5.16 Shells--Chrysalis Apr 9, 2004 21:31:14 GMT -5
Post by Nan-S'cubie Mascot on Apr 9, 2004 21:31:14 GMT -5
Guest-Riff said:I’m a newbie here. To start with, I must say that found Nan’s review of Shells one of the most sensitive and insightful pieces of criticism it has been my pleasure to read. The way the images of the chrysalis and butterfly were used to tie together the various themes was brilliant.
I have seen a lot of tragedy on Buffy and Angel, but nothing compared to this. Putting aside the newness of Fred’s and Wes’s relationship (a typical way for Joss to pull on our heart strings!), there was a build-up of several shocks to the system. That we watched Fred slowly die in agony and terror was terrible. That we were told she can never return is terrible. But the idea that her soul has been destroyed? In reality we have no idea if anything survives death, yet in Angel, a show in which the afterlife is a commonplace, we know Fred’s essence is annihilated. The whole thing is just, well, soul-destroying. Even for Joss this would be a quantum leap in cruelty.
And speaking of quantum leaps… I have something else to add to the idea of Fred’s survival. The model of the atom that most of us think of, different coloured ping pong balls joined up with straws, is not the current version. Atoms are not really thought of as material objects in quantum theory. They are mathematical abstract, clouds of probability. In some sense materiality belongs only to human reality. Electrons, then, aren’t objects orbiting the atomic nucleus, though what they are is hard for me to say; apparently they are mathematically “smeared out”. They exist in groups called “shells”. Each shell has a different energy level. When the energy level (or “quantum state”) of an electron reaches a new level it “leaps” to a new shell. I can’t help but feel the episode’s title has some connection to this, particularly given Fred’s affinity for particle physics.
Knowing that quantum physics is based on randomness and probability, it occurred to me that it might link to chaos theory. I did some research on the web and, sure enough, the Feigenbaum Constant is used in equations dealing with the transition of electrons between atomic shells. I‘m afraid I’m unable to understand what this means, though!
The situation as I see it is this:
1) There is a link between esoteric physics and magic in Angel. Fred is able to gain new insights into particle physics by travelling through the portals.
2) In Pylea, wasn’t she scribbling all those equations on the walls of her cave in an attempt to escape, to go home?
3) In A Hole in the World, Wes reads A Little Princess to her, a story about a little girl who escapes from her awful circumstances into a fantasy world of her own making.
4) Fred says she is determined “they” will not take her.
5) In her pain she cries out “Feigenbaum!” The rabbit appears in the flashback at the start of A Hole in the World and when Wesley is packing up her things. What does this signify? And what was the purpose of those two flashbacks?
6) In Lineage she criticises Wesley for patronising her by saying he should have protected her. All her “boys” fail her this time, so maybe she has saved herself. Joss is very keen on female empowerment.
All very good thinking, Riff! I'm glad you've joined us. I know next to nothing about Chaos Theory or the current state of thought about atomic reality. However, this is Fred's strong suit, as you said. So I find your theory that Fred may have somehow worked her own soul's survival through manipulation of physical states--as an electron or atom can change states--sounds a very promising one to me. However, to work, it would have to be persuasive and capable of being made clear to the average viewer--if only physicists can understand how Fred survived (presuming she does), it's bad drama! So you may well be right, and if you are, I'm even more interested than before how ME are going to express this dramatically, in an accessible form.
New episode next week, even though it's the first of the last. I hope you'll come visit and share your thoughts with us again, either after it airs or before. We can never have an excess of good thinking, good writing, and good ideas on this board, and you've brought all of them!