Wow, these last couple of episodes have been an intense information dump, while still being filled with plot and character development. So much to sort through. Travelers is suddenly doing my job for me, with the characters throwing out every question and variation on the conspiracy they can think of. I’ll do some analysis here, but to keep it from getting too long, I’ll save the bulk of it for my Season 1 Analysis and Speculation post.
Ellis’ hack allows travel back to the future. That’s why it was so important to get him out and do it off the books. But Grace screwed it up with her reboot. She opened a two-way door between the future and the past, then left the director open to the rebel faction. If the rebels didn’t already have access to the traveler technology, they do now. Travelers will be able to jump back to the future now, and travelers and messages won’t necessarily be sent to further the director’s Grand Plan. This could potentially change the character of the show completely next season.
The episode opens a few minutes after Marcy ends, with David and Marcy having a cup of tea. David, as hung up on the mundane details of life as ever, is fussing about his broken teapot. Marcy dropped it when the forced personality reboot started. I suppose it’s symbolic of the warm, comforting Marcy he lost, though he doesn’t know it yet. Marcy doesn’t remember the tea. David hopes she’ll recover some of her memories. According to the mythology we’ve been given so far, she shouldn’t, but McLaren did still have a few of original McLaren’s memories, ones expressing strong love. Marcy is working with a damaged brain and an experimental procedure. Anything is possible. If McLaren’s example holds true, her love for David is what she’s most likely to remember.
Marcy is now coldly professional with everyone. She’s very good at her job. It’s like a MarcyBot replaced the very human Marcy we’ve come to know and love. But old traveler Marcy may well have been fighting to leave remnants of herself hidden in Marcy’s consciousness that will reveal themselves later. She does shows some signs of her old compassion late in the episode.
Charlotte, the misfire host from Room 101, is taken over by a traveler while she’s alone in her bedroom. When her traveler mom comes in to check her, Charlotte kills the mother, then the rest of the family. Termination from the director, or something else?
McLaren surprises his wife at the gym before work. Kathryn’s had enough of his duplicity, and brings his affair out into the open. She doesn’t seem to remember her conversation with baby daddy Jeff. She also confirms that he’s better in bed than original McLaren. In fact, it’s like he’s a different person, making love to a different person. Ruh-roh.
MarcyBot critiques old Marcy’s medical decisions. She’s so medically competent now that she has bigger boobs falling out of a lacy bra. David finally asks her to put them away because they’re distracting him. She kisses him by way of thanking him for saving her life. MarcyBot seems to be confused about the normal boundaries of friendship.
Carly asks McLaren for help with keeping her son out of the hands of abusive baby daddy police officer Jeff. McLaren, who just spent the morning trying to convince “his” wife that he’s still in love with her, questions why she’s fighting for her son. I could write a 20 page paper about what’s wrong with this situation and the way he’s handling it, but I’ll try to keep it short here, and write more in my analysis post (though not 20 pages). If nothing else, protocols 2 and 5 demand that Carly pretend to act like she’s still her host, which means she’s still that baby’s mother. Baby daddy Jeff is abusive and violent to the point where he killed original Carly in the original timeline. He is also in a position of power and authority that makes it difficult for Carly to get anyone to listen to her, since, like many abusers, he’s smart enough to keep his abuse private. McLaren, however, knows the abuse is real because he knows how original Carly died. He is in a position of power and authority superior to Jeff’s and has now been harassed by Jeff at work. Some of the current abuse is the result of McLaren hanging around Carly’s apartment. Carly is on his team, and also someone he cares about. How difficult would it be for him to make a few phone calls to get Jeff’s superiors at the police station to tell him to back off, and to put in a good word for Carly with the case worker? Maybe tell them she’s working for him and the FBI, the way he told David Marcy’s working for him? That her money comes from the FBI, rather than prostitution, but she’s undercover, so it needs to be kept quiet. This is all very close to the truth, and would take less time from him than he’s put into helping Marcy, or spent recovering from breaking mission protocol to save his host’s wife from the plane crash. Good thing everyone else didn’t tell him to solve his own problems then. I have very little respect for a man who treats a violently abused woman and infant, who are asking for help, the callous way McLaren treated Carly and Jeffrey Jr in this scene. I’ll talk about the racism and classism involved in my analysis post.
Grace is a lousy school counselor. I’m sure none of us is shocked by her lack of compassion. I keep wondering if she’s a computer program placed into a human brain, or if a substantial part of her humanity has been lost through repeated consciousness transfers. Maybe she was always this way. Charlotte the child assassin shows up at Grace’s office for a chat and some murder. Trevor sees her attacking Grace and races to intervene. Charlotte escapes, but Grace is safe.
Trevor tells the team to meet at headquarters, where they argue over who could have put the traveler into Charlotte and assigned her mission. Philip insists that Charlotte had to be sent by the director, because no one but the director has the ability to send travelers. It’s finally revealed that the director is an AI, not a person. Grace rebooted the director using Ellis’s hack when she downloaded Marcy’s revised consciousness. Everyone but Grace is apalled to think that the AI that’s run every aspect of their lives since long before they were born isn’t online taking care of them right now. It must be like someone telling you there is no God when you’ve been raised as a devout believer. Grace points out that she created the director. (She’s the mother of God.) She wrote the code, she knows how to correct it. The others still see the director as a God-like figure they’ve trusted, that’s now in danger. They aren’t even hearing Grace when she says that the Faction was rising up against the director and somebody needed to do something to try to stop them.
Grace does seem overconfident. It doesn’t sound like she had any plan to keep the director safe while it was offline. Grace tells them that the Faction were the ones who kidnapped the team in Room 101, both to test their loyalty and force the mission to be cancelled. Were the kidnappers travelers the director had sent but who had turned traitor, or did the Faction secretly already have to capability to send travelers at that point?
Grace and Trevor head out to Ellis’ farm, so that Grace can feel safe from any further assassination attempts. Grace spends very little time with anyone else on the team but Trevor, not even McLaren, the team leader, or Marcy, whose life she was there to save. She went out of her way to end up in a host that Trevor cared about and who worked in his school, and always chooses him to be her chauffeur and bodyguard. It means something, but I don’t know what. Pre-existing relationship, low numbers stick together, they are part of a particular group and they know they are both loyal to it, but aren’t sure about anyone else, whether it’s the Faction or the director?
Baby daddy Jeff brings Jeff Jr to the baby sitter. Carly is sitting across the street in her car, watching, when child assassin Charlotte shows up to kill her. They fight. Charlotte has a gun, but Carly doesn’t. Carly seems to be winning, but then Charlotte is suddenly pointing the gun at her. Jeff comes out of the babysitter’s house and shoots Charlotte. Carly jumps in her car and drives away, leaving Jeff standing in the street in a nice neighborhood where he just shot a nice little white girl dead for no apparent reason. He keeps calling Carly to get her to come give a statement clearing him, but she ignores his calls.
What just happened? Was that a real attack, or a set up? Charlotte telegraphed her assault by approaching on the side of the car where Carly, the team’s tactical specialist, could see her coming in the side mirror. Carly doesn’t have a weapon stashed within reach in that car? Has Carly been turned toward the Faction, or overwritten, and they were helping her get rid of Jeff, or was that a coincidence that she took advantage of? After the way McLaren treated her, and the conditions the director put her in, you couldn’t blame her for considering the alternative, if they were willing to help her.
Trevor and Marcy arrive at the farm and find Ellis at his barn. Ellis didn’t know that Marcy rebooted the director. The director had its own contingency plan. Its had teams building the components of a quantum frame for months, which Ellis is now assembling in the barn. If things get bad enough that the director has no choice but to escape the Faction, it can send itself back to the 21st.
McLaren encounters Officer Boyd in a parking garage. She’s been assigned to assassinate him. He talks her out of it after explaining the situation in the future. She pretends to shoot at him and miss, then he shoots two shots at her chest. Even with a bullet-proof vest, that’s got to hurt. Add Boyd and Charlotte to the list of physically damaged female characters.
McLaren makes sure to get his “wife” out of town before she can be overwritten or killed by the Faction. Kathryn questions him closely about what’s happening, then calls Forbes from her car.
David calls Marcy to tell her he’s being held hostage by someone who wants her. She’s become a sniper in her second incarnation, and takes the kidnapper out through the neighbor’s vent. Then she gives David the choice of leaving town or calling the police. She doesn’t drug him, kidnap him, or tie him up and put him in a basement until the coast is clear. She calmly tells him his options and leaves. The male characters could learn from her in this moment. David calls the police, but won’t answer their questions about what happened to the body in his living room.The police take him in.
A group of armed gunmen shows up at headquarters to kill the team. The team escapes and heads to the farm. Carly has McLaren stop on the way so she can kiss him. He tells her they need to break off their affair, because of protocol, and because it puts the team at risk. Protocol could be argued both ways, but their affair putting the team at risk is a stupid assessment. What put the team at risk was the director putting 3465 in the body of a woman who has an abusive baby daddy that won’t stop stalking and harassing her and the people he sees her with. As long as Jeff is around to monitor Carly’s movements, the team is at risk, and it’s not Carly’s fault. But, gee, maybe the director put 3468 in the body of an FBI agent because it figured he could help Carly do something about the stalker, instead of playing house with his host’s wife. McLaren is doing nothing to support Carly as a member of his team, or to ensure her loyalty at this point.
Trevor, Grace and Ellis work on the quantum frame. Trevor and Grace argue about the value of each host’s life, and whether or not it was okay for her to take Grace’s body after the window for her death had passed. Grace points out that original Trevor was a horrible person, but everyone deserves to live, no matter what we think of them. I wonder if this is an old argument between them, or in their culture. Then Trevor goes outside to check in with the team and gets a text telling him to destroy to quantum frame. He shows Grace and Ellis, and they all argue about who it came from and what to do about it. Texts aren’t a normal method of communication for the director, but there are no kids around to exploit. Ellis has put a technology dampening field around the farm as protection.
Trevor decides to end the argument by grabbing an axe and destroying the quantum frame. Ellis grabs a shotgun and threatens Trevor with it. They continue to argue as McLaren and the rest of the team show up. Slowly, they piece a certain amount of information together about how the Faction and the director are currently operating, and changes to the timeline that occurred since the team arrived in the 21st. Specifically, the disastrous collapse of Shelter 41 that Philip described in Room 101 was averted in the current timeline. Now the shelter is a lousy place to live, filled with people who don’t support the director or believe in the Grand Plan. It’s the home of the Faction. The future is divided between people who support the Grand Plan, and people who don’t, whereas before, everyone was unified in their support of the director.
Carly questions whether they should continue blindly following the director. Only Philip agrees with her. The white guys and the newbies to the 21st century are happy with their lot. McLaren, the guy who got put into the body of an upper middle class white male in a position of authority is especially A-ok with the director’s choices. The heroin addict and the abused, underprivileged black woman who Mclaren fucked over, not so much.
Carly pulls out her gun and points it at McLaren’s face. She asks if he still thinks she should follow the director’s orders, now that the director has ordered her to assassinate him. McLaren’s suddenly not so sure that the director knows everything. I’d like to watch him squirm with Carly’s gun to his head for a few more minutes. Maybe grovel a bit. Or for a whole episode.
An alarm sounds, alerting the group to a perimeter breach. They assume the Faction has found them. Trevor moves to destroy the quantum frame. Just as Ellis raises his gun to shoot Trevor, Grace throws herself in front him, shouting that there’s another way. The gun goes off, hitting Grace in the abdomen. The bullet goes through her, and into Trevor’s abdomen as well. Grace, proving she’s the coolest head in a crisis, tells Ellis to turn off the electronic field that’s protecting the barn, so that the director is able to help them. Of course, we all saw how much the director helped Blue.
The director appears to start downloading into the quantum frame. Someone also takes over Ellis to send the message: “Traveler 3468. Mission abort. Destroy the quantum frame immediately.” The message kills Ellis/014. Grace is the only programmer left alive who understands how to run the director, and she’s bleeding out on the floor.
McLaren grabs the axe and heads toward the quantum frame to destroy it. Before he can start, Forbes leads an FBI strike team into the barn and yells, “Freeze! FBI! Everyone drop your weapons.” There’s no indication of whether Forbes is still really Forbes, or if the entire team is made up of travelers, and who might have sent them. If either the director or the Faction were going to intervene, Forbes was the logical person to put a traveler in.
The episode ends with McLaren and Forbes staring at each other and the quantum frame, Philip kneeling on the ground with his hands behind his head, Trevor and Grace bleeding on the floor, and Carly and Marcy trying to stop the bleeding. David is in police custody, potentially charged with withholding evidence or some form of conspiracy to commit murder. Baby daddy Jeff is also looking at a potential murder charge. As far as we know, Kathryn has left town.
Now we wait to hear about renewal.
-Philip’s worried about leaving Poppy the turtle behind when they have to abandon Ops. When he makes his one phone call from jail to Ray, he can ask Ray to rescue Poppy at the same time as he asks for help with bail.
-Grace: “I reset the director. Rebooted its OS through a virus in order to protect it from corruption by the faction. What would they say in the 21st? Control, Alt, Delete.” Philip: “That’s impossible.” Grace: “The director is a highly advanced quantum AI program and I am the lead programmer. So no. Not impossible” McLaren: You reset an AI that’s been running every facet of our lives since long before I was born and not to mention every mission?” Grace:”Before you were born, maybe. But not me. I helped create it. No one else could have done it.” Philip: “How?” Trevor: She uploaded a command while pretending to save Marcy’s life.” Philip: “How?” Grace: “When she saw my code it was sent back as visual information through the quantum bridge created during the transfer of consciousness.” Marcy: “You mean you used me.” Grace: “I saved you and I’m saving the director. Where is the gratitude? What’s wrong with you people?” Philip: “What’s happening in the future while it’s offline?” McLaren: “Chaos, probably.” Grace: A temporary power struggle. The Faction doesn’t believe in the Grand Plan. Even before Helios had basically no effect on the future, they had already started a mission to abandon ship. Your team knows firsthand the brutality they’re capable of. Carly: “You mean they’re the ones who put us in those cages? Tortured us?” Grace, nodding her head Yes: “To test your loyalty, and to make sure you couldn’t complete a mission they disagreed with. That was the first real proof I had that they’d managed to implement some of their agenda. So I came back here into the 21st to stop them.” Carly: “What do we do now?” Grace: “The director will come back online more secure than ever and soon everything will go back to normal. ‘thank you for saving us, Grace.’ Please take me to Ellis, before one of you gets overwritten and tries to kill me.”
-The kidnappers were from the Faction and wanted to avert the mission, but also try to turn the agents, or at least get some information out of them. Good on the team for withstanding the torture.
-There’s a basic philosophical difference here. The younger travelers have never lived without their lives being controlled by the machine, can’t conceive of living any other way. The director is a safety net to keep them from making the same terrible mistakes as their ancestors. But Grace created the machine. She knows it’s just a bundle of code, not infallible at all. What can be made can be unmade, adapted, altered, corrupted. The younger travelers have never even thought of the director this way, especially McLaren, the most loyal of the group. Once the idea is presented to them, the travelers who’ve been hurt by the director’s mistakes can’t get the idea out of their heads that maybe people could be in charge, and do a better job.
-Trevor’s text- “Traveler 0115. Mission Abort. Destroy the Quantum Frame.”
-Trevor: “Stop, stop what you’re doing!” Grace: “Stop what?” Trevor: “Look at this.” Grace: “Mission abort?” Trevor: “The director must be back online.” Ellis: “That message could have come from your girlfriend for all we know.” Trevor: “But she doesn’t call me 0115.” grace: “Well, then it must be from the Faction. They’re onto what we’re doing.” Trevor: Or, the director knows what you did and communicated to me the only way it could. You jumped into the 21st illegally. You took a host that wasn’t meant for you. You uploaded a virus.” Grace: “All for the greater good.” Trevor: “According to who, you?’ Grace: “Listen, I told you that I had evidence that an attack on the director was imminent. I had no choice but to act.” Ellis: “Well, all I can tell you is, my mission didn’t come to me as a text. It came from the director, personally.” Grace: “Before the reset. You received that mission from the director before I was able to send the reset.” Ellis: “Well, obviously. I got here before you did. What difference does it make?” Grace: “It was still vulnerable to corruption by the Faction at that time.”
-How far back does the vulnerability to corruption go? Could it be why Marcy and Philip ended up in bodies that weren’t healthy, and Carly ended up with such a difficult home life? Was that the Faction quietly sabotaging missions?
-At this point, there’s no way to know whose messages are from the director, or if Ellis’ mission was from the director or the Faction, but if it was the faction that wanted the quantum frame so it could steal the director, then they’ve had communication access for months. Ellis said teams started working on the components months ago.
-It’s doubtful that all of the texts and the message relayed by Ellis came from the same source, whether it was the Faction or the director. My guess would be that the Faction spent most of the episode trying to have McLaren killed, because they knew how loyal he was to the director. Carly’s message came from the Faction. Trevor’s came from the director, and the one Ellis relayed. Either the director was being sent to the quantum frame against its will, or what’s downloading into the frame is the Faction’s knock off version. Forbes is potentially now a Faction traveler sent in to ensure the download is completed and the frame kept secure.
-Marcy: “How can the faction possibly send messages to the 21st without the director knowing about it?” Grace: “The director was offfline for a short time after I sent the reset command.” Ellis: “Or the faction has its own transfer system. There were rumors they were trying to build one of their own in Shelter 41.” Philip: “Shelter 41 collapsed when I was a kid.” Grace: “This is something you remember?” McLaren: “We all remember. It was a structural flaw. The weight of the ice was too much” Carly: “So we’re setting aside protocol 2 now?” Philip: “It collapsed at 0600 as the revelry bell rang.” Marcy: “Thousands of people died. It was horrible.” Ellis: “Well, now, the people of Shelter 41 are very much alive, and the founders of an underground movement against the director, which eventually became known as the Faction.” Grace: “This is news to you?” Trevor: “To all of us.” Grace: “Well, apparently your work in the 21st has been a greater agent of change than we thought.” Ellis: “So, the future you left wasn’t divided into two camps? One loyal to the director, and the other believing that decisions should be made by people, not a machine?” Marcy: “No, that kind of division is what got us into trouble in the first place.” McLaren: “The world we left was loyal to the director and the Grand Plan.” Philip: “Looks like all the Grand Plan has done so far is screw things up worse than before.” Carly: “How do we know they’re not right?”
-Does the weight of the ice collapsing Shelter 41 imply that the people had moved underground because the helios asteroid caused an ice age, but now they’re underground for a different reason?
-The team didn’t disappear after Helios 685 because diverting the asteroid resulted in more people being alive, not fewer. Some other environmental disaster that sent everyone to live underground still occurred, so the team were still all born. But the culture was able to build stronger structures, and have retained the ability to think for themselves. The director/Grand Plan propaganda didn’t work on everyone this time around.
-At what point in the season did the timeline change occur? At the end of Helios 685? Or have other events affected the future as well?
-Grace jumped in front of Trevor to save him from Ellis. Has she developed feelings for him, or is this another case case of residual feelings from the host carrying over? Or, was there some pre-existing relationship, even though they acted like strangers? The travelers seem to naturally hide things, or at least keep things to themselves. Marcy hid her illness, Philip hid his heroin addiction, Marcy hid her relationship with David from some of the group, Carly has hardly confided in anyone, McLaren and Carly hid that they’ve continued their relationship, Trevor secretly kidnapped Grace. It suggests an oppressive society where saying or doing the wrong thing could get you in trouble, and you can’t count on help.
-McLaren has gone from being morally ambiguous to downright loathsome. He threw over his original future girlfriend, who was white and blonde in the future, but is black, abused and underprivileged in the 21st, for a privileged 21st century white woman, and left Carly to fend for herself. He didn’t even offer her the help one would give to a friend in that situation, never mind the help he owes her as team leader. He told her that everyone else on the team takes care of themselves, and she needs to as well. What a selfish, self-absorbed asshole. Philip has had help from Marcy. Marcy has had help from McLaren and Philip. McLaren goes to Boyd for unsanctioned help constantly. Trevor comes to Philip for emotional support and a place to crash, but McLaren probably hasn’t noticed that. Carly has been the most self-sufficient of them all, up until now, other than sleeping with her boyfriend/ boss, which was, hopefully, mutually beneficial. McLaren dismissed her like she was somehow beneath him now that she’s in a lower socioeconomic class, and acted as if she’s responsible for the actions of her host’s abuser. I literally cheered when Carly pointed the gun at McLaren’s head. Let’s remind him that his privilege comes at a price.
Protocol 1: The mission comes first.
Protocol 2: Leave the future in the past. Don’t jeopardize your cover.
Protocol 3: Don’t take a life. Don’t save a life. Unless otherwise directed.
Protocol 4: Do not reproduce.
Protocol 5: In the absence of direction, resume your host’s life.
Protocol 6: Traveler teams should stay apart unless instructed otherwise.