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WMG / Meta Runner

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I know we don't have much to go by since the first episode just dropped as of this post, but if I'm being honest, I'm actually confident with what I've gathered:
  • Point 1: The scientist at the beginning. He talks to Tari as though he created her. Conducting game-based experiments involving how fast she can complete them or how she can overcome difficulty in some video games.
  • Point 2: The speed in which she gets skilled in Ultra Jump Mania despite only having a few moments with it. Remember, she has next to no memory at that moment. Only who she is and where she is, and Afrobot has to tell her that second one.
  • Point 3: The U.I. that develops the moment she entered the game. It says things about achievements, progress in the game and information on certain parts of the game world.
  • Point 4: She and Theo (the latter originally coming from a video game) are the only people in the show that we know of that can go all SAO on video games, and Belle and Lucks react as though they've never seen this kind of ability before.
  • Point 5: The way the camera focuses on Tari's cybernetic arm sometimes in the episode. Sure, Meta Runners are a big thing in Silica City, but the way they focus on her cybernetic arm as opposed to others' like Belle or Lamar or Masa makes it feel like this one's important, especially when she's walking out of the alley in the first few minutes of the show. Perhaps it's the reason why this A.I. is inhabiting Tari's body.

If there are any more points to make, feel free to let me know.

  • Episode 6 gives us A LOT of possible evidence that connects the dots of this theory even more. Specifically, Tari possibly inhabiting Lucinia's body.
    • To debunk Tari and Lucinia being the same person, keep in mind that Dr. Sheridan specifically refers to Tari in the flashbacks of Episode 1, with no mention of Lucinia in them other than her screaming in the background.
    • Dr. Sheridan mentioned a super advanced AI would be used for the most recent Project Blue test. Perhaps Tari is this AI that was being tested on Lucinia.

Possibly confirmed.

Entirely confirmed in S 2 E 10. Tari knows who she is - an AI in an Artificial Human body.

Belle will turn on Lucks.
  • When she see's him for the Corrupt Corporate Executive he is, and that his methods are not really necessary after all.
    • This seems very likely if it’s to be believed that Tari is actually Belle’s old friend Lucinia, if the Project Blue logs are anything to go by.
Confirmed. She discovers hidden footage revealing that Lucks and his workers found out what happened to Lucinia two years prior and has been lying to everyone the whole time. She doesn't, however, find out about who Tari is (an A.I. merged with part of Lucinia's mind) until the end of Season 2.

Decommissioning a Meta Runner.
It's a Deadly Euphemism. When a Meta Runner is decommissioned, they aren't simply retired. They're executed by having a self-destruct signal sent to their arm. And should they survive that, their "owner" finishes the job with a bullet to the head.

This may happen to Belle when she inevitably turns on Lucks, to highlight the threat he poses.

  • Jossed. According to Belle and Masa's conversation in Episode 9, being decommissioned just means being kicked out of your affiliated company. Though it sounds like it's not the worst thing that could happen to a Meta Runner.

A Meta Runner version of Saiko will appear in Season 2.
However, she will have a different name, Saiko Bitchitaru being relegated to a derogatory nickname given to her by her enemies. As opposed to Lana's Japanese voice clips, Ellyn Barclay will reprise her role from "Mario and the Diss Track", becoming one of Tari's best friends.

She could even be portrayed as Meta Runner as opposed to being a video game character like she was in the original Super Mario 64 Bloopers. She could even have been one of Lucks' top gamers before being decommissioned, and unlike MD-5, took a more violent response to it.

Masa previously worked for TASCorp.

He experienced the horrors that Lucks and TASCorp comitted, which broke him in the end and made him leave, or might even have taken part in them, making him feel guilty once he realised how much bad he has caused. Either way, it could explain why he seems so emotionally distant. And because he might be scared of getting punished by TASCorp for leaving the company, that could also explain why he wants Tari to shut down her livestreaming so as to not get spotted by either TASCorp or the police in the short Tari's Live Stream.

  • It turns out all the members of MD-5 had their lives screwed one way or another by TASCorp.
  • Confirmed. Episode 9 confirmed that Masa used to be TASCorp’s team captain, but left on the assumption that Lucks killed Lucinia.

He is trying to hide whatever evil deeds TASCorp is doing behind the scenes, and given the omnipresence of live-streamings in the universe of Meta Runner, it would only be fitting that Lucks’ Engineered Public Confession would be done by streaming him live to thousands of people to watch.

  • Jossed, at least for season 1.
  • Confirmed in the final episode of Season 2.

A Meta Runner version Meggy will appear in Season 2.

Like Saiko, Meggy technically hails from a video game as well, Splatoon, which Tari will eventually visit during her adventures, and will meet Meggy during a train session for Splatfest, and like the Mario bloopers, Meggy will take an instant liking to Tari. It's even possibly Desti may even show up to, due to Belle already bearing resemblance to her, mayhaps even teaming up with each in Splatfest.

Season 2 will bring in none other than...

Mario and Luigi themselves, with Tari logging into any Mario game, presumably Super Mario 64. As Lucks is seeking to replicate Tari's special abilities, such as traveling into the games themselves, and bringing forth video game characters into the real world, he will seek an alliance from Bowser and the Koopa Troop, bringing them into the Meta Runner universe. Tari in turn will bring Mario and Luigi into the real world to help stop them, as a affectionate nod to her role as a protagonist in the Super Mario 64 Bloopers.

  • Due to both series having a radically different tone, and mostly because of copyright issues, unless the creators somehow manages to strike a deal with Nintendo, this unfortunately would be unlikely.
  • Fair point, but you're kinda overlooking that making Mario videos, which includes selling merch about Mario and Co., without legal recourse from Nintendo, is literally Luke and Kevin's livelihood. It's pretty obvious Luke and Kevin long since worked out an arrangement with Nintendo so that they don't get sued, and thus could easily include them.

Theo isn't glitching because he's been out of his game too long.
We've seen that Theo has glitched out twice ever since he got pulled out of Ultra Jump Mania. Once when he wandered the streets of Silica City on his own, and again after Tari's Battle Blaze match against Masa. The second time, MD-5 concluded that being outside his game for too long is what's causing Theo to glitch out, but I don't think that's the case. See, in the episode "Game Plan", Lucks was seen trying to play Ultra Jump Mania, only for it to glitch out because Theo wasn't in the game. Then when Lucks tried to boot up the game using the controller Dr. Sheridan used in the logs, Lucks seems to have unlocked vital information regarding Project Blue, if the symbol was anything to go by. I think the reason Theo's glitching out was because the Ultra Jump Mania cartridge he came from was a catalyst for Dr. Sheridan's experiments, a sort of side project regarding using the A.I. in a Meta Runner's arm to pull a video game character, or maybe even weapons, out of the game.
  • Confirmed. The reason that Theo glitches outside of his game is because the people at TASCorp were messing with his cartridge and his character data was still inside of the game. When the whole cartridge was destroyed except for the game's memory chip, Theo vanished because the circuitry needed for the game to run was gone. When Theo was rescued in season 2, Tari extracted his character data from the game, completely removing him from it and thus severed his connections to the game.

Tari and Lucinia are the same person.

Many elements seems to be corrobate: they both have their cybernetic arm on their left arm, and their cybernetic arms look very similar to each other, they both have their eyes color purple, they both have roughly the same build and stature, especially compared to Belle, and Lucinia appears to be somewhat shy in the first episode's intro, just like Tari. Because Lucinia got an A.I. implemented in her body to become Tari, it would explain why Tari doesn't remember anything besides her name.

  • And if this isn't the case, then Tari could be a clone of Lucinia created by the sheer power of whatever Project Blue actually is, and the AI uploaded makes up her consciousness, hence why she shares no memories from Lucinia, because they technically aren't the same person.
    • Supporting the fact that Tari and Lucinia aren't exactly the same person, is that in the flashbacks in the first episode, we hear Dr. Sheridan using Tari's name specifically, with no mention of Lucinia throughout them, giving us the idea that Tari is separate from Lucinia.

    • Jossed. Lucinia and Tari aren't the same person, but they are connected in some regard. 'Fatal Error' reveals that Tari is an A.I. with some fragments of Lucinia's memory.

Dr. Sheridan is still alive and faked his won death to escape TASCorp.

His work at TASCorp seemed to have stressed him out, and when he realised how much potential his project had and how maliciously it could be used, he decided to stage the explosion in the TASCorp lab and to get away into hiding with his "creation", Tari. Think about it: who else could have possibly saved Tari, and how come Tari woke up in another lab in a backstreet at the beginning ? It makes even more sense if we assume Tari and Lucinia are one and the same, and that Sheridan erased her memory to make sure she can't recall any prior event.

  • This also raises another question: Why is Dr. Sheridan nowhere to be found if he isn't dead ?
Confirmed in The Stinger of Season 2's finale. As for why he wasn't found, he was disguised as Masa's annoying neighbor.

If her councioussness was taken from her body and replaced with Tari (an AI), where did her original mind go? In the computer system where Tari came from, of course! In the finale, Lucinia's predicament will be revealed, and she does a Heroic Sacrifice to destroy TASCorp's defenses to help bring the people who trapped her in the computer system to justice.

  • Confirmed. She is trapped in cyberspace, as she has been seen multiple times by Tari as she's entering the games. However, it's shown she's also injured and missing her robotic arm in her visions, and it's revealed her body is in possession of Lucks in suspended animation.

Lucinia volunteered for Project Blue because Lucks attempted to kill her.

I know this might seem pretty last minute because the finale is, as of this WMG, tomorrow, but just bear with me here.

I believe that Masa only saw a part of Lucinia's supposed death. I imagine that Lucinia did something out of line at TASCorp which warranted Lucks, for some reason or another, shooting her with the gun we saw in his drawer during Episode 7. Lucinia, bleeding out and dying, sought refuge at Dr. Sheridan's lab and volunteered to be a part of Project Blue in hopes that it'll save her from death. Unfortunately, the project failed and Lucinia's personality became locked away in favor of Tari, going off from that moment when Tari attempted to enter Tempest during the tournament. Think back to the first episode, where Tari looks like she just went through ER with that IV Drip and medical info. Remembering this, this reinforces it further. Going back to the point of Lucinia's near-death experience, Masa discovers Lucks' supposed crime and offers Belle to leave TASCorp. Belle refuses and Masa goes off to form MD5 with Lamar and Sofia.

I know this sounds stupid, but it just seemed to make sense to me.

  • Jossed: Lucks clearly didn't do anything of the sort, as it's show he has Lucinina in suspended animation as a secret project, showing he feels guilty over her involvement in Project Blue and is trying to revive her.

Lucks is trying to turn Sheridan into The Scapegoat.
He may be trying to revive Lucinia, but it's still possible he had more to do with Project Blue than he admits. He may very well be willing to make Sheridan out to be the bad guy in order to maintain PR.
  • But does that matter? Lucks is dead and TASCorp is no more.

Masa, Sophia, Belle and Lucinia used to work together for TASCorp as a team.
We already know that Masa was a "team captain" for TASCorp. Sophia seems to know Belle personally, too. Together with Lucinia, the four used to be a team of Meta Runners working together, with Masa as their leader. Then Project Blue happened, and Masa and Sophia defected to form MD-5, leaving Belle alone, ending up on today.

Tari's experiences as a Meta Runner under TASCorp will not be unpleasant as we'd think, and perhaps may prove to create a positive influence in the company.
Yes, things pretty much seem bleak, and yes, Lucks has M-15's hands tied in going against him and has Theo hostage, but as we've seen from the intro, Tari and Belle seem to be on pretty friendly terms in a tournament. This could mean that Tari and Belle may bond as Belle, despite her reckless anger, always seemed to have a liking for Tari, and may try to reconcile with her now that Tari's surrendered herself to the company, and that perhaps
  • Mostly jossed, partially confirmed. Belle does begin softening up to Tari and is willing to allow Tari to use the online dating sim game she stole to contact the MD-5. Everything else, as Tari puts it when talking to Evelyn, is hell.

Lucinia was The Heart and The Ace of TASCorp, and her apparent death is the reason Lucks has become so grim and ruthless and Belle is colder.
It's no secret that Lucinia was special to Belle, evidenced by her rage and sorrow regarding her demise but judging by Lucks apparently having Lucinia's body in suspended animation, meaning he's attempting to revive her, might show that she was important to him as well, perhaps being the mascot and face of TASCorp, perhaps one of his best assets and even friends, and that her alleged death due the Project Blue disaster devastated him, hence why he's so callous and borderline sociopathic these days, it's overwhelming grief and bitterness of losing someone he loved, which unfortunately means he lashes out at Belle. It's very possible before Lucks had a far better relationship with her, as she was best friends with Lucinia, and they were both his champion gamers. It might be that Belle could have unfortunately been The Unfavorite in a surrogate-daughter sort of way, and that with Lucinia's death, Lucks is harder on Belle as he subconsciously does not want her to end up the same way, meaning his threats and abusive treatment are to toughen her as to not meet a similar fate.
  • Alternatively, he's really every-inch the unpleasant, cold, opportunistic asshole he seems to be and that nothing we've seen is as it seems, but hey, try to be optimistic.

We've got it all wrong.
The truth is that TASCorp is actually a rather pleasant company (it's just that Lucinia's disappearance has caused a bit of a change in corporate culture). MD-5, meanwhile, is actually a dangerous cyberterrorist group who was planning to crash the servers not to expose TASCorp's supposed crimes, but to rob them of money. Masa and Sophia were fired from TASCorp for something they refused to take responsibility for and tried to blame on Belle, while Lamar is just some schmuck they picked up off the street who wanted a quick way to get rich.

What they were having Tari do was part of their plan to clean out TASCorp's coffers in the biggest job ever undertaken in Silica City. Both Lucks and Belle knew why MD-5 was trying to crash the servers, but they didn't say anything because they knew Tari's mental state was already fragile.

Lucks is interested in Tari's abilities not for profit, but to protect TASCorp and possibly all of Silica City from cyberattacks. He knows the damage groups more organized than MD-5 have done to other cities, and he saw Tari as the best way to stop it from happening in his city. He doesn't like the methods he has to use, but he feels there's no other way to do it.

So Lucks isn't the main antagonist. If anyone is, it's Dr. Sheridan. He was planning to use Tari as the template for an army to carry out a massive cyberattack on the world's computer networks, with the ultimate goal of crashing them all. Why? Because he just wants to see the world burn.

As for why Lucks is holding Theo's cartridge as "collateral"? He's not. He knew that Tari's ability to bring characters out of video games is incredibly dangerous, since she could bring something dangerous back like a crazed killer, a mindless monster, or one of the FNAF animatronics that would cause widespread death and destruction. He merely wants to investigate the mechanism for this ability, and ensure it can't happen again (or at the very least, only does it with characters that aren't dangerous, like other platforming characters aside from Theo or a character from an educational game).

Zigzagged. TAS Corp and Lucks are indeed crooked and everything he's done was for him, including forcing Tari into his service and trapping Theo. At least as of current, MD-5 is as genuine as they come. And yeah, the one behind everything? Dr. Sheridan indeed

The body Lucks was keeping preserved in suspended animation is actually a incomplete clone of Lucinia's original body.

Tari occupies the original body. When Tari escaped his clutches in Episode 3, something minor like a strand of hair falling off provided enough DNA to "grow" a new Lucinia.

However, her memories were stored deep within TAS Corp servers by Dr. Sheridan, with Lucks unable to access them. Henceforth, this new body was a vegetable. Lucks is keeping the body preserved until the day he finds the files with Lucinia's digitized memories.

Zigzagged: It's Lucinia's original body, healed from her injuries, but the experiment fractured her mind is indeed in the servers, and half of it helped form what became Tari, hence why she's comatose. It's still unknown how Tari gained a human body if she's not unknowingly possessing Lucinia's. But whatever Dr. Sheridan did and intended clearly wasn't for benevolent purposes, as he demonstrates by making Masa murder Lucks.

If Tari proves to be better at video games, Lucks will decommission Belle and she will leave TASCorp, or Lucks finds out Belle kept for herself TASCorp's data stolen by MD-5, and he will decommission her in retribution. Either way, that will prompt Belle to start a Heel–Face Turn, or more likely in the first scenario, a Hazy-Feel Turn, especially since she's likely to grow into a Green-Eyed Monster towards Tari.

  • Looking more likely now that Belle has effectively defected to MD-5 after finding out Lucks lied to her face about Lucinia for two years.
  • Effectively confirmed when he finds out that Belle was trying to help Theo escape, so he put her into a cell.

Tari will have a nightmare that relates to Lucinia

Since she herself is likely not sure about her involvement with Lucinia's presumed death.

  • Technically, her crazy flashbacks with the lab exploding injuring Sheridan and Lucinia are the nightmares.

Evelyn will become Lucks' new dragon after Belle's inevitable Heel–Face Turn.
She's clearly being set up as someone much more ruthless than Belle, as while Belle has been shown to have a conscience, Evelyn is a gloryhound who demands attention and bullies lower-ranked TASCorp employees.

After Belle unlocks Sofia's phone and finds out the truth about Lucinia, she'll turn on Lucks, escape with Tari, and join MD-5, while Lucks is forced to promote Evelyn in her place. And the kicker? Evelyn has no skill, meaning Lucks is stuck with her until he can either find a way to forcibly bring Tari and/or Belle back into the fold, or he finds a new Meta Runner, at which point he can decommission Evelyn and kill her.

  • We're still not sure why Belle is so interested in unlocking Sofia's phone. Then again, it'll probably be even worse for Belle, due to the fact that she hid the copy from Lucks.

  • Half-jossed, half-confirmed. Belle doese turn on Lucks after finding out the truth in Episode 5 of season 2, but Lucks never had time to appoint a new dragon.

Lucks will convince Belle to return to his side.
Belle knows Lucks kept Lucinia's condition a secret from her for two years. We know Belle is justifiably angry about this. But Lucks has always been some sort of Card-Carrying Villain throughout the series. Something tells me that once Belle manages to confront him, Lucks will tell her that he's been trying to restore Lucinia all this time, and if she doesn't obey, he's gonna pull the plug on her. And the worst part? Considering the note the last season ended on, if not 1 to 1 with that ending, it might actually work, playing into a lighter, yet still sort of an all-is-lost kind of ending.

  • Unlikely. Belle can't trust anything Lucks says anymore.
  • Jossed. Lucks is dead.

Lucks would be a Disc-One Final Boss in the last episode.

After Tari and MD-5 takes down Lucks and his company, the heroes would think that they've won and everything would be better... Until they realize one thing they forgot to take care of: Evelyn. When we last saw her, she was locked in a room. Evelyn would find some way to break out of her prison and will try to kill Tari and MD-5 in order to prevent them from ruining Lucks' reputation.

  • Evelyn? Killing Tari and MD-5? I don't see it. She's outnumbered 5 to 1, and unless TASCorp has a secret weapons research division, she'd only have her fists to rely on. And she can't get any Mooks to help her, because they have no respect for her after all the abuse she heaped on them.

Zigzagged. Right when Masa is talked out of shooting Lucks, his arm gets hijacked and shoots him. And who is the one behind it all? Sheridan. Evelyn is offered by him to track down Tari though.

Masa will immediately be acquitted of murder
. On the stand, Masa will reveal his Meta Runner arm gained a mind of its own when he shot and killed Lucks. The prosecutors will immediately take a close look at his arm, and find that yes, there is indeed some sort of transmitter on it that allowed Dr. Sheridan to take full control of it. Masa is immediately acquitted of the murder charge, but still faces charges of cyber-terrorism.

  • Zigzagged. In the final episode, Masa's murder charges were dropped when it was shown on the news that Sheridan hacked into his arm, but Masa doesn't face any charges of cyber-terrorism.

  • Unlikely, that would just be TOO easy a resolution.
    • We also don't know how corrupt the government is in Silica City.

Project Blue was Sheridan's attempt to take over TAS Corp.
And now with Lucks dead, he's free to do so.

Confirmed by S 3 EO 1. Tari was created to destroy TAS Corp.

Sheridan will create a new counterpart A.I. of Tari to plant into Lucinia's unconscious body.

Dr. Sheridan is alive. He wants to do...something to Tari. He might be able to do make a T.A.R.I.-style AI for Evelyn if the theories of the past are anything to go by. But honestly, I'm led to believe Dr. Sheridan could take advantage of the newly-sparked chaos going on at TAS Corp to sneak in, steal Lucinia's body and use her as a template to create new T.A.R.I.-like A.I.s to not only transplant into Lucinia herself, but also to make for Evelyn and possibly other Meta Runners.

Season 3 will have a Bittersweet Ending.
On one hand, Masa will be found guilty of murder, MD-5 will be too late to save him from the electric chair, and Dr. Sheridan will take full control of TASCorp with the intention of using its weapons research division to Take Over the World. On the other hand, Belle will be acquitted as she had absolutely no idea just how deep TASCorp's corruption ran, MD-5, now led by Tari, will be one step closer to getting to Lucinia's body, and Evelyn will have undergone such a massive Break the Haughty from Dr. Sheridan's experiments that it'll make her question her entire life up to that point, setting up some deep Character Development and even a Heel–Face Turn in Season 4.
  • Alternatively, Masa would be found innocent and Dr. Sheridan will be stopped, but either Lucinia is unable to be revived or Lucinia is revived but Tari dies from doing it.
    • Also Season 4 would be impossible, since Season 3 is the final season of the show, therefore Evelyn's character may or may not change before the finale.
  • Confirmed, though the theories above are jossed. It's more on the "sweet" side, as the MD-5 are fully reunited with Belle and Lucinia as new recruits, but Tari and Theo are no longer in the real world with them. Fortunately, they're not really gone, as Tari was able to save herself and Theo's digital forms in a new server.

Sheridan will attempt to exploit Tari's ability to bring video game characters to the real world
Well, at least an A.I. like Tari, but what if he's gone to the point where he might try to Take Over the World with that technology?
  • Jossed. His plan was to warp every Meta Runner into his server.

Sheridan is only using Evelyn to create another T.A.R.I.
At the end of Season 2, it's revealed that Tari was born when Lucinia's consciousness was blasted into the A.I. form of Tari. It's possible that Sheridan might try to recreate the accident to turn Evelyn into another A.I. inside a human body.
  • Jossed. Sheridan is surprisingly fair to her.
Tari is abducted by Sheridan
in Season 3The final scene of the season 3 teaser shows Tari's unconscious body lying in a laboratory resembling Sheridan's lab before the accident. Is Dr. Sheridan trying to extract her data, which is essentially her consciousness?
  • Confirmed, her mind was forced into Sheridan's simulation and is about to have Lucinia's mind fragments removed in episode 1 of the final season.

That floating ship in the S3 teaser belongs to Evelyn
Its masts are pink, and she'sobviously not done with Tari.

  • Confirmed.

Skybreakers is Tari’s home game.

  • Which would explain why she was sent there of all games at the end of “Testing Room”.
    • Jossed.

  • Near the end of S3 episode 3, AI!Lucks had a look of concern when looking at a screen showing Masa and Belle at their gaming setups. This could be a My God, What Have I Done? moment for Lucks if his mind was copied after he got killed unwittingly by Masa, or he could be growing beyond his programming. Also, being treated as an Extreme Doormat may help justify his actions against Sheridan.
  • Kind of confirmed. Though he doesn’t actually turn on Sheridan, since Sheridan’s already dead by then, he does have a Mr. Exposition moment that showcases that he seems to have had a change of heart, and he helps Tari figure out how to save herself and Theo.