Find the Doors, Portals, Points, and Wells
You play, you never tell
Step through the gates of Life and Hell
You play, you never tell
The Wardens watch and guard us well
And pray you never tell
When Carly Parker's childhood friend Yumiko Takata went missing and the police proved less than useful, Carly decided to take matters into her own hands and investigate herself. At her producer's suggestion, she decided to use the medium of podcasts as a way to both document her search and get help from the public.
Thus begins RABBITS, a podcast docudrama in which Carly's search for her childhood friend places her on the path toward a mysterious Alternate Reality Game known by its players as "Rabbits" and predates the term "Alternate Reality Game" by decades, possibly centuries, and maybe even millennia. The nature of the game is unknown, but Carly has reason to believe Yumiko became involved with Rabbits prior to her disappearance. Alongside a mysterious ally who refers to himself as Concernicus Jones, Carly intends to find out what Rabbits is and what happened to her friend.
Premiering in February 2017, RABBITS is part of the Public Radio Alliance and Minnow Beats Whale, which also produce TANIS. Minnow Beats Whale also co-produces The Black Tapes with Pacific Northwest Stories
RABBITS contains examples of:
- Alternate Reality Game: Rabbits is an ARG that by all indications predates the term. The earliest known iteration of the current version dates back to 1959. There are implications it goes back much, much further.
- Arc Number: The number 6878 pops up near-constantly throughout Carly's investigation.
- Arc Symbol: Aside from the titular rabbits, there is also the "Moonrise", an image of a circle above a pyramid, and "Doglover in Hell", a painting of a Nazi officer with a lapdog standing among flames.
- Arc Words: Several.
- "How many steps to the lighthouse?"
- "The door is open."
- "We want the future we were promised, not the future we deserve."
- "Something terrible, and final."
- Bittersweet Ending: Carly manages to find Yumiko and return her home, but nobody except her seems to remember anything about the game. Her attempts to relocate Jones reveal that he is a drug-addicted schizophrenic who has been working for a game company constructing an ARG and had been drugging both her and Yumiko to pull them into his insane fantasy world. However, the ending reveals that RABBITS is real after all, and implies that the game retconned Jones into a druggie wreck and Gatewick into a game company to conceal its existence in the new timeline.
- Cosmic Retcon: Implied to be why RABBITS seems to be a combination of a mundane ARG and Jones' schizophrenic fantasy in the game's aftermath - the game may be "cloaking" itself by retconning itself to seem mundane in the new, restabilized timeline.
- Dimensional Traveler: Turns out both Carly and Jones have seemingly had the ability to jump to alternate timelines since birth due to their parents' involvement in Gatewick Industries' experiments.
- The Dreaded: The Wardens. Everything said about them is some variation of "if you spot one, you're dead". When Carly and Jones mention having escaped one, The Magician is quite nervous...because Warden sightings this early mean something is seriously wrong with this iteration of Rabbits.
- Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Amy X, an escort who helps Carly two times with her investigation, and during their second conversation, asks if Yumiko is okay.
- Humanoid Abomination: The Wardens seem to be some variety of this, being mysterious humanoids who only seem to appear when Rabbits is going off the rails. The end of the first season suggests the more mundane possibility of their being proctors in the ARG Jones was allegedly running on his own.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The season 1 finale's denouement seems to leave it open to interpretation whether the RABBITS game was really some transdimensional repairing program to prevent The End of the World as We Know It or just all a part of Jones's/Hazel's manipulation to validate his schizophrenic fantasies. That is, until the Wham Shot at the end.
- "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer: When discussing Yumiko's disappearance in the first episode, Carly explains that the police assumption was she ran away to "sow her wild oats". She follows up by saying those were the actual words the officer used.
- Off the Rails: Through the story, it's heavily implied that IX in particular, but RABBITS in general is seriously off the rails, evidenced by higher mortality rates, more disappearances and the appearance of the Men in Grey, who may or may not be Wardens. Jones theorizes that it's Hazel's fault, who refused to complete VIII for some reason.
- Police Are Useless: One of the major factors in Carly's starting the podcast is the police assuming Yumiko's disappearance was her deliberately running away and, as a result, never taking the investigation seriously enough for Carly's satisfaction. She notes multiple times that her insistence that there is more to it only seems to annoy them.
- Potty Failure: When describing the days just before Yumiko's disappearance in episode two, Carly describes an incident in which Yumiko sat hypnotized by a video on her computer. When Carly finally gets into the apartment, she notices several signs that Yumiko has sat there mesmerized for more than a full day. One of those signs is that Yumiko had peed herself multiple times.
- Repressed Memories: Carly has a traumatic memory of a lifeguard setting a swimming pool on fire whilst people were still swimming in it. For some reason, this was never reported on in any news outlet and, when she tried explaining it to her parents, they never believed her, and they had her institutionalized when she broke down. Jones had something similar happen to him, except he snapped from mental stress caused by his parents' divorce, burned down the gas station restaurant he worked at, and ran home, only to find that the gas station restaurant was perfectly fine and that his parents never divorced to begin with. Their traumatic memories were real, but the trauma-induced stress triggered their dimension-jumping abilities, putting them in an alternate timeline where the events in their memories never occurred.
- Ret-Gone: The reason that Carly's and Jones' Repressed Memories seem to have no basis in reality is that they slipped into a universe where the traumatic events they remember never hapoened.
- Revealing Cover Up: Mentioned when Concernicus Jones asks Carly why she uses a podcast to document her search for Yumiko. Carly has a few reasons, one of which is that it was her former boss' idea to use a public forum as a form of insurance. Jones concludes that anyone who might want to silence Carly would think twice in order to avoid exposure in the process. Carly says Jones makes it sound like there's some sinister organization in the background. He dodges the question.
- Self-Sacrifice Scheme: The story titled "The Keeper" that Concernicus Jones sends Carly describes a man who, near the end of his life, tried to sacrifice his own life so that, at least once, a cycle of madness that takes exactly one life every eighty-nine days could end quickly and with the life of a man who was soon to die regardless.
- Senseless Sacrifice: "The Keeper" tells the story of a community called Arcadia in which the residents are overtaken by madness once every eighty-nine days. That madness persists until there is exactly one death. An old man who is near death, Ivan, tries to kill himself to make himself that one death, hoping to spare his community at least one cycle and maybe, just maybe, break the cycle of madness altogether through his act. It backfires horribly and, after slitting his own wrists, stays alive just long enough to see the madness overtake Arcadia and, this time, not stop until everyone is dead.
- Significant Anagram:
- The name of a figure mentioned in "The Keeper", Doc Hornet, is an anagram of "The Condor", the winner of Two.
- In high school, Carly drew a comic called "Priesthood One". At the end of the fifth episode, which shares that title, Concernicus Jones tells Carly that the name is an anagram of "The Door is Open", the phrase that begins every iteration of Rabbits.
- Sound-Effect Bleep: Carly contacts a professional escort trying to get a lead to a particular John. The escort she speaks to says that he gave her a poor review after she refused to give him a "Welshman's Tiara". Carly asks what that is, but the answer is bleeped out.
- Superman Stays Out of Gotham: Carly at one point asks Nic if he can ask his "hacker friend from TANIS" (i.e. meerkatnip) for help. Nic replies that MK insists that she's a "one podcast operation". Which became rather ironic when MK became a sort of co-lead on The Last Movie.
- Wham Line:
- Episode 5 ends with Concernicus Jones telling Carly that he's recognized an important detail about a comic she drew in high school, Priesthood One. The name is an anagram for "The Door is Open", the phrase that begins every iteration of Rabbits.
- Episode 6 ends with Concernicus Jones playing a section of the radio show he and Carly have been analysing for clues that seems to refer to Carly herself by name, as well as a coded reference to Yumiko and Carly's quest to find her. Thing is, the recording is from decades before Yumiko was born, let alone disappeared.
- In Episode 8, Carly finds a photo of the mysterious Hazel. "It was Jones.".
- Wham Shot: In the season 1 finale Carly finds the Rabbits Winner's Circle again with the last few lines changed: Hazel is listed as the winner of 8, "Parker Carlson" as the winner of 9...and a flashing 10.
- Not to mention the fact that the name of the character who owns the shop where the final scene takes place is Theodore Spino, an anagram for THE DOOR IS OPEN.