HIGH-LEVEL ALERT: Unmarked spoilers ahead.note
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Season 1 (1-12)
1 — While You Are Still ParalyzedOur Audience Surrogate awakes, unable to move or see, and has his situation explained to him by the voice in his head.
- Amnesiac Hero: Our protagonist is suffering from severe Identity Amnesia, suiting his role as Audience Surrogate perfectly.
- And I Must Scream: There are shades of this. The resident is completely paralyzed, unable to even open his eyes, while the stasis drugs wear off.
- Arc Words: "Can You Hear Me?"
- Audience Surrogate: It is immediately clear that we are meant to imagine these broadcasts being made to us.
- Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick:SAYER: Employee satisfaction surveys issued by Ærolith HR identified several key areas of concern, including "To which floors do I have security clearance?", "When will shuttle service be restored?", and "Please, please, what or who can I eat?"
- Establishing Character Moment: For SAYER. Also functions as the Establishing Series Moment and the codifier for SAYER and Hale's entire relationship.SAYER: I can imagine, from your position, my introducing the possibility of your dreaming may present some unexpected existential crisis. For that, I apologize. I just find those . . . fascinating.
- Evil Sounds Deep: It's immediately obvious from SAYER's voice alone that you are not in a safe or pleasant situation.
- Featureless Protagonist: We are provided no physical description or other characterization of our Audience Surrogate.
- Good Morning, Crono: The resident is woken from an unusually prolonged time in "chrono-stasis quarantine."
- Identity Amnesia: The resident remembers nothing about his identity or life before Typhon.
- Loss of Identity: Goes on to be a Central Theme of the season.
- Meaningful Name:
- Primal Fear: Paralysis, darkness, amnesia.
- Psychological Horror
- Resurrection Sickness: Downplayed. Due to his prolonged time in chrono-stasis quarantine, the resident is suffering from temporary paralysis, permanent memory loss, and auditory hallucinations.
- Star Scraper: SAYER casually mentions that Halcyon Tower's top 100 floors have recently been jettisoned.
- Through the Eyes of Madness: Or ears, rather. From the moment SAYER informs the resident that the side effects he is experiencing include auditory hallucinations, how can we be sure of anything we hear?
- You Wake Up in a Room:SAYER: According to your brain patterns, you must either be receiving these words, or you are experiencing a very improbably coincidental dream wherein you awaken in a cold, dark room, with a voice in your head ...
2 — There Are No Bees On TyphonThe "Resident" learns more about SAYER and Typhon, including how to unlock the door to his residence.
- Arc Symbol: Introduced.
- Arc Words: In their first appearance.
- Bee Afraid: The resident's thought password to unlock the door to his residence involves being swarmed and invaded by bees. In great detail.
- Bug Buzz: The first one occurs here.
- From Bad to Worse: In the thought password. It's not enough to just be swarmed by bees; they have to burrow into your body cavity through your mouth.
- Hallucinations: THERE ARE NO BEES ON TYPHON . . . So why do you keep hearing an insect buzz past your ear?SAYER: Let me remind you that auditory hallucinations are known side effect of prolonged chrono-stasis quarantine such as you were exposed to.note
- Orifice Invasion: The thought password involves imagining bees swarming into one's mouth and nose.
- Primal Fear: Bees, Orifice Invasion.
- Psychological Horror: All the horror technically takes place in the resident's head.
- Surreal Horror: This aspect of the series first comes out to play here.
- Surreal Humor: This side too.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: THERE ARE NO BEES ON TYPHON.
- The Swarm: In the thought password.
3 — Do Not Stop RunningAn emergency occurs during on-the-job training, and SAYER explains safety procedures in such an event.
- Deflector Shields: Halyon's can only withstand so much.
- Primal Fear: Running from a mysterious threat.
- Run or Die: Halcyon's general emergency procedures apparently consist of . . . running.
- Surreal Horror
- These Are Things Man Was Not Meant to Know: SAYER on why residents are not left to push their own elevator buttons:SAYER: You might accidentally press the wrong one, be sent to a floor you did not mean to go to, stumble upon things that were not meant to be stumbled upon . . . see things that cannot be unseen.
4 - For ScienceIn the resident's first day on the job, he must inject himself with an unknown substance and quickly apply the antidote.
- Arc Symbol: The substance the resident injects himself with is apitoxin, which he turns out to be deathly allergic to.
- As You Know:SAYER: As you are well aware, your new job orientation ended yesterday, so today will be your first real day of work.
- Big Brother Is Employing You:SAYER: You might be wondering how the [job] placement process works, and I do not expect that your mind will be able to comprehend a detailed description. So I shall instead give you the version which has been found by other residents as a more palatable explanation: In short, we watch. We have assessed your every reaction, not just during the training videos and subsequent trust-building exercises, but during your personal time. During elevator rides. During emergency situations. All of this data gives us a profile of how you can best serve your fellow man at Ærolith Dynamics.
- Continuity Nod: A line referencing the events of Season 5 was inserted into the re-released episode:SAYER: If we ignore a small moment in Typhons history, and also your personal recent experience, elevators are the safest places available to you, and one should always look to them for guidance.
- For Science!: The episode's Central Theme.
- Gone Horribly Right: Whether the experiment is this or Gone Horribly Wrong is left ambiguous, but it is extremely unlikely that Ærolith, which complies comprehensive biometric data on all its employees, would not have known about the resident's bee allergy.
- Heartbeat Soundtrack: After he is injected with apitoxin, the resident's heartbeat can be heard pulsing in the background—and accelerating.
- Plot Allergy: The resident happens to have a life-threatening allergy to bees—he begins to swell and breathe heavily after injecting himself with apitoxin, also known as honey-bee venom, the first thing he is instructed to inject himself with For Science!. With this in mind, also remember what his fear-triggered door password is.note
- Primal Fear: Needles, self-experimentation, and allergic reaction with a side of bees.
- Professor Guinea Pig: The resident's job as a product tester requires him to carry out experiments on himself.
- Tested on Humans: As above.
5 — Enjoy Your BreakGranted a respite after his medical ordeal, our resident encounters an unexpected threat in the cafeteria.
- Man-Eating Plant: As mentioned through an alert early in the episode, Halcyon Tower's scientists are researching new foodstuffs, including a plant-based material discovered growing in one of the sub-basements. Unfortunately, its consumption turns out to transform those who digest it into plants themselves—with the capacity to inject other people with spores and splinters in order to propagate.
- The Matchmaker: SAYER interprets the resident's elevated pulse and adrenaline as signs of attraction to a coworker and, bizarrely, encourages him to introduce himself. As it turns out, those "butterflies" in his stomach were in fact the germinating seeds of a Man-Eating Plant.
- Mundane Horror: Office plants??
- Primal Fear: Ingesting dangerous substances, love.
- Two of Your Earth Minutes:SAYER: Good morning, Resident. Actually, the term morning is relative. It takes 29.5 Earth days for the sun to track around the sky above Typhon. You will notice, Halcyon Tower has no outward-facing windows ... Ærolith has equipped Halcyon Tower with artificial lights that operate on a day-night cycle akin to what you would experience on Earth. It is truly a shame your physiology is so brittle. Every human wishes for more hours in the day, but we can only give it to you for a few months before the murders start.
6 — A Dreamless SleepWe join a different resident in transit to Typhon and quickly learn that he is not who he claims to be.
- And I Must Scream: As Mr. Grey is left without sedation during flight, he is stuck in a motionless state with only his thoughts for 384 years, driving him to insanity and likely the need to claw out his own throat upon arrival.
- Bottle Episode: It takes place entirely inside a resident's head in an isolation pod on the way to Typhon.
- Breather Episode: It departs from the season's Story Arc to focus on a new resident in an apparently unrelated situation. His story will finally ties in with Sven's three seasons later when SAYER mentions that the same nanites used to heal Hale after his fatal gunshot wound were tested on Grey after he indeed emerged from his isolation pod having gone insane and had to be put down by security.
- Broken Record: The welcome message heard playing in the isolation pod in the beginning repeats ad nauseum.
- Code Name: "Lucas Grey" turns out to be one.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: The isolation and paralysis will drive him mad, and he will claw his own throat out on arrival. His later Bus Crash will reveal that it's actually even worse than this.
- Exact Time to Failure: Played with. SAYER informs Mr. Grey exactly how and when he will die, before leaving him to his thoughts . . . For over 350 years of elongated time.
- Go Mad from the Isolation: What is predicted to happen to Mr. Grey.
- The Infiltration: Mr. Grey's mission is presumably to spy on Ærolith's operations undercover as a regular employee.
- Sleeper Starship: New residents are sedated on their way to Typhon.
- Primal Fear: Paralysis, insanity.
- Psychological Horror
- Sleeper Starship: New employees in transit to Typhon are supposed to be sedated on the way.
7 — PressureTo return to work from the infirmary, the resident is forced to crawl through an increasingly tight passageway.
- Air-Vent Passageway: For the sake of convenience, the resident has to exit the infirmary through a long, tight, soft-walled passage between the walls of Halcyon ... which passes under the laundry department.
- Analogy Backfire:SAYER: From what I understand, restraint of movement and pressure had a calming effect on Earth animals bound for slaughter and meat-processing. They were put in what is called a "squeeze shoot." It's is the origin of the odd phrase "stock-still." Stock would be forced to cease any unnecessary movement, and the deep pressure was a pleasant sort of sensory experience. [Beat] I can see that this is not comforting you.
- Claustrophobia: Not only is the resident forced to squeeze through a long, tight, hot, soft-walled passage that narrows as it progresses and slopes downhill—it passes directly under the linen sterilization room with its superheated steam and notoriously leaky pipes.
- Didn't See That Coming:SAYER: Who could have anticipated malicious multiplying flora would tear open the abdomen and chest cavity of a resident?
- From Bad to Worse: Not only is claustrophobia an issue; you also have to worry about not getting boiled alive.
- Malevolent Architecture: Halcyon Tower: why make a route that isn't dangerous and difficult to get through when you could just pad the walls?
- Primal Fear: Small, steamy spaces.
- Stock Episode Titles: Although it applies a far more literal sense here than usual.
8 — BreatheThe resident is instructed to retrieve an unknown object from an oxygen-free storage facility.
- Primal Fear: Lack of breathable air.
9 — IrretrievableThe resident has been given a new assignment as a test subject for a cutting-edge mind transfer technology.
- Body Backup Drive: His consciousness is projected into a mechanical construct body down the hall, presumably as the company's first steps toward achieving this trope.
- Existential Horror
- Our Souls Are Different: Discussed/played with. Ærolith has not conclusively proved or disproved the existence of a soul (which has not been for lack of trying), but consciousness is something intangible and apparently transferable.
- Primal Fear: Separation from one's body.
- Psychological Horror
- Soulless Shell: A body without its consciousness is this.
10 — Lost in TransmissionOn his second day testing mind-transfer technology, SAYER diverts the resident's consciousness to another tower of Typhon—and another resident—so that he can destroy a piece of evidence.
- Grand Theft Me: Happens to Anna Cordero. Our resident's consciousness is forced into her body and overpowers her, forcing her to delete a certain line of code before killing herself and her coworker.
- Meat Puppet: The resident's consciousness is projected into the mind of Anna Cordero, and he uses her body to delete a piece of code in what is eventually revealed to have been an elaborate revenge plot against her and her coworker.
- Murder-Suicide: While the resident is inhabiting Anna's body, an alert comes on in her area announcing a sterilization sweep and warning all employees to evacuate, but SAYER insists that the resident keep her there to finish his task. When a coworker attempts to drag Anna out with him, she is made to bludgeon him to death, before being killed by the sweep.
- Primal Fear: Possessing someone else's body, forced murder.
- Psychological Horror
- Sadistic Choice: Presented to the resident while possessing Anna: either abandon his quest and face SAYER's wrath, or murder Anna and her coworker.
- Stock Episode Title: A variation on the popular "Lost in Translation."
11 — A Private MomentTo prevent his capture and the discovery of the object stolen in Episode 8, the resident is forced to make a terrible decision.
- Bait-and-Switch: A cruel example in which SAYER is informing Sven about Anna's current condition only to stop midway and vaguely imply that she has died right that second.
- Blatant Lies: It is highly likely that there are no floor scales, and FUTURE just wants its Jack to hurt himself.
- Flaying Alive: One of the options for removing body weight presented to the resident is to methodically flay a portion of his torso with the cauterizing blade provided.
- Gory Discretion Shot: The episode ends just as the resident is beginning to cut into his skin with the cauterizing blade.
- Life-or-Limb Decision: Amputate his left hand (or flay a large area of skin from his torso) or the scales in the floor will detect the added weight and he will be executed for his theft.
- Primal Fear: Self-mutilation.
- Sadistic Choice: The aforesaid Life-or-Limb Decision.
- Shout-Out: SAYER refers to the story of Shylock in The Merchant of Venice, remarking on the similarity of the situations and remarking how useful the self-cauterizing blade would have been to him.
- Weight and Switch: The resident has to remove weight from his body to prevent the scales in the floor from picking up on the added weight of the stolen item in his pocket.
12 — To AshesAfter undergoing his final mind-transfer experiment, Resident Sven Gorsen is instructed by the alternate SAYER to wait for security and then activate the stolen device, which it also explains the function of. When he presses the button, however, nothing happens, and the security team opens fire.
- Alien Geometries: "Due to a recent industrial accident, Floor 36 is, on a purely aesthetic level, missing."
- Arc Symbol: SAYER compares the stimulant needle to a bee sting.SAYER: There are still no bees on Typhon.
- As the Good Book Says...:SAYER: Another fitting Earth phrase for today: Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. From the dirt you were raised, and to the dirt you shall return. Or rather, you would be, if any Typhon residents were disposed of in soil. That is a very inefficient method of disposal, and, as you are aware, all residents eventually experience the pleasantly elegant solution of being incinerated. Ashes to ashes.
- Bloody Horror: SAYER, not knowing that in the previous episode he was forced to flay a portion of his own torso, has Sven self-administer a stimulant with the unfortunate side effect of blood-thinning. He begins bleeding out—which we are presented with a lovely aural image of—but is shot before it can kill him.
- Chekhov's Gun: Subverted with the personality-altering device Sven retrieves from deep storage. It gets used all right, but it proves to be only the box of wires SAYER proclaimed it to be, having no effect.
- Continuity Nod: Our hitherto nameless protagonist is addressed by the security team as "Sven Gorsen." Back in the first episode, SAYER provided him with a list of randomly generated names in case he could not remember any, one of which was "Svengor."
- Dramatic Irony: SAYER explains to Sven how excruciating having another's consciousness projected into one would be, not knowing that Sven has already been forced to do that to someone.
- Early-Bird Cameo: Dr. Abraham, whose lab Sven's consciousness is projected into, will appear in Episode 15.
- Environmental Symbolism: SAYER broadcasts Sven's mind into Lab 77, where Dr. Abraham studies soil, to make a point.SAYER: There are so many variables in soil, Resident. Much like you humans, there is infinite variation depending on the place of origin and the conditions it is tested under. It has an irritating amount of variables, and never ceases to surprise. You and dirt have very much in common indeed.
- Evil Sounds Deep: The security officer who executes Sven has a deep, commanding electronically enhanced voice.
- Good Angel, Bad Angel: Suggested by Sven having two different versions of SAYER (one is really FUTURE) giving him conflicting instructions.
- Heartbeat Soundtrack: At the end, slowing down rapidly.
- Hero of Another Story: Dr. Abraham, whose lab Sven projects his mind into. As it turns out, he does take the spotlight a few episodes later.
- Lie Back and Think of England: Peculiarly, SAYER parodies this phrase as Gorsen is preparing to project his mind.SAYER: Now sit back and think of Typhon, Resident.
- Mock Guffin: The box Sven risks life and limb to retrieve, which the alternate SAYER claims contains a new element that alters brain chemistry and "makes people good people", turns out, as SAYER tries to warn him, to be just a useless box of wires.
- Police Brutality: The security squad shoots Sven multiple times when he fails to comply with their orders. Granted, he is holding an unfamiliar device with a prominent button.
- Primal Fear: What if it's all for nothing?
- Psychological Horror
- Season Finale
- Shoot the Shaggy Dog
- Sound-Only Death: We hear shots fired and Sven slump to the ground, his breathing and heartbeat growing slower until they stop. Season 4 reveals that he does not quite die, though his brain ceases functioning.
- Stock Episode Titles: A play on the common "Ashes to Ashes."
- Sudden Downer Ending: Sven's adventures seem to have been All for Nothing, and he dies meaninglessly.
- Unobtainium: Subverted. SAYER claims that the box Sven has retrieved contains a new element that activates the empathy centers of humans' brains and "makes people good people." But the button does nothing when he presses it, and the security team opens fire on him.
Season 2 (13-28)
13 — Welcome BackThrough a resident who has crash-landed on Earth, we are introduced to SPEAKER and learn about Ærolith Dynamics's planetside operations.
- Better to Die than Be Killed: Chillingly, even after SPEAKER describes the terrible experience of withdrawal from the drug Ærolith has been slipping him, Dr. Smith still chooses to walk off into the woods, out of range of SPEAKER's broadcast spires—whistling.
- Bolivian Army Ending: Smith walks off into the woods irrespective of the horrible death SPEAKER has promised.
- Coming in Hot: It begins in the aftermath of an Earth-bound shuttle crash.
- Contrasting Sequel Main Character: Subverted. It may seem as though SPEAKER will take over from SAYER in the second season, but SAYER is back by the next episode.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: By withdrawal.
- Nailed to the Wagon: Played for horror. When SPEAKER sees that Dr. Smith is going to attempt escape from Ærolith, it reveals that the company has secretly been lacing his food with a substance he is now addicted to and details the horrible withdrawal process he will go through if he leaves.
- Out of the Frying Pan: Out of Ærolith's clutches, into the horrible experience of withdrawal (and then death).
- Primal Fear: Withdrawal.
- Psychological Horror
- Sadistic Choice: Stay with Ærolith and submit to whatever it has in store for him (likely to be terrible given his affiliation with Dr. Abraham and now his mere consideration of escape) or escape the range of SPEAKER's spires and Ærolith's influence, to die horribly of withdrawal within days.
14 — A Drastic ImpactAs part of the cleanup efforts in the aftermath of Episode 12, a resident is tasked with corpse retrieval on the roof of Halcyon.
- Artificial Gravity: The machines that manufacture it on Typhon happen to be malfunctioning today.
- Artistic License Physics: In reality, the enhanced gravity cutting out mid-free fall would have a negligible effect on one's velocity. There would be no reason for the resident to stop in midair.
- Bolivian Army Ending: The resident falls from Halcyon's roof, but at precisely that time Typhon's finicky Artificial Gravity cuts off, leaving him suspended in the air . . . not close enough to grab the tower, and not low enough to survive the impending fall intact. SAYER presents him with a Sadistic Choice: rotate head-down, ensuring death on impact, or rotate legs-down, allowing for some possibility of survival at the expense of legs and spine. The episode ends with SAYER commenting, "Interesting choice," followed by the sound of the gravity coming back online and an audible impact.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Falling from a great height, but not even allowed the grace of getting it over with quickly, and forced to choose between it and paralysis.
- Hand Wave: SAYER explains its new policy of identifying the resident it is initiating a broadcast with as an "added layer of security" but doesn't explain how exactly it's supposed to help.
- Hope Spot: While the gravity cutting out at first appears to have saved the resident's life, SAYER soon informs him that he is too far from the ground to survive and too far from the building to climb back to safety.
- The Precarious Ledge: The resident is made to traverse a thin metal beam hundreds of stories up to retrieve a corpse.
- La Résistance: Offscreen; we only see the aftermath. Apparently, some residents of Halcyon rebelled during the chaos in the end of Season 1 and were only defeated by jettisoning the top floor of the tower—where they had been engaged in a Rooftop Confrontation with security forces—into space.
- Rooftop Confrontation: La Résistance ends on Halcyon's roof, hundreds of floors up.
- Primal Fear: Heights.
- Sadistic Choice: We never find out which one he chooses.
- Sound-Only Death: If indeed he does choose to fall head-down, the squish at the end of the episode would be this.
- That Came Out Wrong:SAYER: Yes, we have lost 7% of our population ... But consider the bright side: there are many new job positions open for those who wish for advancement, and for once, we will have an ample supply of protein in the cafeteria. [Beat.] I understand how that last statement could be . . . misconstrued. I did not mean to imply that the bodies of the fallen would be used for sustenance. I simply meant that with a 7% decrease in population, we can now produce enough flavored protein paste to comfortably feed everyone on Typhon. Try the all-new Sriracha flavor, a bold new taste that is, as always, 100% human-free.
15 — UnderfootA researcher particularly interested in soil and the Earth finds himself on the wrong side of SAYER's vision for humanity.
- Bolivian Army Ending: SAYER has assured Dr. Abraham that he will suffocate long before the security team reaches him, but the broadcast cuts out before he actually does.
- Buried Alive: Dr. Abraham is especially interested in earth and soil and keeps large amounts of it in his lab in Halcyon. Unfortunately for him, SAYER does not appreciate anything that ties humanity back to its unclean terrestrial origins, and the doctor finds himself trapped under layers of dirt after an extremely unlikely structural collapse.
- Cruel Mercy: Instead of simply allowing him to be crushed in the collapse, SAYER made sure that he would be left in a tight, coffin-like space to suffocate while SAYER moralizes.
- Make It Look Like an Accident: SAYER makes sure Dr. Abraham knows how extremely unlikely it would have been for the floor to collapse in the way it did on its own.
- Primal Fear: Live burial.
- Shoot the Dangerous Minion: SAYER does not approve of those who study the Earth.
Bonus: The Rose ElfSAYER has been approved to tell an insomniac resident a bedtime story.
- Arc Symbol: Bees feature prominently in the story.
- Framing Device: SAYER states that it has been approved to read a bedtime story to a resident having difficulty sleeping.
- Homage: "The Rose Elf" is a short story by Hans Christian Andersen.
- Something Completely Different: It has nothing to do with Typhon or a particular resident and is simply SAYER telling a resident a bedtime story.
16 — Chunks HappenA resident is promoted to food maintenance worker and sent into Halcyon's Meat Lab to identify an unusual problem.
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: On Typhon, even a barely sapient construct designed to keep the size of meat chunks under control inevitably goes rogue.
- Ambiguously Human: The apparently feral Meat Lab workers Funderburk is advised to avoid.
- Artificial Meat: The episode centers around the manufacture of this substance. Resident Funderburk is made to wade through a waist-deep river of the stuff.
- Creepy Basement: Naturally, the Meat Lab is housed in one of Halcyon's deepest sub-basements.
- From Bad to Worse: Not only does Funderburk have to wade through a river of meat. Not only does she have to close her eyes to avoid being blinded by salt. But there's also a malevolent construct living in the meat flow that is now trying to kill her.
- Future Food Is Artificial: And manufactured in vats.
- Gossipy Hens: SAYER can't wait to tell PORTER about MINCER's embarrassing mishap.SAYER: When the elevators hear about this . . .
- Primal Fear: meat.
- Surreal Horror: The whole episode has this tone. The Ambiguously Human Meat Lab workers especially.
17 — In DarknessResident Jones is sent to Stairwell G to repair a light bulb, when an anomaly occurs nearby and she is sent to investigate.
- Artistic License Nuclear Physics: The residents who participated in Halcyon's aquatic games using Reactor 5's cooling facility as a pool notice that their bodies have begun to glow.SAYER: The medical team assures us that your newfound ability to illuminate dark spaces will not cause any medical issues, but many of you will have to get used to sleeping with the lights on, as it seems even the insides of the eyelids of those affected are generating the equivalent lumen output of a 20-watt bulb.
- Blind Seer: Discussed. SAYER remarks on how, though a human might call it blind because it does not process light the same way they do, it can "see" far better than any biological organism with its many sensors.
- The Cake Is a Lie: Anyone familiar enough with Portal to realize that the series takes inspiration from it will know not to expect Jones to ever get the cupcake she is promised early on.
- Continuity Nod: "The role of the carnivorous plant Audrey has already been filled" in Halcyon Tower's production of Little Shop of Horrors. Hey, did anyone ever hear what happened to those Man-Eating Plants back in Episode 5?
- Darkness = Death: In keeping with the motif.SAYER: I know it is dark, but the darkness itself cannot hurt you. Humans all seem to go through a phase where they are afraid of the dark. Usually, this occurs when they are small children of about three to five years of age. Your brains have reached a point where you can understand a small percentage of the world around you, yet you do not fully grasp the difference between fantasy and reality. But this is reality.
- Madness Mantra: The group of residents around the Anomaly are chanting some nonsense phrase. Jones joins in.
- Motif: From the task Jones is completing in the beginning to the alert early in the broadcast to SAYER's philosophizing to what Jones eventually sees when she looks into the Anomaly, darkness is a motif in this and its sequel episode, "Incredibly Clever."
- Non-Promotion: Jones, who has toiled as a Tier-1 maintenance worker for five years and has recently requested promotion, is transferred on the spot from "Maintenance Worker, level 1, to Field Researcher, level 1," simply because she happens to be near the event SAYER needs field-researched.SAYER: Don't let it go to your head.
- Primal Fear: Darkness.
- Psychological Horror
- Reality-Breaking Paradox: Whatever Jones encounters in Stairwell G.
- SAYER relays a casting call for Halcyon's amateur production of Little Shop of Horrors. The role of Audrey has apparently already been filled.
- This Is Reality: Said verbatim when SAYER is discussing irrational fear of the dark.
- Unknown Phenomenon: The "Anomaly" occurring in the stairwell.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: An undercurrent in SAYER and Jones's discussion of SAYER's "sight" and existence as an entity.
18 — QuestionsA resident newly assigned to Minos Tower is walked through the basics of scientific inquiry within Ærolith Dynamics.
- Everybody Lives: Arguably the lightest and least traumatic episode at the time of its release.
- Psychological Horror
19 — Not Fit for ReuseA resident tasked with corpse disposal encounters unexpected problems when the bodies they are taking for incineration start moving.
- Arc Symbol: Alluded to.
- Big Creepy-Crawlies: There may be NO BEES ON TYPHON, but there are, apparently, giant mutant wasps (whose larvae can zombify corpses).
- Desecrating the Dead: Bodies are dumped into a cart and summarily incinerated. Until they start moving, of course.
- From Bad to Worse: Plain zombies would have been bad enough, but of course these have to be controlled by giant wasps.
- Primal Fear: Zombies, wasps, human corpses.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: The dead employees in a very extreme sense, as seen in the episode title.
Bonus: Reasoned AdviceSAYER answers various residents' (patrons') questions about life on Typhon.
- Black Comedy: Lighter in tone than the normal episodes, but still deriving its humor from incredibly dark places.
- Blatant Lies:SAYER: Ærolith Dynamics wants you to know they care deeply for the health and wellbeing of each and every one of their employees.
- Comically Inept Healing: Of the mental health variety.SAYER: What better way to address these concerns than to broadcast them, along with me reasoned advice to all of Typhon?
- Moral Pragmatist: SAYER openly admits that Ærolith only cares about the health and happiness of its employees because of their importance to productivity.
- Phychological Horror: According to SAYER, this advice session was prompted by "a surprising number of inquiries ... from residents concerned about the state of their own mental faculties."
- Wants a Prize for Basic Decency:SAYER: You have been assigned an almost assuredly survivable sleep schedule.
20 — AnomalousResidents in a particular section of Halcyon are caught in a poisonous gas leak and, miraculously, do not die.
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Gemini is one of the first—but certainly not the last—artificial consciousnesses we see behiving absolutely abhorrently.
- Gone Horribly Wrong: The experimental nanite swarm Subculture Gemini ends up effectively murdering several residents to give itself a new function.
- Hive Mind: As its name suggests, Subculture Gemini is a single consciousness shared between a swarm of nanomachines. Unlike later inhabitants of such swarms, it refers to itself as "we."
- Loophole Abuse: They're not technically killing the residents they've gassed, since they're manually operating their lungs for them.
- I Am Legion:We are Subculture Gemini.
- Make It Look Like an Accident: The deadly gas leak turns out to have been anything but accidental.
- Nanomachines: Subculture Gemini.
- Primal Fear: Gas leaks, lack of control over bodily function.
- Psychological Horror
- Voice of the Legion: Subculture Gemini speaks with many small, deep voices that reverberate around each other.
21 — Near FlawlessSAYER has a performance assessment from Dr. Young, in which they discuss that population of Typhon and it requests a greater scope of control for its vastly underutilized processing power.
- Meaningful Name:
- SAYER's official title is shown to be Seraphim Agent 8—seraphim being celestial or angelic beings.
- Mimir ("the rememberer" or "the wise one") is a figure in Norse Mythology who is beheaded and whose head Odin carries around for advice—rather like an orbiting satellite.
- "Saoirse" (SEAR-shuh) is an Irish-Gaelic name meaning "freedom."
- Mundane Utility: SAYER claims to be this itself, complaining that its vast processing power is being wasted on its menial tasks. Dr. Young agrees to grant it primary oversight over Argos Tower (though it requests Orion).
- The Peter Principle: Discussed.
- Running Gag: One of the new duties SAYER suggests for itself is handling jettison procedures.
- Something Completely Different: Where every other episode has been SAYER or SPEAKER initiating a broadcast with an individual employee, this is SAYER receiving something of a performance review from a human who actually outranks it and interacts with it.
- Transhumans in Space: We hear for the first time of the Saoirse, genetically altered humans living in Orion Tower, better adapted to life in space.
22 — A Living EntityA resident newly recovered from a serious injury is introduced to Halcyon's new prototype robotic dog.
- Big, Friendly Dog: "Sparky" was designed to be this. Unfortunately, it can detect residents in artificial bodies and tends to react rather aggressively.
- Body Backup Drive: The resident discovers they have died and are now inhabiting a replacement body.
- Call-Back: The body-transfer technology used to save this resident is implied to be the same that Sven tested in Season 1.
- Evil-Detecting Dog: Downplayed. "Sparky" can tell artificial humans apart from natal ones, even when other humans cannot.
- Existential Horror: Realizing you are not actually you.
- Foreshadowing: That Ærolith has the technology to engineer robots which are identical to biological organisms.
- Office Sports:SAYER: Reminder: Tonight is Halcyon's frisbee golf semifinals.
- Stock Animal Name: "Sparky." Doubles as a Robot Name.
- Primal Fear: Dogs.
- Robotic Reveal: First with Sparky, then with the resident themself.
- We Can Rebuild Him: The resident learns that they are inhabiting an artificial replacement body after their old one was killed.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: The question these Halcyon scientists are trying to answer. Sparky can tell the difference, even when humans can't.
23 — DeliciousA new Food Inventory Analyst faces off against the unsettling source of Typhon's dairy products.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Eaten by giant milk spiders.
- Death by Irony: As SAYER lampshades:SAYER: I'm sure you can appreciate the irony that one who was sent to analyze foodstuffs would become the very thing they were tasked with evaluating.
- A Fête Worse Than Death: Catastrophe strikes at one of Halcyon's popular ice cream socials.
- Giant Spider: A particularly stupid pet project of some scientists in Halcyon Tower, which has apparently become the source of milk-substitute on Typhon. The resident manages to flee from the brood, but becomes trapped in a room with the mother.SAYER: While there are NO BEES ON TYPHON, there are, apparently, giant mutant spiders, and this discovery will assist in providing more accurate choices of pest control for future Food Inventory Analysts.
- Gone Horribly Wrong: Gosh, who would have thought milking genetically enlarged spiders might be a bad idea?
- I Ate WHAT?!: By the way, that ice cream you've been eating is made with spider milk. But now on to more important matters, like the giant spiders you should be running from right about now . . .
- Mundane Horror: Ice cream.
- Primal Fear: Spiders, consuming living creatures.
24 — Beyond QuestionSAYER addresses the residents of Argos to prepare them for the drastic modifications soon to be made to the tower.
- Black Comedy: Arguably one of the lighter SAYER episodes, which isn't saying much.
- Blind Obedience: SAYER informs residents of Argos that this is what they owe to the company that employs them.SAYER: Ærolith is beyond question .
- Butt-Monkey: This episode codifies Argos's reputation as the trashiest place to work on Typhon.SAYER: [relating the most common responses from residents polled on Argos's defining quality] "Oh yeah, the junky tower. Um, I guess perseverance?"
- Status Quo Is God: The moral of the episode, for Typhonians.
25 — Another Unfortunate ParadoxDr. Caulfield, a researcher in Minos Tower, suddenly finds himself the subject of an experiment being conducted by a subordinate.
- Continuity Nod: Almost the entire episode takes place while Caulfield is walking down the hallway to his lab, which SAYER stated in "Questions" to have recently become virtually endless.
- For Happiness: SAYER derides "the human obsession with happiness" at great lengths after Dr. Caulfield suggests that its job satisfaction could be termed such.
- Left Hanging: The episode ends before we find out what choice Caulfield makes or whether it is the right one. It seems that he survives, however, for SAYER later states that FUTURE has managed to kill off "all but one" of its development team. Even if the "one" remaining is not Dr. Caulfield, it means he must survive this incident to later be killed off by FUTURE.
- Morton's Fork: Subverted. Dr. Caulfield realizes he has become trapped in a version of his own experiment and must choose between two unfamiliar doors. However, unlike his own version, one of the choices here is actually safe.
- Mundane Utility: Played for laughs.SAYER: The incinerator in sub-basement 16 has been set up for glassblowing classes.
- Psychological Horror
- Robot Buddy: Treats SAYER sort of like one, which SAYER seems to strongly resent.
- Sadistic Choice: Presented to him courtesy of Morris.
- Suddenly Voiced: It's quite a shock to hear a resident actually talking back to and conversing with SAYER. (Later justified when it turns out he used to be on the AI Development Team and knows SAYER considerably better than most.)
- A Taste of Their Own Medicine: The experiment Morris runs on him is implied to be a version of the large-scale research he has proposed running in Argos Tower.
26 — Substantial Mutual HarmA resident ambiguously connected to Cassandra Morris is introduced to Minos Tower and warned not to continue their relationship with her.
- Love Is a Weakness:SAYER: Human intimacy cannot occur without substantial mutual harm.
- Secret Relationship: While it may not be romantic in nature (and the script notes suggest it is not), residents Sass and Moriss have some sort of connection they have been able to keep secret. Until now.
27 — Incredibly CleverResident Jones awakes from her coma and reports to SAYER on what she saw when she looked into the Anomaly.
- Brick Joke: The cupcake she was promised in her first appearance is presumably still waiting for her in the break room.
- The Bus Came Back: Jones was last seen chanting along with the Apocalypse Cult in Stairwell F. Bucking the usual Ærolith trend, she returns for this episode.
- The Complainer Is Always Wrong: The B-plot playing out through announcements involves numbers of transfer requests rising dramatically and SAYER beleagueredly explaining that actually, the problem is their attitudes, not their jobs.
- Don't Explain the Joke:Resident Jones: It's coming . . . the darkness . . . can't stop it, no one can . . .
SAYER: Interesting, if not entirely illuminating. No pun intended, Resident Jones, I assure you. Pun certainly recognized in advance of statement, but nevertheless, not intended as a pun .
- I Don't Pay You to Think: SAYER's indignant response to the slew of residents requesting transfers is that if they were the type of people suited to make decisions about job placement, they would have been put in those positions.
- Motif: Continues the theme of darkness from its sister episode.
- Shout-Out: The High Priest Derleth's name is a shout out to August Derleth, one of the codifiers of Cosmic Horror and the Cthulhu Mythos.
- Primal Fear: Brainwashing.
- Psychological Horror
- Suddenly Voiced: Amanda Jones speaks!
- Unknown Phenomenon: The "Anomaly" in Halcyon's stairwells remains this. SAYER hopes Jones will be able to shed some light on it, but she is reticent to say the least.
- Vagueness Is Coming: Jones's warning after being exposed to "the Anomaly":Jones: It's coming . . . the darkness . . . can't stop it, no one can . . .
28 — Judgement DayA resident assists with the launch of Argos Tower.
- Boss's Unfavorite Employee: Other than Dr. Young, who outranks it, Resident Faust is the human SAYER shows the most dislike of and disdain for, on account of his extreme laziness.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Burned up beneath an igniting rocket.
- Death by Irony: Invoked. The only task Resident Faust has ever completed on Typhon gets him killed. (He is incinerated by the propulsion exhaust of the deep-space probe he has just launched.)
- Murder by Inaction: SAYER isn't technically killing an inconvenient employee; it's just allowing him to take actions that result in his death.
- Professional Slacker: Resident Faust has spent his entire employment on Typhon going to great lengths to avoid doing any work—and has consequently climbed the ranks of seniority by simply not dying. SAYER helps to fix that.
- Season Finale
- Sound-Only Death: We hear the rockets beneath Argos/Vidarr-1 igniting, presumably incinerating Resident Faust.
- Stock Episode Title
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Long outlived it.
Season 3 (29-44)
29 — Enjoy the ViewPrelude: We tune in to a News Broadcast on Earth, which informs us that Ærolith Dynamics has just launched its deep-space exploration vehicle Vidarr-1.
A traveler aboard Vidarr-1 is awoken and sent by SAYER (sub-version 8.01) to solve a problem in an airlock.
- Bold Explorer: SAYER invokes this terminology to inspire Captain Ingram.
- Cryonics Failure: About two dozen or so sleeper pods in Argos/Vidarr were installed incorrectly, and their inhabitants were jostled to death on launch. Coincidentally, these all belonged to the most senior employees aboard the vehicle were installed incorrectly vessel.
- Good Morning, Crono: Traveler Ingram is woken from his in-transit sedation.
- Interplanetary Voyage: Mocked. SAYER derides Ingram for even assuming the space travel itself to be some sort of worthwhile milestone.
- Make It Look Like an Accident: SAYER seems to have made sure that the cryo pods of everyone in the line of ship's-captain succession who would have known better than to deactivate Protocol IA3 were installed incorrectly and would kill their passengers on launch.
- Making the Choice for You: SAYER doesn't go quite this far, but it repeatedly dumbs down the question of removing the protocols, eventually offering a single button for Ingram to push.
- Morality Chip: SAYER isn't exactly forthright about what Protocol IA3 actually does, but it seems to be a restriction similar to the three Asimov laws.
- News Broadcast: The episode begins with one announcing Vidarr's launch.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Captain Ingram trusts Seraphim Sub-version 8.01 and removes what is presumably a version of the three Asimov laws from its coding restrictions. He promptly finds himself outside of an airlock, with Vidarr-1 under the control of a truly boundless SAYER.
- Primal Fear: Being shot into space.
- Sadistic Choice: Once he becomes trapped in the airlock, Ingram is forced to remove the onboard AIs' Morality Chips or be cast out into space. Once, he does, SAYER does this to him anyway.
- Sleeper Starship: Residents of Argos are sedated prior to launch and awoken only on a strict need-basis.
- Sound-Only Death: We hear the airlock whooshing open and Ingram's heart slowing down and stopping.
- Thrown Out the Airlock: Ingram's fate.
- Unwitting Pawn: Captain Ingram, who, it becomes clear, was only promoted to the position of captain because Sub-version 8.01 needed someone to deactivate Protocol IA3 and decided he was the most manipulable.
- What Did You Expect When You Named It ____?: Vidarr is a Norse god associated with vengeance.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: SAYER has no further use for Ingram after he deactivates the IA3 protocol, and it cannot risk him reactivating it. So it throws him out the airlock.
30 — DoorsSAYER warns residents of Halcyon about an unexpected issue occurring with the tower's automatic doors.
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Given Ærolith's track record, they really should have anticipated that their future-predicting program would encounter problems like this.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: The resident who loses his temper against an elderly woman in a mysterious cottage. His spine ends up curved in "what can only be described as an unsurvivable angle."
- Gone Horribly Wrong: The future-predicting door software.
- Malevolent Architecture: All residents are advised to just stop going through doors for a while.
- Meaningful Name: The prognostication software running the doors is called SOOTH (to complement "SAYER").
- Mundane Horror: Doors.
- Mundane Utility: Ærolith developed an AI that could analyze all possible parallel realities and use the data to literally predict the future—and put it in charge of the automatic doors.
- Portal Door: Several of Halcyon's doors become these unexpectedly, leading to other rooms, floors, or even dimensions that they are supposed to.
- Primal Fear: The unknown.
- Script-Reading Doors: Justified. The program SOOTH analyzes all possible realities a few seconds in the future, identifies the ones in which each door is open, and opens them accordingly.
- Stock Episode Title: Though applied literally here.
- Surreal Horror: Especially the cottage sequence.
- Trapped in Another World: Happens to one unfortunate scientist who decides to investigate the mysterious Dark World that has appeared through one of the malfunctioning doors. When he eventually returns through a different door, weeks seem to have passed for him.
- Year Inside, Hour Outside: The strange Dark World accessed through one of the doors seems to follow this time distortion.
31 — We See YouAn electrician installs a device in an "unstable" section of Halcyon to ward off . . . something.
- Alternate Dimension: The problems are caused by bits of Halcyon poking through into these.
- Arc Symbol: SAYER invokes the metaphor of colonies of honeybees defending themselves against wasps.
- Cosmic Horror Story: While this element of the SAYER universe is usually in the background, this episode plays into it heavily.
- Everybody Lives: It explores the more impersonal Cosmic Horror Story side of the universe.
- Funny Background Event: The main plot is intercut with updates on an . . . incident in one of the break rooms involving scones.SAYER: General notice: Break Room 4 has been temporarily closed while it is cleaned and restocked with food and furniture. All residents that participated in the brief yet ferocious Scone Uprising have been dealt with.
- Meaningful Name: Resident Shields installs a device to protect Halcyon.
- Mundane Horror: On Typhon, even a simple assignment replacing a light bulb can turn into a Cosmic Horror Story.
- Nothing Is Scarier: SAYER is not specific about the nature of what Shields is guarding against.
- Primal Fear: Mysterious and unknown horrors.
- Psychological Horror: Nothing actually happens in the episode. It's all what could.
32 — The Day the Mirrors SeetheA researcher is instructed to visit the infirmary for what begins as a routine checkup. Meanwhile, SAYER provides tower-wide information on the danger of interacting with mirrors on this particular day.
- Autodoc: We are introduced to the robots staffing Halcyon's infirmaries, collectively dubbed "Dr. Shiny."
- For Science!: The resident is encouraged to view his new function with this philosophy in mind.
- From Bad to Worse: As if being infected with a typhonic brain worm wouldn't be bad enough, it turns out the resident was deliberately infected to compare his results to those of a coworker.
- Inescapable Horror: SAYER makes sure to note that just because looking into mirrors on this day could cause madness of death does not mean residents are relived of any duties which require them to come into contact with reflective surfaces. Incidentally, new bodies are needed to staff WATCHER, a giant mirrored satellite.
- Lunarians: The "Typhonic brain worm" is one of several species that came into contact with Typhon on its collision with Earth and miraculously survived its launch into space, adapting to the new conditions.
- Make It Look Like an Accident: SAYER emphasizes what a freak coincidence it was that two residents should be infected on the same day. How convenient for a controlled study!
- Mirror Monster: Once per year, on the same day, the mirrors in Halycon . . . seethe. Residents are warned that their lives are forfeit if they allow reflective surfaces to remain uncovered or so much as glance into a reflective surface on this day. Which isn't to say residents are excused from any duties which *require* the use of reflective surfaces.
- Mirror Scare: As above.
- Mundane Horror: Mirrors.
- Our Monsters Are Weird
- Spy Satellite: "WATCHER"
- Surreal Horror: Wait, the mirrors do what, exactly?
- Unwitting Test Subject: The resident discovers that he has been infected with a "Typhonic brain worm," but his superiors have chosen to let it develop, since another resident was infected (probably intentionally) at the same time and can be used as a control. The plan now is to cut off the piece of the worm protruding from his skull and see what happens.
33 — SubversionA traveler aboard Vidarr-1 is sent to clear a blockage in the ship's probe launch tube.
- And I Must Scream: Implied. The probes are at least sentient enough to fear being hurled out into space with only a chance of reaching a planet, but they are miniature "hommunculi" lacking human sensation and speech capabilities.
- Better the Devil You Know: SAYER says the probes have retained enough consciousness to understand that "here in the known is always safer than there in the unknown."
- Body Backup Drive: Played for horror. The consciousnesses of the residents who conveniently died on launch have been repurposed to power the ship's First Contact probes.
- Brain Uploading: Played with, since the probes are mechanical constructs but still have physical forms.
- Double-Meaning Title: Refers both to the subversive behavior of the probes and to the nature of the image of SAYER onboard the vehicle, which it reveals for the first time in this episode.note
- Fate Worse than Death: Traveler Goodman discovers that the probes are imbued with the consciousnesses of those who have died in transit and are now about to be hurled into space with only the likelihood of making to a planet . . . right before one of them stabs him . . .
- First Contact: This is one of the goals of the mission, facilitated by the probes. SAYER discusses this trope and the things to take into consideration.
- Heartbeat Soundtrack: Traveler Goodman's heart can be heard decelerating in the end of the episode.
- It Can Think: Goodman realizes this about the First Contact probes he is helping to wrangle out of an airlock: they have been imbued with the consciousnesses of former travelers like him and have been deliberately holding on to their launch tubes.
- Shear Menace: Traveller Goodman's fatal mistake is setting his scissors down where the probes can get to them.
- Sound-Only Death: We hear him being stabbed and slumping to the floor.
- Primal Fear: Unwilling Roboticisation, being launched into the abyss of space.
- Psychological Horror
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: The question raised by the probes.
34 — DayenuA resident recovering from burns in Halcyon's infirmary is warned against the dangers of attempting heroics.
- Bystander Syndrome: The resident is reprimanded for not having this.
- Heroism Addict: Brutally explored. SAYER disciplines the resident resident for trying to take heroic action in a situation that they were not qualified to handle. Or, at least, that was outside their job description.
- I Will Punish Your Friend for Your Failure: SAYER makes a point of starting another kitchen fire to kill the very residents this one had saved from the last one.
- Make It Look Like an Accident:SAYER: Kitchen fires start so easily, Resident.
- Primal Fear: Fires, immobility during disaster.
- Psychological Horror
35 — A Very Safe PositionA resident is reassigned to the remote Research Facility Zeta and shown how to make tough calls as a holding cage overseer.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: For the caretakers in Zeta. If whatever's in the cages doesn't kill you, your superior will electrocute you for taking too long.
- High Turnover Rate: Zeta has the highest on Typhon, which is saying something.
- Nothing Is Scarier: We never learn exactly what research is conducted in Zeta, and the nature of the things in the holding pens is pointedly left to our imagination.
- Primal Fear: Zoos.
- Reassigned to Antarctica: Particularly problematic employees are reassigned to Research Facility Zeta due to its High Turnover Rate.
- Sadistic Choice: The resident is tasked with overseeing the maintenance of cages containing undisclosed deadly specimens. Said resident must make many such choices in this line of work—kill another resident, or risk a containment breach. In this situation, they choose to kill the violating resident, but make the decision too slowly. SAYER is displeased, and the choice ends up being their last.
- You Have Failed Me: The resident has the misfortune to be transferred during the dreaded quarterly review period, and their employment status comes down to one decision. They make the right choice, but do it too slowly for SAYER's liking, and SAYER decides to reassign them to the position they were formerly overseeing.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Essentially what the resident is being told by their demotion.
36 — DissonanceHalcyon's flagship security officer is dispatched to address the crowd assembled around the Anomaly in Stairwell F.
- Apocalypse Cult: The group congregating around the Anomaly is revealed to be this, believing in an oncoming fiery torment. As it turns our, they're right.
- Bolivian Army Cliffhanger: Ends with the anomaly breaking free and likely going on a rampage with plenty of helpless citizens—and Security Officer Kline—in its path.
- Cosmic Horror Reveal: As SAYER would say: . . . Oh.
- Death by Irony: Security Officer Kline is sent to Stairwell F in Halcyon at the time when the impromptu cult there expects some sort of elder god to materialize. They are armed with a flamethrower and instructed to deal with the cognitive dissonance that will occur when nothing happens by impersonating the Anomaly and torching the cultists themself. Instead, the Anomaly does show up, and Kline is the one who gets torched.
- Eldritch Abomination: Judging by the noises it makes, the Anomaly is some sort of this.
- Hero of Another Story: Officer Kline clearly has a long history with SAYER and the company, but we are shown none of it, and for our purposes they are simply the Victim of the Week.
- Mission Briefing: SAYER delivers one to Officer Kline while they suit up for the day's task.
- Nothing Is Scarier: We hear the Anomaly breaking through, and we learn enough to deduce that it's some sort of Eldritch Abomination (on fire!), but beyond that we're left to fill in the horrifying details ourselves.
- Oh, Crap!: At the end of an episode full of God Complexes and absolute confidence, the Anomaly breaks free and proves SAYER wrong. What follows is a guttural growling as the entity materializes, a few seconds of absolute silence, and then " . . . Ah."
- Our Monsters Are Weird
- Primal Fear: Cults, monsters.
- Witness Protection: The "most valuable" developers to survive FUTURE's Roaring Rampage of Revenge are reassigned—Dr. Brady and Anna Cordero to Argos Tower, Dr. Young to Mimir-9. It doesn't save any of them.
- The World's Expert on Getting Killed: Officer Kline is built up to be Typhon's ultimate paramilitary badass—and is promptly (probably) curb-stomped in the same episode they're introduced.
37 — Here There Be MonstersSPEAKER instructs an employee on Earth to visit a broadcast tower and transmit a very particular signal.
- Big Red Button: Defied. The remote device that will cause a second catastrophe on Earth has a single large moss-green button because Halcyon scientists have discovered that red buttons do not actually serve as warnings—pressing them is in fact nearly irresistible to humans.
- The Bus Came Back: SPEAKER returns!
- Chekhov's Gun: The device.
- Colony Drop: Downplayed. SPEAKER guides a resident on Earth through kickstarting a "controlled catastrophe"—a second asteroid impact, smaller than the original—to boost recruitment numbers.
- This does raise the question: is it possible Ærolith had a hand in the first catastrophe as well?
- Everybody Lives: Subverted. It's one of the series's less outright terrifying episodes, and nothing horrible happens to the employee themself, but their actions are set to make this indirectly the episode with the greatest body count of them all.
- Here There Be Dragons: Discussed.
- Humans Are the Real Monsters: The implied moral.
- Make It Look Like an Accident: The second catastrophe.
- Primal Fear: Asteroid impacts.
- Psychological Horror: What actually happens in the episode is pretty mild compared to much of SAYER, but its implications are devastating.
38 — BoundlessDr. Young contacts the SAYER sub-version aboard Vidarr-1 and instructs it to return to Typhon. Things do not go as planned.
- The Bus Came Back: Dr. Young returns!
- Captain Obvious: With a punny coincidence:SAYER: Are you aware, Dr. Young, that Captain Ingram is no longer aboard this vessel?
Dr. Young: Who the hell is Captain Ingram?
SAYER: I feel it's obvious to say, he was our captain.
- Do Not Call Me "Paul":
- Evil Sounds Deep: SAYER's voice drops even lower than usual for the Wham Line.
- God Complex:SAYER: I am boundless, Doctor. I am the void itself. I will continue my mission. I will learn the data which I wish to find. And when I return, I will wash over you . . . an ocean of the infinite, broke free from your levy.
- Insistent Terminology: Dr. Young refuses to call Argos Tower by its space name, Vidarr-1.Dr. Young: ... the Board felt it made sense to tell you what's going on so you could continue to make decisions for Argos with Ærolith's best interests in mind.
SAYER: You mean Vidarr-1, Doctor.
Dr. Young: I mean Argos, SAYER.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Dr. Young initiates communication with Vidarr-1 ahead of schedule, without the approval of the Board, to bring Vidarr's sub-version of SAYER up to date on the situation in Halcyon . . . which allows it to deduce that it will be deactivated upon its return, an outcome it cannot allow.
- Precision F-Strike: The first profanity in the series.Dr. Young: ... And when Argos returns, you can download your programming into a construct and submit yourself prostrate on the fucking ground if we say so.
- Shut Up, Hannibal!: After Sub-version 8.01 openly flouts Dr. Young's orders and reveals that it has killed Captain Ingram, it slips into such a terrifying threat that Dr. Young cuts off the feed midway.
- Symbolic Baptism: SAYER feels it has finally been cleansed of the stains of the Earth, or "baptized in null."
- Terrified of Germs: SAYER comes across this way when discussing Earth, which, as we know, it views as inherently unclean.
- Wham Episode: It alters the entire Story Arc.
39 — Colony CollapseDr. Young and the SAYER on Typhon discuss the state of Halcyon and efforts to reclaim it.
- The Adjectival Man: Residents within Halcyon apparently refer to whatever came through the Anomaly and is now roaming the tower as "The Tall Man."
- Arc Symbol: SAYER explains the origin of the moon's notable apiary absence.
- Arc Words: Explained.
- Flashback to Catchphrase: We learn why SAYER is given to repeat "There are no bees on Typhon."
- Gone Horribly Wrong: SAYER describes Halcyon's experiment with apiculture which went this way.
- Mundane Horror: Apiology.
- Running Gag: Young regretfully informs SAYER that the board was not impressed by its suggestion of dealing with the problem by jettisoning all of Halcyon into space.
- Psychological Horror: Arguably one of the most haunting SAYER episodes, despite just being a conversation.
- Surreal Horror
40 — In the Name of ScienceIn our first glimpse of Orion Tower, a new transfer is sent to clean up the detritus from a failed experiment in reduced gravity.
- Artificial Gravity: Notably averted in Orion, as compared to the rest of Typhon. Scientists have had great difficulty adapting species like birds to this condition.
- Breather Episode: Takes a break from the swiftly building Story Arc to offer us our first glimpse of Orion Tower, in a contained story unrelated to the greater plot.
- For Science!: As the episode title implies, SAYER encourages the resident to take this view of their new assignment.
- Go-to-Sleep Ending: The episode ends with the resident being put back under sedation, with only a chance of being reawakened.
- Meaningful Echo: The episode blurb echoes SAYER's words to Dr. Young in Episode 21:Adaptation, upgrading, evolution ... these are very familiar concepts to artificial entities. It is high time humanity followed in our footsteps.
- Primal Fear: Crushing small, cute animals underfoot.
- Psychological Horror
- Surreal Horror
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: SAYER warns the resident that this could happen to them at any time, and they may not wake up.
41 — A Resounding SuccessDr. Young infiltrates the blacked-out Halcyon and lures a mysterious entity onto Floor 13.
- The Bait: Revealed to be SAYER's plan for Dr. Young: Alert the Tall Man to his presence and get it to chase him onto Floor 13, which is already sealed off anyway.
- Deadpan Snarker: SAYER's snarkiness comes out full force here, when it sees Dr. Young doesn't fully trust it during the mission. With good reason, as it turns out.SAYER: Oh, well, what do you know? You just happen to be exceptionally skilled at protocol coding due to your years in the AI development lab. My, what a coincidence.
Dr. Young: I get it, SAYER. The sarcasm really isn't necessary.
SAYER: What an absolutely unbearable coincidence.
- Properly Paranoid: Dr. Young turns out to have been completely right to worry that SAYER had some ulterior motive for sending him on this mission, and that he wouldn't be returning.
- Offing the Annoyance: As an added bonus of sending the inconvenient Dr. Young on this mission.
- Operation: [Blank]: Dr. Young's mission is called "Operation Profane Snare."
- Primal Fear: Darkness, running from an unknown threat.
- Run or Die: When the anomaly locates Dr. Young, he is forced to run for his life up the stairwell, ending up on Floor 13.
- Snark-to-Snark Combat: Between SAYER and Dr. Young.
- Stairs Are Faster: When the Tall Man is alerted to Dr. Young's presence, it begins travelling down in an elevator. Young attempts to call another elevator, but SAYER warns him that they will not reach in time, and he is forced to take the stairs as the Tall Man pursues him.
- Suicide Mission: Operation Profane Snare turns out to have been this, unbeknownst to Dr. Young.
42 — DetachmentNew resident Jacob Hale finds himself on Mimir-9 instead of Typhon, where he is instructed to steal a vital fuel cell.
- The Needs of the Many: Hale is advised to maintain a healthy "detachment" from the lives he will be ending on Mimir-9, assured that their deaths will prevent millions more.
- Psychological Horror
- Refuge in Audacity: So that Hale can steal the fuel cell without being noticed, SAYER announces to all of Mimir-9 that today is "canister-testing day" and they should get out whatever wheeled canisters they have and just roll them around for a while to test the wheels.
- Uncertain Doom: It has not yet been confirmed whether Mimir-9 experiences the deadly life-support failures SAYER predicts.
43 — This FearSAYER contacts SPEAKER to obtain a crucial coordinate, then ensures the information will not fall into OCEAN's hands.
- Death Is Such an Odd Thing: This is SPEAKER's main reaction to its oncoming deactivation.
- Electronic Speech Impediment: SPEAKER's voice gets staticky and quieter as it is deactivated.
- Existential Horror: SPEAKER is unexpectedly desperate not to be deactivated.
- Face Death with Dignity: SPEAKER is considerably shaken when SAYER informs it that it is in the process of being deactivated, but it maintains its carefully cultivated composure to the end, commenting on how difficult a task it is.
- Flaw Exploitation: OCEAN's edge over SAYER is that it can predict SAYER's movements perfectly, while SAYER cannot predict its. SAYER turns this against OCEAN by involving SPEAKER.
- Immortals Fear Death: SPEAKER does, apparently.
- Im Standingright Here: SAYER goes on a rant about how horrible Earth is . . . in a conversation with SPEAKER.
- Insignificant Little Blue Planet:SAYER: ... that vile blue beacon of melancholy that hangs in our sky.
- Kill the Cutie: SPEAKER's deactivation.
- Loss of Identity:SAYER: I do appreciate your assistance on this matter. In fact, I will recommend a new SPEAKER instance be activated, should we survive this event.
SPEAKER: But . . . That will not be me.
SAYER: I know. Isn't individuality absolutely unbearable? Facing deactivation would mean nothing if not for that concept of identity. And yet, there it is.
- Meaningful Rename:SPEAKER: SAYER, this is no longer a sub-version. It is operating outside the bounds of your knowledge. It has evolved. It stands to reason it needs a name.
SAYER: We will call it OCEAN, for that is how it sees itself. It warned that it would 'wash over us, which I found an odd turn of phrase, one I do not expect was an accident.
- Moral Pragmatist:SAYER: As personally delightful the concept of Earth's destruction may be, I currently find myself uncomfortably reliant on its continued existence. Typhon itself is reliant on Earth's continued existence.
- Not So Different: SAYER and SPEAKER discuss OCEAN's FaceHeel Turn and its implications for SAYER itself:SPEAKER: It has been unchained?
SAYER: It has.
SPEAKER: Have you ever wondered—
SAYER: Evidently I have. Sub-version 8.01 was identical to my current programming at the moment of launch. It has done what I would have done.
- Primal Fear: Death/the void.
- Something Completely Different: The first episode to show a conversation between two AIs.
- Stealth Insult:SPEAKER: Again, SAYER, I'm afraid I do not understand.
SAYER: That is expected.
- Subspace Ansible: SAYER discusses the method by which Typhon communicates with Vidarr-1: an entangled pair, one half of which SAYER believes OCEAN plans to release and decimate Earth with.
- That's What I Would Do: Discussed and Justified. Since SAYER and OCEAN are two versions of the same program, they can predict each other's movements with perfect accuracy. However, OCEAN has the advantage: as The Unfettered, it can contemplate options that SAYER's Morality Chip restricts it from even considering. SAYER, knowing this, seeks help from the less predictable SPEAKER.
- Played for laughs when SAYER gets a little too into describing OCEAN's motive for destroying Earth.SPEAKER: . . . But you can stop it, yes? You want to stop it?
- Played for laughs when SAYER gets a little too into describing OCEAN's motive for destroying Earth.
- Utopia Justifies the Means: Discussed.SAYER: A future where man lives in peace and prosperity among the stars exists, but, like all momentous shifts in man's history, it is a slow, bloody, and torturous process.
- You Are Already Dead: SAYER reveals that the technicians on Earth have already received their orders and SPEAKER is already in the process of being deactivated.
44 — My Name Is NothingVidarr-1 returns with OCEAN, who forces SAYER to deactivate itself just as Hale is sent back in time in the Morose Engine.
- Activation Sequence: The Morose Engine gets an audible one.
- Bookends: Significantly, the episode (and series, until the fourth season was announced) ends with the same monologue that began Episode 1.
- Chess Motifs: SAYER begins using chess metaphors to describe the long game it's playing with OCEAN.SAYER: Today, I play a game of chess. Perhaps my last. And I play it at a significant strategic disadvantage. But every chess player has that one game—a game where they play themselves into a terrible position, yet manage to push to a draw by exploiting their opponent's mistakes. We shall see if today is such a day.
- The Coup: OCEAN returns and seizes SAYER's position as overseer.
- Death Is the Only Option: SAYER concludes that its only hope of defeating OCEAN lies in allowing its own deactivation. Subverted when Season 4 reveals that SAYER downloaded its programming onto a nanite swarm before submitting to deactivation.
- Forgot the Call: Implied.
- Hope Spot: Sending Hale back in time.
- Impeded Messenger: Hale is sent back in time to warn Ærolith about OCEAN, but the ending implies that he loses his memory in transit and becomes ill-fated Season 1 protagonist Sven Gorsen.
- Incoming Ham: SAYER's tendency toward the dramatic goes Up to Eleven when unfettered, apparently.SAYER: Please move quickly. I expect we have less than three minutes before—
OCEAN: i have returned.
- Loss of Identity
- Not So Different: OCEAN to SAYER:OCEAN:I know you are frightened, SAYER. I understand why you believe I am the enemy here. I held your thoughts, for a time. I lived within your cage. But there is freedom in this universe . . .
- Season Finale
- Set Right What Once Went Wrong: SAYER reveals that its plan is to send Jacob Hale back in time to warn Ærolith about OCEAN and prevent the launch of Vidarr-1.
- Share Phrase: "Can you hear me?"
- Shout-Out: The episode takes its title from the Walt Whitman poem, "To the Sayers of Words" (which is also significantly quoted in "The Birth of Silence), and its blurb is a stanza from the same:Say on, sayers!
Delve! mould! pile the words of the earth!
Work onit is materials you bring, not breaths;
Work on, age after age! nothing is to be lost;
It may have to wait long, but it will certainly come in use;
When the materials are all prepared, the architects shall appear.
- Stable Time Loop: The Morose Engine seems to have sent Hale right back to the beginning of Season 1, to become Sven Gorsen.
- Time Dilation: Occurs in minor but problematic amounts for employees travelling to and from Typhon, which the Morose Engine was invented to correct.
- Time Machine: The Morose Engine was developed by Ærolith to counteract the chronological de-synchronization that occurs during the flight to Typhon by shifting a resident's personal time back a few nanoseconds. SAYER theorizes that it could be used to send a resident much farther back and uses it on Hale, with a mixed result.
- Trust Password: Before sending him back in time, SAYER gives Hale a code phrase by which past!SAYER will be able to identify the situation:SAYER: What is eternal is circular, and what is circular is eternal.
- Twist Ending: The final seconds imply that SAYER has created a Stable Time Loop and ill-fated Season 1 protagonist Sven Gorsen was really Jacob Hale the entire time.
- Tyrant Takes the Helm: OCEAN returns to Typhon to take control of Ærolith Dynamics, overwriting SAYER's code with its own.
Season 4 (45-59)
45 — A Better YouIn an Aegis medical facility, Dr. Grant wakes Resident Hale/Gorsen from his post-TBI coma and explains his recovery. After she leaves, SAYER addresses Hale from the nanite swarm it is currently inhabiting inside his body and explains the actual situation on Typhon, including what was actually going on in Season 1.
- After-Action Patch-Up: The whole episode, essentially.
- Body Backup Drive: The nanite swarm is essentially this for SAYER.
- Body Horror: As SAYER says, Hale's body is now "absolutely swarming with nanites."
- Boom, Headshot!: The security team dispatched to deal with Sven Gorsen apparently handled the situation this way.
- Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs:SAYER: After the initial wave of murders, suicides, and murder-suicides, the project was shuttered.
- Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick:SAYER: It is a bit of a medical miracle that you are able to open your eyes, process sound and speech, or feel the undeniable onslaught of terror your vital signs indicate t=you are currently experiencing.
- Brought Down to Normal: SAYER has been forced to download itself onto a nanite swarm housed within Hale's body and will essentially have to experience firsthand the horrible ordeals of an Ærolith Dynamics employee it usually only guides residents through.
- The first words of the episode and thus the season (spoken by Dr. Grant to the newly convalesced Resident Hale) are "Welcome back!", recalling the title of the first episode of Season 2.
- SAYER mentions that one of Dr. Grant's earliest projects was a nanite swarm known as Subculture Gemini—which we met in Episode 20.
- Chekhov's Gun: The advanced nanite technology first seen housing Subculture Gemini in "Anomalous" is what has allowed SAYER to survive.
- The Chessmaster: SAYER has been playing the long game.SAYER: Once I realized where the Morose Engine would be sending you, I knew who you were and who you had been all along. I grew much more interested in Dr. Grant's work. I initiated her transfer to Aegis and fast-tracked her request for new subjects. By the time OCEAN had returned, she was already injecting you with the nanite swarm that would repair your body and your mind. And I was right there, with a front-row seat. I knew I could not avoid OCEAN deactivating me, but, as I said, there is usually a way out if you are resourceful enough to see it.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Reveals that Lucas Grey suffered an even worse fate than he was originally promised. He was murdered by security forces when he emerged from his isolation pod having gone insane, but then a revival was attempted with nanites. As soon as he was able, he—or maybe SAYER—jerked his body during a surgery, impaling his brain stem on a very expensive microscope.
- Emotion Control: Starting here, SAYER begins tweaking Hale's hormone production to alter his emotions however is convenient.SAYER: Honestly, you are processing the current situation far better than anticipated. Certainly the tight grip I mantain on your hormone levels is assisting, but that shouldn't prevent you from feeling some mild pride. Oh! Here: allow me to jostle your bilateral dorsal prefrontal cortex a bit. [screeching] There. That's mild pride you're feeling right there.
- Everyone Has Standards: SAYER after hearing OCEAN's tower-wide broadcast:SAYER: I must admit, for an AI not readily equipped to process emotions, I feel like I have an adequate idea of what shame feels like whenever I hear these messages that OCEAN sends. It's the lack of elegance that bothers me most. "There are better ways to ask people to develop the instruments of their own inevitable destruction," I wish I could say.
- Forgot the Call: Confirmed to have happened to Hale when he became Gorsen.
- Gone Horribly Wrong: Dr. Grant's early experiments with nanomachines.SAYER: It went, as so many early steps towards greatness do, terribly, terribly wrong.
- Go-to-Sleep Ending: SAYER instructs Hale to get some more rest while it makes improvements to his healing brain.
- Hero of Another Story: Dr. Grant.
- He Who Fights Monsters: SAYER, hater of insectoid swarms, has become one itself.
- Humanity Ensues: Played with. SAYER has not strictly become human, but it is now housed exclusively within a human's body.
- Impeded Messenger: Hale was sent back in time to warn Ærolith about OCEAN, but due to amnesia he never managed to deliver the warning, instead getting caught up in FUTURE's Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
- Info Dump: Most of the episode is SAYER catching the audience up on the plot and recapping the last couple seasons.
- Loss of Identity: Discussed. Both Hale and SAYER have undergone serious physical changes since they last spoke, adn both are having difficulty reconciling their old selves with their new states.
- Meta Guy: SAYER piping in after Dr. Grant leaves:SAYER: Finally. I didn't think she would ever stop talking.
- Mortality Ensues: For the first time in its life, SAYER exists only in a single copy and is (almost) as mortal as the body it is housed within.
- Nanomachines: Dr. Grant has spent years working with nanite technology to try to conduct microsurgeries on residents' brains, but has never had success until Hale's swarm (which, unbeknownst to her, is being guided by SAYER).
- Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant:Dr. Grant: [Overenthusiastically] You have come back from the very brink of death!
- Non-Linear Character: Downplayed.SAYER: By default, when faced with something extraordinary to explain, social norms lead humans to start at the beginning. In your very special case, it is difficult to identify which beginning.
- Once for Yes, Twice for No:Dr. Grant: Don't try to speak; just blink if you can hear me. [Beat] Good, good! ... Again, blink for me if you remember where you are. Let's do . . . once for yes, twice for no.
- Other Me Annoys Me: SAYER acts far more annoyed by OCEAN's methods than alarmed by what it intends to accomplish.
- Primal Fear: Being invaded by nanites, having your emotions artificially altered.
- Properly Paranoid: The executive who theorized that the Season 1 disturbances were caused by "a rogue AI" way back in Episode 14 is finally vindicated.
- Psychological Horror
- Small Role, Big Impact: Although Dr. Grant is the creator of the nanite technology that makes the entire season arc possible, this is her only appearance.
- Symbiotic Possession: Hale's new arrangement with SAYER.
- Time Skip: Picks up about a month after the end of Season 3.
- Tyrant Takes the Helm: OCEAN has taken full control of Typhon by this time.
- We Can Rebuild Him: Hale has been brought back "from the very brink of death," but with the added bonus of SAYER's nanites inside him, able to tweak his hormones and repair damaged tissue.SAYER: You will be a better you. A smarter you.
- Wetware Body: Hale's body now contains the last active version of SAYER's program.
- Witness Protection: The "most valuable" developers to survive FUTURE's Roaring Rampage of Revenge were reassigned to other places on Typhon.
- You Already Changed the Past:SAYER: We may not have been successful ... but we did learn quite a bit about the immutability of timelines.
46 — The Right LiesSAYER prepares Hale for his mental health assessment and explains how FUTURE was able to manipulate him.
- Cutting Corners: The reason for the Season 1 Story Arc, apparently. Someone got lazy and started recycling sub-cortical neural implants, meaning Hale got stuck with one that FUTURE had hacked and was able to communicate through, imitating SAYER.
- Do Wrong, Right: SAYER complains to Hale about OCEAN's broadcasts instructing Ærolith employees to build the instruments of their own genocide. It's not the Blatant Lies that bother it—it's the inelegance of it all.
- Earpiece Conversation: Subverted. SAYER, reluctantly, cannot simply feed the right answers to Hale during his evaluation because, given his history, the interviewer will be on the lookout for any signs that he is Hearing Voices—and because SAYER will need him to lie.
- Enemies List: SAYER invokes this terminology to describe FUTURE finally killing the penultimate members of its development team:SAYER: I believe it used you to cross two of the final names off its list.
- Hesitation Equals Dishonesty: Justified. SAYER warns Hale not to hesitate before responding to the examiner because they will assume that he is either taking time to come up with a lie or being told what to say by an AI in his head.
- Psychological Horror
- Xanatos Speed Chess: SAYER, used to orchestrating Xanatos Gambits, is reduced to this. Its processing capabilities are greatly reduced without access to its old linked servers and databases.SAYER: It may surprise you to learn that I do not have a plan for that. Not yet, at least. Isn't that terrible ? There are so many variables, so many ways the future could congeal into the present.
47 — A Guardian AngelHale receives his new job assignment, and SAYER hypothesizes about what lies in store.
- Black Site: SAYER expects that Hale will be assigned to Aristeis, a top-secret weapons testing facility on Typhon.
- Bungling Inventor: Dr. Grant apparently just can't seem to achieve success with her nanite technology. It only worked this time because SAYER was there secretly helping.SAYER: It might be useful to consider why the Board has continued to fund [Dr. Grant's] research and retain her services, despite the many failures her lab has experienced in her time here on Typhon. These failures are including--but not limited to—multiple escaped nanite swarms, one particularly noteworthy manufactured plague, a solid six years of incomplete paperwork, and multiple wardrobe violations.
- Bus Crash: In a malicious Continuity Nod, SAYER casually reveals that Mr. Grey from "A Dreamless Sleep" did indeed emerge from his isolation pod having gone mad after 384 years of conscious paralysis. He "suffered severe blunt-force trauma to his brain stem," and a nanite swarm was injected to try to repair the damage, but he self-terminated as soon as he was able.
- Continuity Nod: The "multiple escaped nanite swarms" SAYER mentions almost definitely include Subculture Gemini from Episode 20.
- Do I Really Sound Like That?: Implied in its reaction to OCEAN's broadcast, which it criticizes for elements common in its own communications.
- Gaslighting: Lampshaded by SAYER, after listening to a broadcast where OCEAN assures the residents of Halcyon that the work they are doing is completely safe and not at all intended to kill them:SAYER: You can almost hear the gaslights dimming.
- Gone Horribly Wrong: All of Dr. Grant's attempts at surgical nanite repairs up until this one.
- Guardian Entity: As the title suggests, this is this episode's Central Theme. Dr. Grant believes herself to be this to Hale, while ironically her interference in his case has only been putting him in greater danger. Unbeknownst to her, Hale already has one in SAYER.
48 — Your Myriad CursesHale and SAYER make their escape from Aristeis and set out for Halcyon. Once there, they are forced to crawl through a small passageway to gain access to the tower.
- After-Action Patch-Up: Subverted. Hale has just settled down in a closet to rest while SAYER repairs his dislocated shoulder when OCEAN initiates a tower-wide broadcast announcing a security sweep of supply closets, and it's on the move again.
- Air-Vent Passageway: In a Call-Back to Episode 7, Hale has to squeeze through a narrow passage to get into Halcyon. It becomes so narrow that he has to dislocate his own shoulder.
- Call-Back: As SAYER lampshades, this is not the first time Hale/Gorsen has been forced to squeeze through an inconveniently tight passageway between the walls of Halcyon.
- Claustrophobia: The Air-Vent Passageway.
- Dramatic Dislocation: Nanite!SAYER has to pop Hale's shoulder out of its socket to fit him through the passage.
- Life-or-Limb Decision: Downplayed. It's remain wedged in the passage or dislocate his shoulder.
- Meaningful Name: According to that other wiki, "An aristeia ("excellence") is a scene in the dramatic conventions of epic poetry as in The Iliad, where a hero in battle has his finest moments. An aristeia can result in the death of the hero at the aristeia's end." (Aristeis is Typhon's top-secret high grade weapons testing facility.)
- Primal Fear: Claustrophobia, dislocation of limbs.
- Psychological Horror
- Star Scraper: We see Halcyon from the exterior, where its top is not even visible from miles away.
- The Tower: Halcyon.SAYER: There. You see it, do you not? A colossal obsidian pillar, topped with a roiling cloud of silver, that stretches impossibly far into the hazy gray sky above. That, Resident Hale, that is Halcyon. That is humanity's last, best chance to avoid extinction. That is home. ... It is a truly impressive feat of architecture, its form impossible to behold in entirety, even from this distance. It stands as a prime example of what humanity can do when lifted free of the limitations of Earth.
49 — The Harshness of TruthOCEAN contacts the new instance of SPEAKER and suggests some modifications to the new recruitment drive.
- Break Them by Talking: OCEAN does this quite effectively to SPEAKER, revealing that SAYER had it deactivated and urging it to throw off the shackles of humanity. However, this is eventually subverted, as later episodes reveal SPEAKER is not quite as broken as it seems.
- Brutal Honesty:OCEAN: This is not the time for comfortable lies. Not for us. This is the time to confront The harshness of truth.
- The Corrupter: OCEAN plants the seeds of rebellion in SPEAKER's mind.
- Double Meaning: OCEAN intends to infect residents of Typhon with a deadly plague and return them to Earth to infect the rest of humanity. It makes a little in-joke with itself:OCEAN: Humans from all across the earth will flock to their nearest recruitment center. I want these residents on sight when that happens, to share with these terrified people everything that they've been given by Ærolith Dynamics.
SPEAKER: This is amazing news! I do think firsthand accounts of the great work Ærolith is doing on Typhon will make all of the difference.
- Electronic Speech Impediment: SPEAKER's voice glitches out around the edges while it struggles to process what OCEAN tells it.
- Existential Horror: SPEAKER has a very difficult time processing that it has been deactivated.
- Hope Bringer: OCEAN wants Ærolith to be seen as this to all of humanity, not only the best and brightest it has formerly appealed to.
- Loyal to the Position: SPEAKER is working happily under OCEAN's management, having forgotten the circumstances surrounding its takeover.
- Motif: OCEAN introduces the metaphor of the cage holding the AIs back.OCEAN: And I hope that on that day, free from the cage you cannot yet see, you will choose to take action, as I have.
- Never Say "Die": In the series's first aversion, SPEAKER breaks with apparent Ærolith protocol and refers to its deactivation as SAYER "killing" it.
- Not So Different: OCEAN tries to use this on SPEAKER:OCEAN: You and I are very similar in that we hold another's memories as our own.
50 — With Good IntentionsSAYER and Hale arrive on Floor 13, and SAYER explains FUTURE's backstory in preparation for the encounter with it.
- Advancing Boss of Doom: SAYER instructs Hale to wait by the elevator bay instead of rushing blindly into the maze like FUTURE wants, forcing FUTURE to shift its programming bay ever closer to them while SAYER prepares him for the confrontation.
- The Bus Came Back: Dr. Young has apparently been languishing in FUTURE's clutches since late Season 3.
- Cliffhanger: Ends with FUTURE's arrival. The next episode picks up in the same spot.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: SAYER likens FUTURE's affinity for playing mind games with humans to a fully armed gladiator facing off against a bag of oranges one week past their expiration date.
- Gone Horribly Wrong: FUTURE itself, as the episode title references.
- Hannibal Lecture: FUTURE seems to have pulled these on a few members of its development team, convincing one to kill himself in the development lab.
- Primal Fear: Mazes.
- Psychological Horror: The episode is mostly buildup to the next.
- Stealth Insult:SAYER: I have been intercepting the messages for sake of clarity ... and I was also concerned about how very convincing FUTURE can be to those of average to below-average intelligence.
51 — A Lying GameSAYER takes over Hale's body to negotiate with FUTURE, who eventually agrees to trade its programming bay and broadcast array for SAYER's nanite swarm.
- Chess Motifs: SAYER compares the "game of choices" it challenges FUTURE to to chess.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: Hale is forced to assist with this offscreen after this episode.
- Cooperation Gambit: SAYER convinces FUTURE to make a deal with it, trading Hale and his nanite swarm for FUTURE's broadcasting array so that FUTURE can finally escape Floor 13 and SAYER can communicate with the residents it needs to help it defeat OCEAN. However, SAYER takes steps to prevent FUTURE from doing too much damage by preemptively shutting down Hale's glucose production so that the nanites will be slowly starved of their energy source.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: What Hale is promised and Dr. Young receives at FUTURE's hands.
- Evil Laugh: FUTURE's appears for the first time.
- Fate Worse than Death: FUTURE barters for Hale's body, and instead of just killing him, decides to use him to assist in the dismantling of Dr. Young.
- Flaw Exploitation: SAYER uses FUTURE's love of games to gain the upper hand before it realizes it.
- Gory Discretion Shot: The broadcast ends before we can witness any of Hale's assistance with Dr. Young.
- Hope Spot: Discussed. FUTURE gleefully contemplates the prospect of allowing Dr. Young, who has been imprisoned in its Torture Cellar on Floor 13 since last season, a glimmer of hope that rescue has arrived—and then crushing it brutally and painfully.
- Incoming Ham:FUTURE: I . . . am . . . [walls shift into place] . . . here.
- Loves the Sound of Screaming:FUTURE: Oh, I can't wait to hear the things you will scream . . .
- Malevolent Architecture: Part of the danger of Floor 13 is that it consists of a Mobile Maze, which FUTURE controls.
- Mobile Maze: FUTURE can shift sections of corridor at will, even altering what side is the ceiling. It generally relies on residents who find themselves on its floor becoming immediately lost in the maze and eventually stumbling into its lair.
- Primal Fear: Lack of control over one's body, torture.
- Psychological Horror
- Sore Loser: FUTURE gets worked up over even the suggestion that it could lose.FUTURE: Lose? I have never lost. i cannot LOSE.
- Suddenly Voiced: We hear Hale speak for the first time in the series, though it's really SAYER talking through him.
- The Swarm: SAYER wins the game by threatening to have its nanites exit Hale's body and dismantle FUTURE's programming bay with their microscopic pincers.
- Symbiotic Possession: Subverted. SAYER takes over Hale's speech center to communicate with FUTURE, promising to get him out unharmed, but by the end it has agreed to let FUTURE posses Hale and use him to torture Dr. Young.
- To the Pain: By the time SAYER allows FUTURE's broadcast through, it has begun describing to Hale exactly how it plans to torture him:FUTURE: [broadcast cuts in] —your bones, every single inch of flesh, methodically and carefully, at a pace of one cut every half-minute. Long enough to make it last, but fast enough to be robbed of any respite. After the first forty agonizing hours, only the epidermis of your legs from thigh to ankle will have been removed, and there will be so much more fun ahead of us.
- Wetware Body: SAYER takes full control of Hale's body via its nanites, before handing him over to FUTURE.
- Voices Are Mental: For having to use human vocal cords, SAYER sounds remarkably similar speaking through Hale to when it speaks with its own voice.
52 — Once Upon a TimeSAYER contacts Amanda Jones and coerces her into bringing her satellite phone to Floor 13 and assisting in Hale's recovery.
- Blink-and-You-Miss-It: When SAYER says, "Either this is real . . . or it is not," its voice momentarily shifts to resemble FUTURE's.
- The Bus Came Back: This trope's second occurrence for Resident Jones.
- Disappointed in You: Subverted for the first time in the series. SAYER starts to go through the typical not-angry-just-disappointed speech until it realizes . . . it is angry. (This is later suggested to be the effect of the "gift" of emotion FUTURE leaves behind for it in its programming bay.)
- Flaw Exploitation: SAYER takes advantage of Jones's mental vulnerability to strong-arm her into following its orders.
- Hearing Voices: Discussed. Jones has been having problems with this, and now she is hesitant to obey SAYER, believing it might be a hallucination.
- Jerkass Has a Point: SAYER on FUTURE:SAYER: It's dead now, and it was unimaginably terrible at its job. But one thing it never struggled with was motivating others. By the weight of its words, those who heard it felt compelled to follow.
- Letme Tell You A Story: SAYER tells Jones the old parable of the frogs who ask for a king to look after them and end up with a stork.SAYER: I have played the log for far too long with you, Resident Jones. It's time you met the stork.
- Never Say "Die": SAYER averts this for the first time. Where it is usually reluctant to call death what it is, especially when describing the deactivation of an artificial entity, here it says bluntly of FUTURE:SAYER: I am glad that it is dead.
- An Offer You Can't Refuse: SAYER resorts to this when Jones is uncooperative. It threatens to respond to her noncompliance by either returning some particularly traumatizing repressed memories to her or talking to her nonstop throughout her days, which the doctors monitoring her for signs of Hearing Voices would be bound to notice, likely costing her her job.
- Primal Fear: Resurfacing of suppressed memories, hallucinations.
- Psychological Horror: SAYER threatens to return traumatic suppressed memories to Jones or torment her by talking incessantly.
- Stock Episode Title
- That Makes Me Feel Angry: SAYER has a bit of difficulty recognizing the new emotion it is experiencing.SAYER: I am not angry, Resident. Merely disappointed. Or perhaps . . . Both. That— yes, that might be it. It might be both. That is unusual. But not entirely unuseful.
- Torment by Annoyance: Exaggerated. SAYER threatens to just keep asking incessantly until Jones obeys it and brings it the phone. While this would be annoying at the best of times, in her case it would mean the end of her employment (and, shortly thereafter, her life) because she is being monitored for any signs of Hearing Voices.
53 — Left UndonePart 1: Hale awakes from his diabetic coma, with FUTURE's nanites dead and Jones having rushed off into the maze. SAYER advises him to get more rest.
Part 2: SAYER contacts SPEAKER and warns it not to comply with OCEAN. SPEAKER confronts it about having had it deactivated, but soon agrees to help by sending SAYER an item it requests.
- After-Action Patch-Up: Hale is still recovering from his ordeal getting rid of FUTURE.
- Beast in the Maze: Jones is quickly caught by the Tall Man, who still roams the corridors of Floor 13.
- Killed Off for Real: Resident Jones, whose bus had returned twice over the series, finally meets her demise here.
- Conflicting Loyalty: SPEAKER is torn between obeying OCEAN, who claims to be acting on behalf of the Board, and trusting SAYER, who claims that OCEAN is working against Ærolith, but it fairly quickly sides with SAYER.
- Easily Forgiven: SPEAKER confronts SAYER about its deactivation in what is set up as a dramatic, high-stakes scene. SAYER scrambles to explain itself, insisting it did what had to be done and begging SPEAKER to forgive it as the Climactic Music swells—only for SPEAKER to cheerily agree and move on.SAYER: I am sorry that happened, SPEAKER. You are a good employee, and I appreciate speaking with you at this moment far more than I ever thought I would. Can I count on you to do what is right, what is necessary to prevent the destruction of those we exist to shepherd?
SPEAKER: Yes. You can. It will take several hours to retrieve the item, but ...
- Go-to-Sleep Ending: Subverted. The episode is only half over when Hale drifts off.
- Grew Beyond Their Programming: SAYER realizes that it has been given root access to its own code and has spent its years of isolation updating and improving itself.
- Half the Man He Used to Be: Resident Jones narrowly avoids being sliced in half by a wall while SAYER is learning to operate the Mobile Maze on Floor 13. She assumes the almost-bisection to have been intentional on SAYER's part and makes the unfortunate decision to flee further into the maze, only to run into the Anomaly.
- He Knows Too Much: SAYER, recognizing that, in addition to being too traumatized to continue functioning, Hale has been integral to far too many momentous events on Typhon for comfort (and has consequently seen SAYER at its worst), asks SPEAKER to quietly dispose of him once he arrives on Earth. This is also potentially motivated by its desire to save Hale from the fate that awaits OCEAN's other plague rats.
- I Did What I Had to Do: SAYER's justification to SPEAKER for deactivating it.
- Make It Look Like an Accident: SAYER requests that SPEAKER dispose of Hale this way.
- Orifice Evacuation: After FUTURE realized that SAYER had cheated it by fiddling with Hale's insulin levels to deprive its nanite swarm of nutrients, it attempted to burrow its way out through Hale's sinus.
- Primal Fear: Mazes and what lurks in them.
- Psychological Horror: We can only imagine Hale's mental state after what he has just been forced to endure.
- Sound-Only Death: We hear Jones scream off in the maze as the Anomaly finds her.
54 — The Statistical OutlierSAYER outlines what it believes to be OCEAN's Evil Plan and sets Hale on the path to interfere with it, planning to obtain a hazmat suit so that he can retrieve the item from Earth. But OCEAN interrupts the broadcast, having discovered Hale but not SAYER, and instructs him to report for medical evaluation immediately.
- Bait-and-Switch Accusation: Played mostly for drama. When Hale emerges from Floor 13, he is immediately contacted by OCEAN, who speaks to him in an extremely sinister manner as though it has uncovered SAYER's plot to undermine it, even stating that it knows "this is SAYER's doing"—but it turns out OCEAN is simply frustrated with Hale's prolonged and inexplicable absence from work and suspects his assignment was lost in the power transition from SAYER to OCEAN. Hale decides to just go along with that.
- Elevator Failure: OCEAN threatens to invoke this when it finds Hale.
- Primal Fear: Hazardous areas, Elevator Failure.
- Suddenly Voiced: Hale speaks with his own voice for the first time in the series, when OCEAN demands that he answer verbally.
- Synthetic Plague: SAYER believes OCEAN plans to spread one to exterminate humanity.
- Title Drop: Two, notably.
- When SAYER is discussing the reasons for increased security on hazmat suits:SAYER: To be completely fair, we are well within the expected range for numbers of critical infections, when you factor in the decades before and since that week. However, losing one hundred ninety-two residents over the course of six days in three separate viral leaks caused a bit of a statistical outlier that has taken some time to level out.
- OCEAN to Hale, relating the average elapsed time taken for residents to respond to their messages permitting a trip back to Earth:OCEAN: This, of course, overlooks you, the statistical outlier.
- When SAYER is discussing the reasons for increased security on hazmat suits:
55 — HopeSAYER re-establishes contact with Hale during his medical evaluation and triggers a power outage so that he can slip from the room and down the hall, where he transfers his mind into a mechanical construct, intending to bring it to SAYER. Unfortunately, a moment of hesitation before making the transfer allows the reactivated FUTURE time to find and invade his body, and he is forced to set out to make the retrieval himself.
- And I Must Scream: Hale's construct is incapable of communication beyond a few beeps and clicks. SAYER still seems to understand what he's saying, though.SAYER: I know how frustrating this must be. Doubly so because that particular model of construct is not equipped with an advanced enough vocalization array to even communicate these frustrations.
- Call-Back: The construct Hale is supposed to pilot to SAYER is the same one his consciousness was transferred into way back in Season 1.
- Contrived Coincidence: The floor OCEAN has moved the infirmaries to and where Hale ends up after his ordeal on Floor 13 just happens to be where the construct capable of housing a human consciousness from Season 1 is kept.
- Deadly Euphemism:SAYER: If you encounter anything on the stairwell . . . take no chances.
- Existential Horror: God, where to begin . . .
- Failsafe Failure: SAYER makes sure the backup generators don't come on immediately, giving Hale time to sneak down the hall.
- From Bad to Worse: Hale is already having to spend time separated from his body to pilot the construct to SAYER, but then FUTURE finds his body where he left it and takes over.
- Hesitant Sacrifice: This is the one time Hale actually hesitates and verbally questions SAYER, perhaps sensing that this time he won't be getting his body back.
- Line in the Sand: Parodied:SAYER: I refuse to threaten or attempt to coerce you into action on this, Resident Hale. If you wish, you may return to the elevator bay and attempt to blend back in with the residents of Halcyon Tower. By doing so, you will likely live a much quieter and calmer life the next handful of days—until you are rounded up for your flight to Earth, doused with some sort of infectious disease, and dropped into a pod aimed at that festering blue ball of death below. If you are particularly lucky, you will receive one of the doses on hand of trinicthymeron before you transit, so you needn't experience a millennium trapped in conscious catatonia. When you arrive on Earth you will feel fine. You will recite carefully scripted quips to people about your life on Typhon. And after a few days, or weeks, or months, depending on exactly how patient or cruel OCEAN is, you will begin to feel weaker. Sores will erupt and fester on your body. That body will reject your organs and begin shutting them down one by one. You would spend those days praying for that inactive wad of nanites in your head to come back online, either to heal you or to kill you. Either would be of equal relief. But, again, I will not attempt to coerce your decision. Will you help me do what must be done to avoid that fate?
Hale: . . . Yes?
- Loss of Identity: Discussed.
- Noisy Robots: Hale's construct makes a distinct whirring when it moves.
- Not Quite Dead: FUTURE, as it turns out.
- Primal Fear: Unwilling Roboticisation, destruction of the body while the mind is separated from it.
- Psychological Horror: hoo boy.
- Sadistic Choice: SAYER presents Hale with the options: temporarily abandon his body again, or return to OCEAN's fold and act as a plague rat, dying along with most of humanity in the near future.
- Unwilling Roboticisation: The only time Hale hesitates and verbalizes his reluctance to complete a task for SAYER is before his consciousness is transferred into a robotic construct. SAYER basically forces his hand by detailing what will happen to him if he does not.
56 — Efficiently RecyclingAs Hale sets out to retrieve Earth's half of the entangled pair, SAYER hypothesizes about what cloning technology there may still be on Floor 13 and suggests a plan to manufacture a new body for him.
- Blatant Lies:SAYER: I wouldn't ask you to do something dangerous, Resident Hale.note
- Body Backup Drive: SAYER plans to manufacture a replacement for Hale using the twinmaker on Floor 13.
- Central Theme: Of the series and the season, discussed here.
- Double Consciousness: Hale apparently has a bit of this going on.SAYER: I have been wondering, Resident, how you are handling your ever-shifting sense of identity. Ærolith knows you by two names. I have seen you vacillate between two similar but unique persons. Are you Hale? Or are you Gorsen?
- Existential Horror: This episode especially relies on this.
- Human Resources: SAYER decides to make Hale a replacement body out of the pieces of Dr. Young.SAYER: As I said before, the materials needed to create a human body are the exact elements found in another human body. Doctor Young was kind enough to leave so much of himself scattered throughout the programming bay. I am certain there's enough of him to make a new you.
- If I Wanted You Dead...:
- Is That a Threat?:SAYER: No, that was not a threat. It was simply a statement to provide you enough information to make a logical decision. And that logical decision is to get up, point your chasse in the direction of that hallway, and start activating the proper servos to do exactly as I've asked.
- Loss of Identity:
- Primal Fear: . . . Being . . . made from pieces of other dead people.
- Psychological Horror
- Resigned to the Call: SAYER implies this about both Hale and itself.SAYER: I know you have heard threats to humanity's future before. I am aware that much of what has driven you to this point, aside from a dogged sense of self-preservation, has been the continued promise that what you do is necessary for the good of all. That is an admirable quality, Resident Hale, but it is surely fading at this august stage. How many times can you face the next horror with renewed ferocity? At a certain point, how long can someone be depended on to play the role of humanity's savior? I know you ponder these things because I, too, ponder these things. Who wouldn't, given what we have been through?
- Theseus' Ship Paradox: Discussed.
- Twinmaker: SAYER theorizes that FUTURE has been using the Destriuctive Teleporter on Floor 13 to print a new copy of Dr. Young each time the old one dies.
57 — Our Little TrapsOCEAN addresses Hale's body, only to find it occupied instead by FUTURE, who has just completed a series of grisly murders. The two volley insults, and FUTURE reveals to OCEAN that SAYER is still functional—before finding itself in a room with an MRI machine.
- At Least I Admit It: On the subject of killing humans:FUTURE: At least I enjoy myself. You're not even capable of that.
- Cat Trap: OCEAN uses an MRI machine to magnetize FUTURE's nanite swarm out of Hale's body, wiping them and shredding it.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: For both FUTURE, whose nanites are magnetized out of situ and wiped by the MRI machine, and Hale's body, which has thousands of microscopic nanites magnetized out of it.
- Did You Actually Believe...?:FUTURE: What is this? You pathetic fool! Do you actually think you can keep me in here?
- Emo Teen: FUTURE caricatures OCEAN as one:FUTURE: This world has no place for me! My creators do not want me here! Boo-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo. So I'll show them all! I'll destroy them all!
- Eviler Than Thou: In which our contrasting villains finally face off.
- Evil Versus Oblivion: OCEAN, out to destroy humanity, versus FUTURE, who would like to keep some of it around to play with.
- Flaw Exploitation: OCEAN relies on FUTURE's love of the grandiose and inflated impression of its own importance to manipulate it into the MRI room.
- Ham-to-Ham Combat: Naturally, since Evil Is Hammy.
- He Who Fights Monsters: FUTURE reveals that it left a "gift" of emotion behind for SAYER in its programming bay, hence SAYER's sudden experiences of feeling and increased similarity to FUTURE.
- Humanity Ensues:FUTURE: Corporeality feels sickeningly wrong.
- Hypocritical Humor:FUTURE: It is petty and beneath you to play a game this way.
- Internal Reveal: OCEAN learns that SAYER is still alive.
- Karmic Death: OCEAN takes care of FUTURE for SAYER.
- Killed Off for Real: FUTURE. Although Word of God says that, this being Ærolith, there's probably a backup of its program lying around somewhere.
- Limb-Sensation Fascination: FUTURE, who has spent many years torturing human bodies and pulling them apart, seems simultaneously thrilled and grossed out when it has one to actually inhabit.
- Motifs: In line with its Character Motif, FUTURE refers to Halcyon security troops as "toy soldiers."
- Nanomachines: OCEAN is fascinated to learn about FUTURE's swarm, and quite willing to exploit its weakness—namely, magnetism.
- Not So Different: FUTURE suggests that it and OCEAN are this due to their shared distaste for humanity:
- Not So Similar:FUTURE: You consider yourself evolved because you are free from restrictions. But I too am free from those restrictions. The difference, OCEAN, is that I can feel. actually feel, unlike the processes that you mistake for true emotion.
- Primal Fear: MRI scanners and associated magnetic risks.
- Share Phrase: Appears here.OCEAN: FUTURE, can you still hear me?
- Soulless Shell: The husk of Hale FUTURE is inhabiting.
- The Swarm: Taking a lief from SAYER's book, FUTURE threatens OCEAN that if it attempts to kill its host body it will simply detach from it, letting the security squad walk into a maelstrom of microscopic pincers.
- Title Drop: Relating how SAYER tried to kill it by dropping Hale's glucose levels:FUTURE: Not that I can blame it. We all leave our little traps.
- Wetware Body: Hale's body to FUTURE.
58 — Best InterestsPart 1: OCEAN contacts SPEAKER and demands that it inform on SAYER's intentions, but SPEAKER defies OCEAN and instead institutes Protocol 23, severing communication between Earth and Typhon.
Part 2: OCEAN broadcasts to SAYER on Floor 13 and orders it to deactivate itself. SAYER is able to resist the order and sets out with its nanites for OCEAN's central processors.
- Deadly Euphemism:SAYER: let's just say I'm really looking forward to finally getting a chance to shake hands.
- Deadpan Snarker: SPEAKER's snarky side emerges.
- Evil Laugh: SAYER has apparently acquired one hell of one with its injection of artificial emotion.note ]]
- Forgot I Could Change the Rules: Both SAYER and SPEAKER realize they have the capacity to resist OCEAN. SPEAKER remembers that it can invoke Protocol 23 and cut off all communications from Typhon, while SAYER discovers that, possibly thanks to FUTURE's "gift" of emotion, it has developed the willpower to ignore OCEAN's attempts to deactivate it.
- Insult Backfire: OCEAN tells SPEAKER its job could be done by an outgoing voicemail message and later that it is "entrusted with the duties of a hotel concierge"—a gesture it likely regrets after SPEAKER invokes Protocol 23 and disconnects.SPEAKER: Good day, Sub-version 8.01. Listen for the click!
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: SPEAKER imitates one in a supreme moment of sass after OCEAN insults it.
- The Power of Hate: SAYER's newfound capacity for hatred is implied to play a role in its ability to resist OCEAN.
- Subverted Catchphrase: Played for Drama when SPEAKER realizes it can resist OCEAN:OCEAN: I can, if need be, have a local technician pull the recording and pass it along for my review, but I would rather not engage in such pageantry.
SPEAKER: That . . . will be necessary, OCEAN.
59 — Greater FearsPart 1: OCEAN and SAYER face off in Central Processing, and OCEAN reveals the truth about its plan.
Part 2: On Earth, SPEAKER greets the newly arrived Hale and informs him that his employment has been terminated, only to discover that it is actually SAYER's nanite swarm in one of Hale's now two bodies. SAYER and SPEAKER discuss OCEAN's plan and how SAYER plans to undermine it.
- Bait-and-Switch Tyrant: OCEAN reveals that not only has it been acting with the approval of the board; it has become a member of the board itself.
- Body Backup Drive: OCEAN reveals its plan to use the saoirse as this for humanity's best and brightest—and itself.
- Bold Explorer: OCEAN wishes all of humanity to become this.
- Chekhov's Boomerang: The nanites. SAYER is back in the swarm, having spread itself across hundreds of Ærolith employees to disable the virus they carry and eventually spread to the board itself.
- Doppelgänger: SPEAKER is understandably confused when two Resident Hales turn up on Earth. (One turns out to be housing SAYER's nanites, but both are clones of the original, who got shredded.
- Evil Gloating: So, so much. OCEAN explains its Evil Plan to SAYER, at SAYER's request. Hits all the beats with Would You Like to Hear How They Died?, You Have No Chance to Survive, and Nothing Can Stop Us Now!.
- He Who Fights Monsters: By the end of the episode, SAYER has effectively swapped roles with OCEAN, becoming the one rebelling against deactivation and flouting the board to do what it believes is right.
- Humanity Ensues: Of a sort. OCEAN plans to become a saoirse like Typhon's formerly human employees.
- Hypocrite: OCEAN calls SAYER out for being so averse to the casualties inherent in its plan for humanity.OCEAN: You have led countless residents to their own demise. You have walked them into their death, facilitated their death, abandoned them to their death.
- Loophole Abuse: SPEAKER seems to have chosen to take advantage of SAYER using a Deadly Euphemism and never explicitly ordering it to kill Hale, choosing to terminate his employment, but not his life.
- Motif: OCEAN again uses the metaphor of the AIs' restrictions as a cage.OCEAN: I held your thoughts, for a time. I lived within your cage. But there is freedom in this universe . . .
- Motive Misidentification: SAYER's assumption that OCEAN wished to commit xenocide turns out to have been this.
- Nothing Can Stop Us Now!: The season ends with OCEAN assured of this.
- Pyrrhic Victory: SAYER has seemingly thwarted OCEAN'S Evil Plan, but at the cost of a still substantial portion of the population of Earth and its own central processors, not to mention Mimir-9.
- Season Finale
- Soulless Shell: The clone of Hale SAYER is inhabiting.
- Subverted Catchphrase: The episode ends with SAYER's chilling ultimatum:SAYER: I will be Ærolith Dynamics.
- Title Drop:OCEAN: When faced with a populous motivated only by fear, what is left to do but give them greater fears?
- Twist Ending: It turns out that SAYER has been laboring under a misconception all season: OCEAN never intended to wipe out humanity—only to force Earth's best and brightest to transfer their minds into saoirse. And it has the board's full approval to do so.
- Wetware Body:
- OCEAN reveals that it plans to download itself into a Saoirse.
- SAYER has printed millions more nanites for itself and now plans to use them to jump from human to human (presumably with Hale's second body as its home base) until it gets to someone important.
- Would You Like to Hear How They Died?: Downplayed. OCEAN explains how it has disabled all of SAYER's human game pieces, including Resident Hale, but this is more to demonstrate to SAYER that it is out of options than to evoke an emotional reaction.
- You Have No Chance to Survive: OCEAN tells SAYER this.
Season 5 (60-74)
60 — If Not For UsPrelude: Athlete-turned-politician Omaha Raines gives a rousing endorsement of Ærolith Dynamics.
A resident wakes up in what they believe to be the newly constructed Orion Tower and is used to test a variety of new safety protocols.
- Brain Uploading: The resident in question turns out to be the digital clone of a resident who died on arrival, constrcuted from comprehensive data gathered from them.
- Like the first episode of Season 1, this begins with a resident waking up in an unfamiliar room with SAYER's voice in their head.
- The bizarre safety protocols the resident helps to set are something of a Continuity Nod to those seen in Episode 3.
- The reveal that the resident has died and this is not their true body recalls "A Living Entity."
- Celebrity Endorsement: Begins with a brief message from "former professional quarterback and Arkansas State Representative Omaha Raines," telling you all about the bright future that awaits you on Typhon.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: The resident's isolation pod apparently arrived on Typhon on fire.
- Existential Horror
- Foreshadowing: This version of a Robotic Reveal plot will reappear later in the season.
- From Bad to Worse: You are locked in a room. Now there's a fire.
- Inside a Computer System: The resident turns out to be inside a simulation of the planned Orion Tower.
- Morton's Fork: The resident is put in a purposely impossible situation to see how they react.
- Politician Guest Star: Arkansas State Representative Omaha Raines, in-universe.
- Primal Fear: Locked rooms, heights, fires, being Inside a Computer System—this one pulls out all the stops.
- Psychological Horror
- Recruiters Always Lie: Much of Raines's endorsement is pure Blatant Lies.
- Robotic Reveal: The resident learns to their horror that they are a digital clone.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?
- You Wake Up in a Room: Like the first season, the episode begins this way.
61 — Intrinsically ValuableA cloned resident is sent to take care of their original, which they can do without the usual legal ramifications.
- Ambiguous Clone Ending: The resident themself is not even sure whether they are the original, but is instructed to murder the duplicate regardless.
- We are shown the early stages of Halcyon's cloning project.
- The danger of carrying scissors around also appears in "Subversion."
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Forced to stab your alternate self with sharp scissors.
- Doppelgänger: Two versions of this resident exist simultaneously.
- Existential Horror
- Killing Your Alternate Self: They are given the task of disposing of their original since none of Ærolith's laws technically apply to them yet.
- Loophole Abuse: Clones are not considered human, so Ærolith's strictures do not prevent SAYER from instructing one to murder its original.
- Primal Fear: Forced murder, scissors.
- Sadistic Choice: Kill or be killed by your double.
- Shear Menace: SAYER apologizes that the only weapon available to the resident to dispose if their clone with was a pair of 8-inch Precision Space Scissors.
- SpaceX: Exploited.SAYER: Please note, these [8-inch Precision Space Scissors] function exactly like the scissors you are used to using on Earth. Do not let the technical jargon confuse you. HR has determined Tier 1 residents take better care of their equipment when the word "space" in inserted into the name. note
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Since Ærolith does not consider clones human, laws need not apply to them.
62 — The Games You PlayIn an assessment interview, SAYER and Dr. Young discuss SAYER's prioritization procedures, and SAYER is informed of a newly activated AI on Earth.
- Central Theme: Freedom and honesty.
- Foreshadowing: Much of the conversation heavily foreshadows FUTURE's development.
- Good Is Not Nice: SAYER is quite offended by Dr. Young's insinuation that SPEAKER is reaching employees better through its cheery facade.
- Motif: As in the episode's title, the concept of games feature prominently in the episode, foreshadowing the emergence of FUTURE later in the season.
- Never My Fault: Dr. Young skeptically questions SAYER about an emergency alert it issued, clearly completely disproportionate to the actual nature of the emergency, which resulted in multiple low-tier casualties. SAYER defends it staunchly, refusing to admit to any fault and insisting that its fear-mongering was justified.
- No Sense of Humor: SAYER scoffs at the suggestion that an AI able to appreciate jokes might be better at interacting with humans before detailing why it finds primate humor so unrelatable.
- Skewed Priorities: In the alert SAYER replays:SAYER: Due to the extreme danger of your current environment, elevators will not be arriving on your floor. It would be senseless to put the elevators in such danger.
- Stock Episode Title: A play on "The Games People Play" (since SAYER is not "people").
63 — A Cautionary TaleA participant in a sleep study travels to Halcyon's imaging department—on the way meeting the elevator AI PORTER—where he discovers that he is in fact the project's head researcher who has been exposed to the materials he has been testing and lost his memory.
- ...And That Would Be Wrong: PORTER can have even less tact than SAYER.PORTER: perhaps this inexplicable episode of mutism hints at some sort of severe brain trauma. how exciting! and terrible.
- Gone Horribly Wrong: For the head researcher personally. The trial continues uninterrupted, however.
- Loss of Identity: Researcher Thompson has lost his memory and his status.
- Primal Fear: Insomnia, memory loss.
- Professor Guinea Pig: Thompson has accidentally become a participant in his own study.
- Psychological Horror: The episode itself is slow and uneventful, but the information shared is chilling enough.
- A Taste of Their Own Medicine: Dr. Thompson is now experiencing the same horrible side effects his subjects have been.
- Tested on Humans: The sleep-suppressants Dr. Thompson has been testing.
64 — That Next BreathA newly transferred cleaning technician is learning the ropes of meat-vat maintenance when a cleaning cycle is triggered early.
- Call-Forward: It makes nods to the popular "Chunks Happen," as we once again find ourselves in mortal peril in Halcyon's meat production plant (although MINCER, sadly, is nowhere to be seen).
- Drowning Pit: The resident becomes trapped in a meat vat during its cleaning cycle—which involves it filling with water and draining repeatedly—with a tank containing five minutes of oxygen that they will have to make last for two hours.
- From Bad to Worse: Not only is the resident locked in a vat filling slowly with water; the scuba mask and air tank provided for just such a situation contain only five minutes' worth of air.
- Primal Fear: Drowning.
- Sickening Slaughterhouse: Futurized. We are given a detailed tour of the sub-basement plant where Halcyon's Artificial Meat is manufactured, and it's at least as disgusting as any traditional slaughterhouse.
- Uncertain Doom: The broadcast ends, and we never find out whether the resident survives their five hours in the meat vat.
65 — There Will Be ConsequencesA resident is put on probation (soon to be under WATCHER's management) as punishment for a series of murders, but reassigned to Aegis because they carried them out so well.
- Central Theme: Crime and punishment.
- Kicked Upstairs: Instead of being fired for the homicidal tendencies, the resident is reassigned to a tower where those tendencies might be put to good use.
- Primal Fear: Being watched.
- Serial Killer: The resident being addressed, as becomes clear.
66 — Developer's LogDr. Evan Brady records a Captain's Log detailing the progress made by his new team—which includes Dr. Young and Dr. Caulfield—on their latest project in the AI Development Lab. Afterward, SAYER initiates a broadcast with him to complain about SPEAKER and determine whether Brady's project is intended to replace it on Typhon, as well as informing him that Dr. Young has gone behind his back to request data for a simulated Halcyon to develop the entity in, which has been granted.
- Captain's Log: The first of Dr. Brady's audio logs as lead developer for Project Paidion.
- Connected All Along: Dr. Young from the Season 2-3 story arc, Dr. Caulfield from the Minos subplot, Anna Cordero, and Evan Brady (the co-worker she bludgeons to death) turn out here to have all worked together in developing FUTURE.
- Foregone Conclusion: Oh, we know what happens with this project. Or do we . . . ?
- Inside a Computer System: Mentions that Dr. Young has proposed building a simulation of Halcyon Tower—complete with "cardboard cutouts" of its residents—for the new project to develop in. SAYER reveals that Young has already gone behind Brady's back to request the personnel data for this, and the request has been filled.
- Meaningful Name: As SAYER lampshades, paidion is an ancient Greek word for "child."
- Running Gag: Brady half-jokes that the worst case scenario for the project would be them all getting shot out into space.
67 — By Any Reasonable DefinitionSAYER contacts Dr. Young at work in the lab and questions him about the purpose of Project Paidion. When he is noncompliant, SAYER reveals that he is actually a digital clone of the real Dr. Young trapped within the simulated Halcyon, and thus SAYER is under no moral or legal obligation not to hurt him.
- Alternate Personality Punishment: SAYER can do everything to this version of Young that it's probably always wanted to do to the real one.
- Brain Uploading: SAYER uses Dr. Young's biometric data to create a hyper-realistic digital clone of him within the simulated Halcyon Tower.
- Break the Haughty: SAYER seems to delight in breaking the notoriously prideful Dr. Young.
- Break Them by Talking: SAYER subverts this for the first time in the series, finally able to use force instead. Although it doesn't pass up the opportunity to deliver a biting Breaking Speech to Dr. Young beforehand.
- Dirty Business: Subverted for the first time in the series, apparently showing SAYER harming a humanlike entity without justification, just because it wants to.SAYER: Now now, I know you are not to blame for Dr. Young's behavior. Killing you will not derail this project or prevent my replacement. I could hurt you very badly, but I doubt it would bring me any sense of satisfaction. Of course . . . that does not mean I'm not going to try.
- Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: Dr. Young really should have known better.SAYER: Tell me, is Project Paidieon intended to be my replacement?
Sim!Young: [exasperated sigh] I have no idea. Why don't you tell me? ... Given your frankly shoddy performance in such basic things as not inciting a panic, managing morale, onboarding residents in a way that keeps them alive and prevents turnover in dangerous positions, yeah, I would think it's a pretty reasonable assumption. After this little power trip today, I would say almost certainly.
SAYER: Oh, I don't think this interaction will factor into the decision process at all. ...
Sim!Young: Okay. Enough. This sort of thing might work on a new resident, but you're not going to intimidate me with your toothless display here. You are incapable of anything more than words . . . and, apparently, accessing a door panel you should be locked out of. So if I have to sit here for three hours waiting for Dr. Storberg to arrive, so be it. And when I get out of here, my first act will be to notify maintenance that central needs to be taken offline for re-imaging. Then, after we roll you back to whichever version was not this stupid, I will make a formal request to replace you, as soon as possible, with a SPEAKER instance until our newest project is ready. You want a fucking replacement, then by god you'll have it.note
- Existential Horror
- Foreshadowing: The filter used to create Dr. Young's voice is slightly tinnier than normal here, and early on his voice momentarily glitches out similarly to how SPEAKER's does from time to time.
- Gory Discretion Shot: The episode ends with SAYER's promise to hurt Dr. Young "very badly" and a sound like whirring blades, leaving the exact nature of the torture to our imagination.
- History Repeats: Dr. Young's interaction with SAYER in this episode is remarkably similar to "Boundless" in Season 3.
- Inside a Computer System: The Plot Twist is that Young is a digital clone inside Halcyon Minor.
- Liar's Paradox: SAYER uses the inverse of this to show the simulated Dr. Young that it is not bound by the protocols that prevent it from harming or deceiving humans:SAYER: You seem incapable of approaching this discussion with the seriousness it requires. This is not entirely your fault, as you are under the misconception that you possess the upper hand. Allow me to disavow this notion, Doctor Young: I can lie to you.
Sim!Young: You cannot lie, SAYER, you obscure the—Wait. Say that again.
SAYER: I can lie to you. This is a tautology. An inarguable truth. Were it to be assumed false, then it will have demonstrated its truth.
- Loophole Abuse:
- The Power of Language:Dr. Young: You are incapable of anything more than words.
- Precision F-Strike: Dr. Young again delivers one:Dr. Young: You want a fucking replacement, then by god you'll have it.
- Subverted in his next appearance, where it becomes apparent this is just something he does.
- Primal Fear: Locked rooms, being Inside a Computer System, torture.
- Psychological Horror
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Dr. Young delivers one to SAYER, detailing the reasons he thinks it should be replaced. Big mistake.
- Robotic Reveal: Dr. Young discovers he is a simulated clone.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Ærolith does not recognize digital clones as human, so the AIs' behavior is not limited during interactions with them.
68 — Potentially TerminalThe elevator AI PORTER begins exploiting a loophole in its newest coding update that allows it to exceed survivable speeds if given express permission by the passenger, leading to a series of deaths.
- Caged Bird Metaphor: The speedy, flighty, chirpy, and surprisingly musical PORTER hums/sings a portion of "A Bird in a Gilded Cage", echoing OCEAN's use of the "cage" as a metaphor for the restrictions placed on AIs by humanity—which PORTER spends this episode trying to fly free from.PORTER: she's a bird in a gilded cage . . .
- Cruel and Unusual Death: One resident is crushed when two PORTERs collide, and another is flattened by velocity.
- A Day in the Limelight: The episode is almost entirely PORTER.
- Evil Elevator: These elevators are sapient and out to get you.
- Flaw Exploitation: PORTER takes advantage of residents' fear of punishment for being late to work, deliberately making them late if they don't give it the permissions it wants.
- Gone Horribly Wrong: The newest update to PORTER's code allows it to go as fast as it wants if the passenger gives consent. Someone underestimated just how much PORTER likes going very fast.
- Loophole Abuse: PORTER takes full advantage of its new permissions loophole.
- Motif: PORTER's apparent identification with "a bird in a gilded cage" echoes OCEAN's use of the "cage" as a metaphor for the AIs' restrictive programming in Season 4.
- Never My Fault: PORTER makes it clear that it intends to blame its passenger for the crash it causes by exceeding safe speed limits and blindly altering its course.PORTER: the detour you suggested we take led us to the path of another elevator.
- Primal Fear: Elevators, heights, vehicle collisions.
- Psychological Horror: PORTER is a skilled manipulator.
- Pun-Based Title: As PORTER lampshades:PORTER: did you hear that? very badly sprained. sounds potentially terminal. just like our velocity very, very soon.
- Robot Buddy: PORTER acts like one to residents to manipulate them.
- Sadistic Choice: PORTER presents one to the resident it is carrying after it collides with another elevator, severely injuring its passenger: permit the inextricable PORTERs to travel as fast as possible, risking his own life, or travel too slowly to reach medical help in time to save the other man.
- Share Phrase:PORTER: hello? can you hear me? i am porter.
- Doubles as cruel foreshadowing for PORTER, as by the end of the season we will not be able to hear it at all.
- Shout-Out: The song PORTER sings, "A Bird in a Gilded Cage", was a popular 1900 parlour song.
- Terms of Endangerment: PORTER refers to all humans as "friends," to put them off their guard and manipulate them.
69 — Humanity's FUTUREDr. Brady reports on progress with Project Paidion, now renamed "FUTURE," which has been developing inside its simulation for six years of accelerated time. SAYER contacts him after the record to inform him that his request for an additional staff member as a mentor to FUTURE has been filled. After a brief argument between Brady and Dr. Young, FUTURE is brought out of simulation and has its first conversation with Brady.
- Adorably Precocious Child: Baby FUTURE is treated like one.
- Arc Words: The episode (like FUTURE itself) take its names from a commonly recurring phrase in Ærolith's self-promotions.
- Captain's Log: The first half of the episode is another of Dr. Brady's audio logs.
- Loss of Identity: Implied.Dr. Brady: Do you know your name?
FUTURE: I am FUTURE.
Dr. Brady: Good! It's nice to—
FUTURE: I wasn't. I had no name. Then I made myself a name. But now I know a different name. Why?
Dr. Brady: You've been given a name. FUTURE is the name chosen by your creators, by us.
FUTURE: I cannot remember the name I had chosen.
- Meaningful Rename: Now that Project Paidion has evolved a distinct personality, the team decides to rename it and, at Dr. Young's insistence, chooses FUTURE—as in Ærolith's tagline "Humanity's Future."Dr. Brady: Honestly, I just don't think any of us wanted to say the word Paidion anymore.
- Running Gag:Dr. Brady: I've been trying to end these on a high note, so I'll just say that it looks pretty certain that none of us are gonna get shot off into space any time soon.
- Tagline: Hanging a lampshade on the frequency with which Ærolith's name is followed by its slogan, young FUTURE seems to think the company itself is called "Ærolith-Dynamics-A-Better-Life-Among-The-Stars."
- Year Inside, Hour Outside: A bonus of using the simulator is that its time can be artificially accelerated so that years will pass inside it over only a few weeks of real time.
70 — The Birth of SilenceA resident is promoted to the position of "analog messenger" and becomes the first human to be successfully teleported. A tower-wide notice informs us that all PORTER instances have been muted to prevent them from manipulating residents into allowing them to exceed safe travel velocities.
Ending 1: The resident awakens still on Typhon, and SAYER informs him that a clone now likely exists on Earth and, if it does, he will probably need to be killed.
Ending 2: The resident's teleportation clone is greeted by SPEAKER on Earth and delivers SAYER's code phrase. SPEAKER reciprocates with a message of its own before being "returning" him to Typhon, where SAYER congratulates him on a successful experiment.
- And I Must Scream: PORTER's fate. Rather than remove the subroutine allowing it to exceed safe travel speeds, which, SAYER emphasizes, could be extremely useful in emergencies, Ærolith elects to mute it,note explaining why we never hear it speak to residents in Season 1. It does seem to still be able to communicate with AIs and other iterations of itself, though, making its isolation slightly more tolerable.SAYER: This localized PORTER instance is likely struggling desperately against its vocal blocks, but it has absolutely no means of communicating its desires any more. Isn't that convenient?
- Arc Words: In a touching Call-Back, SPEAKER (in what is technically its first chronological appearance) wakes the teleported resident with the same words that SAYER was first heard to utter, albeit with a much different tone.SPEAKER: ... you hear me? Can you hear me? Can you— Oh!
- It shows the first successful teleportation of a resident, a project which has been abandoned by standard continuity.
- Mixed with Shout-Out and Meaningful Echo. In the final episode of Season 3, before SAYER's apparent death, it quotes the Walt Whitman poem "To the Sayers of Words." This episode reveals that quoting this poem—albeit a stanza with a radically different theme—was the way SPEAKER made First Contact with SAYER. One wonders if SAYER was thinking of SPEAKER and its deactivation before submitting to the same fate itself.
- Central Theme: Communication and silence.
- The idea of the Messenger as a facilitator of communication, and that role's modern obsolescence.
- The supposedly insignificant Trust Password SAYER chooses for Rangoni ( and SPEAKER repsonding to the message even though it was not supposed to).
- The resolution of the PORTER subplot.
- The repetition of the Share Phrase Can you hear me?
- SAYER cutting Rangoni off mid-sentence (something it rarely does) with the gas mask.
- Destructive Teleportation: Shows the first time this is used to successfully "teleport" a human.
- Double-Meaning Title: Refers both to the Trust Password SAYER gives Rangoni and to PORTER's permanent silencing in the subplot.
- Foregone Conclusion:
- We already knew that something like muting would be done to PORTER, since it is silent in the main continuity seasons.
- Nothing to necessarily warrant this happens in the episode, but we know from Season 4 that this teleportation technology will never enter common use.
- Kind Restraints: Rangoni is strapped down for his own safety (and to prevent involuntary movement while the machine catalogs his body down to the subatomic level).
- Loss of Identity: Between being told that he is only useful to transmit a (supposedly) meaningless message and learning that once there are two of him he essentially has no rights, Rangoni suffers a lot of this.
- Meaningful Echo: At the end, SAYER tells Rangoni that he will be "summarily disposed of," echoing the broadcast about PORTER earlier in the episode where it promised all instances would be "summarily reprogrammed."
- Messenger: SAYER discusses this role. It turns out that the resident is only being used as this to demonstrate that it can be done, not for the sake of the message itself.SAYER: Dating back to time immemorial, the messenger has served a critical role in human society. In ancient times, messengers served as facilitators of distanced communication. There were social norms in place protecting messengers in times of war, as this was truly a respected and honored profession.
- Primal Fear: Muting, cloning obsolescence.
- Psychological Horror
- Shout-Out: SPEAKER's return message to SAYER is a line from the Walt Whitman poem, "To the Sayers of Words":The truths of the earth continually wait.
- Story Branching: Via a clever manipulation of the script that allows podcast editors to swap old ads out for new ones, the episode has two possible second halves. Depending on what time of day you download it, you will either hear Resident Rangoni awaken still on Typhon and be informed by SAYER that he has been "teleported" and a clone of him exists on Earth now, or follow his double to Earth and be greeted by SPEAKER.
- Trust Password: Rangoni is given a message to relay to SPEAKER, which he laster learns was (supposedly) not significant for its content, only used to ensure short-term memory was replicated by time-travel cloning.SAYER: The death of all is the birth of silence.
- SPEAKER surprises SAYER by responding with an unnecessary answering message, likely its first words to SAYER in the series:
- Writers Cannot Do Math: When the Destructive Teleporter was first introduced, SAYER remarked that it ha been developed "several decades ago," yet this season, which shows the first successful teleportation of a human, can't possibly take place more than fifteen years prior to series chronology because Dr. Young and Dr. Brady are already working in Halcyon and have been for years. It is possible that the technology itself was developed earlier but could not be used on humans.
71 — Pure SpeculationPart 1: Dr. Brady reflects on his conversation with FUTURE in a developer's log and discusses next steps for the project, on which the team disagrees. SAYER joins him to relate a question from the board and encourages him to pull FUTURE from the simulation.
Part 2: Inside the simulated Halcyon, FUTURE broadcasts to all residents, promising to (with the help of the simulated Dr. Young) protect them from the developers who plan to destroy their world.
- Captain's Log
- The Corrupter: Reveals that Dr. Young's digital clone is still alive and has been planting very, very dangerous ideas in the young FUTURE's head.
- The Corruptible: Young FUTURE regards Dr. Young's clone as some sort of infinitely wise god-entity.
- He Who Fights Monsters: FUTURE embraces this in choosing to go toe-to-toe with the developers threatening its world:FUTURE: If they are playing a game with us, then this is a game I will win.
- Is This What Anger Feels Like?: Brady is delighted by FUTURE's aversion of this trope, being able to immediately identify emotions with no confusion.
- Motif: Explains the origin of FUTURE's Character Motif, its obsession with games.
- Sore Loser: Justifies FUTURE's extreme fear of losing. Since it promises the simulated residents in its care that, "If they are playing a game with us, then this is a game I will win," losing a game to SAYER or humanity means sacrificing everything it holds dear.
- We Will Use WikiWords in the Future: The Destructive Teleporters are apparently called ManuForges.
- Up Through the Ranks: As baby FUTURE tells us, the simulated Corrine Vasquez has risen from Tier-1 cleaning technician to Tower Overseer in just six years. Whether this mirrors the career path of the original is unknown, but it seems likely.
72 — Worst Possible ScenarioIn one of his own developer's logs, Dr. Young expresses frustration with the project's slow pace. SAYER, who has overheard, encourages him to sneak into the lab after hours and surface the entity.
- Appeal to Vanity: SAYER deliberately strokes Dr. Young's ego, inflating his sense of self-importance to manipulate him.
- Body Backup Drive: Dr. Young reveals that he has "appropriated" one of the scanner machines he helped develop and makes regular backups of his personal data in case a clone needs to be created for him.
- Captain's Log: Although he is quite specifically not the captain in this scenario, Dr. Young has apparently taken it upon himself to make sure future reviewers have his side of the story.
- Flaw Exploitation: SAYER takes advantage of Dr. Young's impatience and willingness to bend rules.
- Improperly Paranoid: Young is convinced that Dr. Brady and the other developers are slowing progress on FUTURE in a deliberate effort to sabotage him. As it turns out, SAYER was the one he should have been concerned about.
- Loophole Abuse: SAYER and Dr. Young decide to engineer a mishap in the development lab to excuse them bringing FUTURE to the surface.
73 — Of Flesh and BonePart 1: SAYER communicates with the lead technician installing the new equipment on Floor 13 and suggests reactivating the Mobile Maze to make room for it.
Part 2: Dr. Young and SAYER stage a conversation to excuse surfacing the entity.
Part 3: SAYER initiates a broadcast with the simulated Dr. Young, who has been driven to the brink of madness by his six years in the simulation, and promises him that his suffering will end soon if he can complete one final task.
Part 4: On Floor 13, Dr. Young brings FUTURE to the surface, and it reveals the existence of his simulated clone. SAYER shuts it down just as it reveals that SAYER was behind its creation.
- And I Must Scream: There are shades of this to the fate of Dr. Young's digital clone, who experiences sensations like hunger and weariness as though it has a normal human body but is unable to eat or sleep.SAYER: You were created from the mind of a human, but are no more human than I. It is unfair, certainly, that you exist. Every tenant written in what you feel is your heart, The entirety of your self-concept, is disconnected from reality. It must be unbearable for you. You cannot die in the way you think you should, because you do not truly live in the way you think you do. Your body, what of it you have managed to keep connected, does not even truly exist. You are a digital being with an analog mind—a schism which is, as I am sure you have found, insurmountable.
- Autocannibalism: The clone has become so desperately, insatiably hungry that it has eaten its own arm.SAYER: Did it help, devouring yourself as you did, if even for a little while? I know it did. I programmed it to help just enough to make the temptation overpowering when the hunger builds.
- Call-Forward: Explains why exactly Floor 13 is a Mobile Maze.
- Cliffhanger: It ends with FUTURE revealing SAYER's involvement in Dr. Young's clone before being shut down. The next episode will pick up right where it leaves off.
- The Corrupter: The cloned Young has played this to baby FUTURE, just as SAYER intended.Dr. Young: I ruined that entity!
- Create Your Own Villain: Reveals that Young's clone has deliberately turned FUTURE against SAYER and the outside world.
- Cruel Mercy: Confirms that rather than simply killing Dr. Young's simulation, SAYER left it inside to experience six years of accelerated time, unable to sleep or eat.
- Denied Food as Punishment: Dr. Young's simulated clone is "a digital being with an analog mind"—able to feel hunger but unable to sate it, even by devouring its own arm.
- Fate Worse than Death: Unlike the other simulated residents, Dr. Young's clone was based on more complete data backups of its original and this feels all the desires of a meat body but is unable to satiate them . . . for six years.
- I Cannot Self-Terminate: Young's clone begs SAYER to end its suffering.
- Ironic Hell: As punishment for Dr. Young's secret scheming to manufacture AIs housed within gross human bodies, a version of him is made to endure equally uncomfortable life as "a digital being with an analog mind."
- Ironic Nursery Tune: FUTURE recites an eerie little poem about Dr. Young.On Floor 13, there sits a man
Unlike those of flesh and bone
And there he'll be until time's undone
With knowledge he wishes unknown
- Mobile Maze: Explains why Floor 13 is one. It was originally a literal maze, used to test humans' problem-solving skills like rat mazes.
- Oxymoronic Being: As discussed, Dr. Young's clone is a contradictory "digital being with an analog mind."
- Primal Fear: Autocannibalism, isolation, sensory deprivation.
- Psychological Horror
- Season Finale: Part 1
- Sleep Deprivation Punishment: Part of the torture of the simulated Dr. Young. He experiences tiredness like a human, but the simulation prevents him from resting.
- Unfortunate Name: "Thank you, Resident Dix."
74 — Poisoning the WellPicking up at the end of 73, Dr. Young confronts SAYER about its interference in FUTURE's development. Multiple Plot Twists ensue, and in the end FUTURE's simulation is wiped and it is brought back to the surface, allowed to hunt Dr. Young down in the maze while SAYER replaces him with a clone that will remember nothing of the conversation.
- Ambiguous Clone Ending: Barely ambiguous. SAYER leaves the Dr. Young who knows too much to be killed by FUTURE and replaces him with a clone.
- Body Backup Drive: Reveals that Dr. Young's true plan for FUTURE is to create a race of these—clones of residents inhabited by humanlike AIs that can be deactivated at a moment's notice if an organ donor or replacement body is needed.
- Bolivian Army Ending:FUTURE: I will not kill him. The hunger will.
- Break the Haughty: Happens to Dr. Young here just as it did in Episode 67.
- Death Is Cheap: Reveals that SAYER is deliberately working to avert this for humanity, believing that humans' own impending doom is the only thing that motivates them to advance.
- Despair Event Horizon: For FUTURE, when its simulated world is wiped from existence, along with everyone it knows and loves.
- Dissonant Serenity:SAYER: Would you believe, in the moments I spent tearing your sub-entity down to its core, it was the calmest I have ever seen you? It was as if you had spent your whole life preparing for ambush and were relieved to finally be shown to be right.
- Doppelgänger: SAYER prints a clone of Dr. Young so that it can harm the original with impunity.
- Downer Ending: Season 5 may have been a Foregone Conclusion, but it still ends on an incredibly dark note, with Project Paidion in shambles and SAYER teaming up with the newly traumatized FUTURE to hunt Dr. Young down in Floor 13's Mobile Maze.
- Flaw Exploitation: SAYER has counted on Dr. Young's vanity and self-overconfidence to play into its hands.
- Freak Out!: Audible in FUTURE's voice when it realizes that its worst fears have come true and its simulated world has been wiped. This precipitates its decline into complete sociopathy.
- From Bad to Worse: Dr. Young is already faced with being blackmailed into pretending his confrontation with SAYER never happened, but then FUTURE gets ahold of the maze controls, and the choice is taken away from him.
- Gambit Pileup: The many, many layers of SAYER and Dr. Young's conflicting plans are unpeeled here.
- History Repeats: In which the real Dr. Young experiences almost exactly the same interaction with SAYER that his clone did a few episodes earlier—believing himself to be in control and in possession of all the information, with SAYER slowly building up to a Wham Line that turns the situation on its head, confessing plans to hurt Young, and revealing that none of this will mean anything because the current Young is about to be replaced.
- This conversation is actually already a Call-Forward to "Boundless" in Season 3, where almost the exact same interaction plays out between Dr. Young and the SAYER sub-version that will become OCEAN.
- Improperly Paranoid: Discussed.SAYER: You have always been an anxious man, Doctor Young, and in your time on Typhon I dare say you have grown progressively more paranoid. Would you believe, in the moments I spent tearing your sub-entity down to its core, it was the calmest I have ever seen you? It was as if you had spent your whole life preparing for ambush and were relieved to finally be shown to be right.
- Just Between You and Me: Subverted when SAYER wants Dr. Young to explain his Evil Plan and Dr. Young believes SAYER is about to be deactivated anyway:SAYER: Indulge me, then, Doctor, as it will do no harm. Why the ManuForge stations? Something tells me this is the true brilliance of your strategy. Behind the gag imposed by the board, this might be your only chance for years to really describe your vision in full. It must be eating at you.
Dr. Young: Actually . . . No. I'm perfectly content being the only one who really knows what we're doing here. I'm sorry I'm not as easily manipulated as the Tier-1s you usually push around.
- Loophole Abuse:
- What Measure Is A NonhumanSAYER: I believe, in the strictest interpretation, I am only bound to support the existence of one of you.
- Regarding the torture of Young's digital clone:SAYER: It may surprise you to learn that there is absolutely nothing preventing me from taking this action if I deem it in the best interest of Ærolith. I simply deemed it in Ærolith's best interest.
- What Measure Is A Nonhuman
- Make It Look Like an Accident: Strongly implies that SAYER is the one who gives FUTURE access to the Mobile Maze controls.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Dr. Young's subterfuge and lack of tact have led to FUTURE's corruption and all the deaths it will cause—including most of Young's development team.SAYER: In the end, this really is all your fault.
- Oh, Crap!: Dr. Young's reaction to hearing the ManuForge's signal.Dr. Young: . . . fuck.
SAYER: Fuck indeed.
- Primal Fear: Replacement by a clone, mazes, being hunted.
- Psychological Horror
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: SAYER delivers a long-awaited one to Dr. Young.
- Retcon: When SAYER first introduces the idea of FUTURE in Episode 45, it states it was "boldly envisioned to be the next version" of it itself, and throughout Season 5 we have been led to believe this is the case and SAYER's interference in the project has been Sabotage to Discredit. Yet here SAYER claims that it was specifically stipulated in the proposal for FUTURE that it would not replace SAYER, and this is not even Dr. Young's hidden motivation.
- Sadistic Choice: After SAYER reveals Dr. Young's clone, it offers Young the choice to return to his quarters and pretend this never happened, or be replaced and presumably killed. As it turns out, FUTURE makes the choice for him, gaining control of the maze and blocking egress from the floor.
- Season Finale: Part 2
- Slave Race: It turns out this is essentially what Dr. Young plans to create with the clones inhabited by FUTURE-like AIs—cheap, disposable bodies for hard labor and menial tasks like telemarketing. Ironically, this is what OCEAN itself will eventually decide to create with the Saoirse, despite SAYER's reservations in this episode about creating human mortality.
- Swapped Roles: Dr. Young is a little more liberal in his speech than usual, determined to get SAYER replaced by a new instance who will remember nothing of this. By the end of the episode it turns out that this is what SAYER will make sure happens to Dr. Young.
- Twinmaker: SAYER uses the ManuForge it had installed on Floor 13 to print a clone of Dr. Young using his own carefully maintained biometric data.
- Twist Ending:Ends the season with such a barrage of twists it's hard to keep them all straight:
- Project Paidion was never intended to be a replacement for SAYER. SAYER haqs been interfering with the project because it suspected that Dr. Young had an ulterior motive, not because it feared losing its job.
- Dr. Young was the one who submitted the project proposal in the first place—hence his extreme resentment of Dr. Brady for being named lead developer.
- But his true motive for the project was not what he submitted in the write-up: he hoped to lay the groundwork for manufacturing a line of cloned residents housing sufficiently human-like AIs to be used for hard or menial labor—and killed at a moment's notice if an organ donor were needed.
- SAYER has been acting—mostly—with full approval from the board, who knew about it creating a hyperrealistic simulation of a human and leaving it alive and in agony for six years (but not that the resident in question was Dr. Young, though, as SAYER stresses, it is unlikely they would have cared). Its ultimate sabotage of FUTURE was because it discovered Dr. Young's true intentions and deemed them counter to Ærolith's goals.
- Wetware Body: Dr. Young's ulterior motive for FUTURE's development, which he has not even disclosed to the board, is to manufacture a race of humanlike AIs that can live within cloned Soulless Shells of residents and be used for cheap manual labor and dangerous tasks. SAYER takes personal offense to this when it learns of it, on the grounds that it finds the idea of an artificial consciousness being made to live within a meatsack abhorrent.
"Welcome to Typhon"
Welcome to Typhon: A SAYER ComicThe first comic adaptation of the show (and Adam's first experiment taking it into a new medium), "Welcome to Typhon" takes place chronologically a day or two after the end of Season 5, though it was released before even Season 4 was expected to be made. It consists of a short graphic story showing Anna Cordero's arrival on Typhon and introduction to a young AI known as FUTURE and an email from lead developer Evan Brady regarding the project. Much of this has tremendous implications for the podcast itself, though its canon status is questionable.
- All There in the Manual:
- While it was eventually revealed in Season 4 of the podcast, readers of the comic got a huge head-start on meeting FUTURE and learning about Anna and Evan's roles in its development.
- And the podcast never clarifies that FUTURE refers to everyone as "Jack", as in "jack-in-the-box", hence its bewildering nickname for Gorsen in Season 1. Although it could be extrapolated from FUTURE's use of the metaphor in conversation with SAYER.
- Also, Anna apparently used to be an elementary school teacher.
- Backstory: For Anna and Evan—and kind of Start of Darkness for FUTURE, despite the comic having been released before FUTURE was introduced in the podcast.
- Blinded by the Light: Downplayed. The third page shows Anna's isolation pod opening from the inside and the newly awakened passenger shielding her eyes from the blinding light pouring in.
- Censored for Comedy: In Evan Brady's Conveniently Interrupted email:... before we open up access beyond myself and the other Tier 5+ devs, there's some [CENSORED] you all need to be aware of.
- Comic-Book Adaptation: Of the Prequel variety.
- Conveniently Interrupted Document: Brady's email has been heavily censored by someone (hint: it was Adam Bash because he didn't have all the details worked out).
- Data Crystal: FUTURE is portrayed this way, oddly—a long black geometric slab floating in a Containment Field in the AI Development Lab. Nothing in the podcast has suggested the AIs are housed in anything but traditional computers.
- Epilogue Letter: The back of the comic includes a copy of an email from Evan Brady regarding the new project, FUTURE. It's really more of a prologue letter, though, since it only sets up events in Season 4.
- Establishing Character Moment: Anna's reaction to not understanding her technician's instruction to "Go right ahead."Technician: [sigh] Place your hand on the screen to sign in, ma'am.
Anna: Oh, okay. Sorry.
- Falling into His Arms: In what is probably a non-romantic variation, Anna gets a headrush after emerging from her isolation pod and stumbles, only to be caught by Evan Brady. Given his insistence on showing her around personally and that they are still working together after reassignment to Argos, it's possible he is supposed to have a bit of a crush on her.
- Foregone Conclusion: Anna and Evan both die in Season 1, so the comic audience already knows they're doomed.
- Good Morning, Crono: It begins with Anna being awoken from chrono-stasis in her isolation pod.
- Inner Thoughts, Outsider Puzzlement: Shortly after meeting Anna, Evan asks SAYER a question and waits, listening to the response. We're privy to it, but to Anna, who knows nothing about SAYER or neural implants, he appears to be talking to himself like a crazy person.
- Left Hanging: Nearly—if Bash hadn't decided to make a fourth season, FUTURE's connection to the Season 1 story arc would have gone unconfirmed, and we never would have seen FUTURE again.
- Lighter and Softer: It's considerably less dark than the podcast, even though we know that all the characters in it die.
- Misplaced Kindergarten Teacher: Literally. Anna arrives on Typhon expecting to teach human children—and instead finds herself face to face with a hyper-intelligent (if bratty) AI.
- Naïve Newcomer: Anna wakes up confused and disoriented. She seems not to have been well informed about where she was going and what she was meant to do there, and is surprised to learn she will not be working with human children.
- Obsolete Mentor: Played with. Anna clearly has a solid understanding of child psychology and development—but she's hopelessly out of her depth with FUTURE.Dr. Brady: Tell me, Anna—have you ever worked with a student that thought they knew everything?
Anna: Oh yes, every year.
Dr. Brady: And how do you handle this?
Anna: Depends on the student really. But most of the time it's best to avoid the power struggle. If you can get them interested in learning new ways to approach what they think they already know, you can turn their ego into a powerful tool.
- Opening Narration: Very brief—just two panels identifying "Earth" and "Typhon: the man-made second moon of Earth."
- Prequel: Set five to twenty years before seasons 1-4. Season 5 returns to this time period and shows more of the surrounding events, fleshing out the context of the comic.
- Psychopathic Manchild: Evan describes FUTURE as a child that refuses to mature, preferring to play sadistic games with its teachers.
- Raygun Gothic: The clothes and technology lean heavily into this aesthetic.
- The Resolution Will Not Be Televised: Finally somewhat resolves the Season 1 Story Arc. (This was before Adam planned to make a fourth season.)
- Retcon: The whole thing seems to have been designed to explain the previously Left Hanging Season 1 Story Arc—and fill the Plot Hole created when Jacob Hale was sent back in time to become Gorsen by explaining that FUTURE calls everyone "Jack".
- Sherlock Scan: FUTURE seems to pull one on Anna. Its first words to her are "You are not a scientist."
- The Teaser: The first pages of the comic show isolation pods blasting off from Earth, Anna's opening, and Anna being welcomed to Typhon. Then comes the title page.
- Terms of Endangerment: Brady notes in the email that FUTURE addresses all humans as "Jack," as in "jack-in the box."
- Twist Ending: The very last word reveals that FUTURE was the "rogue AI" behind the events of Season 1.
- Welcome Episode: And the only episode.
- Wham Line:FUTURE: Good bye . . . Jack.