Absurd Being

A place to take a moment to reflect on what it all means

Primer Explanation


Notes:

- One feature which makes this movie so difficult to understand is the fact that very early on in the movie (the scene in the park), the main character (Aaron), has already travelled back in time more than once although the viewer doesn’t know this. You think you are watching the first iteration but actually it is the third or maybe even fourth iteration.

- TM stands for time machine.

- Not all times are exact. Those that I have been forced to estimate, I have marked by (‘).

- There is one problem in this explanation but try as I might I cannot rid myself of it. It appears from the second sequence on and has to do with the use of the failsafe by Aaron2, Aaron3 and Abe2. In particular, the way I have represented them as all coming out of the failsafe at the same time, 5am, Monday morning. Rather than burdening you with the details here I will add them in a footnote where they will make more sense after the basics are understood.

- The narrator (by phone) in the movie is the person I have called Aaron2 and I believe he is talking to (the ‘original’) Aaron who spends the movie locked up in the attic.



First Sequence (Not shown in the movie)

Mon 5am’ - Abe turns the failsafe on with a 15min delay and goes home to sleep

Mon 8.30am – Abe turns the TM on

Mon 8.35am’ - Abe goes to the hotel where he remains until 3pm

Mon 3.15pm - Abe turns the TM off

Mon 3.19pm - Abe gets in the TM

(Day Repeats - for Abe2 only)

Mon 8.45am - Abe2 gets out of the TM and goes to meet Aaron in the park

Monday - Abe2 explains the TM to Aaron

Mon 3.13pm’ - Abe2 and Aaron watch Abe go into the storage facility

(From here, after Abe gets into the TM there is only one Abe again)

Mon 3.22pm’ - Abe is in the car with Aaron and answers a call from Rachel (call is about Robert’s party – Abe says he’ll go but doesn’t show)

Mon night - Robert has his party and the Rachel Incident takes place. Neither Abe nor Aaron are present.


For clarity, I showed the above sequence in two separate parts (one following Abe and the other following his double) but this device is impossible to use once Aaron starts using the failsafe. Now that you better understand how the time travelling is affecting the time sequences, I will be blending the time sequences together. The result is that there will be multiple Abe’s and Aaron’s in the same time sequence. The following is what I call, the blended first sequence:


First Sequence (Not shown in the movie)

Mon 5am’ - Abe turns the failsafe on with a 15min delay and goes home to sleep

Mon 8.30am – Abe turns the TM on

Mon 8.35am’ - Abe goes to the hotel where he remains until 3pm

Mon 8.45am - Abe2 gets out of the TM and goes to meet Aaron in the park

Monday - Abe2 explains the TM to Aaron

Mon 3.13pm’ - Abe2 and Aaron watch Abe go into the storage facility

Mon 3.15pm - Abe turns the TM off

Mon 3.19pm - Abe gets in the TM

(From here, after Abe gets into the TM there is only one Abe again)

Mon 3.22pm’ - Abe is in the car with Aaron and answers call from Rachel (it is about Robert’s party – Abe says he’ll go but doesn’t show)

Mon night - Robert has his party and the Rachel Incident[1] takes place. Neither Abe nor Aaron is present.

Sometime after Robert’s party on Monday night, Aaron discovers the failsafe.

He discovers that with a small modular model he can enter the failsafe without turning it off (the machines are not one-time use only).

At this point, Aaron uses the failsafe to go back to Monday 5.15am. I’m not sure how he avoids running into Abe2 or any of his future doubles; the movie is disturbingly silent on this point. Besides Aaron tampering with the failsafe (which is never suggested in the movie) I have no ideas about the solution of this problem.

Aaron’s intent in using the failsafe this first time is solely to defuse the Rachel Incident.

(We are not told when Aaron used the failsafe but it could possibly be as early as Tuesday morning or as late as Friday. Considering what Aaron had to learn about the TM and the preparations he had to make for an extended stay in the failsafe, I can guess no earlier than Wednesday but probably no later than Friday)



Second Sequence (Also not shown in the movie) – I have highlighted the differences from the first sequence with blue type.

Mon 5am’ - Abe turns the failsafe on with a 15min delay and goes home to sleep

Mon 5.15am’ - Aaron2 gets out of the failsafe and goes to his house

Mon 5.25am’ - Aaron2 drugs Aaron’s milk and puts Aaron in the attic where he remains for the rest of the sequence

(Throughout this sequence from this point on Aaron2 is meticulously recording all of his conversations)

Mon 8.30am – Abe turns the TM on

Mon 8.35am’ - Abe goes to the hotel where he remains until 3pm

Mon 8.45am - Abe2 gets out of the TM and goes to meet Aaron2 in the park

Monday - Abe2 explains the TM to Aaron2

Mon 3.13pm’ - Abe2 and Aaron2 watch Abe go into the storage facility

(From here, after Abe gets into the TM there is only one Abe again)

Mon 3.15pm - Abe turns the TM off

Mon 3.19pm - Abe gets in the TM

Mon 3.22pm’ - Abe is in the car with Aaron2 and answers a call from Rachel (it is about Robert’s party – Abe says he’ll go but doesn’t)

Mon night - Robert has his party and the Rachel Incident takes place. Abe doesn’t attend, but Aaron2 does. Aaron2 is waiting for Rachel’s ex to come in with his shotgun and rushes him when he does. I believe that Aaron2 is unsuccessful in his efforts here. From what Aaron3 later tells us, the shotgun is not fired but perhaps people still get hurt.

After this failed rescue attempt, Aaron2 decides to try again and uses the failsafe once more, to emerge as Aaron3…



Third Sequence: Part 1 (Shown in the movie, although not all events are shown) – I have highlighted the differences from the first and second sequences with red type.

Mon 5am’ - Abe turns the failsafe on with a 15min delay and goes home to sleep

Mon 5.15am’ - Aaron2 gets out of the failsafe and goes to his house

Mon 5.15am’ - Aaron3 gets out of the failsafe and goes to his house

Mon 5.25am’ - Aaron2 drugs Aaron’s milk and puts Aaron in the attic where he remains for the rest of the sequence

Mon 5.30am’ - Aaron3 confronts Aaron2 and they fight

Mon 5.35am’ - Aaron2 beats Aaron3 (he is too tired from all the time travelling)

Mon 5.40am’ - Aaron2 and Aaron3 have a conversation and Aaron2 understands that he must leave but he doesn’t fully understand why (I think Aaron3 wants to succeed in the Rachel incident).

Mon 5.45am’ - Aaron2 leaves for some undisclosed location. Aaron3 prepares to live the Aarons’ life with all of his notes and foreknowledge of the events to come.

(Throughout this sequence from this point on Aaron3 is frequently using an earpiece which tells him what to say at each point (giving him a 3 second lead on the world))

Mon 8.30am – Abe turns the TM on

Mon 8.35am’ - Abe goes to the hotel where he remains until 3pm

Mon 8.45am - Abe2 gets out of the TM and goes to meet Aaron3 in the park

Monday - Abe2 explains the TM to Aaron3

Mon 3.13pm’ - Abe2 and Aaron3 watch Abe go into the storage facility

(From here, after Abe gets into the TM there is only one Abe again)

Mon 3.15pm - Abe turns the TM off

Mon 3.19pm - Abe gets in the TM

Mon 3.22pm’ - Abe is in the car with Aaron3 and answers call from Rachel (it is about Robert’s party – Abe says he’ll go but doesn’t show)

Mon night - Robert has his party and the Rachel Incident takes place. Abe doesn’t attend, but Aaron3 does. Aaron3 is waiting for Rachel’s ex to come in with his shotgun and rushes him when he does. From what I can understand, he is successful in defusing the situation this time and is a hero, although in the movie it is hinted (by Aaron2 in the running dialogue throughout the movie) that this could have taken several attempts in which case this entire sequence would have had to have been repeated.

Tues 8.30am - Aaron3 and Abe turn the TM on

Tues 8.35am’ - Aaron3 and Abe research stocks in the library before going to the hotel where they remain until 3pm

Tues 8.45am - Aaron4 and Abe2 get out of the TM

Tuesday - Aaron4 and Abe2 spend the day trading on the stock market

Tues 3.15pm - Aaron3 and Abe turn the TM off

Tues 3.19pm - Aaron3 and Abe get in the TM

(From here, after Aaron3 and Abe get into the TM, Aaron4 and Abe2 become Aaron3 and Abe again)

Wednesday is exactly the same as Tuesday.

Thursday is exactly the same as Tuesday except for two details:

5pm - Abe goes and turns the TM on instead of waiting until 8.30am, Friday.

5.15pm - TM is activated

6pm - Aaron3 sees a clean-shaven Grainger

Fri 1.30am’ - A boy is walking along the street outside Abe’s house setting off the car alarms. This wakes Abe.

Fri 2.00am - Abe goes round to Aaron3’s house and suggests the Platts Plan.[2]

Fri 2.30am’ - Aaron3 punches Platts.

(Next, for some reason Aaron3 and Abe are either unable to get to the TM because of some problem – perhaps Aaron3 and Abe are arrested, or even though they get in the TM and return to Thursday, 5.15pm, they are unable to prevent their doubles from going to punch Platts. Whatever it is, it’s an emergency and one (or both) of them resolves that the only way to save the situation is to get someone else (Grainger) to use the TM and go back to Thursday, 5.15pm and stop them from executing the Platts plan.)

Sometime on Saturday afternoon or Sunday, Grainger enters the TM and returns to Thursday, 5.15pm, which is where the third sequence: part 2 picks up the story (again).



Third Sequence: Part 2 (From Thursday, 5pm – After Grainger uses the TM) – I have highlighted new events in orange.

5pm - Abe goes and turns the TM on instead of waiting until 8.30am, Friday.

5.15pm - TM is activated

5.15pm - Grainger2 gets out of the TM.

6pm - Aaron3 sees a clean-shaven Grainger

Fri 1.30am - A boy is walking along the street outside Abe’s house setting off the car alarms. This wakes Abe.

Fri 1.45’ - Grainger2 parks outside Aaron3’s house and prepares to follow Aaron3 and Abe when they depart.

Fri 2.00am - Abe goes round to Aaron3’s house and suggests the Platts Plan.

Fri 2.05am’ - Aaron3 and Abe leave Aaron3’s house and see Grainger2, with a 2-3 day old beard, parked outside.

Fri 2.10am’ - Aaron3 and Abe call Grainger who is at home

Fri 2.11am’ - Aaron3 and Abe chase Grainger2, who collapses into a vegetative state.

Fri 3.10am’ - Abe gets into the failsafe (3 days, 22 hours and 10mins (approx) after activating it)



Fourth Sequence (Shown in the final part of the movie) – I have highlighted the differences from the first, second and third sequences with green type.

Mon 5am’ - Abe turns the failsafe on with a 15min delay and goes home to sleep

Mon 5.15am’ - Aaron2 gets out of the failsafe and goes to his house

Mon 5.15am’ - Aaron3 gets out of the failsafe and goes to his house

Mon 5.15am’ - Abe2 gets out of the failsafe and turns it off

Mon 5.25am’ - Abe2 goes to his house, drugs Abe and puts him in the closet

Mon 5.25am’ - Aaron2 drugs Aaron’s milk and puts Aaron in the attic

Mon 5.30am’ - Aaron3 confronts Aaron2 and they fight

Mon 5.35am’ - Aaron2 beats Aaron3 (he is too tired from all the travelling)

Mon 5.40am’ - Aaron2 and Aaron3 have a conversation and Aaron2 understands that he must leave but he doesn’t fully understand why.

Mon 5.45am’ - Aaron2 leaves for some undisclosed location. Aaron3 prepares to live the Aarons’ life with all of his notes and foreknowledge of the events to come.

(Throughout this sequence from this point on Aaron3 is frequently using an earpiece which tells him what to say at each point (giving him a 3 second lead on the world))

Mon 9am’ - Abe2 goes to meet Aaron3 in the park

In the park Aaron3 is using his earpiece but is surprised when his dialogue doesn’t match Abe2’s conversation which is different from the previous times because he has used the failsafe and isn’t Abe anymore. Abe2 faints and Aaron3 explains to Abe2 everything that has happened. Aaron3 gives Abe2 an earpiece.

Later that day Aaron3 tells Abe2 how they will defuse the Rachel Incident and they both go to the party where they execute the plan.

Sometime after this Aaron gets out of the attic and Abe gets out of the closet. Aaron3 leaves the country and Abe2 stays to sabotage Aaron and Abe’s efforts to build the TM.


- Finish -



Failsafe Footnote:

At one point or another, Aaron2, Aaron3 and Abe2 each get out of the failsafe on Monday morning. Aside from the space problem inside the failsafe (why don’t they see each other in there?), there is another issue. To ensure they all appear in the same time sequence they must exit the machine at exactly the same time. The problem then becomes how come they don’t run into each other when they exit? I cannot think of any suitable explanation that fits with the movie and what we are shown, without taking too much artistic license (such as Aaron building a separate failsafe at a different location but with the same parameters as Abe’s one) and so the discrepancy remains…



Problems: All of these, except for problem number 1 (mentioned above in the failsafe footnote), are relatively minor and in my opinion don’t seriously undermine the sequencing above.

  1. How do Aaron2, Aaron3 and Abe2 all get in and out of the failsafe at the same time (which I have estimated to be Monday, 5.15am) without seeing each other?
  2. What happens the first time they run the machine in the garage and uncover the device, which they think has turned off? (12:30) The scene cuts abruptly and resumes again with Abe asleep on his bedroom floor. Why is Abe sleeping there and why does he seem confused when he wakes up? (12:35)
  3. Why is Abe so nervous about seeing his flatmates? (13:20)
  4. Why are there two flash forwards, both from Abe’s perspective, from being in the car with Aaron3 to chasing Grainger2? (54:22, 54:53)
  5. Why can Abe not go near Grainger2 without Grainger2 passing out? (56:45)
  6. Why does Aaron3 say they didn’t have contact with Grainger in the three hours that he could have done anything? (57:43) As far as I can see, Grainger had around nine hours to change things, from Thursday, 5.15pm to Friday, 2am.
  7. There is a big problem with the Platts Plan in that after Aaron3 and Abe punch Platts and then go back in time to stop the kid from setting off the car alarm which wakes Abe, they will continue to exist along with their doubles. Did they just plan on leaving the country?


[1] The Rachel Incident is the term I use to refer to an event which takes place at Robert’s party. Rachel’s ex- boyfriend shows up and gets angry. He pulls a shotgun out of his truck and causes a bit of havoc. We don’t know exactly what happens but we do know that Aaron decides to do something about it.

[2] Joseph Platts’ relationship to Aaron and Abe is unclear but he seems to be the head of some company which they may have either tried to get funding from or pitch ideas/designs to. He enters a conversation when Aaron(3) mentions that he would love to punch Platts in the nose just once, as long as no one would get hurt and no one would ever know. He just wants the experience. Now, what I have called, the Platts Plan, is an event devised by Abe which involves going to Joseph Platts’ house now (2am, Friday morning), punching him and then getting into the TM, returning at 5.15pm on Thursday (when Abe activated it). Next, they would go and stop the kid from waking Abe’s double up at 1.30am, Friday morning. This way, Aaron(3) and Abe will never go and punch Platts but their doubles will still get into the TM (because they planned to run the stock markets again on Friday) and the flow of time can continue, with Platts remaining un-punched but the memory of punching him still in Aaron3 and Abe’s minds. (The problem with Aaron3 and Abe attempting to directly stop their doubles from punching Platts is that without the punch there is no longer any reason for them to get into the TM) The problem with this whole plan as I see it (and one which is never addressed in the movie) is that Aaron(3) and Abe, after punching Platts, will continue to exist (along with their doubles) after they stop the kid from setting off the car alarm which wakes Abe. What will they do from here? Just hide forever? They will have to leave the country.






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