad ass for it to be really her. And somehow even before her abduction she forgot how to answer her phone. But right now, things do not look good for the Earth: with UNIT seemingly all neutralized and infiltrated and the radical faction having masterfully manipulated their rivals into wild Zygon-chases allowing them to manuever their pieces up to this point. It was a diabolical place for a cliffhanger and we’re just going to have to see where they are going with this in “The Zygon Inversion.”

What I’ve Been Doing For Over A Month

It’s been a while since I’ve written here, so I think it’s about high time for an update.

A lot of things have happened during the time I’ve been gone. I’ll admit that some of my previous plans … didn’t go well. In fact, it’s not so much that they failed in that they just didn’t happen. I had some expectations and assumptions and while the results of these didn’t pan out, at least they were learning experiences.

Still, I admit I was disappointed. And there was a period of time where I honestly got fed up and depressed: where I was actually having panic attacks. I honestly didn’t really know what else to write in my Mythic Bios during that time: where I was regrouping and gathering up my strength again.

But it hasn’t been a total waste. I’m still writing my GEEKPR0N articles. In fact, I covered the beginning and end of the Toronto After Dark not too long ago. It’s always awesome to get to attend on GEEKPR0N’s behalf: to be among such enthusiastic horror and gorehounds and know that people are reading my reviews on those films. If you are interested, I wrote about Tales of Halloween, The Hallow, Patchwork, and Deathgasm.

In addition, I’ve been taking classes: specifically Ty Templeton’s How to Write Comics in his Comicbook Bootcamp Program. Working with Ty and my peers has been pretty awesome. It’s the first time in a decade that I felt like I was in a creative writing class that actually inspired me and genuinely felt constructive. The first seminar focused on writing techniques, story-making, and how to write for an audience. The second seminar, which I just started, focuses on how to world-build, create pitches, and write for a publisher. In all ways we are encouraged to think creatively: to work outside of the box while understanding just what that box is. I don’t know how much of this information I’m absorbing — as I’ve stated before that I have a different manner of learning and retaining knowledge — but what I have gleaned is excellent. And it is good to feel something to encourage my sense of purpose again: even if it is as bittersweet as finding it on College and Spadina with all those memories of that place.

In other news, I found a lawyer through the Social Justice system who is willing to take on my case to get me onto ODSP. It is a relief in a lot of ways and at least some of the pressure on me has been lifted. I know it is just a start, but a start is a good thing. Everything I’m doing is going to help me in some way.

I will admit it. I am not where I want to be right now. Sometimes, at my worst I honestly feel like I am in hell. But I have to keep reminding myself to moving forward. After all, the only time travel that any human being is capable of accomplishing is going towards the future. Slowly. Gradually. And inexorably.

Perhaps while I’m at it I’ll get to make more new memories in the process.

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