Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Life After: Types of Traps

[I've had this idea for a bit, it's well in advance of where things stand in the linear telling of Life After.]

"But that's exactly what everyone thinks is at Area 51!" Tara said.

"Yeah, it's . . . what's the generalization of a trap-trap?" Wade asked.

"Sith Lie," Shin and Jacob said as one.

"Right," Wade said.

Kim and Ron apparently felt the need to get on the speaking in unison train, and asked, "What's a trap-trap?" together.

Jacob was visibly shocked at the question and said, "This really is early in their career."

"I've been telling you that for ages," Shin said.

"So what is a trap-trap?" Tara asked.

"Ok," Shin said, "all traps --well most traps at any rate- can be placed into four categories.  Category one: the simple trap.

"It's exactly what it sounds like.  Jacob puts a trap in the front hall in hopes that, one way or another, I'll end up in the front hall and be caught in the trap.  A simple trap depends on concealment because if I knew there was a trap, I'd just avoid it."

Jacob took over, "That brings us to category two: the bluff trap.  If Shin knows the front hall is a trap she won't use the front hall, which defeats the entire purpose of putting a trap in the front hall.  Resources are finite and it's hard enough trying to defend every point of entry, so why put a trap in a room she's not even going to be in?

"It's better if I let her 'discover'," Jacob used air quotes, "that I've put a trap in the front hall when there really isn't one.  Then she'll avoid the front hall which saves me the resources that would otherwise go into defending it.

"The worry here is that if I make it too easy for her to 'discover' the trap, she might realize what I'm up to, call the bluff, and waltz right through the front hall because she knows that's the one entrance I'm not expecting her to use."

Shin resumed the lecture, "Which brings us to category three: the trap-trap.  Jacob puts an actual trap in the front hall, but is so obvious in letting us all--"

"Seriously?" Jacob asked.  "All of you?  It's bad enough when there's just one of you."

Shin continued, "He's so obvious in leaving clues that there's a trap in the front hall that we just assume it's a bluff trap.  We think he's trying to trick us into avoiding the front hall, when in reality he's trying to make us over think things to the point that we ignore all evidence there is a real trap, try to call his 'bluff'," Shin used air quotes, "when he's really got a royal flush, and walk right into the front hall trap.

"This requires that he let us know there's a trap, which is true, in such a way that we assume he's trying to trick us.  If we don't assume the trap is a bluff, then we'd think it was a simple trap, avoid it, and thus defeat the entire purpose of him setting up a trap-trap.  We have to think the truth is really a deception for it to work."

"Thus the generalization to things that aren't traps," Jacob said.  "A Sith Lie is when you tell the truth in such a way that people think you're lying.  You have no real control over what they do think the truth is, but you've managed to control what they definitely don't think the truth is: the actual truth.

"The name," Shin said, "comes from the trope Jedi Truth, which is a lie that can be seen as true from a dubious point of view.  A Sith Lie is something just as true as a Jedi Truth is false, but since the delivery of that truth is specifically designed to be disbelieved it serves the same function as a lie from a rational point of view."

"All of these mind games bring us to the last type of trap," Jacob said.  "Category four: the thought trap.  You've discovered evidence of a trap, or you think you have, but is it real evidence of a simple trap, planted evidence of a bluff trap, planted yet real evidence of a trap-trap?

"The question becomes, 'Do I know that you know that I know that you know that I know that I know that you know that you know--' and your brain explodes.  Divide by cheese, blue screen of death, snow crash, out of memory.

"At this stage it doesn't really matter whether there's a trap in the front hall or not because I've got you second guessing your third guesses while fighting shadows in your mind.  Traps have a tendency to be, at best, temporary solutions anyway, so throwing you into a spiral of self doubt is actually a better outcome than you falling into the trap, if it exists.

"And if it does and you do, some much the better because with all of the distraction I've placed in your mind it'll take you longer to escape the trap and when you do you'll be trying to figure out what it means that the trap was really real, and trying to stop thinking such thoughts is pretty much a lost cause because it's like, 'Don't think of a naked mole rat,' but more pervasive and less cute."

Bonnie broke her silence to say, "A naked mole rat is not cute."

Rufus popped his head out of Ron's pocket and blew a raspberry at Bonnie.

"Made you think of it though," Jacob said, "didn't I?"

"And now you are familiar with the four categories of trap," Shin said.

"Use them wisely," Jacob said, "use them well."

This comes from a variety of places.  "Trap-trap" is a term from Kim Possible but it isn't used until after the point at which the timeline changed, so Kim and Ron likely wouldn't be familiar with it.  It's a little bit serious, a little bit silly, and so forth.

Also Shin knowing "Sith Lie" off the top of her head shows that she doesn't take after Kim in shunning all things in geekdom.  In fact, one of the things she and Jacob have in common is that they're both uber-geeks.

Plus, having not gotten nearly there yet in my linear writing, it's an opportunity to have them interacting with the 2004 heroes.  Even if this has them doing most of the talking.

I've been thinking increasingly of the role of Tara and how she fits into the team from a relationship point of view.  Until Kim is recovered she's running the team, which places her significantly out of her element.  If the timeline hadn't changed she and Josh would have dated for a while, implying they probably have some level of chemistry and the opportunity for non-romantic friendship in this timeline.

Canonically she's the most romantically active of the characters on the Life After team, possibly in all of Kim Possible, but it's definitely the case that she has a serious interest in Ron (he'd reciprocate if not for the fact he's totally oblivious.)

The interest in Ron sets her apart from almost, but not quite, every other female character in the show.  Ron can clean up, fame up, or money up into someone who gains superficial attraction, but Tara is (almost) the only one who sees normal-Ron as desirable.  This has . . . implications.

Specifically it implies serious spurning of the high school food chain that Bonnie lives by and Kim occasionally buys into.  It implies that her reaction to geekdom is not the revulsion or a Kim or Bonnie, it implies broader standards for who is to be accepted as an equal, it implies being ok with a lack of social conformance.

Based on Ron's lack of really to expected male norms, Tara is the only character who even hints at being pansexual.  This in a show that has no lesbian, gay male, or bisexual characters.

But more and more I see her and Jacob as potentially being co-foils to each other.  The extremely similar, get along well, but still contrast kind of foil.

There's a significant problem with a lack of non-romantic male-female pairings in general, in Kim Possible this problem skyrocketed when their one example imploded as a result of Kim/Ron becoming canon at the end of season three.  (Of course, that was supposed to be the end of the series as a whole, but still.)

I definitely see Tara-Jacob as being a potential, very strong, non-romantic friendship pairing.

Shin-Josh can probably end up the same way.

Ron-Kim will remain one because Kim/Ron does not come to pass, and doesn't even get considered, in this timeline.

I'm . . . not sure who Bonnie might have.  Josh is definitely friends with everyone, but generally in a laid back kind of way.  Bonnie and Jacob would not get along and Bonnie and Ron canonically don't get along.

Anyway, lots of rambling thoughts.

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