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View Full Version : The "Not" Theory, and how it may shake out.



JohnnyPepsi
19th Aug 2015, 13:36
Hi. My name is Johnny, and I'm new here. In lieu of gifts, I bring an out-there theory for you to gnaw on.

I wrapped it in spoiler tags for scrolling convenience, because, uh... it's a doozy. I can state that I did not knowingly infringe on any other theory, even though some of the more universal ones do incorporate in their own way.

The body buried in the junkyard is not Rachel. Put a pin in that, because we’ll get back to it.

Two odd things happened in the first half hour of the fourth episode of Life is Strange. The first is in the initial conversation with Alt-Chloe at the beach in the alternate timeline, where Alt-Chloe, apropos of absolutely nothing, brings up the fact that even in the alternate timeline, Rachel is still missing. This was obviously important information for us to have, or else they would have hidden this info somewhere else, like in the newspaper next to William on the dining room table. Somewhere we could afford to miss it.

The second odd thing is when Max gets back to the prime timeline and finds herself in Chloe’s bedroom. Did you check her phone? Max sent texts and had conversations that we weren’t there for, establishing not only that all timelines share a universal clock (jumping into another timeline at noon and staying until three means it’s three in the prime timeline when you jump back), but that with parallel timelines come parallel Maxes: Max, the one we’re in control of, and Not-Max, the one who’s holding the fort down for us in the prime timeline until we get back.

Which begs the question: What if Not-Max died in the car ride to Chloe’s house before Max decided to jump back through the Polaroid?

The theory has been advanced that Rachel had time powers herself, and to be quite honest, I didn’t buy it… until I played Episode Four. Feature the following:

-Three constants at play in the prime timeline are still at play in the alternate timeline: Rachel is still missing, the storm is still coming, and Max can still control time. The third of these should be impossible, as conventional theoretical wisdom on this game dictates Max instantaneously developed her powers as a defense mechanism upon seeing Nathan shoot Chloe in the bathroom, but in the alternate timeline Chloe was never in that bathroom, so Max should have been stranded in the alternate timeline without her powers. Which means one of the other two constants should be behind her ability. As the death of Rachel predates the other two phenomena, it’s reasonable to assume that Rachel’s death caused the other two phenomena. They did, after all, take great (and awkwardly written) pains to establish it in the initial conversation at the beginning of the episode.

-Max starts showing Rachel-like behavior. No, not because “Max is Rachel,” but because the ability to rewind time brings out similar behavior patterns. The dialogue supports this somewhat: Chloe calls Rachel her angel in Episode One, before Alyssa, the Homeless Woman, and the potentially-alive Kate start referring to Max as such. In Episode One, when questioning Hayden about Rachel and Victoria’s relationship, Hayden says that Victoria didn’t like Rachel, but respected her. Cut to Episode Four, where the exact same thing could potentially happen, depending on whether or not Victoria believes Max’s warning about the Dark Room. Rachel was everything to everyone is Arcadia Bay, almost impossibly so. So is Max, but we know that she can rewind time to suit her needs. It’s kinda quacking like a duck, here.

-Rachel’s a model, which means there are a ton of pictures of her to go around to jump into and out of at will. If she has the power (and I now believe she does), that’s one hell of a way to game it.

So when I say that the body in the junkyard is not Rachel, I don’t mean Rachel Amber isn’t buried there: she so totally is. Chloe would know. Yeah, they didn’t show her face, but seeing a maggot-encrusted corpse would have lowered the tone. Kind of like how Jefferson’s bullet blew out the back of Chloe’s head but somehow, magically, didn’t knock off her beanie.

No, I mean the body buried in the junkyard is Not-Rachel. It’s the place holder she left behind when she departed for timelines unknown, like Not-Max in the prime timeline while Max was watching Blade Runner with Alt-Chloe. Rachel was in another timeline when Not-Rachel died in the prime. Things were going fine… until Rachel jumped back, only to find that with Not-Rachel dead, there was nowhere to jump to. The consequences of that would be… severe. Like, “massive tornado” severe. It is a temporal paradox, after all.

Rachel Amber is stuck between an alternate timeline that never was, and a prime timeline that can’t contain her. But she is not powerless. Being as she jumped into the prime timeline, she can still exert some incorporeal influence to try and fix things. A vision here, a butterfly there, the bestowing of phenomenal temporal power to the mousy photography student in the back row. Given as the game has Max say things like “I feel like Rachel is guiding me to the truth,” and “Rachel’s spirit is powerful here,” it’s as though the writers are screaming it at us.

Which brings us to the endgame.

I believe the tornado is the main event, after which, if these issues are not resolved, the weird weather stops and Rachel is ground away to nothing in the void between timelines. Catastrophic, yes. World-ending, no. But you will be given a choice on whether or not to go back and save Not-Rachel somehow (how, I don’t know), or staying with Chloe (who I think is making it to the end no matter what) and letting the storm hit. This will be Chloe’s moment of reckoning, a-la saving Kate Marsh or getting the book from Frank: a summation of all the choices you made up to this point. And, depending on how you treated her and how she sees you, Chloe will tell you which one she wants you to choose.

Let the storm hit and the town gets wiped out, some folk may or may not die, but Max and Chloe will still be there, and the experiences they shared still hold up. Or go back and save Not-Rachel. She's there when Rachel decides to come back, Jefferson and the Prescotts go to jail, Kate never gets drugged, so she never tries to take her own life, and the storm never hits. But Max and Chloe are strangers yet again. What you do and whether or not you go against Chloe’s wishes determine which ending you get. Choose wisely.


Now go ahead and start poking holes. It's what it's there for.

StrangerThanFiction
19th Aug 2015, 13:52
Welcome to the boards Johnny! It's always great when we have new people join.

Right now, there are so many variables to consider (and in light of recent Episode 4 events) so many possibilities. I would love to see this theory in action (it could very well be true.)

I'm still trying to wake up, but the major hole I see is Max trying to save Not-Rachel. When the game starts, Max notes that she has only been there for two months. Rachel's been missing for six. That means there's no Max "selfie" in Arcadia Bay at the time of Rachel's disappeeance, so she can't travel back in time to THAT particular point (though you did use the word "somehow" so there could be other possible ways).

Hope to see more theories from you!

JohnnyPepsi
19th Aug 2015, 14:41
My sincerest thanks for the warm greeting. And they say the internet is evil.

Yeah, that is the hole, isn't it? The only feasible work-around I see is the theory that's been advanced that the photo jumping power relies less on the person, and more on the power. Namely that if you have the power, you can assume the form of someone else who has the power by jumping into a photo of them, before jumping back into your own body further down the timeline.

Because the universe couldn't handle two people with time powers in the same timeline (I have no science to back this up, but just thinking about it gives me a headache), and if the rest of my theory holds, Rachel lead Max to the one person putting pictures of her everywhere.

Or it could be something else. Or I could be wrong. Or we could all be wrong. Oh, I do so hope it's the last one. That would be surprising.

Ssieth
25th Aug 2015, 10:04
My sincerest thanks for the warm greeting. And they say the internet is evil.
Yeah, that is the hole, isn't it? The only feasible work-around I see is the theory that's been advanced that the photo jumping power relies less on the person, and more on the power. Namely that if you have the power, you can assume the form of someone else who has the power by jumping into a photo of them, before jumping back into your own body further down the timeline.


Not necessarily a hole. We know that Max can't jump back to a point geographically and chronologically near Rachel's presumed death. However, it has been made abundantly clear that decisions made in the past have wide-ranging implications. It is entirely possible that something Max does years before or hundreds of miles away could save Rachel.

JohnnyPepsi
25th Aug 2015, 12:23
Not necessarily a hole. We know that Max can't jump back to a point geographically and chronologically near Rachel's presumed death. However, it has been made abundantly clear that decisions made in the past have wide-ranging implications. It is entirely possible that something Max does years before or hundreds of miles away could save Rachel.

Hmmm. Do you have a hypothetical in the back of your head for this possibility? If so, I'd love to hear it.

OHWceta
25th Aug 2015, 13:02
Well, Max could go back and warn Rachel to escape. But if Rachel escaped she wont be dead, leading to Max never needing to go back and warn her, thus creating a paradox. So Max has to think Rachel is dead so she'll go back and save her.

Maybe Frank or David have something to do with it.

Tataboj
25th Aug 2015, 13:21
Well, Max could go back and warn Rachel to escape. But if Rachel escaped she wont be dead, leading to Max never needing to go back and warn her, thus creating a paradox. So Max has to think Rachel is dead so she'll go back and save her.

Maybe Frank or David have something to do with it.

There is not such a thing as time paradoxes in Max's power. If she goes back and changes something, she creates an alternate dimension where it worked that way. She practically is her younger self.

JohnnyPepsi
25th Aug 2015, 15:15
There is not such a thing as time paradoxes in Max's power. If she goes back and changes something, she creates an alternate dimension where it worked that way. She practically is her younger self.

I concur. For all the rewind and Polaroid shenanigans, every possible timeline is running on the same clock. You jump through a picture of the Kennedy assassination at noon on Tuesday and stop Oswald and spend three hours looking at a timeline where Kennedy never died before jumping back and undoing everything, you're still coming back on Tuesday at three PM to a world where Kennedy died. Jumping into a six-month-old picture to save Rachel means it'll still be Friday, October 11th before the changes you made fully enact. The bog-standard, paradox-riddled rules of time travel don't apply here. Otherwise, the game could potentially be over before it starts.

That's why the game's so smart. Keeping everything on the same clock means there won't be any Somewhere In Time holes, where the story has to explain a watch that quite literally came from nowhere.

NayaBR
31st Aug 2015, 18:38
I love your theory :) Maybe it's a bit complicated to explain in one chapter making it easy to understand and enjoy but I'd love to see it in the game

JohnnyPepsi
3rd Sep 2015, 10:37
My sincerest thanks. Though to be slightly fair to myself, I just like to hear myself type and my theory in practice might not take that much time to explain within the game. Episode five is going to have to be mostly plot anyway, as they've appeared to have jettisoned most of the supporting cast at the party (if those conversations felt like goodbyes, they most likely were).

Or... y'know... not. I'm wrong about a lot of stuff. For instance, I thought that Fantastic Four movie would make money. More the fool I.

PinkFrog
3rd Sep 2015, 15:18
I love the discussion and the theory.
But I have the feeling that this game is not really about being a clever time-travel simulation. Especially given the "there are 2 moons now" and "there is a sudden ninja-eclipse" stuff that makes no sense when you say that each "jump" creates a different, unique reality.
Where would a second moon come from in that theory?

Right, anyway, my point is: i think you put too much effort into the time-line stuff. I think the story is more rooted in the emotional implications and will bend the time-line stuff to support an emotional point rather than adhere to it's own rules.

And this makes any predictions and theories difficult. Or rather, moot.

I get the impression that Rachel is supposed to be dead, at least in that reality which we witnessed. Whether or not she had "the power" is a completely different theory. It may be that the story will allow Rachel to be alive in a different reality, but that is just guessing.

JohnnyPepsi
4th Sep 2015, 03:13
I feel you. But the weather phenomenon is present in both of the realities we've been in. Like I said, the three major constants with both realities are that Rachel is missing, the weather and wildlife are acting strange, and Max can alter time. Being that Rachel's death predates the other two, it's reasonable to guess that it explains the other two. I don't have an explanation for everything, this is very much true, but a theory that explains everything explains nothing.

The thing is, though, that I agree with you that the emotional drama will (and should) take center stage. But I think Dontnod wants to have its cake and eat it too. Episode four took such pains to establish some kind of internal logic to how the timelines work (they're all on the same clock, jumping to another reality results in duplicates, etc.) that I can't see how it will just function as "Here's your plot coupon, go get Chloe back." I believe there's something more to it.

If my theory holds, though, the ending of the game will accentuate the Chloe-Max relationship. Go save Rachel and create a new reality, or stay and let the storm hit? What will Chloe say? If you treated her shabbily throughout the game, will she tell you to go? If you treated her well, will she tell you to stay? What happens if you defy her wishes? Will you save the woman she loves? Will you be yet another person who walks away from her? Decisions, decisions.