Tales from the Loop: Stasis
April 13, 2020 3:11 AM - Season 1, Episode 3 - Subscribe

Upon falling in love, a teenaged girl attempts to make the moment last forever.
posted by jazon (9 comments total)
Things I really liked - this episode really laid on an interesting emotional complexity to the baggage May was hauling around due to her own family issues, and seemed clear that the scope of her outburst at the end was both a) exacerbated by the discovery of her mother, and b) still very Not Okay and Shitty. She learns a bit of this lesson, but then feels that she's not worthy or ready to accept the over-eager forgiveness offered at the end. Lots of interesting layers to both their reactions.

Things I didn't like - this is the first (and only, really) episode where the 'sci-fi' aspect bugged me through its inconsistent application. Yeah, time freeze is a trope, down to birds hanging in mid-air etc, so physics itself is on pause - except for anything the kids feel like fiddling with. Then electricity starts working in extended systems, engines operate, etc etc. Does it keep working after they leave? Is there some localized field of mobility extended around them that doesn't affect organic beings? There was just a skosh too much handwaviness about it all that meant it was difficult to intuit what the science-magic 'rules' were.
posted by FatherDagon at 10:12 AM on April 13, 2020

See, this is the one where I fully understood and accepted that the "rules" aren't important and don't matter. It's not really science fiction, it's parables in science-fiction garb. If you can accept that, it's really very good. If you can't, you're going to hate the rest of it. (Of course, almost all filmed sci-fi is the same, just a matter of where the line of suspension of disbelief is drawn.)

I find the characters so interesting and surprising. May admitting that she's go back to Jakob when time restarted, for instance. Truthful, senseless, and understandable all in one package. All humans are fools blundering our way through obstacles way too big for us to take on and obstacles of our own making.
posted by rikschell at 10:39 AM on April 13, 2020

I thought that this was a beautiful episode. Heartbreaking, though.

Am completely ok with this level/ sub-genre of science fiction. It has been established over the last couple of episodes that there are events that are ineffable within the context of human understanding of the physical universe.

If I had to nitpick, it would be that humans understood enough about the phenomena to make (?) power sources for machines that operate on this other set of physical rules.

But FatherDagon, I get your point. The scene that stood out the most to me was when they were looking at the frozen bee in the center of the flower that they plucked - the wind was moving the petals around but the bee was still frozen.

That the boy's bracelet had time to fall before the boy froze/ bracelet froze indicates some sort of effect propagation speed, but... whatever. That's not really important, but rather the girl's wish fulfillment (perfect moment frozen in time) and exploring what it means to be alone.
posted by porpoise at 3:46 PM on April 13, 2020

I was also bothered by the lighting in the sequence by the lake after Ethan had frozen himself -- the rest of the frozen time had been bright, cloudless daylight and this was kind of cloudy twilight. But! It worked for the mood of it.

(I was also happy to see that May did take the device with her because when there was a shot specifically of it being left behind in the school, I was like "that's going to be bad." There were a lot of moments like that -- the bow, the breaking into the house -- I kept waiting for time to restart and things go horribly, horribly wrong. But I think that tension was absolutely intentional. )

I appreciate how flawed the characters are on this show -- and not in a showy way. They just seem so human. What May said was Not OK but it also made sense for who she was and what she was going through. Did it make me like her less? Maybe. Did it make me understand her more? Yes.

This is a really lovely show and I'm enjoying taking my time with it. I loved Simon Stålenhag's work and while this show is different from it, it still captures the mood and feeling very well.
posted by darksong at 4:45 PM on April 13, 2020 [3 favorites]

I must say that for a super-science organization, the Loop is shockingly lax when it comes to containment and clean-up protocols.
posted by whir at 8:47 PM on April 13, 2020 [3 favorites]

shockingly lax when it comes to containment and clean-up protocols.

Normally, I'd agree and rail against this with you but are you familiar with tech/ exploration/ exploitation industries in the 70's and 80's and the "superfund" sites they left behind?

My own headcannon is influenced strongly by 'Roadside Picnic' and I assumed that the errant Time Stopping Device was either dropped there outside of human experience of time/ space - or that someone else was using it and left it there beyond the tide-line in distress/ despair.

That there could be another consciousness out there at the beach, unhinged from time - can they observe the two kids while they were in no-time? Did they choose not to interact/ interface or that they couldn't?

That it doesn't make sense (whether the device reappeared after the power source ran out, or what? why didn't the device disappear when the power source ran out on May, and why was "time" still stopped) isn't the point.

Whether that was human-The Loop made, or something that the Loop "produced" (that resembled human tech - I would have gone with the amorphous in 'Stalker' and 'S.T.A.L.K.E.R.' but if I had unlimited budget for effects, I'd have made the innards non-Cartesian and non-linear like a very bad dream. I'm ok with keeping the outer shell resembling human tech, handwave human perception of the ineffable creating models that were consistent with human experience) is beside the point.

Sorry if I'm coming across as scold-ey or anything, not my intention, but this show is straight up my alley and it's done well and with style. I've been on record here as a dour evidence-based science-type who has dunked on fantasy posing as science fiction, but this is grade A science fiction that's aware of a wide swath, and deep and historic, of science fiction literature.

This is like "the highest brow" 'Twilight Zone'/ 'Black Mirror.'

So far.
posted by porpoise at 9:47 PM on April 13, 2020 [5 favorites]

Ooh, very interesting, porpoise. I hadn’t thought of it that way. But it’s certainly kept open that the Eclipse could be an entity as much as a phenomenon, or something we can’t really even describe in those terms.
posted by rikschell at 6:25 AM on April 14, 2020 [2 favorites]

I admit I was troubled by the inconsistencies of time-stoppage until I accepted it was just a metaphor and I should really just relax. There simply isn't a way to depict that sort of thing "realistically". Even if there were a way to get all the molecules in one's body to exist outside of the time freeze, what about the air particles one must breathe, etc.

It did, however, really make me yearn for a horrifically subversive depiction of the time-stopping trope in which people goofily play pranks like moving hats from one person to another, etc. Then when time restarts, all the inertia returns and the subjects of their pranks are gorily subjected to the laws of physics, everything that was moved igniting because of built up air friction, etc. This is probably not the show for that.
posted by subocoyne at 9:44 AM on April 24, 2020 [3 favorites]

If the security force comprised of one guy, no fence, and an unlocked back door hatch was any indication, this lab is pretty blasé about leaving all kinds of far-out tech lying around. A thermos that can stop time? Chuck it in the shallow end of the fishing spot. A bathysphere that can transfer consciousnesses? Bah, let’s just leave it in the woods attended. Say what you want about Hawkins Lab; at least they tried to keep a lid on things.
posted by dr_dank at 8:01 PM on September 24, 2021

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